Last Updated on 29 July 2022
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Which is the most scenic route in Scotland?
The scenery in the Scottish Highlands is so utterly enchanting that in my humble opinion it is one of the most unique places to visit in Europe. For this reason, it would be difficult to pick just one scenic route to answer this question. There are many wonderful roads in Scotland which meander around intimidatingly tall mountains and lochs which are like sheets of glass (on still days), and each of them are special in their own way. After visiting the Highlands more times than I’ve had hot dinners, I’ve compiled a list of what I think are the 9 most scenic routes in Scotland so you don’t miss out on any of the good stuff!
Psst… Scotland is best explored by road, and what better way to do this than using a home on wheels? To help you plan, check out my super detailed 7 day motorhome itinerary for Scotland, which will take you along some of these scenic drives!
1. Tyndrum to Ballachulish – 32 miles
The A82 from the small village of Tyndrum to Ballachulish at the northern end of Glen Coe is a particularly spectacular drive, and is undoubtedly one of the most scenic routes in Scotland. A section of road which spans for around 32 miles, travelling north from Tyndrum you will pass the Bridge of Orchy, climb (not literally, in your vehicle) up over the wild expanse that is Rannoch Moor, before winding around the bases of jaw-dropping mountains in Glen Coe. There are numerous parking areas through Glen Coe where you can stop for photos, such as at the Meeting of Three Waters and Loch Achtriochtan – take your time because Glen Coe truly is one of the prettiest places in Scotland!
Tip: Glen Coe is an immensely popular place to visit in Scotland so don’t be surprised by how busy it can be. On weekends and during the peak season, it is not uncommon not to be able to park in the parking areas.
2. Spean Bridge to Fort Augustus – 23 miles
The A82 from Spean Bridge to Fort Augustus takes you past two stunning lochs, Loch Lochy and Loch Oich, making it an easy one to include on this list of best drives in Scotland. Spean Bridge is a small village in Scotland, most notably known for Spean Bridge Woollen Mill and the Commando Memorial which sits a stone’s throw away. Travelling north from Spean Bridge, you will pass by the Commando Memorial which commemorates the commandos who died in WW2, before following the outline of postcard-perfect Loch Lochy and Loch Oich. Finally, you will reach Fort Augustus which is known best for sitting on the shores of Loch Ness and the Caledonian Canal which cuts through its centre.
3. Invermoriston to Drumnadrochit – 13 miles
If you are in search of unrivalled views of Loch Ness on your Scottish road trip, then the journey from Invermoriston to Drumnadrochit is one of the best driving roads in Scotland. The A82 from Invermoriston to Drumnadrochit clings to the edge of Loch Ness, offering far-stretching and quite frankly spectacular views of what is (probably) the most famous loch in the world – the road only strays away from Loch Ness as it descends into the Highland village of Drumnadrochit. If you’re going to incorporate this short piece of road into your most scenic roads in Scotland hit-list, be sure to make a stop in quaint Invermoriston which is known for Invermoriston Falls and the Clog and Craft Shop.
4. Invermoriston to Dornie – 43 miles
The longest stretch of road on this list of most scenic drives in Scotland, the A887 and A87 from Invermoriston to Dornie offer some of the most breathtaking mountain scenery. What’s more, Dornie is the home-village of Eilean Donan, the quintessential Scottish Castle and featuring photograph on shortbread tins worldwide! From Invermoriston, all you’ll need to do is follow one long road (the A887 which merges onto the A87) through the mountains which, if you continued past Dornie, would eventually lead you to the Isle of Skye. The section of road which meanders around Loch Cluanie and Loch Duich are perhaps the most picturesque parts of this drive!
Psst… There are certain times you want to avoid visiting Scotland. Check out this when to visit Scotland post for a detailed seasonal guide.
5. Garve to Ullapool – 32 miles
Ullapool is perhaps one of the most popular villages in the Scottish Highlands, and aside from the fact that it is utterly jaw-dropping, Ullapool seems to be in-vogue in recent years due to the famous NC500 route which is on many road-trippers bucket lists! But the section of road which runs from the village of Garve to Braemore on the A835 is not part of the official NC500 route (the NC500 route does span the A835 from Braemore to Ullapool). The road from Garve to Ullapool (in particular Garve to Braemore) is one of the most scenic routes in Scotland because it winds over sections of completely unspoiled and almost moon-like mountain terrain.
6. Lairg to Ledmore – 27 miles
The A839 and A837 from Lairg to Ledmore is one of the most scenic drives in the Scottish Highlands which practically cuts across the middle of the country, linking east to west. Lairg is a village in Sutherland that is famed for The Wee House built on Loch Shin, which is literally what it says on the tin. As you head along the A839 and A837, don’t be surprised that these main Scottish roads are actually no more than single track lanes with passing points – this is common in the Highlands and is one of the Scotland travel tips that every driver visiting Scotland should know. This best road trip in Scotland will take you past some of the most remote cottages you might ever see and magical scenery that is bound to make your imagination run wild.
7. Gruinard Bay to Kinlochewe – 35 miles
Situated on the A832 on the northwest coast, a visit to the sandy beach of Gruinard Bay might fool you into thinking you’ve stepped into somewhere a bit more tropical (on a sunny day, at least). The A832 which spans from Gruinard Bay to Kinlochewe will offer you a snippet of the NC500, and a chance to see what all the hype is about. One of the best driving routes in Scotland for coastal scenery, the views of the mountains as they dissolve into the sea and out to islands afar are nothing less than breathtaking. After the coastal village of Gairloch the road begins to sweep inland and shortly after clings to the edge of Loch Maree which is one of the most beautiful lochs in Scotland. It then passes by Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve before reaching the mountain village of Kinlochewe.
8. Coylumbridge to Cairngorm Mountain – 9 miles
The shortest section of road on this list of the most scenic routes in Scotland, the drive from Coylumbridge to Cairngorm Mountain will afford you the opportunity to see some of the best woodland, lochside and mountain scenery in the Cairngorms National Park. A stone’s throw from the popular town of Aviemore, Coylumbridge is a smaller affair. Following the road from Coylumbridge to Cairngorm Mountain will first take you through Glenmore Forest Park which boasts some of the best Caledonian pinewoods and past Loch Morlich (the perfect picnic spot). As soon as you begin to ascend you will know you’re approaching Cairngorm Mountain – the road leads to the ski centre, shop and cafe, and offers wonderful views over the Cairngorms National Park.
9. Fort William to Glenfinnan – 17 miles
Harry Potter fans assemble, because the hamlet of Glenfinnan is the home of the Harry Potter Bridge (known officially as Glenfinnan Viaduct). And the A830 from Fort William to Glenfinnan offers enchanting views that fit in perfectly with the magical fantasy setting as portrayed by the movie series. Travelling north on the A82 from Fort William (which is the home of Ben Nevis, Scotland’s highest peak), take the first left on the Ben Nevis Distillery roundabout across the River Lochy to join the A830. Continue for around 15 miles and you will reach the infamous bridge. This road is another of the most scenic routes in Scotland which weaves around mountains and through forests, and offers stunning views of Loch Eil along the way.
Tip: If you continue westwards beyond Glenfinnan on the A830, you will eventually end up at the port of Mallaig which is essentially the end of the road. From Mallaig, you can get the ferry to the Isle of Skye or will need to drive back along the A830 to reach other destinations.
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