It’s no secret that I love Scotland. I have been many times to this fascinating part of the UK, and I can’t wait to visit again.
My first backpacking trip to Scotland was a couple of years ago, in a hectic five-day journey from Edinburgh to the Highlands only relaying in public transport. You heard it.
I still don’t know how we organised it so quickly. But we have visited Glasgow, Edinburgh, Fort Williams, Mallaig, Inverness, and Loch Ness in only five nights, and it was a unique experience for sure.
Scotland will attract travellers interested in history, culture, wilderness, picturesque landscapes, and a lot of adventure. There is always a new castle to learn more about it, lochs to appreciate, and stunning sceneries of the Highlands. So, here are my experience travelling the Highlands in less than a week.
But first things first, setting up an itinerary through Scotland, you must first define which part of the country you want to visit. The most popular ones are the capital Edinburgh and of course, the highlands. They are also the journeys
It’s better to choose which cities and towns you would like to visit, and then start planning everything else. This way you can sort out the accommodation, transportation, and attractions you want to see.
In our case, we booked trains and coaches in advance. Cross country trains can be expensive in this country, booking all travel tickets in advance will be a great way of saving money.
We have stayed in guest houses, hotels, and hostels. I do confess, it was logistically challenging to plan it all without gaps, especially when we knew we would be visiting different cities and towns for a short period. However, it worked quite well in the end.
But I would also recommend affordable holiday caravans as a great option in accommodation for those travelling with family. There are plenty of caravan parks from the south to the north of the country, including Scotland. Some of them have even a leisure pool complex and other kinds of entertainment for your kids.
After planning your trip logistically, it is time to choose what to do and see. In our case, we were a bit free spirit, as usually, and just wanted to make the most of the places visited.
I know I lot of people would skip it. But we started our journey in Glasgow. It was always a dream to visit the hometown of one of my favourite bands – Belle and Sebastian. I knew Glasgow has a great vibe of a cultural city, with lots of interesting pubs, independent stores, and a lot of things to see on foot.
I was lucky enough to be in the city when it was being held in the iconic Glasgow subway festival. The biggest Scottish city has one large circular loop in a two lines system. It’s a kind of cute and quite an effective means of transport.
Plus, it is not every day you go from station to station in the company of a jazz band playing or a play happening right in front of you. We spent only one day in Glasgow, but we had time to check one of the famous football pitches – Glasgow Rangers.
I would also recommend you join a walking tour to appreciate the city’s landmarks and check the street art murals in the key streets.
We loved its lively vibe, and it was great to have one or two cocktails in the city centre while checking the buzz.
Our second and third day was spent in Fort Williams. Fort William is the hub of the Scottish Highlands. For this reason, it is a quite popular town for travellers, backpackers and adventurers that want to explore the region and climb Ben Nevis. It is also the second-largest city in the Highlands.
We have stayed in a hostel, and I would recommend it for those who want to get some tips and exchange some travel tips with worldwide travellers. We met many people from all over the world.
The best thing to do at Fort William is to explore it on foot. It’s an invitation to enjoy nature, and the exquisite Scottish mountains and parks. We have had long walks from Glen Coe to Ben Nevis Park – where we had a privileged view from the Glen Nevis and would have a proper idea of how the experience of would-be climbing Ben Nevis someday – the highest mountain in Scotland and the British Isles.
We also walked around the villages around Fort William, visited the ruins of the Inverlochy castle and enjoyed some drinks in the city after the first busy day.
Fort William to Mallaig
The second day was about taking the Jacobine steam train to Mallaig, which is an experience that everyone should have when visiting the Highlands.
Unfortunately, we were gifted with the worst weather of our trip on the day of our trip. It was raining and cloudy all way long, and we had very limited views of the famous Glenfinnan viaduct, which is also known as the filming location for Harry Potter films, and it is obviously more than this.
The trains usually pause on the viaduct for all travellers to have a moment to appreciate the magnificent views on it. The trip on this iconic steam train ends in the picturesque fish village of Mallaig, where we had some fish and chips and enjoyed the wild Scottish seaside – despite the terrible weather.
Inverness and Loch Ness
If you visited this blog this week, you have already noticed I have written two posts on visiting Inverness and how to get around the city. Inverness is also a hub for all travellers visiting the Highlands. But it is also a city full of character. From its Cathedral’s stunning architecture to lovely local shops.
I remember visiting brilliant second-hand bookshops there and drinking in quite nice pubs at night. And we also did a bit of a football tour stopping by to check the pitch of the local team – Inverness Caledonian.
Inverness is also quite close to Loch Ness. For this reason, there are plenty of coach trips to the home of the famous Loch Ness monster. As you can imagine, no monster was found, but I have the feeling is there someone to us find him. Reason enough to visit it again someday.
But it is also recommended to have a look around this massive lake on foot. We spend the whole day exploring the region, and of course, never missed the chance to visit the ruins of the stunning Urquhart castle. What a beautiful spot!
Loch Ness is also a great spot to meet travellers from all over the world. I remember having a well-deserved cake break in a nice café with a proper wanderlust vibe.
From Inverness –we took the train back to Edinburgh to end our backpacking trip in the Scottish capital.
I would recommend it this train trip from Inverness to Edinburgh as a great way of checking amazing views from all journeys, including the Culloden Viaduct, Aviemore, Kingussie, Drumochter Pass, Perth and Stirling among others.
In Edinburgh, we had the day exploring the old and new city. As it wasn’t my first time in this fascinating city, I made the most of its vibrant atmosphere.
We have visited parks, and famous monuments such as Bobby’s Greyfriars cemetery and its statue. And ended up our night drinking in the cosy The Last Drop – which is a pub that I would recommend anyone to spend some quality time in.
It’s important to remember that Edinburgh is always packed with tourists, but it is a quite small city. The best way of visiting is to walk around and get lost in its historic alleys.
Before heading back to Birmingham, we paid our visit to the iconic Edinburgh castle. It doesn’t look huge, but you will need a few hours to check it inside. I have booked my ticket in advance and did my tour in the morning.
I don’t think you need an introduction to this castle, but the truth is that is from this historic point that you also have some stunning views of the city.
So, that was my journey through the Scottish Highlands via Glasgow, ending up in Edinburgh. Let me know in the comments if you have been to the Scottish capital, and you met Nessie on your journey.