Updated: Aug 30, 2020
Amazing Scotland Roadtrip
Scotland: the land of Braveheart, whiskey, castles, and stunning scenery. Those are but a few things that make this one of the most beautiful countries in the world.
As a lover of history, medieval architecture, and a (wee) bit of pop culture, Scotland for me didn’t disappoint. After all, it was the birthplace of Harry Potter and where the *actual* school of Hogwarts was inspired by (Herriot’s and Fettes).
Fun fact: my boyfriend went to one of the schools! He is a true Gryffindor 😉
The only thing I wish I had from this trip, was time. We only booked a weekend to go on a quick roadtrip to the Scottish countryside. And though we hired a car, we didn’t have time to pass by Scotland’s most famous Highlands and Loch Ness.
Well, we’ll always have Scotland 🙂
Watch my vlog here:
FIRST STOP: EDINBURGH
Edinburgh city, the capital of Scotland, almost feels like a time-warp where Middle Age meets New. The center is literally called Old Town where the area has preserved much of its medieval plan and Reformation-era buildings.
We strolled down the Royal Mile, where Kings and Queens used to pass the cobbled roads to enter the Edinburgh castle. The castle is the most recognizable landmark in the city, as it sits atop a volcanic peak! It is also surrounded by lush, green parks, so it was a lovely place to walk around.
Along the way down, we passed by Victoria Street which was thought to have inspired Diagon Alley in Harry Potter. Elephant House was the most popular cafe to visit if you were a Potter fan, but it was always crowded and highly commercialized. Instead, we visited Grayfriar’s Kirkyard beside Heriot’s school and saw “Tom Riddle’s” grave and the loveable, loyal dog Bobby who spent 14 years guarding the grave of his owner until the day he died. *sobs*
Legend says, if you touch Bobby’s nose, it will give you good fortune
Going through the 18th/19th Century New Town, we hit Princes Street, which was bustling with trams, buses, and cars. In the middle, there is a huge Gothic Scott Monument, which is known to be the biggest writer’s monument in the world.
Stunning background of Edinburgh City
Walking for about 4-5hrs now, my legs started to ache as most of the roads were hilly and steep – definitely a stark contrast from the Netherlands!
We finally settled down for food & drinks and had amazing Indian food for dinner. Apparently, Indian cuisine is also quite popular in Scotland! We, of course, also tried some good ‘ol fish & chips, exotic haggis, and fresh Scottish seafood. A trip won’t be complete without trying out some local delicacies!
Edinburgh at Night
NEXT DAY: DOUNE CASTLE
It was nice and early on a Saturday when we started our trip to the Scottish countryside.
Throughout the journey, it was raining on and off. It wasn’t a surprise to me anymore: Scottish weather is so unpredictable that it is possible to experience all four seasons in one day!
We were supposed to go straight to Dunkeld, but because it was on the way, I urged my boyfriend to pass by one of Perthshire’s most famous castles, the Doune.
Frankly, there are a lot of other stunning castles in Scotland but thanks to pop culture connections, Doune Castle excited me the most. Here’s why:
The famous 14th century Doune Castle also doubles as Winterfell’s Castle
This 14th-century castle-turned-Hollywood scene is a popular filming location as featured in Monty Python (Holy Grail) and famous TV series like Game of Thrones (as Winterfell) and Outlander (as Castle Leoch).
I love the feeling of “bringing to life” some of the scenes from my favorite shows. But most importantly, I appreciate sites that have been preserved through time and kept the history intact.
The untouched walls of the medieval Doune Castle
The Doune Castle had some real medieval feel to it, despite it being transformed many times as a movie set. The castle rooms are almost entirely empty, but they’re brought to life by the audioguide. We found that it was once owned by Robert Stewart, the Duke of Albany (1340-1420) — a man so influential he was called the “uncrowned king of Scotland.”
We thoroughly enjoyed scrambling through the two tall towers and taking photos of the great hall that connects them. It was not hard to imagine how people lived during those times, seeing the grandeur fireplace, gigantic chimneys, tiny guest rooms, medieval toilets, and a 360 panoramic view from the top.
It was a nice side trip, about 2hrs away from Edinburgh. And since the castle wasn’t so big, we only spent 2hrs max (with some photos + souvenir shopping!). Best experience in our roadtrip in Scotland!
NEXT STOP: DUNKELD
We arrived at Dunkeld past 1 pm, which again was a short 2hr trip from Doune. Note: there were roadworks and a bit of traffic so it might even be a shorter ride.
We stayed at Dunkeld House Hotel, a very posh 4-star hotel beside the River Tay. It was tucked away in a beautiful private estate ground, after passing through the quaint little town of Dunkeld in Perthshire.
The facade of the hotel looked like an upscale countryside home, with beautiful surroundings and statues of deer that represent the highland wilderness.
Posh riverside hotel in Dunkeld
Me enjoying a scenic & nature walk in Dunkeld
NEXT STOP: PITLOCHRY
No roadtrip in Scotland will be complete without visiting one of the whiskey distilleries. There are many scattered around the country, but one of them is in Pitlochry. This place is a bit unknown to tourists but favored by a lot of locals.
Pitlochry is situated in the heart of the stunning scenery of Highland Perthshire. With a backdrop of surrounding hills, beautiful woodlands, and famous distilleries, there’s unbelievably a lot to explore.
Pitstop at a famous distillery in Pitlochry, Blair Athol
For our last stop, we decided to go to Killicrankie, an infamous Scottish town where a battle during the Jacobite rebellion was held.
A popular spot located in the middle of the woods is the Soldier’s Leap, where a Redcoat soldier was said to leap 18ft across the raging River Garry, fleeing the Jacobites. It was a fun, scenic walk, and pretty interesting if you’re a history buff like me.
Stunning view of the Killicrankie bridge
HEADING BACK TO EDINBURGH!
Our schedule was tight as we were flying back to Amsterdam that evening. We’ve been on the road for 3 days, and with our little roadtrip, we managed to explore most of Central Scotland.
From Killicrankie, it took us about 3hrs to arrive at Edinburgh airport. In total, we drove for about 10-12hrs and saw 5 towns in Central Scotland!
Would you go on a roadtrip to Scotland?
It was truly a short trip, but nonetheless worth it. Scotland amazed me so much that I will definitely come back. You may ask, is it worth it to rent a car in Scotland? The answer is YES! It’s relatively inexpensive to rent a car, plus it’s a great way to explore the highlands.
One word of caution: the Brits drive their car on the right side, which means you’ll have to drive on the left side of the road. This, of course, is quite confusing if you’re used to driving on the right side.
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