Discover the ultimate gay Scotland 10 days itinerary

A land of raw beauty and rich history, where rugged mountains tower over windswept moors and candy-colored villages reflect into dazzling azure waters, Scotland is a country of epic proportions. One of the oldest nations in Europe, ambling along Scotland’s misty lochs and verdant glens is akin to walking through time, one where crumbling castles and forbidding fortresses tell tales of Highland culture and pay tribute to the turbulent battles of Scotland’s past. Then there’s the full-blown wilderness of it all. Whether it’s catching sight of a magnificent red deer or watching minke whales breach off the coastline, Scotland offers heaps of opportunities for wildlife viewing in what is undeniably one of the most spectacular settings in the world. From the sparkling fairy pools of the Isle of Skye to the Scottish Highlands’ wild landscapes, dive deep into the land of whiskey and bagpipes with our very own ten-day itinerary unleashing the best of gay Scotland.

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When to Visit Scotland

The best places to visit in Scotland are worth seeking out no matter the time of year. That said, June through August are high season; the summer months promise long days, warm weather, and lively activities. Spring (late March to May) and fall (September to November) are shoulder seasons, with agreeable weather and fewer crowds. Fans of fall foliage should try for late October when the landscapes are ablaze in autumnal colors and wildlife is plentiful. Fall also tends to be your best chance at spotting the Aurora Borealis in all her ethereal glory. Finally, while winter weather conditions can make travelling from December through February a bit more tricky, you’ll be rewarded with a storybook setting that’s all roaring fires, frost-covered glens, and snow-capped peaks.

How to Get Around Scotland

By far, the easiest way to tackle this Scotland itinerary for 10 days is with a rental car. Public transportation does exist in Scotland and can be a reliable way to get between major cities and towns, but to explore the raw, rugged countryside, you’re going to want your own four wheels. Be prepared to drive on the left-hand side of the road. Some rural streets are quite narrow, though they tend to be less congested.

Photo: Dimitri Houtteman

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Perched atop a series of craggy hills overlooking the glittering sea, Edinburgh mirrors its magnificent setting with its cobbled streets, spired skyline, and woodland landscape

Scotland 10 Days Itinerary

Now that you’re ready for your ultimate gay Scotland road trip itinerary, your next step is to decide where to land. We suggest arriving in Edinburgh, the picturesque capital of Scotland, and then departing from bustling Glasgow. If it’s more convenient to land and leave from the same city, fret not. Edinburgh and Glasgow are just an hour apart, making it easy to customize the below itinerary to suit your specific travel needs.

Edinburgh (2 days)

Your gay Scotland travel itinerary begins in Edinburgh—easily one of the most charming cities in all of Europe. Perched atop a series of craggy hills overlooking the glittering sea, Edinburgh mirrors its magnificent setting with its cobbled streets, spired skyline, and woodland landscape. But Edinburgh is more than just a pretty face. Nicknamed the Athens of the North by members of the Scottish Enlightenment, Scotland’s down-to-earth cultural capital is also a city steeped in art, philosophy, and innovation. Edinburgh is split into two halves: the medieval Old Town and the neoclassical New Town. We suggest a day to explore each one.

Begin your gay Edinburgh adventure at the city’s most iconic point of interest, Edinburgh Castle. Edinburgh Castle pays tribute to the city’s fascinating history from its grandiose perch atop an extinct volcano, which by nature also promises sweeping city and sea views. From here, amble down the Royal Mile; the cobbled main street runs from the castle through medieval Edinburgh all the way to Holyrood Palace and is jam-packed with museums, cafes, and shops.

Edinburgh’s New Town revolves around Princes Street, Queen Street, and Georges Street. This is Edinburgh’s modern side, so come for the plethora of elegant Georgian architecture and large, leafy plazas. You’ll also find top art galleries here, along with some of the best foodie finds and gay pubs in Edinburgh. Further, uncover the highlights of both New and Old Town with our ultimate gay Edinburgh travel guide here.

Edinburgh | Photo: David Rico

Photo: Lucrezia Carnelos

Road Trip to the Highlands (4 days)

It’s now time to say goodbye to the allure of Edinburgh in favor of the majestic scenery of the Highlands—a remote corner of Europe where legend, tradition, and culture abound. En route, you’ll pass Perth, a worthwhile stop not only to stretch your legs but also to discover the wonders of Scone Palace. This stately Georgian Gothic building dates back to 1808; many paintings and artifacts grace the interior, and knowledgeable guides in each room are ready to regale visitors with intimate tales of the palace’s past. Afford at least an hour to discover the highlights, though you can easily lose yourself (quite literally) in the gardens adorned with Douglas pines, rhododendrons, and, of course, a maze. From here, we’ll continue to Fort William, our Highlands’ base for the next four days.

Glenfinnan and Fort William

Our first stop on our Highlands Tour is Stead Falls, a short journey from Fort William—and an excellent introduction to the sleepy Scottish countryside. Park your car and go for a stroll, enjoying the iconic sight of sheep and cows dotting the grassy hills.

You’ll then carry on to Glenfinnan, revered by Harry Potter fans, steam train enthusiasts, and Bonnie Prince Charlie lovers alike. Rising out of the stunning scenery is the famous Glenfinnan viaduct, a stately 21-arch bridge featured in the Potter films. Watch in awe as the Jacobite steam train barrels past, 100ft above the ground. Another must-visit attraction is the Glenfinnan Monument, a tower commemorating the Jacobite clansmen who lost their lives fighting against the English. Climb to the top for sweeping valley views. Finally, The Glenfinnan Visitor Centre Walks offers 45-minute to one-hour long loop walks through the surrounding hills if you just can’t get enough of the bucolic surroundings.

Glencoe | Photo: Luke Ellis Craven

Glenfinnan | Photo: Bryan Walker

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Enclosed by steep mountains and brooding spurs, the road through Glencoe Valley weaves past deep gorges and cascading waterfalls to arrive at charming Glencoe village

Glencoe Valley

Today you’re headed to Glencoe Valley, easily Scotland’s most grand (and, as a result, most famous) glen. Enclosed by steep mountains and brooding spurs, the road through Glencoe Valley weaves past deep gorges and cascading waterfalls to arrive at charming Glencoe village. The only settlement in the valley, this is your base for any number of forested hikes. Always a crowd-pleaser, the Lochan Trails are a leisurely one-hour walk accessible from the main street. More avid hikers might consider the Pap of Glencoe trek; upon ascent, bask in the panoramic views over the valley and Loch Leven. End the day of adventures at Castle Stalker, a dreamy medieval castle tucked away on an island in the middle of Loch Linnhe.

Loch Ness

No Scotland road trip itinerary is complete without a stop at the one and only Loch Ness. The second-largest loch in Scotland, take a boat ride and try to spot Nessie—joining some other 1,000 eyewitness accounts claiming a mysterious monster looms beneath the surface.

Fort Augustus is a pretty town built on the water’s edge and makes a smart spot for lunch after a morning on the water. Then, head to Drumnadrochit. The drive along the loch is lovely, and the village boasts a crumbling medieval castle with beautiful viewpoints. Should you want to extend your Loch Ness tour, there are plenty of other quiet towns and the more bustling city of Inverness, all excellent stops on your way back to Fort William.

Loch Ness | Photo: Grantynick

The Isle of Skye (2 days)

For what is arguably Scotland’s most dramatic scenery, head to the Isle of Skye. While many opt for a harried day trip from Inverness, two days is ideal to discover the island’s highlights. You can drive or boat; we recommend the short ferry ride from Mallaig harbor. Once you arrive, start by exploring the south-west with a jaunt to picture-perfect Sligachan, where the Cuillin Hills rise majestically in the background. Then, carry on to the Fairy Pools, a small succession of waterfalls that gently cascade into a crystalline pool. It’s an ideal spot for a picnic, especially on a sun-dappled day. While away the rest of the afternoon in the Cuillin Hills, or head to Dunvegan Castle for its blooming garden and a boat ride to encounter the seals. Cheers to the day of scenic wonders at Neist Point, which is undeniably the best spot for sunsets.

Portree is your best home-base on the Isle of Skye, but with no real attractions, it’s primarily a sweet spot for a good night’s sleep. Your second day starts with a drive to Old Man of Storr, a 50-meter rock jutting out of the Trotternish ridge. The two-hour round trip hike to the base is probably the island’s most famous walk, but the views are well worth the foot traffic. Then continue to the Kilt Rock waterfall; it’s named for the volcanic lava columns that plunge into the sea—bearing an uncanny resemblance to pleats in a kilt. The rest of your day is allocated for driving north to Quiraing and Duntulm Castle, a magical setting of mountain ranges and misty bogs.

The Isle of Skye | Photo: FrankWinkler

Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park (1 day)

Loch Lomond is a beloved nature getaway for locals hailing from Edinburgh or Glasgow. With 21 Munros (Scottish mountains), 22 lochs, and some 50 nature conservation sites, this enchanting area is oft compared to the Highlands, albeit in miniature form. Rent a canoe and spend a day on Loch Lomond, Great Britain’s largest water body, or saunter down easy-going paths through forested parks. If your schedule allows, Killin is a cute village with the Dochart waterfalls at its doorstep, and Stirling Castle is worth a look, if only from the outside.

Glasgow (1 day)

When it comes to the best places to visit in Scotland, no list is complete without cosmopolitan Glasgow. With its revitalized riverfront, fashion-forward shopping, and contemporary art scene, the city feels far removed from its past association with post-industrial grit and gangs. Take a stroll through town to discover the eclectic mix of architecture, ranging from Victorian mansions to the award-winning, neo-futuristic Riverside Museum. The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow Botanic Gardens, and Glasgow Royal Concert Hall are all must-visits.

While Edinburgh and Aberdeen gay life tend to be most talked about, Glasgow is home to a thriving gay community, influenced largely by the annual Glasgay Festival. Whether it’s over a cozy pint at the pub or via a fabulous allnighter on the dance floor, expect a thriving gay Glasgow nightlife scene that promises a little something for everyone. Explore all the highlights with our in-depth gay Glasgow travel guide.

Glasgow | Photo: Anna Urlapova

Photo: Arthouse Studio

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