In April 2019, a friend and I boarded on a plane that led us to the amazing country of Scotland. Over the course of 8 days and thanks to quite a bit of planning (and the help of Visit Scotland), we were going to travel all around the country on a road trip without a car: using only public transportation and hitchhiking. (I had some confidence on that front thanks to my previous experiences in Iceland, as you can read here).
In this article, you will be able to know more about this journey and to orientate yourself via the different links which might interest you and/or give you the will to visit Scotland and it’s breathtaking landscapes.
This country is part of the United Kingdom and surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, the North Sea to the northeast, the Irish Sea to the south, and more than 790 islands.
What really triggered my curiosity to go visit Scotland was what I heard and read about its spectacular natural landscapes. Depending on where you find yourself in the country, the environment can change hugely giving you such a variety of experiences and so much more than what you might expect!
DAY 1: From Edinburgh to Fort William
After a night in our Airbnb in Edinburgh, we walked towards the nearest train station in order to subscribe to a traveller pass: the Highland Rover with Scotrail Services. You can read more about my whole journey with them here. The first train took us to Glasgow where we switched to another train which will carry us all the way to Oban through the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. Once on the ground we went for some of the best seafood in the country at the Local Shellfish that we ate on the harbour before visiting the town. Check here my review of the best meals I had in Scotland as well as the TOP 4 of the little towns to visit. After wandering in the charming streets of Oban, we hopped in a bus towards Fort William before walking to our first hostel of the trip booked by Hostelling Scotland: the Glen Nevis Youth Hostel. Thanks to them and their support we had the chance to sleep in lovely places, and you can read all about this here.
DAY 2: From Fort William to Inverness
After a continental breakfast at the hostel we went back on the road through the Willie Maclays Walk back to Fort William in order to visit the town. Our train took us past the Viaduct of Genfinnan (the one from Harry Potter) towards Mallaig, a small fishing community on the Cap West where we climbed to enjoy the views. You can check what I think about it here. After that, we took a new bus which drove us towards Inverness where we checked in a hostel from Hostelling Scotland before heading for dinner at the Mustard Seed and drinks at Hootananny (with a side of bagpipes). Don’t forget to read about my review of the different Scottish restaurants I’ve been eating at as well as how I managed to use Scotrail Services.
DAY 3: The Isle of Skye
Our first day tour with Rabbies – a great tour company – started at 8AM and lasted twelve hours for us to visit the Highlands and the Isle of Skye. You can read all about this tour and the other ones on my special article about Rabbies.
DAY 4: From Inverness to Ullapool
After visiting Inverness’s centre and it’s botanical garden (don’t forget to read more about the Scottish towns I’ve explored), we took a bus towards Ullapool where we check in our hostel from Hostelling Scotland one more time. After walking around this quaint fishing town, we went to have dinner and drinks before heading back to our room, ready for the epic day that was coming.
DAY 5: The road 500
On that day, my friend and I raised our thumbs to hitchhike from Ullapool all the way to Scrabster by the road 500, one of the most scenic roads in the country. You can read all about this adventure here. Once we arrived in Scrabster, we boarded a Ferry that took us to Stromness on the Orkney Island. We then took a bus to Kirkwall, the main city, before checking in our hostel with Hostelling Scotland.
DAY 6: Orkney Island
Once awake, my friend and I went to walk in the center of Kirkwall before meeting John and its “Trike”: A motorcycle with three wheels. Thanks to him and his support we had the chance to ride all over Orkney and to learn more about its History. You can read all about it here. After the tour was over, we went to one of the many restaurants he recommended for a cosy dinner that quickly turned into a pre-party. After that we walked towards the Ferry departure, ready for a 7 hours crossing to the Shetland Islands. You can know more about experience with Scotrail and Ferry services here.
DAY 7: Shetland Island
After a tough crossing we put our feet on the ground of Lerwick, in Shetland. This is where we met Martha for our bird and animal watching tour. This was an unforgettable experience on which you can read all the details here. Next, we returned by Ferry to the main land of Scotland after a 12 hour journey.
DAY 8: The Highlands
Having arrived in Aberdeen in the morning, we met Rabbies again (read about the tours and this great tour company here) for a tour of the Highlands. We check in our hostel with Hostelling Scotland in the evening for a calm dinner before heading back to the centre of Aberdeen for some drinks and even a karaoke bar.
DAY 9: Edinburgh
We took a train from Aberdeen to Edinburgh and checked in our last hostel of the trip with Hostelling Scotland. We went to visit the old town and the castle, have an wonderful lunch at The Witchery (Review with me the restaurants I’ve enjoyed in Scotland here) as well as a great last dinner close to the hostel before heading to bed for an early flight home the next day.