Planning a road tour through the Scottish Highlands? It can be an incredible experience, whether you’re interested in historic sites, natural areas, museums and culture, or something completely different. Of course, there are tons of potential destinations to include in your excursion through the Highlands, and you could spend days just in one or two areas. We’ll walk you through some of the better options to include on your tour.
Make Inverness your starting point. It’s right on the A82 for easy access, and the A9 is within easy reach. Spend some time getting to know the city, as well. There’s tons of history here, dating back at least to medieval times, but much of it even older. The River Ness is well worth spending some time on or around, as is the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery. Visit Moray Firth and you may even see a few dolphins.
West Knockbain and Muckernich Wood
You’ll get into the very heart of the Highlands when you visit West Knockbain Wood and Muckernich Wood. There are really no historic sites to visit, but it is one of the most beautiful natural areas you’ll find and makes for excellent pictures. You’ll then cross Cromarty Firth on the Cromarty Bridge before getting back on the A9 and heading up along the coast of the firth. There are plenty of places to stop for pictures, as well as to grab a bite to eat, buy souvenirs, and more.
The Road to Durness
Durness is a lovely destination, but make sure you take plenty of pictures on the road there. You’ll pass through some of the most untouched land in all of Scotland, and it’s incredibly beautiful. Make sure to have backup batteries for your camera. In Durness, you can visit Smoo Cave, climb the Clo Mor Cliffs, spend time at Balnakiel Beach, and more. From Durness, you can begin your trip back to Inverness, too, following the same route you took there, which will give you an opportunity to explore areas you might have missed on your drive up.
Notes on the Roads
While the A9 is wide and easy to drive, you will encounter numerous side roads that are narrower and much more challenging. This is particularly true around the lochs and firths you’ll pass, but also through some of the more rural areas. This makes the route an ideal option for those who want to challenge their driving skills, not just enjoy the picturesque scenery.
Tips for Success
The route we’ve laid out above is created in broad strokes in order to allow you to tailor it to your personal needs, goals, and wants. It’s a lengthy drive and you can spend as little or as much time as you like in areas along the way. There are ample options for accommodations, even in some of the more remote towns you’ll pass but be aware that the less populated areas have fewer options, so plan ahead.