7 Days road trip to Scottish Highlands

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We travel to Scotland once a year and it has now become a family ritual . The ritual is established because we fell head over heels in love with Scotland back in 2009. And I doubt there is anyone who has visited Scotland once and never went back.

Lately I have been seeing a lot of queries for sample itinerary/suggestions/recommendations for Scotland travel. So I took this as an opportunity to write a couple of blog post to help people planning their epic road trip to Scotland.

We are a big fan of road trips, and feel self drive makes your journey memorable and gives you more time to explore different places. If you are one of those who stay in Scotland or closer to Scotland border, well I envy you 🙂 For those who stay a bit far like us, let’s get started 🙂

Trip to Scotland include Scottish highlands by default. So if you are driving from far, I will recommend you to break your journey at Edinburgh for couple of days.

  1. Edinburgh

Things to do in Edinburgh:

  1. Edinburgh Castle – Worth a visit and will take half of your day.
  2. Walk on the Royal Mile Road – We have done it several times, and still enjoy this walk exploring different pubs, street shows, restaurants.
  3. Camera Obscura – It is a world of illusions, mirror maze etc and if you are travelling with kids they will enjoy it too.
  4. A stroll in Holyrood park and a gorgeous hike to Arthur Seat giving you panoramic view of Edinburgh.
  5. A small hike via steps to Calton Hill and a gorgeous view of old & new Edinburgh from the top. There is an unfinished monument at the top, a beautiful photo spot.
  6. Dynamic Earth – another interesting attraction to know more about earth and sciences.

2. Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park

Afterwards you can start your journey towards Scottish highlands. Drive to Loch Lomond & The Troassachs National Park and stop over in various villages of the national park. Take a cruise from one of these villages: Luss Village , Balloch or Tarbet.

Even a simple stroll is beautiful & quaint in these villages. To read more, check out our blog post on Luss(Herb) Village Walk, Argyll

3. Inverary, Argyll

This little beautiful coastal town is home to Live Inveraray Jail, Inveraray Castle, Loch and beautiful cottages. You can easily spend a day or two here.

To read more, check out our blog post – Beautiful Inveraray, Argyll

4. Glencoe

Driving in the valleys of Glencoe is awe-inspiring. It is majestically beautiful yet quietly boasting different mountain ranges in it’s vicinity. We can spend weeks here and still not get bored of it. But if you have only a week, stay over a night , go for a hill walk and in night lie down outside for star gazing. Believe me it will not get any more beautiful.

5. Fort Williams

Town of fort Williams is no far from Glencoe and it is home to the highest mountain of the UK – Ben Nevis. If you are fit and up for a hike, do the hike to Ben Nevis. It is challenging but views all the way is a reward to the eyes & soul. More about the hike on this post Hike to Ben Nevis- Britain’s Highest Mountain

Do not worry, those who want to take it a bit easy. You can still get to the top of Nevis Range by visiting Nevis Range Gondola Centre 

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If you have interests in gems, fossils & crystals, a visit to Treasures of Earth will be worth it. May be bookmark it for a rainy Scottish day . More of it on the post Treasures of the Earth

Shout out for Whisky lovers, a must visit to Ben Nevis Distillery, you can take a guided tour and at the end of the tour treat yourself with real Scottish whisky while sitting in Scotland 🙂

6. Lochshiel, Glenfinnan

Not far from Fort Williams is a little hamlet of Glenfinnan.

Shout out for Harry Potter fans, the very famous The Hogwarts Express rides over the Glenfinnan Viaduct Bridge, which is closely visible by a long walk from here or you can see it from far distant from station museum.

Loch Shiel is the location of the fictional Black Lake near Hogwarts in the film versions of the Harry Potter series. To read more, check out our blog post Lochshiel, Glenfinnan

So this was our list for 7 days in Scotland. You can customize the number of days you would like to spend in each place. Hopefully it gives you an overall idea on what can you do for 7 days in the beautiful highlands.

 

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Iceland Road Trip – Tips on Planning

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What is Iceland for us? Iceland is for us is like entering to into another planet. It is far by the most beautiful place I have ever seen, and I am sure it will always remain no1 on my favourites list. The beautiful landscapes, magnificent mountains, amazing waterfalls and so much more. If you love being around nature, believe me you will not find a perfect setting like this.

So in this post I am going to delve into a bit of tips on planning your trip. If you are coming to Iceland just to visit Reykjavik, then planning is quite straight forward but if you are planning to drive around island then there are few things which you might want to consider or plan well ahead.

When to Visit Iceland

I have visited Iceland in Summers and Winters, and frankly I will not be able to pick my favourite time. It displays a different landscape in both the seasons, and some options for you to choose. Summers will give you the opportunity to see midnight sun as it never really gets dark and winters will show you the amazing Northern Lights. So if you have a bucket list with both of these items, I will suggest to make two trips to Iceland to see the beauty it offers.

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Iceland in Winters

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Iceland in Summers

To give you an idea on weather, here is what I read and saw for myself.

May to June – It is spring time, it will be cold, less crowd, snow still at some places and might be inaccessible as well.

July to August – Summers time, tourist season, pleasant weather and almost all of the country accessible.

September to October – Autumn time, a shoulder time with still pleasant weather and winters coming up. Few parts of the country might start to get accessible only by mountain vehicles and 4wd cars.

November to April – Winters time, snow snow snow and chance to see Northern Lights.

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What Must/Should go in a Packing List

When in Iceland, you could see a lot of variation in weather in a single day. When you went out it might be sunny, but within few hours its heavy rains, strong winds and by evening it could be again calm. So be prepared and bring layers with you to dress up accordingly.

Clothes – You must bring a a thermal vest, rain jacket & water proof trousers, along with a cap and gloves. Rest of the list I will leave for you to decide 🙂

Navigation – It is always helpful to have a Sat-Nav or Tom-Tom with you. Driving in Iceland is easy as there is no complicated road network. But it always added an advantage to your journey, for an instance to look for the nearest gas station or a grocery shop.

Road Map – If possible, get an Iceland road map. Sometimes Sat Nav will try to take you to the shortest route or fastest route via a impassable route or a route fit for only large vehicle. At those times, basic knowledge of ideas will come to great help.

Phones – Download a couple of useful apps on your phone to get to know the weather and road conditions while you are driving across Iceland.

  1. 112 – This is the official app for emergency service in Iceland. With this app, you can send an SMS to Icelandic emergency services while using the GPS location before dialing 112.
  2. Vedur – Best Icelandic weather app. It helped us a lot in planning our day in both of our visits.
  3. Iceland Road Guide – Gives you a very good ideas on the roads in Iceland.

 

Money/Credit Cards – Get some Icelandic currency as well as enable your cards for foreign transactions. If you are out of cash, one can always use a credit card even in remote parts of this island.

Camera Equipment – I am sure you will not forget it, but should go in the list anyways. Carry all your favourite lenses as well as tripod to capture the beauty of the place and bring it with you back home. A pack of extra battery may be 🙂

Where to Stay in Iceland

If you are touring around the island then you will be driving every other day to a new place. Around Reyjkavik , you will not fall short of options. But as you start moving away from the capital, options are a little lesser. But locations of most of the places is awesome. During our stay, we stayed in hotel, hostels as well as Air BnB in some of the awestruck settings.  If you want to stay close to the nature, I will advise you to book well in advance, as accommodations like the ones below does really get booked fast.

  1. Foss Hotel, Nupar Near Skaftafell
  2. Berunes Hostel
  3. Mjonaes Accomodation, Egilsstadir
  4. Akureryi Air BnB options
  5. Hvammstangi Seaside Cottage
  6. Bryggjukafi Hostel or Sima Hostel, Flateryi
  7. A seaside cottage, Talknafjordur

 

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Food/Grocery Shopping & Fuel

Like any other country, Iceland does not fall in the options of restaurants and grocery shop. But eating out everyday on a long trip might burn a hole in your pocket.If you are travelling on budget ( like us ) and having a self catered stay, I have listed out few super market names for your grocery shopping.

  1. Bonus – Cheapest Option
  2. Netto
  3. Kronan

Fuel – No problem in finding a fuel station in Iceland, they accept foreign cards as well as cash. When you are driving away from Reykjavik, be vary of the fact that sometimes the distance between fuel stations can go upto 100KM, so just keep an eye on the fuel tank and keep tanking it up.

Things To Do

Iceland is like Santa’s Christmas Sack which never falls short of options 🙂 There is something for everyone, whether you choose organised tours or self planned trip. And if you love hiking/walking, it will be a paradise for you. Nevertheless, I have mentioned few activites below:

  1. Hiking/Walking
  2. River Rafting
  3. Helicopter Tours
  4. Glacier Hike
  5. Rock Climbing
  6. Cave Tours
  7. Ice Climbing
  8. Horseback Riding
  9. ATV Tours
  10. Northern Lights in Winters

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Iceland Road Trip – 11 days Itinerary

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At this moment I am suffering from post holiday depression ( as  one of my dearest friend calls it ) after my superb and awesome 11 days road trip around the most lovely island – Iceland. I was thinking of ways to overcome this depression. Guess what! writing about it seemed like the best option for self help 🙂

So I started planning for this road trip from Nov 2016. You all must think that’s way too much early, but I had to as my 11 months old baby (who was 3.5 months then) was supposed to join us on this lifetime of a road trip. So yes I took my time to plan the routes, drive times, accommodations,  car hiring, sights, hidden gems, baby foods and much more.

I would like to share the details of my plans and itinerary with all other fellow travellers to make their next venture to Iceland a bit more convenient with some useful tips.  So next few blog posts will be dedicated to Happy Iceland Travel 🙂

Here is a print shot of the journey we travelled to give you an idea of our journey. PS: All the stops are not included  as Mr.Google will not allow me to add all places in one go. So I will break down my journey and travel plans for each day 🙂

 

You will notice that I have not included South west part of Iceland on the map, as we had visited that part of Iceland on our last trip to Iceland. I will provide the details on that as well.

PS: We rented a car and did a self drive tour around the Island. Our own tour, not through any tour company 🙂 We enrouted to south coast first, going anti-clock around the island.

PS: I will be writing separate posts for each of the places that are mentioned below.

Day 1 – Keflavik to Skaftafell/Vatnajokull National Park

When you arrive at the airport, your car will be ready for you to pick up and you must be geared up to start your epic road trip in Iceland.

1st Stop – Seljalandasfoss

2nd Stop – Skogafoss

3rd Stop – Vik Village and Black Sand Beach

4th Stop – Solheimasamdur Plane Wreck Site ( which sadly we could not visit, as it was pouring down heavily and we did not want a sick baby on the first day of our journey)

5th Stop – Quick Stop at Fjadrargljufur Canyons.

6th Stop – A peaceful night at your chosen accommodation. We stayed at Fosshotel Nupar, every room had huge windows with superb views.

Day 2 – Skaftafell/Vatnajokull National Park to Berunes

1st Stop – Walking in the national Park. You can choose to go for a long hike or a small hike, hard or easy, lots of choices available.

2nd Stop – Jokulsarlon Glacier & Diamond Beach

3rd Stop – Hofn Village

4th Stop – Vestahorn Mountains in Stokksnes

5th Stop – A peaceful night at your chosen accommodation. We stayed at a cottage (YHA International Hostelling) by the sea with mountains around.

Day 3 – Berunes to Egilsstaðir

It is a beautiful coastal drive, one of our favorite drives around the island. You will love every bit of this drive.

Stop 1 – Petra’s Stone Collection

Stop 2 – Hengifoss Waterfall

Stop 3 – Walk in the Hallormsstadur Forest

Day 4 – Egilsstadir to Seydisfjordur

Walk around the this little beautiful town. It is a home to beautiful waterfalls, so if you love hiking you will have a treat.

On return, visit Egilsstadir town and may be a dip in the thermal pool.

Day 5 – Egilsstadir to Akureyri – Lots of options to explore on this drive

Stop 1 – Dettifoss & Selfoss

Stop 2 – Viti Crater

Stop 3 – Krafla Power Station

Stop 4 – Hevrir

Stop 5 – Lake Myvatn

Stop 6 – Godafoss

Day 6 – Visit & Explore Akureyri – This will give you little break from all the driving.

Day 7 – Akureyri to Hvammstangi 

If you plan to visit west fjords during your trip, hvammstangi is a good option for a break in journey. It is a beautiful coastal town with many walks and options to check out Arctic Tern Colony.

Day 8 – Hvammstangi to Isafjordur or Flatyeri

Get ready for an awesome drive in the Fjords. A part of this journey will be on the gravel road, but landscape around you will make up for it.

Stop 1 – Non sense Museum – You read it right, I did not make something up.

Stop 2 – Old Book Store in Iceland – Worth a trip, if you love to read this is the place for you.

Day 9 – Isafjordur

Explore Isafjordur and near by villages. Go for long hikes or short walks.

Day 10 – Flateyri to Talknafjordur

Stop 1 – Pingyeri Village – Museums, Village Walks.

Stop 2 – Dyjandi Falls

Stop 3 – Swim in natural geothermal pools

Stop 4 – Latrabjarg Cliffs

Day 11 – Talknafjordur to Keflavik

Get ready for the longest drive of the trip, its time to head back to Keflavik and back home 😦

Before you go back home, visit blue lagoon to get those muscles relaxed and soak in the beauty of Iceland.

More blog posts coming up for each of the places mentioned above 🙂