Scotland was made for culture, castles, and all things breathtaking. This tour showcases them front and center, so you’ll want to have your camera ready. Admire the beautiful gardens and discover the history of each unique castle as you journey around the country. This self-drive tour gives you the freedom to take in Scotland’s beauty and charm at your leisure.
- Dirleton & Kellie Castle
- Scottish Plant Collectors’ Garden
- Blair Castle & Castle Menzies
- Benmore Botanic Garden
- Brodick Castle
Inclusions & Extras
Automatic economy car with:
- Unlimited mileage
- Collision Damage Waiver (CDW)
- Theft protection (TP),
- Value added tax (VAT)
- Third party liability
- Location service charge (LSC)
- Edinburgh (3)
- Oban (1)
- Glasgow (2)
- Deluxe travel wallet with comprehensive travel documents, luggage tags and driving map.
- Expert service from dedicated sales guide before, during and after your trip
Day 1: Royal Botanic Gardens & Dirleton Castle
Arrive in Edinburgh and check into your accommodation. Begin exploring all that Edinburgh has to offer such as its famous Royal Botanic Garden. You can also find Malleny Garden with its ancient yew trees, old-fashioned roses and dazzling herbaceous borders at Balerno on the city outskirts. Edinburgh also makes a good base for exploring other castles of the Lothians, including Dirleton Castle, a medieval fortress originally built by an Anglo- Norman family. It also has a very attractive garden below the old walls, its herbaceous plantings are at their best in high summer. Enjoy dinner in the evening and return to your hotel.
Overnight in Edinburgh
Day 2: Kellie Castle & Branklyn Garden
Get an early start this morning and head over the Forth Bridge towards the historic county of Fife. As you continue on your journey, be sure to turn east along the coast to reach the photogenic East Neuk fishing villages. Make a stop near the small town of Anstruther at Kellie Castle. Wander through the garden and admire its herbaceous borders filled with organically grown fruit and vegetables.
Next, return westwards by way of Falkland Palace, favorite hunting lodge of the Stuart monarchy. Continue north-west across Fife to join the M90 for Perth and the small-scale, intimate plantings at Branklyn Garden. Make your way through this attractive garden while checking out the exotic plants and rare species. Finally, leave and make the drive back to Edinburgh.
Overnight in Edinburgh
Day 3: Pitlochry & Blair Castle
Today you will drive north along the A9. The Scottish Plant Collectors’ Garden at Pitlochry makes its tribute to more than a hundred collectors of Scottish origin or descent who discovered many of the species which are the mainstays of British gardens today. After some exploring, continue north.
Arrive at Blair Castle, a historic fortress and ancestral home of the Dukes of Atholl. On the estate you can see Diana’s Grove, with trees planted more than a century ago as newly introduced American conifer species. They now represent the tallest grouping of trees in the UK, with at least 20 above 150 ft (46m), including several British record breakers.
Next return briefly south to take the A827 west for Aberfeldy. Beyond the town on one side of the River Tay is Castle Menzies, while on the other is Bolfracks, a country- house garden demonstrating the sheer range of plants which can be grown in Perthshire’s temperate climate.
Continue west by Loch Tay. Look for signposts to Ben Lawers, above the loch, noted for its alpine plants. Further on, Finlarig Castle is a ruined fortress in Killin at the west end of Loch Tay. After a full day of exploring, drive back to Edinburgh, stop for dinner, and then return to your hotel.
Overnight in Edinburgh
Day 4: Kilchurn Castle & Dunstaffnage Castle
Continue west through Glen Dochart to reach Loch Awe. Arrive at Kilchurn Castle, a former Campbell stronghold with a four-story tower and the first purpose-built barracks in Scotland. The castle offers magnificent views over loch and mountain. Next continue to Oban where you’ll find Dunstaffnage Castle – the temporary prison of Flora MacDonald in 1746 – as another option on the way. Continue on to your accommodation in Oban and spend the rest of the day exploring this lovely town.
Overnight in Oban
Day 5: An Cala & Carnasserie Castle
After breakfast this morning, take the A816 south from Oban. Among the garden options in the vicinity is An Cala, with it’s meandering streams, winding paths, Poulsen roses, Japanese cherry trees and banks of Ghent azaleas. The garden, set snugly into a horseshoe of surrounding cliffs, overlooks Easdale Island with its fascinating slate-mining heritage. Noting Carnasserie Castle, a 16th century tower-house, seen from the main road south, continue down, via the prehistoric sites in Kilmartin Glen, to the ferry across Loch Fyne from Tarbert, reaching Cowal at Portavadie. Drive east by the lovely Kyles of Bute, taking the ferry at Colintraive for the Isle of Bute.
Overnight in Glasgow
Day 6: Mount Stuart & Brodick Castle
Visit Mount Stuart, a grand Gothic stately home five miles south of Rothesay, set in gardens built on a grand scale. Return to the mainland via the Colintraive ferry again, taking the scenic road east for Dunoon and the Benmore Botanic Garden, one of the most spectacular on the western seaboard. If time permits, this tour can be continued southward via the Dunoon-Gourock ferry connection for Ayrshire and the island of Arran, reached by ferry from Ardrossan. The rhododendron collection at Brodick Castle is world-famous and definitely worth a visit. Enjoy your last night as you please.
Overnight in Glasgow
Day 7: Return Home
Return you rental car at Glasgow airport and fly home.
We are more than happy to include a flight quote separately to your package so that you can decide if you would like to book with us or on your own. While booking flights can seem straight-forward, there are often hidden fees or classes of service that do not include seat assignments, meals or checked bags. We have been booking flights since 1985 and know the best routings and have great contracts that mean we often have better prices than what you will see online.
In Scotland, we generally try to book hotels that are at a 4 star level or higher. In some situations, we will book some 3 star or B&B properties but we do require them to be at a certain standard. We try to ensure a member of the team have stayed at each property in recent years or that we have done a site inspection.
Your first vacation quote, and up to two revisions, for trips of 9 or fewer days, and 45 days in advance of travel, are complimentary. If an itinerary requires further revisions subsequent to this, we will require a non-refundable deposit of $75 per person in order to continue.
If you are requesting a quote for a vacation that is 10 days in length, or with travel dates within 45 days, or to a non-core destination, a deposit of $75 per person will be required in order for us to begin working on your proposal.
Planning deposits can then be put towards the cost of the trip should you decide to proceed with the booking.