I’ve lived in Scotland for about 7 years, on and off. How many times in those 7 years had I been on a roadtrip around Scotland (before last week)? Once. And that was in 2012 when I graduated from uni with a van full of teenagers and a toddler. Even thought it was a really fun trip, I remember it being kind of rushed and a little chaotic. Which is why when I moved to Edinburgh two years ago I made it a point to my husband that we would need to explore more of Scotland. I can now embarrassingly say that more than 1.5 years later we’ve finally started the process.
Since Rob can’t take much time off this summer we were only able to get away for a weekend so I had my eyes set on Glencoe, which apparently is the most beautiful place in Scotland (according to Instagram 😉). We set off on a Friday afternoon and got back to Edinburgh on Sunday evening, which gave me more than enough time to decide that I needed to go back asap. In fact, the second we got back home I ran to my computer and booked accommodation for a weekend in October.
So…what can you do in and around Glencoe with only 48 hours on your hands? Where can you stay? What should you bring? If you want to know what an unorganized person like myself did then read on…
Where to stay
Initially I really, really wanted to stay in Glencoe, either in a cabin type accommodation or a bothy. But because I only booked our accommodation about a month ago and had a free nights stay to use up with hotels.com I couldn’t find anything suitable (aka that didn’t rob us of all our monies). Instead, we settled on a nice hotel in Oban called The Perle Oban. This hotel was super comfortable, fresh and had an amazing breakfast buffet (along with those tiny jam jars that I love to steal hehe). The bed was one of those dreamy, soft hotel beds with amazing crisp sheets, there were L’occitane goodies in the bathroom and wonderful rainshower (is that what they’re called?🤔) Just one more thing about breakfast- I’m not a big breakfast person but it was divine at this hotel. The selection game was strong- think piles of pain au chocolat and croissants, smoothies, muesli, all kinds of juices and drinks including coconut water as well as a menu you could order off of. I got french toast the first morning and avo toast the second (obviously).
Oban is about a 45-50 minute car ride away from Glencoe, depending on traffic. Honestly, just driving around in the area is so pretty that it didn’t feel far away at all. What I am looking forward to is staying in a bothy instead of a hotel, which is what we’ll be doing in October. I booked this bothy, called the Bonnie Bothy, that I’ve kept my eye on for ages and it seems to be very popular. This site has an amazing selection of different bothies in the Highlands that I would recommend checking out. Also, Airbnb has tons of bothies, yurts (funny word), cottages and lodges on their site.
Where to go
I’ll be honest, I didn’t do a lot of research before we started our drive. I just kind of thought “I’ll see some cool mountains, take some photos and call it a day”. However, having a rough plan of where to go is a good idea, especially because there are a lot of tourists and big tourist busses around so you don’t want to aimlessly be avoiding them.
After telling my best friend Andrea that we were going to Glencoe she told me that the so-called “Harry Potter bridge” was in the area. Seeing as I’m not Harry Potter’s biggest fan I wasn’t super excited about this info to begin with but after googling the bridge and seeing how cool it looked I quickly changed my mind. The bridge isn’t actually called the Harry Potter bridge but Glenfinnan Viaduct. This is the bridge that is seen in the beginning of many of the HP movies, when the train to Hogwarts crosses it. Even if it wasn’t for Harry Potter I think the bridge is worth going to.
Anywhere in Glencoe
This is an obvious one, but just driving around in Glencoe is enough. It’s no surprise that many think it’s the most beautiful part of Scotland. It almost feels like a mix of Iceland and Norway, but moodier. Stop off at the different viewing platforms/stops and enjoy the view. Even though I love taking photos I forgot to take my camera out a lot of the time because I was in awe of the landscape. No wonder parts of Skyfall were filmed here.
Even though I’d been to Loch Lomond before, I didn’t realize just how much you could do there. There were tons of places advertising water sports and activities.
Here is a rough overview of where we drove:
Where to take photos (for the gram)
The white cottage in Glencoe
Whenever I searched for Glencoe on Instagram, photos of this white cottage kept coming up. I tried searching for it but couldn’t find anything online, sadly. With some crazy luck, we decided to take a left turn instead of a right and ended up driving right past it! It really is such a nice place for a photo- a small white cottage in front of massive mountains!
Here is the location for the white cottage on Google Maps.
A Highland coo
This isn’t really a where, but a what. Highland cow’s are so, so cute. I got one photo but it was too far because the coo was eating and refused to come closer to me *sobs*. Next time!
Glenfinnan Viaduct (from the side)
follow link A little tip– instead of following the signs to the viewing platform to see the bridge, I recommend trying to get close to it so you can take photos of it from the side. The viewing platform is fine but there were a ton of tourists there all trying to get a photo. Instead, take the path that leads towards the bridge from the parking lot.
What to wear and/or bring
You’ll probably be spending a lot of time sitting in a car so you’ll want to be comfortable. If you’re not sitting in a car you’re probably walking or hiking. So again, you wanna be as comfy as possible. I packed very last minute- literally threw a bunch of clothes into a weekend bag and left. Here are the things I would wear and pack with you on a roadtrip to the Highlands:
If you’re going to be doing a lot of walking, proper walking shoes would probably be best. Seeing as I’m lazy and don’t move my bod I wore Vans. Something comfortable, not too heavy and easy to slip on are 👌👌👌
If you’re not snacking on the road, you’re doing it wrong. So get snacks, ok? It’s a must! With snacks come food babies, so you gotta wear comfortable trousers. I wore mom jeans and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life (I’m being dramatic for effect but you get me). Leggings work too but they’re uglier IMO.
Scotland is rainy, windy and can be cold. Scotland can also be sunny, hot and sticky. All in one day. So wear layers. Easy to peel off, easy to pile on. Shirts or light sweatshirts work great!
Rain or wind jacket
I threw my Barbour jacket into my bag last minute and I’m so glad I did. Even though I haven’t worn mine since last winter it was definitely needed. Edinburgh is windy but Glencoe was…veeeeeeery windy.
Not an article of clothing, but a necessity. My phone kept going in and out of reception so my battery went flat real fast, poor thing. Luckily I had my huge battery pack with me it was a lifesaver! Even though it weighs a ton and is the size of a brick, it is one of the best purchases I have ever made. 100% recommend taking one on the road with you!