Scotland is filled to the brim with dramatic landscapes, historical sites, rich culture and more. The best way to experience as much of this as possible is through a road trip around Scotland. This allows you to be in charge of your own journey, take in as much as possible and see everything first hand. In this blog, you’ll learn about the most important rules and tips for driving in Scotland, as well as the best road trips to take!
# Rules for Driving in Scotland
First, let’s go over the basics. In Scotland you always drive on the left hand side of the road. The speed limits are often signposted in a circular sign with a red border. However, when there is no sign post the national speed limits apply, these are:
70mph (112km/h) for motorways and dual carriageways
30mph (48km/h) for built up areas. However around residential areas and near schools there may be a clearly signposted 20mph (32 km/h) speed limit.
As for a driving license, if you’re coming from a country within the European Union you just need to bring that valid license. For countries outside of the EU, you can also use your valid license from your own country for small vehicles (e.g. car or motorcycle) but only up to 12 months in the UK. If you’re bringing your own car, you will need to bring the vehicle registration or ownership documents, and have them with you at all times. You’ll need to arrange insurance, as every driver on the Scottish road must have at least third-party insurance cover.
There are heavy penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol and the repercussions are taken very seriously. The legal limit is currently 50mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood, you can read more about the drink-drive limit in Scotland here.
# Tips for Driving in Scotland
Your road trip around Scotland may include some rural roads, so always take care and keep an eye out for farm animals or wildlife. Some rural roads are single lane, but have passing places to ensure traffic in opposite directions can pass safely, so ensure you stop at these when necessary.
Scotland is subject to harsh winters, and the coldest months there tend to be December, January and February. During this time the average maximum temperature reaches around 5°, and freezing temperatures are very common. Be sure to wrap up warm, and bring extra winter clothes in case your car breaks down and you need to wait a while. During the winter, snow falls 15 to 20 days on average, and this can be extremely dangerous for an inexperienced driver. Our best advice is to read up on winter driving tips and to always check the weather forecast before you set off.
# South West Coastal 300
Looking for Scotland driving tour routes but short on time? Then the South West Coastal 300 is ideal for you! The South West Coastal 300 is longer than some other routes at 300 miles, but is along quieter roads through the beautiful countryside of south Ayrshire and Dumfries & Galloway. This road trip takes you through secluded beaches, rugged cliff tops, rolling hills and picturesque towns and villages. Some of the best sights along the way include the fascinating Whithorn, the creative hotspot of Kirkcudbright, the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory and the romantic ruin of Sweetheart Abbey.
Our advice: Take this road trip as a way to explore the less touristy side of Scotland, and if you enjoy heritage and splendid locations. This can also be a great trip to get your kids interested in history and the story of Scotland! Read up on the things to do in Dumfries and Galloway in this blog.
# North Coast 500
The North Coast 500 is considered to be Scotland’s answer to America’s legendary Route 66, becoming one of the world’s most iconic driving routes. It follows a sweeping loop across Scotland’s northern tip, allowing you to experience the magnificent untouched wilderness of the Scottish Highlands. It begins in Inverness and takes you all the way to John O’ Groats in the north east, along the jagged coastline to Durness and then down the west coast before heading inland at the Applecross peninsula. Highlights of this route include Balnakeil and other deserted beaches, the mysterious Smoo Cave, Dunrobin Castle and the finest malt at Glenmorangie and Old Pulteney distillery.
Our advice: Given that this trip is 516 miles, you need about a week to complete it! Make sure to organise accommodation in advance, as this is a popular route and campsites along the way may be full.
# Snow Roads Scenic Route
If you’re hoping to see the incredibly beautiful Cairngorms National Park, then the Snow Roads Scenic Route is the perfect Scotland road trip for you! This route spans 90 miles of snow-capped peaks, outdoor adventures, cycling opportunities, rugged glens and tasty delicacies. This road trip is certainly not for the faint hearted, as it boasts some of the wildest and most dramatic Highland scenery possible. Expect to be confronted with steep climbs, sheer summits and sharp twists and turns. This also results in this being one of the more slower driving routes, so be sure to plan in enough time and make the most of the slow pace by taking impressive photos. Possible stops along the way include Royal Lochnagar whisky distillery, Corgarff castle, the Glenshee Ski Centre and the Lecht.
Our advice: Take this road trip if you’re an experienced driver and looking for a challenge. Try to plan in an extra day or two and explore the Cairngorms National Park with a sturdy pair of hiking boots!
# North East 250
The North East 250 is similar to the North Coast 500, winding through the captivating regions of Speyside, the Cairngorms, Aberdeen, Royal Deeside, the East Coast and the Moray Coast. However it is considered to be the best-kept motoring secret, and the condensed length renders it perfect for those wishing to spend less time driving and more time exploring all the attractions and sites along the route. This road trip around Scotland is also ideal for those who enjoy a nice malt, as it spans the Malt Whisky Trail and offers the opportunity to visit some of the most famous distilleries in the world - such as Glenlivet. The route is also lined with dozen of mountains- or as the Scottish would call them, Munros- of over 3,000 ft.
Our advice: Take this route if you’re not a huge driving enthusiast but want to explore Scotland and what it has to offer. Bring some shoes suitable for a round of golf, as you’ll pass the world-class golf course of Braemar Golf Club. Also stop at one of the beaches on the Banffshire coast and enjoy a feast of freshly caught seafood in a picturesque fishing village.
# The Argyll Coastal Route
Looking for a romantic road trip around Scotland? Then the Argyll Coastal route is sure to please you, having been described as discovering the romantic Scotland of bygone age. It spans Tarbet to Fort William, following a coastal fringe of calm bay and fjord-like inlets on one side and soaring mountains on the other. This 129 mile route is perfect for a weekend getaway, and you’ll be able to explore iconic castles, the stunning Loch Lomond, numerous wildlife and an oyster bar along the route.
Our advice: Take a detour off the main route to discover Scotland’s ‘Secret Coast’. Just follow the road to the Kyles of Bute and Loch Fyne, giving you the opportunity to explore this relatively undiscovered corner of Argyll. Here you can enjoy the miles of natural splendour, with dramatic Highland vistas, lush forests and empty beaches. The perfect little honeymoon, with a stop in a charming historic village for a bite to eat!
You’ve got the rules, you’ve got the tips, you’ve even got the Scotland driving tour routes, all that is left is your method of transportation! Hire a motorhome from Goboony for your Scotland road trip to travel in style and enjoy close contact with the gorgeous nature, but with comfort and protection from the harsh Scottish weather conditions! Your road trip around Scotland is a simple click away…