If you’re planning a trip to Scotland, driving is the best way to go. This time, we decided to drive around Scotland in a camper van and we weren’t disappointed! Read more to find out our 4 day camper van itinerary in Scotland.
Hello & welcome back to my blog! In today’s post, I am going to talk about our recent trip to beautiful Scotland. This is my second time visiting the country. Check out my first trip to Scotland here. This time around, we explored Scotland in a camper van. Yes, a camper van! I was nervous at first knowing that we’ll be in a cramped space and not an apartment or hotel room, but it turned out to be the best decision we ever took!
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BEST WAY TO SEE SCOTLAND:
While the major cities like Edinburgh, Glasgow & Inverness are beautiful, there is more to Scotland. The Highlands and the Isle of Skye are a must-see! Therefore, the best way to experience what Scotland has to offer is driving. I highly recommend renting a car or a van like we did to make the most of your time there.
SOMETHINGS TO KNOW ABOUT THE TRIP/TIPS:
▷ We flew out of Luxembourg to Edinburgh and back with Ryanair. I recommend flying out of Luxembourg because flights are usually cheaper. Also, we left our cars and parking Economy M. The price is €5 per day. You’d need to get on a shuttle to get to the airport from this parking so plan ahead. The flight was 95 minutes and super smooth and easy!
▷ If you’re an EU citizen, you’re going to have to get your passport scanned before you leave Luxembourg and as soon as you enter the UK. We also had to go through customs and they asked us a couple of questions too (which is something I never experienced in the EU). So, make sure your passports are handy!
▷ There is Uber in the UK and it’s very cheap too
▷ The conversion from pound to euro is not the best at the moment. Make sure to take some cash to prevent any extra charges
▷ Invest in good, waterproof hiking boots because you’ll need them. I purchased these ones from Decathlon. I also recommend going a size bigger because you’ll be wearing a lot of layers and thick socks and you need room for your feet.
TRAVELLING IN A CAMPER VAN:
This was my first time ever being in a camper van. I’ve heard about them on TV and seen pictures of them online, but never physically stepped into one or stayed in one for four days. When Luis came up with the idea of renting a van, I was nervous at first but I honestly had so much fun and still miss it to this day!
We got our camper van from BunkCampers.com and we found them from a third party website but you can book directly through them. The total cost for the van for four days was £600 and it was equipped with everything. We had:
- bed (which was really comfortable) at the back of the van and we also had pillows, sheets and multiple blankets supplied to us
- a small stove (two burners) to cook food on and all the utensils and kitchen appliances you’d need + a sink
- a small bathroom containing a toilet, shower and sink and you’re also given two clean towels (if you’re more than two, you’ll be given one towel per person in the van)
- a dining area supplied with dishes, utensils and cups
- cleaning utensils such as a small broom to sweep your van
- storage all over the van where you can keep your clothes and food
- they also gave us an extra gas tank to use to keep our van warm during the night and cook our food
- the van has Bluetooth so you can plug in your phone to listen to music and there are speakers all over the van
- there are USB charging pods in the drivers’ area of the van and next to the bed. there are some a couple of plugs where you can plug in other things
- amazing customer service
There were a £350 security deposit and a £250 pound for the insurance. The security deposit is obviously given back to you after you return your van without damages.
Our van was called ‘Aero‘ and it fits two people comfortably. Trying to fit more than two people would be impossible. The van is in manual transmission and keep in mind that the Brits drive on the other side of the road.
We did run into one minor issue with the van. The sensor that connects to the boiler to keep the van warm was bent and we couldn’t figure out why the heating wasn’t working. Our van was freezing AND it happened on the night where we stayed in a closed campsite! (more on that below) However, the next day, we called the company’s customer care and the person helping us even stayed an extra 30 minutes at work to make sure we fixed the issue and had heating in our van.
So, all in all, would I recommend renting a motorhome for your adventure in Scotland and renting said motorhome from this company?
Would I stay in a camper van again, even for longer periods of time?
All over the UK, you will find campsites open to people with motorhomes where they can stay for the night. Finding them was not hard at all. We did a quick Google research, called in advance to make sure that they were open, paid and parked there. The prices for one night at the campsites ranged from £20 – £25.
At these campsites, you plug your van into an electric socket and this helps to keep your van warm during the night instead of leaving the gas on. The van comes equipped with a cable and all you have to do is plug it in and tada! You have electricity and heating.
Furthermore, these campsites come equipped with toilets, showers and laundry rooms. Some of them even had kitchens, rooms where you can wash your dishes and a kids playroom! The showers and toilets were always spotless. We never encountered a dirty bathroom or shower.
To find these campsites, what we would do is do a quick Google search and pick a campsite that was close to us. Our route was planned ahead of time so we’d know where we were heading to the next day and make sure it’s not a long drive to save time. We usually did this when it started to get dark, which is around 4 pm and then drive to the campsite, pay and settle down there for the night. This worked for us except for one, cold freezing night in the Isle of Skye 👀 …..
We stopped 10 mins away from the Fairy Pools. This particular campsite was closed meaning there was no electricity or services offered but the owner was nice enough to let us park there. We parked our van and everyone is settling in for the night. When we tried to turn on the heat, it wouldn’t work! We tried everything.
We reset the settings (there is a dial in the van that controls the heat, electricity and hot water), moved the van on a flat piece of ground to make sure it’s level and we even turned off the hot water because we thought maybe that what was causing the problem. Nothing worked! So we ended up sleeping in -4 degree weather. It was horrible, but I had fun still and it was part of the adventure!
TIP: Make sure to call the campsite before driving there. Google may say that it is open 24 hours all year round, but some (not all of them) of them close for the season!
Here is the full list of each campsite we stayed at:
⇢ Red Deer Village Holiday Park: 1 Village Dr, Stepps, Glasgow G33 6FQ, United Kingdom. (Website)
⇢ Invercoe Caravan & Camping Park: Glencoe, Ballachulish PH49 4HP, United Kingdom. (Website)
⇢ Merkadale CL Caravan Park: Carbost More, Carbost, Highlands, IV47 8ST. (Website)
*this campsite is located 10-15 mins away from the Fairy Pools*
⇢ Grandown on Spey Caravan Park: Seafield Ave, Grantown-on-Spey PH26 3JQ, United Kingdom. (Website)
⇢ Linwater Caravan Park: Clifton Rd, Newbridge EH53 0HT, United Kingdom. (Website)
IS RENTING A CAMPER VAN WORTH IT?
In my opinion, yes. I believe it saved us a lot of money. Instead of having to pay for an Airbnb or hotel for every stop we did, we just took a whole apartment with us wherever we went! Since we had a kitchen, we didn’t need to go out to eat all the time. On our first night there, we stopped by a Tesco (a British grocery store also my fav place on earth) and stocked up on the essentials. We cooked breakfast every morning in the van and while Luis was driving, I would prepare some sandwiches for us to eat. As for dinners, we maybe went out to eat twice. For the rest of the time, we cooked our own food in our van.
Staying at campsites was also very cheap and we had five-star services each time.
Not to mention, the views we’d get! Since campsites are not located in a town or city, we got to experience a different part of Scotland as well. We got to drive down some of the most beautiful roads that if you were to rent a car and stay in a town or city, there is a high chance you wouldn’t be able to experience that.
Furthermore, we got super lucky with the weather! The skies were clear at night and that means .. stargazing! One night in particular in the Isle of Skye, the sky was so amazing at night and was dotted with stars. These experiences made it worthwhile staying in a camper van. Also, the amazing weather we experienced made driving a little bit easier too.
SOMETHINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT RENTING A CAMPER VAN:
Honestly, it was not difficult at all. All the major sights we stopped at had parking spots for camper vans. Parking in a city might be a bit challenging but we never did that. Whenever we wanted to go out to the city, we’d just get a taxi or walk it there. The van comes equipped with a camera at the back of it which makes parking even more easier!
So no, parking really wasn’t an issue for us.
One con that I can think of is that driving can be exhausting. We spent the majority of our trip driving from one place to another and that was a bit tiring for the drivers. That is something to keep in mind. The van we rented was manual transmission and I couldn’t help Luis with the driving because I only drive automatic. I recommend having a driving partner with you to divide the driving time. Also, make sure to get a lot of rest!
Other than that, the roads in the Highlands and Isle of Skye are wide, can easily fit a van and are very easy to drive in. Furthermore, driving in and out of Edinburgh to pick up and drop off the van was not an issue at all.
There is a built-in GPS system in the van which takes a minute to get used to but we opted to use Google Maps.
✗ Walkie Talkies:
7 of us went on this trip and we divided ourselves into three vans. Each van had its own walkie talkie that Luis bought from Amazon for $30 (click here). I highly recommend doing this if you’re going in a group as we did. There are some parts in the Highlands and Isle of Skye that there is no reception at all. We used the walkie talkies to communicate with each other instead of worrying about reception on our phone. Plus, it was easier because if one person talked in one walkie talkie, the other two vans would hear what that person said. With a phone, we’d have to call each van and it would take longer.
The Walkie Talkies take Double-A batteries. We put it new ones before we left and lasted the entire trip. I recommend taking extra ones with you just in case!
It starts getting dark in Scotland at around 4 pm. If you’re not comfortable driving a bigger vehicle or this is your first time, then you’d better start heading to your chosen campsite round that time. That is what we did! Also, that helped us to sleep earlier and wake up earlier which in turn, enabled us to see and do a lot of things during the day.
Make sure you listen intently to the instructions the staff at the company you’re renting the van give you. For example, one crucial instruction they gave us was not to drive with the gas on because this is very dangerous. I know this might be stupid but I thought I’d write it still!
As mentioned above, the van has a built-in Bluetooth and GPS system. We couldn’t figure out how to use the built-in map system so we used Google Maps, which was our original plan anyway. I recommend buying a phone stand and bringing it with you. It is easier to see the directions instead of having your passenger tell you where to go and way safer.
We got ours from the BX on base but you can find cheap ones on Amazon!
At the end of this post, there is a map with all the places and sights mentioned here.
WHAT TO DO & SEE IN SCOTLAND:
☆ Eilean Donan Castle:
Address: Dornie, Kyle of Lochalsh IV40 8DX, United Kingdom
Opening hours:1 0:00 am – 16: 00 pm / 18: 00 pm. Opening times change with the seasons so make sure to double-check the opening hours to avoid disappointment
Official website: Click here
This castle is the most photographed castle in Scotland – and rightfully so! It was my second time here but this time the castle wasn’t open for visitors. We spent our time walking around and taking pictures. Also, something amazing happened while I was there!
There is a souvenir shop outside the castle and I walked in to look around. While I was walking around, I spotted a magnet with my clan’s tartan on it! If you’re not aware, my surname/family name is Mackay. The Mackay’s were once a powerful Scottish clan. They ruled over the northern Highlands and fought in the Scottish independence wars. I’ve spent years trying to find information on my clan and seeing this magnet made me very happy!
FUN FACT: THE EILEAN DONAN CASTLE BELONGS TO THE MACKENZIE CLAN. THE MACKENZIE’S AND THE MACKAYS WERE RIVAL ENEMIES. SO THAT MEANS I TECHNICALLY WENT TO THE ENEMIES CASTLE .. 😳
Anyways, I highly recommend adding this castle to your Scotland itinerary. You can buy tickets to go in and I highly recommend doing so! Pictures are not allowed inside the castle but I did manage to take some. Click here if you want to see them!
☆ Glengoyne Whisky Distillery:
Address: Glengoyne Distillery, Dumgoyne, Near Killearn, Glasgow, G63 9LB
Opening hours: Opening times change with the seasons. Consult the website before going
Official website: Click here
This was so much fun even for a person who doesn’t drink! We stopped here on our first day in Scotland when we were driving to the Highlands from Glasgow. Whisky is very popular in Scotland and it was so interesting learning more about how it is made and the history behind it. We opted for the Wee Tasting Tour.
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If whisky is too strong, add two drops of water. Our tour guide told us that this is known as Angels Teardrops. How cool is that? The distillery got the license to produce whisky legally in 1853. However, they used to produce whisky way before that which makes it illegal. The tour guide told us that this was a common practice all over Scotland!
As soon as you purchase your tickets, you go to the reception office where they will show you a short film about the history of the distillery and also give you a free shot of their 12-year-old malt whisky. After the short film, the tour guide takes you outside to the waterfall where they get some of their water supply from.
After that, you are guided to the manager’s house. The manager used to live there and he also drowned in the 1800s. Apparently, he still haunts the house to this day!
Later, you go to the factory where the whisky is made. Photographs are not allowed in here and you’d have to turn your phone off or to aeroplane mode. The tour guide explained to us in great detail about how the whisky is made and showed us the whole process. There are 5 stages in all!
Once the factory tour is done, you go to another room where they store the whiskey. On the wall, you’ll see bottles with whisky all with different colours and amounts of whisky in the bottles. The bottle shows each stage in maturation in just one year! So in each bottle, you can see how the whisky changes in just one year. The decreasing levels of the whisky is due to evaporation but locals like to think that it’s the angels that are coming down to taste it!
FUN FACT: THE WORLD GLEN IN SCOTTISH MEANS LAKE. YOU WILL SEE THIS ALL OVER THE COUNTRY. GOYNE MEANS WILD GOOSE!
☆ Stop at viewpoints all over the Highlands and the Isle of Skye:
When driving down the Highlands and Isle of Skye, you will notice a lot of blue, parking signs. There are a ton of viewpoints where you can park your vehicle and simply stop and take pictures. That is exactly what we did! I cannot remember the exact name of the place we stopped at but as mentioned, there are a lot of stops so you will be able to stop and take pictures!
Not only did these stops were really beautiful, but it was also an opportunity for us to get out of the van and stretch our legs and for the drivers to take a bit of break from the long hours spent driving.
You will also see tons and tons of fields with sheep or cows! Cows are one of my favourite animals and seeing cows being free and where they belonged made my heart very happy.
☆ Befriend a Highland cow:
One of my goals for this trip was to meet a highland cow. We stumbled upon a field on our way to the Fairy Pools and I made everyone stop so I can meet this cow. I named her Amy and she was the best 💜
Highland cattle can be found all over the highlands. They’re different from normal cows because 1) they have long hair and 2) they have horns. Also, the baby cows are so cute! My other goal is to take a selfie with a Highland cow. I’m saving that for our next trip to Scotland.
☆ Visit the Fairy Pools:
Address: Glenbrittle, Isle of Skye IV47 8TA, United Kingdom
Opening hours: Open all day, every day
More info: Click here
The Fairy Pools have been on my list for years and I’m so happy I got to cross them off my travel bucket list! The Fairy Pools is an open area with crystal clear lakes. The hike to the pools is not for the faint-hearted and make sure you’re wearing good shoes like the ones I linked above because you’re going to have to cross some of the lakes and walk on slippery roads etc.
The legend behind the name ‘Fairy Pools’ is that there are actual fairies and beasts living there and n the crystal clear pools! Scottish folklore is full of legends and this is certainly one of them.
There is parking at the Fairy Pools. You will see signs for it and on Google Maps, simply search for Fairy Pools Parking and it takes you right there! Please keep in mind that the road to the fairy pools is a narrow, one-lane road but cars from both sides can pass. Drive with caution! To go to the Fairy Pools from the parking, all you have to do is cross the road and find the path labelled ‘Sligaghan’. Also, there is no exposure to sun, wind, rain or snow so make sure you’re prepared!
☆ Urquhart Castle:
Address: Drumnadrochit, Inverness IV63 6XJ, United Kingdom
Opening hours: 9:30 am – 4:30 pm
Official website: Click here
Another day, another castle! We visited this castle on our way back to Edinburgh. There is a fee of £12 per person to enter which may seem a bit much, but it is so worth it! As soon as you pay, you go down a flight of stairs and you’re immediately led into the souvenir shop. You walk around a bit there before you’re guided into the theatre room where you’re shown an 8-minute movie about the history of the castle which was so interesting! After the short film is done, the blinds are lifted and BAM! You get the entire view of the castle!
Urquhart is located on the infamous Lochness Lake. The history is what I found the most interesting. The castle was passed to a number of Scottish noble families and saw a lot of other noble clans, such as the McDonalds, attacking the castle to gain control. At one point they did but they lost control of it after a couple of years.
During the Jacobite uprising, the castle attacked many times and it’s owners decided to explode it instead of defending the castle. Yup, they blew the castle up! What you see now are the remains from that explosion. All over the castle, there are plaques telling you where the rooms were located before it’s owners decided to tear it down.
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FUN FACT: ALBA MEANS SCOTLAND IN SCOTTISH GAELIC.
☆ Scottish lifting stones:
Dalwhinnie Stone Location: Located on the A9 from Perth to Inverness. You’ll see a cafeteria and simply pull up there
Sandlin Mare Stone Location: Located near the small town of Crieff. The stone is in the forest but there is a parking spot and simply walk by the road and you’ll see it
These lifting stones are insanely heavy stones where people try to lift them. Luis made it his mission to lift at least one and on our third day, we went on the hunt for these stones! Our first stop was the Dalwhinnie lifting stone. The stone weighs 240lbs! He managed to get it waist height but not all the way up. Fear not, because we drove to another stone and he managed to do it!
Our next stop was the Sadlin Mare Stone. This stone weighs 220lbs and the goal here is to lif the stone and put it in the groove on the bigger stone and make sure it doesn’t roll down. And he did it! I was so so so proud!
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☆ Doune Castle:
Address: Castle Hill, Doune FK16 6EA, United Kingdom
Opening hours: 10 am – 4 pm
Official website: Click here
Doune Castle was the last one on our itinerary. We paid £9 each to go in but in all honesty, it was not that worth it. The castle is empty and you essentially are walking around some empty rooms and that’s it. The castle is undergoing some renovations at the moment and the money goes to the restoration process which is what made paying that amount worth it!
FUN FACT: DOUNE CASTLE IS FEATURED IN THE HIT SERIES ‘OUTLANDER’ AS CASTLE LEOCH – HOME OF JAMIE FRASER.
✼ Fairy Glenn
✼ Old Man of Storr (click here for more info!)
✼ Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness
And that brings an end to this post! I worked so hard on this post and had so much fun writing it for you guys. I hope you found it helpful and answered all your questions about my trip to Scotland. If you have any more questions, feel free to comment and PM me on my social media!
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Until the next one!
Yours Truly, Rebecca.