If you’re into landscape photography, chances are that Scotland has come up on your radar at some point. Indeed, the country is well-known for its astonishing scenery and has long attracted photo enthusiasts from all over the world. In this article, I will share a one-week Scotland itinerary for those who like to travel the world with a camera in their hand.
A Foreword: Why This Itinerary?
Scotland is a popular travel destination and there surely is no shortage of decent itineraries out there. So you might be wondering — how is this one unique?
Well, for starters, I designed it specifically with landscape photographers in mind. Landscape photography is my passion. And so, my number one goal when going to Scotland was to capture some stunning images. If that sounds like you, you might find this itinerary quite helpful.
For each section, I don’t just list the places worth visiting but also share my thoughts on possible sunset and sunrise locations. Because in the end, that’s what landscape photographers are most interested in.
Secondly, this itinerary is largely based on my trip to Scotland last year. I have added a few adjustments to make it more fluid but otherwise, it’s almost identical to what I did. In other words, I know it works because I tried and tested it myself.
Naturally, this makes this itinerary subjective. But then again, aren’t they all? Where I could, I did my best to mention some variations you might consider. But of course, I encourage you to do additional research and tweak this plan if necessary.
Lastly, it is flexible enough to cater to those less into photography. If you’re traveling to Scotland with a spouse or friends who prefer a more relaxed touristy approach, no problem. As long as they enjoy the outdoors and beautiful scenery, I’m sure they will have a fabulous time as well.
One Week Scotland Itinerary
For this itinerary, I assume you will be renting a car. It is possible to get around Scotland using public transport but this will slow you down considerably. Besides, you might find it troublesome to get to desired places in time for sunrise or sunset.
So if photography is your main objective, renting a car is probably your best bet. All the major rental brands operate in Scotland but I recommend Celtic Legends. It’s a local agency that I’m not affiliated with but found to be pleasantly transparent, honest, and reliable.
Day 1: Arrival in Scotland
- Sunrise: –
- Sunset: Calton Hill in Edinburgh
- Expected driving: none
- Accommodation: Edinburgh
This itinerary begins and ends in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh. That’s where I traveled to and I suspect the same will be the case for many people. But even if you arrive elsewhere — say, Glasgow or Aberdeen, — you can still use it with some minor tweaking.
The first day is always a bit of a hectic one. You might be arriving early in the morning or late in the afternoon, tired after a long flight, or fresh and ready for new adventures. Because of that, it’s hard to come up with a one-size-fits-all approach.
Therefore I’m just going to play it safe and suggest a slow start staying in Edinburgh until the next morning. Use this opportunity to explore the city, partake in tourist activities or simply catch on some well-needed rest.
In the evening, head over to Calton Hill to capture the sunset over Edinburgh. It’s one of the most popular and iconic viewpoints in town. With the right conditions, you might score a couple of cool images there. And it would be a nice warm-up to what lies ahead.
For further tips and suggestions check out my Edinburgh Photography Guide and also my 10 Things to Do in Edinburgh article.
Day 2: Glencoe Area
- Sunrise: Calton Hill or Princes Street Gardens
- Sunset: Beinn a’Chrulaiste or Kilchurn Castle
- Expected driving: ~3.5 hours
- Accommodation: Cladich
The first destination on the itinerary is the Glencoe area. It’s a 2-3 hour drive so don’t linger in the city for too long. After the sunrise shoot in Edinburgh (both Calton Hill and Princes Street Gardens are great for that), grab a quick breakfast and let’s hit the road.
There are plenty of locations to explore around Glencoe. The last 30 miles on road A82 in particular are immensely breathtaking with plenty of fabulous viewpoints along the way. There is also Etive waterfall nearby and a scenic detour along the James Bond Skyfall Road.
If you don’t shy away from hiking, I highly recommend a climb to Beinn a’Chrulaiste that starts on the A82. It’s quite an exercise but will reward you with some of the best panoramic views of the surrounding valleys.
If you can, stay up there until the evening. When the weather cooperates (and assuming you’re not eaten alive by midges by then) you might get some seriously epic light that you will regret missing.
If the sky doesn’t look promising or hiking isn’t your cup of tea, Kilchurn castle is another good alternative. Incidentally, that’s where we’re going the next morning anyway, so it’s worth finding accommodation nearby. For example, in Cladich.
Day 3: Glenfinnan and Eilean Donan Castle
- Sunrise: Kilchurn Castle
- Sunset: Eilean Donan Castle
- Expected driving: ~5.5 hours
- Accommodation: Isle of Skye
Our next goal is to get from Glencoe to the Isle of Skye. There are quite a few photography highlights along the way so get ready for a busy yet eventful third day.
We start with the morning photoshoot at Kilchurn Castle. It is one of the iconic Scottish castles and is hugely popular among photographers. I have written an entire photography guide on Kilchurn — be sure to check it out.
The next stop is Glenfinnan Viaduct, another famous location used for filming the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter movies. Here, you can capture one of the classic compositions from Scotland — a steam train crossing the bridge amidst the clouds of smoke.
There are only a handful of trains daily and ideally, you want to be there for the earliest one at around 10:45. That’s pretty tight but with some careful planning, you can make it. Have a look at this guide to Glenfinnan for more details.
As a sunset spot, I recommend Eilean Donan castle, another gorgeous medieval fortress that many photographers adore. If you’re lucky enough to be there at high tide, it makes for a truly stunning image.
And if you have time in between, there are any number of places you can pick along the route. The abandoned Invergarry castle and the half-sunken boat next to it are just one example.
Days 4-5: Isle of Skye
- Sunrise: Old Man of Storr, Quiraing
- Sunset: Neist Point, Talisker Bay
- Expected driving: ~3 hours every day
- Accommodation: Isle of Skye
Days 4 and 5 are all about the Isle of Skye. To me, this is easily one of the most picturesque parts of Scotland. With its rolling hills, majestic mountains, pristine lakes, and untouched wilderness, Isle of Skye has everything a landscape photographer can ever dream of.
I have written a detailed photography guide to the Isle of Skye so I’ll keep this short. For sunrises, my top recommendations are the Old Man of Storr and Quiraing. These iconic locations are well-known all across Scotland and beyond.
For sunsets, the Neist Point lighthouse is arguably the most photographed spot, and deservedly so. But if you’re looking for something less obvious, Talisker Bay and Elgol beach would also be the prime choices.
Of course, Isle of Skye has a lot more to offer so feel free to explore and discover your own unique compositions. Honestly, if I could pick just one place in Scotland to go and photograph, that would be the Isle of Skye. It’s just that good.
Day 6: Back to Edinburgh
- Sunrise: Old Man of Storr, Quiraing
- Sunset: Edinburgh
- Expected driving: ~5 hours
- Accommodation: Edinburgh
The long drive from the Isle of Skye back to Edinburgh will take up most of the penultimate day on this itinerary. So keep that in mind when deciding how to best spend it, as there are a few options to consider.
For instance, you could stay on the Isle of Skye until early afternoon and photograph whatever highlights you didn’t have a chance to visit yet. Or take a longer route through Glencoe and have a second shot at some of the locations there.
You could also explore a couple of new spots on your way home. The Stirling Castle, the Kelpies, and the Forth Bridge are all fantastic options and not far from the capital. Or simply return to Edinburgh early and spend the evening there.
Time permitting, you could even go to Aberdeen instead and spend the night there before traveling to Edinburgh the next morning. It’s another lovely city and well worth a quick stop.
Day 7: Departure
Can you believe that we’re at day seven already? Seems like we’re just getting started! Alas, the week is over and the moment has come to say goodbye to Scotland. Hopefully, you captured some gorgeous images and had great fun exploring this beautiful country.
Typically, I prefer to not plan anything for the departure day. But of course, depending on when your flight is and your rental car arrangements, feel free to do another quick photoshoot or tie up any loose ends.
Or better still, simply relax and do some of the touristy stuff. Edinburgh is a charming city with a ton of attractions. A ghost tour perhaps? Or maybe some whisky tasting — just be sure to not miss your plane! For further tips, check out my Things to do in Edinburgh guide.
If You Have More Time
This one-week photography itinerary is pretty intense and yet it barely scratches the surface of what Scotland has in store. There’s so much more to discover and photograph! And if you could stay for just a little longer, here are a couple of suggestions for you.
With just one more day, I would probably simply extend this itinerary but not add anything new to it. Spend another night on the Isle of Skye or give more attention to Glencoe. Castle Stalker in particular is well worth a visit.
With two more days, Aberdeen is a cool city that gives a taste of everything Scottish but with a unique twist. Plus, there’s plenty to see and photograph in the vicinity. Bow Fiddle Rock, the Dunnottar castle, and the Old Pack Horse Bridge in Carrbridge are just a few examples.
And if you can extend your vacation to two whole weeks, the Northern Highlands is a treasure trove of amazing landscapes and stunning wilderness that most people never even get to experience.
Scotland is a stunningly beautiful country. Even if you study photos of it online and know what to expect, the reality will still easily wow you. So trust me when I say that if landscape photography is your passion, you owe it to yourself to go there at some point.
Intense as it might be, the one-week photography itinerary I share here is in many aspects just a quick tour of the country’s most prominent landmarks. And while it is more than enough to come away with some impressive results, there is undeniably much more to see, experience, and photograph in Scotland.
So I encourage you to take what you like from it but do some further reading as well. And why not start with my comprehensive photography guide to Scotland where I share all the tips and tricks to get the most out of your trip?
I also have a bunch of other articles about Scotland and further destinations that I think you might find interesting. Here are just some of them:
- Photography Guide to Scotland: How to Get Amazing Images
- Isle of Skye Photography Guide: Best Locations and Tips
- Edinburgh Photography Guide: Best Locations and Practical Tips
- Photography Guide to Madeira: Best Locations, Tips, and More
- Landscapes of Normandy – Easy Photography Guide to Étretat
- Sintra Photography Guide: 10 Best Spots with Practical Tips
- Best Landscape Photography Locations in Patagonia
I hope you enjoyed this photography itinerary to Scotland and would be happy to answer any questions that you may have. In the meantime, you’ll do me a huge favor by sharing this article with your friends and on social media.
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