Like most other people, we’ve got a long list of places we want to go on family vacations and, in all truthfulness, we add to it faster than we cross places off. A family trip to Scotland had been on our list for a very long time and especially the Isle of Skye. With a summer off to travel after our daughter’s first school year, we knew this would be the perfect time to travel to Scotland with kids.
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With two full months, it was a great time to pair up our Scotland road trip itinerary with a few weeks in Ireland with kids. This left us with approximately 3.5 weeks for our family vacation to Scotland. It wasn’t hard to find plenty of fun things to do in Scotland with kids, so filling up our “Scotland by Car” itinerary was pretty easy.
Scotland Road Trip Itinerary with Kids
- Planning a Holiday in Scotland with Kids
- Getting Around Scotland with Kids
- Where to Stay in Scotland with Kids
- Scotland Road Trip Itinerary
- 3 Week Scotland Itinerary & Best Things to do in Scotland with Kids
- A Scotland 2 Week Itinerary
- A Scotland 10 Day Itinerary
- What to Pack for Scotland
Planning a Holiday in Scotland with Kids
When to Visit Scotland with Kids
The first bit of advice we’ll give on planning your family trip to Scotland is to be prepared to book well in advance, especially if you are traveling to Scotland with kids in the busy summer months.
Obviously we knew that this was high season for travel to both Scotland and Ireland, but when we started looking into booking our accommodations in January (for travel in July and August) we were a little surprised to find that our options were starting to be limited.
So the first step in planning a family holiday in Scotland with kids is deciding the best time to go. If you are limited to school holidays, then like us, you’ll probably be planning your Scotland travel during summer – the most popular time to visit Scotland.
If you are able to visit Scotland with kids at other times, then we recommend looking at traveling to Scotland in the spring. The temperatures will be starting to warm up, the snow should be all gone except maybe at the highest peaks and there should be less crowds. In addition, spring in Scotland would be beautiful with everything in full bloom.
The benefits of summer travel in Scotland is longer days and the warmest temperatures. But everything will be busier and you’ll still get rain (September is the wettest month).
We faced a similar dilemma as when we traveled to Norway with Kids in the summer. Our kids are young enough that they still had fairly early bedtimes, meaning we were unable to take advantage of the extended daylight hours and we were searching for accommodations with blackout blinds!
If you are traveling to Scotland with a toddler (or a baby), one solution is to travel with a Slumberpod. This ingenious product will create a dark sleeping area for your toddler and it even works with the popular toddler travel beds like the Shrunks Junior.
How Long to Travel in Scotland
Coming up with the best Scotland itinerary will depend entirely on how much time you have. We created our Scotland road trip itinerary taking into account driving distances and using those times strategically. We wanted to limit our time in the car or use it to give our kids some down time.
With 3 weeks for our Scotland trip itinerary, we tried to fit in all the places we wanted to see plus attractions in Scotland for kids.
If you’d prefer a 2 week itinerary for your Scotland family holiday, we offer some suggestions below on how to reduce our three week Scotland itinerary to a two week Scotland itinerary. We also included a modified version for a ten day Scotland itinerary.
Getting Around Scotland with Kids
Most likely you’ll be arriving into Scotland by flying into either Edinburgh or Glasgow. Either of these two Scottish cities are a great spot to start a Scotland self drive itinerary.
We rented our car at the Glasgow airport and returned it to the Edinburgh airport. Since this was our first time driving on the other side of the road, we wanted to limit the city driving as much as possible. Picking up and dropping off at the airports allowed us to do this.
Coming from Canada, we knew the roads in Scotland would be much narrower than what we were used to. Pair this up with driving on the opposite side of the road and this can be a little scary. We recommend packing light and trying to get the smallest car possible that will still fit all your stuff.
The only other “obstacle” we encountered with driving in Scotland was some of the smaller roads on the Isle of Skye. Be prepared for the single track roads.
When you encounter oncoming traffic on a single track road, pull into one of the areas on the side (or let the other car do it if there’s a pull out on their side). One of you may need to reverse to the nearest pull out, don’t cross over and use the pull out on the opposite side of the road. We tried to avoid this as much as possible by getting out early in the morning.
What about car seats for Scotland travel with kids?
We didn’t want to lug our heavy convertible carseats from home, so with a little bit of research we discovered we could buy high back booster seats from Argos.
We always have a discussion about bringing our own car seats versus renting. Renting was out of the question since we weren’t returning to the same city and we prefer to not rent car seats from car rental agencies.
This post about travel with car seats on our Baby Can Travel blog gives you a full run down of what to think about when it comes to travel with kids and car seats.
Where to Stay in Scotland with Kids
Aside from our two nights in Pitlochry, we found vacation rentals to be the best option for our family while traveling around Scotland with kids. Having a rental car made it very easy to get groceries in each of the places we stayed.
As a bonus, staying in Scotland vacation rentals (like Airbnb or VRBO) and buying groceries to make our own meals helped us to travel to Scotland on a budget.
Scotland Road Trip Itinerary
Here is our Scotland Itinerary with kids. As mentioned previously, this was a self-drive road trip itinerary for Scotland and we didn’t join any tours.
Though we did plan outings that were just for our kids, we also chose hiking and outdoor activities over castles and museums. Though don’t fret, we made sure to add the very best of them to our Scotland holiday with kids.
Scotland 3 Week Itinerary Overview
- Days 1-3 Glasgow
- Days 4-9 Loch Lomond
- Days 10-13 Fort William
- Days 14-19 Isle of Skye
- Days 20-21 Pitlochry
- Days 22-24 Edinburgh
3 Week Scotland Itinerary & Best Things to do in Scotland with Kids
We loved our family holiday in Scotland and couldn’t be happier with spending a full 3 weeks in Scotland with kids. Our itinerary gave us sufficient time to explore each area and find some of the best things to do in Scotland with kids.
Days 1-3: Glasgow with Kids
We arrived in Glasgow after an overnight flight. Once we checked into our Glasgow apartment rental, we grabbed some breakfast then had a nap.
That first afternoon in Glasgow, in an effort to reduce the effects of jet lag we headed out for a short walk to get some exercise and sunshine. We stopped at a playground to give the kids some time to burn off some energy.
On our first full day in Glasgow, we had our first experience with a Hop On Hop Off bus, which the kids loved. Our first stop was probably one of the best things to do in Scotland for kids – the Riverside Museum. From there we visited Kelvingrove Park for a picnic before walking over to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.
We finished up our first day in Glasgow walking through the pedestrian streets, climbing to the top of The Lighthouse and seeing a show at the Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre.
Our second full day in Glasgow we spent cycling the Forth and Clyde Towpath. Our goal was to make it to the Falkirk Wheel, but we didn’t quite make it. Even without making it, we loved our time on this family friendly bike ride in Glasgow.
Read more on our time in Glasgow with kids in this post.
Days 4-9: Loch Lomond with Kids
For our first time driving on the other side of the road, we had a short 25 minute drive from the Glasgow airport to our Balloch apartment rental. After settling in, we walked through town then into Balloch Castle and Country Park.
On our first full day in Loch Lomond with kids, we were ready to hike and see some incredible scenery. An easy drive took us to Balmaha, where we hiked the popular Conic Hill Walk. Though the trail was full of people, the scenery did not disappoint.
We chose to hike the Whangie the following day, mostly because it was so close to Balloch. With large rocks to climb, a canyon to explore and an open area to run, this was a fun hike for the kids. We followed up our hike with a stop at the Devil’s Pulpit.
Ready for another hike, on our fourth day we drove to the Trossachs area of the national park with our sights set on climbing to the summit of Ben A’an with kids. With the sweeping views throughout this hike, it’s no wonder it’s so popular.
With the rain finally catching up to us on our fifth day, we all donned our rain gear to take a boat ride to Inchmahome Priory, a 700-year old monastery ruin on an island on Lake Menteith. We also enjoyed the walk around the island through the lush green forest.
Find more easy walks in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park in this post.
Not ready to end our day, we drove to the Queen Elizabeth Forest for a short, kid-friendly hike along the interpretive Waterfall Trail.
On our final day in Loch Lomond with kids, we wanted to experience a little more of the West Highland Way so we hiked along the shore of Loch Lomond north of Balmaha and stopped to play on the beach.
Get even more details on our time in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park with kids in this post.
Days 10-13 Fort William & Glencoe with Kids
In an effort to explore as much of the Scottish Highlands as possible, we had hoped to hike around Glencoe on our way to Fort William. Due to some very heavy rain we decided to just enjoy the scenery from the car with some quick stops at the various viewpoints.
On our second day in Fort William we wanted to take out kids to one of the best Harry Potter places to visit in Scotland. Sadly, the Jacobite Train (the real-life Hogwarts Express) was already sold out.
Thankfully there was a great alternative to the Jacobite Train. Scotrail operates a normal train along the exact same route (from Fort William to Mallaig) as the Hogwarts Express . This much cheaper alternative to the Jacobite Train still allowed us to see the Glenfinnan Viaduct (also known as the Harry Potter Bridge).
We ended the day at the Nevis Centre Spectrum indoor playground, which was near the train station in Fort William. This huge playground is a wonderful thing to do with kids in Loch Lomond.
The following day we decided to give hiking in Glencoe another try. This time we were able to hike most of the Lost Valley hike with kids. It was a beautiful Glencoe hike, but climbing over the rocks took us much longer than expected. Though we hate to turn back, it was the right thing to do for our family.
Once we were back at the car, the clouds finally broke and the views of Glencoe were incredible. We spent a little more time walking along a small road near the viewpoint parking lot to enjoy the views of the Three Sisters mountain.
On our way back to Fort William, we did a final short hike in the An Torr area.
We decided to spend our last day in Fort William back at the Glenfinnan Viaduct, one of our top fun things to do in Scotland with kids. Our plan was to watch the Jacobite Train cross the Harry Potter bridge, then spend some time exploring the valley.
It ended up being one of those perfectly hot summer days, so we just kept walking. After the fun of watching the Harry Potter Hogwarts Express cross the Glenfinnan Viaduct, we walked up the valley for more amazing views.
We then returned to the Glenfinnan visitor centre and found a fun trail across the road.
The kid-friendly Dragonfly Trail along the shores of Loch Shiel was very beautiful. The kids especially loved running across the wooden boardwalks.
Days 14-19: Isle of Skye with Kids
Finally! The Isle of Skye was the portion of our family trip to Scotland we were most excited about!
We stopped for a short hike in the Kintail area on the way between Fort William and the Isle of Skye. Once we arrived in Portree on the Isle of Skye, we grabbed groceries and settled into our house rental.
Taking advantage of a good weather forecast on our first full day, we got two of the best kid-friendly Isle of Skye hikes done right away. We’d learned to take full advantage of any day it wasn’t raining in Scotland.
We started with the Old Man of Storr hike, since we knew it would be the busiest. Though there were some steep parts, our kids had no problems hiking the Old Man of Storr.
Next on our list was the Brother’s Point Hike, located near the Old Man of Storr.
Hiking Brother’s Point with kids is completely doable, but we made sure to keep them far away from any steep drop offs at all times. The kids especially enjoyed playing in the tide pools at the end of the hike.
Our second full day on the Isle of Skye, we drove out to the Fairy Pools. Even on a windy, dreary day we were in awe on this beautiful hike.
The Fairy Pools hike with kids is a great way to spend the day on the Isle of Skye. The hike isn’t overly difficult, aside from a few streams to jump across and there’s a fun playground in Sligachan to stop at after the hike.
With still some time left in the afternoon, we explored Slipaway beach near our Isle of Skye house rental.
Having seen much of the Isle of Skye by car, it was time to get out on the water. On our way we stopped at Duntulum Castle then joined our Isle of Skye boat cruise in the afternoon. The kids were super excited to get binoculars for seeing the various wildlife like seals, eagle and what we really wanted to see – puffins.
It’s always a pleasure when you get good weather in Scotland and that’s exactly what happened on the next day. What started out a little dreary (but without rain) turned out to be the perfect day to tackle the Quiraing hike with kids.
We didn’t have to worry about the Quiraing trail being muddy or slippery. The high winds kept us from hiking the full Quiraing circuit, but we liked the wind since it kept the midges at bay!
Since Slipaway Beach was so close, it was the perfect way to end the day and give the kids time to run around.
We were so glad for the weather we had on the previous Isle of Skye hikes, but that would be the end of our good fortune. It was pouring rain on the following day, yet we didn’t want to miss out on the Fairy Glen.
We are so glad that we persevered. The rain didn’t dampen our spirits nor did it take anything away from our short hike to the Fairy Glen – one of the most fun, kid-friendly hikes on the Isle of Skye.
We finished the day by stopping at what was probably the most popular attraction on the Isle of Skye on that rainy day, the Dunvegan Castle and Gardens.
On our final day on the Isle of Skye with kids, we took advantage of our close proximity of our rental house and stopped at Mealt Falls, Lealt Fall and Kilt Rock. We also did a portion of the Fingal’s Pinnacles hike, before our drive to Pitlochry.
Get all the details on our Isle of Skye Itinerary with Kids in this post.
Days 20-21: Pitlochry with Kids
We chose Pitlochry as a mid-point between the Isle of Skye and Edinburgh to break up the driving. With a full day there, we spent some time relaxing and did the kid-friendly Hermitage Woodland Walk in Tay Forest Park.
Days 22-24: Edinburgh with Kids
We arrived in Edinburgh with enough time to settle into our Airbnb apartment then hike up to Arthur’s Seat.
We filled our full day in Edinburgh with kids with a walk along the Royal Mile, visits to Calton Hill, the Edinburgh Castle and Princes Street Gardens then ended with the National Museum of Scotland. It was a bit of a whirlwind tour of the best things to do in Edinburgh with kids.
Our kids had so much fun at the National Museum of Scotland, yet we hadn’t even scratched the surface. They were both super excited when we gave them the option to go back the next day.
Who were we to argue after all the incredible hiking they’d done up to this point. This was definitely one of the most fun things to do in Edinburgh with for kids.
Get even more details about our time in Edinburgh with kids in this post.
A Scotland 2 Week Itinerary
If you don’t have three full weeks for a Scotland family holiday, here is our itinerary reduced to a 14 day Scotland Itinerary.
Days 1-2 Glasgow – Remove one day from the time in Glasgow.
Choose if you’d rather explore the city or cycle to the Falkirk Wheel. If you choose to cycle, we recommend starting as early as possible and bring plenty of high-energy snacks.
Days 3-6 Loch Lomond – Remove two days from the time in Loch Lomond.
We recommend removing the Whangie hike and final day on the West Highland Trail. The portion of the West Highland Way could be done after hiking Conic Hill since it’s so close.
If you’d prefer to keep the Whangie hike, then replace the day with the Inchmahome Priory and hike the Whangie instead. We think the Conic Hill and Ben A’an hikes are well worth keeping on your 2-week Scotland itinerary.
The drive is short on the first day, so there’s plenty of time to hike the Whangie or replace the Balloch Castle and Country Park with the Devil’s Pulpit.
Days 7-8 Fort William – Remove two days from the time in Fort William.
We didn’t need to see the Harry Potter bridge (Glenfinnan Viaduct) in two ways, though we loved our time in that area. If riding the Jacobite train is high on your list, then choose to see the Glenfinnan Viaduct that way. If it’s not, we’d recommend seeing it from the viewpoint.
Since Balloch isn’t that far from Glencoe, you could do your kid-friendly hiking in the area on your arrival day.
Days 9-12 Isle of Skye – Remove 2 days from the Isle of Skye itinerary.
With so many days on the Isle of Skye, we had the luxury of spending time on the beach or playgrounds in the afternoon. We really enjoyed how we spent our time on the Isle of Skye with kids, but with less time you could combine some of the days and still see almost as much.
With only 4 days, the top three things to do on the Isle of Skye with kids are the Old Man of Storr hike, The Quiraing hike and the Brother’s Point hike.
To fit in a few of the other sights, rather than stopping for a hike on the way to the Isle of Skye, you could do the Fairy Pools on the first day.
Mealt Falls, Lealt Falls and Kilt Rock are so close to each other and to the Old Man of Storr hike, that they could have easily been added on to that day.
Depending on the time of the Isle of Skye boat cruise, it would also be possible to see the Fairy Glen and do the cruise on the same day.
Pitlochry – remove this portion completely and drive straight to Edinburgh.
Keep in mind it’s a 5+ hour drive from the Isle of Skye to Edinburgh so leave early.
Days 13-14 Edinburgh – Remove one day from Edinburgh.
Your 14 Day Scotland Itinerary might look something like this:
- Day 1 Glasgow – Arrival
- Day 2 Glasgow – City Walking or Cycling
- Day 3 Loch Lomond – Arrival (25 min drive) Balloch Castle or Devil’s Pulpit
- Day 4 Loch Lomond – Inchomone Priory / Queen Elizabeth Park or The Whangie
- Day 5 Loch Lomond – Conic Hill / West Highland Way
- Day 6 Loch Lomond – Ben A’an hike
- Day 7 Fort William – Arrival (1+hr drive) Hike Glencoe Area
- Day 8 Fort William – Jacobite Train or Glenfinnan Viaduct
- Day 9 Isle of Skye – Arrival (2.5+ hr drive) – Fairy Pools hike
- Day 10 Isle of Skye – Old Man of Storr / Brother’s Point
- Day 11 Isle of Skye – Quiraing hike
- Day 12 Isle of Skye – Fairy Glen & Boat Cruise
- Day 13 Edinburgh – Arrival – Arthur’s Seat Hike if time permits (leave early – it’s a long drive)
- Day 14 Edinburgh – Edinburgh Castle / National Museum of Scotland
A Scotland 10 Day Itinerary
To reduce your family trip to Scotland even further, this is how we would spend 10 days in Scotland with Kids:
- Day 1 Glasgow – Arrival
- Day 2 Glasgow – City Walking or Cycling
- Day 3 Loch Lomond – Arrival (25 min drive) / Conic Hill hike plus portion of the West Highland Way
- Day 4 Loch Lomond – Ben A’an hike
- Day 5 Fort William – Arrival (1+hr drive) Hike Glencoe Area
- Day 6 Fort William – Jacobite Train or Glenfinnan Viaduct
- Day 7 Isle of Skye – Arrival (2.5+ hr drive) – Fairy Pools hike and/or Old Man of Storr (time permitting)
- Day 9 Isle of Skye – Fairy Glen & Quiraing hike (or portion of it)
- Day 9 Edinburgh – Arthur’s Seat Hike if time permits (leave early – it’s a long drive)
- Day 10 Edinburgh – Edinburgh Castle / National Museum of Scotland
What to Pack for Scotland
If you’ve visited our blog before, you know our trips are usually pretty active. We always try to be as prepared for the weather as possible and plan to be outside exploring nature, rain or shine.
For traveling to Scotland with kids, we knew this would mean rain gear for everyone. These are the items that we consider “must haves” for anyone planning to travel to Scotland with kids.
For the driving days on your Scotland road trip, we recommend the Epic reading app to help your kids pass the time. Simply download their favorite Read To Me stories onto your device and they can stay entertained for hours. Read our full Epic reading app review or try a risk-free Epic Basic account.
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See our full packing list for Scotland here.
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