Road trip to Scottish Highlands in November: Self-drive itinerary (Glencoe & more)

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Wondering how’s the weather in Scotland in November and whether it’s worth road-tripping Scottish Highlands off-season? What can you see in the Scottish Highlands in 1 day? Looking for an optimal self-drive itinerary for Highlands? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered – read about this and more about the 1-day Scottish Highlands road trip in this post!

We managed to visit Loch Lubnaig, Glencoe, Glenfinnan Viaduct, Glen Nevis and Ben Nevis and also the Fort Willian during our road trip in Scotland in November, so we have a very nice and packed self-drive itinerary for Scottish Highlands for you (which you, of course, can split into many days).

This post will describe our very short, 1-day road trip itinerary around the Scottish Highlands. If you’re interested in a longer itinerary, I recommend checking my other post about the 7-day road trip itinerary for Scotland!

Weekend trip ideas - Ireland, Scotland

Why visit the Scottish Highlands at all? Is it worth visiting Highlands in Scotland in November?

Scotland is one of my favourite countries in the entire world. Doing a road trip in Scotland was one of my biggest dreams that came true. Scotland has some amazing locations and in this particular trip, we wanted to explore Highlands. Scottish Highlands in November are especially beautiful, as the trees and grass get yellow (almost red sometimes) and it looks like you’re on a different planet! 

November in Scotland is off-season, so don’t expect tropical weather. We will talk about what to wear in the Scottish Highlands in November a bit later. However, even though it could be raining, I would say that it’s worth visiting Scotland in November, so don’t hesitate.

self-drive Scotland road trip

Road trip in Scottish Highlands: where to start & where to book a car?

Our departure point was Edinburgh – we hired a car online through Avis (we always use Avis, as they have the newest cars and they always end up giving us a better one) just 1 day before the trip and went to get it at 8:30 am to the Avis Edinburgh City Centre. However, it’s actually way easier to explore Scottish Highlands from Glasgow because of the location. Glasgow is much closer to the Highlands, so you’ll save yourself 40 min or 1 hour of driving. So if you’re planning to visit Scotland for a week or two, you can definitely spend a night in Glasgow and depart from Glasgow to explore the Scottish Highlands. 

The car with Avis was really cheap – just 11 pounds for the entire day, but we had to pay 25 pounds extra for the full insurance. We always pay for the full insurance after our accident in Nice, France. As it was November, and November in Scotland isn’t luckily the most touristic month, we didn’t expect a queue at the car rental office. However, there were some people who couldn’t hire a car, because all the cars were fully booked. Because of this reason, we also got a much better car than we ordered online: instead of a tiny cheap Fiat 500, we got automatic Citroen C4 with diesel. If you’re going to Highlands in November, make sure you book your car in advance, or head to the airport and hire it from there.

Weather in Scotland in November

Weather in Highlands, Scotland in November is very unpredictable, however, it’s worth to visit the Scottish Highlands in autumn to see the foliage. It’s not as impressive as the foliage in Japan (sorry, no red maple trees in Scotland), however, it’s still very beautiful with yellow hills and mirror lakes.

Expect the temperatures of 7-12 degrees Celcius in the Scottish Highlands in November plus rain and strong wind, so don’t forget some warm gear. In this post about our trip to the Isle of Skye in Scotland, I actually described a packing list for Scotland, so feel free to check it out for some clothing ideas. Nonetheless, a warm waterproof jacket is a must. If you’re planning to walk off-road for a while, don’t forget to bring the wellies.

The best time to visit Highlands is mid-autumn and early spring. It rains a lot in Highlands in summer, and it’s more expensive to hire a car, and as you can imagine, it’s more crowded, while in autumn Scottish Highlands look amazing (as you probably already saw in the photos). However, if you also want to visit the Isle of Skye (check my itinerary here) then consider going in summer or spring.

In spring, especially in March and April doesn’t rain so much, moreover, some days can be really warm and nice. Everything is blooming as well. So I would suggest you go to the Scottish Highlands in Autumn or in Spring.

Read my post about 15+ bucket list destinations in Scotland >>>

Our self-drive itinerary for 1 day in the Scottish Highlands

As I already mentioned, our starting point was Edinburgh. We used Google Maps to build us an optimal route to Glenfinnan Viaduct and if suggested us 3 routes: one (the fastest one) through Perth, another one (the second fastest) through Stirling and the third one through Glasgow and Loch Lomond. We chose the second fastest one because we didn’t want to go through Perth, since the route is not as impressive as the other two, and didn’t want to go through Glasgow, as we would lose at least 45 minutes doing that (Glasgow is a big city, hence the traffic). 

In the end, we were really happy with the route we took and would suggest it to you as well. The route went through Linlithgow castle, Stirling Castle, Loch Lubnaig, Black Mount, Glencoe and Fort William.

We didn’t have time to go to Stirling and Linlithgow castles, but we stopped in front of the Loch Lubnaig to take some photos. If you have more time or you could potentially stretch this trip to a 2-day road trip in Scottish Highlands, definitely visit Stirling (read more about the entry price and the working hours here) and Linlithgow. 

Scottish Highlands in November, road trip in Scotland in Autumn

First stop of the Highlands road trip: Loch Lubnaig

Our first stop of the Highlands road trip was Loch Lubnaig, Loch Lubnaig is a perfect lake, which sometimes can look like a mirror and reflect the landscape, so you can get the pictures like the one below, for example. There are no problems with parking in front of the Loch Lubnaig, there is a parking lot, and staying there for 30 minutes costs just 50p.
Most of the Highland tours stop there too, so sometimes the lake can get crowded, but in our case, it didn’t happen.

However, just during 30 minutes the weather in Loch Lubnaig changed 3 times: it was raining, then it was cloudy and then suddenly it got sunny and very warm. And then it started raining again.

Scottish Highlands in November, road trip in Scotland in Autumn

After visiting the Loch Lubnaig as part of our 1-day road trip in Scottish Highlands itinerary, we visited the town Crianlarich for some early lunch at 11:45 am (it’s usually my breakfast time, but during the Highland Road Trip we had to wake up early. There was only one place open in the town, the pizzeria in the Highlander Hotel and it only started serving food at 12pm, so we had to wait. The prices were a bit expensive and actually more expensive than in Edinburgh, but the food was good (we had some warm baguettes and a lentil soup).

Stop 2 of our road trip to Scottish Highlands: Glencoe

After the quick lunch, we continued our journey to Glenfinnan through Glencoe and Highlands. The road was amazing – the breathtaking views made us stop every 1 km to take some photos. Luckily, there’re quite a few stops and parking spots for travelers, who are just like us – obsessed with photos.

We also managed to spot a Highland Cow not so far from Crianlarich and that was a great catch since these cows are hard to find.

Highland Coo in November

Initially, we wanted to hike in Glencoe for an hour or two, but soon we realized that we don’t have much time. The sunset in Highlands, Scotland in November is at around 4 pm, and it was already almost 1pm by the time we reached Glencoe. When we reached the main parking lot for Glencoe and saw that there’s actually a trail, we just walked around for about 30 minutes. Again, if you have at least two days in the Scottish Highlands, you would be able to hike in Glencoe. There are plenty of things to do in Glencoe (it’s mostly hiking and driving around though), so allocate enough time for it. 

Scottish Highlands in November, road trip in Scotland in Autumn

I can’t advise you to visit some specific places in the Highlands, but I can say that this road we recommended is the best. In case, you choose this road, you’ll see the same breathtaking views we saw and decide for yourself, where will you stop and what will you capture with your camera/phone.

When we passed Glencoe and approached Fort William, it was already 2:30pm. We had a choice of either going to Glenfinnan viaduct or going to Ben Nevis mountain, but we decided to choose both and be really fast.

3rd stop of our itinerary for Scottish Highlands: Glenfinnan Viaduct

So around 3:00 pm we were already in Glenfinnan, observing the spectacular viaduct from Harry Potter. Glenfinnan Viaduct is famous. However, not many tourists manage to get there, since it’s far from any more or less big cities like Glasgow, Perth or Edinburgh. However, there’s a special Hogwarts-like Steam Train going a couple times in the month. You can read more about it in the post of Passport Collective since they took this ride (and we didn’t): Riding Scotland’s Harry Potter Train

Scottish Highlands in November, road trip in Scotland in Autumn

In order to get the best view of the Viaduct, you have to climb a small hill (for like 5 minutes) and then you’ll see it. The Harry Potter Viaduct, which carried the train to Hogwarts.

Scottish Highlands in November, road trip in Scotland in Autumn

Stop 4: Scottish Highlands itinerary: Ben Nevis and Glen Nevis

We were really fast and tried not to spend too much time in Glenfinnan since we were determined to see the Ben Nevis and Glen Nevis too. It took us around 30 minutes to get to the tiny 1-lane private road leading to the parking place for Ben Nevis. On our way to this road, we stopped a couple of times to take more photos of Highlands and its fauna: there were plenty of cute sheep and even a place with MANY highland coos! Unfortunately, this place was a bit far away, so we could take a photo WITH the highland cow (that’s still on my bucket list).

So we reached the end of this narrow road and parked our car. There were already 5 or 6 cars parked in the lot, so we assumed people were still hiking in Ben Nevis & Glen Nevis. We went for a short walk to see the waterfalls, but we only reached the first one and headed back, since it was already very late.

Scottish Highlands in November, road trip in Scotland in Autumn

Later, we went to Fort William to have an early dinner in a random pub (Haggis was exceptional, you should definitely try) and headed back to Edinburgh using the other route (through Perth). This route was supposed to be way faster, but it wasn’t really, so we get back to Edinburgh around 11 pm. We parked the car in front of Avis and out the keys in their locker. It’s a pretty convenient option of Avis, actually.

Scottish Highlands in November, road trip in Scotland in Autumn

To summarize, I can say that visiting Highlands in 1 day and seeing the most famous places is perfectly possible, especially in spring and early autumn (and summer, of course), when it doesn’t get dark so early, but prepare to get tired of driving a lot. We enjoyed this trip a lot and would recommend you visiting Scotland in November!

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P.S.: we also filmed a video about our road trip to Highlands, Scotland in November:

24 thoughts on “Road trip to Scottish Highlands in November: Self-drive itinerary (Glencoe & more)”

    • It was tough, we got back home and couldn’t even eat, cuz we were so tired! Thanks a lot 🙂 It’s really sad, that it rained so much, you should return to the Isle of Skye in September maybe 🙂

  1. I’ve wanted to visit Scotland for so long now. It’s such a great idea to rent a car to see cities away from Edinburgh, and the pictures you took of it all are so amazing! Great post.

  2. Nice trip. Here are some tips from a Scottish person who drives this route frequently. Its quite hard to do all this in a day, so well done, but come again for longer. For lunch in Crianlarich, try the station cafe, or go on a few miles to Tyndrum where there are a few very organised places to eat, with big car parks, serving food all day. Glenfinnan is definitely worth a stop. Please go to the Old Railway Carriage cafe, run by Chris and Zoe, HUGE sandwiches and cake . It is by the old station platform, and there is a lovely wee museum about the West Highland railway. ( Some things were there before Harry Potter ! ). For an easy photo with a Heiland Coo, there is one in a field beside the tartan gift / woollen shop about a mile north of Callender, just waiting to pose with you ! Happy travels , and haste ye back , as we say.

  3. Scotland is on my list for next year so thank you for this post. It was so helpful in planning our trip to the highlands. Hopefully we can spend more than one day.

  4. I love reading posts about Scotland, especially West Scotland, and it’s places I visited all theoughout my childhood! I’m glad you enjoyed our wonderful country 🙂

  5. Hey, I found your photos absolutely stunning ! Very great piece of art. We intend to go to Scotland in the week of Halloween and we’d fancy take a tour in the highlands as well. However, we fear bad weather and short days… Weren’t the nights too long ?

    • Thanks Geoff! Well, the nights are quite long, so you should start the trip early in the morning. We hired a car at 8am, so we had enough time to explore before it got dark around 5pm 🙂 But in summer, of course, you have more time

  6. I am planning a trip to Scotland too in early November. We want to rent a car and go to isle o Skye , we only have 3 days for the roadtrip from Edinburgh, do you think we will manage? We are also going to Glenfinnan for the Harry Potter bridge ^^


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