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If you’re short on time and have, say, only 5 days in Scotland, you’re going to need to be deliberate with your itinerary. Focus your trip on specific destinations like Glasgow, Loch Lomond, or the Scottish Highlands. The secret to having a fulfilling trip in a short duration is zeroing in on specific sites and activities while making sure that the travel time between two places is not too long. To give you the idea, here are some of our favorite short Scottish itineraries. So, let’s dive in and find out how to spend five days in Scotland. Read on to find out what your tour to Scotland can look like.

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1. Puffin Island Hopper: 4 days in Scotland

See Edinburgh Castle perched on a hill while spending 5 days in Scotland.
Edinburgh Castle was built in 1103 AD, making it one of the oldest fortified places in Europe.
Day 1 Leave Edinburgh behind and journey to the Isle of Mull
Day 2 Jump on a wildlife boat cruise to Treshnish Isles and Staffa
Day 3 Visit Iona Abbey and return to the mainland in Oban
Day 4 Conclude your tour in Edinburgh

Scotland is full of amazing wildlife from the puffins of Staffa in the Hebrides to the seals of the Treshnish Islands. This western island group is surely among the top places to visit in Scotland in 5 days. You can ferry hop around the islands, spot seals and exciting bird life, between the isles of Iona, Staffa, and Isle of Mull. 

2. Highland Fling: 5 days in Scotland

Get this cloudy view at the Isle of Skye while spending 5 days in Scotland.
The Isle of Skye is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Scotland, with high cliffs, waterfalls, and greenery.
Day 1 Travel from Edinburgh to Oban
Day 2 Journey through the Scottish Highlands to the Isle of Skye
Day 3 Explore the Isle of Skye before traveling north to Inverness
Day 4 Spend the day touring Inverness
Day 5 Head back to Edinburgh

This 5-day Scotland itinerary takes you to the Scottish Highlands. Visit amazing cities like Inverness and explore beautiful islands like the historic and fascinating Isle of Skye. On the way, you can jump on the famous Hogwarts Express steam train and head across the iconic Glenfinnan Viaduct to see the panoramic views of Ben Nevis, Scotland’s highest mountain. With just 5 days in Scotland, there’s a lot to pack in, and exploring Inverness allows you to have all the best aspects of a Scottish city, such as the Highland Folk Museum, while also being within striking distance of the historic Culloden Battlefield, as well as the wild beauty of the River Tay. See all our 5-day tours in Scotland.

3. Scotland's Orkney Islands: 5 days in Scotland

An overcast day at Skara Brae with green fields.
Skara Brae is a well-preserved Neolithic settlement that predates the Stonehenge and Egyptian pyramids.
Day 1 Travel from Inverness to the Orkney Islands
Day 2 Explore the Orkney center of Kirkwall
Day 3 Discover the UNESCO-listed Neolithic village of Skara Brae
Day 4 Ferry hop to Shapinsay and visit Balfour Castle
Day 5 Return from the Orkneys to Inverness

Heading north to check out the historic and beautiful Orkney Islands is a great way to spend your five days in Scotland. Located in the far north of Scotland, here you can find UNESCO World Heritage Sites around every corner, including the amazing Ring of Brodgar Standing Stones. By ferry jumping around the Orkney Islands, you can soak up the unique culture and history of each place. Describe your ideal 5-day holiday for a customized trip to Scotland.

Need Help Planning a Trip to Scotland?

So, if you have just 5 days in Scotland, you should explore specific areas of this beautiful country. Take your pick between the Scottish Highlands, historic cities, or island-hopping adventure to make and take the best out of your short holiday in Scotland.

Still not sure what to do in Scotland in five days? Connect with our local travel experts who can rustle up a perfect personalized trip to Scotland. If you want to check out longer itineraries for Scotland, you can check out our Scotland travel guide.

Published by Tim Green, updated on January 30, 2024

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Plan a trip to ScotlandWe offer different tour types. You can also chat with a local travel specialist if you want a customized tour to Scotland.
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