Drive Aberdeen to Inverness – Road Trip Itinerary

Our With a long weekend ahead we were itching for a chance to get out into the Scottish countryside and do some exploring. With rental cars being pretty cheap (£40 for 3 days from Europcar) and our desire to spend as little time as possible in actual cities, a road trip was obviously in order! Below is a map (with written directions) and photos of our favorite stops along the way. Most of our stops were thanks to my handy-dandy Scottish guidebook – Scotland the Best. We spent a full day driving from Aberdeen to Inverness, a day exploring Glen Affric and Loch Ness and a day driving back to Aberdeen. Our day in Glen Affric and Loch Ness deserved a whole post on it’s own (read here!) – so here is our Day 1 & 3:

Drive Aberdeen Inverness – Roundtrip Road Trip Itinerary

Also please note – all of the distilleries were closed so they’re not included. A reason to do it all again in the summer!

Map of our Drive Aberdeen inverness - Complete Road Trip Itinerary

«Click Here» for an interactive version of the map!  

Starting on the red route out of Aberdeen. Took the A944 East. 

  1. Loch of Skene

Entrance towers for the Loch of Skene

Big lake (excuse me, loch) with majestic ‘castle-like’ entry to wooded area with paths. Would be fun to explore more!

Stayed on the A944 heading towards Alford. Continued over a bridge.

Turned left on A97 towards Kildrummy.

  1. Kildrummy Castle & Kildrummy Castle Hotel

Kildrummy Castle Hotel on the drive from aberdeen to inverness

Unfortunately Kildrummy Castle was closed, but fun to daydream looking out over the ancient ruins. The Caste Hotel was stunning – would be a picture perfect romantic getaway.

Continue on A97, following it West in Glenkindie (at this point A97 turns back into A944). In the small town of Strathdon turn left at the sign for the local church. 

  1. Church in Strathdon

Strathdon Church on drive aberdeen to inverness

Beautiful old church with graveyard. It was interesting looking at how far the graves dated back.

Get back onto A944, heading West. Public restrooms are on the left right after you turn back onto A944.

Stay right at the fork on A939.

  1. Cock Bridge & Corgarff Castle

Pano of Cock Bridge on our Drive Aberdeen to Inverness

We weren’t that impressed by this castle as we drove by. However it is right along the route if you choose to stop! You can see it in the middle of the photo next to Cock Bridge.

Continue on A939.

  1. Beautiful Highland Lookout Point

View over the Highlands on our roadtrip from Aberdeen to Inverness

The road started going straight up and we all immediately thought to the (and now seemingly incredibly humble) road biker we had chatted with. Before we knew it we had arrived at a look out with sweeping views of the valley below. It was beautiful covered in snow. Some neat metal ‘bench-pod’ statutes (horrible description I know) and rocks with carved out peep-holes made the stop even that much more interesting!

Stay on A939 (Old Military Road) until reaching Grantown-on-Spey. Cross the bridge and continue on A939 heading North through town. At the fork stay right, which becomes A940. 

Immediately after crossing River Divie turn right. 

  1. Beautiful Viaduct

Massive Viaduct on the drive from Aberdeen to Inverness

Closing our eyes we could all imagine the steam from the train billowing up and almost hear the whistles in the distance…

Retrace your path and turn right to continue on A940.

Turn left onto B9007. Keep your eyes peeled for signage on the right and pull-off on the left. 

  1. Randolph’s Leap

River rushing at Randolph's Leap between Aberdeen and Inverness Scotland

We loved this stop! Great, short and easy hiking trails through the jungly woodlands. Gorgeous river weaving through the rocky gorge with a great swimming hole (it was sunny, but we weren’t that brave!) Really a perfect stop for lunch.

Continue down B9007, crossing A939, and turn right onto Old Military Road towards Dulsie

  1. Dulsie Bridge

Dulsie Bridge on our drive aberdeen inverness

Can’t miss! Historic bridge that spans over deep rocky canyon. Great little view point with a bit of history on a plaque.

Continue up Old Military Road until reaching Cawdor. Make an odd left turn to arrive at the Castle. 

  1. Cawdor Castle

Entrance to Cawdor Castle near Inverness Scotland

Another reminder of why you should travel Scotland in the summer – the Castle was closed. However, from what we could see, it was stunning with beautiful gardens and located right on the river. Definitely want to make a trip back in the summer!

Turn left on B9090, following the Highland Tourist Route.

Take a left on B9091, stay left onto B9006 and stay left on B851.

At the inn on Culloden Road take a left (immediately after the previous fork). Follow the road straight ahead and the signage for Clava Cairns. 

  1. Clava Cairns

Clava Cairns outside of Inverness Scotland

At this point it was getting a bit later into the day and the golden afternoon sunshine made for a beautiful visit. Enormous mounds of rocks piled up so many years ago your mind can’t almost fathom it. Really pretty site – we were lucky and missed any crowd.

Nairn Viaduct - short drive outside of Inverness Scotland

Don’t forget to turn around and take in the incredible Nairn Viaduct. We drove closer to just get a better look!

Follow B9006 to A9 into Inverness. Take Millburn Road and park at Eastgate Shopping Center (£2 for 4 hour parking)

  1. Girvans Restaurant 

Delicious little meal at Girvans Restaurant in Inverness Scotland

Cute, guide-book recommended cafe in downtown Inverness. Had some warm, hearty tomato soup and deep-fried Haggis balls. Great celebratory appetizer upon making it to Inverness.

  1. Inverness Castle

Tower of Inverness Castle - Final stop on the Drive Aberdeen to Inverness

A can’t-miss spot in Inverness. Castle sits up on top of a hill and looks down over the River Ness and sprawling city. Lucky enough to watch the sunset up here – perfect end to our sightseeing day.

Sunset view over Inverness, Scotland from Inverness Castle

This was the end of Day 1 for us. We stayed in an Airbnb near Kiltarlity (which we loved) and spent the next day exploring Glen Affric and Loch Ness. The following day we headed back to Aberdeen with a completely different route (the blue on the map). Here were our stops on the way home – starting from Drumnadrochit (South of Inverness)

Map of our Drive Aberdeen inverness - Complete Road Trip Itinerary

Starting on the blue route on A831 in Drumnadrochit

  1. The Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition

Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition

Somehow we became incredibly lucky and didn’t have to pay to walk through the Loch Ness museum. An informative (and goofily out-dated) video museum of the history of Loch Ness and the mysteries behind the Loch Ness Monster. Don’t know if I would pay to do it again, but it was definitely entertaining.

Continue on A831 (turns into A82) and head North towards Inverness. Follow signs to A96 and head East towards Aberdeen.

Exit on Barn Church Road, Right on Tower Road. Turn right on B9006 to following signage to Culloden Battlefield.

  1. Culloden Battlefield

Really a must visit when near Inverness. I’m not usually to excited about ‘battlefields’ but this visitor center does a wonderful job of explaining the Jacobite rising and giving a vivid pictorial of what it might have been like on that historic day. Spent almost 2 hours in the exhibit and walking the battlefield.

As I’m currently reading Outlander, this was such a neat stop!

Get on B9006 heading East (stay left on fork) and turn left onto B9090.

Turn right on A96 heading East. Take a left in Brodie at the Invercairn House B&B and follow signage. 

  1. Castle Brodie

Beautiful castle with awesome gardens, ponds and a playground (Ha! But really, it’s cool). Again, it was closed – definitely would like to make it back in the summer.

Retraced path to head East on A96.

Turn right onto B9011 (Nairn Street). Right on B9010 and then left to head towards Barnhill and Pluscarden. Good idea to have this place on a map to trace your path! 

  1. Pluscarden Abbey

Gorgeous abbey in a stunning setting. Peaceful, remote and spiritual. We were lucky enough to hear the monks ringing the bells and witness it in the golden afternoon sun.

Continue East on that road until it merges with B9010. Continue east onto A96 and head back to Aberdeen.

It really was a fantastic weekend and so much fun to have the flexibility of our own car. Huge thanks to Dalton for his perfect christmas present – the guidebook Scotland: The Best by Peter Irvine … Really was an awesome resource and helped us find many of these wonderful, eccentric places! Definitely recommend it as a great Scotland guidebook.

Hope this gives you some idea of a road trip itinerary for the area – please let me know if I  missed some good spots!

 

 

 

 

 

 

p.s. Some of the links above are affiliate links – meaning I’ll make a small commission if you choose to purchase/sign up via my link (at no extra cost to you)! I only promote things that I have experience with & love, opinions are 100% my own – please contact me if you have any questions about any products/services listed above as well as if you have any questions about affiliate links! xx 

Aberdeen to Inverness - Road Trip Itinerary. Sunlight through trees onto road

2017-01-12T10:30:57+00:00 March 15th, 2016|Europe, Scotland, Travel, UK|3 Comments

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  1. Linnea March 15, 2016 at 8:59 pm - Reply

    Wow I need to show this post to my boyfriend! We were talking just earlier today about going to see Loch Ness and after I accidentally google mapped myself to Inverness last summer I’ve really wanted to visit! (Never thought of the connection of -ness between the two, is it because the river ness connects them?) And £40 to rent a car over the weekend?! Double-wow!

    Cheers for a great post, excited to see the rest of your trip! 🙂 From my point of view it’s like – who needs a guide book when I can just follow the footsteps of your blog – maps provided and all! 😉 xx

    • sydpaulsen March 15, 2016 at 9:20 pm - Reply

      Linnea you are so kind! Thank you so much for reading – makes me so incredibly happy to think someone might actually use this information 🙂 Haha I got pretty excited when I found that map website.. Definitely spent way to much time on there.

      And yes I do think the River Ness is what connects them (literally didn’t think of that until now, thanks! ha!). Seriously though about the car, so cheap. The only catch is they try to get you to pay daily insurance as they only cover you up to £1000. However if you are able to pay with a traveler’s credit card the credit card companies usually have built-in insurance up to the worth of the car so you don’t have to bother with the extra fees!

      Let me know if you go and what wonders you find up there! I really want to go back and do more exploring!! 🙂

  2. […] Since Day 1 had been a long trip in the car with countless beautiful stops coming from Aberdeen «Read Here», we were excited for a day with a bit more outdoor […]

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