Driving in Scotland

If you’re used to driving on the left, chances are you won’t have many problems driving in Scotland. But like anywhere else, driving in Scotland has its own nuances.

Boasting an abundance of unspoiled natural beauty, Scotland's the perfect European road trip destination. Whether you're arriving by air or rail, hiring a car is one of the easiest ways to explore the country at your own pace. 

Illustrative map of Scotland

What are the speed limits for driving in Scotland?

Speed limits in Scotland can typically be identified by circular signs bearing a red border and a number delineating the speed limit.

If there's no signpost, national speeds limits apply:

Motorways

  • Cars: 70 mph (112 km/h) 
  • Cars towing caravans or trailers: 60 mph (96 km/h) 

Dual carriageways

  • Cars: 70 mph (112 km/h) 
  • Cars towing caravans or trailers: 60 mph (96 km/h) 

Built-up areas

  • 30 mph (48 km/h)

Outside built-up areas

  • Cars: 60 mph (96 km/h)
  • Cars towing caravans or trailers: 50 mph (80 km/h)

Dangers of driving in Scotland

Driving in Scotland isn't any more dangerous than elsewhere in the British Isles, but there are a few things to be aware of:

Farm animals 

When driving in the countryside, roaming or escaped farm animals can pose a risk to other road users. Just be sure to keep your eyes peeled and drive slowly around farmlands.

Wild animals

When driving in rural areas, be vigilant of deer crossing the road as collisions can be fatal for both animal and driver. 

Wet weather

Like elsewhere in the British Isles, Scotland is rather wet. This means that your chances of hydroplaning are often high if you're not driving to match the conditions.

Tourists

Scotland is a popular place for tourists so just be considerate of others on the road - they may not be used to navigating country roads or driving on the left hand side!

Narrow country lanes

If you're not accustomed to driving on narrow country lanes, it's something you'll quickly being familiar with when driving in rural Scotland. Often these lanes are two-way but without sufficient space to pass other vehicles. For this reason, there are designated areas marked by white signs reading 'PASSING PLACE'. These areas are slightly wider and should enable passing. 

Driving and road-trips in Scotland

With it's visually dramatic rural landscapes, the UK's northernmost country is the perfect setting for a road-trip. 

Where should I start my Scotland road-trip?

There's no rule for where you should start your Scotland road-trip, but if you're looking to tie it in with a city break, or flying to Scotland from further afield, Edinburgh and Glasgow are popular choices - and good options for car rentals. Located in the lowlands (relatively southerly for Scotland), both are excellent points from which to take a loop up into the Scottish highlands. If you're keen to get straight into rural Scotland, Inverness is a charming smaller city from which to start of the popular North Coast 500 route, taking you deep into the Scottish highlands.

Starting your Scotland road-trip in Edinburgh

Edinburgh, Scotland's grand capital city is the ideal starting point for a Scotland adventure. With an airport boasting flights across Europe and the setting of the world-famous annual Fringe Festival each August, it's a buzzing place to start your trip. But beware - if you're in Edinburgh during the festival, you will pay a premium for accommodation! 

Starting your Scotland road-trip in Glasgow

Markedly different to Edinburgh in character, Glasgow - Scotland's largest city - is a vibrant cosmopolitan city famed for its Victorian architecture and cultural institutions such as the Scottish Opera, Scottish Ballet, and countless museums. 

Like Edinburgh, Glasgow's airport flies across Europe and a range of car rental companies operate in the area.

Starting your road trip from Inverness 

Inverness is a great choice for the beginning of a highlands road trip. With direct flights from and to the rest of the UK and western Europe, it's a convenient base from which to start and end your highlands road trip. The North Coast 500 is a popular route which takes you right around the north coast of Scotland, through stunning rugged scenery. 

 

Must-see sights for a Scotland road-trip 

Whether you've got four days or a fortnight, you can adjust your plans accordingly. Here are some of the most popular points of interest to consider when planning your Scotland road-trip.

  1. Loch Ness
  2. Loch Lomond
  3. Palace of Holyroodhouse
  4. The Devil's Pulpit
  5. Falkirk Wheel
  6. Stirling Castle
  7. Culzean Castle
  8. The Antonine Wall
  9. Dunnottar Castle
  10. Culross, Fife

For more Scottish road-trip inspiration, check out Visit Scotland's guides.

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