1. Road Types
  2. Driving Rules
  3. Accidents
  4. Road Signs
  5. Passing Places
  6. Scenic Routes
  7. List of most scenic routes in Scotland
  8. Fuel
  9. Parking

Exploring Scotland by car can be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding methods of travelling through this beautiful country. It is definitely the most flexible and cheapest way to travel, as you are not rushed to get back on your tour bus or have to depend on public transport.
You can easily drive away from the most popular tourist destinations and head into the amazing Scottish wilderness.

Road Types

Roads are typically in good condition and are well maintained throughout Scotland. There are three main classes of roads in the United Kingdom.

Motorways are designated by the prefix M.

The motorway network is connecting cities in southern and central Scotland and there are dual carriageways to cities such as Inverness and Aberdeen.
Motorways and main bridges in Scotland are toll-free.

There are also primary roads, designated with the prefix “A”
These can be either dual- or single carriageway.
“B” roads are generally single-carriageway.
In addition, there are also other smaller and unclassified roads in the rural areas.

Scottish Road
Scottish Road by Alex\ (CC BY-NC 4.0)

Driving Rules

First of all, make sure you bring your valid driving license with you and, if using your own car, ensure your vehicle is properly insured and you have your registration documents.
In Scotland, as you probably know, along with the rest of the British Isles, you must drive on the left side of the road.

If in doubt refer to The Highway Code. This is the set of rules of the road for those driving in the UK.
Arrows have been painted on the roads in some places as a reminder for visitors to keep on the left side of the road. Be particularly vigilant when starting off from the side of the road, when turning from one road to other and when driving on the road with little traffic. Always go left at a roundabout.
Cars on the roundabouts have priority and at unmarked road junctions, the vehicle to the right has right of way. A continuous white line down the centre of the road means overtaking is not allowed.
The roads are usually clear of congestion except for morning, afternoon rush-hours in built-up areas and accidents. However, if you take all of the above into account there is nothing to worry about.

Accidents

To avoid having incidents in the first place, keep alert by taking sensible rest breaks and don’t allow yourself to be distracted by the scenery. Most roads have car parks to pull off which are clearly signposted.

If you’re unlucky enough to be involved in a car accident, here are some steps you need to take to deal with it quickly and smoothly. You are obligated by law to stop and give your name address and a car registration number to anyone involved.
If anyone is injured, police must be notified and an ambulance if necessary as soon as possible by calling 999 or 101.

Road Signs

Road signs in Tighnabruaich
Road signs in Tighnabruaich (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The things that visitors should look out for most are the brown tourist signs. These are specifically placed to aid tourists and clearly show directions to tourist attractions and places of interest. At these sites, plenty of parking spaces is provided for visitors.
Motorways are marked in blue, major trunk roads in green, minor routes in white. Advisory or warning signs are usually triangular, in the red and white.
Watch out for overhead message boards on motorways indicating road works, accidents, fog or other hazards and the advised speed limit. Level crossing over railway lines have manually operated gates or more often automatic barriers. If the lights flash you must stop to let the train pass.

Passing Places

Passing Place
Passing Place by Alex (CC BY-NC 4.0)

Whilst driving through the remote, beautiful Scottish countryside the roads are often single track so watch out for oncoming traffic. Passing places let vehicles pass each other on these narrow roads.

Don't use passing places as a parking spot.
Or somewhere to have a picnic - this won't go down well with the locals. The stunning scenery and unfamiliar roads may make a visitor drive slower than usual. If a traffic jam builds up it is a good idea to let rushing locals get past.
You can often see grazing sheep, cows, and other animals wander onto the middle of the road. Remember to let them pass, stay calm and don't rush them across. Leave sufficient space to let them pass.

Scenic Routes

Scottish Road
Scottish Road by Alex (CC BY-NC 4.0)

A great way to discover Scotland is to use the National Tourist Routes, which will take you through some of Scotland's best landscapes. More details about them in the link above. Also, if you need more information for tourists check out this leaflet (available in many languages) issued by Road Safety Scotland.
Tourists should be aware of the dangers of driving on the A9 route which leads into the heart of the Highlands.

List of most scenic routes in Scotland

  • Fort William to Mallaig (A830)
  • Balquhidder to Inverlochlarig (Unclassified)
  • Lochgilphead to Tayvallich (A816/B841/B8025)
  • Tyndrum to Connel (A85)
  • Kenmore to Killin (Unclassified)
  • Banchory to Blairgowrie (A93)
  • Crianlarich to Ballachulish (A82)
  • Pitlochry to Aberfeldy (B8019/B846/A827)
  • Fort William to Mallaig (A830)
  • Armadale to Elgol (A851)
  • Crail to Elie (A917)
  • Invergarry to Plockton (A87)
  • Lochcarron to Sheildaig (A896/Unclassified)
  • Aviemore to Findhorn (A95/A941)
  • Selkirk to Moffat (A708)
  • Ullapool to Achiltibuie (A835/Unclassified)
  • Durness to John O’Groats (A838/A836)
  • Craignure to Tobermory (A849/B8035/B8073)

Fuel

If you are going to explore the Highlands it is recommended to refuel before setting off. Scotland has the highest petrol prices in the UK and the Highlands and Islands are the most expensive areas in Scotland.
Also, petrol stations are less common in the thinly populated Highlands so the last thing you want is to be stranded in the middle of nowhere! Also, you must know that the petrol stations opening hours may be shorter and maybe even closed on Sunday.

Parking

Parking is a serious problem in many urban areas, especially in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen. We recommend to you leave your car at designated park and ride places in this cities and use public transport to reach the centre.
Parking is prohibited on double yellow lines or on single lines during business hours - there are always signs of permitted parking times. Ticket machines also can be found along the streets to pay for parking. Make sure you have some coins handy.