Mention Scotland to most people and they will immediately think of Edinburgh. This small but mighty capital city is equally as interesting as any other within the UK or Europe, making it the ideal starting point for a campervan hire adventure.
Edinburgh is also a very accessible city, with two main train stations at Waverley and Haymarket. Flights from around the world arrive into the international airport every day, which is just 30 minutes from the city centre. Travelling here by bus is also possible thanks to the bus station near St Andrew Square.
Anybody looking to hire a campervan in Edinburgh can find it either out at the airport, in the city centre itself or in the suburbs. Some people prefer to pick up their motorhome away from the congestion of the main streets. They’ll then park at a local campsite before using public transport to get back into the town.
Campsites in and around the city that accept recreational vehicles include Mortonhall Caravan & Camping Park and Linwater Caravan Park. If you are arriving in August during Edinburgh’s busy festival season, you might want to look into a stay at Edinburgh Festival Camping. This site was designed to help the city cope with the high volume of people visiting to enjoy daily performances. August is great if you are interested in watching comedy, theatre, dance and everything in-between. Entertainment is available all night long. However, if you are on a motorhome holiday to discover attractions, it’s better to choose a more peaceful month. You’ll find the mildest weather conditions late May through to September – although this is Scotland, so it’s best to be prepared for anything!
Once you’ve got your campervan hire and insurance sorted, you can begin thinking about what you want to see. Edinburgh is divided into distinct communities, sometimes described as ‘villages’ in their own right. Each has points of interest, waiting to be explored.
Travellers frequently dive straight into the Old Town, a well-preserved area of the city made up of beautiful medieval architecture. Its most famous street is the Royal Mile, a cobbled wonderland of curiosities from the top, where Edinburgh Castle rests, to the bottom, where you’ll find the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Noteworthy attractions along the way include the magnificent St Giles Cathedral and John Knox house. Families may also enjoy the Camera Obscura, a world of optical illusions with a special surprise on the top level. You’ll really get a taste of traditional Scotland on the Royal Mile too. Restaurants serve up haggis and whisky, and buskers play bagpipes on the street. Look out for the quaint alleyways known as “closes” branching off on each side of the road.
Make your way from the Old Town into the city centre and you will reach Princes Street, a more modern shopping zone. While the Royal Mile is lined with boutique gift stores, Princes Street is packed full of High Street names. On a sunny day, it’s also lovely to wander through the gardens or take a picnic to enjoy the vibrant colours.
It’s worthwhile spending a few days in Edinburgh before you take your rented campervan into the countryside. Driving not too far will transport you to sleepy towns and villages, and the tranquility of nature. There are also plenty of campsites on offer away from the hubbub of the city.
Exploring Edinburgh & Surrounding Areas in a Campervan
The good thing about campervan hire in Scotland is that it’s not a huge country, meaning you only have to travel one or two hours from Edinburgh to see totally different landscapes. Driving west is a popular option.
Follow the M9 out of the city in your campervan and you will reach the town of Linlithgow in West Lothian. The main attraction here is Linlithgow Palace, which is still largely standing and was the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots. During peak seasons, locals often reenact the history of the kings and queens who stayed here. An annual jousting tournament is another highlight! After you explore the palace, a leisurely walk around Linlithgow Loch is peaceful.
Getting back on the road in your campervan will take you towards Stirling and the Trossachs. This scenic area is home to Stirling Castle and The National Wallace Monument – a great stop for those interested in William Wallace. Climb to the top of the monument for spectacular vistas across the hills and valleys of this region.
You might consider stopping for a couple of nights in your campervan around Stirling, such as the Witches Craig Caravan and Camping Park in Blairlogie. Your journey will then meander even further west towards Loch Lomond. The A811 is a scenic drive from Stirling to the loch.
Popular lochside villages include Balloch, Luss and Inverbeg. Outdoor activities abound in this area too. Whether you want to tackle the heights of Ben Lomond, stroll around the loch or take a boat trip on the water, there are lots of options. Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park is protected and unspoilt, making it an idyllic place for a campervan tour.
Keen explorers might continue still further north to Glen Coe and even the Isle of Skye. Let’s take a moment to recap, before looking at what you can expect from these destinations.
We’ve now established that Edinburgh is an excellent base for campervan hire and holidays, from its Old Town castle to its world-renowned festivals. Wherever you choose to park up, you’ll find history, intrigue and a host of delicious food stops. Venturing north is very feasible too. Either you can take the A9 to Inverness or you will drive the A82 to Glen Coe and the islands, stopping off in Stirling, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs. But, what will you find once you leave Scotland’s throngs of summer tourists behind?
Around three hours from Edinburgh, Glen Coe is probably Scotland’s most famous glen. Mountains provide the company here, standing tall on either side of the road. This is also a landscape of waterfalls, lochs and wildlife. As you pass over Rannoch Moor on the A82, look out for red deer and birds of prey. It’s a great destination for anyone who wants to spend their days hiking and exploring the scenery.
There are several campsites in the area, including Invercoe Caravan & Camping Park and Glencoe Camping & Caravanning Club Site. At Red Squirrel Campsite, you should see if you can spot one of these timid little creatures. All of these parks are suited to campervans and motorhomes.
Isle of Skye
Still further from the reaches of civilisation, the Isle of Skye is dreamy. There are two ways to reach this island retreat. Driving north to Kyle of Lochalsh via Fort William will bring you out at the Skye Bridge. This crossing is swift and you will soon be in the village of Kyleakin. Alternatively, catch the ferry from Mallaig to Armadale. This is a longer route from Glen Coe, but it takes the idea of scenic driving to the next level, passing through the inlets of Scotland’s west coast.
Once you arrive on Skye, Edinburgh will seem like a distant memory. This isle is known for epic hills and mountains like The Old Man of Storr and the Cuilin. Neist Point is a beautiful lookout, where you can also walk to the lighthouse. Anyone seeking to learn the history of the isle should visit one of the local museums. A day on Skye can be rounded off with some of the freshest oysters in Scotland!
It’s possible to park up your campervan at several different sites for the night. Bear in mind that these will need to be booked in advance during peak months.