13 Great Places to Visit on the Way to Mallaig, Scotland

Collage of Places to visit on the way to Mallaig Scotland

Setting off on a road trip to Mallaig may at first seem like a means to an end, but it’s also a journey through some of Scotland’s most breathtaking landscapes and hidden gems. Join me as we explore some must-visit places to visit on the way to Mallaig.

This well-driven path is a passage through history, culture, and natural beauty that captures the heart of the Scottish Highlands. While you may be in a hurry to reach your destination, consider taking a break from driving to take in an extra breath of what Scotland has to offer.

From Glencoe’s rugged beauty to Glenfinnan’s mystical allure and Fort William’s outdoor activities to Corpach’s museum of precious gems, each stop is a story waiting to be discovered. 

Whether you’re tracing the steps of Jacobite rebels, marvelling at engineering feats or just soaking in the tranquil beauty of the lochs and glens, a road trip to Mallaig has something to explore at every turn. 

green fields with loch and mountains in the distance

So, let’s get started along this iconic route on the A82 and A380. (The A9 will have to wait for another day!) 

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1. Rannoch Moor

rainbow over stream with greenery either side and behind

Rannoch Moor is a vast area of wilderness stretching over 50 square miles of bog, rivers, lochans and rugged outcrops. 

The famous wild landscape has inspired artists, filmmakers and writers and has been the dramatic backdrop for a number of film and TV productions, including Outlander, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, Trainspotting, Monty Python & the Holy Grail, Being Human and Rob Roy.

Stop off for a walk in this famous movie location and take some stunning photos. The weather can be a bit wild in the winter, and sometimes even in the summer! 

Several places in the wider area have been used for film locations. You can find them all on the Highlands Movie Map by Visit Scotland.

2. Glencoe Ski Resort

snow-capped mountains and wilderness at sunset

Glencoe Mountain Resort offers a mix of activities for visitors. As Scotland’s oldest ski centre, it has over 20 slopes with something suitable for all levels. 

The resort operates year-round, not only for winter sports but also for summer activities like mountain biking, hill walking, tubing and disk-golf.

The chairlift runs throughout the year from 9am and the last lift up is at around 4pm. As it takes you up 2200ft, you’ll be treated to stunning views of waterfalls, Rannoch Moor and over to Buachaille Etive Mor. For the more adventurous, you can paraglide back down!

White Corries Cafe is open from 8am to 8pm and provides another great reason for a stop on your way to Mallaig.

See more at the Glencoe Mountain Resort website.

3. Glencoe

green valley with path and cloudy sky

Still in Glencoe, the hills and glens provide some fabulous free ways to take a break on the drive to Mallaig. One of the most famous photography spots in Scotland, you’re likely to be able to get some great shots whatever the weather. Although a blue sky is always lovely, a cloudy or misty day can often result in more atmospheric photos of Scottish scenery.

You can go on a gentle stroll through the glen or on a more invigorating hike in the hills. If you choose the latter, make sure you do your homework before setting off and let someone know where you’re going.

Some of the trails are quite dangerous and the Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team are often called out. But don’t worry, there are plenty of safer and easier trails. See some easier walks in Glencoe here and you can click through to mountain walks too.

large gushing waterfall on a cloudy day at Glencoe

Shortly before the famous glen pictured above is a large waterfall known as The Meeting of Three Waters. There are parking spaces before it but it can get quite busy. If you plan to stop, put it in Google Maps so you can park without having to do a u-turn.

A few miles beyond the glen is Glencoe Visitor Centre where you can learn more about the Glencoe Massacre and other local history, find out more about things to do, get advice on walks and eat at the Highland Coo cafe. You can also take a paid guided tour of a turf house.

4. Glencoe Village and Ballachulish

old building house housing cafe

Crafts & Things is a regular stop for us and has been for years. The cafe has some delicious home-baked cakes as well as sandwiches and meals. It also has a small bookshop and upstairs is an art gallery, where you can find some beautiful paintings and watercolours of Scottish scenery.

The front part of the house is gift shop with a good choice of tasteful souvenirs, Scottish jewellery, locally made accessories, clothing and of course some tasty treats too.

There are lots of other places to eat nearby, such as the Ballachulish Hotel and the Glencoe Inn.

This is a great spot to stop and stretch your legs and enjoy the view of Loch Leven. You might like to try this walk around the old slate quarries at Ballachulish and across to the shores of Loch Leven.

At Woodlands Glencoe, you can play a round of golf, try your hand at archery, go for a hike or segway around the woodlands.

Don’t have a car?
🚌 Book this popular day trip to Glencoe, Glenfinnan fand Mallaig from Glasgow. (4.4* rating)
🚌 Book a day trip to Glencoe, Fort William and Glenfinnan from Edinburgh (5* rating)

🚌 Book a 3-day bus tour that includes Mallaig and Skye (4.7* rating) and see other options

5. Loch Linnhe

green lawn with loch and mountains behind

You’ll get beautiful views of Loch Linnhe all along the last stretch to Fort William but there’s a big parking spot with nice grassy areas where you can set up a picnic.

You can also take the Corran ferry across to the Ardnamurchan peninsula and either come back or continue from there to Mallaig. If you’ve been on a road trip to Mallaig many times, it’s nice to take an alternative route sometimes. It will take longer though and is mainly single-track roads. (Check the ferry website in advance as there have been some issues.)

One of the best ways to experience Loch Linnhe is by boat and you could take a cruise or a rib-boat from Fort William to take in more of the beauty of the area. Alternatively, you can rent a paddle board at Corpach on the other side of Fort William.

⛴️ See some cruise options and book now.

6. Fort William

a pedestrian precinct between two rows of two-storey buildings at Fort William High Street

Stop off in the town of Fort William and take a stroll down the high street and have a bite at one of the many places to eat along the way.

Pop in to the Highland Bookshop for some great books on the area or a good novel to read on the beach at Arisaig or stock up on any outdoor clothing or accessories you need for your activities in Mallaig, Arisaig or Morar. The Highland Hospice boutique is a charity shop with a difference and you can find some lovely buys in there, including Scottish items.

Next, visit the 100-year old West Highland Museum to learn the history of the region over several centuries. Entry is free. To take in some more history, take a walk from the old fort opposite the train station along the riverside to the ruins of the 17th century Inverlochy Castle.

castle ruins and grassy lawn

As you drive out of Fort William, look out for the Highland Soap Company on your left. Take a tour of their facilities or do a soap-making workshop.

For more adventurous activities, see below.

7. Nevis Range

view from Aonach Mòr

This involve a little detour from the road to Mallaig but worth it if you have time to spare.

At Nevis Range, you can do several activities like mountain-biking and hiking in the summer and skiing, snowboarding in the winter. All year round, you can take a ride up Aonoch Mor in the gondola and enjoy views across the mountains, lochs and Fort William and across to Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in the British Isles.

Have lunch or coffee in one of the cafes. 650m up the mountain, the Snowgoose has great views and there are some gentle trails starting there.

You might be wondering why I’m not including Ben Nevis on this list of stops but as it takes around four hours just to reach the 4275ft peak, it’s not really a pitstop! If you’re fit enough to do it, visit the Ben Nevis website and be sure to go to the Visitor Centre for advice before setting off.

The photo below was taken on Aonach Mor in late March when we discovered surgical masks were great for keeping your face warm! Ben Nevis is in the background.

Author and daughter in warm winter clothes with Ben Nevis in background

If you’re going to Mallaig on the A9 from Inverness, a stop at the Wild Highland Outdoor Centre at Spean Bridge for some axe-throwing, archery and off-road segwaying is another option to loosen those stiff muscles before continuing on to the Road to the Isles.

8. Neptune’s Staircase, Banavie

Now we’re finally on the Road to the Isles, from Fort William to Mallaig.

canal with lock in distance, greenery on either side

Neptune’s Staircase is another impressive feat of engineering, but older than the Glenfinnan Viaduct. Built over 200 years ago, the series of eight locks is part of the Caledonian Canal, which stretches 62 miles from Corpach to Inverness. It is also one of the longest staircases in the UK.

The walk along the canal and crossing over the bridges at the locks is an enjoyable break from driving as well as a way to learn a bit of history. You can take a short walk along the towpath to stretch your legs or continue to complete the three-mile circular walk, which passes the lighthouse at the bottom.

9. Treasures of the Earth, Corpach

gemstones on display

The Treasures of the Earth Museum in Corpach explores the natural world and its many hidden treasures. With a collection of some of Europe’s finest crystals, gemstones, and fossils, it’s worth a stop. 

If you’re a budding geologist, a lover of beautiful natural objects or a parent looking for something educational, the Treasures of the Earth Museum is a great stop. 

Visit their website for more info

10. Glenfinnan

view of Glenfinnan monument and Loch Sheil from hill

The iconic landmark of the Glenfinnan Monument stands 60 feet tall against the dramatic backdrop of Loch Sheil and the surrounding hills. Erected in 1815, it honours the clansfolk who fought for the Jacobite cause in 1745 and lost their lives. At the top stands a lone Highlander in their memory. 

If you’d like to climb up the Glenfinnan monument, you need to book in advance and arrive early during peak season.

On the opposite side of the road, the Glenfinnan Viaduct spans over a thousand feet across the glen and River Finnan. The engineering feat of the late 19th-century, with its 21 arches, was well-known long before its appearance in the Harry Potter movies. However, this has drawn even more visitors over recent decades. 

Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a Potterhead or simply a visitor enjoying the scenery, Glenfinnan Viaduct is a very popular photography spot. While you can get a great photo from ground level, the path next to the visitor centre leads up a small hill and is fairly easy to manage. Take the new path up for the popular angle from the northern side.

Glenfinnan Visitor Centre has exhibitions which narrate the tale of Prince Charles Edward Stuart, or Bonnie Prince Charlie, and the 1745 Jacobite Rising. It also has a cafe and gift shop.

A boat trip on Loch Sheil is a great way to enjoy even better views of Glenfinnan and to keep you alert on the next stretch of the drive to Mallaig.

Glenfinnan is a very popular stop and even with the new car park, it can get very busy. Parking on the roadside is not allowed and can cause accidents. Also, you might not find your car on your return and face a hefty fine. 

11. Glenfinnan Station Museum and Dining Car Cafe

old-fashioned dining car interior

This is another of our favourite places to stop on the Road to the Isles. The dining car provides a cute location for lunch or a snack on the way and the food is always great too. Make sure to ask about the Scottish ice cream.

Opposite the dining car is the station building. Inside it is a small museum on the history of West Highland Railway and includes the old station-keeper’s room with the original equipment. Further down the platform you can visit the signal box.

room inside old station displaying old stationmaster's equipment Glenfinnan Station Museum

If you ate at the dining car, you can get a free ticket for the museum. The museum also has a small shop and there’s even a quirky overnight stay in an old sleeper carriage! See more at the Glenfinnan Station Museum website.

Try to time your visits for the Jacobite steam train coming into the station for some great shots and to see it up close. You can also get great shots a bit further along the road. See my post on where to see the Jacobite Steam Train.

If you’d prefer to travel by train to Glenfinnan, have a look at the alternative to the Jacobite Express. Steam Train.

12. Lochailort, Loch Eilt, Loch Beag and Loch Nan Uamh

loch in early spring with stark trees and reflection of mountains on still water

The views at all the lochs along the Road to the Isles are stunning whatever the season. Look out for lay-bys to park in. You may have to walk through the trees to get a view but you’ll be rewarded for your effort! 

A famous landmark at Loch Eilt is the movie location for Dumbledore’s grave in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Parts 1 and 2. The grave was on the small isle of Eilean Na Moine which has a small copse on it. It’s a great photo spot even if you’re not a Harry Potter fan. Loch Eilt was also used in several other films to shoot scenes in the Hogwarts grounds.

13. The Prince’s Cairn

large stone cairn with a plaque, trees in background

The Prince’s Cairn stands on the shores of Loch nan Uamh in Scotland. Look out for the brown sign along the way and the lay-by. 

The Cairn is where Prince Charles Edward Stuart departed from Scotland in 1746 after the Battle of Culloden. The Prince’s Cairn is an important landmark in Scottish history as these events marked the end of the Jacobite uprising. This is an ideal stop for those with an interest in Scottish history. 

After visiting the cairn, you can take a walk along the shores before continuing on the last part of your journey on the Road to the Isles.

Wrap-up on places to visit on the way to Mallaig

With so many great places to visit on the way to Mallaig, now you just have to choose between a scenic spot for a picnic or stroll, some serious hill-walking, a bit of gift-shopping, brushing up on your Scottish history, a boat ride on a loch or even some mountain adventures. Whatever you choose, you can be sure your drive to Mallaig will be full of stunning Scottish scenery and one to remember!

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay along the way to Mallaig, read some tips on how to find your perfect accommodation. (It books out pretty quickly, so sometimes you need to do some extra work!)

If you liked this post, you might also like Best Things to do in Mallaig or Day Trip to Eigg. If you’d rather go by train to Mallaig, you can still stop at some of these spots. See my post on taking the regular train to Mallaig.

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