The Perfect 1 or 2 Days in Fort William & Glencoe Itinerary

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by Daniella Lynn Theis

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One of the towns to visit in the Scottish Highlands that makes a perfect pit-stop is Fort William. Serving as a gateway to the inimitable Glencoe, planning a 1 or 2 days in Fort William itinerary is an excellent way to see some of the highlights of this area of Scotland.

There are many things to do in Fort William as its prime location is the beginning or end of the West Highland Way and it sits in the shadow of Ben Nevis – the UK’s tallest mountain.

Just outside the town, you will find the beautiful mountain range of Glencoe. It is hands down one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. I am still in awe at the mountains every time I see them.

There are plenty of options for things to do in the area all year round, and you will not struggle to fill a day with exploring.

When to Visit Fort William & Glencoe

Figuring out the best time to visit Fort William and Glencoe is really more dependent on what your preferences are. Overall, the Scottish weather will be best between May and October. If you are hoping for some sun and fewer chances of rain, then these are the best months to go visit Fort William and Glencoe.

However, the Scottish weather is not known to be predictable. While there are higher chances of dry and sunny weather during that time, it is not a guarantee. The best thing for your trip will be to be prepared. Pack a good jacket and a good pair of shoes no matter what time of year you go!

Also, it is worth noting that temperatures hardly ever skyrocket in Scotland, not even in summer. Expect something between 10 to 20 degrees Celsius between May and October.

In terms of beauty, both are beautiful all year round, and I am sure you will marvel at the snow-filled mountains just as much as when they were green. Fort William, in particular, is actually a great place to visit in winter if you are into snow sports.

Nevis range is a popular destination for skiers and snowboarders alike. A thing worth mentioning that if you are planning to partake in hillwalking – especially Ben Nevis – you should only aim to do so in winter if you are an experienced hillwalker. The ice and snow make the climb far more challenging, and it is not recommended to attempt the hill without the necessary equipment and experience.

Glencoe Mountains
Glencoe Mountains

Getting to Fort William & Glencoe

Fort William is easily accessible by train, bus or car from Inverness, Edinburgh or Glasgow. Please note: If you are going by public transport from Edinburgh, you will have to make your way to Glasgow by bus or train and then take the bus or train towards Fort William.

By Bus

CityLink buses drive straight through the Glencoe mountain bus and stop at several points along the way, including Glencoe Visitor Centre. 

Best is to speak to the driver before you board to ensure the bus stops where you are planning to get off. The bus taking you to Glencoe is the same that also runs to Fort William, and the overall journey takes about three hours.

Sometimes you can snap up a good deal if you book in advance, so it is always worth doing the research before your trip.

Several buses run from Inverness throughout the day. While you can get a direct bus from Inverness to Fort William, you will have to change buses in Fort William itself to get to Glencoe. Click here to view schedules.

Fort William’s bus station is right in the town centre, and with only a few bus stops, it is straightforward to navigate. It is also right beside a big supermarket so that if you want to quickly buy some snacks for your Glencoe day trip, you can do so.

By Train

If you are coming from Glasgow, The West Highland railway runs through parts of Glencoe, and you can even listen to an audio tour on a free app created by Scottish Natural Heritage which is available on several scenic train routes in Scotland.

The train ride is said to be one of the most scenic routes in Europe, and I am sure you will not be disappointed. You will be able to see the area in all its beauty, go past the Rannoch moors, and likely see some stags!

In terms of getting off at Glencoe, that aspect will be harder unless you have some other form of transport organised when you embark. The train line loops around some of the main tourist sites of Glencoe so getting to the visitor centre or Glencoe village by train is not entirely possible. However, the train line does go straight to Fort William train station.

The overall journey takes a little under four hours. Again, if you book in advance, you can sometimes snap up tickets for half this price. Click here to view schedules.

Going from Inverness to Fort William by train is something I would not recommend. The two cities do not have a train line connecting them. Therefore, it would be necessary to go from Inverness down to Glasgow and then from there towards Fort William.

Fort William Train
Fort William Train

By Car

It is reasonably easy to get to the area by car and is a popular stop if driving from Edinburgh to Inverness. The A82 gets you from Glasgow, past Loch Lomond and all the way up to Fort William.

It will go past the banks of Loch Lomond and offers several other stops along the way. The road takes you right through the Glencoe mountain pass and should you not wish to stop, it is totally possible to enjoy Glencoe’s scenery from your car. The journey altogether should take you about three hours depending on traffic.

From Edinburgh, you can either make your way to Glasgow and follow the route mentioned above, or you can take the A84 via Stirling/Callander.

The journey takes you through parts of Cairngorms National Park, and you might be able to avoid the queues that sometimes build up along the A82 while it goes past Loch Lomond. It is still a very scenic route.

You will join up with the A82 eventually, meaning you still get the incredible bit of road that stretches through the Glencoe mountain pass. The journey again will be about three hours from Edinburgh, depending on traffic.

From Inverness, you can take the A82 as well, which should get you to Fort William within about two hours depending on traffic.

If you’re planning on renting a car in Scotland, browsing on is the best way to find a good deal as they aggregate results across all the major car hire companies.

It’s also worth considering iCarHireInsurance for excess insurance if you want to have peace of mind in knowing you won’t need to pay any deductibles if making a claim.

Peaceful Loch Lomond
Peaceful Loch Lomond

By Organised Tour

If you prefer to explore Fort William & Glencoe by organised tour then there are several options. One of the best-rated options is this full-day tour from Edinburgh that includes stops in Fort William & Glencoe as well as Loch Ness.

There are also two-day tours options from both Edinburgh and also from Glasgow that allow you to see more of the attractions in Fort William & Glencoe as well as other parts of the Highlands.

1 to 2-Day Glencoe & Fort William Itinerary

As mentioned, outdoor activities are a must-do when visiting Fort William. Of course, you will want to try and maximise the things you can see and do while you are there. It is, however, essential to keep in mind that some sights are further apart geographically.

Others are more time-consuming, and you should not be rushing through sights and miss the beauty of it all.  I have therefore compiled some of my highlights into a one- or two-day itinerary to hopefully make the decision easier for you!

Harry Potter Steam Train near Fort William
Famous “Hogwarts Express” Steam Train that departs from Fort William

Day 1 – Glencoe Highlights

If you only have one day, I would say to firstly focus on visiting Glencoe, which is absolutely breathtaking. If you are looking for things to do in Fort William itself, then go straight to day two of the itinerary.

Loch Atriochtan & Signal Rock Walk

If you are feeling tired and not ready for a day of walking, then this view will wake you up. Make your way to Loch Atriochtan car park, and you will not be disappointed.

You will be able to see the extent of the Glencoe Mountain pass and likely see some nearby waterfalls. It is probably one of the most photographed views, and you might not be the only person there, but it is worth it. You’ll believe me when you see it!

If you are coming by bus, you can speak to your driver and see if they can stop at the car park to let you off. If you are coming by car, the car park is just off of the A82.

If you are up for a walk, then you can embark on a walk towards Signal Rock and An Torr which will also lead you along the river Coe and past the Clachaig Falls. Signal Rock is said to have been a central point of communication during the Massacre of Glencoe back in 1692.

If you are hungry or thirsty after your walk, the Clachaig Inn is conveniently located near there and offers food throughout the day.

There are several excellent walks to choose from for any level of fitness. Some do take longer than others though, so bear in mind that in winter it can start getting dark again in the early afternoon.

Loch Achtriochtan
Loch Achtriochtan at Glencoe

Glencoe Visitor Centre

The National Trust for Scotland visitor centre has recently gone through a transformation and was only opened a few years ago. It offers a great way to learn about Glencoe’s history, walks, weather, wildlife and things to do in Glencoe. They regularly host children’s activities, exhibitions, as well as art and photographic displays.

If you are looking to find an adrenaline-filled option to explore Glencoe’s surroundings, the centre also offers Land Rover safaris.

However, the car park does have an entry fee, which directly supports the National Trust for Scotland and the work they do around the glen.

Glencoe Village

Have a stop-over for lunch in the village of Glencoe. Buses usually stop here, and the village is also easily accessible by car if you follow the A82 back towards Fort William or take the old road from the Clachaig Inn.

Within the village, you can find out more about the history of local Highland life at the Glencoe Folk Museum and also visit the memorial that commemorates the lives lost during the Glencoe massacre.

If you feel like another walk, you could embark on the Glencoe Lochan trail from here.

Glencoe Lochan
Glencoe Lochan

Enjoy Fort William’s Bars & Pubs

End your day in Fort William, which has a lot to offer visitors in the way of food, drink and interesting shops. Enjoy wandering along Fort William High Street and taking in views of Loch Linnhe. Of course, unwind after a long day in one of the city’s many pubs.

A great option is Black Isle Bar, which offers a wide selection of craft beer, organic wine and whiskies as well as wood-fired pizzas and salads.

However, there are plenty of other choices of restaurants and smaller pubs. Sometimes you will be lucky enough to find some great local musical talent, too!

Day 2 – Fort William & Surrounding Area

On day two of the itinerary – or should you instead want to focus on things to do within Fort William and only have one day – can be filled with visiting Fort William attractions.

Explore Fort William

Take the morning to explore Fort William’s town centre. It is not very big, so walking along is not too much of a struggle. On Fort William’s High Street, you will find local amenities to grab a coffee or tea to start your day as well as some local shops.

While exploring the town centre, be sure not to miss the West Highland Museum to learn about the story of the region and its history.

Inverlochy & Banavie

Situated just north of the town of Fort William, you will find the towns of Inverlochy and Banavie. The former is home to the Old Inverlochy Castle, a wonderful place to visit for those who love to delve into Scotland’s old royal heritage.

Dating back to the 13th Century, it is mostly ruined now, but it served as a backdrop to a number of important battles in the area.

Making your way a little bit north to the town of Banavie, you will find the beginning (or end, depending on where you start from!) of the Caledonian Canal. This crosses Scotland, includes the incredible Loch Ness, and ends in the city of Inverness.

Make sure to see one of the famous locks on the canal, known colloquially as Neptune’s Staircase.

Old Inverlochy Castle
Old Inverlochy Castle

Lower Falls of Glen Nevis

Continue your day with a trip to Glen Nevis and go on a walk to see the beautiful waterfalls in the area. Glen Nevis is at the foot of Ben Nevis – the highest mountain in the UK. If you are coming by car, there is a small car park available.

A popular walk will take you along the Steall Falls within about two hours, and the scenery is absolutely breathtaking. Be prepared to see some Highland cows along the way!

Should the weather be that tiny bit to ‘dreich’ to go exploring outdoors,  then you should consider the indoor climbing wall at the 3 Wise Monkey’s climbing centre. It is in the town centre and can easily be reached by foot if you are already exploring local attractions in Fort William.

Steall Falls
Steall Falls

Nevis Range Gondola

This is a great activity to end your day – taking in an incredible view of the surrounding area. Nevis Range does not only provide access to snow sports, but it also has a restaurant that can be reached through a gondola ride. Sitting at 650m on the mountain of Aonach Mor, you will be sure to be dining with a view.

Nevis Range can be reached by taking the A82 back from Fort William and then continuing on until you see the turn for Nevis Range and Aonach Mor. If you are taking the bus, take the bus back from Glencoe village to Fort William bus station and hop on one of the local buses to get to Nevis Range.

Should you not be able to make the trip up the mountain, you could instead go see Ben Nevis distillery and visitor centre. While the view might be different as it is located at the bottom of the hill, it will certainly still provide a fun way to end your day!

The distillery is one of the oldest licensed distilleries in Scotland. You can do a tour and taste a local dram.

Have More Time?

If you have more than two days to spare, then it is definitely worth to explore the area of Lochaber. There are several great day trips from Fort William that you can consider.

Climb Ben Nevis or The Three Sisters of Glencoe

Ben Nevis is Britain’s highest peak, and the climb is quite the challenge. It is essential to set a full day aside if you are considering to ascend the mountain. Be sure to check whether the weather conditions permit the climb and that you are bringing the appropriate equipment!

If you choose to spend a day exploring the spectacular peaks of The Three Sisters of Glencoe, you will get some unbeatable views. As above, however, please be mindful of the conditions and the equipment needed!

Climbing Ben Nevis
View from Ben Nevis Summit

Take the Jacobite train to Mallaig

If you are looking for something less action-packed after exploring the outdoor capital of the UK, then you should consider taking the Jacobite Steam train to Mallaig. The journey takes about two hours, and the views are out of this world.

This journey is very popular with tourists, and it is highly recommended to book in advance. You can find details of the Jacobite Steam train on the official page.

Harry Potter fans, this is your must-do! Not only will you be riding in the train compartments used to film the Hogwarts Express in the movies, but you will also see several sights from the movie. The train goes over Glenfinnan viaduct – the bridge that was prominently shown in the Chamber of Secrets – as well as going past Dumbledore’s grave.

Visit Glenfinnan

When you visit Glenfinnan, you can see the Glenfinnan viaduct from below rather than riding on it, allowing a different view. Glenfinnan, however, has historical significance that stretches far beyond the making of the Harry Potter movies.

The 18-metre-high Glenfinnan Monument was erected in 1815, in tribute to the Jacobite clansmen who fought and died in 1745 for Prince Charles Edward Stuart – commonly known as ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’.

The Jacobite risings were the last attempt to reinstate the exiled Stuarts on the throne of Great Britain and Ireland. If you want to find out more about this aspect of Scottish history, be sure to visit the Monument Visitor Centre.

The Glenfinnan Viaduct
The Glenfinnan Viaduct

Walk the West Highland Way

The 95-mile walking route is done by thousands of people each year. It is said to be one of the most challenging yet rewarding things to do. If you have several days or preferably a week, you could make Fort William your starting point to walk the West Highland Way all the way to Glasgow.

However, it does mean that you will be facing the challenging part of the journey first. Typically, people start the walk in Glasgow, as the lowlands are more comfortable to walk than the Highlands.

If you’re looking for an alternative long-distance walk from Fort William, the Great Glen Way stretches all the way to Inverness and is absolutely spectacular, as well.

Where to Stay in Fort William & Glencoe

Gowan Brae Bed & Breakfast – This comfy B&B is an excellent option for mid-range travellers. Located in the centre of Fort William, they have a handful of clean and comfortable rooms available and a hearty breakfast included in the rate.

The Isles of Glencoe Hotel — This lochside hotel is an absolutely stunning place to stay in Glencoe. They have a number of cosy and comfortable rooms available, great facilities like a swimming pool, restaurant, and bar. They are also well-located to explore the area.

Private Rental – There are some fantastic unique properties available such as this cosy traditional stone cottage.

Fort William Backpackers – This is a great choice if you’re travelling solo or on a tight budget. They have both dorm and private rooms available, a cosy atmosphere, good common areas, and self-catering facilities.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Fort William!

Glencoe is a great option if you have more than one day in Loch Lomond
Valley in Glencoe

Hopefully, this Fort William & Glencoe itinerary has inspired you to plan your trip to the Highlands and see this incredible part of the world!

Are you visiting Glencoe & Fort William? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments below!

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Daniella is a writer for The World Was Here First. Based in in Glasgow, Scotland, she has lived in several different countries and is always on the hunt for adventures, trying to find even the most hidden secrets for any destination. In her spare time, she loves photography and finding new eateries and things to do in or around Glasgow.


  1. Hi!

    I’m a French visitor and I’d like to rent a small car in Fort Willaim, Scotland, for 2 passengers, including myself as the driver, from August the 6th to August the 8th.. I’m 71.

    Thanks in advance for your answer,

    kind regards,

    Janine Di Mattéo

  2. Hi Daniella,
    Great article !! I am visiting Scotland in May this year and am trying to figure out how I can stay in either Glencoe or Ft. William but be able to do some hiking and exploring in Glencoe without a car. Any suggestions for private guides ?
    Thank you !!


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