A multi-day tour of the Scottish Highlands is the only way to fully leave the beaten track and access the remotest and most beautiful regions of the British Isles.
Edinburgh and Glasgow are fascinating cities, but nowhere will give you as unique a glimpse of the true, traditional Scotland as the Highlands. These remote reaches of the country are filled with stunning scenery at every turn, along with chains of desolate islands, traces of prehistoric civilizations and abundant wildlife. Tours of these places where Gaelic culture thrives are highly recommended and there are many excellent itineraries from which to choose. Here are five of the best, factoring in price, duration and value for money, among other considerations.
Isle of Skye and West Highlands 4-Day Tour
The Isle of Skye deserves its stellar reputation. From the Cuillin to the Old Man of Storr, it’s as though a different set of geological processes have worked on the island’s mountains to everywhere else in the world. Thanks to the bridge connecting the island to the Scottish mainland, Skye is more easily accessible and ideal for a shorter tour such as this. You’ll get to spend two nights on Skye, while also taking very different routes to and from Edinburgh, with sights such as Glencoe, Morar’s white sand beaches and the pretty town of Dunkeld all visited along the way. From £425 per person.
Neolithic Orkney and St Andrews 10-Day Highlights Tour
If you’re looking to tour in style and comfort around the Highlands, a bespoke trip with Best Scottish Tours is an excellent choice. All hotel accommodation will be at least three stars, complete with a full Scottish breakfast to start the day off properly. You’ll have your own driver and guide, too. But the best part is the bespoke nature of this trip. Tailor the tour to your interests, be it castles, whisky, lochs and hiking, ancient ruins, or a combination of all of the above. This tour generally includes the Orkney Islands and Cairngorms National Park, although it’ll be possible to unlock any corner of the Highlands during your 10-days. From £3,500 per person.
Islay and the Whisky Coast 4-Day Tour
If you like your whisky peaty, Islay might just be your dream island. With a population of under 3,300 people but no fewer than eight whisky distilleries, the bottles of whisky-to-humans ratio of this Inner Hebridean island is off the charts. It’s also a very charming region of Scotland and well worth spending time to explore. You’ll post up in an en-suite room in Bowmore, which has its own distillery in the town centre. There will also be trips all over the island, taking in distilleries such as Bruichladdich and Ardbeg. Please note that this tour’s price does not include entry fees to the distilleries. From £529 per person.
Isle of Skye and Jacobite Steam Train 3-Day Highland Tour
When time is a little scarce, but you’d like to get an overview of the Highlands’ highlights, this three-day tour should do the trick. You’ll get the chance to see many sides of the Highlands and Islands, including history at the battlefield of Culloden, folklore at Loch Ness, and natural landscapes on the Isle of Skye. From May to October, you will also get the chance to ride the steam train from Mallaig to Fort William, made famous worldwide in Harry Potter, and indeed crossing the Glenfinnan Viaduct. Tours depart on Mon, Weds and Sat each week. From £439 per person.
Skye, Loch Ness and the Highlands 5-Day Tour
Finally, there’s a five-day tour that incorporates all the major and most accessible sites in Skye, and many more in between the island and Edinburgh. Pass through historic Stirling with its commanding Wallace Monument, then on through Glencoe. View the dramatically placed Eilean Donan Castle, surrounded by loch waters. Next you’ll visit major sights in and around Inverness, capital of the Highlands, such as Beauly and its 13th-century priory. As your tour’s loop turns back towards Edinburgh and the south of Scotland, you’ll pass through the remarkable beauty of the Cairngorms, then Pitlochry just beyond, where you’ll cap the itinerary off with a trip to a whisky distillery. From £769 per person.