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Things to do in Scottish Highlands

Welcome to a nature lover’s paradise, peppered with wooded glens, rocky peaks, stunning lochs, and more.

Our most recommended things to do in Scottish Highlands

Edinburgh: Loch Ness, Glencoe & the Scottish Highlands Tour

1. Edinburgh: Loch Ness, Glencoe & the Scottish Highlands Tour

Head for the Highlands, whether in search of the Loch Ness Monster or just a scenic day trip from Edinburgh. After pickup, relax on the bus and listen to the guide’s entertaining commentary. Visit Kilmahog for an introduction to the famous Highland Cows (depending on the time of year) and a cup of coffee. Next, travel up the road to Glencoe and enjoy a 10-minute photo stop in front of the unforgettable Highland views. Have lunch in the Fort William area, where your guide can advise you on where to eat. If you're interested in the mysteries of the kilt, you can even get a ‘wee’ kilt introduction here. Then be whisked to Loch Ness itself. Customize your experience at Loch Ness. Choose to visit the majestic Urquhart Castle, and hop on a boat in search of ‘Nessie’, as the locals call it. Or simply hang out on the pier and grab a coffee with gorgeous views. On the way home, make a short snack stop in Pitlochry, a beautiful village in the heart of the country, before returning to Edinburgh.

Inverness: Isle of Skye and Eilean Donan Castle Day Trip

2. Inverness: Isle of Skye and Eilean Donan Castle Day Trip

Take in some of the most dramatic and stunning landscapes Scotland has to offer on an eco-certified tour from Inverness. Discover the Isle of Skye, including its capital Portree, Kilt Rock, Lealt Falls, and the Old Man of Storr. See Loch Ness from Invermoriston, Loch Carron, and Eilean Donan Castle. Meet your guide at Inverness Bus Station, where your group will board an air-conditioned coach. Head south out of the city. Then, follow the shores of Loch Ness to Invermoriston, where you will stop for a short break. Grab a coffee, take scenic photos, and try and spot Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster. Then, continue to Eilean Donan Castle, one of Scotland's most photographed castles, set on its own island at the head of Loch Duich. You will have time to visit the castle and learn about its history if you like (admission fees apply) or just admire the picturesque castle and its scenic surroundings. Next, journey to the Isle of Skye. Stop at Portree, a small colorful town fringed by cliffs and rolling hills. Take in these beautiful surroundings while enjoying lunch and the views of the boats in the harbor. Once your appetite has been sated, move on to tour the rest of the island. Head to the Old Man of Storr, an iconic rock formation, before visiting Kilt Rock, a sea-weathered cliff with amazing coastal views. Next, take a walk at Lealt Falls to admire the beautiful waterfall and gorge. Finally, head back to Inverness via the panoramic Strome Viewpoint over Loch Carron.

From Edinburgh: Loch Ness, Glenoce & The Highlands Day Tour

3. From Edinburgh: Loch Ness, Glenoce & The Highlands Day Tour

Following pickup from central Edinburgh, you will head towards Stirling, catching views of the Castle and Wallace Monument as you venture to the Highlands. Visit Callander, and stop for morning coffee in this bustling town described as the gateway to the highlands. Head northwards over Rannoch Moor until you reach the dark, brooding Pass of Glencoe. Stop for lunch and free time nearby the Fort William area, then follow the Caledonian Canal up the Great Glen to Loch Ness. Here, you have some free time with the option to cruise on the Loch, or if you don't want to take the cruise you can relax in one of the bars or restaurants in the tranquil village or on the pier.  After Loch Ness you will head South East and take in magnificent views of Loch Laggan. On the way home, enjoy a refreshment stop in Pitlochry, a delightful Victorian resort town. Then, head south through Fife, and cross the Forth next to the amazing Forth Bridge, before arriving back in Edinburgh.

From Inverness: Jacobite Steam Train and Highlands Tour

4. From Inverness: Jacobite Steam Train and Highlands Tour

Immerse yourself in the natural wonders of the Scottish Highlands and board the Jacobite Steam Train on a day trip from Inverness. Cross the Glenfinnan Viaduct for a scenic tour of Loch Ness and in the fishing town of Mallaig. Begin your journey by bus and drive along the world-famous Loch Ness, stopping for photos above the ruins of Urquhart Castle. Continue south and visit the Commando Memorial, overlooking the Nevis Range—home to the UK’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis. Next, set your sights on the Jacobite Steam Train and hop on board at Fort William. Your journey through magnificent landscapes will end in the fishing port of Mallaig, where you can try fresh seafood for lunch (at your expense) or explore the town. Take the scenic ‘Road to the Isles’ to Glenfinnan viaduct for stunning views. Admire beautiful scenery as you ride to Fort Augustus, the Caledonian Canal, and Loch Ness. Finish your tour at Falls of Foyers and Dores Beach on the banks of Loch Ness.

Loch Ness: Urquhart Castle Round-Trip Cruise

5. Loch Ness: Urquhart Castle Round-Trip Cruise

Climb aboard a small cruise boat for a truly inspiring tour of Loch Ness, departing from Clansman Harbour, just south of Inverness, and sailing as far as Urquhart Castle and back. Once on board, you will sail to the heart of Loch Ness, famous around the world for its mysterious - and elusive - monster. A selection of Scottish produce, as well as hot and cold snacks are available to purchase from the bar, if you fancy a wee dram as you cruise. Boats also have free WiFi for your convenience. Soak up the stunning mountain views as you cruise to the remains of Urquhart Castle, the envy of Scotland’s romantic ruins. Once you reach the blunt peninsula of Urquhart Bay, the boat will turn around and sail at back to Clansman Harbour.

From John O'Groats: Orkney Islands Day Trip

6. From John O'Groats: Orkney Islands Day Trip

Start the tour by boarding the ferry at John O'Groats. Depart 8.45am. Take the 40-minute ferry crossing, keeping a lookout for marine wildlife including puffins and orcas on the way. When you arrive on Orkney, board a luxury coach which will be waiting for you to begin your tour of the island. As you set off, enjoy the commentary from a local guide. First, see the Churchill Barriers built during the First World War. Stop in Kirkwall which is Orkney's capital city and discover St Magnus Cathedral, shops, the museum, and the scenic harbor.  Continue along the northern coast of Scapa Flow and admire the beautiful views of the Hoy hills. Then, arrive in Stromness, one of Britain's most picturesque towns. Stroll through the winding street, visit the museum, and find plenty of places to eat lunch.  Next, set off for the neolithic village of Skara Brae, established in around 2,500 BC and which has been hidden under sand dunes, perfectly preserved for thousands of years. Follow the route onwards along a narrow tongue of land between the lochs of Harray and Stenness, making a stop at the mystical Ring of Brodgar and the Standing Stones of Stenness. Finally, board the return ferry, and make a stop at the Italian Chapel which is beautifully decorated inside 2 Nissen huts. Return to John O'Groats 6.15pm with incredible memories of your excursion.

Loch Lomond: Scottish Highlands Sightseeing Cruise

7. Loch Lomond: Scottish Highlands Sightseeing Cruise

Depart from Balloch village and set sail beyond the stately homes of historic Scottish industrialists within view of Ben Lomond, Scotland's most southerly Munro. Continue towards Inchmurrin Island, the largest inland island in Great Britain and home to the ruins of the 12th century Lennox Castle. Learn the history and legend of Loch Lomond and the surrounding areas while enjoying some of Scotland's most spectacular scenery. Enjoy a cruise commentary by famed historian and archaeologist Neil Oliver, best known from BBC's "Coast" and "A History of Scotland." 

Edinburgh: Glenfinnan, Fort William, and Glencoe Day Tour

8. Edinburgh: Glenfinnan, Fort William, and Glencoe Day Tour

Try a Glenfinnan, Glencoe, and Fort William adventure, beginning in the heart of Edinburgh city center from Royal Mile. Take in the scenery of classic modern Hollywood films. Depart Edinburgh's bustling streets, pass some of its most iconic sights like Edinburgh Castle on your way out, and begin your journey north into the rugged Scottish Highlands. Stop for refreshments at the gateway to the Highlands in Callander before continuing to Glencoe. Drive through the land where James Bonds' Skyfall was filmed. See the backdrop to some scenes from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Pause here for photos and to learn all about the history of Glencoe, including the massacre of the MacDonald clan in 1692. From the atmospheric Glencoe, travel further along the banks of Loch Linnhe to the Highland town of Fort William, which sits at the foot of Britain's tallest mountain - Ben Nevis. Stop here to stretch your legs and have an early lunch break. Next, continue on to Glenfinnan Viaduct, the location of many Harry Potter scenes, encased by the shores of Loch Shiel. See the location of the Jacobite Steam Train, and of “Black Lake”. Take in the setting for the Triwizard Tournament, and the loch on which Hogwarts sits. Continue on to Glenfinnan Monument, which symbolizes one of the most important events in Scottish history; the 1745 Jacobite uprising. Next, departing Glenfinnan, you’ll begin your return journey to Edinburgh, stopping for refreshments at the small village of Pitlochry.

From Edinburgh: Magical Highlands Tour with Hogwarts Express

9. From Edinburgh: Magical Highlands Tour with Hogwarts Express

Get first-hand experiences at some of the sets in the Harry Potter film series with your guide. Travel through Scotland on a bus to these locations, and conclude your tour with a visit to Glenfinnan Visitor Center. Pass some of the key film locations from all 8 Harry Potter movies as you lose yourself in the wilderness of Rannoch Moor. Discover the volcanic glen from "The Prisoner of Azkaban" en route to Fort William, where you will board the Hogwarts Express steam train. Cross the Victorian-era Glenfinnan Viaduct and get views of Loch Shiel from the "Chamber of Secrets." See the site of the Triwizard Tournament from "The Goblet of Fire" and continue to the fishing village of Mallaig to get some time for lunch.  You will board the coach from Mallaig where we will have a stop at the Glenfinnan Visitor Center for an excellent chance to photograph the steam train returning across the viaduct before you return to Edinburgh.

Portree: Best of Isle of Skye Full-Day Tour

10. Portree: Best of Isle of Skye Full-Day Tour

Discover the magic of the Isle of Skye on this day trip from Portree. Travel aboard an airconditioned coach on this sightseeing adventure. Try to spot wildlife at Neist Point, or view the fantastical rock formations of Quiraing, and the stone pillar of Old Man of Storr, Be picked up at a centrally-located meeting point in Portree and hop aboard the spacious pus. Relax on the drive to the Fairy Pools in the shadow of the Cuillin Mountains where the fairies are thought to bathe. Have the chance to take a dip in crystal clear green pools of the River Brittle. Admire the natural arches and waterfalls in this picturesque location before heading to the Talisker distillery based in Carbost, one of the three whisky distilleries on the Isle of Skye. Have free time to purchase a single malt Scotch, with a very distinctive peaty-smoky taste. Choose to go to Neist Point or to Dunvegan Castle. Look for whales, dolphins and sharks at Neist Point or capture pictures of the hilltop medieval style castle. Stop at the magnificent Fairy Glen, the most important meeting place of the fairies on Skye. Wander between countless conical mounds, known in the Highlands as Fairy Knowes, and put your ears to the grass to listen for the fairies at work inside. Bend down to search for elves in the glen's miniature forests. Follow the twisted path to the top of the fairy castle or walk the faun’s maze. Continue up to the Trotternish ridge and marvel at the views of the Quiraing, a landscape of rock formations and stunning coastal views. Arrive at Kilt Rock and the Dinosaur Museum before heading to the Then, continue 200 foot tall stone pillar called the Old Man of Storr which has featured in many movies including the Ridley Scott epic 'Prometheus.'

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What people are saying about Scottish Highlands

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 29,996 reviews

We had a great trip to the Highlands and Loch Ness with Willy today. From the pick-up to the end, the excursion was a complete success and Willy was not only a great driver but also a great entertainer and storyteller. To get a first impression of the area, we can unreservedly recommend the excursion. Greetings to Willy from the Berliners!

Excellent trip! Guide was great, good knowledge of everywhere and a sense of humour! Didn’t feel rushed at all and got to easily see everything we wanted to. Top tip is to listen to the guides info about the Kelpies as there isn’t really any info on them at the site. Also, do the free tour at Stirling Castle if you can.

Awesome. Very good bus driver who told a sea of wonderful stories. His knowledge of the highlands and history is phenomenal. In addition, he was also a disc jockey on the bus with fun music with a Scottish story. Nice trip and definitely recommended. Also well organised.

The tour was perfect, the guide was entertaining and informative and even though the drive was long, the views were worth it. Lunch had vegan and vegetarian options, however it is a long trip so pack snacks. Would definitely recommend to anyone visiting Scotland.

Our driver/guide, Jeff C from Glasgow is friendly, informative, and accommodating. The weather was not favourable but the entirety of the trip was worth it!