The Great Glen

The Great Glen: Our most recommended tours and activities

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 and a cup of coffee. Discover what a ‘hairy coo’ really is. 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.

Dochgarroch: Loch Ness and Caledonian Canal 2-Hour Cruise

2. Dochgarroch: Loch Ness and Caledonian Canal 2-Hour Cruise

Join this cruise for a round-trip sail to Urquhart Castle from Dochgarroch Lock. Your cruise sails from Dochgarroch Loch on the Caledonian Canal and heads to the heart of the mystery, where you’ll learn the fascinating story of Loch Ness. You will pass by The Great Glen, Aldourie Castle, and more while enjoying the selection of hot and cold Scottish snacks on board. There is also a bar if you fancy a wee dram, and for those of you who like to stay connected, there is free Wi-fi onboard.

From Glasgow: Loch Ness, Glencoe and Highlands Tour

3. From Glasgow: Loch Ness, Glencoe and Highlands Tour

Embark on a guided tour to Loch Lomond National Park, Rannoch Moor, Glencoe, the Great Glen, Loch Ness, and Pitlochry from Glasgow. Learn the history behind each turn from your guide. Depart Glasgow and travel north towards the Highlands along the “bonnie, bonnie” banks of Loch Lomond. Crossing the ancient natural fault line that runs across Scotland you travel into the majestic Highlands where the scenery changes quickly and dramatically – the flat fertile plains of the Lowlands give way to shimmering lochs, rugged mountain tops and forest-filled glens. Traveling north through Breadalbane, meaning the 'High Country of Scotland,' you climb towards the wild desolation of Rannoch Moor and down into Scotland's most famous valley, Glencoe. Glencoe is infamous as the site of the Glencoe massacre in 1692. Beyond Glencoe you will enter the Great Glen, a deep glacial valley that follows a geological fault line. Passing through the town of Fort William you drive under Britain's highest mountain, Ben Nevis, before arriving at Fort Augustus on the southern shore of Loch Ness. Keep an eye out for legendary sightings of the Loch Ness Monster, Nessie. Take in views of the charming town of Fort Augustus and the Caledonian Canal which links the lochs of the Great Glen. Spend some time here where you can purchase a nice lunch before traveling north up the full length of the loch. Have the opportunity to see the ancient stronghold of Urquhart Castle while taking a 5-Star Jacobite boat cruise on the loch. Continue north through Inverness before traveling south in the stunning the mountains of Cairngorms National Park. Drive over the Drumochter Pass, at 1500 feet above sea level and past the 13th century Blair Castle, the ancestral home of the Duke of Atholl. Finally, stretch your legs at the Highland resort town of Pitlochry which is built for Victorian tourism and nestled amongst the mountains of Highland Perthshire. Return to your starting point in Glasgow at the end of your tour.

From Edinburgh: 3-Day Isle of Skye and The Highlands Tour

4. From Edinburgh: 3-Day Isle of Skye and The Highlands Tour

Embark on a 3-day guided tour of the Scottish Highlands and visit highlights, including Loch Ness and the Isle of Skye. Learn the history of this lush region from your guide and spend two nights in Inverness. Day 1: Departing Edinburgh, we will take our first short drive heading north and stop at the mysterious Kelpies. Scotland’s largest piece of outdoor art depicting mythical creatures of Scotland’s folklore that your driver will tell you all about. We’ll then continue on our journey and pass Stirling Castle. Be inspired by tales from your guide of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce. Continuing north, into the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, admire the scenery as your tour guide explains the remarkable tribal clan history of the Highlands. Discover beautiful Glencoe, the most famous valley in Scotland, and hear of its tragic history. Admire the spectacular Glenfinnan Viaduct then head north and arrive on the southern banks of Loch Ness to get photos of the infamous monster Nessie! Stop for photos of Urquhart Castle before arriving in Inverness, the Capital of the Highlands, where you'll stay for 2 nights, choosing from a local guesthouse, hostel, or hotel. Day 2: After breakfast, depart Inverness and drive across the Kessock Bridge to the Black Isle and marvel at the spectacular scenery of Achnasheen and Loch Carron. Arriving on the Isle of Skye, venture north to explore the highlights of the island, including; the Cuillin Mountains, Trotternish Peninsula, Portree, the Old Man Storr, Kilt Rock and the famous Quiraing. In late afternoon, stop for photographs of the most beautiful castle in Scotland, "Eilean Donan Castle." Backdrop to many famous films, such as 'Highlander' and 'Made of Honor', this castle is another must-see iconic landmark! A scenic drive through stunning Glen Shiel follows, returning to Inverness to stay your final night. In the evening, visit a local Highland Pub to drink some Scotch whisky or beer and eat some traditional Scottish food, whilst listening to some local musicians perform. Day 3: Visit Culloden Battlefield, site of the last Jacobite Rising, then 'Clava Cairns', incredible 4,000-year-old, Bronze-Age standing stones. Travelling south, stop at the Highland Folk Museum. Here you'll experience highland life in the 17th century. See the buildings, the clothes and weapons, and how people lived 300 years ago. Then, drive through the dramatic Cairngorm National Park. You will have the chance to experience a Scotch Whiskey tasting before you visit the historic village of Dunkeld on the banks of the mighty River Tay. Your journey back to Edinburgh takes you across the famous Forth Bridges. The expected arrival time back in Edinburgh is around 6:30 PM.

Edinburgh: Loch Ness & Scottish Highlands Tour with Lunch

5. Edinburgh: Loch Ness & Scottish Highlands Tour with Lunch

Embark on a full-day guided trip to Loch Ness from Edinburgh and tour the Scottish Highlands. See the UK's highest mountain, Ben Nevis, keep an eye out for Nessie on a boat cruise and enjoy a picnic lunch. Head north from Edinburgh and pass the imposing ramparts of Stirling Castle. Skirt the Trossachs Rob Roy country, and cross the wilds of Rannoch Moor before stopping at dramatic Glencoe; the scene of the infamous 1692 massacre.  Your journey takes you through Fort William. Pass Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain, before entering the Great Glen. Arrive at the pretty Highland village of Fort Augustus on the banks of Loch Ness, and enjoy a lovely picnic with freshly made sandwiches, shortbread, and chips. If you fancy something more substantial, your guide will happily recommend some great local cafes.  Take an optional boat cruise on the loch, go for a scenic hike, or just relax by the Caledonian Canal. If you choose to sail along the waters of Loch Ness, it really is an unforgettable experience. Your boat is equipped with the latest hi-tech color, sonar, and underwater imaging system, giving you a fascinating view of the underwater terrain and life. You might even see Nessie! You can also relax with a coffee or beer in the onboard bar. Having seen the best of the Scottish Highlands, it's time to head back to Edinburgh via shimmering Loch Laggan and the wild and lonely Drumochter Pass. Head south and enter Perthshire, a land of forests, rivers, and mountains. See the spectacular Forth Bridge before arriving back in Edinburgh at around 20:00.

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

6. 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.

Edinburgh: Loch Ness, Glencoe, and Scottish Highlands Tour

7. Edinburgh: Loch Ness, Glencoe, and Scottish Highlands Tour

Head north from Edinburgh and pass the imposing ramparts of Stirling Castle. Skirt the Trossachs (Rob Roy country) before crossing the wilds of Rannoch Moor and moving on to dramatic Glencoe, the site of the massacre of the McDonald clan in 1692.  The tour takes you past Fort William and Britain's highest mountain, the mighty Ben Nevis, before following the Great Glen and stopping in the village of Fort Augustus by the shores of mysterious Loch Ness. You then have the option to take a boat trip on mysterious Loch Ness and hunt for Nessie, explore the shores of the loch, or simply relax and enjoy your free locally produced picnic lunch.  A typical lunch includes a bottle of Scottish mineral water, a choice of freshly made sandwiches, and shortbread. Your return journey passes south along Loch Laggan stopping at one of the quaint Highland villages along the way.  After one last look at the spectacular Forth Bridges, arrive back in the capital at around 8:00 PM. Loch Ness Cruise option: A cruise on Loch Ness is an unforgettable experience, where you might just catch a glimpse of Nessie. Locally owned custom-built boats are used, designed with sonar and underwater imaging systems, giving you a fascinating view of the terrain and life underwater.  Enjoy the views with a coffee or beer from the onboard bar.  Purchase your cruise ticket from your guide on the day of the tour. Tickets cost £12 (a savings of £1.00 on the standard ticket price) and allow you to board the boat immediately on arrival in the village without having to queue. The Loch Ness Cruise is subject to availability during winter months.

Loch Ness and the Highlands 1-Day Tour from Aberdeen

8. Loch Ness and the Highlands 1-Day Tour from Aberdeen

Your tour departs Aberdeen and heads straight for the ‘Whisky Capital of the World’, Dufftown. Unfortunately it's too early in the morning to taste the whisky at the Glenfiddich Distillery, but you have time to take a photo of the iconic site and grab a coffee. Venture through the heart of Speyside and arrive at Loch Ness for an optional boat trip which is bookable via your guide on the day of the trip. Onboard the ship, you travel over the widest and deepest part of the loch and get a fine view of Urquhart Castle. Upon your return back on dry land, it’s time to travel deep into the past at Clava Cairns. This spot is situated in a gorgeous green grove and boasts well-preserved ancient burial tombs. They even say this spot was the inspiration for Outlander’s Craigh na Dun. Follow this up with a trip to Culloden Battlefield, the location of the final Jacobite Rising. It’s an eerie, flat, tragic landscape that can put the history of Scotland into perspective. The interactive exhibition center here really brings it all to life. Have a comfort break within the gorgeous Cairngorms National Park before you reach Aberdeen 8:00 PM.

From Edinburgh: Isle of Skye 3-Day Tour with Accommodation

9. From Edinburgh: Isle of Skye 3-Day Tour with Accommodation

Enjoy a full 3 days exploring the dramatic scenery of the Scottish Highlands and the romance of the island of Skye in a small group tour. Dhoose your accommodation to suit your own budget and you will get an exclusive discount card to receive discounts at local restaurants and shops. Day 1: Depart Edinburgh by luxury Mercedes minibus at and travel west, passing Linlithgow Palace, the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots. Continue towards Stirling with its imposing castle and views of the Wallace Monument. You will pass Doune Castle, movie location for scenes from Monty Python's infamous "Holy Grail," before stopping at the edge of the Highlands for refreshments. As you drive into the Highlands you will pass Loch Luibnaig, Loch Earn, Crianlarich and Tyndrum, stopping for lunch along the way. Drive north through Glencoe, scene of the great massacre of the Clan Macdonald in 1692. Continue to Fort William and up to the Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge, offering magnificent views over Ben Nevis. Next you will take the "Road to the Isles," through the splendor of the 5 Sisters of Kintail, the mountains that guard the pass to the Isle of Skye. Stop to visit the famous Eilean Donan Castle, used in the film "Highlander" and located at the junction of 3 lochs as protection against Viking raiders. Crossing over the bridge to Skye, you head north to Portree where you will be dropped off at your accommodation. Enjoy an evening and dinner at leisure, exploring the town’s Gaelic attractions and harborside. Day 2: You will spend the day on the Isle of Skye with flexible arrangements. There are many possibilities, depending on the weather, and the dynamics of your group. Your driver/ guide's local knowledge will come to the fore to arrange the best day for everyone. You could travel north to explore the Trotternish Peninsula with its stunning Quiraing mountain pass and some of Skye's extraordinary geological scenery. Or head to Kilt Rock, composed of basalt columns that are reminiscent of the pleats in a kilt. Enjoy the magic of the waterfall, cascading over cliffs and down into the sea below. Take a short break for lunch, before continuing to explore this most dramatic of islands. Head in a westerly direction to Dunvegan castle, the ancestral home of Clan Macleod, or enjoy spectacular views at Neist Point, the most westerly point of Skye. Return you to your accommodation in Portree in the early evening to enjoy dinner and the rest of the evening at leisure. Day 3: Your driver will collect you from your accommodation and head south through the Cuillin Hills, back over to the mainland for stunning views over Loch Duich and the 5 Sisters of Kintail. Move on to Loch Ness for lunch. Look out for "Nessie," the mysterious monster that has haunted and confounded visitors since the 1950s. Head south through the Grampian Mountains along Loch Laggan, famous as the location for the TV miniseries "Monarch of the Glen," before passing Dalwhinnie, home to Scotland's highest whisky distillery. You will pause for refreshments at Blair Castle, before heading back to Edinburgh via Perth and over the extraordinary Forth Road Bridge.

From Inverness: Glen Affric, Culloden and Clava Cairns Tour

10. From Inverness: Glen Affric, Culloden and Clava Cairns Tour

Leave Inverness in the morning and begin your full-day tour with a trip to the ancient burial site of Clava Cairns. This Bronze-Age graveyard has survived 4 millennia and is a great spot to take photos.  Afterward, you’ll head to Culloden, one of the most important sites in Scottish history. It was here that a 60-year series of uprisings finally ended in a tumultuous battle in 1745.  Explore the visitor center and pay tribute to those who lost their lives at the last ever battle fought on British soil. Continue to Glen Affric and stop to walk among the indigenous Caledonian pine trees. Enjoy views over Loch Affric and the mountains beyond, with your expert guide taking you to the best waterfalls and photo spots.  Afterward, explore the historic ruins of Beauly Priory, a monastery dating back to the 13th century. To cap things off, you’ll head to the shores of Loch Ness, before ending up back in the center of Inverness in the early evening.

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Other Sightseeing Options in The Great Glen

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What people are saying about The Great Glen

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 7,814 reviews

The whole experience from the start of the journey to the end was fantastically rewarding and worth spending every penny. This was all possible not just because of the natural beauty but our undoubtedly the best tour guide so far Paul and our bus driver Adam. Paul is a jolly person with great humour and his passion for Scottish history and The landscapes were mesmerising and the history attached made it more intriguingly beautiful

This tour is amazing, we stopped several times to use the bathroom or eat something. The guide was excellent, he gave us very interesting information and we stopped at beautiful places to take photos

It was a wonderful experience, make sure you feed the famous celebrity cows!

Great fun and would definitely do it again 12 hours flew by!

Amazing Place, Special kudos to Guide David and John.