The greatest Scottish tours any intrepid traveller would be a fool to miss.
From castles to highlands, and lochs to isles, Scotland is unparalleled when it comes to dramatic scenery. On your bucket list should be the mighty Edinburgh Castle, the arresting Isle of Skye, the verdant Scottish highlands and yeah, maybe a Scottish terrier or two.
For fodder, you need to try black pudding and haggis at least once. Afterwards, don’t forget to wash it down with a wee dram of whisky –aye, it’s guaranteed to put a few whiskers on your chin!
So laddies and lasses, if yer haven’t gotten the message yet, it’s time to see Scotland with these top small-group tours.
1. Skye and Highland Fling (five days)
Vistas don’t get any more picture perfect than this. This five-day tour starts in Edinburgh and whisks you through the highlands, around to the Isle of Skye and back down through William Wallace Country.
- Highlights: Edinburgh, Loch Ness, Inverness, Isle of Skye, Glen Coe and William Wallace Country.
- Style: This tour is basic with dorm room accommodation (not included in the tour price) and extended hikes. The trip is designed for 18-40 year olds.
- Group size: Groups range from 16-27 people.
2. Best of The West (seven days)
Delve into Scottish culture and history on this week-long tour along the west coast, where you’ll be regaled with tales of battle glory and stay in a traditional Black House.
- Highlights: Edinburgh, Loch Ness, Standing Stones, Lewis & Harris, Glenfinnan, Glen Coe, Oban and Hairy Coos.
- Style: Basic and casual. Accommodation is in hostels and the pace is fast.
- Group size: Maximum of 16 people.
3. Isle of Skye Small Group Tour from Glasgow (three days)
If all that’s on your mind is seeing what the Isle of Skye is all about, then you’re not the only one. This three-day tour is your ticket to exploring the rich and rugged landscape of Scotland.
- Highlights: Isle of Skye, Portree, Scottish Highlands, Loch Ness, Eilean Donan Castle and Old Man of Storr.
- Style: Casual. You’ll travel by minibus to see the sights and there will be minimal walking.
- Group size: Groups are capped at 16 people.
4. Speyside Whisky Tour from Edinburgh (three days)
For something a little different but no less Scottish, a whisky tour in the nation’s main whisky-producing region of Speyside is just what the doctor ordered.
- Highlights: Visit at least four distilleries including Glenlivet, Dalwhinnie, Benromach and Cardhu, and travel through Cairngorm National Park.
- Style: Casual and educational.
- Group size: Groups are capped at 15 people.
5. The Jacobite Experience (two days)
Explore the Scottish Highlands and learn about its Jacobite history in two days with this engrossing tour. You’ll even get to ride one of the stream trains featured in the Harry Potter movies. Yes, dreams do come true.
- Highlights: Fort William, Forth Railway Bridge, Fort Augustus and Culloden (the battlefield where the Jacobites confronted the government forces).
- Style: Relaxed.
- Group size: At least five or more people.
Image: Edinburgh Hogmanay
6. Edinburgh’s Hogmanay (four days)
One of the most hotly anticipated events on the Scottish calendar is Hogmanay. In other words, Edinburgh’s big New Year’s Eve celebration. Understandably, this tour comes around once a year only, but it’s a trip worth taking as it includes the annual torchlight procession, street party and candlelit concert.
- Highlights: Edinburgh Castle, Royal Yacht Britannia, Jedburgh Abbey, Hogmanay street party, torchlight procession and candlelit concert at St Giles.
- Style: Celebratory and fun.
- Group size: TBA.
Travelling Scotland on your own?
Touring Scotland by rail is cheap and easy when you invest in a rail pass. A BritRail pass can cover you for Central Scotland, the Scottish Highlands and more. The BritRail Freedom of Scotland Pass is exceptionally good for adventurous travellers as it is valid on the National Rail Network, Caledonian MacBrayne Ferries and specific coach routes.