Scotland, the U.K.’s northernmost country, is a land of mountain wildernesses such as the Cairngorms and Northwest Highlands, interspersed with glacial glens (valleys) and lochs (lakes). Its major cities are Edinburgh, the capital, with its iconic hilltop castle, and Glasgow, famed for its vibrant cultural scene. Scotland is also famous for golf, the game first played at the Old Course at St Andrews in the 1400s.
Ancient remains like the Isle of Lewis’ 5,000-year-old Callanish Stones are peppered across hundreds of coastal islands. Glasgow’s grand Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, opened in 1901, provides an eclectic summary of the nation’s art, history, and archaeology. Edinburgh’s summer arts festivals draw visitors from across the world. Loch Ness is famously home to a legendary ‘monster.’ The 18th-century Romantic poet Robert Burns, a national hero, has his own distinctive celebration, soon after the enthusiastic Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve) celebrations. Scotland’s distilleries have been producing the iconic ‘scotch’ whiskey for centuries.
Famed for its beautiful landscapes, Scotland is a mesmerizing country to explore. Visitors will surely fall in love with its wild and desolate scenery that looks so spectacular. The sweeping valleys and craggy mountains are marvelous and are perfectly complemented by the regal castles and glimmering lochs that punctuate the countryside.
In addition to the Scottish Highlands and famous lochs, Scotland’s fantastic cities are great to visit and are full of interesting historical and cultural landmarks. With so much to see and do, here are some of the best tours on offer that will help you to see as much of Scotland as possible.
1. Loch Ness, Glencoe & the Highlands Tour From Edinburgh
A wildly popular tour, this fantastic full-day excursion starts off in Edinburgh. In no time at all, you’ll be enjoying the spectacular scenery of the Scottish Highlands.
Visiting the famous Loch Ness will live long in the memory. Over the course of the day, you’ll also pass below the towering Ben Nevis mountain – the highest in Britain.
The scenery is stupendous and visitors inevitably come away awe-struck at the beautiful valleys, hills and windswept lochs that litter Scotland’s impressive landscapes.
2. City Sightseeing Glasgow: Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
Perfect for people who want to see as much of Glasgow as possible, this hop-on-hop-off tour stops at most of the city’s most famous sights and is well worth the money.
Among the many highlights are the stunning Glasgow Cathedral, Barras Market and Glasgow University; in total, there are 21 stops for you to explore.
With great audio commentary to tell you all there is to know about the city’s famous sights, you can’t go wrong with this hop-on-hop-off bus tour.
3. Edinburgh: Harry Potter Walking Tour
Simply a must for Harry Potter fans, this walking tour takes you to many of the sites which inspired J.K. Rowling as she wrote her famous books.
With visits to the original Hogwarts and the street that inspired Diagon Alley included in the tour, Potter aficionados will come away raving about all that they’ve seen.
On the way, you’ll also learn about how Edinburgh’s own history inspired Rowling in her writing of the books. A magical tour which is great for all of the family.
4. Full-Day Skye and Eilean Donan Castle Tour from Inverness
Starting off from Inverness, this full-day tour takes you to some gorgeous landscapes; your heart will ache at all the beauty before you.
The mountains, valleys, and lochs are absolutely stunning, and the picture-perfect views are complemented by the delightful Eilean Donan Castle that looks out over them.
With a professional guide on hand to point out landmarks and tell you all about Scottish history and culture, this tour will never cease to amaze and astound visitors with all that it has to offer.
5. Real Mary King’s Close: Beneath the Royal Mile Guided Tour
Highly recommended by visitors who have been on it, this enthralling tour will show you another side to Edinburgh as you explore the narrow alleys and streets that surround the Royal Mile.
The underground streets are mesmerizing to wander around; your guide will tell you all about the history of the places you visit and you really will feel that you have stepped back in time.
A very interesting and informative tour, you’ll come away with a greater appreciation for how people in Edinburgh used to live- you may even come away with a souvenir or two.
6. Glasgow: Celtic Park Stadium Tour
Home to one of the most successful football clubs in Scotland, Celtic Park Stadium is packed with fans on most weekends and is a special venue to visit.
Taking a tour around the stadium’s dressing rooms, dugouts, tunnel and more is a must for football fans, who will learn loads about the club’s prestigious history.
With impressive and interesting displays on Celtic’s past, it is an entertaining and informative tour. Seeing the pitch will send shivers down your spine as you imagine the cacophony of sound that greets the players’ every move.
7. Loch Ness Cruise and Urquhart Castle
Even though Loch Ness is just a short driving distance from Inverness, it can be hard to get there without renting a car. This guided tour includes round-trip transport from an easy-to-find meeting spot, as well as admission tickets to the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition and Urquhart Castle for your convenience. Plus, it packs in guided and independent elements to allow you to learn with a guide by your side and to explore on your own.
Very popular amidst tourists to the area, this ticket offers visitors the chance to take a cruise on the scenic Loch Ness and tour the marvelous Urquhart Castle.
Sailing around the loch is delightful; the audio commentary will teach you all about the sights you pass and the history of the loch itself.
Urquhart Castle is spectacular; its ruins look out over the loch and wandering the remains will live long in the memory, such is the beauty of the castle’s setting.
8. Ghostly Underground Vaults Evening Tour with Whisky
A fun and entertaining tour, this nighttime walk takes you up close and personal with the city’s ghostly past. Your lively guide will tell you all about Edinburgh’s gruesome history.
Wandering around the atmospheric streets before descending down into the underground vaults is a fabulous experience and it is easy to believe that the area is haunted.
The tour culminates in a local tavern, where your guide will recount ghost stories and tell you about some of the myths and legends that swirl about the capital.
9. From Glasgow: Loch Lomond & Whisky Distillery Half-Day Tour
Starting off from Glasgow, this trip sees you visit some of the most beautiful landscapes in Scotland in the form of the stunning Loch Lomond and the wonderful Trossachs National Park.
Walking around the Loch is a magnificent experience and after you have strolled along the shore, it’s time to head to the Glengoyne Whisky Distillery Experience.
Here, you will learn about the history of whiskey and how it is produced, before sampling some at the end of the tour.
10. Loch Lomond, Kelpies, and Sterling Castle Small-Group Tour
A fantastic day out, this tour takes you to loads of Scotland’s most famous sights, with the stops at Loch Lomond, Stirling Castle, and the Trossachs being particularly special.
Included on the itinerary is a visit to the Kelpies Monument and Linlithgow Palace. Your guide will tell you all about the history and culture of Scotland as you go.
Wherever you go, the scenery and views are breathtaking and you’ll come away with a newfound appreciation for this beautiful country.
11. St. Andrews Ghost Tours
As entertaining as it is informative and interesting, this fun ghost tour takes you around St. Andrews’ most prominent landmarks. You’ll learn all about the local ghosts and ghouls.
Accompanied by renowned historian Richard Falconer, you’ll delve into the city’s past and hear all about the most shocking supernatural experiences while touring its many monuments.
The cathedral ruins are particularly eerie to wander around. On a misty day, you can certainly see why St. Andrews is rumored to one of the most haunted places on Earth.
12. Loch Lomond, Trossachs & Stirling Castle Tour from Edinburgh
A brilliant tour, this excursion sees you cruise across the stunning Loch Lomond, stop by picturesque Highland villages, and take a tour around the historic Stirling Castle.
With a professional guide by your side, you’ll learn all there is to know about a number of Scottish heroes and legends – such as William Wallace and Mary Queen of Scots – on your memorable day out.
Among the many highlights is a visit to The Trossachs National Park, which has a diverse array of wild and desolate landscapes for you to enjoy.
13. Isle of Skye Tour with Fairy Pools from Inverness
Starting off from Inverness, this full-day tour takes you to the marvelous Loch Ness and the ruined Urquhart Castle that overlooks it; the views are simply astounding.
After that, it’s off to Loch Duich and the 13th century Eilean Donan Castle before you take a tour around the Isle of Skye.
With a number of awe-inspiring landscapes on show, it is perhaps the stop at the Fairy Pools that lives longest in the memory; the water shimmers and shines in the light and there is a magical feel about the place.
14. Rosslyn Chapel & Scottish Borders Tour from Edinburgh
Perfect for people who are looking to gain a greater understanding and appreciation of Scottish history and culture, this full-day tour is very interesting and informative and a number of fascinating stops are included in the itinerary.
After setting off from Edinburgh, the tour takes you to Scott’s View -boasting breathtaking views of the countryside around it – before you head on to the incredible 12th century Border Abbey.
With a professional guide accompanying you, the 15th century Rosslyn Chapel will come to life before your eyes; you’ll learn loads of interesting myths and legends about the places you visit.
15. From Glasgow: Oban, Glencoe, Highland Lochs & Castles Tour
Full of sweeping landscapes and dramatic vistas, the Western Highlands is a mesmerizing place to explore and visitors invariably come away impressed.
This fantastic tour packs a lot into the schedule; over the course of the day, you’ll visit Inverarary and Kilchurn Castles – as well as the spectacular Glencoe Valley and the picturesque harbor town of Oban.
With a stop at Loch Lomond National Park also included, you’ll be blown away at all the amazing scenery on the show and the multitude of beautiful lochs nestled amidst the desolate valleys.
16. Orkney Islands Day Trip from Inverness
Take an Orkney Islands tour of top attractions on this day trip from Inverness. You’ll travel by coach through Scotland’s dramatic North Highlands and ferry across the Pentland Firth from John O’Groats.
Cross the Churchill Barriers and Scapa Flow to the Ring of Brodgar and Standing Stones of Stenness — part of the Neolithic Orkney World Heritage site.
Your guide also takes you to the stone-age village of Skara Brae and the 12th-century St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall.
Note: This tour operates during the summer months.