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Scottish Highlands

Day Trips

Our most recommended Scottish Highlands Day Trips

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.

From John O'Groats: Orkney Islands Day Trip

2. 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.

From Inverness: Loch Ness Cruise and Urquhart Castle

3. From Inverness: Loch Ness Cruise and Urquhart Castle

Cruise on Loch Ness and visit Urquhart Castle on this coach and boat tour that transports you directly from Inverness city center to the legendary Loch Ness. You’ll learn everything there is to know about the stirring past of these famous shores as you relax on a guided coach tour. After departing from Inverness by coach, you will drive to Loch Ness. Once you arrive, hop on board a boat to cruise across the Loch’s world-famous waters. Keep an eye on the sonars for a blip that could be Nessie. There is a fully stocked bar on board and a selection of Scottish snacks. Coffee, tea, and hot chocolate are also served, should you require a little warming up. Once you are back on shore, explore the historic ruins of the once-mighty stronghold of Urquhart Castle. After you have seen the castle, relax on the coach as you make the return drive to Inverness city center.

Aberfeldy: 4-Hour Water Rafting on Scotland's River Tay

4. Aberfeldy: 4-Hour Water Rafting on Scotland's River Tay

Feel the excitement of this adrenaline-fuelled white water rafting tour in the heart of one of the most picturesque countries in the world. This River Tay white water rafting tour is the most popular tour in Scotland, and is set on the largest river in the UK (by volume). Flowing through Aberfeldy, to Grandtully where the tour ends. The river continues on its way to Perth and then Dundee. Suitable for everyone aged eight and upwards, each raft is fully and safely led by a trained trip leader, and safety is covered in a comprehensive brief prior to the tour. During the tour, you'll learn and practice safety drills well before the most intense spots, ensuring a fun, safe experience for everyone. From the end of the tour, near Dundee, you will be transported back to Aberfeldy by coach to see the photography included in the ticket price.

Portree: Best of Isle of Skye Full-Day Tour

5. 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.'

Edinburgh: Glenfinnan, Mallaig & Glencoe Adventure

6. Edinburgh: Glenfinnan, Mallaig & Glencoe Adventure

Depart Edinburgh and travel northwest, stopping for a coffee and refreshments at a small highland village. Traveling onwards, reach Glencoe, known to many as the location for the Massacre of the MacDonald clan in 1692. Take photos of this beautiful area whilst you learn about its turbulent past. After Glencoe, travel further north to Fort William. Stop for refreshments and perhaps a bite to eat before journeying down the Road to the Isles. Learn about the history of the area as you approach Mallaig, where you will spend time enjoying lunch and its sea views. From Mallaig, travel eastwards to the main attraction, Glenfinnan. Arrive right on time to see the Jacobite Steam Train (also known as the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter Films) cross the bridge. Not only will you enjoy this iconic view, but the site is also known as the setting for many Harry Potter scenes, including Loch Shiel. From Glenfinnan, travel southwards, stopping for refreshments at the small village of Pitlochry before returning to Edinburgh, where your tour ends.

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

7. 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 Glasgow: Loch Ness, Glencoe and Highlands Tour

8. 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: Loch Ness and Highlands Tour in Spanish

9. From Edinburgh: Loch Ness and Highlands Tour in Spanish

Discover the natural beauty of the Scottish Highlands on this guided day trip from Edinburgh. Admire views of Stirling Castle on the way to the charming town of Callander. Visit the Dalwhinnie distillery and hit up a pub in the town of Pitlochry.  Depart from Edinburgh's city center and head towards the Scottish Highlands. Pass by Stirling and catch a glimpse of the incredible Stirling Castle. Travel through Trossachs National Park and stop in Callander, where you can buy a drink and a light snack. Continue up to Glen Coe and take as many photos as you want. Journey past the village of Fort William and arrive at Fort Augustus. Explore the area with free time to take a boat cruise on Loch Ness, grab lunch, or relax in the village/ Stop at the Commando Memorial and listen to stories from WWII. See Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in the United Kingdom. Visit Loch Laggan and Dalwhinnie distillery before you cross the Grampian Mountains. Finish your tour at the town of Pitlochry and relax with a drink in one of its pubs. Return to your meeting point in Edinburgh at the conclusion of your tour.

From Glasgow: Loch Ness, Glencoe and the Highlands Tour

10. From Glasgow: Loch Ness, Glencoe and the Highlands Tour

Embark on a full-day guided bus tour of the Scottish Highlands from Glasgow. Marvel at the wild beauty of the Scottish countryside and visit highlights, including Loch Lomond and Loch Ness. Head north towards the Highlands and admire the lush pastures of the Scottish countryside from an air-conditioned bus. Stop for a cup of tea or coffee at a café on the shores of Loch Lomond before ascending into the Highlands. Traverse the desolate landscape of Rannoch Moor and the Black Mount to Glencoe, the site of the 1692 massacre of the MacDonald clan. Learn about the events and history of the area from your guide. After lunch in the Fort William area, pass beneath Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis, and into the Great Glen. At Loch Ness, opt for a sightseeing cruise on the loch or choose to admire the views from the shore. On your way back to Glasgow, cross the Grampian Mountains and admire the woodland scenery of Perthshire, including the Forest of Atholl.

Frequently asked questions about Scottish Highlands Day Trips

What are other things to do than Day Trips that are worth visiting in Scottish Highlands?

The other unmissable things to do in Scottish Highlands are:

Other Sightseeing Options in Scottish Highlands

Want to discover all there is to do in Scottish Highlands? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Scottish Highlands

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 9,679 reviews

Fantastic trip we had on July 13th. Thank you Paul H for being the best guide ever with interesting stories along the way. Such a memorable and adventurous tour, a must-do when visiting Edinburgh, to get the full Scottish experience in a short amount of time. 12 hours have never gone by so fast, and the bus was also super comfortable. We did the castle visit and the Loch Ness boat cruise, would highly recommend!

This was a brilliant day out, not only did we see loch lomond, Stirling castle and the kelpies, our guide also took us through the hills to see all the sights and to visit some Highland cattle. Our guide Stuart pointed out all the sights, local history and lots of other interesting information. It was an excellent day out.

John was an excellent tour guide, make the experience well worth it and was very informative, highly recommend this tour was my first time ever in Scotland and doing anything like this and I loved every second of it

Everything very well planned and organized. Magnificent, impressive landscapes! A wonderful experience. Absolutely to recommend!

Very comfortable and easy way to travel around Highland!