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Scottish Highlands Small group activities

Our most recommended Scottish Highlands Small group activities

From Edinburgh: Outlander Experience 2-Day Tour

1. From Edinburgh: Outlander Experience 2-Day Tour

Day 1 Your first visit will be Blackness Castle overlooking the Firth of Forth. The castle was used as the backdrop for Fort William. Next, it's on to Wentworth Prison (or as it is also known, Linlithgow Palace). Onwards to Doune Castle, better known as Castle Leoch, home to Colum Mackenzie. The castle has also made appearances in the Monty Python and the Holy Grail film. Next, into the Highlands and through Glen Coe with a quick stop at Loch Ness before arriving at your overnight accommodation in Inverness. Day 2 Step back in time 4000 years ago at Clava Cairns, the inspiration for Craigh na Dun. Then, continue to Culloden Battlefield, the scene of the last battle fought on British soil. Discover a living history at the Highland Folk Museum and its various time period scenes. Relive one of the first scenes when Jamie's ghost looks up in Claire's room at Outlander's Inverness: Falkland Village. Finally, explore the outside of Lallybroch at Midhope Castle. There will be a quick photo stop before arriving back in Edinburgh.

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

2. 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 Edinburgh: 2-Day Highlands Tour with Hogwarts Express

3. From Edinburgh: 2-Day Highlands Tour with Hogwarts Express

This 2-day guided tour takes you from Edinburgh to the gateway of the Highlands at Fort William, and on a world-famous steam train ride that passes Loch Ness, Ben Nevis, and other natural wonders of Scotland. Stay overnight in Fort Augustus at a B&B. Itinerary Day 1 Travel past the Forth Railway Bridge, then take a woodland walk in the Highlands at Dunkeld. Continue through the breathtaking Drumochter Pass, skirt the stunning peaks of the Cairngorm National Park, and visit Culloden, the last stand of the Jacobites against government forces. The first day ends in Fort Augustus, a quaint highland town. Overnight at a B&B in Fort Augustus.   Day 2 Take a steam train journey back in time. The Jacobite steam train route has been rated as one of the world's great train journeys. Travel past Britain's highest mountain, deepest loch, shortest river, and westernmost train station. Cross the viaduct featured in the Harry Potter movies and pass the Glenfinnan Monument, where Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his standard at the beginning of the 1745 Jacobite rising. Have lunch in the west coast town of Mallaig, where you can taste the best of Scottish seafood. Head back to Edinburgh via Glen Coe. Visit Glen Coe, where the MacDonalds were betrayed, and then experience the beauty of Rannoch Moor and Stirlingshire en route.

From Edinburgh: 2-Day Eilean Donan, Loch Ness & Highlands

4. From Edinburgh: 2-Day Eilean Donan, Loch Ness & Highlands

This tour departs from Edinburgh day 1, first heading west to collect Glasgow passengers. Journey via Stirling, catching a glimpse of its majestic Castle. Visit the Wallace Monument, the towering stone testimonial to the Scottish legend William Wallace. Afterwards pass Doune Castle, location for the film, Monty Python & The Holy Grail. After lunch, time permitting, a brief stop at Rob Roy’s Grave and then onwards to the pretty village of Killin for photos. The journey continues north via Tyndrum across the atmospheric Rannoch Moor. Next stop is Glencoe, a site of the 1692 massacre of the MacDonald Clan, for a brief walk and photos. Continue to the stunning Glenfinnan Viaduct, made famous by the Harry Potter films, yet another photo opportunity (Apr-Oct). The final stop for the first day is the Highland town of Fort William, where you can check into your chosen accommodation. Day 2 begins by going north into the Great Glen, a geographical fault line characterised by a chain of impressive lochs, including Loch Ness. Enjoy a photo stop at Glen Garry, before arriving at one of the most iconic castles in Scotland, Eilean Donan Castle (interior closed in winter) to explore the castle and its beautiful setting. The journey continues with a stop for lunch and views of Loch Ness in the pretty lochside village of Fort Augustus. After lunch begins the return journey, enjoying a photo stop to admire Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain, at 1,344 meters. Travel via The Hermitage, stopping for a gentle forest walk in idyllic Scottish woodland, before crossing the Forth Bridges, back to Edinburgh where your tour will end. 

From Aberdeen: Balmoral Castle and Royal Deeside Tour

5. From Aberdeen: Balmoral Castle and Royal Deeside Tour

Join our small group tour and experience the beauty of the royal deeside with it's connections to the monarchy and stunning scenery. The first stop on this tour will be at Balmoral where you will walk in the footsteps of generations of royals who have called this castle home. Balmoral castle was the late Queen Elizabeth's private country retreat and a beloved home. King Charles, who has his own private home on the estate, has a great affection for the castle and grounds. When visiting we highly recommend the audio tour where you will hear stories from people who lived and worked at Balmoral as they guide you around the estate. Scotland is iconic for its beautiful rugged mountains, hills of heather and cool clear rivers running through the countryside. On this short scenic drive we detour through the fringes of the highland moors and heath lands of the east Cairngorm national park. Ballater will be next on your tour and is is a picturesque Victorian village. This planned agricultural town dates back over two hundred years and is set around a central village green and the impressive Glenmuick Kirk which held its first service in 1800. A stroll around the town reveals an interesting range of many specialty shops and good selection of restaurants and cafes to enjoy some of the local food & drink. As we start to make our way back to Aberdeen we will visit the iconic Cambus O'May suspension bridge, a very popular outdoor destination for visitors walking in the area. A walk up to the Tomnaverie recumbent stone circle, is a breathtaking experience. A characteristic feature of this type of circle is a large stone on its side, flanked by two upright stones, usually on the south or south-west arc of the circle. The stone circle surrounds a burial cairn dating to about 4,500 years ago. Finally a visit the Queen's view just outside Tarland. The view gained its name from Queen Victoria who quickly fell in love with the view of the lower valley of the Dee which includes a view of the peak of Lochnagar. The view is particularly loved for its unspoiled beauty which has not changed greatly for hundreds of years making it even more remarkable, and a view which is iconic of Aberdeenshire.

From Inverness: 2-Day Isle of Skye and The Fairy Pools Tour

6. From Inverness: 2-Day Isle of Skye and The Fairy Pools Tour

Begin your 2-day tour at the meeting point in Inverness. From there, drive with your guide to your first stop at Loch Ness, the largest loch in the British Isles, and one of the deepest too. Keep an eye out for the world-famous yet elusive monster, and discover one of the most iconic castles in Scotland: Urguhart Castle. Next, continue via the soaring mountains, sparkling rivers, and wild moorlands of Glien Shiel and the Five Sisters of Kintal to the Isle of Skye. Enjoy the view of the rocky Cuillin Mountains when you arrive on Skye before heading to the Fairy Pools, one of the most dramatic landscapes on the island. The fairies regularly bathe here, in the crystal clear green pools of the River Brittle. Weather permitting, swim in the pools of the river, one of the UK’s best wild swimming spots. Have fun diving under natural arches and waterfalls, but please do not spy on the fairies, as they can easily take offense. After enjoying the company of the fairies, move on to Neist Point, the best place on the island to spot whales, dolphins, and sharks. Here, get transported to the edge of the world, with its beautiful scenery, awesome skies, and endless ocean. Your driver-guide will then drop you off at your accommodation (not included in the tour price) for the night. On the second day, get picked up from your accommodation by your driver-guide and make your way to Fairy Glen. Wander between countless conical mounds, known in the Highlands as fairy knowes; put your ears to the grass and listen for the fairies at work inside. Bend down to search for elves in the glen's miniature forests, take the twisted path to the top of the fairy castle, or walk the faun’s maze and have a wish granted! Then, head off the beaten track to Rha waterfalls, also known as the hidden waterfalls, and do some more wild swimming. Next up is the Quiraing, a landscape used in many sci-fi films known for its otherworldly rock formations and stunning vistas. From there, move on to the breathtaking Kilt Rock, home to the dinosaurs of Skye’s ancient past. Admire its distinctive pillars and beautiful waterfall with views across to the Torridon Hills on the mainland. After leaving Kilt Rock, view the Old Man of Storr, a 61-meter (200-foot) stone pillar that has detached itself from the highest point of the 720-meter (2,362-foot) ride. Marvel at a fantastical landscape of twisted rocks, looming shadows, and swirling mists, and take in a stunning clifftop view out to the islands of Rhona, Raasay, and the mountains of Assynt. Make your last stop on your 2-day tour at Eilean Donan Castle, the stronghold of the Clan MacRae and the headquarters of James Bond in “The World is not Enough,” on your way back to Inverness. The tour concludes at the original meeting point.

Edinburgh: Loch Ness Cruise, Glencoe Tour & 2 Highland Walks

7. Edinburgh: Loch Ness Cruise, Glencoe Tour & 2 Highland Walks

Head further afield from Edinburgh city and hike in the magnificent Scottish Highlands. Search for the Loch Ness monster and admire the remote moorland and dramatic mountainous landscape on this full-day excursion. Travel towards Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park where there’s a strong possibility to see some adorable ginger Highland cows that graze on these pastures. Continue north to the wonderful setting of Rannoch Moor, one of the most remote and wild locations in Scotland and also recently featured in the Netflix movie, "Outlaw King" among many other TV shows and films. Lay your eyes on the beautiful and dramatic Glencoe. Discover the dark and not so peaceful history significant in shaping Scotland and the world today. Learn about the tragic MacDonalds of Glencoe who once called this place home. Marvel at the ever-changing landscape, from green woodlands to rugged hills, long-shaped lochs and deep glens filled with mystery and intrigue. Hear a wealth of stories, myths and legends from your guide. Travel through Ballachulish, Onich, Fort William and then onto the banks of Loch Ness itself. Arrive at the picturesque Loch Ness and have the freedom to get out and enjoy a cruise on the water. Search for 'Nessie' the Loch Ness monster, undoubtedly a bucket list item for many visitors in Scotland. Or choose to sit back and relax at the water's edge and take in the panoramic views. From here, travel east over towards the Cairngorms National Park where your guide will take you on a short hike in the unforgettable Highlands. Next, head further south through Blair Athol, Pitlochry, and Dunkeld where you can revel in the beauty of waterfalls and crashing rivers.

Scotland: Orkney and Northern Coast 5-Day Tour

8. Scotland: Orkney and Northern Coast 5-Day Tour

Drive to the top of Scotland on a scenic 5-day tour, and learn the history of the Highlands at sites such as the battlefield of the Macdonald clan massacre, and Stirling Castle. Spend the day on the Orkney Isles, and travel the northenmost coast of mainland Scotland. The tour is by luxury 16-seat Mercedes minibus for a more intimate experience, while bed and breakfast accommodation is provided in Inverness, the lovely town of Kirkwall, and the whitewashed fishing village of Ullapool at the mouth of Loch Broom. Day 1: Depart Edinburgh, heading west towards Stirling. Pass Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument, and continue to Doune Castle, used for location shoots in Monty Python’s “Holy Grail.” Stop in the small town of Callander for refreshments. Then, marvel at the splendor of Loch Luibnaig, Loch Earn, Glen Ogle, and Glen Dochart on a scenic drive over the wild and remote Rannoch Moor. The views of the extinct volcano will take your breath away, and were also the scene of the infamous Clan Macdonald massacre of 1692. Continue north up the Great Glen to mysterious Loch Ness, with plenty of time to try and spot “Nessie” the Loch Ness Monster. The evening will be spent in Inverness, with free time to explore the “Capital of the Highlands.” Day 2: Depart Inverness early to cross over the Black Isle and past Andrew Carnegie’s Skibo Castle. From here, drive the northeast coastline, traveling into some of Scotland’s most dramatic scenery. Enjoy the views of some of Europe’s oldest landscapes, and the chance to spot wildlife such as golden eagle and red deer. Close to Scotland’s most northerly mainland village, John O’ Groats, board the ferry to cross the Pentland Firth to the Orkney archipelago. It is a short drive on arrival to the famous Italian Chapel, where you will stop for a quick visit before continuing to the Viking stronghold of Kirkwall, your home for the next 2 nights. Look inside Kirkwall’s magnificent Viking cathedral, and wander the winding streets of the historic town center. Day 3: Explore the ancient island of Orkney, and discover a land of contrasts, where fertile green pastures are fringed by shores of golden sands, and washed by the waters of the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean. Highlights include a visit to Skara Brae, the mystical prehistoric stone circle at Brodgar, the standing stones of Stenness, and Maeshowe, where Vikings left one of the largest collections of Norse runic inscriptions in the 12th century. Day 4: It’s time to leave Orkney and sail the Viking waters back to the mainland. From here, travel across the very top of Scotland, driving past the stunning Ben Loyal and Ben Hope mountains, following the rocky cliffs and stunning golden sand beaches of the northern coastline. Go to the far northwest of the Highlands, and admire the grandeur of the wild Assynt mountains. Stop to view the 15th-century ruins of Ardvreck Castle. Continue to Ullapool at the mouth of Loch Broom, a beautiful whitewashed fishing village where you will spend your last night. Day 5: Your morning includes visits to Corrieshalloch Gorge, and the ancient Clava Cairns, as well as exploring the more recent bloody history of the Culloden battlefield. Return south through the magnificent Cairngorm National Park, driving past the ancient Caledonian pine forests of Highland Perthshire, before your drop off in Edinburgh.

Isle Of Skye And The Fairy Pools: 3-Day Tour from Edinburgh

9. Isle Of Skye And The Fairy Pools: 3-Day Tour from Edinburgh

The first stop on this journey is Stirling, once the Capital of Scotland. You’ll have the opportunity to visit the Castle or to enjoy a leisurely stroll in the Old Town at your own pace. The tour takes you to the Trossachs National Park, where you catch a glimpse of the national mascots: the Highland Cows. The landscape of the Highlands will be showing itself in all its glory from this moment onward: all around you’ll see dramatic valleys, Lochs, mountains, and what’s left of the Caledonian Forest. Your next stops are beautiful Glencoe and Fort William. You’ll spend the night at your chosen accommodation provider in the Isle of Skye and Lochalsh. Begin the next day with a walk to the Fairy Pools, where, if the weather allows, you will have the option to dive with the Fairies. Then go to Talisker Distillery based in Carbost, producing a lovely Peated Single Malt Scotch. Here you can enjoy a nose around the Visitor Centre and a dram or 2 if so you fancy. At this point of the journey, you have a choice of either going to Neist Point or being dropped off at Dunvegan Castle. After Neist Point it's time to visit the charming Fairy Glen. Folklore says that this is the most important meeting place of the fairies on Skye. Wander between countless conical mounds, known in the Highlands as fairy knowes. The tour retakes from here, with a drive right up to The Quiraing, a place like no other, part of the largest landslip in Europe. Finally it's time to see Kilt Rock that will take your breath away with its distinctive pillars and beautiful waterfall with views across to the Torridon Hills on the mainland. Last on this memorable journey is the view of Old Man of Storr, probably the most iconic natural feature of the Isle of Skye and Portree. The first visit of the third day is the mighty Eilean Donan Castle, without any doubt, the most photographed castle in Scotland. The tour goes on to the famous Loch Ness. At Loch Ness you’ll have the opportunity to get your binoculars out of your rucksack and try to spot Nessie from the Loch’s banks, or hop on a boat for a scenic wee cruise. Continue to Pitlochry, in the heart of the Perthshire. This exciting 3-day tour ends in Edinburgh where it started.

From Aberdeen: Scottish Highlands & Inverness

10. From Aberdeen: Scottish Highlands & Inverness

The Cairngorms The day starts with a winding drive through the Aberdeenshire countryside and the Cairngorms, the UK's largest National Park. With stunning hills and mountains you will see dramatic views and wildlife on our way to our first stop. Corgarff Four specially commissioned sculptural seats by John Kennedy on the infamous Lecht Road offer spectacular views towards Corgarff Castle. There is an existing standing stone sculpture 'A Moment in Time' by Louise Gardiner which was designed to frame telescopic views of the Castle. Pack-horse Bridge The village of Carrbridge is famous for its 18th century pack-horse bridge, the river Dulnain snakes its way through this picturesque village before emptying into the River Spey. Not only is The Old Packhorse Bridge iconic within Carrbridge itself, but it is also one of the most recognisable landmarks in the whole of Cairngorms National Park, so grabbing a photograph or two is an absolute must. Capital City of the Highlands The city of Inverness has plenty to discover. Inverness city centre lies on the east bank of the river and some of the historic civic buildings are found in the centre including the Townhouse, Inverness Castle and several prominent churches. There are staircases and closes which take you into the residential parts of town, the Victorian Shopping Centre as well as East Gate Shopping Centre. You'll find a number of small cafes, pubs and restaurants for you to try. You'll have a some of free time to wander through the city and explore. As part of this tour you will have access to our Self-Guided audio tour of the Highlights of Inverness. This walking tour can be downloaded from our app and you will be sent details and voucher code before your trip. One of the worlds best known Lochs At 56 km2 , Loch Ness is the second-largest Scottish loch by surface area after Loch Lomond. Its deepest point is 230 metres. Loch Ness is famous for the sightings of "Nessie", the Loch Ness Monster. Discover one of Scotland’s most evocative prehistoric sites The Clava Cairns are about 4,000 years old and were built to house the dead. This is a sacred place in the landscape for millennia, and provides many clues to the beliefs of Bronze Age society. Two parts of the complex, Balnuaran of Clava and Milton of Clava, are open to the public. Culloden Viaduct Designed by Chief Engineer Murdoch Paterson and built by the Highland railway the impressive 29 arches of the Culloden viaduct that stretch over the valley and River Nairn really is a great sight to see on your highland travels. Historic Battle Field On 16 April 1746, the final Jacobite Rising came to a brutal head in one of the most harrowing battles in British history. Visit the battle field and the memorial to the men who lost their lives during this battle. The grounds are also the burial ground for many, you will see clan markers on the field to commemorate the clans who were present on the day.

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What people are saying about Scottish Highlands

Overall rating

4.8 / 5

based on 717 reviews

Wonderful, well planned tour. There aren't any stops to visit the inside of castles along the way, but it makes up for it by taking you to breathtaking sights of the isle of Skye, loch Ness, 5 sisters of Kintail, and so much more. This trip is a great way to familiarize yourself with what the beautiful country of Scotland has to offer, especially if you have no private transportation. You will be put up in a cozy little B&B for the 2 nights where you get to explore the local town. Our guide, Robert, was accommodating, enthusiastic, kind, and eager to show off his home. He had so much information and so many stories to tell. We had a marvelous time and half of it was attributable to the proficiency of our guide and the other half to the wonders of nature that is Scotland. We will definitely be back!

Our driver/guide was phenomenal and made it a much better experience. He knew his stuff and could actually explain some complicated history fairly easily for us. We weren’t a big group and it also made the experience so much better, because everybody got a window seat and could follow the scenery’s explanations. We also got 4 sunny days, which was unheard of in early September. It was a wonderful and beautiful trip, that didn’t require much other than good footwear on the trails.

My tour guide Doug was amazing! He was funny, knowledgeable and very accommodating. We didn’t get to see a few places in the itinerary because of the icy roads, which was very unfortunate. But still managed to visit a places and see beautiful sceneries across Isle of Skye. Highly recommended, and will definitely give it a go again.

One amazing experience. History of the land and languages were so interesting. The best were the walk to Neist Point lighthouse - just do it ! Keith made an effort to show us the hidden gems. Thank you so much

The absolute perfect trip, thank you to Rabbie's Tours and to the greatest tour guide Ross. I am already planning my next Scotland trip