Scottish Highlands
Day Trips

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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 your group’s 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 Fort William, 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 with personal touches. 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. 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 with incredible memories of your excursion.

From Inverness: Isle of Skye and Eilean Donan Castle Tour

3. From Inverness: Isle of Skye and Eilean Donan Castle Tour

Explore the Isle of Skye on a day trip from Inverness, and marvel at some of the most stunning scenery in Scotland. Discover Loch Ness, Eilean Donan Castle, Portree, Kilt Rock, Lealt Falls, the Old Man of Storr, and more. Depart Inverness and travel South, along the shoreline of Loch Ness to Invermoriston. Stop for a short break at Loch Ness which is 24 miles long, over 700ft deep, famous for its sightings of the Loch Ness monster. Continue to the picturesque Eilean Donan Castle, situated on its own island at the head of Loch Duic. Take time to explore one of Scotland’s most photographed castles and its atmospheric surroundings. Journey to the Isle of Skye, passing over the Skye Bridge and on to the small village of Portree for a lunchtime stop. Portree, although a small harbor village, is the capital of Skye, and is surrounded by rocky cliffs and rolling hills. Take in its beautiful surroundings while enjoying lunch with views of the boats. Begin touring the island with stops at Kilt Rock, Lealt Falls, the Old Man of Storr, and perhaps Strome Viewpoint.

From Inverness: Jacobite Steam Train and Highlands Tour

4. From Inverness: Jacobite Steam Train and Highlands Tour

Immerse yourself in the natural wonders of the Scottish Highlands and board the Jacobite Steam Train on a day trip from Inverness. Cross the Glenfinnan Viaduct for a scenic tour of Loch Ness and in the fishing town of Mallaig. Begin your journey by bus and drive along the world-famous Loch Ness, stopping for photos above the ruins of Urquhart Castle. Continue south and visit the Commando Memorial, overlooking the Nevis Range—home to the UK’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis. Next, set your sights on the Jacobite Steam Train and hop on board at Fort William. Your journey through magnificent landscapes will end in the fishing port of Mallaig, where you can try fresh seafood for lunch (at your expense) or explore the town. Take the scenic ‘Road to the Isles’ to Glenfinnan viaduct for stunning views. Admire beautiful scenery as you ride to Fort Augustus, the Caledonian Canal, and Loch Ness. Finish your tour at Falls of Foyers and Dores Beach on the banks of Loch Ness.

Portree: Best of Isle of Skye Full-Day Tour

5. Portree: Best of Isle of Skye Full-Day Tour

You will start on your journey with a drive to the Fairy Pools in the shadow of the Cuillin Mountains. The pools are located in one of the most dramatic landscapes on Skye. The fairies regularly bathe here, in the crystal clear green pools of the River Brittle. Weather permitting, you can 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 offence. You then move on to Talisker distillery based in Carbost, one of the three whisky distilleries on the Isle of Skye. The whisky is a single malt Scotch, with a very distinctive peaty-smoky taste. You can then go through the visitor center (not on the tour) and if available sample one of the fine whiskys produced here. You now have a choice of either going to Neist Point or being dropped off at Dunvegan Castle, and we will pick you up on the way back from Neist Point. You will travel to the far west of the island to the dramatic Neist Point. This is the best place on the island to spot whales, dolphins and sharks. Here we transport you to the edge of the world, with its beautiful scenery, awesome skies and endless ocean. Take advantage of the opportunity to 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 and have a wish granted! Then enjoy the drive up the Trotternish ridge and marvel at the magnificent views of the Quiraing, a landscape used in many sci-fi films, known for its wonderful rock formations and stunning coastal views. Part of the largest landslip in Europe, this is a place like no other. Finally, arrive at Kilt Rock and the Dinosaur Museum. Then, continue on to the charming Old Man of Storr, a stunning 200 foot tall stone pillar, which has detached itself from the highest point of the ridge, creating a magic landscape of twisted rocks, looming shadows, and swirling mists. Old Man of Storr has featured in many movies including Prometheus, the 2012 sci-fi film directed by Ridley Scott. Come and see for yourself why Skye has been voted by National Geographic as the fourth greatest island visitor experience in the whole world.

From Inverness: Isle of Skye Scenery Tour with Fairy Pools

6. From Inverness: Isle of Skye Scenery Tour with Fairy Pools

Depart from a central meeting point in Inverness, where you will meet your guide and board the mini-bus. First, stop at Eilean Donan Castle and take plenty of photos as you admire the majestic beauty of this iconic sight in its wonderful coastal location. Upon arrival in Portree, make your way to the harbor viewpoint where you can see the pretty pastel-colored houses. Enjoy a short stop here, where you can also purchase a light lunch. Next, stop at a loch-side viewpoint, and discover the unique rock formation of the Old Man of Storr. See the 50-meter high pinnacle that juts out from the Trotternish Ridge and is recognizable from blockbuster films including Ronin 47, Snow White & The Huntsman, Prometheus, and The BFG. Continue to Kilt Rock, an exposed sea cliff that resembles the traditional Highland kilt. Be amazed by the imposing waterfall that cascades 60ft (180m) into the Sound of Raasay below. Visit the Quiraing landslip on the eastern face of Meall na Suiramach. On a clear day, see the Outer Hebrides and the Scottish mainland, framed by pinnacles, cliffs, and great buttresses. Enjoy some time for a short hike at this scenic location. Continue to the Fairy Pools, a series of crystal clear waterfalls and pools surrounded by the stunning backdrop of the Cuillin Mountain. Finally, stop for some photos of Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness. Admire the sight of the castle on a distinctive peninsula jutting out onto the mysterious Loch Ness, before heading back to Inverness.

Loch Ness, Glencoe & Highlands Small-Group Tour from Glasgow

7. Loch Ness, Glencoe & Highlands Small-Group Tour from Glasgow

Depart Glasgow at 8:00 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 which 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. Of course, the loch is best known for the legendary sightings of the Loch Ness Monster, Nessie. Fort Augustus is a pretty little town in its own right, the Caledonian Canal which links the lochs of the Great Glen dominates the town and makes for a great place to relax and watch the boats sail by. You will stop here for lunch before travelling north the full length of the loch with opportunities to see the ancient stronghold of Urquhart Castle while taking a 5-Star Jacobite boat cruise on the loch. From Loch Ness you continue north through Inverness before traveling south through the mountains of the Cairngorms National Park. Your route takes you over the Drumochter Pass, 1500 feet above sea level, and past the 13th century Blair Castle, the ancestral home of the Duke of Atholl. Your next stop is the Highland resort town of Pitlochry, built on Victorian tourism and nestled amongst the mountains of Highland Perthshire. Transportation by top of the range Mercedes minicoaches for a more personal service.

Inverness: John O'Groats and the Far North Tour

8. Inverness: John O'Groats and the Far North Tour

Your tour departs Inverness before traveling north, up to Loch Fleet to the village of Golspie. The village, situated on the north sea coast is nestled next to Ben Bhraggie and is an attractive little seaside resort complete with long sandy beaches. You will be able to spend time here for refreshments, before continuing on to Dunrobin Castle. A stately home in Sutherland, Dunrobin Castle is the family seat of Clan Sutherland. It resembles a French chateau with it’s towering spires, and overlooks the Moray Firth. You will spend time here exploring the beautiful stately home whilst enjoying some refreshments. You will then continue north through the Helmsdale Clearance to the Highland town of Wick for your lunch break. A former Viking settlement, Wick is the principal town in the far north of mainland Scotland. You can spend time exploring the town and taking in the views across Wick Bay whilst you enjoy your lunch. From Wick, you will then travel to John O’Groats; the most northerly point on British mainland. Here you’ll be able to stroll along the cliff path, take iconic photos at the signpost, and enjoy dramatic coastal views, perhaps even seeing some local wildlife! From John O’Groats, you will begin to make your way back to Inverness. You will travel to Dunbeath Harbor for photos, and to Brora, famous for its golf courses and magnificent coastal scenery.

Edinburgh: Glenfinnan, Mallaig & Glencoe Adventure

9. 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.

The Outlander 1 Day Experience from Edinburgh

10. The Outlander 1 Day Experience from Edinburgh

Choose your most convenient departure point in central Edinburgh from a list of locations, then hop aboard an air-conditioned coach and head to your first location of the day, Midhope Castle, a must for Outlander fans. The Midhope Castle is the external location of the Fraser family home known as Lallybroch. Spend time at the castle for photos and live out your Outlander fantasy before heading to the next stop, Blackness Castle. Explore the rich history within the castle walls and learn of its multi-functional history as a lordly residence, garrison fortress, and state prison. Fans of Outlander may also recognize that the exterior posed as Fort William, the foreboding headquarters of Black Jack Randall. The tour continues to the town of Linlithgow, famous for its palace, birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots. Here, outlander fans have the opportunity to see Linlithgow Palace, used as the set for the infamous Wentworth Prison in Outlander. Linlithgow Palace is where Outlander's Jamie was held prisoner and tortured by Black Jack Randall, one of the most intense scenes filmed during the TV series. Enjoy some time for refreshments and exploring before the next stop. Visit Culross next. Several parts of Culross are used to depict the village of Cranesmuir, predominantly for season 1 of Outlander. During your time here, you'll notice many of the scenes come to life as you step into the actual shooting location of the show. Following in the footsteps of Jamie and Claire, stop at the beautiful village of Falkland, nestled between the two Lomond Hills in the Howe of Fife. Fans of Outlander will recognize Falkland as the stand-in for Inverness, where Claire and Frank honeymoon. The last stop of the day is at the viewpoint of South Queensferry. Admire the Firth of Forth and the three magnificent bridges that link Edinburgh to Fife. Stretch your legs and take some final photos. On returning to Edinburgh, choose to be dropped off at Bakehouse Close, a location featured in the third series of Outlander as Jamie's print house.

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

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What people are saying about Scottish Highlands

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 9,679 reviews

Our guide, Neil, was what made the best part of our tour! His shared knowledge of history, geography, and lore was very informative and entertaining. The castle was a great stop, and we were very pleased with how accessible it was to the public. We thoroughly enjoyed the cruise as well. The town we stopped in for lunch offered many venues, al within a block or two of the parking area. We agreed that we all enjoyed this excursion, and again, Neil was a superb guide!

The tour was great. A must if you want to see the highlands and learn about Scottish history. Very good driver and guide, Paul E. is very knowledgeable and fun !! Fantastic scenery and lots of laughs along the way.

Great tour, a lot to see in one day, sometimes you would like a little more time, but that's not the point of the tour here. You would have to book a longer tour for that.

Paul E. and Graham were absolutely great!!! We learned so much and enjoyed the tour!! Clearly a must when visiting Scotland!!!!

It was a fantastic tour with even better guid Paul E. and our cool driver Graham. Keep doing perfect job Thank you very much