Curious about touring holidays in Scotland? Of course, you are! Scotland tours are what dreams are made of! This article will explain some of the different types of Scotland tours that are out there, allowing you to settle in and explore Scotland with experienced guides, plus lots of free time to do things at your own pace.
On a tour of Scotland, you’ll meet like-minded people, find hidden gems, and visit those Scottish places you’ve always wanted to see. Longer tours are a great way to travel sustainably, rather than experiencing the country at a glance.
If you are already thinking about booking a tour, check out our Scottish Tours.
1. LANDSCAPE & NATURE TOURS IN SCOTLAND
If you ask people what it is they find special about Scotland, many would say it’s the landscapes that keep them coming back. Of course, most tours will have a landscape element, but here we’re talking mountains, glens, rivers and coastlines. This type of tour offers you the chance to go hiking in Scotland’s wild places with someone who knows what they are doing!
For example, starting from Inverness you could spend a day in the Untamed North West, a world of gorges, waterfalls and caves, beautiful barren countryside and remote fishing villages.
Those wanting to spend longer in Scotland might be interested in a Big Highland Tour, which offers a blend of hiking and sightseeing over two weeks, and even presents the chance to ascend Ben Nevis, Scotland’s highest Munro. Accommodation will be varied on this type of tour, from B&Bs to small hotels – handpicked to ensure maximum comfort.
2. ISLAND HOPPING TOURS IN SCOTLAND
Island hopping tours might sound like something you would do in Greece or the Caribbean but take a minute to consider what Scotland has to offer. Scotland’s coast is studded with islands big and small, each offering its share of history, natural beauty and activities for a fun-filled holiday. Moving from one island to the next feels like a real adventure on the high seas with all the promise of a warm island welcome.
This is the kind of holiday you could very well organize by yourself using VisitScotland’s many resources. Why not start by looking at these great ferry journeys to pick up some inspiration?
There are many organized tours of the islands available – it all depends on what you want to see. If the ancient heritage and stunning landscapes of Orkney and Shetland are on your wishlist, check out Orkney Islands Tours, Shetland Seas Adventures or Go Shetland tours.
Perhaps you have always wanted to visit the Hebrides, on Scotland’s west coast. Hebridean Island Hopping is eminently possible with a mixture of ferry travel, driving and walking. Take a look at this Scottish Island Hopscotch tour if you are interested in the world of whisky, and for a journey over four islands, you may be interested in a Scottish Island Hopping Odyssey.
3. FOOD TOURS IN SCOTLAND
You might be wondering what’s on the menu when you come to Scotland. If you’ve never visited before you’ll probably want to try things like haggis, whisky and fish and chips. But there’s much more to Scottish cuisine than these famous staples. Scotland is a country of creative chefs and sustainable local producers, with all kinds of mouth-watering wonders to share.
Why not spice up your Scottish city break with a unique culinary experience? You could try an Edinburgh Food Tour and visit a number of different restaurants in the afternoon. Or you could meet up with a local guide in Glasgow and embark on a Glasgow Food and Drink Tour. Perhaps you are visiting St Andrews, the home of golf – in your downtime you could try a walking food tour around the town.
If you are heading to the islands of Orkney in search of ancient culture, JP Orkney Tours offers a variety of tours including the Spirit of Orkney tour. You’ll meet skillful local producers who’ll share stories of how their products are made, along with top foodie tips. Similarly, if you were to travel to Shetland you could hop on a tour with Taste of Shetland.
4. HISTORY & CULTURE TOURS IN SCOTLAND
You’ve read the history books and seen the TV documentaries, but nothing quite brings Scottish history to life like actually visiting! From castles and monuments to stories of real people down the centuries, our fantastic local tour guides will lead you on a journey of discovery, whichever part of Scotland you choose to visit.
Dumfries & Galloway in south Scotland is rich in history and local heritage. Iron Age people, Romans, Vikings, writers and many more have left their mark on the area. Secret Solway Tours will give you a deeper insight into their stories.
If the lush countryside of Perthshire takes your fancy, or you have ancestral connections in the region, you could consider this Perthshire history tour, which is fully accessible too. Seeing 5000 years of Scottish history in a day might sound ambitious but with this Perthshire tour, you’ll be surprised at what you can fit in!
Some history tours focus in on a particular subject, like Scotland’s History on Film Tour, which will take you to the filming locations of popular movies and TV shows like Outlander. And if you’re a mega Outlander fan you could tour six locations from the series in this Outlander Extravaganza!
5. COACH TOURS IN SCOTLAND
Touring by coach is a classic way to see Scotland and the variety of tours is quite staggering. From luxury minibusses to standard coaches you will have the benefit of comfortable transport without the need to hire or bring a car. On a coach tour, everything is taken care of!
From a magical journey around the NC 500 and Skye to a historical tour of the Scottish Borders, your tour can be tailored to specific interests or destinations. And it goes without saying that a coach tour is a fantastic way to meet other travelers.
Day tours around Scotland’s cities are popular, with a hop-on, hop-off format that allows you the freedom to explore at your own pace. Once you have seen the city, you could book a coach trip to explore the surrounding countryside and be back in time for dinner.
6. CITY TOURS IN SCOTLAND
Arriving in a Scottish city is an exciting feeling – so many things to see and do! For many travelers, a blend of organized touring and unguided exploration is the perfect mix. Scotland’s seven cities all have an extensive list of local tour providers ready to show you something special.
Visiting the fair city of Perth? Take a look at Perth City Tours, which provides everything from guided history walks to river kayak tours and wildlife safaris. Or if you find yourself in Glasgow, make the most of the city’s famous cultural side on a tour of Glasgow’s Music Mile.
Showstopping sights are around every corner in Edinburgh, but there’s nothing like having an experienced tour guide to reveal local tales and secrets. An Edinburgh Castle and city tour will definitely give you something to write home about. Similarly, you could explore Dundee with Dundee City Walking Tours and in Aberdeen, you’ll learn more about the city on a free walking tour.
7. WALKING TOURS IN SCOTLAND
If it’s fresh air you seek, then what could be better than a walking tour? This is a particularly good way to get about in the city, stopping at key points of interest along the way. Rambles in the Scottish countryside are also brilliant fun with dedicated tour companies who can bring the landscape to life.
For example, make the most of your journey to Loch Ness with a Loch Ness 360 walking tour. More than just a walking holiday, you’ll be provided with a personalized itinerary, fantastic accommodation options and baggage transfer.
Walking tours of Scotland’s cities are widely available, such as this walking tour of Stirling which takes you around the main sites of the city.
Traveling to Speyside? Consider exploring the Speyside Way or Moray Coast Trail with a local tour guide before relaxing back at your accommodation with a whisky.
8. GHOST TOURS IN SCOTLAND
One of the most popular types of short tours on offer in Scotland is ghost tours. Get to grips with some of the enduring mysteries behind your favorite Scottish places and hear stories that might just give you goosebumps!
If you’re traveling to Dumfries & Galloway in South Scotland, look up Mostly Ghostly Tours. This well-researched ghost and local history tours encompass everything from Scotland’s most haunted road to an intriguing vampire legend dating back to the 12th century.
Usher a bit of paranormal activity into your Edinburgh holiday with an Old Town and Underground Ghost Tour, led by a guide in full period costume! You can do this in St Andrews too.
9. GOLF TOURS IN SCOTLAND
If you play golf, there’s nothing quite like enjoying around in Scotland. Known as ‘the Home of Golf, players from around the world will tell you that it is their dream to visit Scotland and test their game. As you can imagine, there are many tour providers that offer golfing breaks, with transport between courses and accommodation included.
Embark on a Scottish Highland Golf Tour and see some of the best scenery in the country while you enjoy a selection of great courses. Or if it’s the famous links courses along Scotland’s east coast that attract you, look at this East Coast Challenge.
For those who don’t play golf but are interested in the history of the game, there is a tour for you! The St Andrews Golf History Tour provides a fascinating insight into the sport.
10. WHISKY TOURS IN SCOTLAND
Another fascinating type of tour you can take in Scotland is a whisky tour. This could either be a day tour of a single distillery or a longer trip where you visit multiple distilleries. It depends on how much you love Scotland’s national drink!
No whisky connoisseur should miss out on a trip to Islay, a beautiful island on Scotland’s west coast and a whisky-producing region in its own right. Islay and The West Coast Whisky Trail is a self-drive tour that blends incredible scenery with wonderful single malt whisky for a truly unforgettable holiday.
If you love the golden whiskies of Speyside, then check out Speyside Whisky Tours, which offers tailor-made itineraries around this beautiful part of Scotland. And for those visiting Aberdeenshire, don’t miss out on a Royal Deeside Whisky Tour.
There are many options for a Scottish touring holiday, depending on your interests. Which tour will you choose? We look forward to welcoming you in the near future.
By: Alasdair Peoples