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Scotland Vacations, Tours, Travel Packages & Experiences


  • Edinburgh
  • Fairy Pools, Glen Brittle, Skye
  • Glasgow
  • Oban
  • Quiraing, Isle of Skye

Scotland, a part of the United Kingdom, occupies the northern third of Great Britain and shares a border with England. It can be divided into mainland Scotland and the Scottish Isles, which number some 800 small islands, the best known being the Isles of Shetland, Orkney, the Hebrides (inner and outer), Arran and Skye. Scotland is made up of majestic mountains, rolling lush glens, dramatic coastlines, picturesque lochs (lakes) and rivers. The scenery has a reputation for being among the most spectacular in the world. The highest point in the UK is in fact, Ben Nevis at 1344 metres/4370 feet, located in Scotland.

English is the main language spoken in Scotland, with a wide range of different accents and dialects spoken across the country. The ancient Celtic language of Gaelic is also still spoken. 

What are the best places to visit in Scotland?

Edinburgh

Edinburgh is Scotland’s capital and overall number one attraction. In the centre of the city surrounded by high walls  is Edinburgh Castle. It sits on top of a rocky promontory and houses the Royal Palace and the Royal Apartments once inhabited by Mary, Queen of Scots as well as the oldest surviving building in Edinburgh, St. Margaret’s Chapel. The castle vaults were at one time a prison. Daily (except Sundays) at 1 pm, you can hear the very loud noise of the traditional One O’clock Gun. The side streets are called closes and consist of buildings ranging in design from mediaeval to Victorian. Grassmarket was at one time a mediaeval marketplace and also a site for public executions. Princes Street is a famous thoroughfare which runs along the base of the Castle. The attractive Princes Gardens are sandwiched between. It  is home to shops, restaurants and hotels. Arthur’s Seat is located next to Holyrood Palace. It is a large hill from which you can enjoy excellent views of the city. It is also the site of a large, well-preserved fort as well as the 15th Century AD St. Anthony’s Chapel. On Scotland vacations, you can take in the world-famous Edinburgh Festival usually in August. This major celebration of the arts includes theatre, music and drama with artists from around the world. The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo takes place at the same time, performed by different military bands. Another important landmark is Holyrood Palace, the Queen’s official residence. It has 14 historic state apartments and beautiful gardens.

For more information on Ediburgh Tours click here

Glasgow

Glasgow has emerged to become a major attraction on a trip to Scotland with its many excellent museums and art galleries, its exceptional architecture, its vibrant nightlife, its impressive shopping and its attractive green spaces. The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum contains one of Europe’s greatest and most eclectic collections with its 22 galleries with 8000 objects/paintings. The University of Glasgow's Hunterian is the oldest museum in Scotland and includes the Hunterian Museum, Hunterian Art Gallery, Mackintosh House, Zoology Museum, and the Anatomy Museum. All these are located on the campus of the University. Much of Glasgow’s architecture is synonymous with the famous Scottish architect, Charles Rennie Mackintosh. This includes the Willow Tearooms, Glasgow School of Art, House for an Art Lover, Scotland Street School and The Lighthouse. The Riverside Museum is a museum with exhibits about transport and travel. These range from horse-drawn carriages and the world's first pedal-powered bicycle to model Clyde-built ships as well as railway locomotives and streetcars. There is also a recreation of a Glasgow shopping street from the early 20th century. In Glasgow’s West End, which includes the University of Glasgow, Ashton Lane is the bohemian quarter with ornate sandstone tenements and cobblestone streets. Here you can find an outstanding range of vintage and design stores, cafes and bars. As for green spaces in the city there is a total of 90 parks. The best-known is Kelvingrove Park, a classic Victorian-style park situated by a river next to the Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery. You can enjoy a riverside walk and also visit the Botanical Gardens here.

For more information on Glascow Tours click here

The Scottish Highlands

Scotland’s Highlands cover the northern two-thirds of the country and contain much of the country’s most spectacular scenery and unspoilt natural beauty with its combination of mountains, glens, lochs, and rivers. It is surrounded on three sides by a rugged coastline. It also contains some of Europe’s most extensive wilderness areas many of which are designated as national parks. Fort William is a town close to Scotland’s (and the UK’s) highest mountain, Ben Nevis at 1,345 metres/4,370 feet in height. The town is attractive offering cozy pubs and cafes. Inverness is an excellent centre from which to tour the Highlands on Scotland vacations. It is known for its castle situated on a hill as well as a number of historic buildings in its Old Town. The Inverness Museum and Art Gallery gives a good overview of the development of the Highlands. There are many lovely riverside restaurants and pavement cafes plus a wide range of shops in the Old Town. The Cairngorms National Park has mountains, large forests, rivers, waterfalls, lochs, wildlife, small villages, and whisky distilleries. It is also the centre of Scotland’s ski industry. Aviemore is the main ski resort. Glencoe is a picturesque village at the mouth of the famous glen of the same name. Here you can experience rugged mountain scenery at its best. It really is one of the most beautiful places to experience on a Scotland trip.

For more information on Tours to the Scottish Highlands click here 

Loch Ness

Loch Ness is a 36 kilometre/23 mile long lake and the second-largest loch in surface area after Loch Lomond It is extremely deep and contains more freshwater than all the lakes in England and Wales combined. Everyone knows about it being “home” to one of the world’s most mystical tales, the legendary Loch Ness Monster, also known as Nessie. At Drumnadrochit, you can visit the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition where the natural history and legend of Loch Ness is explained. Boat cruises operate from various locations on the loch’s shore. Urquhart Castle, a medieval fortress, can be viewed on the western shore of Loch Ness. 

Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond is the UK’s largest lake, located right in the heart of the Trossachs National Park. It is 8 kilometres/5 miles wide at its broadest point and in the lake itself are 30 islands, 3 of them inhabited. This loch is known as "The Queen of Scottish Lakes," due to its natural beauty and attracts visitors on Scotland vacations – day-trippers, water sport enthusiasts, hikers, and anglers. For a short cruise on the loch, you can take the paddle steamer, the Maid of the Loch at Balloch.

The Scottish Lowlands

The Lowlands is the region south of Edinburgh and Glasgow consisting  of rolling hills and moorland in the west to valleys and a picturesque coastline in the east. You can explore ancient abbeys, stately homes, and historic castles which include: Melrose Abbey, a magnificent ruin with outstandingly decorated masonry dating back to the 15th Century AD, Jedburgh Abbey which dates back to the 11th Century and Abbotsford House, the former residence of the novelist and poet, Sir Walter Scott and Mary, Queen of Scots House which houses a museum with displays of memorabilia of Mary including jewellery, possessions, documents and paintings.

The Scottish Isles

Many wonderful islands make up the Inner and Outer Hebrides. The Isle of Skye is an island with dramatic mountains in the middle surrounded by a coastline of peninsulas and bays with dramatic sea cliffs. Skye possesses some of the most stunning mountain scenery to be seen on a Scotland vacation. There are castles, museums, cozy pubs, art galleries, and craft shops to visit. Dunvegan Castle has a 14th Century dungeon and Duntulm Castle is allegedly haunted.

The Orkneys

The Orkneys are a group of 70 islands of which 20 are inhabited, situated 16 kilometres/10 miles off the extreme north of Scotland. The landscape is fairly flat but fascinating. Much folklore is associated with the Orkneys. Norse and Viking invaders left their legacy here. There are mystical stone circles and monuments which date back thousands of years. The best-known sites include the Ring of Brodgar from around 2500-2000 BC. It was the site of ancient rituals and ceremonies. Another is Skara Brae, a prehistoric village older than the pyramids and Stonehenge. In the Orkneys, you will see many birds and animals including seals, puffins, and seabirds. Off-shore there are whales and dolphins to be spotted.

The Shetlands

 

The Shetlands are even further north, 80 kilometres/50 miles from the Orkneys and known for its knitwear and ponies. There are 100 islands of which only 16 are inhabited It is also a nature reserve with its deep glens and steep hills allowing for scenic walks. Numerous seabird colonies can be found here puffins such as storm petrels and more rarely, albatross, and snow geese. You can easily view dolphins, seals, porpoises and killer whales. You will probably want to purchase locally made, quality glassware, jewellery, and knitwear on your Scotland vacation.

Famous Battlefields

A lot of blood has spilt in fierce battles on Scotland’s hills. Culloden, which is just outside Inverness, was the site of the battle in 1746 between the Jacobites and the English and for its Bonnie Prince Charlie connections. Bannockburn, near Pitlochry, saw a bloody battle between the Scottish and the English in 1314 and Glencoe was the scene of the battle between two clans, the Campbells and the MacDonalds in 1692.

 

Famous Castles

Balmoral Castle is one of four “homes” belonging to Queen Elizabeth II and between April and July, the grounds, gardens, and the Ballroom are open to the public. It has been a residence for members of the British Royal Family since 1852. Queen Victoria once described Balmoral as her “Dear Paradise in the Highlands.” Braemar Castle which dates back to the 17th Century has been a hunting lodge, fortress and family home. It is located in the stunning Cairngorm Mountains and you can visit some of the rooms. Glamis Castle is a majestic building with turrets and towers. It was the legendary setting for Shakespeare’s Macbeth and has been the childhood home of Queen Elizabeth and the late Queen Mother. Every painting and piece of furniture is authentic and not on loan from a museum. The gardens surrounding Glamis Castle are beautiful all-year-round. Stirling Castle is one of Scotland's most important historic sites. It has been home to many Scottish kings and queens. Highlights include the Great Hall, Chapel Royal, Castle Exhibition, Regimental Museum, Great Kitchens, Tapestry Studio as well as the nearby Argyll’s Lodging, a 17th Century townhouse.

Scotland Vacation Highlights

Golf

The first record of golf in Scotland goes back to the 15th Century, therefore Scotland can rightfully claim to be the home of golf. Because of its  heritage, you will find many excellent and renowned golf courses such as St. Andrew’s, Gleneagles, and Muirfield.

Whisky

Note how this Scottish drink is spelt. Spelt whiskey, that’s the Irish drink just as Scotch is a drink and Scots are people. Scotch can only be distilled in Scotland and must be matured for at least 3 years. There are over 100 distilleries in Scotland. The success of the industry is due to the water in Scotland plus, of course, the distillation process.

Nature 

Scottish wildlife is abundant, including red deer, pine marten, otters and a host of birds of prey as well as sea mammals, such as dolphins, porpoises and whales. A wonderful sight is the leaping salmon on Scotland’s many fish-rich rivers. Scotland is home to some 500,000 deer and 1,000 golden eagles.

It is also excellent for walking or hiking from lakeside strolls to long-distance waymarked routes such as the West Highland Way and the Southern Upland Way as well as high-level mountain hikes for the more adventurous. Scotland is renowned for outdoor adventure pursuits such as white-water rafting on fast-flowing rivers, gorge walking, canoeing or sea kayaking. In winter, there are five excellent ski centres.

Scotland Travel Information

When is the best time to visit Scotland?

There isn’t any doubt the weather in Scotland can be unpredictable. Because it is an island nation, it is influenced by the proximity of the Atlantic Ocean and the seas that surround it. It doesn’t rain all the time. The weather can be wonderful. It has no extremes and is always temperate even when it is wet and windy. The best time scenically is in the spring (late March to early June) and the fall (September to October). These are normally warm and dry with blossoms in the spring and colours in the fall. The summer (late June to the end of August) is an exceptionally busy period. Edinburgh receives thousands of visitors who arrive for the festival and more. The winter can be on the cold side but daffodils have appeared as early as late February. Snow can be found on high ground in places such as the Scottish Highlands, etc.

Regionally, the weather can be very different. The western regions tend to receive more rain than the eastern regions. The further north you travel, the longer the days become in summer and shorter in winter.

What types of tours are available in Scotland?

You have a large choice of tours on Scotland vacations. You can simply have a city package in Edinburgh, Glasgow or Inverness with appropriate sightseeing or any combination. You can add on a tour of Scotland from Edinburgh, visiting the Highlands and the Islands. Another combination is London plus Edinburgh with appropriate sightseeing in the countryside in England and Scotland. Speciality itineraries include golf, food and drink, hiking in the Cairngorms plus Royal Deeside or hiking on the Isle of Skye a barge vacation, and a castle tour. You can go island hopping including the Orkneys. A self-drive itinerary with pre-arranged accommodation includes the highlights of Scotland. 

Transportation within Scotland

The best way to reach the Scottish Highlands is to fly into either Glasgow or Edinburgh and then rent a car or take the train or bus. Renting a car is the best way to get around Scotland. The country is not a huge place so internal flights are not necessarily the best way to get around. They can be expensive compared to train and bus services without saving time. Flights are definitely better to reach more remote places such as the Hebrides and the Orkney and Shetland Islands.

Accommodation in Scotland

There are several castles to stay at on a Scotland tour, that are dotted around the country and very comfortable. There are also country inns and lodges available, especially in the Highlands. For something a little more extreme, you can even opt to stay at a lighthouse. 

 "Globetrotting with Goway" blog articles

For some additional reading, the following articles are from our blog “Globetrotting with Goway”….. a great source of information for those people who are, or who want to be, world travellers.

Bonnie Scotland Tours Offer More Than Heather 

Enjoy Whisky on Scotland Vacations

Exploring the Medieval World of Robert the Bruce on Scotland Vacations

Visiting 6 of the World’s Greatest Medieval Castles

 

 

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Scotland

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  • Isle of Skye & the West Highlands Small Group Adventure

    MODERATE | SMALL GROUP: This short Scotland tour focuses on the Isle of Skye on a round trip from Edinburgh. Visit lochs, hills and historic sites, then discover the Isle of Skye, one of the UK’s most unique and dramatic regions.
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    6 Days
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    US$ 898
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  • Orkney & Scotland's Northern Coast Small Group Adventure

    FIRST-CLASS | SMALL GROUP: Experience the dramatic and rugged beauty of the Scottish Highlands combined with the mystic and historic Orkney Islands. Visit ancient sites, battlefields and learn about the Viking invasion of this part of the world. And perhaps catch a glimpse of the Loch Ness monster?
    Duration:
    6 Days
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    US$ 1,194
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  • Scotland Golfing Experience: Edinburgh, Gullane & St. Andrews

    DELUXE | TAILOR-MADE: Experience the ultimate mix of golf and culture on this trip to Scotland. In Edinburgh, you’ll take advantage of the hop-on hop-off bus tour, enjoy a foodie walking tour, explore the Highlands with a small group, and tee up at three championship golf courses before returning each night to luxury accommodations at the Waldorf Astoria.
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  • St Andrew's Golf

    FIRST-CLASS | TAILOR-MADE: Venture to St. Andrews in the north of Scotland to spend a few days in a beautiful deluxe accommodation and tee off at some of the world’s most famous golf courses. Staying in a 4-star hotel, you’ll spend two days playing on golf courses where masters of the sport have been made and broken.
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