Family Tour of Scotland - 2 Weeks
- Visit Edinburgh's famous Old Town and medieval castle
- Take a boat ride on Loch Ness and tour ancient battlefields
- See the most beautiful landscapes on the Isle of Skye
- Travel the Scottish Highlands by car and train
- Experience Glasgow's culture on foodie and art tours
|Day 1||Arrive in Edinburgh, Musical Walking Tour & Edinburgh Castle||Edinburgh|
|Day 2||"Outlander" Castle Tour from Edinburgh||Edinburgh|
|Day 3||North to Pitlochry & Whisky Tasting||Aviemore|
|Day 4||Cairngorms National Park Wildlife Tour, Canal & Loch Cruise||Inverness|
|Day 5||E-Bike Around Inverness & Tour Culloden Battlefield||Inverness|
|Day 6||Tour Urquhart Castle, Travel to Isle of Skye & Glass Bottom Boat Trip||Isle of Skye|
|Day 7||Guided Driving Tour of Skye||Isle of Skye|
|Day 8||Isle of Skye Free Day||Isle of Skye|
|Day 9||Ride the "Hogwarts Express" to Mallaig & Wildlife Boat Trip||Fort William|
|Day 10||Fort William Detective Mystery Tour & Hike Ben Nevis||Fort William|
|Day 11||Coast of Mull Tour & Steamship Ride on Loch Katrine||Callander|
|Day 12||E-Bike Around Callander & Transfer to Glasgow & Food Tour||Glasgow|
|Day 13||Glasgow Art Walk||Glasgow|
|Day 14||Transfer to Edinburgh, History Lovers Tour & Depart|
Day 1: Arrive in Edinburgh, Musical Walking Tour & Edinburgh Castle
Welcome to Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland! Upon arrival at the airport, your driver will be waiting to take you and your family to the hotel. After check-in, you'll have some time to relax before heading out on a 2-hour, guided walk around town.
This isn't your typical city tour—it's a unique musical journey through Edinburgh's historic Old Town. It reveals the musical legacy of Scotland's capital as well as fascinating lore that includes mysteries and the occasional murder. The tour is led by a musician and Edinburgh native who will perform traditional and modern songs to accompany you as you discover the events and characters that shaped the Royal Mile (Edinburgh's main thoroughfare).
The best part is that this music-themed excursion is family-friendly and appeals to young and old alike. It's also an exclusive experience, as this is Edinburgh's only musical walking tour.
Afterward, you'll visit the 12th-century Edinburgh Castle, one of the most historic sites in Western Europe. Located in the heart of Scotland's dynamic capital, it sits on a rock outcrop formed hundreds of millions of years ago by a volcanic eruption. On a tour of the castle, you'll hear exciting tales of its time as a military fortress, royal residence, and prison.
Day 2: "Outlander" Castle Tour from Edinburgh
Get ready for a full-day "Outlander" excursion based on the bestselling series of historical fiction novels by Diana Gabaldon. You and your family will visit some of the actual Highland locales mentioned in the books on this tour. It even includes stops at some of the filming locations used in the popular TV series.
The adventure begins in the morning with a drive to the Edinburgh countryside. Here you and your family will travel in the footsteps of the books' main characters, Jamie and Claire. Highlights include visiting Blackness Castle, a 15th-century fortress that doubled as Fort William in the TV series, plus a short hike to the forest cave that served as Jamie's hiding place.
Then it's time for lunch. On your way to a local farm shop (convenience store/café), you'll pass the Kelpies. These 98-foot (30-m) horse-head sculptures shine bright silver and represent shape-shifting water creatures called kelpies. You'll want to have your camera ready when you stop here. After lunch, you'll visit more locales featured in the "Outlander" TV series, such as 15th-century Doune Castle and the 16th-century village of Culross. You'll then return to Edinburgh.
Day 3: North to Pitlochry & Whisky Tasting
Today you'll travel further into the Scottish Highlands as you head north from Edinburgh to the town of Pitlochry. In summer, the main street of this idyllic 18th-century village can be a thick line of tour groups, but linger a while and you'll see the charm. On a quiet spring evening, it's a pretty place with salmon leaping in the Tummel River and good times at the Moulin Inn & Brewery.
After arriving, you'll head just north of town for a guided tour of the Dalwhinnie Distillery, the highest whisky distillery in Scotland, sitting at 1,164 feet (354 m) above sea level. Following the tour is a tasty whisky masterclass in which you get to sample six Dalwhinnie single malts, including exclusive and special labels. Even better, each of these tipples is individually paired with decadent chocolates from the Highland Chocolatier.
Rather than return to Edinburgh at the end of the day, you'll stay overnight in the village of Aviemore, located within Cairngorms National Park. Rest up because you'll get to spend all of the next day exploring this protected Highland region.
Day 4: Cairngorms National Park Wildlife Tour, Canal & Loch Cruise
Experience the untamed, gorgeous scenery of the Scottish Highlands on a 6-hour tour of Cairngorms National Park. This unspoiled region is a must-visit for nature lovers due to its incredible wildlife diversity. Cairngorms is home to a quarter of the UK's threatened species, such as the Scottish wildcat and mountain hare.
An expert guide leads this wildlife safari and will point out the unique specimens and natural highlights along the way. It's also a flexible tour, meaning you can choose the length of the experience. Perhaps you're interested in a full-day (12-hour) tour, or maybe you have young children and prefer a shorter (4-hour) mini safari.
Whatever option you choose, you and your family will hop in a 4x4 and head out to observe the wildlife from the comfort of the vehicle. Your guide/driver will ensure you have the best vantage points to snap the clearest photos of the park's residents. Expect to see animals at very close range. Besides the threatened species, animals here include ospreys, red squirrels, black grouses, dotterels, and the majestic Scottish red deer.
After the Cairngorms safari, you'll embark on another tour, this time following in the footsteps of Queen Victoria. England's 19th-century monarch had great affection for Scotland, and in 1873 she visited Loch Ness after sailing down the Caledonian Canal. This 1-hour boat cruise follows that same path. It embarks from Dochgarroch, a small settlement at the head of Loch Ness. The journey is memorable as you travel across the legendary lake and down the famous canal.
After the lake tour, you'll travel the short way to the city of Inverness, where you'll overnight.
Day 5: E-Bike Around Inverness & Tour Culloden Battlefield
Today, you and the family will explore the beautiful countryside around Inverness on two wheels. After grabbing your electric mountain bikes and strapping on your helmets, you'll head off on a free ride outside the city. The choice of where to go is up to you.
The best options are around the Caledonian Canal and River Ness. It's a 15-mile (24-km) route with minimal traffic that passes fertile green countryside, shimmering lochs, and rushing rivers. Start by following the signs for Great Glen Way, then turn on the path to Dochgarroch. Following the canal and river ensures the route will be easy and flat. After working up an appetite, you can stop at the restaurant in Dochgarroch. It's a good lunch spot, ideally located where the route turns back to Inverness.
Or you can head north, in the other direction. The initial climb out of Inverness, past the hospital and toward Culloden Moor, will take some effort, but you can rest easy knowing the return journey will mostly be downhill. Notable landmarks on this route include Clava Cairns, a Bronze Age tomb, and the 15th-century Cawdor Castle.
Upon returning to the city, you'll leave the bikes and head out on a 2-hour walking tour of the Culloden Battlefield. It's located on top of a ridge four miles from Inverness and is the site of the last battle on British soil. In 1746, Bonnie Prince Charlie's Jacobite army met a chilling and final end. This historical event is well-told in the multi-media center onsite.
You'll also have a private guide who will lead you to various points of interest on the battlefield. These include the Well of the Dead, the Main Cairn, and the Clan Graves, where the fallen clansmen are buried. This is hallowed ground for many Scots. Because many Highland families left the country, either by choice or being forced out, Culloden has become a pilgrimage site for their returning descendants.
Day 6: Tour Urquhart Castle, Travel to Isle of Skye & Glass Bottom Boat TripIn the morning, you'll head out on a day trip to the countryside around Inverness, known as the Great Glen. This region runs from one coast of Scotland to the other, across dozens of miles, from the south to the north. There are more than 1,000 years of rich history in this region, and you'll visit one shining example in the form of the 13th-century Urquhart Castle, located on the shore of Loch Ness.
Once one of Scotland's largest castles, Urquhart saw great conflict during its 500 years as a medieval fortress. Control of the castle passed back and forth between the Scots and English until the last government troops garrisoned here during the Jacobite risings blew it up. Urquhart's iconic ruins remain, though, offering glimpses into medieval times and the lives of its noble residents.
After Urquhart, you'll head to the west coast, where you'll catch a boat to the Isle of Skye, Scotland's most famous island. But this isn't your typical ferry ride—it's a 1.5-hour tour in a glass-bottom boat. Get the best of both worlds as you enjoy coastal views of Skye and mainland Scotland from above, then you and the kids can head below deck to witness an underwater world abounding with marine life.
As an added bonus, you'll visit a traditional highland tannery for a quick tour upon arrival in Skye. Sheepskin production is a cultural legacy in Scotland, particularly on this island. The 15-minute tour of Skyeskyns Tannery covers the different stages of production and time-honored leather-making techniques that turn plain sheepskin into the highest quality rugs, clothing, and footwear.
Day 7: Guided Driving Tour of SkyeToday's itinerary includes a full 8-hour tour of the island. Your guide will pick you up from your hotel just before 9 am, and you'll start the adventure. The first couple hours follow the roads around Skye's south, which offer incredible scenery as you travel along the rugged coast and pass secluded lochs, exotic waterfalls, historic castles, and fertile glens.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
After leaving Portree, your family will have various options for how to spend the second half of the tour. Perhaps head a few miles northeast to Kilt Rock, so named because the basalt columns that comprise this massive sea cliff look like a Scottish kilt. And then there's Mealt Falls which plunges 200 feet (60 m) over the cliffs to the coast below. You can also head west to Dunvegan, the only remaining inhabited castle on the island. Home to Clan MacLeod for the last 800 years, the castle was rebuilt in the 19th century.
At 5 pm, your driver will drop you and your family off at your hotel, and you'll have the evening free.
Day 8: Isle of Skye Free DayThis will be a free day you can spend with your family however you choose. We recommend exploring more of the incredible scenery and landmarks on the island's north side.
From here, you can explore more of the Quiraing, the northernmost summit on the island. Or head back to the coastal village of Broadford, around which there are dozens of interesting places to explore. Some are most accessible by ferry—including a superb trip to the hidden Loch Coruisk at the foot of the Black Cuillin Mountains.
Day 9: Ride the "Hogwarts Express" to Mallaig, Wildlife Boat TripYour family will have a blast on a full-day tour that will take you on "the greatest railway journey in the world." The Jacobite is a steam tourist train that passes through some of the most beautiful parts of the West Highlands. The one-way route is 42 miles (67 km) between the villages Fort William and Mallaig.
The end of the line is the charming fishing village of Mallaig, which also boasts stunning white-sand beaches. You'll arrive here around lunchtime and have about an hour and a half to stretch your legs. Take a walk around town and enjoy the atmosphere: there are shops, pubs, restaurants, and plenty of fish and chips to enjoy.
Day 10: Fort William Detective Mystery Tour & Hike Ben Nevis
Day 11: Coast of Mull Tour & Steamship Ride on Loch Katrine
Day 12: E-Bike Around Callander, Transfer to Glasgow & Food TourIn the morning, you and your family will hop on e-bikes for a countryside cycling tour. Callander's location in Trossachs National Park makes it an ideal starting point to explore the area's natural beauty. It's also in the proximity of the UK's National Cycle Route, a network of signed paths for walking and wheeling.
One ideal route runs from Callander north a couple of miles to Strathyre. This easy ride is perfect for families, offering spectacular views along Loch Lubnaig and passing through wild, unspoiled forests. Afterward, you'll transfer south about an hour into Scotland's western lowlands and the city of Glasgow.
Day 13: Glasgow Art WalkToday involves more than a bit of culture as you discover Glasgow's contemporary art scene. This private 3-hour tour, led by an art historian, will reveal insight into the modern art phenomenon dubbed "the Glasgow miracle." It refers to the city's fair share of Turner Prize winners as well as the emerging artists from around the world who are increasingly flocking to Glasgow to be part of the scene.
The tour begins with a stop at the Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA). This institution was the heart of the Glasgow counterculture scene during the 1970s and 1980s, hosting artists and writers such as Alan Ginsberg, Kathy Acker, and Peter Howson. In addition to viewing the current exhibitions, your guide will discuss the history of art in Glasgow and the impact the CCA has today, both locally and nationally.
The trail then leads to the Glasgow School of Art. As you marvel at Charles Rennie Mackintosh's stunning Art Nouveau building, your guide will recount the school's role in shaping the city's avant-garde scene. Famous alumni such as Martin Boyce, Jim Lambie, and Christine Borland continue to work in the city. They are now joined by a younger generation of international artists who keep the movement alive.
As you continue through Glasgow, you'll visit key galleries and art spaces, such as the Modern Institute and Transmission Gallery. You'll view the work of established artists as well as that of emerging stars and students. Plus you and the family will visit cafés and cultural venues that hold particular significance to the art community. At the end of the tour, you'll leave with an understanding of what makes Glasgow one of the most exciting cities for contemporary art in Europe.
Day 14: Transfer to Edinburgh, History Lovers Tour & Departure
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