Get ready for a 14-day adventure you and your family are sure to remember. This packed itinerary offers the full Scotland experience, from city tours of Glasgow and Edinburgh to epic hikes, driving trips, and boat rides around the unspoiled Highlands. Rounding out this great escape are food tours, art walks, island excursions, wildlife safaris, and bike rides through national parks.

Highlights

  • 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

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Edinburgh, Musical Walking Tour & Edinburgh Castle Edinburgh
Day 2 "Outlander" Castle Tour from Edinburgh Edinburgh
Day 3 North to Pitlochry & Whiskey 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  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Edinburgh, Musical Walking Tour & Edinburgh Castle

Visit the 12th-century 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

The Kelpies are just one of many incredible sites outside 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 & Whiskey Tasting

Queen's View
The "Queen's View" lookout, just outside Pitlochry

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 whiskey distillery in Scotland, sitting at 1,164 feet (354 m) above sea level. Following the tour is a tasty whiskey 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 

Discover Cairngorms National Park on a road trip

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

Cycle around the Caledonian Canal

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 Trip

Castle Urquart overlooking Loch Ness.
Castle Urquhart overlooks Loch Ness
In 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.
 
Your ticket includes access to the castle and its surroundings, so you and your family can explore at your own pace. There are many things to do here: admire the idyllic setting of Urquhart, which sits on a rocky promontory with views up and down Loch Ness; tour the castle and learn about its history via an audio guide; see the Great Hall, which hosted massive banquets during the Middle Ages; and take your kids to see the full-size trebuchet, a massive catapult once used to lay siege to castles.

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 Skye

View of the Isle of Sky's Black Cuillin Mountains
Today'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.
 
One of the stops on the tour is the Torabhaig Distillery. As you're likely aware, Scotland is famous for its whiskeys, and adults will enjoy this visit to an over 200-year-old distillery that produces fine single malts. Then you'll head to the small settlement of Sligachan, which offers stunning views of Skye's rocky Black Cuillin Mountains. Afterward, it will be time for lunch.
 
Now that you and your family are fortified with a traditional Scottish lunch, you'll visit Portree. This colorful lakeside town is also the capital of the island. Your first stop here is the Aros Visitor Centre, where you'll watch a 35-minute film depicting Skye's dramatic history and folklore. Following the mini cinematic experience, you'll stretch your legs with a brisk walk around the village to admire its highlights.
 
One major landmark you'll stop at is the Lump. This hill sits on a rocky headland overlooking the water and is the location for the annual Highland games. You'll also stroll around Portree's famous harbor, lined with colorful homes.

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 Day

Fairy Glen, Isle fo Skye
Fairy Glen, Isle of Skye
This 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.
 
Besides Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls, there's also Fairy Glen. Located in the hills above the town of Uig, the area got its name because it looks like something out of a fantasy novel. Grassy basalt hills rise from a green landslip dotted with ponds and small caves. There are also unique stone spirals that appear otherworldly, but alas, they are just human-made formations created by overzealous visitors. 

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 Trip

All aboard the Hogwarts Express
Your 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.
 
On this trip you'll witness an impressive array of extremes. It begins near the highest mountain in Britain (Ben Nevis), passes the deepest freshwater loch in Britain (Loch Morar), and travels alongside the shortest river in Britain (River Morarbefore). Other unforgettable wonders you'll see on this route include Loch Eil, the Glenfinnan Viaduct, and the silver sand beaches around the town of Arisaig
 
Glenfinnan is a historic landmark in that it's a railway viaduct built at the turn of the 20th century. It runs 1,000 feet (304 m) amid stunning Highland scenery that includes towering peaks, colorful moorlands, and the glassy waters of Loch Shiel. It's no surprise that the viaduct was featured prominently in the "Harry Potter" films—even the Jacobite locomotive had a starring turn as the Hogwarts Express.

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.
 
After lunch, you'll take a 1-hour wildlife safari on Loch Nevis—a thrilling excursion perfect for the whole family. The boat leaves from Mallaig's harbor, and as it enters the loch, you'll travel to Green Island, a haven for birds, seals, dolphins, whales, and basking sharks. You and the kids can spot these animals right from the deck, and there are plenty of snacks and drinks on the trip. Feel free to take advantage of the onboard whiskey bar (for parents only, of course).

Day 10: Fort William Detective Mystery Tour & Hike Ben Nevis

Fort William looking up to Ben Nevis
Today you'll travel to Fort William, a charming town with cobbled streets that sits in the shadow of Ben Nevis. At 4,414 feet (1,345 m), this is the tallest mountain in Scotland and the British Isles. But rather than immediately hitting the hiking trails, you'll warm up with a 2-hour, self-guided detective mystery-themed walking tour—a fun whodunit suitable for all ages.
 
You and your family will work together on the tour as you follow a specific trail through town. You'll find clues on various buildings and monuments, each of which will help you eliminate suspects and unmask the criminal mastermind. It's a great way to get to know the town as the trail starts on Fort William's High Street and follows a circuitous route that leads to the town center, the gardens, and along Lock Linnhe to the old fort, which dates to the 17th century.
 
After the mystery tour, you can embark on an optional hike up Ben Nevis. Though a relatively easy trek, it can be difficult in poor weather. It starts from about sea level and ascends 4,500 feet (1,371 m) on a trail that takes about seven hours to reach the summit. Once there, you'll be treated to jaw-dropping views across the Highlands and lochs.
 
This is an unguided hike, but you can arrange for a local mountain guide to lead you to the top. Along the way, your guide will share the rich history of Ben Navis, plus details of its landscapes, including how the surrounding flora changes with the increase in altitude. Of course, because this hike is time-intensive, it isn't feasible for children.

Day 11: Coast of Mull Tour & Steamship Ride on Loch Katrine

Take a boat ride on Loch Katrine in Trossachs National Park
In the morning, you'll travel south a few miles from Fort William to the romantic harbor town of Oban. Then hop on a boat for an incredible 2-hour tour that will take you from Oban Bay out into the Firth of Lorn. This inlet between the Isle of Mull and mainland Scotland is home to several islands that serve as wildlife habitats. You're likely to see plenty of sea eagles, seals, and occasionally dolphins. Tell your kids to keep an eye out because you can also spot three castles. One of these—Dunollie Castle—dates back to the 7th century.

However, that's not the only exciting boat tour of the day. After Oban, you'll travel inland to Loch Katrine, located in the unspoiled Trossachs National Park. The best way to experience the loch is aboard the steamship Sir Walter Scott, sailing the lake since the year 1900. Sightseeing cruises last one hour, or you can opt for a 2-hour sail to the small settlement of Stronachlachar on the western shore of Katrine.
 
In the evening, you'll head west, leaving the highlands behind as you arrive in the town of Callander, where you'll overnight.

Day 12: E-Bike Around Callander, Transfer to Glasgow & Food Tour

Cycle with the family around Loch Lubnaig
In 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
 
Glasgow is a fascinating place. This port city on the River Clyde is more populous than even the capital of Edinburgh and is filled with historic architecture ranging from Victorian to Art Nouveau. It's a cultural hub of Scotland, and one of the best ways to discover the culture of any place is through its food. Upon arrival, you and your family will embark on a 3-hour foodie tour of the city. 
 
This small-group walking tour stops at five different restaurants for tastings. Adults can sample three other drink tastings. The tour highlights some of the finest Scottish cuisine, sourced locally with fresh ingredients. In between restaurants, your guide will point out historic landmarks and reveal more insight into the city's rich history. At the end of the tour, your guide will give you a map showing all the places you've visited should you choose to return for a special dinner out with the family.

You'll retire to your hotel in Glasgow at the end of the day.

Day 13: Glasgow Art Walk

Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art
Today 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

Enjoy one last walk around Edinburgh
You'll transfer east about an hour from Glasgow to Edinburgh in the morning. This is where your family adventure in Scotland comes to an end. However, it's not over just yet. 
 
Before heading to the airport, you can enjoy a 2-hour walking tour through Edinburgh's historic center. The route passes through the medieval Old Town, home to many of Edinburgh's most famous landmarks. You'll also stroll down some of the city's most intriguing backstreets and alleyways. By the end of the tour, you'll know more about the history of this city than the average Scot.
 
Afterward, your driver will pick you and your family up and transfer you to the airport for the flight home. Until next time!

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Map

Map of Family Tour of Scotland  - 2 Weeks
Map of Family Tour of Scotland - 2 Weeks