no alt text

Bucket list destination:

Last updated: 16 July, 2023
Expert travel writer: Lucy Gillmore

The Highlands is a land of tartan-clad myth and legend: a dramatic, mountainous region, twice the size of Wales, slashed with jagged lochs and peppered with gnarled castles.

It’s a magnet for history buffs, a world-class adventure playground and a hotspot for wildlife enthusiasts: magnificent stags roam across mist-shrouded moorland while golden eagles soar overhead.

There are wild, deserted beaches to tramp and empty roads snaking through forest-fringed glens sprinkled with whisky distilleries – perfect road-trip territory.

And for the end of the day, there are cosy castle hotels where you can tuck into wild venison or salmon from the rushing rivers.

Orientation

Inverness, at the Highland’s core and staging point for Loch Ness, sits at the top of the Great Glen, which cuts diagonally across Scotland from the southwest to northeast.

On the wild north coast you’ll find white-sand beaches and soaring cliffs. Head down the sea loch-indented west coast to activities centre Fort William, at the southern end of the Great Glen, in the shadow of Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest mountain.

Tours, tickets & transfers

5

Our selection of the best Viator tours of this destination, plus helpful tickets and transfers

Loch Ness & Highlands Day Tour Including Cruise from Edinburgh

Edinburgh

Loch Ness & Highlands Day Tour Including Cruise from Edinburgh
*Includes a 50 minute cruise on Loch Ness in the tour price. Explore Loch Ness, Glencoe and the Scottish Highlands on this 12-hour tour from Edinburgh. Depart from Edinburgh on a luxury mini-coach and travel out into the Scottish Highlands to Glencoe with your guide. Stop at Fort Augustus on the banks of Loch Ness at marvel at the spectacular scenery, then continue on to explore the Cairngorms National Park. Admire the majestic mountain of Craig Meagaidh and continue through the Drummochter mountain pass to visit the Victorian town of Pitlochry. Group size limited to 16 to ensure a personalised experience.

Price: £91

Min age: 5

Rating 4.71 / 5 [5065 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo

Loch Ness, Scottish Highlands, Glencoe & Pitlochry Tour from Edinburgh

Edinburgh

Loch Ness, Scottish Highlands, Glencoe & Pitlochry Tour from Edinburgh
PLEASE NOTE WE CANNOT ALLOW ANYONE UNDER THE AGE OF 7 ON TOUR WITH US. When exploring Scotland on your 1 Day Loch Ness, Glencoe and Scottish Highlands Tour, you will get to experience the very best of Scotland in a jam packed adventure. This tour is perfect for those who might have limited time and want to get the most for their money. With breathtaking scenery and landscapes of unspoilt nature you’ll travel the Scottish highlands, getting away from the hustle and bustle of modern life. Experience Scottish culture through the folklore of Scotland’s myths and legends, historical sites and learn about the history of our wonderful country. Every twist and turn of the winding Scottish road has a new photo opportunity, a new story to be told and a new experience to be had.

Price: £61

Min age: 7

Rating 4.82 / 5 [3962 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo

Full-Day Trip to Loch Ness and the Scottish Highlands with Lunch from Edinburgh

Edinburgh

Full-Day Trip to Loch Ness and the Scottish Highlands with Lunch from Edinburgh
Go on a fantastic tour from Edinburgh to explore the legendary myths of Loch Ness and enjoy the diverse range of Scottish Highland scenery. Drive through the forests and rivers of Highland Perthshire and get a glimpse of dramatic Glen Coe – the site of the Massacre of Glencoe. See Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles, and enjoy a locally sourced and freshly made picnic lunch before taking in magnificent views of the Forth Bridge.

Price: £59

Min age: 5

Rating 4.64 / 5 [1964 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo

Scottish Highlands, Loch Ness and Glen Coe Day Trip from Edinburgh

Edinburgh

Scottish Highlands, Loch Ness and Glen Coe Day Trip from Edinburgh
Immerse yourself in spectacular scenery, beguiling mystery and dramatic history on this day trip from Edinburgh. Traveling to the Scottish Highlands, witness the stunning vistas of Cairngorms National Park and cruise along world-famous Loch Ness in search of the Loch Ness Monster and tour Urquhart Castle ruins. Admire an ancient castle in Stirling as you pass by, learn about the massacre at Glen Coe and the adventures of Scottish legend William Wallace, whose life is depicted in the film ‘Braveheart.’ Be sure to bring your camera to capture stunning views and maybe even a glimpse of ‘Nessie’! Please note on December 26 there will be no castle or cruise available

Price: £57

Min age: 3

Rating 4.61 / 5 [1826 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo

Loch Ness, Glencoe & The Highlands Day Trip from Edinburgh

Edinburgh

Loch Ness, Glencoe & The Highlands Day Trip from Edinburgh
This 12 hour tour will fit in as much of Scotland as can possibly done in one day! You will witness the stunning scenery of Glencoe and Ben Nevis before you make your way to Loch Ness for a cruise across its deep waters looking for evidence of its renowned resident, Nessie. Enjoy traveling in comfort on one of our luxury, modern, air-conditioned coaches as you witness the stunning sights that Scotland has to offer.

Price: £62

Min age: 4

Rating 4.45 / 5 [1307 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo

Travel advice

When to go

Hogmanay is a traditional highlight – nobody celebrates New Year quite like the Scots and there are ceilidhs (dances) scattered all over the Highlands.

However, if you want to sightsee, many attractions close over the winter months. Spring and autumn are probably the best times to visit.

The summer season can be mobbed in the tourist hotspots and midges can be a nightmare on the west coast particularly (the midges are at their worst June to September). If you want to experience the traditional Highland Games you’ll need to brave the peak season crowds.

Getting there and away

Inverness is the main gateway to the Highlands and its transport hub, with an airport and train station on the main east coast line. However, Glasgow and Edinburgh airports are also access points. It’s just a three-hour drive from Edinburgh to Inverness up the A9.

Getting around

Driving is a dream in the Highlands. You’ll often have the route to yourself, especially along the coastal roads in the far north.

However, take care on the A9 (the main north–south route) as it’s a muddle of dual and single carriageway; slow-moving trucks and driver frustration can cause tailbacks and accidents. During the summer there is also a plague of caravans on the roads.

Where to stay

Inverness is the small, bustling capital of the Highlands and a good base for sightseeing, outdoor activities and Loch Ness.

Fort William, in the shadow of Ben Nevis and the Nevis range ski slopes, is the west coast’s outdoor activities hub. Aviemore is its equivalent on the east in the Cairngorm National Park.

For staggering coastal scenery, the northwest coast can’t be beaten, while foodies should head to gourmet hotspot the Isle of Skye.

Destination guides

1

Other guides relevant to this destination

Edinburgh

Edinburgh Region, United Kingdom (UK)

An overview of Old town Edinburgh and Edinburgh castle in Scotland. thousands of buildings covering the ground with on a blue sunny day with a scatter of white clouds

Capital treats abound, from mighty castles and royal palaces to gourmet restaurants and arguably the world’s best performing arts festival.