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Cairngorms

Cairngorms: Our most recommended tours and activities

From Glasgow: Loch Ness, Glencoe and Highlands Tour

1. From Glasgow: Loch Ness, Glencoe and Highlands Tour

Embark on a guided tour to Loch Lomond National Park, Rannoch Moor, Glencoe, the Great Glen, Loch Ness, and Pitlochry from Glasgow. Learn the history behind each turn from your guide. Depart Glasgow and travel north towards the Highlands along the “bonnie, bonnie” banks of Loch Lomond. Crossing the ancient natural fault line that runs across Scotland you travel into the majestic Highlands where the scenery changes quickly and dramatically – the flat fertile plains of the Lowlands give way to shimmering lochs, rugged mountain tops and forest-filled glens. Traveling north through Breadalbane, meaning the 'High Country of Scotland,' you climb towards the wild desolation of Rannoch Moor and down into Scotland's most famous valley, Glencoe. Glencoe is infamous as the site of the Glencoe massacre in 1692. Beyond Glencoe you will enter the Great Glen, a deep glacial valley that follows a geological fault line. Passing through the town of Fort William you drive under Britain's highest mountain, Ben Nevis, before arriving at Fort Augustus on the southern shore of Loch Ness. Keep an eye out for legendary sightings of the Loch Ness Monster, Nessie. Take in views of the charming town of Fort Augustus and the Caledonian Canal which links the lochs of the Great Glen. Spend some time here where you can purchase a nice lunch before traveling north up the full length of the loch. Have the opportunity to see the ancient stronghold of Urquhart Castle while taking a 5-Star Jacobite boat cruise on the loch. Continue north through Inverness before traveling south in the stunning the mountains of Cairngorms National Park. Drive over the Drumochter Pass, at 1500 feet above sea level and past the 13th century Blair Castle, the ancestral home of the Duke of Atholl. Finally, stretch your legs at the Highland resort town of Pitlochry which is built for Victorian tourism and nestled amongst the mountains of Highland Perthshire. Return to your starting point in Glasgow at the end of your tour.

From Edinburgh: Loch Ness, Glencoe, Highlands & Ben Nevis

2. From Edinburgh: Loch Ness, Glencoe, Highlands & Ben Nevis

Depart Edinburgh on an air-conditioned luxury coach (max 57 seats). Pass Stirling Castle and hear your tour guide tell tales of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce and the bloody battles fought out on these lands. First, arrive at Callander town, nestled at the foot of the Trossachs. Next, drive through Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. Your Scottish guide will tell you about Rob Roy MacGregor, the infamous Highlander. Follow in the footsteps of James Bond ("Skyfall") and Harry Potter ("Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban") as you travel to the stunning Highland valley of Glencoe. Hear the eerie story of the Clan MacDonald massacre of 1692. Travel through Fort William, home to Ben Nevis, which at 4,409 feet is the highest mountain of the British Isles. Arrive on the south bank of Loch Ness in the charming village of Fort Augustus, where lots of cafes, shops, and restaurants offer a relaxing lunch. Stroll along the banks of the Caledonian Canal, then experience Loch Ness on an optional 1-hour boat cruise. Try to catch a glimpse of "Nessie," the legendary Loch Ness Monster. Admire the impressive Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge with views of the Nevis Range. Enter the Cairngorms National Park and discover "Monarch of the Glen" country. Drive along Loch Laggan before the roads climb above the Grampian Mountains. Travel over the Pass of Drumochter, linking the northern and southern Central Highlands. Experience the majesty of a mountain pass created by glacial activity during successive Ice Ages. Finally, stop briefly in the beautiful Victorian town of Pitlochry before heading back to Edinburgh city center, arriving at approximately 8:30 PM.

From Edinburgh: Loch Ness, Glencoe, & the Highlands Day Tour

3. From Edinburgh: Loch Ness, Glencoe, & the Highlands Day Tour

Immerse yourself in the history of Scotland on this day tour that takes you to all of the most important sites in Scotland. Visit the Highlands, Cairngorms National Park, Loch Ness and more. Your day begins on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, where a coach will pick you up for your day of adventure. As you head towards the Highlands, you will see the amazing Forth Bridges. Then try some delicious home baking in the beautiful Highland town of Pitlochry. From there, continue on through the Cairngorms National Park, where you will enjoy stunning scenery amidst the unique wilderness of the National Park. Take a break at Loch Ness, which is famous all over the world for its beauty and mystery. From here, you will have the chance to take a 'monster spotting' cruise and visit Urquhart Castle (optional extra ticket) and look for the famous monster for yourself. Next, visit Glen Coe, a broodingly beautiful spot that is steeped in history. As you stand at the mouth of the glen, you'll feel the past come to life as your guide tells you about the terrible massacre of the Clan. On your way home, you pass by the beautiful city of Stirling, where you can see its stunning castle and learn more about the exploits of William Wallace that were dramatized in the film Braveheart.

Loch Ness and the Highlands 1-Day Tour from Aberdeen

4. Loch Ness and the Highlands 1-Day Tour from Aberdeen

Your tour departs Aberdeen and heads straight for the ‘Whisky Capital of the World’, Dufftown. Unfortunately it's too early in the morning to taste the whisky at the Glenfiddich Distillery, but you have time to take a photo of the iconic site and grab a coffee. Venture through the heart of Speyside and arrive at Loch Ness for an optional boat trip which is bookable via your guide on the day of the trip. Onboard the ship, you travel over the widest and deepest part of the loch and get a fine view of Urquhart Castle. Upon your return back on dry land, it’s time to travel deep into the past at Clava Cairns. This spot is situated in a gorgeous green grove and boasts well-preserved ancient burial tombs. They even say this spot was the inspiration for Outlander’s Craigh na Dun. Follow this up with a trip to Culloden Battlefield, the location of the final Jacobite Rising. It’s an eerie, flat, tragic landscape that can put the history of Scotland into perspective. The interactive exhibition center here really brings it all to life. Have a comfort break within the gorgeous Cairngorms National Park before you reach Aberdeen 8:00 PM.

Dunnottar Castle and Royal Deeside 1-Day Tour from Aberdeen

5. Dunnottar Castle and Royal Deeside 1-Day Tour from Aberdeen

Travel in style in a Mercedes luxury 16-seat mini-coach from Aberdeen to one of Scotland’s archetypal structures, Dunnottar Castle. Witness the stunning fortress set on a cliff by the sea. It’s seen more battles than you’ve had cups of tea and is an essential Scottish destination. Your next stop is the Falls of Feugh. These cascading falls are mesmerizing; and if you’re lucky, you may even spot a salmon jumping up the river. It’s now time for lunch in Braemar, a lovely little village in the Cairngorms National Park with royal connections and plenty of local delicacies to try. After your delicious lunch, you'll then head to the Muir of Dinnet Nature Reserve and get the opportunity to go for a stroll. Keep your eyes peeled for otters, birds, and adders on this quintessential woodland walk. You leave the Cairngorms National Park and arrive in Aberdeen in the early evening.

From Edinburgh: Isle of Skye & Highlands 3-Day Guided Tour

6. From Edinburgh: Isle of Skye & Highlands 3-Day Guided Tour

Tour the Scottish Highlands and explore the Isle of Skye on a 3-day guided tour from Edinburgh. You’ll see castles, craggy mountains, picturesque towns, and maybe even a monster on this excursion. Stay overnight in a bed and breakfast accommodation. Day 1: A Spectacular Route North Depart Edinburgh and travel north through the Trossachs National Park. Visit a lovely village and take in views of the UK’s largest expanse of freshwater, Loch Lomond. Continue across the brooding expanse of Rannoch Moor, and through Glen Coe. Learn the brutal story of the MacDonald Clan massacre and take in the weeping waterfalls that inhabit this incredible glen. The highland town of Fort William marks the end of Scotland’s oldest and most popular long-distance walks, The West Highland Way. Stay overnight in Inverness. Day 2: A Full Day on Skye You'll have the full day to explore the Isle of Skye. Highlights include the craggy Cuillin Mountains, the dramatic hills of the Quiraing, and the stunning Trotternish Peninsula.  You might see seals out in the waves as you walk along the coast, or a stag standing on a hillside. Visit the capital of Skye, Portree for lunch. Return to Inverness for your overnight stay. Day 3: Monster Spotting on Loch Ness Drive along the banks of Loch Ness where you can take a boat tour to Urquhart Castle or do a bit of monster hunting from the shore. As you head back to Edinburgh, your route will take you through Inverness, the Cairngorms, and Pitlochry. At the Culloden battlefield, the site of the defeat of the Jacobites, there is the option of taking a tour. Continue on through the stunning Cairngorm Mountains and stop to explore the picturesque town of Pitlochry.

Edinburgh: Loch Ness & Scottish Highlands Tour with Lunch

7. Edinburgh: Loch Ness & Scottish Highlands Tour with Lunch

Embark on a full-day guided trip to Loch Ness from Edinburgh and tour the Scottish Highlands. See the UK's highest mountain, Ben Nevis, keep an eye out for Nessie on a boat cruise and enjoy a picnic lunch. Head north from Edinburgh and pass the imposing ramparts of Stirling Castle. Skirt the Trossachs Rob Roy country, and cross the wilds of Rannoch Moor before stopping at dramatic Glencoe; the scene of the infamous 1692 massacre.  Your journey takes you through Fort William. Pass Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain, before entering the Great Glen. Arrive at the pretty Highland village of Fort Augustus on the banks of Loch Ness, and enjoy a lovely picnic with freshly made sandwiches, shortbread, and chips. If you fancy something more substantial, your guide will happily recommend some great local cafes.  Take an optional boat cruise on the loch, go for a scenic hike, or just relax by the Caledonian Canal. If you choose to sail along the waters of Loch Ness, it really is an unforgettable experience. Your boat is equipped with the latest hi-tech color, sonar, and underwater imaging system, giving you a fascinating view of the underwater terrain and life. You might even see Nessie! You can also relax with a coffee or beer in the onboard bar. Having seen the best of the Scottish Highlands, it's time to head back to Edinburgh via shimmering Loch Laggan and the wild and lonely Drumochter Pass. Head south and enter Perthshire, a land of forests, rivers, and mountains. See the spectacular Forth Bridge before arriving back in Edinburgh at around 20:00.

Isle of Skye & The Highlands: 3-Day Guided Tour from Glasgow

8. Isle of Skye & The Highlands: 3-Day Guided Tour from Glasgow

Escape the bustle of daily life and get back to nature on a 3-day tour of the Scottish Highlands and Isle of Skye, with bed and breakfast accommodations in Inverness. Hear of clan massacres, visit monuments associated with Scotland’s struggle against the English, and see location sites of the blockbuster movie “Highlander.” Day 1: Departing Glasgow take a spectacular route north through Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. We will stop at a pretty village perched on the banks of Loch Lomond. Further north, we'll cross the brooding expanse of Rannoch Moor, and travel on through Glen Coe. Here, you'll learn of clan massacres as you stand amongst the eerie but beautiful glen. Overnight stay in Inverness. Day 2: We'll depart Inverness to set off on our day excursion to the Isle of Skye. We will stop for photographs at Loch Ness and Eilean Donan Castle before crossing the bridge to Skye. On the island we'll explore the craggy Cuillin Mountains, dramatic hills of the Quiraing and beautiful Trotternish Peninsula. Look for seals, peeking out of the waves as you walk along the coast, or spot stags silhouetted on hillsides. We will stop for lunch in the capital of the island, Portree. Day 3: Follow the banks of Loch Ness where you can take a boat tour to Urquhart Castle or do a bit of monster hunting from the shore. The route back to Glasgow takes you past the battlefield of Culloden, site of the defeat of the Jacobite forces. You will also drive through the Cairngorm Mountains, home of Britain’s highest mountain, and see the picturesque Victorian town of Pitlochry. Please note: Glasgow passengers may return to Edinburgh where they are issued with train tickets to Glasgow.

From Edinburgh: Loch Ness and The Highlands Group Day Trip

9. From Edinburgh: Loch Ness and The Highlands Group Day Trip

Escape the bustle of Edinburgh and take a full-day sightseeing tour of Scotland’s magnificent Highlands. Traveling in a small group in a 16-seat Mercedes minibus, get a more intimate experience as you visit Loch Ness, Glencoe Valley, and Rannoch Moor. Drive past Linlithgow Palace, the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots, and continue to Stirling Castle, and the National Wallace Monument, commemorating Scotland's hero William Wallace. Stop for a coffee at Callander, before crossing the Highland boundary fault line. Learn about the Highland clans, such as the MacGregors, and the famous folk hero, Rob Roy MacGregor. Continue north through Breadalbane, and ascend Rannoch Moor’s heather and peat bogs, dotted with dozens of lochs. Pass the majestic peak of Buachaille Etive Mor, and descend into Glencoe Valley. Drive under Britain's highest mountain, Ben Nevis, before arriving at Fort Augustus on the southern shore of Loch Ness. Look out for the Loch Ness Monster or simply enjoy the scenery on this 2-hour stop, with time for lunch. Pass the mountains of the Cairngorms National Park, then Loch Laggan, and finally the Drumochter Pass. See the 13th-century Blair Castle before heading through the forests of Perthshire to Perth, the medieval capital of Scotland. Cross the famous Forth Bridge on your way back to Edinburgh.

Speyside Whisky Trail 1-Day Tour from Aberdeen

10. Speyside Whisky Trail 1-Day Tour from Aberdeen

Leaving Aberdeen in the morning you’ll arrive first in Royal Deeside, one of the favored holiday locations of the British royal family. At the Cambus O’May forest, walk in the woods and reenergize in the pristine environment that makes this area such a draw for visitors. Invigorated by the walk, head deeper into the national park as you travel past Cockbridge and Tomintoul. This legendary stretch of road regularly sees the first of the snowy winter weather and crosses the mountain pass known locally as the Lecht. You’ll have plenty of time for photo opportunities on this unforgettable route. Then, delve into the home of whisky in the Speyside region. Stop at the Speyside Cooperage where you’ll get to know the history of Scotland’s oak casks. Next, head to one of the Speyside towns for lunch before visiting Cardhu distillery. This is the first distillery pioneered by a woman, Helen Cumming. Today, Cardhu is the most important whisky in Johnnie Walker Black Label. You leave Cardhu full of appreciation for whisky and arrive in Aberdeen in the early evening. It’s now up to you whether you continue the whisky tasting into the night.

Other Sightseeing Options in Cairngorms

Want to discover all there is to do in Cairngorms? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Cairngorms

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 5,523 reviews

The day trip to the Highlands, to Loch Ness and one or two small stops is really recommended. The day is quite long and you are really overwhelmed by the beautiful impressions, but it is worth the trip. Our guide Nester always had a good saying and it was a lot of fun with him. After about 1 1/2 hours he introduced us to THE Scottish celebrities!!! Who? It won't be revealed! Now you also know the difference between a hole and a lake. And he said a lot more! Highly recommend this seller!

A great experience with a great bus driver/tour guide - Anthony rocked it. Wit and interesting facts from the Highlands. Despite the long drive, the day trip was never uninteresting or boring! Absolute recommendation. Although for us the Highlands were much more beautiful and impressive than the actual highlight Loch Ness.

Amazing and excellent experience, our tour wouldnt be complete without this 12hr trip.especially our driver who made it so lively, his patience and energy was incredible..not a boring trip..

Great host with lots of information. We were able to see so much of the highlands by taking this tour rather than driving.

Great day, comfortable bus, nice views :) our guide told us many stories during the ride :)