• Edinburgh Castle
  • The Hermitage Woodlands
  • Scottish Whisky Tasting
  • Sheep Dog Demonstration
  • Cawdor Castle near Inverness
  • Glencoe
  • Castle Stalker near Oban

Tour Questions? Call 425-608-4217

Best of Scotland in 10 Days Tour

On this bonnie journey that starts and ends in royal Edinburgh, your Rick Steves guide will immerse you in the rich culture and history of Scotland. You'll walk the Royal Mile; study the fairways at St. Andrews; shake paws with a sheep dog; try a wee dram at a whisky distillery; explore the Highlands; ponder Lochs Ness, Garry and Lomond; wander over the Isle of Iona; and time-travel about the craggy castles of Edinburgh, Stirling and Urquhart. Join us for the Best of Scotland in 10 Days!

What's Included

  • A small, friendly group of 24-28 people — half the size of most tour groups
  • Full-time services of a professional Rick Steves guide and local experts who will make the fascinating history, art and culture of Scotland come alive for you
  • All tours and admissions — at no extra cost — covering at least 20 group sightseeing events • Walking tour of Edinburgh's Royal Mile • National Museum of Scotland • Edinburgh Castle tour • Culross Manor tour • St. Andrews visit • Dunkeld visit • Hermitage visit • Whisky distillery tour and tasting • Scottish Crannog Centre tour • Pitlochry visit • Sheep dog demonstration • Culloden Battlefield tour • Clava Cairns tour • Cawdor Castle tour • Urquhart Castle visit • Loch Ness visit • Glencoe visit • Isle of Iona visit • Iona Abbey tour • Stirling Castle tour...and more
  • All group transportation from Edinburgh to Edinburgh
  • 9 nights accommodations in memorable, centrally-located hotels and B&Bs
  • All breakfasts and half your dinners
  • All tips for guides and driver
  • Free stuff including Rick Steves' Great Britain guidebook, moneybelt and earplugs
  • Guaranteed tour price, locked in the moment you make your deposit
  • Optional single supplements — this tour has a limited number of private rooms for solo travelers for an additional fee
  • Tour alum discount of $50 for each tour you've taken prior to 2014
  • 50% discount on a consulting appointment with our in-house experts to assist with your pre- or post-tour travel plans
  • Flexibility should you need to transfer, or cancel/interrupt your tour
  • Fine print: You are responsible for the cost of your drinks and free-time sightseeing. See our Tour Conditions Agreement for important details regarding everything listed above

Itinerary

Daily Activity Key
  • Light = 2-4 miles of mostly level walking throughout the day.
  • Moderate = 2-6 miles walking throughout the day with some hills and stairs.
  • Strenuous = 2-8 miles walking throughout the day with lots of hills, stairs and uneven terrain.

Day 1: Welcome to Scotland

We'll meet around 5 p.m. at our hotel in Edinburgh for a "Welcome to Scotland" get-together. We'll then take a short neighborhood walk and enjoy getting acquainted over dinner. Sleep in Edinburgh (2 nights). No bus. Walking: light.

Day 2: Conquering Edinburgh Castle

Today we'll see the best of Edinburgh on foot, starting with a walking tour of the Royal Mile and its wealth of historic buildings, quaint shops, narrow lanes and hidden courtyards. Next we'll start the "hike" through the history of this land at the impressive National Museum of Scotland. Then we're off to tour the birthplace of the city, the massive and imposing Edinburgh Castle to soak up its dramatic views. The rest of the day is free for your own explorations. No bus. Walking: strenuous.

Day 3: Culross and St. Andrews

We cross the famous Firth of Forth this morning as we head into the Scottish countryside. Our first stop is in the picturesque burgh of Culross, where we'll learn about long-ago lifestyles as we tour a 17th-century cottage "palace." Then we're off to St. Andrews, Scotland's oldest university town and mecca for golfers worldwide. You'll have time to explore the ruins of St. Andrews' medieval cathedral, watch duffers playing The Old Course, and enjoy lunch. Tonight we'll sleep in or near the village of Kenmore (2 nights). Bus: 5 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 4: Whisky and Waterfalls

This morning we'll learn about Scottish Romanticism amidst the Black Linn Falls and towering forest of the Hermitage. We'll also visit the charming town of Dunkeld and its medieval cathedral. After lunch we'll tour a whisky distillery, learn about this iconic Scottish industry and enjoy a wee dram of single malt. Then it's back to Kenmore via Sma Glen, a picturesque glen that contains all the scenery of the Highlands rising from the banks of the River Almond. Bus: 4 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 5: Crannogs and the Highlands

This morning we'll tour a reconstruction of Scotland's unique crannogs: prehistoric, defensive homesteads built on piers out over the lochs. We'll also learn about the first people to farm in this part of the world, millennia ago. After lunch in the town of Pitlochry, talented sheep dogs will entertain us with a demonstration at a working sheep farm, where we'll learn the nitty-gritty of Scotland's wool industry. We'll end the day in the Highland city of Inverness. Sleep in Inverness (2 nights). Bus: 3 hrs. Walking: light.

Day 6: Culloden Battlefield and Cawdor Castle

Today we'll tour evocative Culloden Battlefield where, in 1746, Bonnie Prince Charlie's defeat ended decades of Scottish rebellion against the English government. We'll also stop for a look at the Clava Cairns, an impressive collection of prehistoric burial chambers. On our way back to Inverness, we'll tour the turreted Cawdor Castle and its magnificent gardens. The remainder of the afternoon is yours to explore Inverness or stroll along the banks of the river before dinner together. Bus: 2 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 7: Loch Ness and Glencoe

We'll begin our day with a panoramic view from the ruins of Urquhart Castle, perched atop a rock overlooking Loch Ness (monster sightings possible). After lunch in the canal-side village of Fort Augustus, it's on to haunting Glencoe, site of Scotland's most infamous massacre (Campbells and MacDonalds, keep your daggers on the bus). We'll end our day in the scenic coastal town of Oban, where we'll sleep (2 nights, group may be split between two B&Bs). Bus: 4 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 8: Inspiring Isle of Iona

Today we'll board a ferry and hop on a local bus for an entertaining ride across the island of Mull to our destination: the windswept Isle of Iona, the birthplace of Christianity in Scotland. We'll tour the 800-year-old abbey, where monks created the remarkable Book of Kells, one of the sparks of creativity that pulled Europe out of the Dark Ages. We'll then set you free to explore or find a spot to meditate on this tiny, spiritually-charged island. We'll return to Oban, and our own century, in time for dinner. Boat: 2 hrs. Bus: 2 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 9: Loch Lomond and Stirling Castle

We'll drive along the bonny, bonny banks of Loch Lomond and through central Scotland on our way back to Edinburgh. En route we'll visit the famous castle of the Stuart Kings, Stirling, including the newly restored Renaissance Palace. Tonight we'll share memories of Scotland and toast new friends at our final dinner together. Sláinte! Sleep in Edinburgh (1 night). Bus: 4 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 10: Tour Over After Breakfast

Edinburgh's airport and train station are easy connections from our neighborhood. Glasgow is one hour away by train; London is 90 minutes by air. For those tempted to continue their trip, Edinburgh is a great jumping off point to Paris, Dublin, Amsterdam and many other exciting destinations. Cheerio!

Itinerary specifics subject to change.

Activity Level

Our tours are physically active! It’s an essential part of the Rick Steves tour experience. On our Best of Scotland in 10 Days tour — among other things — you'll need to happily...

  1. Carry/roll your luggage over uneven pavement (several blocks possible) and up stairways to reach your hotel; then up several flights of stairs to reach your room.
  2. Be on your feet, walking and standing for up to three hours, indoors and outdoors, in all weather conditions.
  3. Sleep with street noise and no (or weak) air conditioning.
  4. After orientation and transportation lessons, be able to navigate towns and cities on your own.
  5. Walk up steep hills in Edinburgh and at Urquhart Castle.

Reviews

Robin

Chagrin Falls, OH

Tour: 09/23/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was a wonderful tour experience. I am glad that this time we arrived a day early and extended our stay by a few days in London. Our guide was delightful, her knowledge and her entertaining of us while on the bus extraordinary. The variety of music she played, including requests from the group, her treats along the way, our picnic in a graveyard, the extra little stops because it was a beautiful day. They were things she knew we would enjoy, or things we should know about (Commando Memorial).

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Glen Coe is the first wow that comes to mind. I loved everything about the Highlands, and the fact that we went on the distillery tour of my favorite scotch whisky of the past 40 years (The Famous Grouse), WOW! The most unexpected wow was the Commando Memorial. I am so thankful that she found time for us to stop."

Sandra

Los Angeles, CA

Tour: 09/23/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Edenburgh was fantastic. Museum, swedish cider, reataurants, vat refunded without all the bother at the airport or any fees on the credit card. The Zoo was highly unusual being it was on a steep hill. Princes street park beautiful.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Unique Crannogs. The guide was excellant. Showing how the prehistoric man made a lathe making furniture & drilling holes in stones. Island of Iona"

Carolyn

Bend, OR

Tour: 09/23/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great! Group was congenial, people generally on time for coach departures, group meals just fine our guide's procedure of calling the restaurant in the morning, then gathering our meal requests so the restaurant could be prepared for a large group meant meals were served promptly. Could not think of any suggestions...everything went smoothly. Staying in each hotel for 2 nights was great...the first night we had a group meal so that the following night when we were having dinner on our own works

Connie

Plano, TX

Tour: 09/23/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My husband & I loved the pace of this tour. Ten days was just long enough to see everything. We liked having some time off to ourselves to explore on our own. Our guide and our driver Roddie were a FABULOUS team for us! Our assistant, who joined us later, was helpful with info on Glasgow (which we took the train to on our own when the tour ended.) We loved the natural scenery! We loved the history! We loved the architecture! We loved the stories & songs! We will miss SCOTLAND!!!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Researching my family history as a STEWART! We really loved Stirling castle! Every room was an art exhibit from the tapestries on the walls to the painted ceilings, to the ornate fireplaces! The view from the top wasn't bad either!"

Richard

Bend, OR

Tour: 09/23/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great...our guide added so much

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Can't say there was a favorite. All were good."

Patricia

Springfield, MO

Tour: 09/23/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

lots of bussing. lots of b&b's. I was definitely not someone who mixed well with this group, but that was not your fault. fortunately I have been with a rick steves tour where I thoroughly enjoyed the others in the group. I wish we could have skipped one of the castles and had a little more time to explore the small towns. please think about making this a fourteen day tour and giving us another day in Edinburgh and two days in Glasgow. i'll return to iona fot at least one full day.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"iona. definitely. but after the t0ur, in a churchyard(maybe st.giles?)Ifound a gravestone for a lieutenant who was 'killed in cabul(sic) on November 2, 1941.( look up 'british in Kabul") and thought of the pete seegar song 'where have all the flowers gone""

Catherine

Annapolis, MD

Tour: 09/23/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The Scotland trip was wonderful! My only disappointment was that it ended too soon. From Edinburgh to the Highlands and Iona, a working farm and Stirling Castle, all of the points on our itinerary were so enjoyable. We learned so much from our own guide and those at the sites. Our guide and bus driver were always accommodating and working hard to meet the needs of the group. We have told everyone we know to go visit Scotland, if they can, via a Rick tour of course!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were too many to single just one out, but the Holy Isle of Iona and Stirling castle were two biggies."

Catherine

Hillsboro, OR

Tour: 09/23/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Scotland took my breath away. Beautiful country, delicious food, warm, friendly people who were eager to share the history of their country with us. This was my first tour ever, and also the first time I had traveled overseas alone, so I was a bit apprehensive, but the group was great, and gathered me in and made me feel very much a part of the fun. I'm already planning my next Rick Steve's tour!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There was so much spectacular scenery in Scotland that "wow" happened over and over, but one of my favorite experiences was a little break we took to stretch during a long bus day. We stopped next to a field with "Heilan Coos" and we fed them bits of apple. I also loved the peaceful, spiritual Clava Cairns and the picnic we shared after wandering through the cairns."

Marion

Stonington, CT

Tour: 09/23/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our tour was better than expected mostly due to our wonderful guide. I feel it gave me a good understanding and appreciation of the Scottish culture, history and landscape. We also had amazing weather- which didn't hurt! Our group was quite diverse in age, which we really liked, and most everyone was fun, involved and well traveled.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite moment was taking a brisk walk following the shoreline and passing through a sheep pasture to access the white sands and turquoise waters of the Isle of Iona as the sun was breaking through the clouds. It was breathtaking."

Elizabeth

Nashville, TN

Tour: 09/23/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Too much to tell. The tour was excellent in all ways, well organized, informative but not too informative, people great, food great, hotels good, tours well executed.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The highland scenery and the border collie/sheep demonstration."

Dianne Kane

Fallbrook, CA

Tour: 09/16/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We were immersed in Scotland throughout the tour: its culture, geology, history, foods, music, & politics through the ages. Every stop was memorable; every sight impressive. The schedule was full but not over-taxing, & we were well prepared with a foundational knowledge before we arrived at our sites. Our guides assured that all events went off without a hitch, and we were able to appreciate every aspect of the itinerary because of it.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The day on Iona was wonderful, and relaxing. A unique experience, and falling mid-tour it was the right time for this kind of an environment. Glencoe was another amazing site where I would have liked to spend more time, espcially hiking."

Maureen

Riverton, IL

Tour: 09/16/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I learned so much history, geography, and a deeper understanding of the huge political decision that Scots must make in deciding whether or not to seek independence from Great Britain.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The natural beauty of Scotland was beyond my expectations."

Richard

Amarillo, TX

Tour: 09/16/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our guide was very prepared. Roddy, driver, was the friendliest, most helpful driver. The tour included sites which gave a rounded, "non-politically correct" impression of Scotland, the good and the less than good. I had taken over thirty semester hours of British history in undergraduate studies, yet our guide gave me another viewpoint. History is written by the winners, but remembered by those who might not have won.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Iona. Without a doubt a place of personal satisfaction. Wish we had had more time there, but would not wanted to give up anything from the tour for that wish."

Sandra

Mandeville, LA

Tour: 09/16/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I truly loved Scotland and its people. The scenery was awesome.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It is hard to say but probably the drive thru the Glencoe region. I would have liked to spend more time there. The mountains were majestic."

Stephen

Fallbrook, CA

Tour: 09/16/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Everything worked well, meals were excellent, free time was well balanced, and the coach accommodations very nice. Roddy is a true professional and he kept us on time and organized through a very bus week. There were a few more people on this tour (additional tour guide was added) which made for some venues very crowded.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The day on Iona. very unique experience, and a memorable one. It is a lot of travel for the day, but it was well placed with the stay in Oban so it worked well. I would have liked one less day in Inverness (didn't like the Best Western) & an extra day in a more lay-back area such as Oban or Kenmore."

Janet

Pottsville, PA

Tour: 09/16/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I absolutely loved this tour of Scotland. She was an awesome tour guide, and we learned so much about Scotland. The towns we visited were everything I expected.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Glencoe was definitely my favorite "wow" moment. Absolutely over the top experience."

Patricienne

San Diego, CA

Tour: 09/09/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first guided tour with any company and just loved the experience. Chose Rick Steve's because of his PBS programs and all seemed well organized. A neighbor has taken 3 Rick Steve's tours and highly recommenced it. I liked the idea of someone saying when to show up for meals,etc. and then wheels up for departure.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Could not fit this below but would have liked more time in St. Andrews. What a beautiful town and very vibrant. Maybe a full day and night."

Ed

Yamhill, OR

Tour: 09/09/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our 5th tour and, other than stretching the group size limit, didn't disappoint.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing Edinburgh Castle towering over the city."

Floyd

Woodland, CA

Tour: 09/09/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

Overall, I enjoyed the Scotland tour and thought it was a good experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I enjoyed visiting the golf course at St. Andrews and the golf history museum. There was a lot of history and tradition tied to that place and it permeated the town and surrounding area. I am not a golfer but I appreciated it anyway. I also enjoyed the sheep dog demonstration and the distilleries where scotch is made."

Linda

Yamhill, OR

Tour: 09/09/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our 5th RS tour so we pretty much knew it would be a great value for our travel dollar. Having seen the "greats" of Europe, it was ,as expected, more of a laid back visit of spectacular beauty and rich the rich history of a people who know how to value their freedoms.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My "wow" moment was driving across the countryside and seeing Stirling Castle rising up above the landscape."

Linda

Fairport, NY

Tour: 09/09/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first Rick Steves tour and actually my first visit to Europe. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. I was very pleased with how much time my husband and I had to just explore on our own, with suggestions and guidance from our guide. I think it was a good mix of group time and on our own time - both in sightseeing and meals. I was also pleased that the hotels were all centrally located and within walking distance of most things available in the area.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I had several "WOW" moments. My favorite is when our bus entered the Glencoe area. I already knew the story of the massacre and seen pictures of the area, but it was nothing like seeing it in person and having our guide tell us the story. It was so haunting and atmospheric. It was really stunning to stand there and have it all around you. My husband and I love to hike, and I would really love to return to do some hiking."

Jackie

Redmond, WA

Tour: 09/09/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

This was our 7th tour. It was not as varied as some of the others. There was a tendency to see too many castles as other points of interest were ignored. Had trouble thinking of "wow" moment on this one. There just wasn't much that stood out.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"After much thought the only "wow" moment was St. Andrews and being able to walk on the course and take a picture on the bridge that goes between the 17th and 18th holes. If we had not been golfers, I don't think the appeal would have been so great. Unfortunately, that was pretty much the only "wow" moment for me."

Kristin

Wilmington, DE

Tour: 09/02/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our fifth RS tour. It was as outstanding as our other four RS tours. We have come to expect that. Our guide was a wonderful, very knowledgable guide who was very accessible for planning free time or just talking. Roddy, our bus driver, was equally fun and helpful and did have to take the reigns briefly when our guide was left behind on Iona due to ferry boat problem. Our group was the usual friendly, courteous bunch of people that we have come to expect on these tours.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Loved the special tour of Taymouth Castle tour (a surprise!), our guest musician during a group dinner in Oban, sheep dog demonstration, etc. etc."

John

Louisville, CO

Tour: 09/02/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great People, Great Weather, Great Country and a well organized tour. Martin L. was fantastic.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The highlands."

Wesley

The Woodlands, TX

Tour: 09/02/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I found this to be well organized with "doable" schedules. There was a good balance of free time with organized time. The hotels were all great, very unique with a charm. Very clean as well. The coach was great for getting a good view or sitting back and tacking a nap. The meals were all top notch. The areas we visited were great and included those areas of Scotland that you would travel to visit. We were also treated to some very interesting sites that I would have missed.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The sheep dogs were great, but I really enjoyed our time with the bagpipe shop."

Bill

Tacoma, WA

Tour: 09/02/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

Wonderful tour. Leader's emphasis on the people and what their lives were like 500 yrs ago was very meaningful. The scenery is great but the history makes it different from just another beautiful place. Interesting to learn about the architecture and marvel at the building techniques.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Three things stand out. Edinburgh Castle is amazing. The battlefield at Culloden was a very moving experience. The city of Oban was very beautiful but we didn't really have enough time to fully explore there. Iona was very moving and would have even been better without the drive across Mull."

Chuck

Edgewood, WA

Tour: 09/02/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The Scotland tour was as fantastic as we had hoped – scenery, history, food, tour members, guide, bus and bus driver, and overall experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There was no single "wow" moment. It was all "wow". We especially liked the western coast and the outstanding weather given that it was almost Fall."

Teresa

The Woodlands, TX

Tour: 09/02/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

The tour guide, coach driver, and participates were outstanding. I feel that the tour is heavily laden with history. I am not a history buff, so by the second day, I was overwhelmed by it. So, for me, the tour was too much history. I would have liked to hear more about the people, their jobs, crops grown, etc.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The sheep farm with the Border Collies rounding up the sheep at Neal's command."

Timothy

Presque Isle, MI

Tour: 09/02/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our tour guide, was extraordinary. He should donate his brain to medical science upon his passing, so they could determine how it is inhumanly possible for him to retain so much information! From the first meeting onward, we were constantly amazed by his knowledge of Scotland's history. And Roddy, our coach driver, was wonderful as well, adding to many stories with his own knowledge of his homeland Scotland. We loved the city of Oban, the mountains of Mull, and the lovely isle of Iona.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Pulling up into an older farm, parking the coach, stepping out, and seeing not one, not five, not ten, but fourteen Scottish sheepdogs racing toward us from around the old barn. This followed by a wonderful demonstration of their herding skills, and their cooperation with Neil's(?) commands."

Kathleen

Presque Isle, MI

Tour: 09/02/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My husband usually plans our European trips following RS's Europe Through the Backdoor travel books. He has proven to be a wonderful tour guide so, when he suggested that we take a RS Guided Tour, I was quite reluctant. Visions of 50-60 people packed onto a coach, long lines at the rest stops, rigid Guides, up-at-dawn regimented daily schedules dampened my enthusiasm. As usual, my husband did his homework and assured me that RS Guided Tours are not like that. And he was right!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"When you rate a 10-day tour "Outstanding", how do you choose a favorite "WOW" moment?!?!?! The sheepdog show was incredible, the bagpipe-maker was phenomenal, the castles were spectacular, the weather was unseasonably warm and sunny. Judging by the number of photos I took, Oban/Iona were my "WOW". Breathtaking scenery en route and on the islands."

Cynthia

Crescent City, CA

Tour: 09/02/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our tour of Scotland exceeded my expectations. Historical, cultural, and city sites visited were interesting and varied, as were the visits to a working sheep farm and bagpipe maker. In fact, several of the sites visited were quite unique, not at all your everyday tourist stops. However, our guide was absolutely exceptional! He brought Scottish history and culture to to life.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our Scotland experience was full of "wow" moments, including beautiful Kenmore with Taymouth Castle and the Crannogs, the Culloden Battlefield, and the gorgeous seaside town of Oban. However, the best part of the Scotland experience was the opportunity to meet and become friends with all the other enthusiastic members of the tour."

Lisa

Mount Vernon, WA

Tour: 09/02/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

28 new, wonderful, kind friends. It was sunny every day except one morning when the rain matched the mood visiting the site of Cullodon (massacre). Flexibility was important as was punctuality, both of which were demonstrated. Freedom was appreciated, with as much guidance as required or requested.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Alexander McPhee, the very talented musician in Oban, Scotland. He played the accordian, flute type instrument, and wonderful drum while we dined. He had us singing and swaying. I wish I had a card with words to songs to better participate (you take the high road and I'll take the low, My Bonnie lies over the ocean, etc) I loved the border collie demonstration at the working farm. Richard, the bus driver on Isle of Mull was hilarious. The bagpipe repairman was very interesting in Stirling."

Heather

London, ON

Tour: 09/02/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first organized tour, We were hesitant about spending 10 days with strangers and being tied into a busy schedule. We worried about being the only Canadians (which we were) on a predominantly American tour. We went into the experience with an open mind but also convinced that we would not attend all of the group dinners. This tour more than exceeding our expectations in every way we attended every event, loved all the people and will be booking a tour every year.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Isle of Iona. Our weather was perfect and having history, religion and scenery all meld together in one location was magical. I also absolutely loved the sheep dogs."

Kelvin

Houston, TX

Tour: 08/26/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Tour was well done due to our guide We had visited places we would never found on our own without her. She made the trip.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Discovering how advanced our iron age cousins were."

Jack

Houston, TX

Tour: 08/26/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Greetings there Rick Steves' and Europe Through The Back Door. Many thanks again for another excellent tour experience! Nothing could have gone better. Top notch tour guide, coach driver, and tour group really jelled together to help everything run very smoothly. As you know, this is me fifth Europe Through The Back Door tour. Enjoyed myself alot better on last two. Much better mind set and left all my problems at home.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Gee whiz! Too many to pick out just one. Edinburgh Castle, The Royal Mile, Loch Ness, and seeing the original WWII Nazi flag in the King's Old Building @ Stirling Castle were definitley some of the highlights. Visited St. Giles Cathedral before ETBD tour began and that was a big moment for me too. I really enjoy to scale every possible castle, tower, and cathedral in Europe. Helps keep me very trim and fit!"

Carolyn

Houston, TX

Tour: 08/26/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I was very impressed with our guide. She is professional and thorough but doesn't "baby" her charges. And her wealth of knowledge was amazing! I liked the mix of adventures we had; there was always the requisite history, which is one of the reasons I travel, but because I was with a group , I did things I would never have thought to do-sheepherding demonstration, a visit to a crannog. I also liked the ratio of group time and individual time. And Scotland was awesome!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Highlands in general stole my heart. I usually travel to cities for culture, museums, history, etc. but I simply fell in love with the beauty of the Highlands. I felt as if I belonged there."

Marina

Washington, DC

Tour: 08/26/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was wonderful. The itinerary was very varied and interesting, I was very happy with the hotels (great breakfasts) and meals, and our driver Roddie and our guide were fantastic! My tour buddies were great too, very witty and fun, and always on time. I had been on 3 Rick Steves tours before so I sort of knew what to expect, and I was very happy!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"For me the "wow" was just being in Scotland! I had read about Scotland's history and art and learnt about it with books and DVDs and was fascinated by it, and to be there in the midst of the wonderful landscape passing by as we drove, seeing the locations where important events happened, events I had been learning about for a long time.. it was truly wonderful. I especially loved visiting the castles, or seeing some from the road. The other "wow" was our guide: she made the trip magical for me"

Ron

Davidson, NC

Tour: 08/26/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our guide was wonderful! She gave a 110 percent of herself and used much of her personal time with us to make sure we each had a perfect experience. The pace of our daily activities was just right. Her understanding of what her tour members expect from the tour is what makes a RS tour different such a great experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Edinburgh was my wow moment. What a wonderful city. I really enjoyed the vibe of the city, it's walk ability the easy o use public transportation."

Larry

Issaquah, WA

Tour: 08/26/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our tour guide, a true Scott, was intent on sharing the history and significance of the places we visited, as well as enjoying the scenery and company - she was very knowledgeable, and lent a personal interest to the last 800 years of history. The hotels selected were superb, and the food excellent.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The tour included a visit to a sheepdog trainer, that was a hit! Little did I know that each dog had a unique set of commands; so Rover would have a short whistle to crowd the sheep tightly, with Rover2 had a short shout to accomplish the same maneuver. Who knew? There was a lively discussion of how he trained the dogs: never rewarding good behavior, only punishing bad behavior. It sure paid off in results, but the suggestion to apply this to raising children caused a lot of discussion."

Clair

Glendale, AZ

Tour: 08/26/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

We had taken the Italy in 17 days tour last year. Although this tour was very good it was not as good as the Italy tour. Perhaps some of this was due to the larger group and the problems it presented for dinner venues in Scotland. The most notable were at the Room 9 restaurant in Oban and the final dinner in Edinburgh.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The two moments that stood out most were the sheep herding demonstration outside Inverness, and the opportunity to have a special tour of Taymouth Castle and its spectacular renovations. The playing of Highland Cathedral on the coach was also very special."

Gerald

O'fallon, IL

Tour: 08/26/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

When compared to any other company's tours, this is an outstanding tour. But, because we have been spoiled by Rick Steves tours, this one was a little short of outstanding-primarily because we had more people than the tour could accomodate (28 great people-but still, 28). Overall, everything was outstanding-our tour guide, our bus driver, the hotels, and sites. But our group dinners in both Edinbourgh and Oban were too large for the venues-too crowded, overloaded staff, sub-par food.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our entire journey was a series of "twists and turns" as we went from big city (Edinbourgh) to the Hermitage in the highlands, to Loch Lomand, to Sterling Castle and monuments to Braveheart and Robert the Bruce. We got to appreciate the many varied dimensions of Scotland."

Russ

Westbank, BC

Tour: 08/26/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Just a wonderful experience

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Cullodon grabbed my heart....the visitors centre and the description of the battle is so well done Loved the Cottswolds...and the Lake Country.... Edinburgh is a wonderful place"

Carol

Westbank, BC

Tour: 08/26/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour exceeded our expectations. We were blessed with great weather and a fun tour group...no 'grumps'. The pace of the tour was good. 2 nights in each hotel is a 'must' for us aging folk. Gave us time to do 'laundry' and enjoy the free time provided in the tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The whole tour was great, but the time at Culloden was, for me, special. The Culloden Information Centre was exceptional. It is relatively 'new' but provided so much information without having to follow a guide (except on the actual battle field). Tho' not on the tour, we really enjoyed the visit to the yacht 'Britannia' . The sheep dog demonstration was great. Even tried 'haggis' and found it to be surprisingly good!"

Bobbie

Huntersville, NC

Tour: 08/05/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was fabulous! I enjoyed every moment, learned so much, and made wonderful friends! I would do it again in a heartbeat!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Iona - bar none! What a beautiful place; the trip was MUCH enhanced by our visit there."

Jan

Niwot, CO

Tour: 08/05/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our tour of Scotland was all we have come to expect of a Rick Steves tour: knowledgeable, efficient, and welcoming tour guides, a lot of touring for our travel dollars, time to explore on our own, no shopping, and like-minded travel companions.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"For my husband, the iconic bridge at St. Andrews golf course was the high point. For me, the ferry ride back from Iona was amazing. Iona itself is unique. In that indescribable Iona state of mind, I sat on the ferry's upper deck and watched the beauty of the islands and the hills recede before me, the shifting sunlight, the clouds, the mist moving and altering the light and shadows. It was hypnotic; I had to sit and collect my thoughts before heading back to the B and B."

William

Bedford, TX

Tour: 08/05/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was incredible. It was very well organized and covered more sites and places of interest than we could have planned, even with a great deal of research. No time was wasted unless we chose to just relax. The bus trips were sprinkled with stops at fantastic places so that the trips didn't seem long at all. The other people on the trip also contributed to the success. We met some great people and hope to maintain friendships with them.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"This is a hard one. There were so many. I think that it may have been at Loch Tay where we saw the reproduction of a Crannog, which is a bronze age or stone age house built over the water. Also, the battle field at Culloden was a wow moment. Such a "small" battle had such an impact on history. This is especially significant if you are of Scots descent and live outside Scotland."

Peter

State College, PA

Tour: 08/05/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Very well organized and [INVALID]d. A good mix of "big" attractions [INVALID] castles, museums, cathedrals [INVALID] and visits to villages and towns and free time to explore on our own. Good mix of accommodations from big city hotel to small village inn to B&B. Nice introduction to the highlands of Scotland,

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The most unusual was the visit to the Crannog -- the iron age housing site on Loch Tay."

Dotty

Tempe, AZ

Tour: 08/05/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was perfectly planned and executed so that we were able to experience the best of the country; scenery, people, food, castles and history.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing the sheep dog demonstration was the top of the list. Neil was truly an expert with his 28 dogs."

Thomas

Santa Barbara, CA

Tour: 07/29/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Loved that we weren't shuttled to ten sightseeing destinations a day with only 20 minutes to look around.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The whole trip was a wow moment. But most of all the tour guide and fellow travelers.Great bunch!"

Michelle

Denver, CO

Tour: 07/29/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

Overall, it was a great trip - Scotland and its people are beautiful. This was my second RS Tour and this one had a much tighter schedule than the Greek one. You do see a lot, but overall it could really benefit from a built-in day off (maybe in Oban to relax by the sea or Inverness to get more practical things done). The time spent on the bus was not well balanced with the time spent at sites.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Its hard to choose, so we'll go with 3: 1. As a Diana Gabaldon fan, it was great to see all the places Jamie & Claire visited. 2. The people: Our fellow tourmates, guide and driver, and the Scots made for a great trip. 3. The sheer beauty and history of Scotland itself."

MaryAnn

Cowiche, WA

Tour: 07/29/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I was looking forward to a good historical background information on Scotland and its people. Our guide, Liz, was well informed.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were two stops that were extremely interesting and different from what you would expect in Scotland. First the prehistoric home over the loch and the very unusual stop at Culross. Fascinating mining in the tunnel under the ocean. The guide thru the house was very good describing life at that time period."

Terence

Dallas, TX

Tour: 07/22/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

This was our third Rick Steves Tour and perhaps it was too much to expect the Scotland tour to live up to the experience on our previous two (which were outstanding) but somehow this trip just struck me as good, but not outstanding. The days seemed more rushed, there seemed to be less interpersonal interaction and some of the stops seemed short when compared to the travel time involved in getting there.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I was amazed at the topography of the Scottish Highlands, a volcanic landmass, and the similarity (if you stipped the vegetation and replaced it with lush tropical flora) to my favorite non-European volcanic landmass--Hawaii. Driving in the Highlands reminded me of the Road-to-Hana trip in Maui."

James

Stillwater, MN

Tour: 07/22/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

What a fantastic way to see and experience a country. From our guide and coachman, to the hotels and B&Bs which all were very comfortable and had character, and the wonderful food (wouldn't have guessed that one) and beverages, I can't imagine experiencing Scotland any better way. We were steeped in the history and culture of the land at every turn by our most able guides, and had time left over to interact with some of the warm and welcoming Scots.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I love history, and have had the good fortune to experience some great battlefield sites, but many of the sites could learn from the National Trust for Scotland site at Culloden. This very important battle was vividly brought to life with an amazing visitor center/museum, followed by an expert and engaging audio tour of the battlefield that literally let you feel what the battle was like. Wow!"

Stewart

Montreal, QC

Tour: 07/08/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was a very enjoyable tour. Edinburgh is a beautiful city, the Highlands and Western Isles are stunning, the pubs are exceptional, and the guide was wonderful. I learned a lot about the country including the fact that haggis is delicious and that the sun always shines in Scotland. Who knew?

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many, but I particularly enjoyed the visit to the sheep farm where I got to shear a sheep (for a few seconds anyway) and hold a border collie puppy as well as the stop at the Culloden Battlefield visitors' centre. I knew a lot about the battle beforehand, but the excellent displays and demonstrations made it much more real for me. It was, in fact, very moving."

Patricia

Montreal, QC

Tour: 07/08/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Every moment was a delight! The people, the places, the weather -- just perfect!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Visit to the sheep farm to see Neil shearing a sheep, holding the newborn puppies, and feeding the lambs from a baby bottle of milk! Also, visit to Culloden. The most well-organized and interesting tour I have ever seen."

Linda

San Anselmo, CA

Tour: 07/08/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The Scotland tour was outstanding in every way. I loved the beautiful countryside and the cities which we visited as well. The accommodations were wonderful, as was the food and our guide was superb. Her command of the history, her wonderful sense of humor and her keen sensitivity to all members made the trip simply excellent in every way. What a magnificent country and we were really blessed to be with an amazing group of folks as well.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It is so difficult to speak about one "wow" moment but I loved Kenmore, the surroundings and the charming hotel. I thought the area was magical. I was also overwhelmed with the beauty of Glencoe."

Diana

Powell, OH

Tour: 07/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Scotland has everything. Wonderful landscape with mountains, castles, palaces, lochs, friendly people who like to have a good time. It's also quite an educational experience learning the history of the country. i loved everything about the tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I especially like the trip to Iona. From the Ferry ride to get there, to the walk through a pasture to get to the beautiful beach and touring the Abbey. Also the working sheep farm demonstration was pretty exciting."

Kathy

Ottawa, ON

Tour: 06/24/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I loved every day of this trip. She was a fantastic guide. We had a great group of people. The landscape was lovely - at times breathtaking. I found the history, and all the historical sites we visited quite fascinating. Accommodation was very good.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I loved the whole experience of being at Culloden. The battle really came to life for me ... and sparked my interest in learning more about the Jacobite rebellion specifically and Scottish history in general."

Carolyn

Canton, NC

Tour: 06/24/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

First off the tour guide was excellent. She was steeped in history and always researching for more details relating to any questions brought up by any in the group. She was extremely patient and kind. All the places we visited were of interest; the hotels and inns were great; the food was very good; all aspects of the tour were well thought out. I liked having two days in a location so there was a greater comfort level for me.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The kindness and welcoming of the people was one of my favorite wow moments. I always felt as though the people were glad that I was there in their beautiful country."

Kathleen

Tucson, AZ

Tour: 06/24/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great!! Suggestion: The tour guide established a limit of 2 pounds for a buddy gift at the end. Some tour members exceeded this limit of say 5 pounds. This was embarrassing to those who gave a gift of 2 pounds.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Scotland was fantastic!"

Linda

Riverview, FL

Tour: 06/17/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Reflecting on my experience as a first timer, we saw so many places & had such a variety of experiences that I think, "Did we really do all of those things?" It was fun to be on a tour on a great bus w/ great driver, and a fantastic guide who was practical & experienced. We didn't have to worry about getting to places, & we saw so much & learned a great deal. Info provided was very good. The food was memorable and delicious and lodging was fun. Walks were strenuous but worth the "ow" moments.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I couldn't pinpoint just one, it was fantastic. From crannogs to cairns to castles, there was artwork, crafts and skills to learn about and the confirmation in my mind, that past people were intelligent, creative and resourceful. Forests were beautiful, countryside was calming, and there were structures everywhere with history all their own. A wow was "how did they build that" when it came to castles, cathedrals, other structures. Loved the variety in each day."

Mary

Spokane, WA

Tour: 05/20/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Everything was great from start to finish. Our guide was fun, knowledgable, informative and easy going. Roddy, our coach driver was a wonderful compliment and they made a great team. I thought there was plenty of time to get away from the group for those who need more quiet time alone. Doing the "group tour" is hard for some.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our time spent at Glen Coe. So beautiful, moody and spiritual. And I loved the Crannog's at Kenmore."

Carolyn

Durham, NC

Tour: 05/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My husband and I enjoyed our tour of Sotland from beginning to end Our tour guide, Anne, was excellent. I will be forever grateful to Roddy, our driver, for manuevering that large bus along narrow country roads so well. Having had motion sickness problems all my life, his driving expertise was a godsend for me.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"This is a hard question ; there were so many "wow" moments. I guess my very favorite time was at the sheep farm where we got to watch the border collies herd the sheep. The intensity and focus of the dogs is amazing. I also enjoyed holding a tiny puppy and having him snuggle up against my neck. That was special. Cawdor Castle was very interesting. Actually seeing how someone lives in a castle today is amazing. Our tour was so fortunate to see the highlanders marching through the entrance."

Weather

Scotland / Edinburgh

Edinburgh Weather

Pre-Tour

We've put together some specific information on what you should know about this tour before you go. You'll also find more general information about "Getting Ready for Your Tour" on our Tour FAQ.

Sightseeing On Your Own

If you arrive in Edinburgh before your tour begins, use Rick Steves' Great Britain guidebook to get oriented. Ride the public transportation and get over your jet lag with lots of fresh air and exercise.

Here are a few suggestions for sightseeing in Edinburgh that we will not do as a group: National Gallery, Scottish Parliament Building, Palace of Holyrood House, Royal Yacht Britannia, St. Giles' Cathedral, Rosslyn Chapel. Your guidebook also has plenty of ideas for any extra time you may have before or after your tour and your guide will be happy to help you with post-tour plans.

Transportation

Most tour members arrive a day or two before the tour begins — and those who don't, wish they had. This allows you ample time to get over jet lag and make the most of the first few days of the tour.

Edinburgh is a major transportation hub, making additional travel before or after your tour quite easy. The most direct route is to fly into and out of Edinburgh. 

For information about flying within Europe, ask your travel agent or check Rick's list of European budget airlines

Read Rick's train travel and rail pass tips and decide if your travel plans merit a rail pass.

Prior to your tour departure, you will receive detailed directions on how to get from the airport to your first tour hotel, as well as contact information for your first and last hotels in case you wish to book pre- or post-tour hotel accommodations.

If you need more information about additional European travel or for specific questions about your tour, contact the Tour Department at 425/608-4217 or email tour@ricksteves.com.

Trip Resources

Learn more about Scotland: Check out a collection of Rick's TV shows, radio interviews and articles, plus find a list of recommended books and movies.

Packing

For ideas on what to pack, check Rick's Packing List and our Women's Packing List.