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  • Inverness
  • Cawdor Castle and Gardens
  • Highlands' Sheep Farm
  • Whisky tasting, Edinburgh, Scotland
    Scottish Whisky Tasting
  • Hermitage woodlands, Dunkeld, Scotland
    The Hermitage Woodlands
  • Cathedral ruins, St. Andrews, Scotland
    St. Andrews
  • Edinburgh

Tour Questions? See our FAQ | Email tour@ricksteves.com

Heart of Scotland in 8 Days Tour

from $2,495 per person + air

Single Supplement $575

See Dates & Prices

Tight on time? This tour is Rick's personal "best of" distillation of our two-week Best of Scotland tour. Starting in the "urban" Highlands town of Inverness and ending in regal Edinburgh, you'll cruise mystical Loch Ness, explore stony castles, ponder evocative battlefields and prehistoric crannogs, marvel at sheepdogs in action, taste test a wee dram of whisky, read the green at St. Andrews, and stroll the narrow lanes and alleyways of Edinburgh's Royal Mile. Join us for the Heart of Scotland in 8 Days! 

Dates & Prices

2022

2023

What's Included

You'll get at least 18 group sightseeing events — at no extra cost!

Here's what you'll see and do on our Heart of Scotland tour:

  • Inverness walking tour
  • Loch Ness cruise
  • Urquhart Castle
  • Afternoon tea
  • Cawdor Castle
  • Culloden Battlefield
  • Whisky cooperage
  • Sheepdog demonstration
  • Scottish musical evening
  • The Scottish Crannog Centre
  • Hermitage walk
  • Whisky distillery tour and tasting
  • St. Andrews
  • Edinburgh orientation
  • Edinburgh's Royal Mile walking tour
  • Edinburgh Castle
  • Scottish Parliament
  • Palace of Holyroodhouse

Plus you'll get all this, too.

  • 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 group transportation from Inverness to Edinburgh
  • 7 nights' accommodations in memorable, centrally located hotels and B&Bs
  • All breakfasts and half your dinners
  • All tips for guides and driver
  • A tour kit including a guidebook (when available) and a moneybelt
  • Guaranteed tour price, locked in the moment you make your deposit
  • Tour alum discount of $50 for each tour you've taken prior to 2022
  • 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 your tour

Fine print: You are responsible for the cost of your drinks and free-time sightseeing. See our Tour Conditions for important details regarding everything listed above.

Group sightseeing events subject to change.

Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Scotland

We'll gather at our hotel in Inverness at 4 p.m. for a "Welcome to Scotland" meeting. Then we'll take a neighborhood orientation walk and get acquainted with one another over dinner together.

Light walking: 2–4 miles throughout the day on mostly level terrain. No bus. Sleep in Inverness.

Day 2: Castles and Culloden

This morning we'll enjoy a panoramic cruise of Loch Ness (monster sightings not guaranteed) before disembarking at the dramatic lochside ruins of Urquhart Castle. Then we're off to still-lived-in Cawdor Castle, where we'll stroll through manicured gardens and enjoy afternoon tea. We'll end our day together with a tour of the evocative Culloden Battlefield, where Bonnie Prince Charlie's defeat in 1746 marked the beginning of the end of the Highland clan system. Tonight is a great opportunity to enjoy some traditional music in one of Inverness' many pubs.

Strenuous walking: 2–8 miles throughout the day with lots of hills, stairs, and uneven terrain. Bus: 2 hours. Boat: ½ hour. Sleep in Inverness.

Day 3: The Rugged, Romantic Highlands

We'll explore more of the scenic and romantic Highlands today as we travel to Pitlochry. Along the way, we'll stop in Speyside, happy home to half of all Scottish whisky distilleries, where we'll visit a cooperage and watch master coopers build the oak casks so vital to the industry. After lunch together, we'll head to a local sheep farm to learn about Scotland's wool industry and marvel at the talented sheepdogs in action. This evening we'll enjoy dinner together.

Light walking: 2–4 miles throughout the day on mostly level terrain. Bus: 4 hours. Sleep near Pitlochry.

Day 4: Crannogs and Whisky

This morning we'll learn about the Iron Age people who first farmed these lands and built Scotland’s unique crannogs — prehistoric, thatched-roofed defensive huts built on piers out over the lochs. Then we'll head to the Hermitage, a magical stretch of forest where we'll hear tales of Scottish Romanticism amidst Black Linn Falls and towering fir trees. After lunch, we're off to Aberfeldy to tour a whisky distillery and enjoy a wee dram while learning about this iconic Scottish elixir. This evening is yours to relax "lochside" before dinner.

Moderate walking: 2–6 miles throughout the day with some hills and stairs. Bus: 2 hours. Sleep near Pitlochry.

Day 5: Charming St. Andrews

Today we're off to St. Andrews, Scotland's oldest university town and a mecca for golfers worldwide. You'll have time to explore the ruins of St. Andrews' medieval cathedral, watch duffers playing the Old Course — considered the birthplace of golf — and enjoy lunch. Then we'll cross the famous Firth of Forth on our way to Scotland's capital city, Edinburgh. Your guide will orient you to our lively neighborhood before setting you free for the rest of the evening.

Moderate walking: 2–6 miles throughout the day with some hills and stairs. Bus: 3 hours. Sleep in Edinburgh.

Day 6: Edinburgh's Historic Heart

This morning we'll take a walking tour of Edinburgh's old town, winding our way up the Royal Mile — with its wealth of historic buildings, quaint shops, narrow lanes, and hidden courtyards — then onto Grassmarket and Greyfriars cemetery. This afternoon, visit imposing Edinburgh Castle at your leisure to see the Scottish Crown Jewels and Stone of Scone and to soak up the dramatic views from this military stronghold and birthplace of the city. Tonight, join your guide and fellow tour members for an evening of Scottish music.

Moderate walking: 2–6 miles throughout the day with some hills and stairs. No bus. Sleep in Edinburgh.

Day 7: The Politics of Scotland

Since the days of William Wallace, the Scots have chafed under English rule, and over the centuries Scotland's drive for independence hasn't waned. Today we'll explore the complicated relationship between Scotland and England, beginning with a tour of the Scottish Parliament, where we'll learn about the modern independence movement that came with self-rule. Then we'll take a look at the "other side" with a visit to the Queen's official residence in Edinburgh, the elegant Palace of Holyroodhouse. The remainder of the day is yours to explore more of this regal city. Tonight we'll share memories of Scotland and toast new friends at our final dinner together. Slàinte!

Moderate walking: 2–6 miles throughout the day with some hills and stairs. No bus. Sleep in Edinburgh.

Day 8: Tour Over After Breakfast

Breakfast is provided, but there are no group activities today. 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. Turas math dhut! (Happy travels!)

Itinerary specifics subject to change.

Physical Demands

Our tours are physically active! It's an essential part of the Rick Steves tour experience. On our Heart of Scotland in 8 Days tour — among other things — you'll need to happily…

  1. Carry/roll your luggage over uneven pavement (possibly several blocks) 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

Leslie

Tour: 09/11/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The guide, bus, and fellow travelers were friendly and inclusive. Even with the tour having to make changes because of the Queen’s passing our rearranged plans went smoothly and I never missed anything that we didn’t get to see.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I loved the sheepdog demonstration!"

Susan

Tour: 09/11/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Every day was something new and exciting! Our Tour Guide was amazing and full of information told in a fun story like way. If she didn't know something she would find out! Our group had lots of questions for her!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Every day was a wow moment."

Michelle

Tour: 09/04/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

This was my first time in Scotland and I absolutely loved it. Everyone got along so well and our guide, though quirky, was informative and I appreciate how he had to scramble the last 3 days in Edinburgh when everything closed due to the queen's death. I wish we had more time at Loch Rannoch to explore the property and that we didn't have only 15 min at The Hermitage. Crannog Center could be cut. The very winding roads and many hours on the bus were rough, got motion sickness for the first time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I absolutely loved the sheepdog demo. Wow! I even got to hold a tiny puppy and feed the lambs, such a memorable experience. We were in Edinburgh when they brought the queen's body to St. Giles right down the street from us and that was also such a memorable event."

Joel

Tour: 09/04/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our Heart of Scotland tour was awesome with a balance of history, great food, and a wonderful guide.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Going to the Cooperage in Speyside was wonderful and it was followed by lunch and a scone demonstration!"

Michael

Tour: 09/04/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Martin was a fantastic guide. I really appreciated his adherence to COVID protocols.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The visit and tour of the Culloden Battlefield"

Shelly

Tour: 09/04/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Frankly, the “wow” moment was arriving in Edinburgh on the day of the Queens death and witnessing the City’s busy, complicated, professional and respectful responsive to that historic event and and our tour guide & Rick Steves knocking themselves out to spontaneously adapt flawlessly to scheduled tour events’ cancellations."

Marianne

Tour: 09/04/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Organized, on time with excellent transportation, hotel choice and tour destinations.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Loch Rannoch hotel"

Lynn

Tour: 09/04/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

The tour included a good variety of different experiences and was paced well.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Underground tour in Edinburgh, crannogs, Urquhart castle"

Jared

Tour: 08/28/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first international trip and it exceeded my expectations. The tour group members were awesome, the views through the country were gorgeous, and the culture was interesting.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My wow moment was experiencing the sheepdogs in action. It was so impressive watching Neil and his dogs."

Lisa

Tour: 08/28/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Martin was fabulous. The hotels were wonderful. Food was a bit much (breakfast was redundant but it was ok) but good. Very accommodating. Felt safe w covid 19. Would spend more time in highlands and less on the bus

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Beauty of the highlands. The scotch tasting tours to the distillery and cooperage. Sheep shearing! Loved the history of the castles and gardens. Comradery with the tour mates was great. Martin even took advantage to tell us when a good camera shot ! The driver, Bill was FABULOUS to boot"

Deborah

Tour: 08/28/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

First, I really enjoyed having Martin as my guide. He’s very knowledgeable, approachable and has passion for bringing history alive for us, both historic and modern. All qualities that I appreciated! Second, the route, mix of experience and size of the group was good. And, I love the people attracted to RIck Steves’ tours.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My “wow” moment was the drive over and arrival to our hotel at Loch Rannoch. While a long drive, it was stunningly beautiful. It was so special that I opted to take a day off from touring so that I could enjoy the peace and beauty of that location. We’d traveled for a week prior to joining our RS tour, and I needed a day off to stay in one place, and the peace of Loch Rannoch and the local village is a highlight of my 2 weeks in Scotland."

Nancy

Tour: 08/28/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

The Scotland tour had numerous highlights--the Ness River trail, castles, Culloden, sheep farm, St. Andrews, Edinburgh and the Scotland Highlands. Overall, the tour included history, outstanding food, delightful accommodations (especially in Highlands), free time and group activities. A full day should have been devoted to exploring St. Andrews on our own and less time in highlands--change the stop in Dunkeld and add an additional castle--replacing cooperage visit and/or Crannogs.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The visit to St. Andrews was our wow moment. Being on the 18th Hole of St. Andrews, seeing the castle and the cathedral and being on the coast. The town itself is full of life with the coast roaring in. A full day needs be dedicated to St. Andrews. We had an additional wow moment after the trip--when we returned home we watched the procession of Queen Elizabeth's body to Edinburgh--we were able to experience our trip all over and we felt a part of this historical moment. A true WOW!"

Bonita

Tour: 08/28/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We have been on many RS tours and this one like the rest did not disappoint. We really enjoyed our tour guide Martin. He was outstanding!!! The weather cooperated and we didn’t not have any rain the week we were there.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our “wow” moment was the sheep dog demonstration! It was amazing how the dogs worked. We also enjoyed the Cooperage Tour."

Gregory

Tour: 08/21/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Excellent guided tour! Everyone was friendly in our group, and we were updated with just enough information to keep things interesting.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Military tatoo in Edinbourgh."

Marna

Tour: 08/21/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Itinerary was terrific and our guide, Martin, was incredible. We just get tired being on a strict schedule with a large group of people.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My wow was with Neil Ross and his wonderful sheepdogs! It was close up and personal; it was educational; it was exciting! Watching the dogs respond to Neil, and then the sheep running around - just the best! Plus he had a Highland cow that we got to walk with, and a sheep we could shear!"

Jane

Tour: 08/21/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I likes how there were varied activities so that everyone one the tour was sure to find something that was their favorite.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Going to see the sheep and working sheep dogs"

Pam

Tour: 08/21/22

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

The tour covered quite a bit in a short time, but the pace was too much for me.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The sheepdogs, and the Scottish Highlands"

Margaret

Tour: 08/21/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Rick Steves tours never disappoint. This is my 6th. This tour was the perfect mix of sites, culture, cuisine, free time, first-time experiences, centrally-located accommodations, and great people. Everyone must experience the Scottish highlands and the beauty of each stop on this tour. The view from the top of Edinburgh Castle cannot be explained. Do it! Due to a rubbish haulers strike, no fault of the tour, Edinburgh was not looking its best, so we hope to return someday.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing Neil Ross and his working sheep dogs along with the sheep shearing demonstration at Leault Farm was one of my favorite “wow” experiences. The visits to St. Andrews Old Course and Holyrood Palace were favorites, but everything we saw was a “wow.” The best thing we did was not part of the tour, but if you are planning a trip to Scotland, you must go in August to see the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo!"

Mary E

Tour: 08/14/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

The tour guide, Helen was fantastic as was our driver, Jimmy. Both very professional, knowledgeable with great senses of humor. I had a wonderful time and they both added immense fun to our time on the bus. The lady in Edinburgh (Rita I believe) also gave a good tour and was very knowledgeable.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The tour was thoroughly enjoyable but the wow moment for me was the Royal Military Tattoo and I know that was not part of the tour but because I was on the tour I was able to see it. Scotland had a lot of wonderful sights and places of interest and I would never have seen as much on my own. The tour enabled one to make the most of our visit."

Peggy

Tour: 08/14/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Helen was very knowledgeable and so friendly. The hotels were great and the excursions were very interesting.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I loved watching the dogs herd the sheep. Amazing!!"

Bonna

Tour: 08/14/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Everything flowed well.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Military Tattoo Highly recommend you coordinate your visit to Scotland with the Military Tattoo at Edinburgh Castles. Those tickets must be obtained SEPARATELY and are NOT part of the tour. Any seat is great, but you will get a better overall view at least half way up."

Nancy

Tour: 08/14/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

We have a wonderful time on the tour. The itinerary allows us to see and experience places we wouldn't have done on our own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Although not included in the official tour activities, my wow moment was the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Within the tour, it would be the sheepherding demonstration."

Rebecca

Tour: 08/14/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Absolutely lovely.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The beauty of Pitlochry and the surrounding area"

John

Tour: 08/07/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The country was beautiful, the tour well-thought out, and our fellow travelers so generous with their conversation, time and knowledge - I learned something from all of them. I suspect they're the type that Rick Steves' tours attracts - as our guide noted, Rick Steves believes that we are not tourists, but travelers, and comported ourselves as such.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Tough to narrow - but it had to be the moment on the sunny side of the bus in the Highlands when I woke up, noted the continued beautiful countryside, hills, lakes, streams - all that water, then thought "Oh, yeah, just more stunningly beautiful scenery" and resumed my snooze..."

Susan

Tour: 08/07/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My Rick Steves' tour brought Scotland ALIVE! Such a beautiful country with so much history and contemporary culture could not have left such an impact on me without the RS once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Make sure you take the tour while the Royal Edinburgh Military Tatoo is happening in Edinburgh! And get tickets in advance."

William

Tour: 08/07/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Scotland is a beautiful and fascinating destination and our guide and driver were excellent. This would easily be a 5 star experience, but the added stress and anxiety of the covid surge was always present. Besides that, every place we went was beautiful and interesting. I would have enjoyed another distillery visit (or two!) but there was just not enough time to see and do everything. This tour definitely left me wanting to return to Scotland!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It had to be arriving in Edinburgh for the first time. It is such a beautiful and fascinating city, and the ever present dramatic view of the castle make the city even more magical!"

Sandy

Tour: 08/07/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Jeanie was a great guide - very informative and funny.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Military Tatoo."

Rebecca

Tour: 08/07/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I was very happy with the entire tour experience. All scheduled events and locations were wonderful.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"That is extremely hard to say. Perhaps it might be the introductory walking tour of Edinburgh."

Margaret

Tour: 07/31/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Awesome! Really needed name tags for the 1st meet & greet. At our farewell dinner we were all still trying to match names with photos. Still not sure who everyone is.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hard to say. My 1st international trip in 30 yrs. The scenery was a wow! The info (stories/ historical ref) from the tour guide marking an impact on what we were seeing was making special- better than seeing everything on my own."

Catherine

Tour: 07/31/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Great overall experience of Scotland

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Attending the Military Tattoo"

Susan

Tour: 07/31/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was exactly as described and expected. It was our first RSE tour and we're looking forward to the next one.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We loved the Royal Military Tattoo in Edinburgh, and also the beauty of Inverness and the countryside."

Jody

Tour: 07/31/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I the tour was great over all. I appreciated all the choices of places we visited and the information imparted by our guide along the way. If I had planed this trip on my own there is no way I could have done as many things as the tour provided.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The scenery was stunning and there were many great moments on the tour. However, my favorite moment was not part of the tour. While in Edinburgh we attended the Military Tattoo Festival (as per recommended in you Rick Steeves' guide book) and it was OUTSTANDING!"

Eileen

Tour: 07/24/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The Heart of Scotland tour was all I imagined and more. The cities/towns/countrysides we spent time in and/or passed through were charming, vibrant and a feast for the eyes. The people we met on tour were enthusiastic adventurers and fun travel companions. The locals we spoke to were lovely, kind and welcoming. I especially appreciated the variety of experiences afforded within the tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Though rainy and cool, I loved picturesque Urquhart Castle and when the sun came out at Cawdor Castle we enjoyed a lovely colorful stroll through the gardens."

Karen

Tour: 07/24/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Rick Steves Tours delivered another wonderful tour. Heart of Scotland-8 days left us wanting to see more of this beautiful country and it’s people.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Oh gosh….just one? Culloden moved me to tears. It is a sacred place where you can feel the living spirit and pride of the Scottish."

Peter

Tour: 07/24/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Very much enjoyed seeing Scotland from top to bottom. Felt like we saw a good cross section of the history, culture and landscape. Enjoyed the Highlands and the great sense of space and then the cities and towns with their exuberant timeless architecture.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The incredible built environment in all the villages and cities. Everything was built in timeless materials and has been preserved and continued to be used. There was such a strong sense of the people being committed to the land. Everything was neat and orderly."

Melinda

Tour: 07/24/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I loved that the tour combined historical attractions, cultural events with great storytelling from the guides and wonderful foods and spirits from around Scotland. It was also nice having a few free nights and afternoons for us to explore on our own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Discovering that I love Drambuie! I loved the history behind it with Prince Bonnie Charles as introduced to it after we did the battle of Culloden tour. I love trying new foods and drinks when I travel to other countries. I never would have experienced Drambuie had I not done this tour and we ended up buying a bottle in duty free to bring home!"

Darrell

Tour: 07/24/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Overall, I enjoyed all aspects of the tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"You always expect the castles, history, etc to be excellent so for me the sheepdog demonstration was one of those things most people wouldn't expect."

Anne

Tour: 07/24/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Charlie and Roos were wonderful, did their best to make sure all tour members needs were met and having a good time

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I really loved all the castles-Cawdor's gardens were beautiful, wish we had more time there"

Karen

Tour: 07/24/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Pleasant, but not our best

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Cooperage"

Vicky

Tour: 07/24/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our guides and driver, Charlie, Ross, and Jimmy, were fabulous. Charlie's bubbly and welcoming personality, Ross's engrossing storytelling, and Jimmy's "nerves of steel" made us feel comfortable and educated us about what we were seeing. They are all obviously very knowledgeable about their fields.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Coming into Loch Rannoch was definitely a "wow." The property looks striking as it sits on the hillside, and the setting is unbelievably beautiful. We would have loved to have additional time there to explore - and possibly a guided hike."

Laurie

Tour: 07/24/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I appreciate how the Rick Steves tours are managed. We were always on time, and meals were a pleasure. There was a good variety of scheduled things to see.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I very much enjoyed visiting the working cooperage, and learning about the workers environment."

Stephen

Tour: 07/24/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Excellent tour (our fourth). We enjoyed the itinerary, our tour group and our guides. Clearly exceeded our high expectations (again).

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Enjoyed whisky tasting at Dewar's distillery."

James

Tour: 07/24/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

8 day tour of Scotland provided a great look at the history, landscape and culture. We were able to see the beautiful scenery as well as immerse ourselves in the historic sites, villages and cites we visited. Tour guides provided valuable history lessons along the way.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Visit to the sheep farm and seeing sheep dogs bring in the herd. Very entertaining and a chance to see a way of life in the rural part of Scotland."

Robert

Tour: 07/24/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Wonderful tour. Great set of guides (Charlie and Ross). Scotland is beautiful.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Visiting St. Andrews."

Ann

Tour: 07/24/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I experienced a broad scope of sights and sounds beginning in Inverness where a ferry ride took us along the River Ness to Urquhart Castle where I became steeped in the mystique and fascination of the Scottish highlands, the homeland of my ancestors. The remains of stone fortresses interlaced with preserved castles with beautiful gardens, and the sweeping expanses of the green, rolling hills give me greater appreciation of the value of home and place in anchoring myself to my ancestors.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The crannogs on Loch Tay. The sophistication of the stone-age people to use tools to help them build and sustain homesteads, hunting and fishing stations, textiles, and places to socialize built out over the water is testimony to the ingenuity of human beings to work together for the safely and survival of the community."

Lani

Tour: 07/24/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was beautiful and interesting. There were a variety of activities and experiences, each one fulfilling.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I was very touched at the battle site if Culloden. I spent as much time as possible walking the field and reading the markers. There is a special spirit there."

Kevin

Tour: 07/17/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Well-organized and good pacing

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Cawdor Castle"

Karen

Tour: 07/17/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Tour was packed with interesting and often novel experiences.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Sheep dogs and craddocks."

Christian

Tour: 07/17/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This is Carol writing. Our party included my husband, Neil, and young adult son, Christian. We all loved the tour. Our tour guide, Robert, the accommodations, and the itinerary were wonderful. Loved our group as well — very nice group of folks. The diversity on the itinerary is a plus with Rick Steves, and we like whatever contact we can get with local hotels and restaurants, although I understand that is getting more difficult with the larger groups.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Although I am a history buff, both my husband and I loved Loch Rannoch Hotel and Estate and the sheepdog demonstration with the shepherd Neil. For my son, it was the sheep farm visit and Edinburgh, but he loved everything, too."

Shaun

Tour: 07/17/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Loch Rannach"

Rose-marie

Tour: 07/17/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

So enjoyable.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Too many to list"

Jennifer

Tour: 07/17/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first Rick Steves tour and I was thoroughly impressed! We had never done any company tours before because we prefer to plan everything ourselves and go at our own pace while traveling. We have always used the Rick Steves guidebooks when in Europe and thought for Scotland it would be much better logistically to do a group tour. The tour made everything so easy, all we had to do was show up and have fun seeing the sights! A lot easier than doing it ourselves.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite wow moment was our accommodations. All three hotels were perfectly located, nicely appointed, and very comfortable. Each hotel we would walk in and say “wow, this is so nice!”"

Wesley

Tour: 07/03/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking on The Olde Course before start of 150th Open."

William

Tour: 07/03/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was our first Rick Steves tour and we really enjoyed it. It was so nice to have everything planned for us and our guide was outstanding.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Visiting the Old course at St Andrews!!!"

Kelly

Tour: 07/03/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

People on the tour were nice. The guide was excellent. Hotels great. Very organized! Meals were great. And it was fun!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"People on the tour were nice. The guide was excellent. Hotels great. Very organized! Meals were great. And it was fun! My favorite wild moment was the shepherd and his dogs. Also walking to Saint Andrews course"

Karen

Tour: 07/03/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"All of Dingle"

Michele

Tour: 07/03/22

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

We have been on several Rick Steves’ tours and once again, our guide Anne was excellent, knowledgeable, and cared for the wellbeing of the tour group. She worked hard to make the tour well-paced and interesting at each location and was very helpful assisting tour members with various air or rail travel delays. The tour includes an afternoon stop at St. Andrews but I would have preferred one overnight stay in St. Andrews and only 2 nights in Edinburgh.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our tour took us to St. Andrews the week before The Open Championship and being able to walk on the Old Course in St. Andrews was a highlight. I also thought the trip to Culloden battlefield was very moving and well done."

Bruce

Tour: 07/03/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Enjoyed the itinerary and the guide was great! Knowledgeable and enthusiastic.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing the sheep dogs working was amazing. Also really enjoyed Urquhart Castle"

Lee

Tour: 07/03/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Our tour was good and we had great weather. We packed too many warm clothes. Many travelers, including us, had problems with flights being canceled. We had to change to an 8 hour train ride from our original plane trip that was canceled. We lost many folks due to Rick Steves covid policies. Our hotels were good, and our guide was good. We enjoyed our down time to explore on our own

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Favorites on the tour included St Andrews golf course where we could walk the course the week before the open, the shepard and his dogs, the cooperage, and all of Edinburg"

Geoffrey

Tour: 06/26/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

The tour was overall very amazing. It had been a 'bucket list' item for my brother and I, and given constraints and the last two years, it made the anticipation all the more satisfying. Anne was a gem of a guide, and the group was pleasant to be along for the ride with.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The 'wow' moments for me were the quiet ones. Overlooking Loch Rannoch during dusk, quietly perusing the museums and such in Edinburgh castle. Walking along the riverfront in Inverness. I can see why my Scottish ancestors settled in Appalachia when they came to America. They look very much alike (which is unsurprising, as the Appalachians and Scottish Highlands are the same range!"

Gregory

Tour: 06/26/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Very good. Contracted Covid while in Scotland. Guide was professional and helpful.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"A good ramen restaurant off a side street in Edinburgh."

Dionn

Tour: 06/26/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Knowledge guide, unique hotels, fabulous sites

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Colladen battle field"

Landon

Tour: 06/19/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was great.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"the sheepdog/sheep farm experience"

Bernadine

Tour: 06/19/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great intro to Scotland with an excellent guide, Liz Lister & bus driver! The beauty & tranquility of Perthshire was a nice surprise. Would highly recommend this tour to first time visitors to Scotland.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The beauty of the countryside!"

Debbie

Tour: 06/19/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

We had a great time touring Scotland. Our tour guide, Liz, was very informative and we enjoyed her music during the drives. Seeing the Speyside Cooperage tour and the sheep dog demonstration were great surprise parts. Seeing Urquhart and Cawdor castles was a good amount for this tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Cawdor castle tour with the afternoon tea and the gardens were very nice."

Alan

Tour: 06/19/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Tour enabled a satisfying, informative, enjoyable one-of-a kind Scotland experience, in both cities & in rural areas. Saw a lot, learned a lot

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Leault working sheep dogs marveled. Got to shear a sheep, hold a puppy. Talent of herder and of dogs amazed"

Robert

Tour: 06/19/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was fantastic and fully met all of my expectations. A great itinerary which allowed enough time and flexibility to further explore the history and culture of Scotland on your own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The magical beauty of the countryside was stunning and was filled with many glens, locks, and rivers around each turn in the road. My photographs did not capture this magical beauty. You have to be there to experience the lush greenery, colorful flowers, and water in the landscape. Amazing!!"

Andrea

Tour: 06/19/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Liz did an excellent job at navigating the challenges imposed by COVID during this tour. The itinerary was perfect and activities were exactly what I was expecting. Our bus driver, Jim, was the man! He was the nicest bus driver, and a highly skilled driver.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"St. Andrews - especially walking across the Old Course on the eve of the 150th Open."

John

Tour: 06/19/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had a fantastic time on the tour and had a lovely, informative guide. The organization and confidence of the tour guide was a major plus.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The sheepdog experience. It was so fun and would have been unlikely for us to find if we are traveling on our own."

Leanora

Tour: 06/12/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

As with the previous 2 RS tours I've done, this one absolutely delivered! Although I definitely still think the 8 day tours need more down time, I also appreciate that we were able to pack so much in to such a short time. I also appreciated the guardrails in place around Covid-19, and that our guide made sure we all followed the protocols so everyone could feel safe.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It's really hard to choose just one amazing moment, but I'm a city girl so probably just walking around Edinburgh on the orientation walk was one of my top moments. I also really loved the spectacular gardens at Cawdor castle, and the sheep farm was really interesting and fun."

Mary S

Tour: 06/12/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Our guide, Charlie, was awesome; so kind and helpful and enthusiastic! The coach driver, Jimmy, was also very helpful and courteous. The biggest drawback was lack of time. I felt rushed, no time to relax between events; although, I realize this enabled us to see more and do more.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Amid many delightful moments, I think the sheep farm was the best event. I loved seeing the dogs perform and hearing about life on a sheep farm and getting to feed lambs and hold puppies was wonderful. Thank you!"

Peter

Tour: 06/12/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Fun relaxing informative

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Visit to the sheep Farm"

Carole

Tour: 06/12/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our tour guide and bus driver were great. The tour included a nice variety of experiences and all the hotels and meals were acceptable. We enjoyed the the other members of our group and the Covid safety protocols were kindly enforced. This was my first tour and it was a wonderful experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I don’t have one favorite “ wow” moment. We saw lots of natural beauty in the hills and lochs of Scotland and the people we met really made it special: Neal Ross and Gilly the bag piper come to mind. Learning about Scotland’s history through the sites we visited was also meaningful."

Charles

Tour: 06/05/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

great itinerary, very knowledgeable guide, flexible itinerary given the Covid challenges. Scotland was interesting and beautiful and the Scottish people were very friendly.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Cruising across Loch Ness and then wandering the Urquhart ruins, imagining folks who had lived there in that beautiful setting. Also, our evening with the woman bagpiper who was quite amazing."

Elizabeth

Tour: 06/05/22

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

Overall, the trip itinerary was good and the tour guide and coach driver were excellent; however, I tested positive for Covid near the end of the tour and could not participate in the final 3 days of activities. I believe certain members of our group did not take Covid precautions seriously and were responsible for the spread within our group.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I can't pinpoint one "wow" moment. Scotland was beautiful and the itinerary offered the opportunity to see different regions and lifestyles in the country. Unfortunately, my experience was marred by testing positive for Covid."

Catherine

Tour: 06/05/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I thought the overall experience was great.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Cooperage and the sheep hearding"

Barbara

Tour: 06/05/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Each stop on the tour was a sight that I wanted to see. Anne our tour guide was very knowledgeable and personable. Jimmy our driver was exceptional.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Lock Ness, Hermitage Walk, Edinburgh castle, Holyrood Palace, St. Andrews and our side trip to Falkland."

Darryl

Tour: 06/05/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had a wonderful experience from the beginning to the end of the tour. We really enjoyed hearing about the history from our wonderful guide Ann and of course seeing the historical sites throughout the tour. We also enjoyed getting to know the culture through our Sheep Dog experience, the dinners and the pubs. Our bus driver, Jimmy was an excellent driver through the cities and the very narrow road of our tour. We will plan to join another Rick Steves Tour in the future.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The beauty of the Scottish country side stands out and the skill of the Sheep Dogs and the Shepherd."

William

Tour: 06/05/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

The tour exceeded my expectations in everyway. Our tour guide Ann, was knowledgeable, friendly, always available and she told stories and backgrounds of Scottish culture for the entire trip. Our driver Jimmy, was super friendly, safe and totally professional. There were zero disappointments on the tour other than losing several guests to Covid infection.The "wow

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The "wow moment" was during our boat ride on Loch Ness, when Nessie swam by the boat, about 100 yards to our starboard side. I posted the photo of her on Facebook. Almost everyone on the tour saw her."

Bryan

Tour: 06/05/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We thoroughly enjoyed our tour experience in Scotland. Anne, our guide, Jimmy our driver, and Sheila, our tour guide in Edinburgh, were all professional, fun, and knowledgeable. They made seeing the beautiful scenery and sights in Scotland all that much more special. The tour ran smoothly, even considering the COVID constraints and issues.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The participation factor at the sheep farm was a lot of fun. We got to shear sheep (if we wanted), hold the sheep dog puppies, feed some lambs, and really see how the sheep herding was done by the dogs, which was spectacular. One of the new pups even got his first go at herding."

Michael

Tour: 06/05/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Well organized and a lot of fun. Made some new friends and Ann (Our Guide) was everything and more!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"How sweet and friendly the people are."

Deborah

Tour: 06/05/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Inclusive, informative, well arranged, the experience as a whole was positive, with the right amount of group and on-our-own exploration time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking through the castle on the rocky mount in Edinburgh and endeavoring to imagine it’s inhabitants and evolution over 2000 years."

Nicole

Tour: 05/29/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The entire experience was wonderful, and Lolly and Jimmy were AMAZING!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were wow moments every day. My son really liked the sheep hearding."

Clarence

Tour: 05/08/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Overall, I thought the tour was fantastic - it far exceeded my expectations! The common factor that made it so great was our tour guide, Charlie Rawson. Charlie was extremely prepared every day with facts about what we were seeing and doing each day as well as the historical context about the locations we were visiting. Even more important, Charlie's positive attitude about everything was infectious. Also, the amount of traveling versus "seeing" was excellent. Not too much bus time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I have a tie for favorite between the visit to the Cooperage and the sheep dog demonstration. I was totally surprised by the manual labor involved in making/repairing the casks, and thought it was amazing how few individuals were involved in the number of casks that go through that facility each day. Both the shepherd and the dogs were amazing! A close second (or third) was Holyrood."

Dennis

Tour: 05/08/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Being my first tour I really have no comparison, everything was top shelf in my opinion. Charlie and Jimmy were outstanding and just added to much to the experience

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The "pre-historic site and the enthuisasm of the members of the crew. They truly lived the life"

Allison

Tour: 05/08/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It exceeded my expectations, was very educational, relaxing and fun!!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing the Edinburgh Castle from the street was a WOW, and I enjoyed looking at it from every angle."

Scott

Tour: 05/01/22

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

Enjoyed our first tour with others. We had used the Rick Steve's books in the early nineties to tour Europe. Tour was a bit overloaded with venues on a few of the days. As a first timer, we needed some down days or days with less hectic pace. Our next tour may be just one city to help with this issue. So, in a nutshell, less long days in the bus, and more extended visits to the cool cities. Skip the out of the way stopovers like Lock Rannoch.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Scotland in general was a "Wow" for me. Edinburgh was truly way above my expectations. The castle, city, architecture, history, etc. really blew me away. We also did a few add on days in Glasgow, which was also quite impressive."

James

Tour: 05/01/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Good combination of city and rural. Food was always good, sometimes a bit too much. It was a good balance from historical sites, The Crannog Center and Culloden, castles, excellent.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Gardens at Cawdor Castle, and The Hermitage and Scottish Parliment."

Jean

Tour: 05/01/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was a wonderful introduction to many aspects of Scotland, including its history, its current social and political situation, the city of Edinburgh, and some of the rural parts of the Highlands.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hearing the lecture in the Scottish Parliament Building in Edinburgh, learning about the amazingly complex current political and legal relationship between Scotland and England."

Timothy

Tour: 05/01/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Highlands, St Andrews & Edinburg were outstanding

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Edinburg Castle"

Donald

Tour: 05/01/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I enjoyed the tour very much. My fellow travelers were very nice and quite interesting; I enjoyed touring with them. Robert, our tour guide, was very helpful and knowledgeable.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It was a very unexpected moment. Visiting Neil and his sheepdogs herding the sheep and meeting his wife, Gwen and their little daughter Allyson, was a real treat. It's amazing what Neil can do with his dogs and the sheep. And what a beautiful setting!"

Alan

Tour: 05/01/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Most enjoyable. Great guide and very amiable group of fellow travelers.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing a parade of marching bagpipers down the Royal Mile in Edinburgh"

Debra

Tour: 05/01/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Robert is a well informed guide who has the gravitas of an experience tour leader, doesn’t chatter why t you only brings to your attention significant historical insights.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The smaller towns and countryside of Scotland: sheep herding, the guide who walked u through Edinburgh"

Jolene

Tour: 04/24/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our guide was so amazing. She was always there to help and answer questions.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Sailing up to Urghaurt Castle on Loch Ness. The Hermitage waterfalls."

Steve

Tour: 04/24/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Liz was the best possible guide. Not only knowledgeable she cared about the traveller's. She introduced us yo her personal friends at many of the places we visited.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The view of Edinburg Castle from the hotel."

Jackie

Tour: 04/24/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was fun, educational, and well organized.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Exploring Dunkeld and the Hermitage. The waterfall was amazing!"

Joseph

Tour: 04/24/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

As always, an excellent Rick Steves tour! Well organized, well planned and well executed!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Cawdor Castle Gardens. View from Edinburgh Castle. Culloden battlefield. Bridge at St. Andrews 18th hole."

Rita

Tour: 04/24/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Liz our guide added interesting tidbits everywhere we went. Took care of special requests and helped with some medical situations.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Shepard at the sheep ranch. Jacobite stories second"

Kristina

Tour: 04/24/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Incredible. While I had heard great things about Rick Steves tours from trusted friends, it still far surpassed my hopes. Our tour guide, Liz Lister, and our bus driver were extraordinary. The agenda was filled with happy surprises, the accommodations were great. The meals were great.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Every day was filled with "wow" moments, so I had to think about this. The crannog visit was filled with wonder, particularly the musicians and the museum (the fabric artifacts - wow!). But I think my biggest "wow" was our stay at Loch Rannoch. We drove up and the staff was waiting outside for us. The service was impeccable and the location breathtaking. It was peaceful and beautiful. For a moment (until I remembered my obligations at home), I considered purchasing one of the condos for sale."

Gail

Tour: 04/24/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our guide, Liz, made our tour both fun and educational. We felt comfortable and safe while touring parts of Scotland that we would not have been able to visit on our own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I was surprised by that quality of the hotels and meals, especially the Loch Rannoch Resort. Our room had a view of the Loch!"

Lynne

Tour: 04/24/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I was really pleased with everything. Elizabeth Lister was an outstanding guide - so knowledgeable, fun responsive and perceptive. She knew when we needed a lift, how to work with a large group and lead with so much gusto. Our group was a wonderful mix of experienced travelers who were pleasant partners on the trip. The choices of activities, the places we stayed and the food were all memorable and wonderful. I wish I was there now.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many but I'll mention two - the sheep farm with the dog demonstration will always be my favorite memory, with the stay at Loch Rannoch and the bagpiper as a close second."

Valerie

Tour: 04/24/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Everything was great. Our guide, Liz, was fantastic. The sights, the amenities, the food - all was outstanding.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The sheepdog farm experience. Meeting and talking to the couple who ran the farm and learning about the sheep and herding dogs, was a wonderful experience. It was amazing to watch them in action, and getting to hold the lambs and pups was an added bonus. This is something unique to a RS tour since I would have never had the chance to do this if I were traveling on my own. LOVED this experience!"

Lucy

Tour: 04/24/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Excellent overview of Scottish history and culture with a wonderful guide and great group of fellow travelers. Elizabeth Lister did an outstanding job, managing to keep everyone happy and keeping the tour on track while juggling last minute changes and demands that arose due to the pandemic and due also to this being the first time this particular tour to Scotland was offered.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Many wow moments: a snare drummer riffing and improvising on a Scottish tune (reel? jig?) with incredible virtuosity, accompanied by an accordion player; the visit to the sheep herder's farm and holding a lamb while learning the herder has individual whistle commands for all his (20+) dogs and seeing a sheep outrun one of the dogs! -; seeing Urqhart Castle reflected in the Loch Ness on a misty day as we took the boat there; being moved to tears at Culloden battlefield."

When To Go & Weather

Any time between April and October is a good time to visit Scotland. However, the months of April, May, September, and October are best for combining the convenience of peak season with generally good weather and lighter crowds. While Scotland never quite feels crowded, July and August are considered peak season, with long days and the best weather (though never guaranteed).

Scotland / Edinburgh

Hotels & Flights

Tour Hotels

In case you wish to book pre- or post-tour hotel accommodations, the contact information for the tour's first and last hotels is included in your tour confirmation email as well as in the Itinerary section of your tour account. One month prior to the tour departure, you'll find the directions to your first tour hotel and a complete list of hotels where we'll be staying while on tour in the Documents section of your tour account.

Please note: There are no triple rooms available on this tour.

Flights

Our tours don't include airfare, so your flight arrangements and transfers are completely up to you.

Most tour members arrange to fly into Inverness (INV) and out of Edinburgh (EDI), or fly into Edinburgh and take a train to Inverness.

We suggest arriving a day or two before your tour begins to allow ample time to get over jet lag and be well-rested for the first few days of your tour. For more information about transportation options for getting to and from your tour, see your Rick Steves Scotland guidebook.