Slideshow: Best of Scotland, Day by Day

  • Rick Steves' Best of Scotland in 13 Days Tour, Day by Day

    On our Best of Scotland tour, along mossy mountains, windswept isles, mysterious lochs, and heathered glens, you'll discover a land and culture that are strongly persistent…and persistently lovable. Starting in underrated Glasgow and ending in royal Edinburgh, you'll wander over the monastic Isle of Iona; explore the rugged Highlands; ponder lochs Ness, Lomond, and Tay; try a wee dram at a whisky distillery; shake paws with a sheepdog; study the fairways at St. Andrews; and time-travel about the castles of Edinburgh, Stirling, and Urquhart. Let's go…

  • Days 1: Welcome to Scotland

    We'll meet at our hotel in Glasgow for a "Welcome to Scotland" get-together. Then we'll take an orientation walk through our neighborhood and get introduced to Glasgow's metro system, before getting acquainted over dinner together.

  • scotland-glasgow-graffiti

    Day 2: Cosmopolitan Glasgow

    Today our local guide will take us on a walking tour of Scotland's often-overlooked largest city. Famous for its architecture, Glasgow boasts Victorian facades, bold new construction, and beloved works by hometown visionary Charles Rennie Mackintosh — who gave Art Nouveau a Scottish burr. Along the way, we'll learn about the city's history and contemporary life, with stops at Glasgow Cathedral, bustling George Square, and thriving Merchant City. This afternoon you're free to explore Glasgow's world-class museums and the leafy parks of the West End. Tonight, find a local pub and enjoy some live music — trad or mod — in Scotland's music capital.

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    Day 3: Stirling Castle

    We'll begin our day with a visit to the famous castle of the Stuart kings, Stirling, with its commanding views and royal apartments. After lunch we'll drive along the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond on our way to the scenic coastal town of Oban, the "Gateway to the Isles." After an orientation along Oban's scenic waterfront, dinner can be easily found in Scotland's seafood capital.

  • scotland-iona-stone-house

    Day 4: Inspiring Isle of Iona

    Today is for Scottish island-hopping: We'll ride a ferry and board a local bus for an entertaining trip across the island of Mull to the windswept Isle of Iona, the birthplace of Christianity in Scotland. We'll visit the 800-year-old abbey where monks created the remarkable Book of Kells — a rare bright spot in Europe's 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

  • Day 5: Seaside Oban

    Take a vacation from your vacation. Today is yours to hike up to McCaig's Tower for a sweeping harbor view, visit the ruined Dunollie Castle and its museum, take an excursion to Staffa to see the famed puffins, or just sit seaside and watch the sun set over the islands. However you spend your day, Oban is the perfect place to relax and drink in the best of the Scottish seaside.

  • Glencoe, Scotland

    Day 6: Into the Highlands

    This morning we'll head north into the rugged Highlands, stopping at the "weeping glen" of Glencoe — the hauntingly beautiful site of Scotland's most infamous massacre (Campbells and MacDonalds, leave your daggers on the bus). We'll continue through fabled scenery, where we'll visit the evocative ruins of Urquhart Castle. After exploring its stony towers and expansive lake view, we'll take a panoramic cruise of Loch Ness (monster sightings not guaranteed). Then it's onto the capital of the Highlands, Inverness, where we'll take an orientation walk along the River Ness. Tonight is a great opportunity to enjoy some traditional music in one of Inverness' many fun-loving pubs.

  • Re-enactor in Redcoat uniform, Culloden Battlefield, near Inverness, Scotland

    Day 7: Battle of Culloden

    Today we'll tour the powerful Culloden Battlefield — the "Scottish Alamo," where Bonnie Prince Charlie's defeat in 1746 marked the beginning of the end of the Highland clan system. The remainder of the day is yours to explore Inverness' pedestrian-friendly downtown or stroll the lovely parks and promenades along the banks of the River Ness. Following an afternoon on your own, we'll share dinner together.

  • Whisky tasting, Edinburgh, Scotland

    Day 8: Speyside and the Cairngorms

    Today we'll drive through Speyside, famous for producing Scotland's favorite drink: whisky, of course. We'll tour a whisky distillery to sample a wee dram and get the inside story on this iconic Scottish industry. After a quintessential Scottish lunch together, we'll visit Rothiemurchus, a Highland estate at the heart of Cairngorms National Park with one of the largest areas of natural forest in Britain. With a ranger as our guide, we'll learn of land and animal conservation efforts, including "hairy coos" (shaggy Highland cattle) and red deer.

  • Day 9: Sheepdogs and Whisky

    We'll begin our day at a working sheep farm, where we'll watch talented sheepdogs in action and learn about Scotland's wool industry. After free time for lunch, your guide will take you to their favorite stop along what's known as the spine of Scotland. This evening, we'll enjoy dinner together and meet a Scottish bagpiper for some music and a lesson on this unusual instrument's history.

  • A crannog near Kenmore, Scotland

    Day 10: Prehistoric Crannogs

    This morning we're off to the picturesque village of Dunkeld on the River Tay, where we'll tour the town and its medieval cathedral with a local guide. After some free time to poke around town, we're off to 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. We'll regroup this evening for dinner together.

  • Cathedral ruins, St. Andrews, Scotland

    Day 11: St. Andrews

    We'll begin today with a visit 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 into Edinburgh. After settling into our hotel, we'll take an orientation walk of Georgian Edinburgh, before setting you free for dinner on your own.

  • scotland-edinburgh-royal-mile-sign

    Day 12: Conquering Edinburgh

    Today we'll wind our way through the Gothic streets of Edinburgh's old town, seeing the best of the city on foot. Our walking tour will take us 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 (entry ticket provided) 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, we'll share memories of Scotland and toast new friends at our final dinner together. Slàinte!

  • Day 13: 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. Turas math dhut! (Happy travels!)

    Ready to go? We still have seats available on our 2024 Best of Scotland in 13 Days tour.