You'll get all this!
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!
- 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
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 Highlands 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 British. 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 day is yours to explore Inverness or stroll along the banks of the river. 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 for 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.
Rick Steves tours are physically active!
This is an integral, 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...
- 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.
- Be on your feet, walking and standing for up to three hours, indoors and outdoors, in all weather conditions.
- Sleep with street noise and no (or weak) air conditioning.
- After orientation and transportation lessons, be able to navigate towns and cities on your own.
- Walk up steep hills in Edinburgh and at Urquhart Castle.
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
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.
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. Many budget airlines serve Edinburgh. Both London and Dublin are about a $100, one-hour flight away. For current deals, see www.cheapflights.co.uk. (Note: prices are shown in pounds; multiply by 1.6 to convert to US dollars.) Also ask your travel agent or check Rick's list of European budget airlines. For links to helpful rail and air websites, go to www.ricksteves.com/plan/links and look under "Transportation."
Read Rick's Guide to Eurail Passes and decide if your travel plans merit a rail pass (or contact our Rail Department for advice at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425/771-8303 ext. 214). Britain has some of the highest per-mile ticket prices in Europe; advance-purchase, US-only rail pass deals can help keep your costs down.
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 email@example.com.
See a chart with monthly rain and temperature information for this tour.
For ideas on what to pack, check Rick's Packing List and our Women's Packing List.
Tour Guide Raves
Martin de Lewandowicz
"Martin was wonderful. He was a font of information, from the geology of the land to its history and culture, and even current events. He always had recommendations for what to do and where to eat in our free time. He was easy to understand and full of stories. He made us laugh, kept us on track, and was helpful and upbeat at all times."
— Karin in Warminster, PA
"Our tour guide, Anne, was the best!!! Her leadership skills, diplomacy, and knowledge of the history and art of Scotland and its place in the world, was phenomenal. I would like to go back to Scotland to see so much that we didn't have time for, but would only do it if Anne was the tour guide."
— Donna in Sellersburg, IN
Favorite tour memories from recent alums:
"Being a sports writer, I was particularly 'wow-icized' at St. Andrews when I stood on one highway and saw the beach where 'Chariots of Fire' scenes were filmed, then turned around and saw the royal and ancient golf club. In reality, this trip was one long highlight reel — castles, cathedrals, history, great stories, music, the sheep dogs. Everything was excellent, and we found ourselves saying 'wow!' every day."
— Robert in Villa Park, IL
"There was one 'wow' after another. Wow, wow, wow...if I had to pick a very favorite memory, it might well be the Isle of Iona because of the antiquity, the peace of the place, and the deep roots in Christianity there which still speak profoundly."
— Vicki in Enterprise, OR
"My favorite place that we visited was the working sheep ranch and the Border Collie working dogs...amazing and a great treat!"
— Bonnie in Brookfield, WI
To see more comments on Rick Steves' tours, read through our tour member reviews.
Videos & More
This region is rich in history, art and culture. To help you get the most from your trip, we've put together this collection of travel resources from Rick's TV shows, radio interviews and articles, as well as recommended books, films and music.
Rick Steves' TV Clips & Shows
(For more Rick Steves' TV clips on this region, visit Rick on YouTube.)
- Brigadoon (1954)
- The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969)
- Braveheart (1995)
- Rob Roy (1995)
- Monarch of the Glen (TV series)
Rick Steves' Radio Interviews
(For more radio interviews on this region, see Rick's Audio Europe™ files for iPod, PC & MP3.)
Rick Steves' Audio Europe™
- Scottish Traditional: Alasdair Fraser, Harry Lauder, Boys of the Lough, Battlefield Band
- Pop/rock: Bay City Rollers, Al Stewart, Susan Boyle
Rick Steves' Articles
(For more articles on this region, see Rick's Best Destinations.)
- Rick Steves' Great Britain
- Rick Steves' Snapshot: Scotland
- A History of Britain (3 volumes) — Simon Schama (also available on DVD)
- Traveller's History of Scotland — Andrew Fisher
- The Edinburgh Literary Companion — Andrew Lownie
- How the Scots Invented the Modern World — Arthur Herman
- The Guynd: A Scottish Journal — Belinda Rathbone
- Kidnapped — Robert Louis Stevenson
- The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie — Muriel Spark
- Knots and Crosses — Ian Rankin
- Death of a Gossip — M. C. Beaton
- Outlander series — Diana Gabaldon