Cairngorms

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Cairngorms: Our most recommended tours and activities

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

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

Depart Edinburgh on an air-conditioned luxury coach (max 34 seats). Pass Stirling Castle and hear your tour guide tell tales of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce and the bloody battles fought out on these lands. First, arrive at Callander town, nestled at the foot of the Trossachs. Next, drive through Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. Your Scottish guide will tell you about Rob Roy MacGregor, the infamous Highlander. Follow in the footsteps of James Bond ("Skyfall") and Harry Potter ("Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban") as you travel to the stunning Highland valley of Glencoe. Hear the eerie story of the Clan MacDonald massacre of 1692. Travel through Fort William, home to Ben Nevis, which at 4,409 feet is the highest mountain of the British Isles. Arrive on the south bank of Loch Ness in the charming village of Fort Augustus, where lots of cafes, shops, and restaurants offer a relaxing lunch. Stroll along the banks of the Caledonian Canal, then experience Loch Ness on an optional 1-hour boat cruise. Try to catch a glimpse of "Nessie," the legendary Loch Ness Monster. Admire the impressive Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge with views of the Nevis Range. Enter the Cairngorms National Park and discover "Monarch of the Glen" country. Drive along Loch Laggan before the roads climb above the Grampian Mountains. Travel over the Pass of Drumochter, linking the northern and southern Central Highlands. Experience the majesty of a mountain pass created by glacial activity during successive Ice Ages. Finally, stop briefly in the beautiful Victorian town of Pitlochry before heading back to Edinburgh city center, arriving at approximately 8:30 PM.

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

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

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

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Loch Ness, Glencoe & Highlands Small-Group Tour from Glasgow

3. Loch Ness, Glencoe & Highlands Small-Group Tour from Glasgow

Depart Glasgow at 8:00 and travel north towards the Highlands along the “bonnie, bonnie” banks of Loch Lomond. Crossing the ancient natural fault line that runs across Scotland you travel into the majestic Highlands where the scenery changes quickly and dramatically – the flat fertile plains of the Lowlands give way to shimmering lochs, rugged mountain tops and forest-filled glens. Traveling north through Breadalbane, meaning the 'High Country of Scotland,' you climb towards the wild desolation of Rannoch Moor and down into Scotland's most famous valley, Glencoe. Glencoe is infamous as the site of the Glencoe massacre in 1692. Beyond Glencoe you will enter the Great Glen, a deep glacial valley which follows a geological fault line. Passing through the town of Fort William you drive under Britain's highest mountain, Ben Nevis, before arriving at Fort Augustus on the southern shore of Loch Ness. Of course, the loch is best known for the legendary sightings of the Loch Ness Monster, Nessie. Fort Augustus is a pretty little town in its own right, the Caledonian Canal which links the lochs of the Great Glen dominates the town and makes for a great place to relax and watch the boats sail by. You will stop here for lunch before travelling north the full length of the loch with opportunities to see the ancient stronghold of Urquhart Castle while taking a 5-Star Jacobite boat cruise on the loch. From Loch Ness you continue north through Inverness before traveling south through the mountains of the Cairngorms National Park. Your route takes you over the Drumochter Pass, 1500 feet above sea level, and past the 13th century Blair Castle, the ancestral home of the Duke of Atholl. Your next stop is the Highland resort town of Pitlochry, built on Victorian tourism and nestled amongst the mountains of Highland Perthshire. Transportation by top of the range Mercedes minicoaches for a more personal service.

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Isle of Skye, Loch Ness & The Highlands 5-Day Tour

4. Isle of Skye, Loch Ness & The Highlands 5-Day Tour

Day One: Head north to Stirling and the towering Wallace Monument, with stunning views of the Castle. Enter the Highlands heading through wild Rannoch Moor and Glencoe and on to the fishing port of Oban, where you'll stay overnight. Day Two: Take the steam train from Fort William, crossing the viaduct featured in the Harry Potter movies, where a monument to Bonnie Prince Charlie’s campaign now stands. You'll take the ferry to Skye where you can explore the Clan Donald Skye, former home of the MacDonalds, before driving north to your overnight destination. Then stay overnight in the Isle of Skye. Day Three: Explore more of the mysterious island that's full of awe-inspiring mountains, myths and legends before returning to the mainland to view Eilean Donan Castle and wind your way along the Great Glen to infamous Loch Ness. Stay overnight in Inverness. Day Four: Hunt for the elusive monster with a cruise on Loch Ness before turning northward and the stunning beauty of the north west Highlands. Take in the beautiful town of Beauly with its Priory dating back to 1230, then visit the rugged and isolated mountains that secure Scotland's place as one of the last great wilderness in Europe. Stay overnight in Inverness. Day Five: Explore Culloden Battlefield on Drumossie Moor, scene of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s defeat back in 1746. Then head onward to Aviemore in the Cairngorms National Park, south to Pitlochry, and take the chance to visit a whisky distillery before your return to Edinburgh. 

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Isle of Skye and Highlands: 3-Day Guided Tour from Edinburgh

5. Isle of Skye and Highlands: 3-Day Guided Tour from Edinburgh

Tour the Scottish Highlands and explore the Isle of Skye on a 3-day guided tour from Edinburgh. You’ll see castles, craggy mountains, picturesque towns, and maybe even a monster on this excursion. Stay overnight in B&B accommodation. Detailed Itinerary Day 1: A Spectacular Route North On the way to Skye your route takes you past beautiful Stirling Castle, across the brooding expanse of Rannoch Moor, and through Glen Coe. As you near the coast, you’ll see Eilean Donan Castle (optional tour available), which was featured in the film Highlander. Overnight stay in Inverness. Day 2: A Full Day on Skye You'll have the full day to explore the Isle of Skye. If you like, you can take it nice and easy but still see all the sights. Highlights include the the craggy Cuillin Mountains, the dramatic hills of the Quiraing, and stunning Trotternish Peninsula. You might see seals out in the waves as you walk along the coast, or a stag standing on a hillside. Return to Inverness for your overnight stay. Day 3: Monster Spotting on Loch Ness Drive along the banks of Loch Ness where you can take a boat tour to Urquhart Castle or do a bit of monster hunting from the shore. As you head back to Edinburgh, your route will take you through Inverness, the Cairngorms, and Pitlochry. At the Culloden battlefield, the site of the defeat of the Jacobites, there is the option of taking a tour. Continue on through the stunning Cairngorm Mountains and stop to explore the picturesque town of Pitlochry.

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Loch Ness & The Highlands Small Group Tour from Edinburgh

6. Loch Ness & The Highlands Small Group Tour from Edinburgh

Escape the bustle of Edinburgh and take a full-day sightseeing tour of Scotland’s magnificent Highlands. Traveling in a small group in a 16-seat Mercedes minibus, you will get a more intimate experience as you visit Loch Ness, Glencoe Valley, and Rannoch Moor. Drive past Linlithgow Palace, birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots, and continue to Stirling Castle, and the National Wallace Monument, commemorating Scotland's hero William Wallace. Stop for a coffee at Callander, before crossing the Highland boundary fault line. Learn about the fiercely territorial Highland clans, such as the MacGregors, and the famous folk hero, Rob Roy MacGregor. Continue north through Breadalbane, and climb towards the wild desolation of Rannoch Moor’s heather and peat bogs, dotted with dozens of lochs. Pass the majestic peak of Buachaille Etive Mor, and down into Glencoe Valley. You will drive under Britain's highest mountain, Ben Nevis, before arriving at Fort Augustus on the southern shore of Loch Ness. The largest loch by volume in Scotland, containing more water than every lake in England and Wales combined. Look out for the legendary Loch Ness Monster on an optional boat cruise, or simply enjoy the beautiful scenery during the 2-hour stop, with time for lunch. Then, head south through the mountains of the Cairngorms National Park. Pass Loch Laggan, over the Drumochter Pass, and within sight of the 13th-Century Blair Castle. After passing through the forests of Perthshire, you will reach Perth, the medieval capital of Scotland. Continue over the famous Forth Bridge, returning to Edinburgh at approximately 20:00.

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From Edinburgh: Speyside Whisky Trail 3-Day Small Group Tour

7. From Edinburgh: Speyside Whisky Trail 3-Day Small Group Tour

A warm welcome awaits you in Speyside, home to more than half of Scotland's malt whiskey distilleries. You’ll have a chance to sample the whiskey and enjoy the magnificent scenery of Cairngorm, Speyside and Royal Deeside. Day 1: Head north through the Kingdom of Fife to Lindores Abbey Distillery. This modern Scottish distillery is built on the site of the first-ever recorded distillery in the country. After lunch in Pitlochry, sample the delights of Scotland's highest distillery at Dalwhinnie, near the source of the River Spey. Once you’ve warmed with this dram of “the gentle spirit”, continue through the Cairngorms National Park before reaching Grantown on Spey - your base for 2 nights. Day 2: Enjoy a whole day exploring Scotland’s most famous whiskey region. After a scenic drive towards the coast, make your first stop of the day at the family-owned Benromach Distillery. Travel back up the Spey River to Craigellachie for a visit to the Speyside Cooperage*, where you see another aspect of the whiskey-making process. After lunch in nearby Aberlour, visit Cardhu Distillery, which is the first distillery pioneered by a woman, Helen Cumming. Today, Cardhu is the most important whisky in Johnnie Walker Black Label. From here, travel back to Grantown on Spey. *Speyside Cooperage is only visited on Monday and Wednesday departures. Day 3: In the morning visit Glenlivet, which is both a distillery and a beautiful glen with serene walks and wonderful wildlife. Then, enjoy the majesty of Royal Deeside. Pass by Balmoral Castle, and stop in the village of Braemar in the heart of the National Park. From here, the route south passes over Scotland’s highest mountain pass, through Perthshire, and back to Edinburgh.

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Dunnottar Castle and Royal Deeside 1-Day Tour from Aberdeen

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

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

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Loch Ness and the Highlands 1-Day Tour from Aberdeen

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

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

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

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

Escape the bustle of daily life and get back to nature on a 3-day tour of the Scottish Highlands and Isle of Skye, with bed and breakfast accommodations on Skye. Hear of clan massacres, visit monuments associated with Scotland’s struggle against the English, and see location sites of the blockbuster movie “Highlander.” Day 1: Departing Glasgow take a spectacular route north towards Stirling Castle, crossing the brooding expanse of Rannoch Moor, and on through Glen Coe. Stop at Eilean Donan Castle, where “Highlander” was filmed. Overnight stay in Inverness. Day 2: Enjoy a day excursion to the Isle of Skye. Explore the craggy Cuillin Mountains, dramatic hills of Quiraing, and beautiful Trotternish Peninsula. Look for seals, peeking out of the waves as you walk along the coast, or spot stags silhouetted on hillsides.  Day 3: Follow the banks of Loch Ness where you can take a boat tour to Urquhart Castle or do a bit of monster hunting from the shore. The route back to Glasgow takes you past the battlefield of Culloden, site of the defeat of the Jacobite forces. You will also drive through the Cairngorm Mountains, home of Britain’s highest mountain, and see the picturesque Victorian town of Pitlochry. Glasgow passengers will return to Edinburgh where they are issued with train tickets to Glasgow

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Other Sightseeing Options in Cairngorms

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What people are saying about Cairngorms

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 3,699 reviews

The whole experience was extraordinary. John,the hairy coo our guide,driver and friend for the day was a delightful,charming,clever,witty and 'a man who knew how to do his work to the hilt'...full marks to John 'king of the North.... So so glad we opted for the tour....John made it worthwhile...☺️☺️

Our tour guide John, from the hairy coo company, was not only incredibly knowledgable and passionate about Scotland but also hilarious; a great sense of humour! The sites were breathtaking, despite the clouds. We highly recommend!

Merry Christmas indeed! The drive, the attractions, the additional stops were wonderful as expected. But Stephen, our guide, coupled by his playlist, stories and Scottish humour made the tour exceptional. Highly recommend!

Doug is very knowledgable guy, the tour was amazing, totally enjoyed it, the weather was not good, but still he tried to make the most out of it. Experience is worth doing. Would repeat one more time during spring period!

the driver it was top funny Man and keep you happy .. little problems with the car but sometimes is happening .The view is amazing definitely if you coming to Edinburgh book this trip is amazing