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Things to do in
Cairngorms National Park

Cairngorms National Park: Our most recommended tours and activities

From Edinburgh: Loch Ness, Glencoe & Scottish Highlands Tour

1. From Edinburgh: Loch Ness, Glencoe & Scottish Highlands Tour

Depart Edinburgh on an air-conditioned luxury coach (max 57 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.

From Edinburgh: 3-Day Isle of Skye and The Highlands Tour

2. From Edinburgh: 3-Day Isle of Skye and The Highlands Tour

Embark on a 3-day guided tour of the Scottish Highlands and visit highlights, including Loch Ness and the Isle of Skye. Learn the history of this lush region from your guide and spend two nights in Inverness. Day 1: Departing Edinburgh, we will take our first short drive heading north and stop at the mysterious Kelpies. Scotland’s largest piece of outdoor art depicting mythical creatures of Scotland’s folklore that your driver will tell you all about. We’ll then continue on our journey and pass Stirling Castle. Be inspired by tales from your guide of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce. Continuing north, into the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, admire the scenery as your tour guide explains the remarkable tribal clan history of the Highlands. Discover beautiful Glencoe, the most famous valley in Scotland, and hear of its tragic history. Admire the spectacular Glenfinnan Viaduct then head north and arrive on the southern banks of Loch Ness to get photos of the infamous monster Nessie! Stop for photos of Urquhart Castle before arriving in Inverness, the Capital of the Highlands, where you'll stay for 2 nights, choosing from a local guesthouse, hostel, or hotel. Day 2: After breakfast, depart Inverness and drive across the Kessock Bridge to the Black Isle and marvel at the spectacular scenery of Achnasheen and Loch Carron. Arriving on the Isle of Skye, venture north to explore the highlights of the island, including; the Cuillin Mountains, Trotternish Peninsula, Portree, the Old Man Storr, Kilt Rock and the famous Quiraing. In late afternoon, stop for photographs of the most beautiful castle in Scotland, "Eilean Donan Castle." Backdrop to many famous films, such as 'Highlander' and 'Made of Honor', this castle is another must-see iconic landmark! A scenic drive through stunning Glen Shiel follows, returning to Inverness to stay your final night. In the evening, visit a local Highland Pub to drink some Scotch whisky or beer and eat some traditional Scottish food, whilst listening to some local musicians perform. Day 3: Visit Culloden Battlefield, site of the last Jacobite Rising, then 'Clava Cairns', incredible 4,000-year-old, Bronze-Age standing stones. Travelling south, stop at the Highland Folk Museum. Here you'll experience highland life in the 17th century. See the buildings, the clothes and weapons, and how people lived 300 years ago. Then, drive through the dramatic Cairngorm National Park. You will have the chance to experience a Scotch Whiskey tasting before you visit the historic village of Dunkeld on the banks of the mighty River Tay. Your journey back to Edinburgh takes you across the famous Forth Bridges. The expected arrival time back in Edinburgh is around 6:30 PM.

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

3. 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 you will be picked up to begin your day of adventure. As you head towards the Highlands, see the fantastic Forth Bridges. You can try some delicious home baking when you stop 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, visit Urquhart Castle, and look for the famous monster for yourself. Next, visit Glen Coe, a broodingly beautiful spot 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 view its stunning castle from a distance and learn more about the exploits of William Wallace that were dramatized in the film Braveheart.

Glasgow: Loch Ness, Glencoe and Highlands Tour with Cruise

4. Glasgow: Loch Ness, Glencoe and Highlands Tour with Cruise

You depart Glasgow and travel towards the Highlands along the “bonnie, bonnie” banks of Loch Lomond. This is Scotland's largest loch and it takes its name from the mountain, Ben Lomond, on the eastern shore. You cross the ancient natural fault line that runs across Scotland and venture into the majestic Highlands where the scenery changes dramatically. The flat plains of the Lowlands transform into shimmering lochs, rugged mountains, and forest-filled glens. The alluring beauty makes it easy to forget this was once a battleground of the fiercely territorial Highland clans. Travelling north through Breadalbane (meaning the 'High Country of Scotland'), you climb towards Rannoch Moor. This 1000ft plain is covered by heather, peat bogs, and dozens of lochs. You’ll love how it contrasts with the spectacular mountain scenery of Buachaille Etive Mor (meaning 'the great shepherd of Etive'). You then head down to Scotland's most famous valley, Glencoe, where you’ll be mesmerised by the beautiful cliff faces and steep slopes. After Glencoe, you enter a deep glacial valley, known as the Great Glen. Passing through the town of Fort William you travel under Britain's highest mountain, Ben Nevis, before arriving at Fort Augustus on the shore of Loch Ness. Fort Augustus boasts the Caledonian Canal, which is a great spot to relax and watch the boats sail by. You stop here for one hour to give you time for lunch. After your lunch, you get the opportunity to take a five-star Cruise Loch Ness boat cruise from Fort Augustus*. Taking to the waters is the best chance you'll get to spot the monster and admire the beauty of this mysterious loch. You leave the scenic village and begin your journey back towards Glagsow, but not to worry, there are many lovely stops along the way for photos and views, including the quiant town of Pitlochry. You continue south through the forests of Perthshire before finally reaching Glasgow in the evening. *The Loch Ness boat cruise is weather dependent and may be cancelled without notice.

Edinburgh: Loch Ness Cruise, Glencoe Tour & 2 Highland Walks

5. Edinburgh: Loch Ness Cruise, Glencoe Tour & 2 Highland Walks

Head further afield from Edinburgh city and hike in the magnificent Scottish Highlands. Search for the Loch Ness monster and admire the remote moorland and dramatic mountainous landscape on this full-day excursion. Travel towards Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park where there’s a strong possibility to see some adorable ginger Highland cows that graze on these pastures. Continue north to the wonderful setting of Rannoch Moor, one of the most remote and wild locations in Scotland and also recently featured in the Netflix movie, "Outlaw King" among many other TV shows and films. Lay your eyes on the beautiful and dramatic Glencoe. Discover the dark and not so peaceful history significant in shaping Scotland and the world today. Learn about the tragic MacDonalds of Glencoe who once called this place home. Marvel at the ever-changing landscape, from green woodlands to rugged hills, long-shaped lochs and deep glens filled with mystery and intrigue. Hear a wealth of stories, myths and legends from your guide. Travel through Ballachulish, Onich, Fort William and then onto the banks of Loch Ness itself. Arrive at the picturesque Loch Ness and have the freedom to get out and enjoy a cruise on the water. Search for 'Nessie' the Loch Ness monster, undoubtedly a bucket list item for many visitors in Scotland. Or choose to sit back and relax at the water's edge and take in the panoramic views. From here, travel east over towards the Cairngorms National Park where your guide will take you on a short hike in the unforgettable Highlands. Next, head further south through Blair Athol, Pitlochry, and Dunkeld where you can revel in the beauty of waterfalls and crashing rivers.

From Edinburgh: Loch Ness and The Highlands Tour with Cruise

6. From Edinburgh: Loch Ness and The Highlands Tour with Cruise

You leave the cobbled streets of Edinburgh and travel past Linlithgow Palace and Stirling Castle. This region is soaked in history, so sit back and relax as your driver-guide entertains you with the tales of Mary Queen of Scots, William Wallace, and Scottish folklore. If you keep a look out, you can catch a glimpse of the Kelpies. These 30-metre tall horse head sculptures need to be seen to be believed. Your driver-guide takes you to their favourite stop within the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park where you can grab coffee and enjoy the views. After this stop, it’s time to get your camera ready. Because as you travel north into the Highlands, the landscapes suddenly become more provocative. Shimmering lochs, rugged mountains, forest filled glens: it’s all so beautiful that it’s easy to forget these were once battlegrounds for fiercely territorial Highland clans. You stop in Glencoe, one of the most famous natural landmarks in all of Scotland. This beautiful area boasts steep slopes and photogenic peaks. Your driver-guide may reveal to you the tragic tale that’s haunted this valley for over 300 years. You then enter the glacial valley known as the Great Glen and pass under the shadow of Ben Nevis, Britain’s tallest mountain. After this visual feast of mighty inclines, you arrive in Fort Augustus on the banks of Loch Ness. At 23 miles long and over 700ft deep, Loch Ness is the largest loch by volume in Scotland. You have around one hour and a half here. You can search for the infamous monster on a relaxing boat cruise,* wander around the shores of the loch at your own pace, and grab a bite to eat. Your journey south is packed full of classic Highland scenery. You travel through the curvy Cairngorms National Park, along Loch Laggan, and past Blair Castle. Amongst the tall trees of Perthshire, you have a final refreshment break before journeying alongside the UNESCO Forth Rail Bridge and back into Edinburgh. *The Loch Ness boat cruise is weather dependent and may be cancelled without notice. This route may be reversed on some occasions.

From Edinburgh: 2-Day Highlands Tour with Hogwarts Express

7. From Edinburgh: 2-Day Highlands Tour with Hogwarts Express

This 2-day guided tour takes you from Edinburgh to the gateway of the Highlands at Fort William, and on a world-famous steam train ride that passes Loch Ness, Ben Nevis, and other natural wonders of Scotland. Stay overnight in Fort Augustus at a B&B. Itinerary Day 1 Travel past the Forth Railway Bridge, then take a woodland walk in the Highlands at Dunkeld. Continue through the breathtaking Drumochter Pass, skirt the stunning peaks of the Cairngorm National Park, and visit Culloden, the last stand of the Jacobites against government forces. The first day ends in Fort Augustus, a quaint highland town. Overnight at a B&B in Fort Augustus.   Day 2 Take a steam train journey back in time. The Jacobite steam train route has been rated as one of the world's great train journeys. Travel past Britain's highest mountain, deepest loch, shortest river, and westernmost train station. Cross the viaduct featured in the Harry Potter movies and pass the Glenfinnan Monument, where Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his standard at the beginning of the 1745 Jacobite rising. Have lunch in the west coast town of Mallaig, where you can taste the best of Scottish seafood. Head back to Edinburgh via Glen Coe. Visit Glen Coe, where the MacDonalds were betrayed, and then experience the beauty of Rannoch Moor and Stirlingshire en route.

Dunnottar Castle and Royal Deeside 1-Day Tour from Aberdeen

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

You travel straight from Aberdeen to one of Scotland’s archetypal structures, Dunnottar Castle. It’s a 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 mesmerising; 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. You 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.

From Edinburgh: Isle of Skye and Hogwarts Express 4-Day Trip

9. From Edinburgh: Isle of Skye and Hogwarts Express 4-Day Trip

Day 1 Departing from Scotland’s capital city Edinburgh, we’ll begin our journey north, stopping to see the impressive Forth Railway Bridge. We will then continue on to the quaint Victorian town of Pitlochry, where you'll have time to explore and grab a morning coffee if you choose to. Continuing through the Cairngorms National Park we'll make our way to Fort Augustus for lunch. This is pretty village at the south end of Loch Ness, so you'll have time to try to spot to elusive monster Nessie. Next we head to Eilean Donan Castle* where we'll spend some time before crossing the bridge to Skye. Overnight: Skye Day 2 Enjoy a full day exploring the Isle of Skye. Your experienced and knowledgeable guide will ensure you get the most out of your day and enjoy sights such as the craggy Cuillin Mountains, the outstanding Trotternish Peninsula, The Kilt Rock and The Old Man of Storr. Portree is your lunch time stop, where you can enjoy delicious fish and chips next to the harbour – just watch out for the seagulls! Overnight: Skye Day 3 This morning we will continue to explore Skye, taking in some highlights in the south of the island. We will then join a ferry from Armadale to Mallaig, our lunch stop for the day. There may also be an opportunity to join a Wildlife Cruise here. Next we will join the Jacobite Steam Train (or Hogwarts Express!) and enjoy the stunning 2-hour train ride to Fort William, our overnight stop. Day 4 After a restful night in Fort William we will start our journey south towards the impressive Glen Coe. We'll have ample time to take in this stunning glen and explore the Glen Coe Visitor Centre. We will then continue our drive through Rannoch Moor, one of the last really wild places in Scotland. If you want to experience the beauty of the Scottish Moor, this is the place! We will stop for lunch in Callander, situated on the River Teith this is where we'll say goodbye to the Highlands and continue into the Lowlands. We will stop to see the impressive, Kelpies - 30-meter-high horse head sculptures before returning to Edinburgh. *Optional Extra Subject to Availability.

Loch Ness and the Highlands 1-Day Tour from Aberdeen

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

After leaving Aberdeen, our first stop is in the village of Aberlour in the heart of Speyside. Surrounded by forests and hills you might catch the seductive smell of whisky or shortbread on the breeze, depending which way the wind blows. You continue through the heart of Speyside and arrive at Loch Ness for al boat trip*. Onboard the ship, you travel over the widest and deepest part of the loch and get a fine view of Urquhart Castle. 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. You then continue 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. You have a comfort break within the gorgeous Cairngorms National Park before you reach Aberdeen in the evening. This route may be reversed on some occasions. *The Loch Ness boat cruise is weather dependent and may be cancelled without notice. ** Jacobite Cruise on Loch Ness included in the tour price

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What people are saying about Cairngorms National Park

Overall rating

4.7
(2,481 reviews)

Great circuit that allows you to discover the beauty of the Highlands! Great atmosphere on the bus, we really liked the driver Stevie who told us lots of things about the History of Scotland and taught us some Scottish songs. I really recommend "The hairycoo team" which made us want to come back for longer to discover the Highlands.

Jam packed tour with the best guide! Bruce made the long journey fun and entertaining despite the mishaps of rain and road traffic. Graham was a good and safe driver as well! Nice experience and places to visit. Better if the weather is good and not raining. Scottish highlands is really a trip to remember! 😍

The excursion, the transportation, the views, everything was very good. The only bad thing was that the guide was not understood at all. I missed the cruise in Ness because I misunderstood the instructions. And when I asked to reaffirm, he told me the departure time instead of cruise time.

The driver, Wee Stevie, was the best! He made everything so fun! Definitely do the cruise as well!

The guide/driver was a kind of a person. Such a funny guy.