Edinburgh & the Castles of Scotland

10 days
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About This Experience

Simply say “Scotland” and images of tartan kilts, blaring bagpipes and medieval castles instantly come to mind. (Oh, and let’s not forget that famed Loch Ness monster.) With ten days to explore, you’ll get your dose of these well-known Scottish icons, and then head a little off the beaten path, moving farther into the untamed Highlands and into craggy hillsides laden with lochs and Gaelic-speaking villages.

Your Tour Includes

  • Round-trip airfare & transfers

  • 8 nights in handpicked hotels

  • Breakfast daily, 4 three-course dinners with beer or wine

  • Guided sightseeing

  • Multilingual Tour Director

  • Private deluxe motor coach

  • Select entrance fees

How's the weather?

  • Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Inverness, Scotland
  • Ballachulish, Highland
  • Glasgow, Scotland
Temperature Precipitation
  • JAN
  • FEB
  • MAR
  • APR
  • MAY
  • JUN
  • JUL
  • AUG
  • SEP
  • OCT
  • NOV
  • DEC

Overnight Flight1 night

Day1

Get excited—you’re on your way to the land of lochs and lasses

Your trip begins with a regularly scheduled overnight flight to Edinburgh aboard an internationally recognized airline.

Edinburgh3 nights - hotel info

Day2

Take a bite out of Edinburgh before your welcome dinner

Breakfast (in flight), Dinner

Welcome to Scotland! A Go Ahead representative greets you at the airport after you clear customs and then escorts you to your hotel. The rest of the day is free for you to relax or begin acquainting yourself with Edinburgh. At an included dinner this evening, meet your fellow travelers.

Day3

Walk through a masterpiece of city planning and stroll the Royal Mile

Optional Excursion - Abbotsford House & Melrose Abbey

Breakfast

Edinburgh Castle

A local guide leads this morning’s tour of Edinburgh, from the elegant Georgian New Town to the Royal Mile. The tour includes a visit to Edinburgh Castle, overlooking the city from Castle Rock. Here, you can view the Scottish crown jewels as well as the Stone of Scone. This afternoon, enjoy free time in Edinburgh, during which you might choose to browse the shops of the Royal Mile or tour Holyroodhouse Palace, the setting for royal ceremonies, including the knighting of Sir Sean Connery and other Scottish notables. Alternatively, join our optional excursion, Abbotsford House & Melrose Abbey, to marvel at the former residence of poet Sir Walter Scott and the remains of the 12th-century abbey.

Optional Excursions

Abbotsford House & Melrose Abbey $69* pp

Travel through the Scottish Borders region to Abbotsford House, the 19th-century estate of Sir Walter Scott. The poet designed his home in the Romantic style to imitate the elaborate baronial estates of British aristocrats. Today it serves as a museum for the Scottish memorabilia and artifacts that Scott collected throughout his lifetime. The excursion then continues with a visit to the ruins of Melrose Abbey, one of the most impressive of the four Borders abbeys.

Day4

Sit back on Arthur’s Seat or swing by the so-called “birthplace of golf”

Optional Excursion - St Andrews

Optional Excursion - Scottish Céilidh

Breakfast

Today is free to continue your explorations of Edinburgh. For great views of the city, climb to the top of the Walter Scott Monument, overlooking the Royal Mile, or to Calton Hill, which takes in the Firth of Forth and Arthur’s Seat. Alternatively, journey to the coastal town of St Andrews on an optional excursion. This “birthplace of golf ” is also famous for its historic university, castle, cathedral and dramatic coastal setting. The excursion includes a visit to the British Golf Museum. Tonight, experience traditional music and dance at our optional Scottish Céilidh (seasonal).

Optional Excursions

St Andrews $79* pp

St Andrews may be most well-known as the home of golf, but it's also the site of Scotland's oldest university. On this excursion, you'll pass by the 16th-century grounds of St Andrews University, the alma mater of Prince William, who met Kate Middleton here. You'll also pass by the ruins of the town's cathedral and castle. Later, visit the British Golf Museum, where you’ll discover how golf transformed from a Scottish pasttime into a global obsession.

Must be booked 20 days before departure

Optional Excursions

Scottish Céilidh $119* pp

Enjoy a special evening of Scottish tradition as you witness an authentic céilidh, an age-old Scottish celebration. Along with a savory dinner of local favorites, the evening will feature folk dancers, bagpipers, fiddlers and the “Ceremony of the Haggis.” Please note: This optional is seasonal from May to September.

Inverness2 nights - hotel info

Day5

Discover the highlights of the Highlands, stopping for scotch, of course

Breakfast

Blair Athol Castle, Whisky Distillery

En route to Inverness, stop in Perthshire, the gateway to the Scottish Highlands, for a visit to Blair Athol Castle and the 18th-century Whisky distillery, one of Scotland’s oldest distilleries. Later, arrive in Inverness and check in to your hotel.

Day6

Deep in the countryside, sits one of Scotland’s fastest growing cities

Optional Excursion - Culloden Moor & Cawdor Castle

Breakfast

Hugging the base of the scenic River Ness, the city of Inverness is a hidden gem. Discover the city on your own today. You might wish to take a city tour or a river cruise. Or, join our optional excursion to historic Culloden Moor, site of the last battle fought on British soil, and Cawdor Castle, the fictional home of Macbeth. The excursion also includes a visit to the Clava Cairns, some of the oldest megalithic structures in Britain.

Optional Excursions

Culloden Moor & Cawdor Castle $75* pp

Culloden Moor witnessed one of Scotland’s most devastating military losses in 1746, when the troops of Prince Charles Edward Stuart faced the British army, commanded by the Duke of Cumberland. Travel to the battlefield and its visitor center to hear a fascinating and detailed account of the poorly matched battle. Your next stop is Cawdor Castle, the fictional setting for Shakespeare’s Macbeth. The well-maintained castle remains vibrant today, and as you walk through its halls and chambers, you can view family portraits, tapestries and elegant furniture representing 600 years of royal history. Please note: In the event that Cawdor Castle is closed on the day of your excursion, you will instead travel to Brodie Castle.

The Highlands2 nights - hotel info

Day7

Equal parts history and pop culture, this is legendary Loch Ness

Breakfast, Dinner

Loch Ness 2000 Exhibition

Continuing westward along the Great Glen and toward the Caledonian Canal, stop at Loch Ness, home of the legendary Loch Ness monster, or Nessie, as she’s affectionately known. You’ll visit the Loch Ness 2000 Exhibition, view a full-scale replica of the mysterious creature and see an audio-visual exhibit detailing the myths, sightings and history surrounding the loch. You’ll also get a sense of the unique geology of Loch Ness. More than 600 feet deep at some locations, and with an extremely flat bottom, some consider it the perfect location to hide a monster. Arrive later in the western Highlands region, where dinner is included.

Day8

Meander the coast, castles and remote villages where Gaelic thrives

Optional Excursion - Eilean Donan Castle & Isle of Skye

Breakfast, Dinner

On a free day, explore the traditional Scottish town of Fort William, a great base for ascents to Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain. Or, join a memorable excursion to Eilean Donan Castle and the Isle of Skye. The castle is dramatically situated on an island in Loch Duich. The Isle of Skye is a land of craggy highlands, otherwordly coastline and small country villages where Gaelic is still spoken. Dinner is included tonight.

Optional Excursions

Eilean Donan Castle & Isle of Skye $99* pp

After a scenic drive to the coast, hop a ferry and travel to the Isle of Skye, famous for its association with Bonnie Prince Charlie. Visit the stately Clan Donald Centre, which portrays clan life on the island and pays homage to Gaelic culture and Highland history. Make your way back to the mainland and over to the banks of Loch Duich to visit the iconic Eilean Donan Castle, arguably the world's most photographed castle.

Glasgow1 night - hotel info

Day9

Glaswegian’s call their vibrant hometown Scotland’s “second city”

Breakfast, Dinner

Burrell Collection

Drive through historic Glencoe, site of the notorious 1692 massacre of the MacDonald clan, and take the high road to the bonny banks of Loch Lomond. Continue through the Trossachs to Glasgow, Scotland’s “second city.” A local guide leads this afternoon’s tour of Glasgow, highlighting sights such as George Square and the banks of the River Clyde. Also included in your tour is a visit to the renowned Burrell Collection, whose 8,000 exhibits feature everything from ancient Egyptian artifacts to Rodin sculptures. Tonight enjoy a farewell dinner with your group.

Day10

All great trips must come to an end…but you could stay a little longer

Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)

If you’re not staying for our tour extension in Glasgow, a Go Ahead representative escorts you to the airport for your return flight home.

Extend Your Stay

Add Glasgow City Stay $269*

In Gaelic, Glasgow means "the Dear Green Place," a fitting title for the city with more parks per square mile than any other city in Europe. Famous for its passion for football (soccer) and its fabulous shops that beat those in Edinburgh hands-down, Glasgow is also renowned for its distinguished university, which is over 500 years old, and Kelvingrove Park, the vibrant meeting ground adjacent to it. Most impressive, though, are the Glaswegians, so genuine that their warmness and lyrical speech stay with you long after you depart Scotland's shores.

Glasgow2 nights - hotel info

Day10

GET A GLIMPSE OF HADRIAN’S WALL, STILL STANDING AFTER 2,000 YEARS

Optional Excursion - Hadrian's Wall & Carlisle Castle

Breakfast

Today you’re free to explore Glasgow at your leisure. Alternatively, join an optional excursion to Hadrian’s Wall & Carlisle Castle. The 11th century wall was the site of a notorious 8-month siege during the English Civil War. The excursion also stops at Birdoswald Fort, one of the main forts on Hadrian’s Wall, which commands stunning views over the Irthing Valley to the Lake District Fells.

Optional Excursions

Hadrian's Wall & Carlisle Castle $79* pp

Travel to the region bordering Scotland and England to discover the historic Carlisle Castle. This medieval fortress was once the site of many battles, as well as the holding place of the imprisoned Mary, Queen of Scots. After exploring the castle, head to Hadrian’s Wall at Birdoswald Fort. Originally a defensive wall constructed by the Romans in 122 A.D., Birdoswald Fort is the longest continuous stretch of the Wall remaining. From its elevated location, you’ll be able to catch stunning views of the Irthing Valley and the Lake District Fells.

Day11

Before Braveheart, this town had a role in the Wars of Independence

Optional Excursion - Historic Scotland & Stirling Castle

Breakfast

With another free day in Glasgow, you might join our optional excursion, Historic Scotland & Stirling Castle. You’ll have time to explore the impressive castle before taking a ride on the Falkirk Wheel, a modern engineering marvel that echoes Glasgow’s industrial past.

Optional Excursions

Historic Scotland & Stirling Castle $115* pp

Visit Stirling, a town steeped in the history of the Wars of Scottish Independence. For generations, Sterling Castle held off British advances and served as a rallying point for rebellious Scots. It was within Stirling Castle that the infant Mary Stewart was crowned Mary, Queen of Scots. In addition to the castle, you’ll also tour Stirling's quaint Old Town, which still retains its medieval look and feel. Then journey into the valley where "Braveheart" William Wallace beat back the British at the Battle of Stirling Bridge. Your excursion also includes a visit to the Antonine Wall, a UNESCO World Heritage site built in 142 AD, just 20 years after the completion of Hadrian’s Wall. Visit what remains of the wall at Falkirk before taking a ride on the famous Falkirk Wheel, an ingenious boat-lift that carries boats from one canal to another.

Day12

Say so long to the Scots and journey home

Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)

A Go Ahead representative escorts you to the airport for your return flight home.

Passport & Visa

In order to enter Scotland, U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport. The expiration date must extend at least six months beyond the date of your return home. No visa is required for U.S. or Canadian citizens. If you are not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you must contact the consulate for your specific entry requirements.

Health

There are no major health risks associated with traveling to Scotland. Be sure to check with your doctor or health care provider for the latest updates and overseas travel requirements.

Transportation / Walking on tour

Round-trip flights arrive in Edinburgh and depart from Glasgow. Included transportation is by private motor coach. All of the cities and towns on this itinerary are accessible on foot, but you  may want to break up periods of walking by using both have a fairly efficient bus system. Passes and packages are available. If you decide to take an excursion outside the cities on your own, make use of ScotRail’s excellent train system. You can pick up trains at Edinburgh’s main station (near the Scott Monument, between Old Town and New Town) and at Glasgow Central and Queen Street Stations.

Clothing & Packing Tips

To ensure you’re comfortable while out exploring, we recommend packing lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that can be easily layered. For sightseeing, we suggest bringing a sturdy pair of walking shoes or sneakers, as well as a lightweight sports jacket or rainwear. If you’re planning a visit to a high-end restaurant or performance, you may also want to bring dressier attire. Also, please remember that it’s preferable to avoid showing bare legs or shoulders during visits to churches or other religious sites (entrance may be denied on this basis).

Baggage Allowance

Airlines have varying weight restrictions on luggage. Some airlines may impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage. Please contact your airline or refer to its website for detailed information regarding your airline’s checked baggage policies. Bear in mind that your luggage will probably weigh more on your return trip due to souvenir shopping. We allow only one suitcase per person. One carry-on bag is also permitted, provided that it does not exceed 45 inches (length + width + height). There may be times when you will have to handle your own bags, and you’ll find that lightweight luggage provides a distinct advantage. Make sure you label your baggage and carry valuables, medication and documents in your carry-on luggage.

Cuisine

Like the rest of Britain, Scotland often gets a negative reputation for its cuisine, but in truth the food here has been improving since an influx of international choices became available in the early 1990s. For traditional Scottish fare at a reasonable price, try a pub meal, which often features delicious vegetarian options. Specialties of Scotland include shortbread, kippers, smoked salmon, Scotch broth, venison, oatcakes, jelly, jam, and of course, haggis (made of sheep innards). Indian, Chinese and Italian food are widely available and delicious. Scotch whisky is a favored local spirit, and Scotch ales (especially from microbreweries) are some of the best in the world.

Currency

The British pound is the currency you will be using on your tour. Better rates of exchange are usually available in Scotland, although it’s worth ordering some currency from your local bank to use when you first arrive. We advise that you take a combination of bank/debit cards and credit cards. They may be used at ATMs, which are widely available in Edinburgh and Glasgow (mostly on the Cirrus and Plus international networks). We suggest informing your bank and credit card company of your travel plans, so they don’t confuse your international purchases for fraudulent charges.

Tipping

At the conclusion of your tour, it’s customary to offer your Tour Director and driver a gratuity. We recommend tipping in your tour country’s currency, the equivalency of $3USD/CAD per person per day for your driver and $6USD/CAD to $9USD/CAD per person per day for your Tour Director. If applicable, we also recommend the equivalency of $2USD/CAD per local guide. Tips can only be paid in cash. Please keep current local currency exchange rates in mind when tipping.

Great Scotland Tour

My husband and I had Shona and Paul as our tour guide and bus driver. We had a wonderful time. It was our first tour experience and first time to Scotland ! We hope to go again to another country in the future using GO AHEAD??

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5 / 5

Traveled On: 7/3/2014

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: NC

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Amazing Trip!!

This is the third time I have written a review. I did not post the last two. This was an awesome trip. The Tour Director and coach driver, Robbie and Paul, saw to that. They got us where we needed to go and safely-I don't know how Paul could navigate those narrow roads so easily. Robbie the good looking, wise cracking, kilt wearing tour director was a fountain of historical knowledge and local folklore. He was very attentive to his 'flock' as I came to see the group. He was non intrusive but always seemed to know what was going on. When my friend and I were setting out on our own he showed up, asked us of our plans, made some suggestions, pulled out a map and showed us how to get back to the hotel. We took a taxi to our destination but did walk back after Robbie had assured us we could do it with ease. What better way to get the feel of city than to be out there on foot? The sights were amazing, the hotels were clean, people every where were friendly and helpful. The best day for me though was when my friend and I took a train to North Berwick, Scotland. I grew up in North Berwick, Maine so felt I had to go to the one in Scotland. We met some very nice people there that had been to my home town. They welcomed us as though we were old friends. I would highly recommend this tour. If you have ever wanted to go to Scotland go with GoAhead Tours. You can go to all the extra excursions that they offer or you can go out on your own. Spend as much time with the group as you want or spend very little time with them. Take advantage of the tour director-ours was exceptional and I can only imagine that GoAhead strives to hire only the exceptional. Ours was available to help with plans if we wanted to go out on our own. He knew the cities where we stayed and could recommend restaurants, museums, movies, tailors-whatever you needed. It was the trip of a lifetime. Thank you GoAhead!

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5 / 5

Traveled On: 6/6/2014

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: AZ

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

I Left My Heart in Scotland!

This tour is fantastic! There is something for everyone. You get the big city feel from Glasgow (where the shopping is amazing!). You feel surrounded by the Highlands in Glencoe. History buffs will love Edinburgh; the architecture is like stepping back in time. Inverness is a quaint little town with lovely views of Loch Ness. All the meals included were tasty. The hotels were clean and well located. There is a nice balance of group time and free time. The tour guide, Robbie, was excellent. He was extremely knowledgeable and entertaining. He left no question unanswered and gave excellent recommendations. He even wears a kilt for a true Scottish feel. I would recccomend this tour to anyone. It's a good time for a good value.

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5 / 5

Traveled On: 3/20/2014

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: FL

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Scottish Heritage

Our family had great trip. The only problems we had was with United Airlines which we had delays on both flights. It was great to see the Scottish highlands and visiting the castles. Our tour director was very knowledgeable in the History, and was able to to tell us of our family heritage and back ground. With the extended day light in Scotland it gave us more time to see the cities by being able to walk around and see the sites. Overall an excellent trip

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5 / 5

Traveled On: 6/6/2014

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: NY

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Incredible 1st tour!

Thank you, GoAhead Tours, for the most perfect 1st tour I could have asked for. Robbie was the most knowledgeable and entertaining tour director! His knowledge of Scotland and its vast history was astounding. I could listen to him for hours! He kept us moving and on time, but gave attention to any and all questions and was able to make sure that everyone got the most out of the tour (not to mention he made quite a striking figure in his kilt!!!) And the bus driver Paul was phenomenal! I could not believe the way he was able to handle that bus through the small 2 lane roads.... my hat goes off to you, Paul! Well done :) The hotel in Edinburgh was quite small, but from what I understand, that is the way it is in most of Europe. But it was clean and the staff was very attentive and helpful. We enjoyed walking around Edinburgh so much, I did not want to leave. What a wonderful , history rich city! I will be back for more. Inverness left a lot to be desired. The hotel was quaint and the room was ok, but quite frankly, the town was just noisy and dirty. There is not a lot of historical sites directly in town and the restaurant choices were limited. Would much rather have found a smaller hotel outside of town to stay in. But the Culloden Battlefield and Cawdor castle are not to be missed! I totally fell in love with GlenCoe! Nice room with a gorgeous view of the Loch- so serene and beautiful, just did not want to leave. The food was great and the customer service exceptional! And the drive from there to Glasgow was breathe taking.... never wanted to leave..... that is until we hit Glasgow. I took this trip for the history and castles and the bustling, dirty, large smelly city is soooo not what I wanted to see. Our room was again small, and the window opened right onto the street- had cards drag racing until about 1 am... was never so glad to leave. In the future, I think I would just skip the Glasgow portion and stay in the highlands. So much to see and do, never enough time. All in all, this was the best thing I have ever done for myself. I plan on doing as many more trips as I can in the coming years. Thank you, Robbie, Paul, Veronica( you know who you are) and Go Ahead!

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5 / 5

Traveled On: 6/6/2014

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: VA

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Great Tour!!

This was our group's first tour with Go Ahead...and it won't be our last! We have a marvelous time. Shona is a brilliant tour director who brought Scotland to life for us...from the beginnings right up to the present day. Everything ran like clockwork, hotels were wonderful, and the included meals the best. I think Shona must even have a connection with the weatherman, for our weather couldn't have been more perfect. Thanks for an amazing experience!

5 / 5

Traveled On: 5/1/2014

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: NC

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Loved it!!!

I had a great time. I love Scotland and looking forward to going again soon. We were told the extra excursions were canceled but Robbie (tour director) made up for it by giving us options and substituting for other great adventures. Had an amazing time:) I just soaked everything in. I didn't want to go home!!!

5 / 5

Traveled On: 3/20/2014

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: CO

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Scotland has my heart!

I fell in love with Scotland the moment I got off the plane and saw the signs in the airport that said 'Welcome Home'. This was a wonderful trip. Seeing Scotland by way of Go Ahead was the best experience. Our Tour Director Rueben was so knowledgeable and our Bus Driver Paul was amazing getting us around Scotland safely. The hotels were great, the excursions were awesome, and of course the castles were breathtaking. This was worth every dime. I met some really nice people and have great memories. I'm missing Scotland, Reuben & Paul every day.

5 / 5

Traveled On: 10/10/2013

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: PA

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

scenic scotland

Overall a very nice tour and excellant time to travel to avoid summer crowds. Worst part of the trip was the air travel. The seats get closer and the planes get smaller every time I travel. Soon we'll standing holding on to a handle like a subway. Tour director and bus driver were both very knowledgable, and worked together well as a team ,even though they had not worked together in the past, which indicates a degree of professionalism on both their parts.The group meals in Edinburgh and Glasgow were very good, the meals in Glencoe were just ok,not much variation from 1 night to the next. The Scottish dancing and singing show in Edinburgh was a bit disappointing given the overall cost of the event,I personally would not reccomend to another traveler. I would consider you look for an alternative program in your package to replace.With so much history it was hard to remember it all, but consider a brief primer that a traveler could access on computor or brochure to read on the bus to help with the learning .The best part about travel is learning new things!

5 / 5

Traveled On: 10/10/2013

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: ME

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 4 / 5

The best B-Day Gift!!!

I booked this tour as a birthday gift for my dad and he told me that it was the best gift he could've have. If you like castles, swords, and medieval items you have to go on this trip. The stunning views of the Highlands will take your breath away. Plus, our tour director, Reuben was so knowledgeable that I learned more of the Scotland history in 10 days than in all my school years.

5 / 5

Traveled On: 10/10/2013

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: VA

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 4 / 5

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