Edinburgh & the Castles of Scotland 10 days
98.2% of reviewers recommend this tourRead Reviews 
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
Private deluxe motor coach
Multilingual Tour Director
Select entrance fees
Why You'll Love It
Edinburgh’s gorgeous Georgian architecture
The Highlands’ craggy cliffs & rolling landscapes
You’ll sip scotch in one of the oldest distilleries
Glasgow’s growing cosmopolitan culture
You’ll stand at the shores of Loch Ness
Ancient castles—is there anything more Scottish?
Overnight Flight1 night
Edinburgh3 nights - hotel info
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.
Walk through a masterpiece of city planning and stroll the Royal Mile
Optional Excursion - Abbotsford House & Melrose Abbey
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.
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.
Sit back on Arthur’s Seat or swing by the so-called “birthplace of golf”
Optional Excursion - St Andrews
Optional Excursion - Scottish Céilidh
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).
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
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
Discover the highlights of the Highlands, stopping for scotch, of course
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.
Deep in the countryside, sits one of Scotland’s fastest growing cities
Optional Excursion - Culloden Moor & Cawdor Castle
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.
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
Equal parts history and pop culture, this is legendary Loch Ness
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.
Meander the coast, castles and remote villages where Gaelic thrives
Optional Excursion - Eilean Donan Castle & Isle of Skye
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.
Eilean Donan Castle & Isle of Skye $99* pp
Set on the banks of Loch Duich, Eilean Donan Castle is perhaps the world's most photographed castle. Cross a narrow peninsula to reach the island castle and take a brief tour of the interior. Proceed on to the Isle of Skye, famous for its association with Bonnie Prince Charlie, and then to the Clan Donald visitor's center, where you'll experience exhibits outlining life in Scotland's clans. At the conclusion of this excursion, you'll enjoy a scenic ferry ride back to the mainland.
Glasgow1 night - hotel info
Glaswegian’s call their vibrant hometown Scotland’s “second city”
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.
Extend Your Stay
Add Glasgow City Stay $249*
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
GET A GLIMPSE OF HADRIAN’S WALL, STILL STANDING AFTER 2,000 YEARS
Optional Excursion - Hadrian's Wall & Carlisle Castle
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.
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.
Before Braveheart, this town had a role in the Wars of Independence
Optional Excursion - Historic Scotland & Stirling Castle
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.
Historic Scotland & Stirling Castle $115* pp
Visit Stirling, a town steeped in the history of the Wars of Scottish Independence. For generations, Sterling's 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 342 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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
98.2% of reviewers recommend this tourRead Reviews 
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!
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.
Scotland Tour is Terrific
The Edinburgh & the Castles of Scotland was terrific. A fantastic tour director, coupled with an excellant intneary and applauded bus driver made it a memorable experience. We were given a good mix of area attractions and time to explore on our own to get a real flavor of the country. All of the hotel selections were better than expected. Looking forward to our next trip.
Excellent guide and driver
The information about places and history of Scotland by our tour guide, Reuben, added immeasurably to the whole experience of the trip. I saw and learned much more than I had anticipated. I was also very impressed by the expert driving ability of our bus driver, Paul. Both made the trip so enjoyable.
Met all expectations
I have long desired to return to Scotland. This itinerary covered much of my maternal grandmother's stomping grounds. How cool is that!! We enjoyed the Highlands & Isle of Skye immensely. We did an excursion to Stirling Castle on our own. Both Tour Director Ruben & coach Driver Paul, were fantastic; very knowledgeable. Did think the Ceilidh was overpriced. Otherwise, great people, food & drink.
Great Tour Direstor
I recently returned home from a wonderful tour of Scotland. The best part was our wonderful tour director Shona. She made the history of the places we visited come alive with her knowledge, stories and songs. The tour itself was excellent, but she made it exceptional. In addition, she took great care of all her "chicks" as she called us. We ended up with a wee bit of culture and some handy scots phrases as well. I hope to take other tours as a result.
Great tour and tour director
Wow, a truly great trip. Our tour guide, Shona, was awesome. She is a great story teller and we learned so much history. She made it so interesting that we couldn’t wait for the next day to continue the story. I did all the optional excursions except the Scottish Ceilidh. All were really great. The highlands are beautiful. I had expected rain but we were lucky to have beautiful weather the entire trip. Paul, our driver definitely deserves an award for being able to navigate in tight places. I would love to have Shona as a tour director for another tour ?.
You did nothing to offer us a refund for missing the Welcome Dinner the first night, and the 2 Edinburgh Castle excursions we paid for.
A great week.
We had a wonderful time. The weather was outstanding. The scenery was fantastic. Shona shared her knowledge of Scottish history well. I learned a great deal. Paul did a superb job of driving.
Best tour Director Shona
I was very impressed with Go ahead tours this was my first time ever going to another country my tour director Shona was very helpful and made sure every one had a good experience and would go out of her way to help people plan there free time and told us a lot about scottlands history it was a very pleasant experience the castles and the scenery was beautiful and i am planing more trips with go ahead tours