Scotland & the Edinburgh Military Tattoo10 days / Special Event Tours
77.8% of reviewers recommend this tourRead Reviews 
About This Experience
Scotland may be a small country, but it certainly marches to the beat of its own drum. Witness the nation’s cultural high notes for yourself at the annual Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Set against the backdrop of the Edinburgh Castle, the festival features performances by the world’s best martial bands and dancers. After taking part in the Tattoo, you’ll embark on a tour of the untamed Scottish Highlands, visiting an 18th-century whisky distillery, searching for the Loch Ness monster and wandering through ancient castles along the way.
Your Tour Includes
Round-trip airfare & transfers
8 nights in handpicked hotels
Breakfast daily, 4 three-course dinners with beer or wine
Multilingual Tour Director
Private deluxe motor coach
Select entrance fees
Why You'll Love It
100 million will watch, but you’ll be at the Tattoo
You’ll be exposed to the best of Scottish performers
Romantic Georgian architecture in Edinburgh
Castles & craggy cliffs reminiscent of another era
Glasgow is quickly becoming a cosmopolitan capital
This is your chance to spy Nessie in the Highlands
Overnight Flight1 night
Edinburgh3 nights - hotel info
Relax, rest up and ease into Edinburgh
Breakfast (in flight), Dinner
Welcome to Scotland. A Go Ahead representative greets you at the airport and escorts you to your hotel. Take some time to relax or begin acquainting yourself with Edinburgh. Later, meet your fellow travelers at your welcome dinner.
Watch as thousands of performers from across the globe rock the castle
Optional Excursion - Abbotsford House & Melrose Abbey
Edinburgh Castle, Military Tattoo Museum
Follow a local guide through the streets of Edinburgh, exploring all the way from the elegant Georgian New Town to the Royal Mile. Your tour includes a visit to Edinburgh Castle, whose fortifications are perched on top of a volcanic crater in the heart of the city. Next, view the Scottish crown jewels as well as the Stone of Scone, returned to Scotland in 1997, 700 years after an English king stole it away. Then, make a stop at the Edinburgh Tattoo Museum for a look at the history behind this famous event. This afternoon, spend some free time in Edinburgh. Browse the shops along the Royal Mile or tour Holyroodhouse Palace, where you’ll hear fascinating accounts of murder and intrigue during the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots. Alternatively, join our optional excursion Abbotsford House & Melrose Abbey. Tonight, join thousands under the lights of Edinburgh Castle for an evening of military bands, dance and performances at the Military Tattoo.
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.
See the city differently from its rugged crags and brae (hillsides)
Optional Excursion - St Andrews
Optional Excursion - Scottish Céilidh
Today is free to continue your explorations of Edinburgh. For great views, 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. Or opt to journey to St. Andrews. This “birthplace of golf” is also famous for its historic university, its castle, cathedral and dramatic coastal setting. The excursion includes a visit to the British Golf Museum.
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
Single malt to single grain, search out the subtleties of scotch
Whisky Distillery, Blair Castle
On your way north to Inverness, stop in Perthshire, the gateway to the Scottish Highlands, for a visit to Blair Castle and the 18th-century Whisky Distillery, one of the oldest and purest distilleries in Scotland. Arrive in Inverness later this evening and check in to your hotel.
Hang with the Highlands’ locals or cruise for dolphins in the harbor
Optional Excursion - Culloden Moor & Cawdor Castle
Hugging the base of the scenic River Ness, the city of Inverness is truly a hidden gem with some of the friendliest locals in Scotland and a fine collection of shops, pubs and museums. Discover the city on your own today. You might wish to take a city tour or a river cruise. Or join an 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, location of some of the oldest megalithic structures in all of 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
Legend or hoax—decide for yourself on the shores of Loch Ness
Loch Ness 2000 Exhibition
Continuing westward along the Great Glen and towards the Caledonian Canal, stop at Loch Ness, home of the legendary Loch Ness monster, or Nessie, as she is affectionately called. You’ll visit the Loch Ness 2000 Exhibition, view a full-scale replica of the famed creature and see an audio-visual exhibit detailing the myths, sightings and history surrounding the loch. There has been some amazing footage recorded through the years. One of the most intriguing is a vacation photograph of London bank manager James Currie taken in 1938, which shows a long neck and a small pointed head protruding from the water. The film footage is so secretive that it is rumored to be locked up in a London bank vault. 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, it’s the perfect location to hide a monster. Arrive later in the western Highlands region, where dinner is included tonight.
Scotland’s highest mountains to its smallest islands, all yours to explore
Optional Excursion - Eilean Donan Castle & Isle of Skye
The scenery around the Western Highlands is some of the world’s most naturally breathtaking. On a free day, you might 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 the most photographed in the world, dramatically situated in the middle of Loch Duich. The isle, meanwhile, is as close as you can get to a time warp. Here 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
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
Get a good look at Glasgow, second-largest city and rival of Edinburgh
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 as you travel through the Trossachs to Glasgow, Scotland’s “second city.” An expert local guide leads this afternoon’s tour of Glasgow, which prospered in Victorian times and has recently again come to cultural prominence after being honored as the 1990 European City of Culture as well as the U.K. City of Architecture and Design. Pass through the city’s bustling heart in George Square and along 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.
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.
77.8% of reviewers recommend this tourRead Reviews 
The accomodations/meals on the tour were some of the best I have experienced traveling with GoAhead and EF. Our tour director was not Scottish and resorted to reading from a book to us regarding the sites we were seeing while on the bus. He needed to educate himself beforehand. He had great organizational skills though.
Bus driver was excellent
The tour was all right. Tatoo was wonderful, I just felt that the tour was not all together. We had accommodation problems and changes in the schedule. Some of it was very good and other things were just ok. Loved the whiskey distillery but was rushed. Loved the tattoo, but was rushed. Everywhere we went was rushed except the castles and they should have been rushed. Would have loved to hear about local customs and culture, but was given only history lesson. Maybe too much to see in a short time. Lovely country, but tour was lacking something.
Bait and switch?
This was to be and should have been the tour of our lifetime, a visit back to our heritage. Unfortunately due to poor planning and booking of hotels causing time constraints 3 out of our 5 excursions,that were preplanned and prepaid for, were canceled on us. This is something that I believe they should of been aware of and we should have been apprised of ahead of time and not on our day of arrival in Scotland. Mansel, our tour director, I must say did try to make the best of a difficult situation but it does not take away the disappointment of our dashed expectations and lack of seeing what we thought we paid for and expected. Upon calling customer service upon return I was told so sorry, I'll pass it along...to whom? I thought you were customer service? I had to press the point I had prepaid these excursions and inquired as to when I would expect a refund...I don't know, let me check(?...this is customer service) and to add insult to injury was informed 4-6 WEEKS...this is unacceptable in my mind. I paid week in advance in good faith for services that were not delivered and I believe as a professional tour company they should have been well aware of prevailing circumstances, made proper reservations well in advance to insure a proper tour with advertised excursions. This was the main reason for our choosing Go Ahead, unfortunately we were misguided. I have expected a return phone call in reference to my complaint and as yet, nothing. I can't help but feel that now it's done it's out of sight out of mind. The one good thing I have to say is Scotland is a beautiful country and the people I spent the time with were exceptional, my fellow passengers, tour director and drivers.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts Cheryl. I'd like to assure you that a member of our Evaluation & Quality Department will be reaching out to you this week to further address the concerns you mentioned in your initial phone call with our customer service department. We look forward to speaking with you soon.
Posted by Go Ahead Tours on August 14, 2013
We went on Go Ahead Tours of Scotland and had a fabulous time. Some of the hotels were a bit marginal, but that was offset somewhat by location. Terrific Tour Guide and good coach driver.
Excellent itinerary, well planned, and Tom Quinn was an outstanding and knowledgeable tour guide. We will request him on future tours.
Falling in love with Scotland and its people!
The Royal Tattoo, City of Edinburgh, Walkingthe Old Course at St. Andrews, a Scotch Distilliery anddozens of new scotches to try, a chance to look for Nessie, the magnificent castles, the spectacular scenery of the highlands and moors, golfing with a few locals, and meeting and expereincing the friendliest people we wever found make this a truly wonderful experience.
We fell in love with Scotland!
The pace of this tour was exhausting and amazing as we got to see so much in just under 2 weeks! The Military Tattoo was unbelievable and worth the entire trip to see! Our tour director was fantastic, very schooled in history, and just a really nice guy!
Scotland exceeded expectations
Great tour director Tattoo was spectacular Stunning scenery Surprised at quality of art in Glasgow museums Enjoyed history of Scotland - well done by director