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Cairngorms

Cairngorms: Our most recommended tours and activities

From Glasgow: Loch Ness, Glencoe and Highlands Tour

1. From Glasgow: Loch Ness, Glencoe and Highlands Tour

Embark on a guided tour to Loch Lomond National Park, Rannoch Moor, Glencoe, the Great Glen, Loch Ness, and Pitlochry from Glasgow. Learn the history behind each turn from your guide. Depart Glasgow 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 that 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. Keep an eye out for legendary sightings of the Loch Ness Monster, Nessie. Take in views of the charming town of Fort Augustus and the Caledonian Canal which links the lochs of the Great Glen. Spend some time here where you can purchase a nice lunch before traveling north up the full length of the loch. Have the opportunity to see the ancient stronghold of Urquhart Castle while taking a 5-Star Jacobite boat cruise on the loch. Continue north through Inverness before traveling south in the stunning the mountains of Cairngorms National Park. Drive over the Drumochter Pass, at 1500 feet above sea level and past the 13th century Blair Castle, the ancestral home of the Duke of Atholl. Finally, stretch your legs at the Highland resort town of Pitlochry which is built for Victorian tourism and nestled amongst the mountains of Highland Perthshire. Return to your starting point in Glasgow at the end of your tour.

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

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

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.

Loch Ness and the Highlands 1-Day Tour from Aberdeen

3. 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.

Dunnottar Castle and Royal Deeside 1-Day Tour from Aberdeen

4. 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.

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

5. 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.

From Edinburgh: Isle of Skye & Highlands 3-Day Guided Tour

6. From Edinburgh: Isle of Skye & Highlands 3-Day Guided Tour

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 a bed and breakfast accommodation. Day 1: A Spectacular Route North Depart Edinburgh and travel north through the Trossachs National Park. Visit a lovely village and take in views of the UK’s largest expanse of freshwater, Loch Lomond. Continue across the brooding expanse of Rannoch Moor, and through Glen Coe. Learn the brutal story of the MacDonald Clan massacre and take in the weeping waterfalls that inhabit this incredible glen. The highland town of Fort William marks the end of Scotland’s oldest and most popular long-distance walks, The West Highland Way. Stay overnight in Inverness. Day 2: A Full Day on Skye You'll have the full day to explore the Isle of Skye. Highlights include the craggy Cuillin Mountains, the dramatic hills of the Quiraing, and the stunning Trotternish Peninsula.  You might see seals out in the waves as you walk along the coast, or a stag standing on a hillside. Visit the capital of Skye, Portree for lunch. 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.

From Edinburgh: 2-Day Loch Ness, Inverness & Highlands Tour

7. From Edinburgh: 2-Day Loch Ness, Inverness & Highlands Tour

Day 1 Travel north to Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park and the lovely village of Luss on the western banks of Loch Lomond, best known as a haven for wildlife and stunning flowers. Stroll along the shore and walk past pretty cottages during your time here. Travel further into the Highlands and visit Glen Coe, one of the most beautiful valleys in the world. Feel the past come to life as your guide tells you about the terrible massacre of the MacDonald clan. Depart Glen Coe via the Great Glen, another one of Scotland's majestic valleys which stretches 62 miles from Inverness all the way to Fort William. This is the second largest town in the Highlands and lies in the shadow of Ben Nevis, Britain's tallest mountain. Continue west to Glenfinnan, made famous by the Harry Potter films, which feature the iconic Viaduct. In the summer months, you may catch a glimpse of this magical train crossing the Viaduct. This landmark is surrounded by spectacular Highland scenery at the head of Loch Shiel. Stay overnight in accommodation near Loch Ness. Day 2 After a delicious Scottish breakfast, you have time to explore Loch Ness, Britain's largest body of water by volume. Then, visit Culloden, the last stand of the Jacobites against the British government forces. A visit to the battlefield is a poignant experience. Walk on the grounds where the battle took place and see the headstones that mark the graves of hundreds of clansmen. Travel south and enjoy the stunning scenery as you pass through the unique wilderness of the Cairngorms, Scotland's largest National Park. Its mountain range has five of the UK's highest mountains within its limits. Before returning to Scotland's capital, Edinburgh, make one last stop at a beautiful Highland town chosen by your driver-guide.

Edinburgh: Loch Ness & Scottish Highlands Tour with Lunch

8. Edinburgh: Loch Ness & Scottish Highlands Tour with Lunch

Embark on a full-day guided trip to Loch Ness from Edinburgh and tour the Scottish Highlands. See the UK's highest mountain, Ben Nevis, keep an eye out for Nessie on a boat cruise and enjoy a picnic lunch. Head north from Edinburgh and pass the imposing ramparts of Stirling Castle. Skirt the Trossachs Rob Roy country, and cross the wilds of Rannoch Moor before stopping at dramatic Glencoe; the scene of the infamous 1692 massacre.  Your journey takes you through Fort William. Pass Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain, before entering the Great Glen. Arrive at the pretty Highland village of Fort Augustus on the banks of Loch Ness, and enjoy a lovely picnic with freshly made sandwiches, shortbread, and chips. If you fancy something more substantial, your guide will happily recommend some great local cafes.  Take an optional boat cruise on the loch, go for a scenic hike, or just relax by the Caledonian Canal. If you choose to sail along the waters of Loch Ness, it really is an unforgettable experience. Your boat is equipped with the latest hi-tech color, sonar, and underwater imaging system, giving you a fascinating view of the underwater terrain and life. You might even see Nessie! You can also relax with a coffee or beer in the onboard bar. Having seen the best of the Scottish Highlands, it's time to head back to Edinburgh via shimmering Loch Laggan and the wild and lonely Drumochter Pass. Head south and enter Perthshire, a land of forests, rivers, and mountains. See the spectacular Forth Bridge before arriving back in Edinburgh at around 20:00.

From Edinburgh: Loch Ness and The Highlands Group Day Trip

9. From Edinburgh: Loch Ness and The Highlands Group Day Trip

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, get a more intimate experience as you visit Loch Ness, Glencoe Valley, and Rannoch Moor. Drive past Linlithgow Palace, the 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 Highland clans, such as the MacGregors, and the famous folk hero, Rob Roy MacGregor. Continue north through Breadalbane, and ascend Rannoch Moor’s heather and peat bogs, dotted with dozens of lochs. Pass the majestic peak of Buachaille Etive Mor, and descend into Glencoe Valley. Drive under Britain's highest mountain, Ben Nevis, before arriving at Fort Augustus on the southern shore of Loch Ness. Look out for the Loch Ness Monster or simply enjoy the scenery on this 2-hour stop, with time for lunch. Pass the mountains of the Cairngorms National Park, then Loch Laggan, and finally the Drumochter Pass. See the 13th-century Blair Castle before heading through the forests of Perthshire to Perth, the medieval capital of Scotland. Cross the famous Forth Bridge on your way back to Edinburgh.

From Inverness: Cairngorms National Park and Whisky Tour

10. From Inverness: Cairngorms National Park and Whisky Tour

Depart Inverness and travel through the spellbinding landscapes of Speyside towards Dava Moor for some great views of the Cairngorms National Park. Keep your camera ready to capture the vibrant color of blooming heather if you’re visiting in the summer and autumn months. Visit the forest village of Carrbridge. Here, you can get some refreshments, breathe in the cool mountain air, and wander around the Old Packhorse Bridge. Continue south to Glenmore Forest Park, where you'll have free time to explore. Take an optional walk through the woods to Loch Morlich, which is one of Scotland’s most scenic and popular lochs. You can admire a sandy beach and large and ancient pine trees before you make your way back to the mini-coach. If you prefer not to walk, there’s a café and exhibition at the visitor center. After working up an appetite, head to Aviemore for lunch at your own expense. Finish off with a dram of whisky at Tomatin Distillery*. Savor the aromas of fruit and spice, and feel the passion for community and environment in this little town clustered around the distillery. Leave the remote landscapes behind and start your journey back to Inverness, where you'll arrive in the early evening.

Other Sightseeing Options in Cairngorms

Want to discover all there is to do in Cairngorms? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Cairngorms

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 4,710 reviews

Eddie was awesome. He definitely made the tour fun and enjoyable. I would definitely recommend signing him up for the additional trainings so he can then give the whisky tours as well. One thing that could be improved is the transportation. It smelled like wet laundry you forgot I'm the washer for a couple of days so needs to be aired out better between tours. Also, it just didn't sound like it was maintained well.

The trip was excellent! No delays, many stops for photos, coffee etc. Big shout out for our bus driver& guide Anthony! He told stories about Scotland and about every place we visited and at the same time he is absolutely amazing person. The trip with him was so funny! Laughed all 12,5hrs! And left the bus with big smile on my face! Absolutely fantastic trip and i wont forget it for sure!!!!

Jeff C with Rabbie Tours was AWESOME! Funny, kind, informative and easy to understand. We covered some serious ground on this tour and it was a great taste of the Highlands and lochs.

it was brilliant Rose our guide was very knowledgeable and was up to date with stories and TV shows which were filmed here

Good experience. Guide knew his stuff. Took us to beautiful places on the highlands.