When you travel to Edinburgh, once you have toured the city, a visit to Loch Ness and the Scottish Highlands is an almost mandatory excursion. You will have heard dozens of stories about the famous Loch Ness monster, but they are not enough to give you an idea of the beauty of the Scottish landscapes.
1. How to visit the Highlands and Loch Ness from Edinburgh
The first thing you need to know is that the famous Loch Ness is part of the Highland region of Scotland. There you will find dream castles, mountains and huge lakes. It is located about three hours by road from Edinburgh and the best way to visit it without missing anything, is an organized tour.
2. Full day tour to the Highlands of Scotland
If you don't have much time during your visit to Edinburgh and you don't want to miss the experience of seeing the best Scottish lochs and castles, this day trip to the Scottish Highlands from Edinburgh is the most comfortable alternative. The price of $ 65 includes the transfer in an air-conditioned vehicle and the services of a specialized guide who will show you the different stops of the tour while telling you the stories behind them.
You can book this tour online; once you choose the day of your reservation you will receive an email with all the necessary information about the details of the tour and instructions to get to the meeting point where you will meet your driver and guide. On this tour there will be a maximum of 32 travelers and children under 5 years old are not allowed. If you have any inconvenience during your trip, you can make the cancellation with a minimum of 24 hours notice.
You can take the tour in the following languages: Spanish, German, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, English, Italian and French. Please note that food is on your own; you can bring a prepared picnic, but you will also have free time to eat at one of the restaurants near the points of interest included in the tour.
- Doune Castle in Stirlingshire
- Kilchurn Castle on Loch Awe
- Inveraray village and castle
- View of the Arrochar Alps
- Highland peaks in Glen Ogle
- Views of Loch Lomond in the village of Luss
Highlights of this tour
This tour is very interesting because of the variety of landscapes and contrasts that you will see in the same day. The tour is designed to be as complete as possible so that the traveler can get a general impression of the Scottish countryside, even if he only has one day to do the tour.
3. Two-day tour to the Scottish Highlands
If you have enough time during your trip, it is worth spending a night in Inverness, the city where Loch Ness is situated, and being able to take this two-day tour from Edinburgh through the Scottish Highlands. A maximum of 29 travelers can participate in this tour and children under 5 years of age are not allowed.
The tour, available in English or Spanish among other languages, is priced at $ 122 and includes round-trip transportation from Edinburgh and the services of a specialized guide, but does not include accommodation or meals. You can do two things: book your own accommodation in Inverness or hire it as part of the tour for a supplement choosing between a hostel or a B&B.
Once you book your place on the tour online you will receive an email which will serve as your voucher. You will need to present it to your guide at the meeting point in Edinburgh (an easily accessible central location that will be indicated to you by email) on the day of your chosen tour. If your plans change or you have any inconvenience you will be able to cancel your tour with 24 hours notice.
What will you see in the Scottish Highlands?
The best landscapes of the country including lakes, mountains and castles.
On the first day you will stop in the small village of Luss, situated next to the glacial Loch Lomond, then you will walk along the mountainous expanse of Rannoch Moor including the Black Mount and the settlement of Glencoe. It is here that your guide will tell you about a massacre committed in 1692 that is part of the history of the place. Before the end of the day you will still pass Fort Williams where you will see the highest mountain in Britain (Ben Nevis) and Fort Augustus Abbey near Urquhart Castle.
On the second day of the trip you will meet your driver early in the morning at a central point in the city of Inverness. From there you will go to the battlefield of Culloden, where you will continue to learn about important battles in the history of Scotland; then you will visit the Neolithic stones of Clava Cairns and then head to the former military garrison of Ruthven Barracks. Finally, if you take the tour in the summer months, you can enjoy a walk in the forest of The Hermitage before returning to Edinburgh.
Highlights of this tour
I like this tour because of the historical content of the stops along the way. Also, the fact that it is a two-day tour allows you to get to know the area much better.
4. What to see in the Highlands
It is the capital of the Highlands and is the only place you can reach by public transport from Edinburgh. Among its main monuments are the cathedral and the museum of the city, but what is most worthwhile is to walk through its streets. Inverness is like being immersed in a fairy tale; the houses with fairytale roofs blend with the vegetation in perfect harmony while the mountains are the backdrop of the city.
It is one of the largest lakes in the world and the best views are from Urquhart Castle. Of course, its main attraction is the legend of Nessie, a mythological monster that is said to have eaten a local man in the 6th century. Since then, and particularly since the twentieth century, there are many who claim to have seen him, but, according to science, it remains a legend.
Eilean Donan Castle
You will find many castles in the Scottish Highlands, but this is the most photographed in the country. Of course, it is not safe from legends as it is said that there is a ghost inside. Its exterior is already striking in itself, but you can also visit some areas inside; to do so you have to get to the vicinity of the Isle of Skye.
Isle of Skye
Presided over by Dunvegan Castle, it is the largest of the Hebrides. The colors of the vegetation of this island you will not find anywhere else and can hardly be described in words. Castles, stone bridges, cliffs, lakes, gardens ... all this and much more is what you will find on the Isle of Skye.
Glen Coe Valley
A valley of a capricious relief formed by the geology of ancient glaciers. The peace that is breathed between its mountains also make it an essential stop in the Highlands.
Ana's Traveller Tip
Excursions are not cancelled due to fog or rain. It is essential that you carry an umbrella or raincoat, even in the summer months.
5. Tips for organizing your trip to the Highlands and Loch Ness
Scotland's vegetation is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful in Europe; the colors of its forests and plains leave you speechless, but... nothing would be so green if it weren't for the rain. You will surely have heard that in Edinburgh, and in Scotland in general, it rains a lot and constantly, but perhaps you have not taken into account the fog that can also be a nuisance when making this type of excursions.
- In summer the risk is reduced, but there is no guarantee that you will be able to see this type of landscape with clear skies.
- Don't worry, the beauty is equally fascinating, even if the visit is a little more uncomfortable. What you can do is go prepared with comfortable, waterproof clothing (avoid wearing jeans and go for the tracksuit) and, of course, umbrella and raincoat. As for your cell phone, get a waterproof case during your trip so you can keep taking pictures of the landscape despite the rain.
- Finally, many of the routes through the Scottish Highlands will require you to walk; remember to wear the right shoes so that you don't get too tired during the hikes (trekking shoes are ideal).
- On organized tours, the routes are normally accessible to all types of travelers, but if you have any doubts or special conditions , consult your guide before starting the tour.
Ana's Traveller Tip
Don't forget to bring comfortable clothes for the Highland landscapes and waterproof footwear.
6. If you are interested in a tour to the Scottish Highlands from Edinburgh, you will also be interested in
On the tour to the Scottish Highlands you will see many castles, but you should not forget to visit the spectacular Edinburgh Castle; you can do it on a guided tour or on your own.
You will find it in the center of the city on a huge stone hill. You will be surprised how well preserved this 12th century fortification is and, if you are accompanied by a guide during the visit, within its walls you will be able to discover many of the stories on which the history of the country is based. Find out how to organize your visit in my guide on Castle of Edinburgh Tickets.