Day Tours Of Scotland From Edinburgh
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Want to see more of Scotland or even Northern England during your trip to Edinburgh? Various tour operators run one day tours to some of Scotland's most iconic locations, from Rosslyn Chapel on the Borders to Loch Ness in the Highlands. At CityXplora, we work with two of the capital's most experienced providers: Rabbie's Trail Burners Ltd and Lothian Motor Coaches.
The main things to look for in a full day excursion are price, itinerary and group size. At a glance, Rabbie's offer more intimate, small group experiences (at a slightly higher cost), while Lothian use larger luxury coaches which are ideally suited to a tighter budget. Both feature professional English-speaking tour guides, as well as comprehensive itineraries that can take you all the way from Fort Augustus to Hadrian's Wall.
Edinburgh Day Tours By Rabbie's:
If you've ever visited Edinburgh as a tourist then you might be familiar with Rabbie's, the award-winning small group tour specialist. They offer single and multi-day adventures across the length and breadth of Scotland, each one led by an experienced tour guide, and conducted from the comfort of a luxury Mercedes mini coach. So if it's your first time in the country and you have a few days to spare, why not embark on a scenic trip to the Highlands or Borders?
Regular stops offer participants a chance to experience Scotland's natural beauty up-close and personal. Wander through rugged fields of heather where real-life tales of triumph, love and tragedy unfolded throughout the nation's history. Visit famous castles that continue to inspire modern film and television. And most importantly, make memories that'll have you itching to discover more!
- Small Groups: Group sizes of no more than 16 people per mini-coach.
- Age Restrictions: Children aged 4 and under are not permitted on any tour.
- Centrally Located: Buses depart Rabbie's Café, 16/28 Waterloo Place, Edinburgh | View Location.
- Fees: Activity/entry fees are excluded from the price of all one day tours. However, where applicable, Rabbie's have negotiated concessionary rates for their tour participants.
1) Loch Lomond, Kelpies & Stirling Castle Tour:
Description - On this tour you'll visit key locations throughout the Scottish central belt and lower West Highlands. It begins with a stop by Falkirk's famous Kelpie sculptures, before continuing onto the shores of Loch Lomond. Additional activities include nature walks in the Trossachs National Park, and a final drive up to Stirling Castle.
Unique Stops - Sites associated with folk hero Rob Roy MacGregor - Scotland's real life 'Robin Hood'.
2) Highland Lochs, Glens & Whisky Tour:
Description - Walk in the footsteps of Queen Victoria, Sir Walter Scott and Alexander Nasmyth on this full day tour to some of the finest locations in the Scottish Highlands. Stop by Dewars Whisky distillery for a 'wee dram' of the national drink, marvel at the epic vistas of Queen’s View lookout, and visit the Black Linn Falls on a woodland walk from Dunkeld.
Unique Stops - Dewar's Aberfeldy Distillery and views of Loch Tummel from Queen's View.
3) St Andrews & The Fishing Villages Of Fife Tour:
Description - This tour is perfect for anyone with a love of golf, the seaside and or grand medieval buildings. You'll begin by crossing the Firth of Forth and stopping at the fishing village of Anstruther. Take a walk along the cobbled harbour front and bask in the atmosphere of traditional eastern Scottish coastal life.
Next on the itinerary is St Andrews, home to Britain's third oldest university as well as the famous 'Old Course' and an ancient ruined castle by the sea. With two and a half hours to spare you'll have plenty of time to visit and learn about each one. Before returning to Edinburgh your mini-coach will make a final stop at Falkland Palace. Once a residence of Scotland's Stuart monarchs, this stunning building displays architectural elements typical of the late medieval/early Renaissance period.
Unique Stops - Falkland Palace, site of the world's oldest still-functioning tennis court.
4) Rosslyn Chapel & The Scottish Borders Tour:
Description - On this Rabbie's day tour you'll learn about important chapters in Scottish history at Melrose Abbey. You'll also witness the underrated beauty of the Scottish Borders and delve into mystery and myth with your tour guide at Rosslyn Chapel.
Unique Stops - The Bemersyde William Wallace Statue and Scott’s View, a panoramic viewpoint overlooking the lush Tweed Valley.
5) Alnwick Castle, Northumberland Coast & The Borders Tour:
Description - On this adventure you'll cross the Scottish border into Northern England, absorbing the beautiful, unspoiled countryside as you go. Hear historic accounts of conflict and intrigue while admiring Northumberland's rugged coast and ancient monuments such as Alnwick Castle.
The latter is best known as a key filming location from the Harry Potter movie series. Most notably, it's where they shot the first flying lesson scene from the Philosopher's Stone, an event which they honour to this day by offering visitors fun broomstick training sessions. For more activities inspired by J. K. Rowling's wizarding world see Alnwick Castle's upcoming events page.
Unique Stops - Alnwick Castle.
6) Hadrian's Wall, Roman Britain & The Scottish Borders Tour:
Description - Unearth the ancient foundations of modern Britain on this full day tour to Hadrian's Wall. Departing Edinburgh at 08:15, your bus will blaze a trail through rolling hills and windswept fields that have remained fundamentally unchanged since Roman times. Along the way you'll stop at the town of Jedburgh (home to a sprawling medieval abbey) and the Carter Bar, a scenic rest stop on the border between England and Scotland. Here you can photograph yourself standing next to the border's two giant boundary stones.
Proceeding south-west through the Northumberland moors you'll eventually arrive at the Steel Rigg portion of Hadrian's Wall. This section is popular for its clearly defined walking routes and remarkably well-preserved stonework. Your tour guide will suggest an ideal path to follow, one that includes the best vantage points and the remains of the ancient Roman Milecastles. A fit and able bodied person should be able to complete the walk in approximately 2 hours.
Afterwards, you'll meet up back at the coach for the return journey to Edinburgh.
Unique Stops - Carter Bar and Steel Rigg.
7) Loch Ness, Glencoe & The Highlands Tour:
Description - Billed as Rabbie's quintessential 'Scotland In A Day' tour, this excursion whisks visitors away to the shores of Loch Ness and the hauntingly beautiful valley of Glencoe. Its itinerary is geared towards travellers who want to visit iconic locations from Scottish history, song and literature. Learn about the political divisions that led to the infamous Massacre of Glencoe, admire the unspoiled wilderness of Rannoch Moor, and take an optional sightseeing cruise through the Great Glen.
Unique Stops - Rannoch Moor, Glencoe, Great Glen & Loch Ness and Fort Augustus.
8) West Highland Lochs & Castles Tour:
Description - Take an in-depth look at the breathtaking geography and architecture of the Scottish West Highlands with Rabbie's. After departing Edinburgh in one of their Mercedes mini coaches you'll travel to Doune Castle via Stirling. Constructed in the 14th century as a stronghold of Duke Robert Stewart, Doune Castle will feel instantly familiar to any fans of the TV series Outlander and or Monty Python and the Holy Grail - being a key filming location for both.
After leaving Doune Castle continue into the Highlands proper, passing through the Braes of Balquhidder and making a short photo stop at Loch Lubnaig. Eventually you'll arrive at Kilchurn Castle. Use this opportunity to explore the ruins (former seat of the Campbells of Breadalbane) and nearby Loch Awe.
Next is Inveraray on the edge of Loch Fyne, where you may visit the old town jail or, from April to October, Inveraray Castle. Seasons aside, all Lochs & Castles day tours finish with a drive up to the 'Rest and Be Thankful' viewpoint, and a stop on the banks of Loch Lomond.
Unique Stops - Loch Lubnaig, Kilchurn Castle, Inveraray, Loch Fyne, conservation village of Luss and Rest and Be Thankful viewpoint.
Edinburgh Day Tours By Lothian Motor Coaches:
Lothian conduct all of their single day excursions from the comfort of a luxury motor coach fleet. Each vehicle is equipped with quality on board amenities including: air conditioning, reclining seats, footrests, Wi-Fi, USB charging and even a washroom. As with Rabbie's, you'll be accompanied on your journey by a passionate English-speaking tour guide. All tours depart Charlotte Square in Edinburgh.
1) Scottish Monuments & Castles Tour:
Description - On this day tour you'll be treated to tales of political history and industrial heritage, each represented by four famous landmarks. Spend the morning at Linlithgow Palace, historic seat of Scotland's Stewart monarchs, before continuing onto the Helix Park outside Falkirk. Here you'll find the monumental Kelpie Statues, figures from Celtic mythology which here represent the working animals that fueled Scotland's industrial revolution.
Finally, hop aboard your coach for a drive up to Stirling, where a stop at mighty hilltop fortress and views of the iconic Wallace Monument await.
Unique Stops - Helix Park.
2) Fife & Dundee Tour:
Description - The Fife & Dundee Tour is a scenic drive comprising some of the most picturesque locations in eastern Scotland. After crossing the Firth of Forth you'll venture through the Fife countryside towards Dundee.
Like many large Scottish cities the 'City of Discovery' is a former industrial centre that reinvented itself as a culture and science hub. Testament to this is its two universities, the RRS Discovery museum ship, and the newly opened V&A Dundee. After crossing the River Tay your coach will drop you off outside the latter, where you'll have plenty of time to explore the latest exhibits (entry own cost).
Around mid-day the tour will continue onto St Andrews. While best known as the 'Home of Golf' and Scotland's oldest university, this seaside town has plenty to keep travellers of all stripes amused. Pay a visit to one of its many museums, frolic along the West Sands beach, meet local marine life in the aquarium, and much more.
Your stay in St Andrews is followed by a trip to Kingsbarns Whisky Distillery & Visitor Centre, which hosts its own guided tours and tasting sessions. You'll have an hour to get your distillers cap on before the odour of the mash tun gives way once again to the scent of sea air, as you make your way back to Edinburgh via a scenic coastal route.
Unique Stops - Kingsbarns Whisky Distillery and Dundee V&A.
3) Loch Lomond, The Trossachs & Doune Castle Tour:
Description - Explore the foothills of the Highlands and its treasured landmarks on this comprehensive weekly excursion. Spend time on the banks of Loch Lomond, ascend the ramparts of Doune Castle, and treat yourself to lunch in the village of Aberfoyle.
Unique Stops - Aberfoyle.
4) Rosslyn Chapel, Borders & Floors Castle Tour:
Description - Explore the region that shaped and inspired prominent Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott on this remarkably scenic 7-hour tour. Visit the now world-famous Rosslyn Chapel then pass through the triple peaks of the Eildon Hills as you make your way to Melrose Abbey, a site close connections to the Knights Templar and Robert the Bruce.
The day concludes with a stop at Floors Castle a vast stately home in Kelso owned by the Duke of Roxburghe, currently John Ker, 5th Earl of Roxburghe.
Unique Stops - Floors Castle.
5) Loch Ness & Highlands Experience Tour:
Description - Journey deep into the heart of the Scottish Highlands on a tour that takes you through the breathtaking Valley of Glencoe and across the waters of Loch Ness.
Departing Edinburgh in the early morning your first stop is Callander, a small town on the banks of the River Teith filled with beautiful old medieval and 19th century buildings. Your refreshment stop at Callander is followed by various photo opportunities in Glencoe, a drive through Fort William and eventually a stop by the Caledonian Canal.
The Caledonian Canal at Fort Augustus is the embarkation point for the tour's Loch Ness sightseeing cruise.
The return journey features a scenic drive through Cairngorms National Park. Before arriving back in Edinburgh enjoy one final stop at Pitlochry, a quaint Victorian resort town that's home to the Blair Athol Distillery and an iconic hydro-electric dam/salmon ladder.
Unique Stops - Caledonian Canal and Fort Augustus.