Rabbies_Logotype_Hero_Navy_RGB_AW.png

~ The Rabbie's Blog ~

dunnottar castle

What Are Rabbie's Best Scottish Highland Tours?

Rabbie
Posted on 14 Apr 2023

We can picture you now. Sitting down at your desk, opening up the laptop. Typing into Google “tours of the Scottish Highlands” and BAM. You’re hit with 10,000 results in a nanosecond.  

We’ve been there, too. In a country as wee as Scotland, you’d think we’d be starved for places we want to explore. Think again. Just like you, we were overwhelmed when we first sat down to plan out our trips to the Scottish Highlands.  

Luckily, we’ve done the work for you. We’ve spent hours and hours researching online. Days and days out on the road (jealous?) hunting down our most treasured places in the Highlands. We couldn’t just narrow it down to one place, one experience, one historically rich area. Why should we? Each of our customers are unique, each wanting something different from their adventure, and our tours had to reflect those desires and differences.  

Whatever your reason for travelling, we’ve got you. To help narrow it down, here are some of our favourite small-group tours, depending on what you’re looking for. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by MDocherty (@md0cherty)

For the Best Views... 

My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here, 
My heart's in the Highlands, a-chasing the deer; 
Chasing the wild-deer, and following the roe, 
My heart's in the Highlands, wherever I go. 

- Robert Burns 

We’re fans of Robert ‘Rabbie’ Burns over here at Rabbie’s Tours. After all, it’s who our company is named after. He’s beloved here in Scotland, and he above all adored this country he called home. The song of bagpipes in the air, the smokey burn of whisky in the throat, an incredible Highland view; there’s a lot to love about Scotland. 

It could be argued that any view in Scotland is a pretty good view. We could endlessly list the places you should go for a killer view, but let’s narrow it down a wee bit, shall we?  

The Quiraing 

The Isle of Skye is one of those places you go and wonder if you’ve stepped into a fantasy world. From Fairy Pools to Fairy Glens, rolling heather-covered landscapes to endless ocean views, Skye is pure magic. One of our favourite spots on Skye is called the Quiraing, a cliff-face that was formed by a massive landslip and is part of the Trotternish Ridge. The view from it is utterly jaw-dropping, but mind your hats and loose clothing or they might just get blown away. 

We have several tours that journey here, including our 3-day Isle of Skye tours departing from Glasgow and Edinburgh, and several of our other Skye adventures.  

Glenfinnan Viaduct 

This is one of those views that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, and that’s likely because of its connection to the Harry Potter movies. The view of the Glenfinnan Viaduct attracts thousands of visitors every year. Having the chance to see the iconic viaduct is one thing, but many will wait in all kinds of weather to spot the famous Jacobite steam train that rolls past, greeting onlookers with a toot of its horn. 

We stop in at Glenfinnan on our 4-day Isle of Skye & the West Highlands tour from Edinburgh. While we can’t guarantee that you’ll see the train rolling past, it’s an amazing view regardless.  

Queen’s View 

It’s right there in the title, a view fit for a Queen. And you should definitely arrive in Scotland with Queen (or King) energy. In the heart of Highland Perthshire lies this popular destination.  

Back in 1866, Queen Victoria herself visited the spot, assuming it was named after her. While some suggest it was actually named after King Robert the Bruce’s wife Queen Isabella some 550 years before Queen Victoria’s visit, we see no harm in her believing it was named for her.  

If you’d like to do the same, and assume it was named after you, we have absolutely no problem with that. Go on, stake your claim while on our 1-day Highland Lochs, Glens & Whisky tour from Edinburgh.  

Luskentyre Beach 

Who doesn’t love a good beach? Funny thing is, people assume there's no such thing as a white-sandy beach here in Scotland. Well, we love to prove them wrong. Secluded and pristine, Luskentyre Beach is known as the ‘Maldives of Scotland’, and is far cheaper to boot. 

We head there on several tours, including our 5-day Outer Hebrides & the Scottish Highlands tour from Edinburgh and our 3-day Lewis, Harris & the Outer Hebrides tour from Inverness. Imagine yourself standing on the beach, pure white sand stretching in each direction, turquoise water sparkling on a sunny day (they do happen here in Scotland... on occasion). It’ll make for the best ‘aren’t you jealous’ photo for your Instagram page, trust us.  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Cody Wallace (@wall.ace2252)

Three Sisters, Glencoe 

It should be illegal to visit Scotland and not take in the sweeping vistas of Glencoe. Glen, a Scottish term you should be familiar with, means valley. And Glencoe is said to mean ‘Glen of Weeping’ which may refer to the infamous Massacre of Glencoe that took place there in 1692.  

But think not on the sad stories from Scotland (there are many), and instead take in the absolutely incredible views from Glencoe, including the Three Sisters. Aonach Dubh, Beinn Fhada and Gearr Aonach are the mountains that are together known as the Three Sisters of Glencoe, also known as Bidean Nam Bian. 

We traverse through Glencoe on several of our tours, including our 3-day Isle of Skye tour from Edinburgh. 

Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh 

Last but not least. Now we know this is technically not in the Highlands, but we had to include this amazing view because, simply put, it’s worth the hike. Arthur’s Seat is an ancient volcano that boasts some of the most incredible views over Edinburgh. 

Head to Holyrood Park and you’ll spot this high point as soon as you arrive. It’s hard to miss. The walk doesn’t take very long, but it can be a bit slippery with lots of wee rocks, so make sure you’re ready for it.  

For the Best Castles... 

If there’s three things that make up iconic Scotland it’s this: whisky, castles, and coos. Or bagpipes. Oh, wait, what about haggis? And a good kilt. Oooh, but standing stones... alright, we’re getting carried away.  

Without further ado, the castles

Dunnottar Castle 

One word: obsessed. This castle is the very definition of dramatic. Sitting on the edge of a cliff and overlooking the sea, Dunnottar Castle is steeped in history. Below the castle itself, propping it up like the world's most dramatic chair, is an incredible formation of rocks believed to have formed some 440 million years ago.  

From the Picts inhabiting the area back in 5000 BC to William Wallace’s attack on the garrison at Dunnottar in 1297, this incredible structure has seen a lot. 

We head there on our 1-day Dunnottar Castle & Royal Deeside tour from Aberdeen. 

Eilean Donan Castle 

Many would agree that this is the castle to see if you only have time to see one. With a picture-perfect location sitting on a small tidal island, connected to the mainland by a wonderful bridge, Eilean Donan is postcard worthy to be sure. 

Oddly enough, the castle you see today is not the original. The first castle was built back around the 12th or 13th century as a defensive structure. It saw a lot of fighting over the centuries, building to a climax during the Jacobite Rebellion in 1719 when the castle was reduced to ruins.  

For nearly 200 years, the ruins lay undisturbed like a slumbering dragon. Then along came a man known as John MacRae-Gilstrap, who purchased the castle and began restoration work. It was completed in 1932 but wasn’t opened to the public until 1955.  

The castle has been used in many films over the years, including Made of Honor (2008), Highlander (1986), and James Bond: The World is Not Enough (1999).  

If you feel like exploring the castle yourself, or at least seeing its dramatic perch, you can do so on our 1-day Torridon, Applecross & Eilean Donan Castle from Inverness, our 1-day Skye & Eilean Donan Castle from Inverness, or our 3-day Isle of Skye tour from Edinburgh. 

Urquhart Castle 

For many who travel to Scotland, seeing Loch Ness is at the top of their list. The great news is that one of Scotland’s most dramatic castles sits on its bonnie banks. Urquhart Castle saw its fair share of military action from the 1200s until its destruction in 1692.  

The castle began to decay and was even further destroyed in 1715 during a violent storm. Today, it’s one of Scotland’s most visited castles. Undeniably a must-visit, check it out for yourself on our 2-day Loch Ness, Inverness & the Highlands tour from Edinburgh or our 1-day Complete Loch Ness Experience tour from Inverness. 

For Whisky Lovers... 

You may already know a thing or two about whisky. Like how taxes forced distillers to produce whisky at night, or how whisky in Gaelic reads ‘uisge beathe’, which means ‘water of life’. Or maybe all you know is that you love it.  

You’ll be pleased to hear there are currently reportedly 143 operating Scotch Whisky distilleries across Scotland. Plenty to choose from. Even if you’re not a big whisky drinker, the process of creating this Scottish life source is rather interesting and can be witnessed at many distilleries across Scotland. 

Some people come all the way to Scotland with the sole purpose of diving into the whisky culture this country has to offer. Our 4-day Islay & the Whisky Coast or 3-day Speyswide Whisky Trail tours from Edinburgh are perfect for just that. Others prefer a wee dram or two, just a sampling so they can say they’ve had true Scottish whisky in Scotland. If that’s more up your alley, try our 1-day Discover Malt Whisky tour from Edinburgh or our 1-day Speyside Whisky Trail tour from Aberdeen. Just make sure you do some research on how to drink whisky like a true Scot before you arrive.

For Dark and Mysterious Lochs ...

If there’s one thing you should do before you arrive in Scotland, it’s learn how to pronounce the word loch properly. See all about that here.

There’s something about the word loch that whispers of the magical and mysterious. At the end of the day, they’re just bodies of water, known as lakes in the rest of the world. But the Scots all but worship their lochs. From the world-renowned Loch Ness to the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond, we pride ourselves on these beautiful parts of our country.  

Whether you’re a hunter on a mission to find the Loch Ness Monster, or a photographer drawn to Loch Morar, the deepest and oldest loch in Scotland, you’ll find one to suit you. If you’re feeling really brave, you could take a wee dip into one of the lochs while you’re here.

For Scotland’s Cute and Furry (and no, we don’t mean the Scots themselves)... 

You already know what we’re talking about, don’t you? Admit it, it’s top of your list of things to see in Scotland. It is for many who visit, and we don’t blame them. There’s just something about a hairy coo that has captured the hearts of people around the world. 

In the old Scots language, ‘coo’ means ‘cow’ so you may find many people still refer to this breed as either Highland cows or Highland coos. We prefer coo; it’s just so fun to say. If you’ve never heard of these adorable creatures before, read all about them and be prepared to be obsessed. 

But there’s at least one more animal we should mention before moving on. That’s right: the puffin. These comical birds are nicknamed the “clowns of the sea” thanks to their black and white feathers, bright beak, and orange legs. The best time of year to see a puffin in Scotland is between April and August and one great place to see them is on the Isle of Staffa, which we visit on our 4-day Magical Mull, Isle of Iona & West Highlands tour from Edinburgh and our 3-day Mull & Iona tour from Glasgow.  

But there’s plenty more to love about this country when it comes to the cute, the cuddly, and the elusive. Take a look at this guide to Mull, Iona & Staffa and you’ll find out just how many amazing animals there are to love here in Scotland.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by @amelia_a_amelia

For History Buffs... 

Scotland’s history is full of dark stories, horrific deaths, tragic romances, vicious battles, and fascinating personalities. We’re sure there are many nice and happy stories too, but our driver-guides tend to lean towards the slightly more dramatic ones while on tour. They stick with you, to say the least. 

While you’re exploring Scotland, if you’d like to know more about the history of this wonderful and wild country, you should definitely visit Culloden. If there’s one battle you should remember, one point in Scottish history that will move you and help you understand how important Scotland has and always will be to the Scots, it’s the Battle of Culloden.  

It was on this battlefield where 60 years of uprisings came to a heartbreaking end for the Scottish. We can’t express enough how deeply moving a visit to Culloden is. The visitor centre will guide you through the history of the uprisings and then you can venture out to pay your tribute to those who lost their lives fighting for what they loved. 

Now, you may have heard of a little cluster of islands up in the north of Scotland called the Orkney Isles. There are more than 70 islands that make up Orkney, but only 20 are inhabited. But before the isles were crawling with modern-day teens with their iPhones and drones, Orkney was inhabited some 8,500 years ago by Mesolithic and Neolithic tribes. It was thanks to these tribes that we have the ancient and crumbling sites we so admire today. From ceremonial stone circles to prehistoric villages, Orkney is a treasure trove of history. Many have heard of Skara Brae, but a few more you should add to your list are Maeshowe Chambered Cairn, the Standing Stones of Stenness, and the Ring of Brodgar. Intrigued and want to know more? We suggest you read our blog all about Orkney’s historical importance. 

For Movie and TV Lovers... 

It comes as no surprise that Scotland is a draw for those in the film industry. Our sweeping landscapes are perfect for dramatic fantasy settings. Our stunning palaces and castles make for the best royal homesteads. And our ruins nestled among moors and beside lochs inspire such awe that they can’t help being noticed.  

If you’re a huge movie and TV show fan, let’s just say that Scotland will keep you busy.  

For Outlander fans, we have tours specifically made just for you. You’ll join like-minded folk as you traverse some of the iconic locations from the show, perhaps debating things like who you would choose: Jamie or Murtagh? How would you fare in the past? Who is your favourite character? Which dramatic fight scene is the most memorable? 

We have a 1-day Outlander tour both from Edinburgh and Glasgow, where you’ll explore fan-favourite locations like Midhope Castle (Lallybroch in the show) and Doune Castle (Castle Leoch from the show).  

If you need more than one day to dive into your Outlander obsession, then we have a 4-day Outlander Trail tour from Edinburgh, which gives you the chance to visit other amazing places like Culloden, Falkland, and Glencoe. 

Lovers of Harry Potter will also find there’s something for them in Scotland. Remember in the second movie when Harry and Ron fly over the train as it crosses that amazing bridge? Well, that bridge is called the Glenfinnan Viaduct and it’s located in the Highlands of Scotland. We stop by for a visit on our 4-day Isle of Skye & West Highlands tour from Edinburgh and, while we can’t guarantee you’ll see the steam train pass by, it’s still an incredible photo opportunity.  

Again, we know it’s not in the Highlands, but while you’re in Edinburgh, make sure you stop by Greyfriars Kirkyard to see Thomas Riddell’s grave, or take a walk down Victoria Street, the supposed inspiration for Diagon Alley.

And then there’s Skye. We always recommend a visit to the Isle of Skye, as it truly is one of those places that takes your breath away. But it’s also been used in many film and TV series over the years. Take the Quiraing, for example. This incredible landslip has been used in movies like Stardust, Transformers: The Last Knight, Snow White and the Huntsmen, The BFG, and the 2015 adaptation of Macbeth

For Geological Wonders... 

Speaking of Skye, it’s home to one of those natural landmarks that draws people time and again. A few miles north of Portree, Skye’s quaintest village, the Old Man of Storr is a rocky hill face that juts out of the undulating terrain, standing at 160-feet-high.  

There are several legends associated with Storr. One’s about a giant. Another about faeries. There’s even one about a Brownie. No, not the food. Check out those legends here.  

Off to the west coast of Scotland now, to a tiny little isle that is just ½ mile long and ¼ mile wide. A place so otherworldly, you’ll likely suspect aliens were involved at some point and to be honest, we don’t blame you for thinking this. 

The Isle of Staffa is a designated National Nature Reserve and is world-famous for its hexagonal columns that form up the landmass. Staffa was formed millions of years ago by volcanic eruptions, when a surge of lava spread into the Atlantic Ocean. The ominous Fingal’s Cave lies beneath and often puffins are spotted lounging on the rocks.   

Staffa is an easy boat trip from the Isle of Mull, so check out these tours here if you’re drawn to the weird and wild.  

You may have heard of this next part of Scotland. The North Coast 500, or NC500 route, is considered one of the best road trips in the world. The options are endless and, for those who are looking for a natural wonder, check out the Corrieshalloch Gorge. For some reason it’s been nicknamed ‘The Ugly Hollow’ but we think this gorge and accompanying waterfalls are absolutely spectacular.  

And while you’re on the NC500, check out Smoo Caves. In the county of Sutherland, this sea cave is set into limestone cliffs, with a classic Scottish burn running into the rear chamber. You can explore by boat or on foot, but in the warmer months, you may not be able to see the waterfall inside due to higher water levels.  

Did that help at all? Or perhaps you’ve now added another half dozen things to your ever-growing list of places to see in Scotland. We wish there was one, big giant tour full of everything and anything you might possibly want to see. But sometimes there’s fun in saving some for next time because, with a place like Scotland, there’s always a next time. 

Popular Posts

24 Hours in Edinburgh
Kimberley
20 Jul 2017, 14:05
The Best King Arthur Sites for History Lovers
Nick
16 Jun 2017, 14:24
The Highland Cow - More Than Just a Hairy Face
Rabbie
7 Feb 2019, 14:35
The 6 Best Solo Travel Destinations for 2024
Rabbie
22 Feb 2023, 10:39
The Murderers and Smugglers of Old Rye
Nick
8 Aug 2017, 12:48
Loch vs Lake: What’s the Difference?
Rabbie
30 Jan 2023, 11:50