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So you’re planning a trip to Scotland and you might be wondering: what are the best things to do in the Scotland Highlands? And how will you fit everything you want to see into one epic trip?

top pick
3 day isle of skye & highlands tour from edinburgh

See the very best of the Highlands on this excellent and comprehensive tour!

Well, the bad news is you probably can’t see EVERYTHING…Scotland is too magical and has so much to offer that there will always be something you’ll miss, even if you visit dozens of times.

Planning your trip? Use our favorite resources!

For accommodations – | Expedia | VRBO
For car rentals – Discover Cars
For tours & excursions – Viator
For cheap flights – FareDrop
For travel insurance – Safety Wing

But the good news is that you found this article, and I’m going to help you narrow down the top things to see so that even if you have limited time, you’ll get to experience the very best of the Scottish Highlands and have an awesome adventure.

So let’s dive in, shall we?

Best Tours Of Scotland Highlands

If you only have a few days in Scotland and want to get out into the Highlands to see all the beautiful landscapes, you have a few choices.

You can rent a car and take a road trip (which I definitely recommend if you feel comfortable driving) but with limited time, you might just feel rushed and stressed trying to get to all the attractions in just a few days.

So the next best thing is to take a tour! There are so many advantages to taking a tour, including having a guide who has so much knowledge and information on the places you’ll be going. Plus, you’ll also have a stress-free experience and spend more time enjoying the landscapes and taking pictures since you won’t have to navigate yourself around or figure out where to park.

I’ve researched and rounded up the best multi-day tours to the Scottish Highlands for you so you can choose the one that works best for you and your timeframe.

Fairy glen on the Isle of Skye in Scotland

1. 2-Day Isle of Skye Tour From Inverness 

Highlights: Dunvegan Castle & Gardens, Quiraing, Kilt Rock, Old Man of Storr, Portree, Fairy Pools, Eilean Donan Castle

Get a taste of the best of the Isle of Skye with this 2-day tour from Inverness. The benefit of leaving from Inverness is that you are already in the Highlands, which means a shorter driving time to the Isle of Skye.

This tour is perfect for families, couples, and solo travelers.

2. 2-Day Customized Scotland Highlands Tour 

If you like private tours and want to see specific areas that a larger tour group may not go to, this build-your-own Scotland Highlands tour is perfect for you.

This flexible option allows you to choose exactly where you want to go, and the friendly and knowledgeable staff will help you pick the perfect places to stay and eat based on your tastes and desires.

Plus, this tour is only for you and the people in your group, so you can travel as a family and see only what is desired by you and your members.

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

Highlights: Loch Lomond, Glencoe, Loch Ness, Portree, Eilean Dunan Castle, Culloden Battlefield

This highly-rated 3-day tour is a great choice for those who are arriving in and out of Edinburgh and want to get a really good overview of both the Scotland Highlands and the Isle of Skye.

“Amazing trip! 3 days of pure delight with a wonderful group of people and funny and knowledgeable Maj from Highland Experience! Beautiful country, out-of-this-world landscapes and soul enriching history and tradition! Thank you Scotland 😊”

– Radmila_D, see review

If you only have a long weekend to spend in the Highlands, this is the tour for you.

4. 5-Day Best Of Scotland From Glasgow

Highlights: Loch Lomond, Oban, Glencoe, Isle of Skye, Loch Ness, Culloden Battlefield

For a more in-depth exploration of the Highlands and the ability to see more places, look no further than this 5-day tour that leaves from Glasgow.

You’ll spend time exploring Trossachs National Park and Loch Lomond, Glencoe and the gorgeous views of Ben Nevis and the Glenfinnan Viaduct, the main attractions on the Isle of Skye, and the amazing Eilean Donan and Urquhart Castles.

5. 14 Days Highlands and Islands Tour 

Highlights: Glasgow, Edinburgh, Inverness, Orkney Islands, Ullapool, Isle of Skye, Oban, Isles of Mull & Iona, Glen Coe

If you’re looking for the whole shebang and want to include some of the stunning Scottish isles, check out this 14-day comprehensive group tour.

You’ll travel across most of the country, checking out the most popular destinations throughout the cities, the Highlands, and the islands. Plus, unlike a lot of group tours, a lot of meals and all the attraction tickets are included in the price, which is a great way to help you budget for the trip.

If you are interested in other more inclusive, longer tours, check out Tour Radar for tours not only in Scotland but all around the world.

Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness near Inverness

Best Things To Do Around Inverness

top pick
private outlander experience

A fantastic option for Outlander and history fans alike, plus the benefit of a private, personal tour

The city of Inverness is located in the Scottish Highlands and makes the perfect base for exploring much of the area. From historical sights to stunning castles to the famous Loch Ness, here are the best things to see and do around Inverness.

6. Explore Inverness

Touring the city of Inverness itself should not be overlooked for all the other amazing attractions in the area. Depending on your interests, there are a variety of ways to experience the city.

If you love biking, this 2-hour guided bike tour for all skill levels will have you zipping around and experiencing more than you could on foot or by car. You’ll get lots of insider knowledge from an Inverness native and learn a ton about the city and all it has to offer.

For those who want a more relaxed experience, check out the hop-on hop-off bus tour. You’ll be able to use the bus system for an entire 24 hours, which not only gives you access to transportation around the city but also will give you the lay of the land as well as helpful information about the city and the best things to see and do.

7. Visit Whisky Distilleries

Scotch fans will love this part of Scotland as there are many whisky distilleries to explore and plenty of drams to sample.

Some great choices include Macallan, Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, and Tomatin. Most of these you can visit on your own, but just make sure you check opening hours ahead of time as many have limited hours.

You could also take this private whisky distillery tour which will take you to three distilleries and allow you to sample all the scotch you want while also having a designated driver and tour guide.

8. Loch Ness

This beautiful lake is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the Scotland Highlands. Visitors come to try their luck at spotting the Loch Ness monster, or Nessie, and checking out all the attractions around the lake.

One of the most popular things to do is a sightseeing cruise. This one-hour tour is a great choice and lets you experience Loch Ness as it was meant to be explored – on the water.

If you want to really dive into the areas around the famous and stunning Loch Ness, check out this tour that hits all the highlights, including Urquhart Castle, Fort Augustus Abbey, and a cruise on Loch Ness. Who knows, you might even spot Nessie!

“I can not recommend this tour enough! For the price it is worth every penny you pay! It is very well organised and the amount of places you visit, stories you hear makes it a very interesting trip… we felt welcomed and looked after. In one day you will get everything you need: history, beautiful scenery, the best of Highlands, the best of amazing Scotland!”

– Kristina_A, see review
Urquhart Castle is so picturesque along Loch Ness

9. Urquhart Castle

Situated right on Loch Ness, the ruins of Urquhart Castle paint a picturesque foreground to the stunning lake. A visit to the Scottish Highlands is not complete without at least catching a glimpse of this attraction.

You can either visit the castle yourself and purchase tickets there, or take a tour that explores the area and includes a visit to this historic site. 

10. Day Trip to the Northern Highlands

Maybe you’re the kind of person who likes to go more off the beaten path and check out places that a lot of tourists don’t venture. If that’s the case, you should absolutely head north of Inverness and take a day trip to the northern Highlands.

Often called the North Coast 500, the round-trip route around the northern part of Scotland is less crowded but no less spectacular. There is so much to see, including castles, seaside villages, miles of scenery, and ocean views just about everywhere you look.

You can either rent a car and explore the loop on your own, or if you want to see a section of it on a day trip from Inverness, check out this tour which takes you up to John O-Groats, the northernmost point on the British mainland.

11. Outlander Filming Locations

If you fell in love with Scotland because of Outlander, then you don’t want to miss this tour!

You’ll visit many of the filming locations, including Culloden Battlefield, Loch Ness, and Fort George, as well as other locations with historical significance to the time period of the series on this private tour.

This is perfect for those who are short on time and don’t want to do their own research on which filming locations are open to the public and the best way to see them all. It’s already taken care of for you!

The Glenfinnan Monument in Scotland

Best Things To Do Around Fort William

top pick
hogwarts express and scenic highlands day tour

Take a ride on the famous Jacobite Steam Train and explore the surrounding areas on this full-day tour from Inverness

Fort William is a popular base for exploring the Highlands. It’s close to the Isle of Skye, Ben Nevis, Glencoe, and other fantastic attractions.

Here are some of the top things to see and do around Fort William.

12. Town of Fort William

The town of Fort William may not be one of the top tourist attractions in Scotland, but there are definitely some neat things to experience here, especially if you are already passing through or are making this your base for a couple of days.

Neptune’s Staircase is a set of eight locks on the Caledonian canal that is worth a quick peek if you are interested in feats of engineering. It stretches about a quarter mile and raises the canal 19 meters (62 feet). It’s a picturesque place to take a walk and spot a variety of vessels using the canal.

For whisky lovers, Ben Nevis Distillery is a great choice. The visitor center is open all year with additional hours during the summer months. You can also tour the distillery, but you’ll probably have to check ahead of time to see if and when the tours are happening.

Another place worth a quick visit is the Old Inverlochy Castle. There is not much left of the castle to see, but it played a big part in Scottish history and is definitely worth taking a few minutes to walk around and explore.

Fort William also has a lot of restaurant and shopping options. When we were here it was a rainy day, but we made the most of it by popping in and out of shops and just exploring the town to escape the bad weather.

13. Jacobite Steam Train

Harry Potter fans will recognize the Jacobite Steam Train as the Hogwarts Express from the movies. But did you know you can actually ride the train?

You can do this two different ways. The first option is to buy the tickets yourself through the West Coast Railways website. This is going to be a good choice if you want to do the journey round-trip and plan to spend most of the day doing this activity.

Keep in mind that rides on the train are seasonal (usually April through October) and there are two timetables, a morning and an afternoon. Check the website for current times and prices.

The second choice is to take a day tour from Inverness that includes a one-way ride on the train and includes stops to see Urquhart Castle, Glenfinnan Viaduct, The Falls of Foyers, and more. This is the best choice for those who want to see and experience a lot in one day without having to drive yourself to Fort William.

This tour has over 230 reviews and a 4.5 star rating. Many of the reviews mention the knowledgeable, friendly tour guides and the magnificent views not only on the train but also throughout the journey. Check it out here!

The Glenfinnan Viaduct in Scotland, made famous by the Harry Potter movies

14. Glenfinnan Viaduct & Monument

The Glenfinnan Viaduct is another famous landmark in the Harry Potter movies, but even those who aren’t fans will appreciate this marvelous structure. It’s incredibly photogenic, and if you time your visit right, you can see the Jacobite Steam Train crossing it!

Just across the road from the viaduct is the Glenfinnan Monument. It will only take a few minutes to see, but it’s worth the stop if you are in the area. It was erected in memory of those who died in the 1745 Jacobite uprising.

A great tour option that hits these spots plus much more is this 12-hour day tour from Edinburgh run by Timberbush Tours. You’ll see the viaduct and monument plus Trossachs National Park, Fort William, Glencoe, and Pitlochry.

15. Ben Nevis

Ben Nevis is the tallest peak in Scotland and also the entire UK. It’s a stunning site to see, and you can also hike up to the top if you are adventurous enough.

It’s definitely doable on your own if you have some experience, but if you aren’t quite confident enough to attempt it solo, there are some great group walks that will make the hike safer and just as enjoyable.

I recommend this small group 8-hour walking tour that meets in Fort William. You’ll be accompanied by an experienced and knowledgeable tour guide who will motivate you and make sure everyone is safe along the way.

16. Seal Island Cruise

A boat cruise may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the Fort William area, but it’s a great experience for those who want to see the seals that inhabit the aptly named Seal Island on Loch Linnhe. This is also a perfect activity for families, photographers, and wildlife lovers.

This tour with Cruise Loch Linnhe is a great choice. The two-hour cruise gets you as close to the seals as you can be and also offers views of Ben Nevis, Neptune’s Stairway, and a view of Fort William from the water.

17. Sunset Sightseeing Cruise

If a more relaxing option after a busy day is your cup of tea, check out this 90-minute sunset sightseeing cruise. You’ll take a nice ride on the loch and watch the sun set over the gorgeous landscape. You might also see some wildlife, and you’ll have great commentary along the way!

18. Glencoe

If there is one place we saw in Scotland that could rival the Isle of Skye for dramatic, jaw-dropping scenery, it’s Glencoe.

You could spend days in this area taking in the views, hiking to some spectacular waterfalls, and maybe even getting lucky enough to spot the red deer. This is absolutely an area that I want to explore even more on my next visit. It deserves as much time as you can spare.

However, if you are short on time and want to just see the highlights, I highly recommend this full-day tour of Trossachs National Park and Glencoe that also includes plenty of waterfalls, hiking, and outdoor adventures. Participants have raved about the friendly and accommodating guides and all the stunning scenery.

The Fairy Pools are magical and are a must-see on any visit to the Scottish Highlands

Best Things to Do On Isle Of Skye

top pick
full day small group tour

Check out some of the highlights on the Isle of Skye with this small-group day tour from Inverness.

Ah, the Isle of Skye – probably one of the most popular tourist areas in the Scottish Highlands, and for good reason! The island boasts some of the most majestic scenery in the country in such a small area, allowing visitors to see a variety of landscapes for only a few hours of driving.

While you could easily spend a week on the Isle of Skye and not get bored, here are the top attractions that you cannot miss.

19. Portree

The town of Portree is a colorful town by the water that serves as a great base for exploring the Isle of Skye.

You should definitely wander down by the water and check out all the brightly colored houses. There are also several hikes that originate by the town, including the Scorrybreac Trail and the Portree Walkway.

If you don’t want to drive around the Isle of Skye yourself, there is a day tour from Portree that takes you to the highlights on the island. You’ll see places such as the Fairy Pools, Fairy Glen, Neist Point, and Kilt Rock.

20. Fairy Glen

The Fairy Glen is one of the most beautiful places on the Isle Of Skye. Wander around the unique formations and see the man-made fairy circles.

This was one of my favorite places we visited on the isle. We were lucky enough to have it all to ourselves when we visited in December. I just wish we would have had even more time to explore.

21. Fairy Pools

The Fairy Pools are another popular place to explore. The epic foggy hills serve as the perfect backdrop to the clear water from River Brittle. Take your time wandering around the area and soak up the beauty of it all.

The Neist Point Lighthouse on Isle of Skye, Scotland

22. Neist Point

Neist Point the home to some pretty epic ocean views and a picturesque lighthouse. You can walk down pretty close to the lighthouse for an up-close view, but also don’t forget to go up to the viewpoint from the right hand side of the parking lot. We missed this on our visit and I’m so bummed about it!

23. Old Man of Storr

On a clear day, you can see this unique rock formation from the road, and if you’re feeling up to it, you can hike up to it as well. It was super foggy and rainy the day we drove by here, so we didn’t even get to see it, but it’s on the list for next time!

24. Kilt Rock & Mealt Falls

This is a quick photo stop but it’s worth the few minutes to see Mealt Falls drop into the ocean over Kilt Rock.

25. Talisker Distillery

If you’re a whisky lover, then you should definitely take some time to tour the Talisker Distillery. You’ll even get a sample afterward! I’m not a huge whisky fan but my husband is, and Talisker is one of his favorites, so we had to stop. Even though I don’t like whisky, I still enjoyed the tour and learning more about how it’s made and the history of it.

26. Dunvegan Castle

For those who enjoy castles, Dunvegan Castle is a great place to spend a few hours. From April through mid-October, visitors can explore the castle and wander the gardens. You can even book a boat trip out to see the local seal colony if that strikes your fancy.

27. Day Tours

If you are short on time or would rather have a guide show you around, consider booking a tour.

This full day small group tour leaves from Inverness and hits some of the highlights like Old Man of Storr and Portree. You’ll also see places on the way to Skye such as Eilean Donan Castle and Loch Ness.

If you want the benefit of a guide but don’t like group tours, this private tour to the Isle of Skye is perfect for you. You’ll get a personalized experience tailored to your desires and the places you want to go while not having to drive yourself.

Photo credit: VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

Best Things To Do Around Loch Lomond

top pick
loch lomond, trossachs national park & stirling castle tour

See the best of Loch Lomond and explore Stirling Castle on this full-day tour from Edinburgh

Loch Lomond is a beautiful lake in Trossachs National Park just north of Glasgow. It makes a fantastic place to spend a day or two since there are lots of fun things to explore in the area.

28. Hiking

There is no shortage of hiking opportunities around Loch Lomond. No matter what you’re looking for, you can find it here.

Ben Lomond is the popular mountain on the eastern shore of Loch Lomond. If you’re looking to “bag a Munro” (which means hike a mountain in Scotland that is over 3000ft or 914m) then this is the one for you.

There are also plenty of easier walks for those who are more interested in enjoying the scenery at a leisurely pace. If you’re interested in a tour of the area that takes you on some beautiful hikes, check out this tour of Loch Lomond and Trossachs with two scenic walks.

29. Visit the villages

The villages around Loch Lomond are well worth exploring. Each of them has their own charm, and you could spend days visiting them all.

Luss is a popular one, which boasts stunning views of the lake, cute shops, and the Loch Lomond Faerie Trail, which is a great family attraction.

30. Balloch Castle Country Park

Balloch Castle Country Park is a wonderful park with great facilities for people of all ages to enjoy. With 200 acres of green space, gardens, shoreline, woodlands, and lots of trails, you can spend as little or as much time here as you’d like.

One of the popular attractions here is the Faerie Trail, which was created from old stumps throughout the park. See how many of the faerie creations you can find!

31. Glengoyne Distillery

For whisky lovers, Glengoyne Distillery is well worth the stop. There are quite a few experiences available, from tutored tastings to story tours and also a combined tour and tasting. You can also shop your favorites at the distillery.

32. Loch Lomond Bird of Prey Centre

If you love birds and want to learn more about the country’s raptors, owls, and more, check out the Loch Lomond Bird of Prey Centre.

Get up close and personal with hawks and owls, check out the flying shows, and learn a lot about these amazing creatures.

33. Loch Lomond Cruise

As the largest lake in Great Britain, there are plenty of water activities to take part in on Loch Lomond. A cruise is a great choice and a very relaxing way to enjoy the scenery.

This Island Discovery Cruise is highly rated and offers great commentary, hot drinks and refreshments on board, and a unique look at Trossachs National Park. No visit to Loch Lomond is complete without getting on the water.

34. Mountain Biking 

Loch Lomond is a biker’s paradise. There are miles of trails with stunning views, and no matter your skill level, there’s a trail out there for you.

There are plenty of places to rent a mountain bike so you don’t have to worry about bringing your own. Loch Lomond Leisure is a great choice because it’s located in easy-to-find Luss.

Stirling Castle is fascinating and worth visiting

35. Stirling Castle

While not technically in Trossachs National Park, Stirling Castle is close enough that it’s worth the slight detour.

Stirling Castle is well preserved and has tons of things to see and do. There are lots of exhibits, events, and tours, and there are even kid-specific attractions to keep the young ones entertained.

A great way to see Stirling Castle as well as Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park is this great tour from Edinburgh. You’ll hear fantastic stories from your knowledgeable guide, and you’ll learn more about the area than you thought possible!

Conclusion: Best Things To Do In Scotland Highlands

There are so many amazing things to do in the Scottish Highlands that you probably won’t be able to experience them all. However, no matter where you decide to go, you’ll have fantastic options that won’t disappoint.

Want to know the best places to stay in Scotland? Click here to find out!