Please recommend a guided tour of Scotland
April 11, 2016 11:08 AM   Subscribe

I'm doing a solo UK trip in mid-May and plan to spend a week in Scotland. One of my Scot friends suggested I do a guided bus/coach tour with other tourists to catch the highlights. Please recommend some good companies providing such tours.

I'll be in London from 12-16 May, leaving for Glasgow by train on the 17th, and need to leave for Amsterdam on either 24th or 25th of May (depending on Scotland itinerary.)

My original plan was to get to Glasgow, check it out for a couple of days, then rent a car and drive around the country, ending up in Edinburgh for another couple of days before I left the country. But a Scot friend suggested that since I'm travelling alone, driving around on one's own would get boring and would not allow me to do a whisky distillery tour if I wanted. He said I should find one of those group tours where I'd get to check out the country with other tourists, which would be fun.

Things I like: food and drink (I'm a chef, after all), photography, walking, culture, urban life, karaoke.

Things I don't care much for: art, adventure sports, history museums, tourist traps.

Thank you.
posted by madman to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
We were in Edinburgh almost a year ago and did a day tour with Haggis Adventures. We enjoyed it. We did this one, and would recommend them based on our experience.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:43 AM on April 11, 2016

I know you asked for recommendations of tour companies. I'm going to counter with a suggestion that if you are comfortable enough doing a solo trip, you might consider train travel in Scotland. You can easily get to Fort William, where you can walk Ben Nevis, highest mountain in the UK. From Fort William, you can take the Jacobite steam locomotive (sorry, not good at links) out to the fishing village of Mallaig. From Glasgow you can also get to Stirling (and Stirling Castle), then on up to Inverness. Timetables can be tricky, but you can also get to Largs where you can stop at Nardini's for some of the best ice cream you've ever had.

Edinburgh is a fast hour ride east. From there you can get to many, many other places.

Both Edinburgh and Glasgow will offer all the culture and urban life you probably want. Great restaurants in both cities. As for photography, the ride out to Mallaig (over the viaduct made famous in Henry Potter movies) will more than meet your quota of quaint.
posted by John Borrowman at 11:45 AM on April 11, 2016 [3 favorites]

I've been on one with Rabbies - loved it and would highly recommend going on one. The best thing about having a tour vs a train trip is that we'd stop at all the really great sights, and our guide was so knowledgeable and friendly.
posted by teststrip at 1:00 PM on April 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

How old are you? If you're on the younger side, I adored my trip with Macbackpackers when I was 28 or so. It was a tiny bus, so there were only fifteen of us and our guide was great.
posted by MsMolly at 7:15 PM on April 11, 2016

Response by poster: I'm 40, @MsMolly but feel like I'm 35. :)
posted by madman at 4:08 AM on April 12, 2016

Please check out Secret Scotland. We used them several years ago and had a great time. They provide self-drive tour itineraries with links to things to do, alternate routes, rainy day ideas, etc...for only a few tens of dollars. They will also provide B&B recommendations and they only recommend places they have actually stayed. They were great to work with and really made our trip memorable. I think we paid maybe $30 for the whole thing, although this was several years ago. Worth taking a look at.
posted by jeporter99 at 10:20 AM on April 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'll just add another tour company recommendation for variety's sake: Discover Scotland. My husband and I were a little short on time so we did a (long) day trip with them last summer, one of the small van tours instead of a large coach trip. It was phenomenal. Our guide, David, was hilarious, informative, and had been doing tours long enough that he knew how to read people and tailored the day trip to the group. There were only 4 of us on the tour that day so we got to do things according to our preferences and skip some things that we didn't care for. My husband doesn't like doing group tours generally but he mentions that trip often and says he would like to do a multi-day tour with the same company if we go back to Scotland.

Happy traveling!
posted by gursky at 12:34 AM on April 15, 2016

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