Comparison between one day and two days Scottish tours
Touring Scotland in one or two days?
Most people -- myself included -- would agree that two days is not nearly enough time to get a taste of Scotland. I would usually recommend a 5 or 7 day tour around Scotland, or at least a 3 day sightseeing tour in order to get a real feel of this incredible country but if time constraints are an issue, it then comes down to choosing between two short trips around certain parts of Scotland. The best choice in this case, however, is not the most obvious one.
Which tour to choose
The obvious choice for most tourists would be to take one of the two day tour packages put together by the many Scottish tour operators because they feel that they would get to see much more of Scotland than they would on a one day tour. Tour companies also book the accommodation for you, making this type of two day trip particularly attractive. However, when you consider the following, you may find that a two day tour is not the best choice when time is so limited.
Most tourists taking the two days sightseeing tours of Scotland will already be based somewhere, usually in Edinburgh or Glasgow where they already have their accommodation arranged for a number of days. If they decide to take a two day tour in the Highlands of Scotland (which is where most multi-days tours go to), they have to pay for the for the tour itself as well as for overnight accommodation. This means that for the night that they spend touring, they will in effect pay for accommodation twice, once where their base is (be it Edinburgh or Glasgow) and once in the village or town where the tour stops for the night. This turns a cheap mini-coach sightseeing tour of Scotland into a much more expensive affair! There are two ways around this added cost:
- You can make two separate accommodation bookings for the days you spend in Edinburgh or Glasgow (or elsewhere, if that's where you're based) before and after the tour so that you only pay for the tour night just once. Unfortunately, this means that you have to make arrangements for luggage storage while you're away as most tour operators have restrictions on how much luggage you can take with you. Having a separate accommodation booking for when you return from the sightseeing tour also means that instead of having a relaxing evening after the bus or coach drops you off, you need to sort out accommodation for that evening.
- Instead of planning to go on a 2 day Highlands tour halfway through your Scotland holiday, it's a much better idea to book it either at the beginning or the end of your holiday. You can then book your accommodation in Edinburgh or Glasgow for the entire duration of your holiday, except for the very last night which you will spend on tour. Of course, this option is feasible only in a limited number of cases where return travel arrangements allow for it.
Going on a two day Scottish tour may, therefore, not be as hassle-free as it appears originally. Of course, if paying for a nights accommodation twice is not an issue, then this type of sightseeing trip is a good choice but most budget-conscious tourists will want to avoid paying more unnecessarily.
Itinerary differences between single day and overnight tours
Having studied the itineraries of most two day tour packages (all of which are in effect tours in the Scottish Highlands) put together by operators I feel that the extra sights you get to see on this longer trip don't justify the added expense and hassle because:
- Most of the stunning Highlands sights included in the two day itineraries are also available on several one day itineraries. In effect, the two day trips are an extension of the one day tours.
- Because the outward portion of a Scottish Highlands tour departing from Glasgow or Edinburgh to the Highlands on both the one and two day tours takes the better part of a day, you only get an extra few hours of sightseeing on the two day tour.
Alternative to two day trips to the Scottish Highlands
The best alternative to going on a two day tour in the Scottish Highlands is taking two one day tours. One could be the Loch Ness, Glencoe and the Highlands Day Tour which has the best possible Highlands day trip itinerary. The second one could be either the West Highlands Lochs and Castles Day Tour which allows you to experience a different part of the Scottish Highlands or my other favourite, the St Andrews and Fife Day Trip.
- Choosing two one day trips over a two day trip is a much better choice because they take you to different parts of Scotland, giving you more sights and more variety.
- Two day trips are cheaper than an overnight tour because you don't have to pay for accommodation and there is also less hassle when it comes to fitting the tours into your Scotland holiday.
Bottom line, if you only have two available days for touring Scotland, then the best possible choice is to take two single day trips rather than a two days trip. Multi-day Scottish trips are the better choice only when your travel arrangements allow you to spend 3 days or more on a sightseeing tour.
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