Day Tours in the Highlands of Scotland

Touring the Scottish Highlands by Coach or Bus

Most 1 day tours of the Scottish Highlands offered by tour operators with departure from Edinburgh or Glasgow are designed around three main itineraries. Within these three types there will be slight variations from company to company but essentially, they all take you along the same Highland routes:

Loch Ness, Glencoe and Highlands Tours Loch Lomond and West Highlands Tours Stirling, Trossachs and Central Highlands Tours
Photo illustrating a bus Day Tour in the Scottish Highlands, Glencoe and Loch Ness area
  • This is by far the most popular Scottish Highlands day tour offered by coach and bus companies and my top day tour recommendation for first time visitors to Scotland.
  • This type of tour usually takes you via Stirling into the heart of the Highlands of Scotland, it goes as far north as Loch Ness and takes you back to Edinburgh or Glasgow through the Cairngorms (Central Highlands).
  • Highlights include the amazing Glencoe and Rannoch Moor, the rolling hills and beautiful lochs of the Tyndrum-Bridge of Orchy area, Britain's highest mountain, Ben Nevis, and of course, Loch Ness of Nessie fame.
  • It is the only day tour itinerary that gives you a real taste of Scotland and does justice to the Scottish Highlands (as far as it's possible to do so with such a short coach or bus trip, that is).

Book a Loch Ness, Glencoe and the Highlands Day Tour

Photo illustrating a coach Day Tour in the West Highlands
  • My second top recommendation for a Scottish Highlands day tour is the Loch Lomond and West Highlands one.
  • While the West Highlands are not as spectacular as Glencoe or Rannoch Moor, they have a distinct beauty and variety and are well worth seeing.
  • There is more variation with this type of tour, with some companies taking you to Loch Lomond and as far west as Oban, on the coast, others taking you to Kilchurn Castle on the banks of Loch Awe and to Inveraray and some even include Stirling in this tour.
  • A West Highlands tour will usually include stops at various Scottish Castles and whisky distilleries so it won't be as focused on scenery as a Glencoe and Loch Ness tour.

Book a West Highlands Lochs and Castles Day Tour

Photo illustrating a bus Day Tour in the Trossachs, Stirling and Cairngorms
  • Day tours in the Cairngorms and the Trossachs are designed to be less rushed than the other two types, giving you more time at each stop.
  • The scenery does not match the spectacular scenery found in other parts of the Scottish Highlands which is why this type of tour would not be my top choice unless there was no availability for a Glencoe / Loch Ness or West Highlands tour or unless I'd already seen that area and was looking for something different.
  • Many of these tours also include a longer visit to Stirling with its amazing Stirling Castle and Wallace Monument, rather than the quick stop you get on the Loch Ness / Glencoe day tour.

Bottom line, first time visitors to Scotland should use the opportunity of a day trip to see just how spectacular the Highlands of Scotland can be, which is why a 1 day tour that includes Rannoch Moor, Glencoe and Loch Ness is the best possible choice.

Because the Highlands day tour itineraries vary only slightly from company to company, it's difficult to choose one tour operator over another. I have gone on several Rabbies tours of Scotland over the years, including one day tours as well as multi-day tours and the experience has been fantastic every time. Even now, when I have gained enough local knowledge of Scotland and I would rather rent a car and custom-build my own itinerary, I would still consider a Rabbies tour if I wanted a convenient, cheap and highly enjoyable taste of the Scottish Highlands.

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