Scotland bus tour review - Scottish Highlands and Islands bus tours
In my experience as a Scotland traveller, bus tours have proved to be the most convenient. Whether you want to visit the Scottish Highlands and Islands or any other area bus tours could very well be your best choice. I image many people travelling to Scotland wish to see as much of it as possible. Normally, that can be achieved whether you drive to Scotland with your personal car or you rent one. Of course there are many people who could do well without the hassle of having to drive on the other side of the road, buying gas etc.
Find The Best Bus Tour in Scotland:
Comparison of One Day Scotland Tours
The other way you can tour Scotland is to travel by train and arrange accommodation beforehand Unfortunately, train is very expensive for long distances and busses only run for short distances.
Scotland bus tours - Less expensive than other tours
I am one of those travellers who didn't drive their own car to Scotland nor did feel like paying lots of cash for train. But I still wanted to tour Scotland and very much so. In fact I felt I wanted to see all of it. At that time the most convenient option seemed to be a bus tour and as you will later see it was the right choice. I could have chosen between large coaches or minibuses. Minibuses can appeal to people who prefer to travel in smaller groups whereas coaches are more suitable for people who want a longer tours of Scotland. I prefer minibuses because of the small number of people touring and the flexibility of the tours (drivers can make more unscheduled stops depending on the group's opinion. The smaller the group the easier to reach an agreement and see more of the Scottish flavour).
Duration of bus tours
Bus tours companies in Scotland create various types of tours (one, two up to five day tours) to suit all needs and tastes. I for one prefer one or two day tours because they're shorter and I can take as many as I like to get a feel of all regions in Scotland: Central Scotland, the amazing Scottish Highlands, Skye and the Islands. The diversity creates a better overall image of Scotland and a lot of memories to bring back with me (not to mention the pictures).
What can I see on these Scottish bus tours?
The diversity of choice is overwhelming The tours can take you anywhere from Lochs and Castles to the rugged yet impressive Highlands, typical Scottish villages, whisky distilleries, islands and old monuments. The only apparent trouble is actually choosing a tour because they all offer a unique taste of Scotland.
The reason bus tours are so great is because drivers have a good knowledge of Scotland, of the best places to go to and give you the most memorable tour highlights. Sometimes they make short impromptu stops in order to show you something unique. Whereas otherwise it would be difficult to drive or travel on your own and come across great places, the bus tours do that for you.
What happens on the tour
There are a lot of stops on the way to relax and enjoy the views Each tour has particular stops obviously and various activities you can get involved in such as visiting a castle, taking a boat cruise on a Highland loch etc.
The atmosphere on the bus tours is very enjoyable. The drivers I've went with were very talkative and fun to be with. There is nearly always music on the bus, especially Scottish music. It's on one of those tours I became a greater fan of the Capercaillie band and ended up liking the famous "Loch Lomond" song.
Personal experience with bus tours - Touring the Scottish Highlands
I've been on the West Highlands Lochs and Castles bus tour (one day tour) with Rabbies and the driver made an unscheduled stop just outside Callander to see Hamish, a genuine Scottish hairy coo. We were able to take pictures with him. The second unscheduled stop was at Rest and be thankful a glorious glen with amazing views. The flexibility of tour drivers at Rabbies and in general make the tour a unique sequence of events for any Scotland traveller.
Among the highlights of the tour were Kilchurn Castle on the shore of Loch Awe and Loch Lomond both situated in the Highlands. I took lots of pictures from the bus and at times the driver stopped for a quick photo take.
Having enjoyed the first tour tremendously I decided to take yet another tour, again with Rabbies. The Loch Ness, Glencoe and the Highlands bus tour (one day tour) has been the most amazing trip I've been on my life. The West Highland Way, Glencoe and the Highlands in general left an impression on me I will never forget. Glencoe in particular was the highlight of the tour. That place is so massive, impressive and so beautiful. We also visited Fort Augustus and admired the misty Loch Ness.
Other tours around the North West or West Highlands
Because during the summer of 2009 I will take yet another trip to Scotland I will definitely treat myself with another tour, perhaps a longer one this time. I am considering a 2 day tour and as choices I have 3 tours from Rabbies.
On 2 days tours, no matter the company, there is much more flexibility in where the drivers stop and how long they spend in certain places. Glencoe in particular is a place I've inquired about with both companies and they both said that weather permitting there will be far more time to be spent to explore Glencoe in more detail.
- Loch Ness Inverness Highland Two Day Bus Tour with Rabbies. The Rabbies tour stops in Inverness for the night, the "Capital of the Highlands". The next day the group proceeds towards Glen Affric, one of the last remaining areas with Caledonian Pine Forests and then head for Drumnadrochit and visit Urquhart Castle and later on get a chance to take a boat trip on Loch Ness.
- Loch Ness & Inverness 2 day Tour with Timberbush. Up to Glencoe the Rabbies tour is identical to Timberbush's. They make their overnight stop in Inverness as well. The second day of the bus tour proves to be different. Timberbush takes you to Culloden Moor, one of the eeriest battlefields in Britain where Bonnie Prince Charlie lost to the "Butcher of Cumberland" in 1746. Same as Glencoe, Culloden is just as sad and impressive and definitely deserves a visit. They also take you to Loch An Eilan (Loch of the Island) where you can see Caledonian Pine Forests.
- Eilean Donan, Loch Ness and the North West Highlands 2 day Tour with Timberbush. Unlike Rabbies, they have a wider selection of 2 day tours (namely two). This tour in particular stands out through the number of great places you get to see. After an overnight stop in Fort William, the driver takes you west to the mountains of Knoydart and then Kintail where you get to see the Five Sisters of Kintail At request there is the option to visit the famous Eilean Donan Castle on the shore of Loch Duich or admire the Isle of Skye from the coast. In addition you also get to visit Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle.
After careful consideration and investigation (I've looked up pictures of the places unknown to me on the Internet) I believe that Kintail and Eilean Donan Castle are far more spectacular than Glen Affric (although both very beautiful) but that is obviously a personal opinion. Given the opportunity I will take the Glen Affric tour with Rabbies in addition to the Kintail tour with Timberbush. As you can see there is a variety of choice to suit your needs and taste.
I would take a longer tour of the Scottish Islands (of three to five days) but I am sure my digital camera will not be able to store all those pictures I prefer to wait until I purchase bigger storage capacity but I will definitely try other tours in the future.
Final word of advice
Because Scotland's weather is unpredictable it's possible to get either pouring rain or smashing sunshine on the tour. It's best to be fully prepared morally but most of all clothes wise. If you like taking pictures on tours (much like myself) I recommend you take a seat next to the driver. You get a much better view from there and much better pictures.
- What time of the year is best for travelling to Scotland?: Travel Scotland all year long.
- Day Tours in the Scottish Highlands
- Comparison of 1 Day Scotland Tours
- Coach Tours vs Small Group Tours
- One Day vs Two Day Scottish Sightseeing Tours
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