From legendary lochs to crumbling castles, the Scottish Highlands will surprise you at every turn

The Highlands is the Scotland you imagine when you close your eyes. It’s the moody skies above a wild and rugged coastline; tiny cottages at the foothills of soaring mountains, and fascinating folklore that has inspired artists and poets for centuries. Join your local guide to track down Nessie on Loch Ness, explore pristine landscapes in Cairngorms National Park or marvel at ancient fortresses cloaked in history. Whether it's your first or tenth time in the Highlands, its charm will keep you coming back for more.

Our Scottish Highlands tours & holidays

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Highlights of the Scottish Highlands

Urquhart Castle on the shores of Loch Ness

Search for the Loch Ness Monster

Take a scenic boat ride over the deep, murky waters of Loch Ness while keeping your eyes peeled for its famous inhabitant, AKA Nessie the Loch Ness Monster. According to local legend, she has a long neck, a snake-like head and a green body with black humps on her back.

A steam train crossing the Glenfinnan Viaduct in Scotland

Ride the West Highland Railway

It’s not every day you get to experience one of the world's greatest rail journeys. Jump aboard a train from Fort William to Mallaig to enjoy some of Scotland's most gorgeous scenery on the West Highland Railway, including a crossing of the iconic Glenfinnan Viaduct which you may recognise from its appearance in the Harry Potter movies.

Portree Bay on the Isle of Skye

Explore the colourful Isle of Skye

With a breathtaking coastline, misty sea lochs and unique landscapes with names like ‘Fairy Glenn’, the Isle of Skye will cast a spell on you. It’s also a great place to see wildlife including gorgeous hairy coos (highland cows), red deer, otters and dolphins. Wrap up a day of exploring with a cosy pub dinner in the colourful town of Portree Bay followed by a dram of whisky from a local distillery.

Cairgorms National Park in the Scottish Highlands

Hike in Cairngorms National Park

Cairngorms is the UK’s largest national park. In fact, it’s twice the size of the Lake District. But don’t expect only to find postcard-perfect lochs, ancient castles and lush forests (as if that wasn’t enough). You'll also find whisky distilleries and a thriving pub scene where you can enjoy Highlands culture and hospitality. There are plenty of outdoor adventures on offer from hiking and cycling to skiing and snowboarding (in winter).

Eilean Donan Castle in the Scottish Highlands

Explore Eilean Donan Castle

Perfectly perched on a small tidal island surrounded by mountains, Eilean Donan Castle is like something from a fairy tale. Although the castle you see today was rebuilt from ruins in the 1930s due to destruction caused during the Jacobite uprisings, its history dates back to the 6th century. If the walls could talk, they'd have a few wee tales to share.

The Ben Nevis mountain range in Scotland

Take the Nevis Range Gondola

Jump on the Nevis Range Gondola to reach a height of 650 metres on the mountain of Aonach Mor. Breathe in fresh mountain air while soaking up panoramic vistas of the Scottish Highlands' rolling peaks, glens and lochs. On a clear day, you can see as far as the Inner Hebrides.

Scottish Highlands tour reviews

Scottish Highlands FAQs

Trips from 1 January 2023 onwards

From 1 January 2023, Intrepid will no longer require travellers to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 (excluding all Polar trips and select adventure cruises).

However, we continue to strongly recommend that all Intrepid travellers and leaders get vaccinated to protect themselves and others.

Specific proof of testing or vaccination may still be required by your destination or airline. Please ensure you check travel and entry requirements carefully.

Learn more about Intrepid’s COVID-19 policy

The Scottish Highlands refers to the north-western part of Scotland that stretches from Fort William all the way up to the coast by the Isle of Skye, and Durness in the far north-west to Inverness in the east.

If you’re travelling from overseas, the closest airports to fly into are Glasgow International Airport (GLA) or Edinburgh International Airport (EDI). From here you can hire a car, catch a bus or take a train to one of the cities or towns in the Highlands. If you're travelling from the UK, you can take a train or coach to Fort William or Inverness and transfer to a local train or bus to get around the Highlands. 

Learn more about how to get to the Highlands

If you have a car, driving is the easiest way to get around the Highlands and explore at your own pace. Don’t worry if you don't have a car, as the main places and sights in the Highlands are pretty well connected with public transport. Trains operate between all of the main cities including Inverness, Aviemore and Fort William (and all of the towns in between). If trains aren’t available for where you want to go, chances are you can take a local bus or coach with Stagecoach, Scottish Citylink or the National Express. You can also take a ferry as a foot passenger or with your car to get to the Highlands’ many islands.

Billy Connolly once said, “There are two seasons in Scotland: June and Winter”. And he’s not entirely wrong. The weather can be very hit and miss even during the summer. The best time to visit in terms of the weather being on your side is between June and August when the days are longer and warmer. However, visiting in the colder months can also be a great time to see snow-capped mountains and get cosy in the pub around a log fire. No matter what time of year you visit, it’s best to be prepared for rain and chilly weather.

Learn more about the best time to visit the Highlands

For a trip to the Highlands, or anywhere else in Scotland, bring plenty of comfortable clothing that will see you through long days of walking, exploring and visiting attractions. The weather is pretty unpredictable, and even if the forecast says it will be warm or dry, it could (and probably will) change. Bring a waterproof jacket, a warm coat, gloves, a hat and a scarf. A waterproof day sack can also come in quite handy to protect your phone and personal items if the heavens open while you're out on a walk.

The Scottish Highlands covers a pretty big area including mountain ranges. Internet access and mobile phone coverage is fine in villages, towns and main tourist hubs, but it might be a little patchy in more remote areas or at higher elevations.

Intrepid is committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. We’re always happy to talk to travellers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them towards the most suitable itinerary for their needs and where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.

Learn more about Accessible Travel with Intrepid

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