Legendary lochs, crumbling castles and moody skies that make scotch taste even better; the Scottish Highlands will surprise you at every turn.

The Highlands is the Scotland you imagine when you close your eyes. It’s the wild and mystical landscapes, medieval ruins, tiny cottages at the foothills of mountains, breathtaking coastline and enchanting islands that seem a million miles from the rest of the world. Our local guides will help you discover what makes this part of the world so special. From tracking down Nessie on Loch Ness, following in the footsteps of Harry Potter on the Glenfinnan Viaduct, wandering through ancient fortresses and getting lost (not literally) in the beauty of Cairngorms National Park – no two days are the same. A Highlands tour will un-loch your love for Scotland and quench your thirst for adventure. 

Our Scottish Highlands tours & holidays 

8 Days From 4931

From vibrant Glasgow to Fort William's adventure haven. Skye's mystical allure, Loch...

5 Days From 2822

Discover a region of Viking and Neolithic history, plus the best of Scotland’s whisky...

5 Days From 2160

Take a 5-day walking trip through the Scottish Highlands in summer and enjoy all the...

6 Days From 2011

Explore Scotland on two legs and conquer Ben Nevis, the United Kingdom’s highest peak,...

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Highlights of the Scottish Highlands 

Urquhart Castle on the shores of Loch Ness

Look out for Nessie on the way to Urquhart Castle

No trip to the Highlands is complete without searching for the mysterious Loch Ness Monster, AKA ‘Nessie’. Sail over the deep and murky waters of Loch Ness and keep your eyes peeled for a peculiar, long-necked creature in the water. Don’t worry if you don’t spot anything, as there’s still plenty to see ashore in the ancient ruins of Urquhart Castle. These ruins are seeping with more than 1,000 years of history. Peek inside eerie prison cells, wander through the old banqueting hall and soak up the views of the Loch Ness from Grant Tower.

A steam train crossing the Glenfinnan Viaduct in Scotland

Follow in the footsteps of Harry Potter on a steam train

It’s not every day you get to follow in the footsteps of Harry Potter or go on what is said to be the greatest rail journey in the world. This 84-mile round trip on the West Highland Railway takes you on a magical journey from Fort William to Mallaig. As well as spectacular views of the lush Scottish countryside, you’ll also chuff across the 21-arched Glenfinnan Viaduct – the very same bridge that the Hogwarts Express pelts across in the Harry Potter movies. Standard trains run all year round, but nothing beats jumping aboard the Jacobite steam train for the ultimate rail experience.

Portree Bay on the Isle of Skye

Escape to the remote and colourful Isle of Skye

As they say in Scotland, over the sea to Skye! Not only is it the biggest island in the Inner Hebrides, but it’s easily one of the most enchanting places in the Highlands. With breathtaking coastline, misty sea lochs, sea cliff waterfalls, majestic castles and rolling hill landscapes that have names like ‘Fairy Glenn’, Skye will cast a spell on you. It’s also a prime spot for wildlife and you might see hairy coos (the gorgeous highland cow), red deer, otters and dolphins. Wrap up a day of exploring with a cosy pub dinner in the colourful capital of Portree Bay followed by a dram of whiskey straight from the cask of a local distillery.

Cairgorms National Park in the Scottish Highlands

Reconnect with nature in Cairngorms National Park

Reconnect with nature in the heart of the Scottish wilderness. Cairngorms is the UK’s largest national park – in fact, it’s twice the size of the Lake District. But don’t expect to only find postcard-perfect lochs, tall peaks, rolling hills, rushing rivers, ancient castles and endless forests (as if that wasn’t enough). You'll also find distilleries where you sample the local scotch and a thriving pub and cafe scene to relax and get a taste of the Highlands culture. Cairngorms National Park is an adventure playground for outdoor lovers with plenty of hiking, cycling, kayaking, wildlife spotting and winter sports. 

Eilean Donan Castle in the Scottish Highlands

Explore the enchanting Eilean Donan Castle

Picturesque doesn’t quite cut it. Perfectly perched on a small tidal island that is surrounded by mountains, three great sea lochs and views of Skye in the distance, Eilean Donan Castle is like something from a fairy tale. The history of the castle goes all the way back to the 6th century, but the castle you see today was rebuilt from ruins in the 1930s as most of it was destroyed in the Jacobite uprisings. Get lost in the maze of winding corridors, rooms and side passages and take in the loch views out on the battlements. You wouldn’t think it now, but Eilean Donan Castle has a bloody and violent past and is supposedly haunted by a Spanish soldier and an apparition called Lady Mary.

The Ben Nevis mountain range in Scotland

Take a gondola to see Ben Nevis and Great Glen

You can hike up to the Ben Nevis peak, or you could jump on the Nevis Range Mountain Gondola that takes you 650m up the mountain of Aonach Mor for panoramic views of the surrounding peaks, glens and lochs. On a clear day, you can see as far as the Inner Hebrides. Hop off at the top station and stretch your legs by walking to one of the mountain viewpoints, followed by a homemade meal and a brew at the Swangoose Restaurant and Bar. The gondola is a great option if you’re pushed for time and can’t do the Ben Nevis hike, but still want the views.

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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