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Edinburgh Day Tours

My husband and I are going to Scotland the beginning of October. We would like to do two day tours and are trying to decide between two companies and the differences in their tours. We would like to see the Highlands and possibly a whiskey distillery as well as the Viking Coast.
Please give me your opinion as reviews are good and bad for each group.
Rabbies or Heart of Scotland
Which has the more comfortable busses?
Are the busses similar in size and ability to see?
Which tour guides enjoy their work the most?
For Viking Coast:
Rabbies has Alnwick Castle, Northumberland Coast and the Borders - visits Kelso, the borders, Alnwick Castle, Northumberland Coastline, River Tweed and East Lothian.
Heart of Scotland has the Viking Coast and Alnwick Castle that includes Northumberland coast, Holy Island and Ainwick Castle.
For Highlands:
Rabbies has a couple of options: West Highlands, Lochs and Castles, or Loch Ness, Glencoe and the Highlands, or Highland Lochs, Glens and Whiskey.

Heart of Scotland has Stirling Castle, Highland Lochs and Whiskey. It doesn't seem to go into the highlands as far as Rabbies tours do, but includes Stirling Castle.
I would love to see the Highlands and Loch Lomond, but not sure which day trip would be better. We had planned on the Highland Lochs, Glens and Whiskeys. I read several reviews and one raved about the tour, another one stated it was too rushed. We are not looking for a rushed tour and will have been in Great Britain for several days by the time we tour, so jet lag shouldn't be a problem.
Any advice is GREATLY appreciated!

I posted this on Day Tours in Europe as well, but feel this area has more viewers. Thanks again.

Posted by
30 posts

We just took the Rabbies West Highlands, Lochs & Castles tour about two weeks ago. The highlights of this tour were Doune Castle and just the scenery of the highlands. While we really enjoyed the tour plan for a long day and a lot of Scottish history. We stopped and took photos of Stirling Castle from the road but it was at the end of the tour so it just seemed like Edinburgh Castle to us. The tour bus had two seats on one side of the aisle and a single seat on the other side of the aisle. The back row of the bus had three seats across. The tour bus was very comfortable. People do position themselves to try and get good seats when boarding the bus at the beginning of the tour. What do you like to do? Do you like scenery, history, or whiskey? I don't think you can go wrong but in my opinion you can reach Castle fatigue especially if families are still residing in the Castles. Personally, I would choose a tour that has some variety. Good luck.

My family and I did a couple of Rabbie's day trips. Loch Lommond and Stirling Castle are part of the same day trip. We enjoyed this trip. We also did Rabbie's Alnwick castle with Melrose Abbey trip. We enjoyed both. As far as Whiskeys go - there are scotch Whiskeys all over Scotland. I think nearly every town has a brewery - kind of like beer microbrews all over the USA. You can find a scotch refinery in many places to visit. Or, you can visit a liquor store in USA and buy Scotch. Any pub in Scotland can provide you with a flight of Scotches to try. My point is - don't get hung up on finding scotch to sample in Scotland. There are many types based on region - just like different wines in Italy based on region. Pick your itinerary based on something other than scotch - unless you are a die-hard conissieur.

Posted by
1890 posts

Daughter and I did a Rabbies tour in March... Seems we did the same tour as Hogan. The Rabbies guides (we had 2 of them) were great. One was the driver and added some info, the other one was a school teacher, and had a lot of info.
We stopped down below Stirling Castle, but didn't visit, continued on to Doune Castle with plenty of time to explore and take pics. From there we continued to Kilchurn Castle and got to explore the outside, since it's not open for visitors. We stopped by a Loch, then went to a small town for lunch and to stretch our legs. From there we drove to the top of Rest and Be Thankful pass and got more of a history lesson, we also visited another castle that wasn't open to the public (only because we were there too early in the year)

The bus was very comfortable. I even got to snap a photo of the Kelpies on the way back to Edinburgh.

Posted by
8651 posts

An absolute shame to stop below Stirling Castle and not visit it!! This was the most interesting castle in Scotland to me.

Loch Lomond may not be the thrilling experience that you expect. I had fairly high expectations for it and was a little disappointed. I enjoyed hiking part of the West Highland Way, but found it wasn't really all that different than many other lakes I had been to.

Posted by
24 posts


A couple of fine points regarding whisky in Scotland. Firstly, it is spelt whisky, without an "e." It might seem picky, but it makes a huge difference in Scotland. Secondly, whisky is made in a distillery, not a brewery (beer) or a refinery (oil.) Yes, you can go into any liquor store anywhere in the USA and buy a bottle of Scotch, but to truly experience the "water of life," you need to visit a distillery to learn about their single malt, or sit in a pub and talk to the locals about their favorite blend. This is the Back Door way.

Thank you for the corrections. My brain was stuck last night. I also spelled connoisseur wrong. There are several differences between scotch and whiskey. Scotch is only malted barley and water. Whiskey is malted barley, corn, and wheat. Scotch I believe is exclusively Scottish. Whiskey is American. I bet our American Whiskey is a direct result of Irish and Scots who settled around North Carolina, Kentucky, and Tennessee in the late 1700's - during the Highlands land clearances.

Posted by
58 posts

Just got back this week. Did two Rabbies day tours - one was the Alnwick Castle, the Northumberland Coast and the Borders. We had a great guide who entertained us all day. The views were beautiful, the castle was great and we had a good amount of time there. The second one we took was Highland Lochs, Glens and Whisky. This one was not as interesting as the first - we had a driver/tour guide who was very quiet and didn't give us much background on what we saw. The day actually became a little boring. After the first tour being so much fun, we were disappointed. The Queens' View was spectacular and we did have some beautiful scenery. Thanks for all of your advice - we had a great time.

Posted by
672 posts

Well, I was just about to post this when I read that the OP has returned from Scotland. Nevertheless, I'll go ahead and put in a plug for the Heart of Scotland Tour to Stirling Castle, Loch Lomond, and Glengoyne Distillery, which I took in early September of this year. It was excellent! The mini-bus was full (16 people) but very comfortable and the guide/driver ("Paul") was very friendly and entertaining. We had ample time to tour Stirling Castle in its entirety (which was my favorite part of the tour), then Paul drove us to Doune Castle, where we had about 15 minutes to walk the grounds. We then had lunch on our own in the town of Callandar, on the edge of the Trossachs National Park, which had many restaurants to choose from. After lunch and a scenic drive, we stopped for about 15 minutes to walk around Loch Lomond. The tour concluded with an unrushed time touring the Glengoyne Distillery and sampling two whiskys. The tour started at 9:00 and ended around 19:00. It was well worth the price and I highly recommend it.

Posted by
123 posts

We just got back, having taken two Rabbie’s tours. We very much enjoyed the tours. So much so, that we are planning multiple day tours with Rabbie’s for next trip next year.