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Other tour group companies?

My wife and I were wanting to travel to Scotland sometime in the fall for our 20th anniversary. I have heard such great things about Rick Steves' tours that we were wanting to go with them. However, every trip for the fall is booked even though it is still 6 months away. I have been to Europe, but never to Scotland and I really would like to go with a guide so I am not missing something. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.

Posted by
274 posts

Rabbies are good from what I’ve heard, although there is a person posting on another thread, who seems to have a poor guise and isn’t having the best experience on her tour.

They appear cheaper because accommodation isn’t included in the price. It is added on depending on if you book your own or whether you have Rabbies book it for you.

Posted by
2432 posts

I agree with Frank. We’re big fans of Odysseys Unlimited and have taken 6 tours with them and two more upcoming this year. Unfortunately all of their Scotland tours are booked for this year. Good tours usually get booked more than 6 months to a year in advance these days.

Posted by
2703 posts

I did a couple of day tours with Rabbie’s last year and was very happy with both:

https://www.rabbies.com/en/scotland-tours/from-edinburgh/day-tours/loch-ness-glencoe-highlands-day-tour

https://www.rabbies.com/en/scotland-tours/from-edinburgh/day-tours/west-highland-lochs-castles-day-tour

The nice thing about the day tours is you don’t have to change accommodation and you have a different guide and tour members each tour. Also, you can space them out so you are not touring multiple days in a row.

I have recently taken 6 different day tours in 3 countries the past year (2 with Rabbie’s). Of those 6, I have had one bad guide (not Rabbie’s). The bad guide experience did scare me off taking a longer tour. I was planning a 9-day tour of Ireland for next year, but have instead decided on a 3-day tour with the rest independent travel and some day tours. There’s always going to be chance you can get a bad guide or annoying tour members.

Another thing to note about the tours, is they tend to be long days. So, the shorter tours gives you a break in between.

Good luck deciding.

Posted by
2703 posts

Adding the link to my trip report. You may be interested in some of the day trips I took on my own from Edinburgh. I really loved the coast and my easy day trips to both North Berwick and Dunbar.

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/solo-in-the-uk-my-york-and-edinburgh-trip-report

I really enjoyed my time in Edinburgh and am planning to return next year so I can do the 3-day Rabbie’s tour of the lake district and possibly another shorter tour.

https://www.rabbies.com/en/england-tours/from-edinburgh/3-5-day-tours/the-lake-district-3-day-tour

Posted by
4378 posts

We did a day trip in Scotland and a 4 day trip in England/Wales with Rabbies and both guides were some of the best we've ever had. I also read the unfavorable post mentioned by someone and it was very surprising.

Posted by
1330 posts

I did something similar to what Carrie did. My 3 week trip in 2022 was independent and solo and I did not want to drive. so I booked a one day tour from Inverness and a 4 day tour out of Edinburgh. Both wonderful tours with Rabbies. Here is my write up from the TR I did (I’m sorry, I can’t get the block quote to work)

“Day tour with Rabbies to Clava Cairns, Culloden, and Glen Afric. I have to commend the guide for this tour. Amy clearly loves Scotland and telling the stories of the highlanders. She described the history of Culloden and Clava Cairns while also weaving in bits and pieces of Diana Gabaldon’s epic story of the clans of Scotland and their beliefs and ideals. I loved placing my flowers (traditional thistle with white carnations) at one of the gravestones on the Culloden battlefield. Later that evening, I reflected on my day with a pint and traditional live music at the Geillions Bar.”

“The Rabbies 4 day tour was just the best decision for me to travel in the area with a knowledgeable guide. We learned a ton about the highland culture and way of life from Pete. His knowledge of the history of the various clans and the land upon which they worked and lived was mind blowing. Pete also was somewhat of a naturalist, I think, because of his knowledge of the plant life and how the land was formed. He weaved in stories about hill racers (some would say mountain racers) and of love affairs between the clans. Pete also took into account the interests of individuals in our small group (10) and tried to highlight certain areas and stories that would pertain to them. Being a MacKenzie, he made sure we had enough time at Eilean Donan Castle where the clan MacKenzie lived for so many years. It is now owned by clan MaCrae. Several in our group were hikers and so, Pete made sure we had a good amount of time at the Fairy Pools to fully enjoy the area. He also timed our trip so that we could experience the steam train pass over the Glenfinnan trestle. That was very special. We later found many highland cattle (heerry coo) grazing along the slopes and close enough to the road for up close photo opportunities. I highly recommend this tour especially if you are a solo traveler and not driving a car.”