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Tour from Edinburgh - Rabbies or a small bus tour

Hi friends. My wife and I are just weeks away from our early June trip to Edinburgh and then on to London. After much thought for our single "day trip" from Edinburgh, we've decided to take a small bus tour. We know that we could drive, and I am not afraid of that, but I AM afraid of going to a wonderful place and not knowing its wonderful history. So, a tour it is.

We want small bus and everybody here raves about the Rabbies tours. I am inclined to take your recommendations on that, but I am open to other companies if we can find a tour that fits our needs.

Neither of us care about Loch Ness. We're biologists and its just another Lake to us. I like everything on the Glencoe/Loch Ness Rabbies tour except for the Loch ness part, which is a huge time drain for me.

My wife wants to see:

1) Scotland wooded areas
2) Glens/"mountains" (we realize they aren't really mountains, perhaps "big hills" is the better term"
3) Ocean cliffs

I like history and natural areas too.

In picking from tours, I'm not really sure what areas in Scotland would offer all three of those on a single day trip. So, maybe someone can stop as right here and say "it isn't likely going to happen".

All of the Rabbies tours seem to get us what we want...except the ocean cliffs. Any ideas, or other companies?

Finally, would I be foolish to not book an early June tour in advance or can I book it when we get there and still find spots?

Posted by
1302 posts

Oh ,I'd go with mountains.
The official ski season at glencoe only gave up last week and theres lots of snow left.
Winterhighland website has pics.

Posted by
16894 posts

I looked at a competing company but of their several offerings, I would still choose the Highlands and Loch Ness combo. Perhaps going to Loch Ness is "the price you pay" to see more of the Highlands.

Posted by
3428 posts

Just because Loch Ness has the 'legend'... doesn't mean it isn't a lovely place! It is one of our favorites!!! And while the tourist stores in Drumnadrochit are there because of Nessie, they still have some of the better souvenirs we've found (lovely embroidered things, pottery, hand blown glass... as well as the 'usual' tourist tat). The drive along the loch is really nice, and Urquhart castle (ruins) is nice, too. And it is on the route to Glencoe and the Great Glen- two absolutely stunning places! So don't write off Loch Ness just because of Nessie (LOL).

Posted by
9110 posts

You should study any itinerary very carefully to see how much stopped time you're going to have. Most of the places you apparently just zip by and listen to the spiel. I've studied several and wouldn't want to spend eight or ten hours sitting on a bus.

Posted by
484 posts

I did 2 rabbie's tours from Edinburgh with my family. We enjoyed them -both day trips. The vans hold a maximum of 16 people. One trip, there was only 8 in the van including ourselves. Unless you are going to Alnwick castle in the borders, you can join a tour once you are in Edinburgh. For day trips, there are several to choose from. I would probably sign up in advance for a multi-day trip. I liked going to Stirling Castle. To see ocean cliffs, you need to be in the Western Isles area - Oban, Argyll. Isle of Skye is supposed to be gorgeous. Personally, I found loch lommond to be as beautiful as Loch Ness. Loch Ness is pleasant, but is somewhat over-rated. I did enjoy Inverness as a lovely city to stroll around for restaurants, laundry, gift shopping. Again, I would not consider Inverness a must-see compared to Edinburgh. I don't know if you can do Isle of Skye as a day trip. You may want to substitute loch lommond for Loch Ness. Maybe start a new loch lommy monster craze.

Posted by
341 posts

The last time we were in Edinburgh we did 2 different day trips with Highland Experience Tours. One trip was to Stirling Castle, Loch Lomond, and Glengoyne Distillery, and the other trip was to Rosslyn, Melrose Abbey, and Alnwick Castle. In both cases we went to the Highland Experience Tours office right on the Royal Mile and purchased our tickets for later that week. However, I had emailed them about a month before our trip to see if advance purchase was necessary for the days and tours we were interested in, and they told me I most likely could wait until we arrived to purchase tickets. Years before that we took a 2-Day trip into the Highlands (yes it included Loch Ness) with Highland Explorer Tours. Both companies were good, but the Highland Experience folks seemed to really enjoy sharing their knowledge of the area and sights.

Posted by
67 posts

Thanks everyone. At the top of our list is the Rabbies Stirling/Loch Lommond tour. I may email them today and ask if they think advance purchase is necessary. My guess is that the Loch Ness trip is more popular due to the provenance. I also prefer the Loch Lommond trip not because I am opposed to Loch Ness. It simply returns to Edinburgh earlier in the day, allowing us an evening out, rather than on the bus.

Posted by
484 posts

I did the rabbie's trip you are considering (Stirling castle). It is a good choice. The van was not full at all. So, chances are good you can book your tour within a few days of the tour date. You may want to check out the historic Scotland trust for a castle pass. It is only worthwhile if you will see two castles and an abbey or more within 5 days. That way, you can skip ticket lines once you obtain the pass and enjoy a discount rate. Ticket lines are not bad though. It's just a convenience and discount.
Be prepared for heavy rain at Loch Lommond. I wish some of our Florida Sunshine for your trip. Ask the driver whether you are taking the high road or low road to Loch Lommond. I wish for you the high road.

Posted by
30 posts

Took the "wee red bus tour" to Rosslyn chapel , the borders and Hadrians wall. They offer many tours including overnights. You can book when you arrive or just before
Great history tour

Posted by
67 posts

Update: I went ahead and booked the Stirling/Loch Lomond through Rabbie's and we're very excited!