We would like to do a day trip in the highlands from Edinburgh. We're considering doing a bus tour with either Heart of Scotland tours or Haggis Backpackers. As we have Britrail passes another (cheaper) option would be to do a day trip by rail. Does anyone have any experience with either of these companies or suggestions for day trips out of Edinburgh?
We drove to the Highlands and it was very very enjoyable. You are driving on the other side of the road but once away from the city traffic is very light. With two people, one to drive and one to navigate (switching off of course) you can stop and take pictures, have a picnic etc. If driving isn't an option I'd definately take a bus tour vs. a train as they're more likely to get you into the high country areas.
I can recommend Heart of Scotland tours. My sisters & I took the Loch Ness & Legends tour last May. We loved it. The groups are small so you don't get the feeling of being herded around. At each stop, you can go about as you please. During lunch, we stopped at an area with a couple lunch options -- a restaraunt & a small grocery (good budget option). The driver/guide is very knowledgable & enthusiastic. We learned so much & took some amazing photos. The highlands are absolutely gorgeous (Scotland is now my 2nd favorite country after Italy). At Loch Ness, we had the option of taking a cruise on the lake or wandering about the town. We took the cruise, it's not everyday you get to go out on Loch Ness. The price of the cruise wasn't included in the tour since it was an option. Just as an FYI - the boat company only accepts cash. Some folks tried paying with credit card. Hope this helps. Enjoy Edinburgh, it's fantastic!
I would say that it depends on what you want to do in the highlands. If you want to see a lot of scenery from a bus window and cover a lot of ground, the tour is probably the best option. If you want to get out and walk a bit among the hills, then think about taking the train to Birnam (yes of Birnam wood fame) and take one of the walks along the Tay or up into the hills. This area is just north of Perth in Perthshire and is a beautiful spot. The TI is over the bridge in Dunkeld, which is a very nice historic town with the Cathedral and little houses. BTW Beatrix Potter spent many summers in this area. A quick google search will tell you what to expect.