If you saw Scotland in your younger years on a budget — with all the catching trains and staying in hostels included — but want to revisit the beautiful destination now that you have a little more cash in your pocket, we have the perfect solution, or rather multiple solutions, to choose from.
Taking a luxury tour means many things, and all are beneficial. You enjoy a full itinerary of unique experiences, without the stress of planning every detail yourself ahead of your trip. You get exclusive access to attractions and experts that you normally couldn’t. You often experience a higher level of service, as restaurants, hotels and more cater to tours with a particular finesse that you might not enjoy if you were traveling on your own. Sounds great, doesn’t it?
If you’re traveling to Scotland this or next year, then, these are some of the exclusive tours you should consider, from the more affordable side of luxury (from $2,000 per person) to the most extravagant (upwards of $7,000 per person).
This eight-day tour features two premier highlights of the Scotland countryside — the lochs and the castles. It kicks off in Glasgow, where you tour the magnificent city as you zip along the River Clyde via a speedboat. Then, it’s off through the highlands and to the lochs. You’ll see Stirling Castle, historic home of Mary, Queen of Scots; Loch Linhe; Loch Ness and the lakeside ruins of Urquhart Castle; the medieval town of St. Andrews, called “the home of golf”; and, of course, Edinburgh. Luxury hotel stays along the way include the Atholl Palace Hotel, operational since the Victorian era, and, yes, it really does look like a palace. Other highlights include a Tall Ship tour and loch cruise.
This tour is just for you and can be tailored to fit your exact needs, but the whiskey trail itself gives you more or less a good idea of where you’ll be headed and what you can expect. Start in Edinburgh, where you’ll not only enjoy a bespoke whisky tasting, but also get a glimpse of the Edinburgh that JK Rowling knew during her prime writing years. The rest of the trip crisscrosses the country with stops at distilleries and castles. Receive an exclusive tour of Ballindalloch Castle, hosted by Laird and Lady Macpherson-Grant. Explore Glasgow’s top spots and the natural majesty of the Isle of Skye. All the while, stay at ultra-luxury hotels, including several castles.
Perhaps your interest in Scotland lies not in the country’s history or its whisky or even its Harry Potter lore, but rather its sport of choice — golf. This tour provides you with the most exclusive golfing experience that any pro could ask for. You start out in Glasgow, then head to Lochgreen House, to play one of the most famous Open venues, Prestwick Golf Club. Then, it’s off to Muirfield Golf Club, which first got its start in 1744. In St. Andrews, follow in the footsteps of legends Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris. Then, it’s off to explore Carnoustie, Cruden Bay, Nairn Golf Club and Royal Dornoch Golf Course.
For an extended visit and more clans than lochs, the Scottish Clans & Castles tour is 11 days of unforgettable experiences. Special reservations at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo guarantee a remarkable spectacle of theatre and dance, while VIP access to one of Scotland’s famous distilleries gives you a new glimpse of the country’s Scotch industry. And there’s no boring budget train ride here — you’ll be seeing the Highlands via steam train, traversing the Glenfinnan Viaduct, famous for its appearance in the Harry Potter franchise. In addition to all the castles and clan experiences, enjoy stays at fine hotels across the country, including three nights at the Norton House Hotel & Spa, set in an 1840s Victorian mansion on 55 acres of gardens.
Another seven-night tour, this option gives travelers a chance to see the beauty of the Scottish Isles, starting in Glasgow, before moving along to the remote Ardnamurchan Peninsula, courtesy of your private driver. Spend a day on the Isle of Mull, sleeping in a castle by night and exploring the natural beauty by day. Next, Iona is where St. Columba landed on Scottish soil in 563 AD and began the Celtic Church. Discover Scotland’s religious history for yourself, before seeing the spot where thousands of puffins live during the summer. Before heading back to Glasgow, you’ll also visit “Scotland in miniature,” or the Isle of Arran, which is known for having all the best aspects of Scotland in one tiny place — from the history to the food, the whisky to the natural wonders, you’ll find it all.
By Holly Riddle