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Get the Details On Our Scotland Adventure

Find out more about the adventure, including activity level, pricing, traveler excellence rating, included meals, and more

Trip Itinerary

Discover the history of the British Isles, from castles to the Book of Kells, and enjoy the unique culture here.
09:19 | 356 views

15 DAYS FROM $8,095 • $ 540 / DAY
Small Ship Adventure

Adventure Details

Find the Adventure That’s Right for You

Our Activity Level rating system ranks adventures on a scale of 1 to 5 to help you determine if a trip is right for you. See the descriptions below for more information about the physical requirements associated with each rating.

Activity Level 1:

1 2 3 4 5


Travelers should be able to climb 25 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 1-2 miles over some uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last at least 1-2 hours at a time. Altitude can range from zero to 5,000 feet.

Activity Level 2:

1 2 3 4 5

Moderately Easy

Travelers should be able to climb 40 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 2-3 miles over some uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for at least 2-3 hours at a time. Altitude can range from zero to 5,000 feet.

Activity Level 3:

1 2 3 4 5


Travelers should be able to climb 60 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 3 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 3 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 5,000 to 7,000 feet.

Activity Level 4:

1 2 3 4 5

Moderately Strenuous

Travelers should be able to climb 80 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 4 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 4 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 7,000 to 9,000 feet.

Activity Level 5:

1 2 3 4 5


Travelers should be able to climb 100 or more stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 8 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 4 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 10,000 feet or more.

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Recommended Viewing

Watch this video showcasing what makes this country so unforgettable

Bare Feet: Hogmanay in Scotland

Let an adventurous traveler lead you to Scotland’s hidden gems—including a traditional Hogmanay festival.

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Scotland: Month-by-Month

There are pros and cons to visiting a destination during any time of the year. Find out what you can expect during your ideal travel time, from weather and climate, to holidays, festivals, and more.

Scotland in January-February

The winter months bring short days and dreary weather to Scotland. High temperatures hover in the low 40 degree Fahrenheit range, with frequent driving rain in the lowlands; in the Highlands, snow-covered peaks welcome skiers and snowboarders. Scots are fond of saying "there's no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing," so wintertime travelers are advised to dress in layers topped off with a waterproof coat.

Perhaps the best way to cope with Scotland's winter weather is to hunker down by a roaring fire in one of the country's countless traditional pubs. Hearty Scotch fare like haggis, mince and tatties (ground beef and mashed potatoes), and clootie dumplings (a steamed pudding) is made for cold days, and a dram of whisky provides a warming glow. 

Holidays & Events

  • January 25: Burns Night is an annual celebration of Scottish poet Robert Burns. The festivities include a haggis supper accompanied by a reading of "Address to a Haggis," many whisky toasts, and a rousing rendition of "Auld Lang Syne."
  • Late February: The Fort William Mountain Festival is a celebration of mountain culture and the spirit of adventure, with film screenings, workshops, competitions, and even winter hiking.

Watch this film to discover more about Scotland

Smart Travels with Rudy Maxa: Edinburgh and Scotland

Follow Emmy award-winning travel expert Rudy Maxa to Scotland’s legendary sights, including Edinburgh Castle.

Produced by Small World Productions

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Scotland in March-May

Although the Highland peaks are still frosted with white this time of year, the snow begins to melt throughout most of Scotland, leaving a carpet of daffodils and bluebells in its wake. Mild breezes bring the daily temperatures into the mid-50 degrees Fahrenheit range. 

Springtime is a wonderful season for exploring Scotland's outdoors, with woodland creatures emerging from their winter dens, new lambs appearing in pastures, and migratory birds returning north. The contrast of snowy peaks and green, flower-bedecked valleys is irresistible for mountain hikers, known locally as "fell-walkers." In oft-rainy Edinburgh, April brings a succession of dry days in which to enjoy a hike up Arthur's Seat or a sedate stroll through the blooming Princes Street Gardens.

Holidays & Events

  • May 1: Beltane is the Gaelic fire festival, marking the end of winter. A chosen May Queen and Green Man lead a parade that ends with the lighting of a bonfire—accompanied by much feasting and merrymaking, of course.
  • First weekend of May: The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival celebrates the world's finest single malt scotch whiskies, many of which come from this very region (Speyside is home to 84 working distilleries, after all). Attendees enjoy tastings, distillery tours, live music, and whisky-appreciation classes.

Watch this film to discover more about Scotland

Smart Travels with Rudy Maxa: Edinburgh and Scotland

Follow Emmy award-winning travel expert Rudy Maxa to Scotland’s legendary sights, including Edinburgh Castle.

Produced by Small World Productions

25:11 | 4282 views

Scotland in June-August

As Scotland's spring turns into summer, daylight hours stretch into the evening; this far north, a summer day lasts up to 17 hours. The weather is mild and still changeable, but overall remains pleasant with temperatures rising toward 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Wildflowers and soft purple heather bloom throughout the summer, and the countryside is one green vista after another, from gentle hillocks in the lowlands to craggy peaks in the Highlands.

With so much daylight, there is ample time for bird-watching, outdoor exploration, and sightseeing. This is also the best time of year to visit Scotland's islands, as the seas are calm for boat crossings and island shops are open. Late summer is Scotland's busiest time for tourism, as the world-renowned Edinburgh Military Tattoo and Edinburgh Festival Fringe attract festival-goers by the thousands.

Holidays & Events

  • August: During the same three-week period in August, the Edinburgh International Festival and the Festival Fringe bring music, comedy, dance, theater, and performance art to Edinburgh. The International Festival hand-selects its acts, while the Fringe is open to just about any performer who wants an audience. While the International Festival is more prestigious, the Festival Fringe lays claim to being the world's largest arts festival, with over 2,500 shows to choose from.
  • August: At the same time as Edinburgh's two performing arts festivals, the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo presents a series of military tattoos (military music performances) on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle.

Must See

Throughout the summer, whales feed off of Scotland's coasts. From the Shetland Isles to the Inner and Outer Hebrides, whale-watchers can spot minke whales, sperm whales, pilot whales, humpback whales, and orcas.

Watch this film to discover more about Scotland

Smart Travels with Rudy Maxa: Edinburgh and Scotland

Follow Emmy award-winning travel expert Rudy Maxa to Scotland’s legendary sights, including Edinburgh Castle.

Produced by Small World Productions

25:11 | 4282 views

Scotland in September-October

Autumn burnishes the hills and glens of Scotland in tawny shades of red, copper, and bronze. This is the season for hunting and eating duck, pheasant, deer, and hare—plus the freshest local seafood including oysters, herring, and mackerel. Temperatures in autumn are cool (between 40 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit) and while September is often sunny, October sees frequent rainfall.

Holidays & Events

  • First Saturday in September: Regularly attended by the British monarch, the Braemar Gathering is the biggest and most important iteration of the Highland Games, which take place throughout Scotland all summer long. The celebration of Gaelic culture involves competitions of all kinds, including bagpiping, Highland dancing, hammer throw, and dog herding.

Watch this film to discover more about Scotland

Smart Travels with Rudy Maxa: Edinburgh and Scotland

Follow Emmy award-winning travel expert Rudy Maxa to Scotland’s legendary sights, including Edinburgh Castle.

Produced by Small World Productions

25:11 | 4282 views

Scotland in November-December

After the leaves fall, Scotland is painted in shades of gray, from leaden skies to smoldering seas. The countryside is quiet, with rural areas all but closing down to visitors. But the approach of the holidays brings a glow to city streets, as Glasgow and Edinburgh host festive Christmas markets. Skiers and snowboarders celebrate the advent of winter at Scotland's five ski areas, which see close to a hundred snowy days every year. 

Holidays & Events

  • November 30: Saint Andrew's Day is Scotland's national holiday in recognition of its patron saint. By law, all buildings in Scotland must display the saltire (the X symbol on the Scottish flag), and the day is marked with traditional Scottish food, music, and dance.
  • December 30-January 1: Hogmanay is Scotland's biggest holiday, a relic from the country's Viking past that incorporates elements of the Gaelic Samhain holiday and the traditional German Yuletide. The celebration begins with a torchlit procession and continues with fireworks, concerts, and dancing.

Must See

With three days of festivities engulfing the country, Hogmanay is a can't-miss Scottish holiday. Concerts, fireworks, and street parties overtake most cities and towns, while bonfires and torch processions provide a decidedly pagan flavor. And here in Scotland, where Gaelic persists as a local language, singing"Auld Lang Syne" at midnight on New Year's takes on an even richer meaning.

Watch this film to discover more about Scotland

Smart Travels with Rudy Maxa: Edinburgh and Scotland

Follow Emmy award-winning travel expert Rudy Maxa to Scotland’s legendary sights, including Edinburgh Castle.

Produced by Small World Productions

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The past lingers in every corner of Edinburgh, from its 11th-century hilltop castle down the Royal Mile to the ruins of Holyrood Abbey and the neighboring Palace of Holyroodhouse, still home to the British monarch for one week every year. Edinburgh’s medieval Old Town and 18th century “New Town” may be a museum-quality UNESCO World Heritage Site, but they are very much alive and thriving.

Home to the world’s largest annual arts festival, Edinburgh was known for a time as the Athens of the North—a place for literature and learning, philosophy and thinking. There is certainly no shortage of inspiration here—the green hills and black cliffs that rise throughout town provide stunning views, and a dram of rich, peaty Scotch can turn anyone into a deep thinker. But it’s not all serious; the locals are renowned for their warmth and wry sense of humor.

Edinburgh's Maritime Attractions

See the seaside wildlife of the Firth of Forth and meet a kilt designer in this unique look at Scotland’s capital.

Courtesy CNN
06:55 | 5433 views

Explore Edinburgh with O.A.T. on:

Isle of Lewis

Lewis is the largest of Scotland’s Outer Hebrides islands, with a strong and enduring Gaelic culture. The island’s history is tangible at the Callanish Standing Stones, Britain’s most complete stone circle, which has stood on an isolated moor for 5,000 years. Visitors can jump forward in time by several thousand years at the 19th-century Gearrannan Blackhouse Village, nine traditional thatched cottages that once belonged to fishermen, and Victorian-era Lews Castle, the one-time home of the island’s owners. Since its past as a private home, the castle has also functioned as a naval hospital and more recently, a college.

Throughout the island's long history, its inhabitants have distinguished themselves through hard work and dedication; men and women from Lewis have set out to sea for entire seasons at a time in pursuit of whales and fish.

Explore the Isle of Lewis with O.A.T. on:


Aberdeen, Scotland’s third-largest city and the center of the North Sea oil industry, is one of Britain’s most beautiful cityscapes thanks to the glittering silver granite that makes up most of the 19th-century buildings. The stone comes from the nearby Rubislaw Quarry, once Europe's largest granite quarry, abandoned in the 1970s. Aberdeen's Maritime Museum explains the city's 500-year-long relationship to the roaring North Sea, a rich story that touches on fishing, trade, and oil rigs. Tucked between the city’s harbor and the waterfront is Footdee, a quaint village made up of traditional cottages and quirky, colorful garden sheds. It was built in the 19th century to house Aberdeen's fishermen.

Explore Aberdeen with O.A.T. on:


A whaling hub that has changed little since its 18th-century heyday, Stromness is a port town of the Orkney Islands, off Scotland’s northern tip. Its fate is tied so closely to the sea that most of the town’s streets wind their way down to the harbor, and buildings are still decorated with whale bones. More artifacts from the town’s maritime past can be found in the Stromness Museum—also home to objects salvaged from a German fleet that attacked nearby during World War II. After the attack, Orkney became home to 550 Italian prisoners of war, brought in to build new defenses in the harbor. They built an ornately beautiful Catholic chapel on the grounds of their POW camp, now the only remaining building from the camp and one of Orkney’s most-visited sites.

Orkney is also home to Scotland’s northernmost whisky distillery, Highland Park, which dates back to 1798 and produces some of the world’s best single-malt Scotch.

Explore Stromness with O.A.T. on:

Featured Reading

Immerse yourself in Scotland with this selection of articles, recipes, and more


The Myths and Mysteries of Scotland's Edinburgh Castle

With a more than 800-year history as one of Scotland’s most iconic landmarks, Edinburgh Castle is shrouded in secrets. Centuries of royals lived within its illustrious chambers and great halls, while countless prisoners awaited their deaths deep in its dungeons. The castle has served as an execution site, a royal treasury, and even a fortress, all the while spinning mysterious tales of spying kings, falsely accused witches, sneaky prisoners, ancient relics, and paranormal activity. Here is just a sample of the many myths and mysteries of Edinburgh Castle and the people who lived and died there:

The Stone of Destiny

Protected in Edinburgh Castle is a mysterious block of sandstone. Bearing only a Latin cross, there is nothing remarkable about the stone’s appearance—but throughout history, the Stone of Destiny has inspired countless legends, sparked great reverence, and spurred several conflicts between Scotland and England.

Beginning in the 9th century, the stone was used during the crowning of kings who would go on to shape Scotland’s history. Some say the stone has biblical origins, claiming Jacob used it as a pillow in Bethel when he dreamt of a ladder to heaven. Others believe it came from Scotland or Ireland. But as the stone traveled from Iona to Scone to serve Scotland’s crowned rulers, it became revered as a national relic—a symbol of Scotland’s power and independence.

For this reason, when Edward I of England invaded Scotland in 1296, he moved the stone to London’s Westminster Abbey, where he put it under the Coronation Chair—sending a message to Scots that the English ruler was their ruler as well.

To many Scots’ dismay, the Stone of Destiny remained in Westminster until Christmas morning 1950, when a group of Scottish students stole it, claiming they were taking the ancient relic back to its rightful owners in Scotland. After performing the bold heist (and breaking the stone in half in the process), the nationalists smuggled it back to Scotland, dousing it in whiskey to welcome it home. After police questioning, however, the students eventually gave up the stone, leaving it in Arbroath Abbey.

When the stone was found, it was moved back to London until 1996, when the British government agreed to return it to Edinburgh Castle. While this was cause for celebration for many Scots, others say the stone you see in the castle today is not the real deal. Some historians believe the true Stone of Destiny was hidden in the Perthshire hillside when the English invaded in the 13th century—meaning Edward I plundered a counterfeit—while others say the Scots hid the real stone after the 1950 heist, returning a fake to England.

The Lone Piper

Edinburgh Castle is considered one of the most haunted places in the world, with countless visitors claiming to see the spirits of a headless drummer, a lonely dog, and several French prisoners roaming the castle’s grounds. But one of the castle’s most famous paranormal residents is the Lone Piper. Legend says that in the 19th century, a series of underground tunnels was discovered below the castle, allegedly connecting Edinburgh to the Royal Mile and Holyrood Palace. Since the tunnels were too small for adults, the authorities asked a young piper to investigate, telling him to play his pipe while he explored. As the boy made his way through the mysterious tunnels, the authorities tracked his movements with the sound of his pipe. But suddenly the boy stopped playing, vanishing into the dark, underground labyrinth. While no one knows what happened to the boy, to this day, visitors report hearing the ghostly sound of a pipe on the castle grounds, as the Lone Piper eternally walks through the tunnels below.

The Laird’s Lug

A good king has eyes and ears everywhere, and this was especially true for King James IV. In order to watch his royal subjects, the king built a small spyhole called a “laird’s lug” (or “lord’s ear”) above the fireplace in the Great Hall. From behind the barred window, he could easily hear the conversations below without his guests’ knowledge. This spyhole was so effective that when Soviet statesman Mikhail Gorbachev visited the castle in 1984, the Russian secret service demanded it be covered before he entered the Great Hall, fearing someone would eavesdrop on the conference—or worse, try to harm Gorbachev through the small slits in the window.

The Witches’ Well

Near the entrance to the castle esplanade sits a small wall fountain called the Witches’ Well. Although the well would be easy to miss, it serves as a reminder of one of the darker times in Scottish history. Between 1479 and 1722, more than 300 suspected witches were burned at the stake near the site of the well. Among them was Janet Douglas, a.k.a. Lady Glamis, a noblewoman whose husband suddenly died while eating alone. Lady Glamis was charged with poisoning him, but when she was deemed innocent, King James V acted on his deep hatred of the Douglas family and accused her of another crime—trying to kill him with witchcraft. Although it seems clear that Lady Glamis was innocent, the king tortured her loved ones until they were willing to testify that she conspired to murder the monarch. Lady Glamis was ultimately condemned and burned at the stake on the castle’s esplanade, along with countless others who met this unfortunate fate.

The Escape Artists

Deep below the Great Hall and Queen Anne Building are stone vaults that housed countless prisoners of war, from a group of Caribbean pirates to a five-year-old drummer boy captured in the Battle of Trafalgar. Over the years, several of these prisoners tried to escape. In 1799, for example, a prisoner tried to sneak out of the castle by hiding in a dung barrel. Unfortunately, the man’s plans were dashed when a guard dumped him—and the other contents of the barrel—over the castle wall. During another famous escape in 1811, a group of 49 French prisoners managed to break through a wall and use a cloth rope to lower themselves down the south crag. Unfortunately, the Frenchmen didn’t escape scot-free. One prisoner fell to his death and four were captured almost immediately. The rest were caught within six weeks, after a successful ad in the Edinburgh Evening Courant named and described each one.

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