A few years ago we visited Scotland, with Edinburgh as our base. On our trip to Edinburgh we also wanted to explore outside the city a little bit. We had a few days in the city and we decided to spend one day doing a highlands tour. There are a lot of tour packages available from one day tours to several day overnight excursions! We picked a one-day tour that hit some highlights- Stirling Castle, Loch Lomond and a whiskey distillery.
The tour was family friendly (even the distillery part!) and although it wasn’t packed with kids, there were several other families in our tour group. We were on a small bus and the driver/tour guide was great! He was knowledgeable, friendly and charismatic. He pointed things out along the route and told us stories and trivia about Scotland.
Our first big stop was Stirling Castle. This castle is one of the largest in Scotland and also considered to be one of the most important. It’s surrounded on three sides by cliff edges so it had a good defensive position. Don’t worry though, you can drive up and park close to the entrance so no cliff scaling is needed! You also get a nice view of the Highlands from here as well as a view of the Wallace Monument.
Castles can be hit or miss for kids so it’s always nice when they have special activities for kids included. Stirling Castle had a room for kids to try out jousting and other activities. They also had interpreters throughout with presentations so you could learn more and ask questions along the way. Carter especially loved the presentation about guns and how they used the bathroom a long time ago!
The castle had a tour guide for our group and he was really interesting and had a wonderful accent. Guided tours aren’t always the best for kids, but we had plenty of time to wander around on our own as well. Cannons help, too. He always loves playing pretend with the cannons when we go to castles or battle sites.
After Stirling Castle we had lunch and headed on our way to Loch Lomond. For lunch we stopped in a small village and ate a dark pub, which felt very stereotypical and slightly touristy. We had typical bar food and my husband even tried haggis!
Anything with water is popular with my kid and the lake had some beautiful views! We parked and did a small hike to the viewing area for the lake. Carter even made friends with a guy from our tour group who let him use his binoculars to look across the lake! Loch Lomond is the second largest lake in Scotland (after Loch Ness) and is also a national park.
The last stop on our Highland tour was at a whiskey distillery. We stopped at Glengoyle Distillery, which is unique in that it’s the southern most distillery to still be considered part of the highlands. It is located right on the line between the Highlands and Lowlands, with the wiskey being produced officially on the Highlands side, and then sent over the line to mature on the Lowlands side.
The distillery tour was very thorough and kids were welcome. Carter was actually really into it and asked a ton of questions! They offered us a few different types of whiskey varieties to try with a little tasting session. To be honest, whiskey isn’t my favorite but I tried a few sips!
The distillery was the last stop, although we did stop along the highway to look at a sheep farm on the way back to Edinburgh. We also got a quick view of the Kelpie sculptures on the highway as well. It’s hard to take a picture from a moving tour bus but I think I got the gist of it! The tour ended back in Edinburgh for the evening. You can read more about what we did in Edinburgh in our post, Visiting Edinburgh with Kids!
Have you been to Scotland? Did you do a highlands tour? Have any questions about our tour- let me know in the comments below!