23 Scottish Experiences for 2023 with CIE Tours
Be dazzled by the Crown Jewels at Edinburgh Castle, board the Royal Yacht Britannia to discover regal life at sea, explore the grandeur of the Scottish Renaissance at Stirling Castle, or get a glimpse of prehistoric life at the village of Skara Brae on the Orkney Islands. There’s so much to explore! Here are just 23 great experiences CIE Tours can give you in Scotland in 2023.
Photo: Eileen Donan Castle
1. Head through the scenic countryside of Perthshire to visit Iain Burnett Highland Chocolatier for a tasting of award-winning chocolates with an expert chocolatier. All the chocolates are made on-site with sustainable ingredients, including local heather honey and berries, and fresh cream from local herds of Scottish Friesians. Suggested tour: Scots-Irish Tour.
2. Learn about the art and aromas of whisky production, taste a dram of whisky, and view the world’s largest collection of Scotch whisky at The Scotch Whisky Experience on the famed Royal Mile. Then hear colorful tales of Scottish history and culture while tasting a range of flavorful whiskies paired with a dinner of local dishes. Suggested tour: Scots-Irish Tour.
3. Explore the fascinating heritage of the Orkney Islands - get a glimpse into life five thousand years ago when you visit two of the most important Neolithic sites in Europe. The Ring of Brodgar is a spectacular stone circle with 36 standing stones remaining and over a dozen burial mounds. Skara Brae is Europe’s most complete Neolithic village, consisting of 10 clustered houses, complete with a primitive sewer system to drain waste to the ocean. Suggested tour: Scottish Isles & Glens.
4. Downton Abbey fan? Take a guided tour of Inveraray Castle, the ancestral home of the Duke of Argyll and the Chief of the Clan Campbell – and the setting for the Downton Abbey Christmas 2012 episode, when it served as “Duneagle Castle”. The show highlighted the beautiful setting of its West Highland location, surrounded by spectacular hills, lochs, and glens, and showcased the beautiful castle and elegant gardens and grounds. Suggested tour: Scottish & Irish Dream.
5. Experience the swirling pageantry of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo from reserved seats on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle. This tremendous explosion of color, light, and music, featuring marching bands from around the world, will enthrall you. Available on every CIE Tours guided vacation that has a stay in Edinburgh during the August dates of the Tattoo every year.
6. Visit a traditional farm for a surprising demonstration of clever sheepdogs as they go through their paces and show off their skills at herding sheep. Suggested tour: Scottish Dream.
7. If you’re a golfer, take a pilgrimage to where it all began, hundreds of years ago – St Andrews, the Home of Golf. The old links are still there, but there’s so much more to see in this medieval town, which is also home to the oldest university in Scotland. Suggested Tour: Scottish & Irish Gold.
8. See masterpieces by Rembrandt, Titian, and Dali at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. This Glasgow institution houses one of the world’s finest collections of European art. Suggested tour: Scottish Dream.
9. Enjoy traditional entertainment with delicious food on our Scottish evening - included on every tour that stops in Scotland. Read more about the Clappy Doo Ceilidh Band that provides the music.
10. Discover the breathtaking scenery on the Isle of Skye and visit Armadale Castle. The historic castle, once the home of Clan Donald, is a romantic ruin – but the gardens are beautifully maintained, and the views of the surrounding sea and mountains are stunning. Suggested tour: The Scots-Irish Tour.
11. Visit Glenturret Distillery, Scotland's oldest working distillery for an immersive tour to discover the fascinating history of the Glenturret single malt - traditionally crafted today it was over 250 years ago. Suggested tour: Scottish Isles & Glens.
12. Be dazzled by the Scottish Crown Jewels on a visit to Edinburgh Castle. Perched high above the city on an enormous mound of volcanic rock, the castle houses not only the jewels but also the “Stone of Destiny” - the block of red sandstone that for centuries served as the seat for kings and queens at their coronations. Suggested tour: Taste of Scotland.
13. Visit the thatched cottage that was the birthplace of Hugh Miller to discover one of Scotland’s most fascinating figures: Miller was a 19th-century fossil hunter folklorist, stonemason, geologist, and newspaper editor. Suggested tour: Scottish Clans & Castles.
14. Visit romantic Blair Castle, with its amazing towers and turrets, dating back to the 13th century. Suggested tour: The Scots-Irish Tour.
15. Enjoy a riot of tropical color at Inverewe Gardens, where exotic plants from around the world thrive in an environment warmed by the Gulf Stream. See Himalayan poppies, Tasmanian eucalyptus, and California Redwoods. Suggested tour: Scottish Isles & Glens.
16. Visit Culloden, where the quiet of the Highland moor belies the ferocity of the hour-long battle fought here in 1746. The bloody defeat of the Jacobites at the hands of George II’s government forces changed the course of British history. Today the graves of hundreds of clansmen remain, and a memorial cairn honors the fallen soldiers. The interactive visitor center explains the battle through artifacts and exhibits. Suggested tour: Scottish & Irish Dream.
17. Step into a fairytale when you visit Brodie Castle, with its towers and turrets set on spacious grounds. Inside, you’ll see fine furnishings, splendid paintings, and a library with over 6,000 volumes. Suggested tour: Scottish Clans & Castles.
18. Soak in the splendor of magnificent island scenery as you visit the Isle of Bute, where you’ll tour the fascinating Mount Stuart House with its blend of Victorian and Georgian architecture and design inspired by astrology and mythology. The house is full of innovations - it was the first house in Scotland to be lit by electricity, the world's first house with a heated swimming pool, and it contained an elevator and an early telephone system. Suggested tour: Scottish Isles & Glens.
19. Spend an afternoon free to stroll the Royal Mile, where compact medieval houses reach several stories tall. It’s at the very heart of Edinburgh, running from Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. You might want to check out one of the street’s several small museums before picking up the perfect souvenir from one of the many shops lining the route. Suggested tour: Taste of Scotland & Ireland.
20. See the grandeur of the Scottish Renaissance on a tour of Stirling Castle. This magnificent complex looms over the town with a spectacular view of its surroundings. Inside you’ll see beautifully restored interiors and rich décor that will let you discover what life was like in the days when it was the childhood home of Mary, Queen of Scots. Suggested tour: The Scots-Irish Tour.
21. Explore some of Scotland’s dramatic royal history as you tour the Palace of Holyroodhouse at the end of Edinburgh’s historic Royal Mile. Today the home of the King when he visits Scotland, the Palace was also the home of Mary, Queen of Scots, during her reign. Suggested tour: Scottish Clans & Castles.
Photo: Scottish Highland Coo
22. Cruise Loch Ness. We can’t guarantee you’ll spot Nessie, the legendary monster – but you’ll definitely be wowed by its spectacular beauty. Suggested tour: Taste of Scotland.
23. Get behind the scenes at Blair Athol, a whisky distillery picturesquely located at the gateway to the Highlands. Learn the secrets of whisky production – and taste a wee dram for yourself to discover its flavors. Suggested tour: Scottish & Irish Sampler.