My recent trip to Scotland was a first for me on many levels:
- First time visiting the UK
- First time to a colder destination in summer (I always opt for warmer vacations)
- First time taking using a tour group
Yup, that’s right. I’ve never used a tour group or guide before. I’ve always been one of those to throw caution to the wind and trek off on my own, researching the best places to go before hand. I’ve usually gone at it alone (or have dragged my boyfriend with me to explore). This time around was a little different though. Scotland is a BIG place. And the Scots drive on the opposite side of the road from what I’m used to. Seriously, that was a big deal to me. I love driving but I am not too comfortable driving when I don’t know the rules, the signals, and am in a new location. Hence, booking a tour.
Why I picked a Rabbie’s Tour
As I planned our Scotland trip I knew that I wanted to go to Edinburgh but that I also wanted to explore some of the further reaches of the country. Without driving the best way seemed to be finding a legit tour company for part of our trip. I did a lot of research online before hand checking out sites like TripAdvisor and others. Rabbie’s Trail Burners (or just Rabbie’s) was top of the list and met many of the criteria that I looked for:
- Small group Tours
- Great Reviews
- No Children (yes, you know me..this was a must-have)
- Had various itineraries and options
Rabbie’s tours are limited to a max of 16 people. Each tour group is driven around in a small mini-couch (not those obnoxiously large buses or open-air doohickeys). As of this time their tours are based in Ireland, England and Scotland. I decided to opt for a 4 Day Isle of Skye & West Highlands Tour to give us a leisurely trip and to get as many picture opportunities as possible (I’ll be sharing my favorite pictures in an upcoming post soon!).
On the Tour
Our Tour was based out of Edinburgh and left from the cute little Rabbie’s Cafe at 6 Waterloo Place. The cafe serves pastries, coffee, tea etc so you can always get some munchies before you head out. The drivers are amazingly punctual and when our driver Eddie arrived, we piled onto the van, and were off! I must say that the little mini-couches they have are pretty comfortable even when you are on and off all day. We had enough space and we were able to see all the scenery without any issues. Eddie stopped at all the major sites and gave us ample time to take pictures, walk around, and simply stretch our legs when needed. Even bathroom breaks were timed well and we never had any issues. Our driver had been with Rabbie’s for over a decade and loved what he did. He was a bundle of information, fun stories, and little known facts for every place that we went. I swear there would be no way I would have ever learned half as much if we had traveled by ourselves. Some of the places we stopped at included:
- Eilean Donan castle (You remember the original Highlander movie right? Think – Sean Connery back in the day)
- The Isle of Skye
- The Cuillin Hills
- The White Sands of Morar (that sounds very Lord of the Rings-ish doesn’t it?)
- The “Harry Potter” viaduct
We stayed in the little town of Plockton for two nights and in Fort William for one. In Plockton I highly recommend checking out the Plockton Inn for dinner. They had an AMAZING seafood dish that was just smoked seafood, much of which was pulled right outside in Loch Carron and smoked right at the restaurant.
One thing to make note of is that you do NOT know where you will be staying on the tour. You get to pick the kind of accommodations, but not the exact place. I am usually ok with B&Bs and that was what I went for in order to save money. The first place we stayed wasn’t all that great but had good breakfasts, the second was much better even though it cost less. So be aware that it may not be up to your standards. Also, the conversion rate right now is BRUTAL. I was shocked to see how much everything was when my bank statement came. This is nothing new since both the Euro and GBP are pretty harsh for the US Dollar right now but still, keep it in mind. A fabulous website and app to check out conversion rates is XE. We enjoyed being able to sit back and view the amazing Scottish landscape. With the wildlife, peat covered hills, numerous lochs and streams, it was a wonderfully picturesque tour.
Conclusion: Was it Worth It?
- Comfy vans
- Plenty of time at sites
- A ton of cool information about the sites, Scottish history, and fun tidbits
- Knowledgeable drivers
- You can sleep when you need to, lol
- There is a LOT of ground to cover and you may be get bored on the van after a while
- You don’t know exactly where you will stay before hand
- A bit expensive especially if you are in the U.S
So was it worth it? Yup, totally. There would have been no way that we’d go all the way out to the Isle of Skye and drive across such a vast country like Scotland on our own. If you are ok driving on the other side of the road and have ideas of where you want to stay, I can see you doing it yourself but if not, this is a great alternative. The staff is knowledgeable, we didn’t have to worry about traffic, we could fall asleep when we wanted to, and we learned a ton! I would highly recommend checking out Rabbie’s Trail Burners for your next tour!