See Scotland with Odyssey Tours

Scotland: a picturesque land of castles and forts, games and kilts, and a mythical lake monster. The rugged mountainous terrain became the backdrop of a rich history from as far back as the Roman and Viking empires.

Before the Vikings, Scotland was settled by the Picts, who were said to have migrated from Scythia (Scandinavia) before forming powerful kingdoms in what is now northern Scotland. While the Picts were able to thwart the Romans for many centuries, in 843 AD, Kenneth MacAlpin, crowned King Kenneth I of the Kingdom of Dál Riada (or Dalriada) crushed their resistance and also became King of the Picts. Dalriada was composed of parts of northeastern Ireland and western Scotland. The union of Dalriada and Pictish lands in northern Scotland formed the Kingdom of Alba, which became the starting point of the Scots’ expansion of their territory. This expansion continued until what we know now as mainland Scotland became one political unit. Malcolm II, who was king from 1005 to 1034, became the first king to reign over land roughly corresponding to much of modern Scotland.

Learn more about Scottish culture and this fascinating history on your tour of Scotland, a vacation mixed with education with amazing landscapes and beautiful scenery serving as your backdrop. The winding cobblestone roads in metropolitan Glasgow and Edinburgh starkly contrast Scotland’s barren highlands, but their beauty blends just as well as their world-famous Scottish whisky.

Group tours of Scotland for seniors

Our small group tours of Scotland are ideal for mature or senior travelers for solo travellers or couples seeking an intimate guided tour led by an expert tour manager and local guide. Our tours to Scotland select our destinations with an eye to getting off the beaten path while also providing the opportunity to explore the major cities with a tour of dynamic Edinburgh and a chance to visit lively Glasgow and creative Aberdeen. Our tours of Scotland delve into 5,000 years of the country’s history; examine the Jacobite Rising and visits the key locations where events that shaped the history of the Jacobites occurred, including Edinburgh Castle; and explore the whisky industry in Scotland, which dates back to the Ancient Celts. On a Edinburgh City Tour we take high tea in the Signet library and visit the Palace of Holyroodhouse; while our Scottish Islands and Shetland Islands tour allows you to journey to some of the world’s great repositories of archaeological treasures. If you are considering joining an Odyssey tour of Scotland, some of things to think about include what places you would like to visit , when you would like to go and the best way to travel around the country.
Whatever sightseeing tour you choose for your Scotland vacation, from a tour of the entire country to immersing yourself in one city, Odyssey Traveller makes sure you have time to learn about and appreciate Scotland’s culture, history and people whether a solo traveller or with your companion.
Crafted tours for mature World Travellers

Tours of Scotland

Portree, Isle of Skye, Scotland
Guaranteed

Few people think of Scotland as an island archipelago. These islands all have one thing in common – they all contain living history. The people who dwell on them, for the most part, live their daily lives now as they did centuries ago. These isles are among the world’s great repositories of archaeological treasures including villages preserved almost in their entirety.

20 days
British Isles
Departing May, Sep, Jul
Whitby Abbey walking britain
Guaranteed

This is an upgraded walking program with new paths including the Brecon-Monmouthshire canal walk and tracks on Arran in Scotland. The program is designed for participants who enjoy seeing the countryside on foot and is appropriate for active walkers. We stay at comfortable hotels with two days of walks followed by a day of travel to the next site.

22 days
British Isles, Europe
Departing Jun, Sep
City of Edinburgh at dusk
Pre-guaranteed

Short tour of Edinburgh and a day trip to Glasgow of up to 5 days. Designed as a short tour for those who wish to spend additional time in places at the conclusion of their tour.

5 days
British Isles
Departing Jun, Jul

Explore 3,000 years of life on the mainland and on three of the islands. Only have time to examine segments of the country’s long and varied past. We will, delve deeply into a number of the events that shaped Scotland.

22 days
British Isles, Europe
Departing Jul

During our 19 day tour, we will explore the stunning scenery and the remarkable history of Scotland, including the fabled Isle of Skye learning about Whisky.

19 days
British Isles
Departing Aug

The world’s largest arts festival, made up of almost an entire months’ worth of theatre, cabaret, children’s shows, experimental performance art, circus, comedy, and dance. On The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Small Group Tour for mature Travellers, we experience nine days of the Fringe in all its glory, taking in an incomparable range of shows and performances sure to delight and intrigue. We also explore the magical city of Edinburgh with a sightseeing tour scheduled into this programme.

9 days
British Isles
Departing Aug
Prehistoric Britain small group history tour
Pre-guaranteed

This program examines human occupation in Britain some 500,000 years before the Romans arrived. It begins in Shetland, the northern extremity of Britain and works its way south to Stonehenge, exploring the landscapes that represent some of the most important prehistoric sites in Britain. Most of the focus of this program will be experiencing these megalithic and earthen structures constructed between the Stone Age and Iron Age.

21 days
British Isles
Departing Aug

Experience two of Scotland’s Great Trails on this walking tour with Odyssey Traveller: the Formartine and Buchan Way and Rob Roy Way. Discover the country on these long-distance walks that will take you through scenic glens, rolling farmlands, and beautiful lochs.

13 days
British Isles
Departing Aug, Jun

Our small group tour of British history allows the active senior to spend three weeks gaining an overview of Britain’s seven ages, from the Neolithic to the Victorian era.

21 days
British Isles
Departing Aug, Apr

Learn about the history of Liverpool, Newcastle & Glasgow by studying the history, culture & people who created these incredible cities. Spend one week in each place with local  guides who share their knowledge with you.

22 days
British Isles
Departing Sep, Jul, Jun

An era of enormous change, change which occurred in almost all areas of life. Developments in technology, science, medicine, politics, art and architecture. Enjoy talks and short lectures from a collection of knowledgeable guides on Victorian Britain in a small group.

 

21 days
British Isles
Departing Sep, Apr, Jun

From medieval Knot Gardens to the English landscapes of Capability Brown, to the modern incarnations of Sackville-West and the Duchess of Northumberland, our 22-night tour traces and explores garden styles through the ages. We explore the gardens of Kent, England’s South West, Oxfordshire, Wales, The Borders and Edinburgh, Northumbria and the Peak and Lake Districts.

18 days
British Isles
Departing Jun

Explore the stunning scenery and the remarkable history of Scotland. This tour focussed on the history of the Jacobites commences in Edinburgh. During the 19 days you visit 19 locations as you travel from Edinburgh as far north as Inverness to finish in Glasgow. You stay in 8 locations. Learn from 10 specialist guides about the Jacobites visiting 28 places and experiences during the tour.

17 days
British Isles
Departing Aug

Best walking tours of Scotland for older travellers

Scotland is renowned for its natural beauty and one of the best ways to explore the country’s spectacular scenery is by roaming the land. Scotland is home to some of the largest areas of wilderness in Western Europe and how better to get a sense of its dramatic landscapes then from exploring the rugged mountains and inky lochs or the verdant countryside and white sand beaches of the isles. Walking through Scotland, you can smell the fresh air that drifts across the northern Highlands, spot otters dancing along the coastline and scale the peaks of the Cuillin. Walking activates our endorphins, and there is no better way to feel a sense of connection to the land. Enjoy a unique travel experience with a walking tour of the Scottish wilderness.

Odyssey Traveller offers walking tours designed especially for senior and mature travellers. Suitable for couples and singles, they are tailored toward varying levels of fitness and are flexible. So, if you would prefer to spend an afternoon sipping tea and watching the world go by, you can rejoin the rest of the small group later. Walking tours are fully mapped out, designed to maximise experience, and are guided by people in the know. Discover the world at a slower pace and get your feet dirty!

On our Scotland Walking Tour allows you to experience two of Scotland’s most impressive trails: the Formartine and Buchan Way and Rob Roy Way. Discover the country on these long-distance walks that will take you through scenic glens, rolling farmlands, and beautiful lochs, with plenty of interesting stops along the way. We will walk up to 15 kilometres per day with the help of a dedicated Odyssey Program Leader and local guides. The Formartine and Buchan Way follows a former railway line, starting in Aberdeen and ending in the seaside town of Fraserburgh.

Scottish Islands

Shetland Islands
St. Ninian’s Isle, Shetland Islands

When one thinks of island-hopping, images of Scotland probably don’t immediately come to mind but Scotland is island-rich, with some of the most awesome scenery in the United Kingdom. There are nearly 800 islands that are part of Scotland, scattered around its western and northern coastline. Each of these islands has its own individual character, identity and charm but only 60 of them are populated and ferries run to only 46. No point on any island is greater than eight kilometres from the sea.

Exploring these islands on a Scotland tour, with their sea-lochs, moors and grasslands dotted with sheep and cattle, is to walk through Scottish history. There are crofts abandoned during the Highland Clearances, ancient standing stones and brochs. The diverse geology and climate of the more remote islands influenced local landforms and land use, creating a unique culture and heritage. There are three main groups of Scottish islands: The Inner and Outer Hebrides, the Orkney Islands, and the Shetland Islands. If you are interested in visiting the Scottish Islands, please take a look at our Scottish Islands tour , which visits the Outer Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland islands over 20 days. To learn more about the Scottish Isles, please take a look at our article on the islands. 

The need to know

Touring Scotland

Getting around

Odyssey usually travels by coach and occasionally uses local transport, including trains and ferries. Specifics are always outlined in your tour itinerary. Scotland has a centralised and impressively extensive rail network run by Transport Scotland, which links towns to the major cities. It is also covered by a bus network that is said to place 95% of the popuation within 5 minutes walk of a bus stop, catering to local, national, and international services.

Accommodation

In major cities, Odyssey stays in centrally located 3-4 star hotels, with easy access to public transport. In smaller towns or rural areas, we usually stay in family-run hotels or guesthouses. On our long stay tours, during which you spend the length of the tour in a single location, we use serviced apartments.

Tour Guides

Odyssey always engages local guides with regional knowledge to ensure an authentic experience during which you can learn as much as possible about the history and culture of places you visit.

Geography, environment & weather

Scotland forms part of the United Kingdom, and the northern third of the island of Great Britain as well as 790 additional surrounding islands. These are encompassed by the Shetland Islands, Orkney Islands, and the Inner and Outer Hebrides. In terms of topography, it’s mountainous and rugged, although most of the population is to be found in the Lowlands in the south and east.

Scotland’s climate is above all distinguished by its changeability and variation. Sometimes, a short drive will take you to completely different conditions, so the key to preparation is layering! During Spring, Summer, and Autumn, max temperatures tend to range between 7 and 17 degrees celcius, and during winter, the average maximum temperature is 5 degrees. In Spring and Autumn, you’ll find that the weater is usually pleasant but there will still be snow on the mountains. The country is also known for its rain. However, because of Scotland’s topography, it rains far more in the west than it does in the east. Scotland’s sunniest location is The Fife Coast, with an average of 1500 hours of sunshine per year.

World Heritage Sites

The United Kingdom boasts 31 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, many of which are located in Scotland. You can view the official list of the sites here https://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/gb. It is well worth visiting every site, if you are able. But here’s a few highlights from the bunch:

New Lanark – a picturesque restored 18th century mill village that sits on the River Clyde. It includes recreated houses of those who worked at the cotton mill, and includes a shop selling locally made textiles!

The Forth Bridge – This is a distinct and gorgeous bridge that crosses the Firth of Forth. In 2016, it was voted Scotland’s greatest manmade wonder, and is often seen as a symbol of the country.

The Old and New Towns of Edinburgh – This one’s pretty self-explanatory, but remember, if you’re visiting Edinburgh, take your time to explore and wander through one of the best-preserved cities in the UK.

Festivals & events

The most famous and grandest Scottish festival is, of course, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. If you’re interested in the Fringe, check out Odyssey’s tour, which runs every year and includes a series of hand-picked events!
Also worth putting on the calendar is the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Fesitval, which takes place around May each year, and includes over 500 whisky-centric events. These include distillery tours, tastings, and much more.
If you’re into literature, the Edinburgh International Book Festival is among the world’s finest writers’ festivals. Taking place in August, it usually hosts around 1,000 writers and thinkers from across the globe.

Reading List

  1. The Island Nurse by Mary J MacLeod
  2. The Furrow Behind Me: The Autobiography of a Hebridean Crofter by Angus MacLellan
  3. Standing Stones by Beth Camp
  4. The Scottish Islands:
  5. A Comprehensive Guide to Every Scottish Island by Hamish Haswell-Smith

Eating & Drinking

Now is a better time than ever to explore Scotland’s food and drink culture. This is because in early 2018, Scotland began to implement a national strategy to position itself as a global destination for cuisine.

Scotland is probably best known for its whisky, the export of which brings billions of dollars into the economy. In regions known for whisky such as Speyside and the Isle of Islay, many distilleries are open for tours and tastings. You’ll also find that the flavour of whisky differs significantly depending on its region of origin, so it’s worth exploring a range of distilleries!

But Scotland isn’t simply a nation of whisky. Scottish lobsters are among the most sought after in the world, showing up on the menus of many Michelin-starred restaurants. Scotland is also known for its salmon, which is the nation’s biggest food export. It is generally of prestige quality, a product for which buyers will pay a premium.

Health & Safety

While much of Scotland is usually safe to travel around, it’s important to stay alert to anything unusual. Also, you will often see signs warning of pickpockets in areas popular with tourists, so it’s important to keep a close eye on your belongings at all times.

Electrical supply

Whenever you travel overseas, it’s always wise to take an appropriate travel adaptor. The electricity supply runs at 230V, 50Hz. British plugs have three flat, rectangular pins which form a triangle. These are shared by Ireland, Malta and some former British colonies, but Australia is not one of them.

See All

Tour Reviews

Overall the trip was great and met my expectation.
Errol H. June 2017
Lovely hotel and the location could not have been better. I'd stay there again.
Participant -17
Please evaluate your tour Program Leader, Robert Williams Communication - Exceeded expectations Organisation - Exceeded expectations Local knowledge - Exceeded expectations Engagement - Exceeded expectations Friendliness - Exceeded expectations Care and concern for your needs - Exceeded expectations Do you have any comments to make (good or bad!) about your tour Program Leader? - I cannot compliment him too highly
Participant -17
Our driver and guide was exceptional; full of information about places we visited. Resourceful when we had extra time, in organising 'wee adventures'. Diverted several times to accommodate the special interests of group members.
Participant 2015
Great hotel (perfect location), wonderful tour guide (Robert was excellent in every respect), the half-day walking tour was fun and informative, and the events selected exposed me to Fringe events I probably wouldn't have seen otherwise. Very well thought out and put together.
Participant -17
We found all the guides in each place excellent, some more than others, but always knowledgeable and obviously in love with their chosen careers. David our coach driver was excellent also, coping with some difficult situations with a cool head and providing us with a running commentary on a country he knows so well - especially Norfolk his home county!
Sally and Angus H. June 2017
Excellent selection and diversity from different types of events. We saw wonderful things that would not have occurred to me on my own.
Participant -17
Excellent itinerary, transport and local guides!
Participant 2016

FAQs

Scotland has a single time zone , Greenwich mean time. The nation observes daylight saving time from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October.

If you’re on an Odyssey tour, we take care of tipping so you don’t need to give it a second thought. However, in your free time, or if travelling independently, it’s essential that you make sure you tip an appropriate amount for services, as is the case throughout much of Europe. It’s customary to tip 10-15% of the bill at restaurants, or 1 to 3 GBP at a more casual establishment. It’s polite to round a bill up to the nearest whole figure or leave the change when buying drinks. It’s also customary to tip 10% in taxis, and leave a note or two with hotel porters and concierges.

Internet access is easily accessible, and most hotels and many cafes will be able to offer it.

However, when visiting the remotest parts of Scotland the service maybe non existent or of a poor or low quality until you reach more built up areas.

Check with your cell phone provider to see whether you’re able to make calls and use data while in Scotland. Many providers will offer a daily fee that allows you to make calls and check the internet while only being charged your regular rates. However, be certain to inform your provider that you’re heading overseas, because just like a bank they can turn off your service as a result of unusual activity.

Articles about Scotland published by Odyssey Traveller.

The following list of articles published by odyssey Traveller for mature aged and senior travellers to maximise their knowledge and enjoyment of Scotland when visiting:

For all the articles Odyssey Traveller has published for mature aged and senior travellers, click through on this link.

External articles to assist you on your visit to Scotland

Responsible Travel Tips for Scotland

  • If sightseeing in rural areas, remember to be respectful of residents and locals. As well as being tourist attractions, these are peoples’ homes!
  • Learn at least the local greetings to break the ice, a bit of Gaelic perhaps.. Although many locals speak English, the more you know of the native language and it’s slang, the greater your experience of the country will be.
  • Carry a business card in your wallet or purse from your local hotel, to assist you with the return journey if you do become lost.
  • Always ensure that you are covered by travel insurance. If you need advice on this feel free to contact Odyssey and we’ll be able to help.
  • When travelling independently, make sure you check the opening hours of shops and museums so that you don’t miss out! Museums and galleries are often closed on Mondays. Also be certain to check whether your trip coincides with any public holidays, so you can plan accordingly.
  • Consider contacting your bank to inform them that you may be making purchases overseas. Otherwise, they may flag any activity on your account as suspicious. Also, check which ATMs and banks are compatible with your cards, to ensure you can withdraw cash with minimal fees.
  • Before departing, make sure you have a number of euros in a range of denominations. You don’t want to be carrying around enormous amounts of cash, but take enough to make it easy to pay in locations that might not accept credit card. It will also help you avoid card transaction fees, and it makes tipping a breeze.

About Odyssey Traveller

We specialise in educational small group tours for seniors, typically groups between six to 12 people from Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada  and Britain. Our maximum number of people on a tour is 18 mature aged travellers.We have some 150 tours and offer 300 scheduled departures on offer each year. Odyssey has been offering this style of adventure and educational programs since 1983.

Odyssey Traveller is committed to charitable activities that support the environment and cultural development of Australian and New Zealand communities.

Odyssey Traveller scholarship for Australia & New Zealand University students.

We are also pleased to announce that since 2012, Odyssey has been awarding $10,000 Equity & Merit Cash Scholarships each year. We award scholarships on the basis of academic performance and demonstrated financial need. We award at least one scholarship per year. We’re supported through our educational travel programs, and your participation helps Odyssey achieve its goals. Students can apply for the scholarship by clicking on this link to find out more details. 

Join our loyalty program when you join an international small group tour.

Every International small group tour taken typically contributes to your membership level in our Loyalty Program for regular travellers. Membership of the alumni starts when you choose to take your first international small group tour with Odyssey Traveller, discounts in tour pricing for direct bookings accrue from your third tour with Odyssey Traveller. To see the discounts and benefits of being a Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Diamond alumni member with us, please see this page.

For more information on Odyssey Traveller and our educational small group tours, visit and explore our website., remember to visit these pages in particular

Alternatively, please call or send an email.

Articles

The Scottish Isles When one thinks of island-hopping, images of Scotland probably don’t immediately come to mind but Scotland is island-rich, with some of the most awesome scenery in the United Kingdom. There are nearly …
The Birth of Scotland In A History of the Scottish People (1560-1830), T.C. Smout describes Scotland as an isolated, wild place. “More than half the land was barren mountain,” he says, and, quoting G.W.S Barrow, adds: …
Travellers exploring Glasgow’s Architectural heritage.    Travellers exploring Glasgow’s Architectural heritage can see so much within a 30 minute walking radius of the city centre. Glasgow’s historic buildings are an important part of the city’s …
Read the landscape (and beat the crowds!) One of the perils of modern tourism is crowds. We all know the feeling. After a long-haul flight, a hotel room, a train and much excitement and anticipation, …
Peat and Scotland The iconic Eilean Donan castle in the western Highlands of Scotland, surrounded by marshland and peatland. Peat is a traditional fuel in Scotland that is formed from layers upon layers of partially …
Questions about Scotland Odyssey Traveller specialises in crafting unforgettable experiences for mature-aged travellers, providing adventure and educational programs to small groups since 1983. Odyssey has built up a reasonable knowledge bank to answer questions about Scotland …
Nelson Mandela Place, Glasgow, G2 1QY Right in the heart of the city of Glasgow in Scotland is Nelson Mandela Place, a busy public square enclosing the shops on Buchanan Street, the 19th century St …
Scotland & Scotch Whisky If you ever find yourself in Scotland, you’d be hard-pressed not to take a sip of Scotch whisky or consume it in some of Scotland’s local meals. Whisky appears to be …
10 Books to Read If You Are Planning to Visit Britain For Odyssey Travellers, Britain has and remains a key destination in the organisation’s collection of escorted small group educational tours offered each year. For …

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