An Antipodean travel company serving World Travellers since 1983
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
Best walking tours of Scotland for older travellers
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
- The Island Nurse by Mary J MacLeod
- The Furrow Behind Me: The Autobiography of a Hebridean Crofter by Angus MacLellan
- Standing Stones by Beth Camp
- The Scottish Islands:
- 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.
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.
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:
- Birth of Scotland
- Questions about Scotland
- Peat & Scotland
- Shetland Islands Discovered
- Questions about the Outer Hebrides
- Visiting Scotland
- Scotland & Scotch Whisky
- Visiting Edinburgh places to consider visiting
- Country Spotlight; Scotland
- Nelson Mandela Place; a Glasgow story
- Glasgow’s Architectural heritage
- Stone circles
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
- Terms and conditions applicable for booking an Odyssey Traveller tour.
- FAQ’s about Odyssey Traveller