Top 10 adventure holidays in Scotland

Scotland lends itself beautifully to adventure holidays, whether you’re an avid photographer, an active family, a winter walker or a fan of wildlife cruises. The diversity of landscapes here, from the peaks of the Cairngorms to the islands off the west coast, allows for a wide range of adventurous pursuits. Sea kayaking, tracking animals with night vision goggles, learning to dig snowholes, or hiking with a pony – Scotland is adventure central. And our expert partners are on hand to guide you, feed you, entertain you with folklore and fascinating facts, and generally ensure you have the time of your life without putting a foot wrong.

1. Cruise the Sounds of the Hebrides

The Sounds of the Inner Hebrides are the sounds of silence… broken only occasionally by the call of a seabird, the trudge of boots onto a sandy beach, the clink of glasses on the deck at sunset, or gasps as a dolphin skips through the surf. Sailing aboard a traditional wooden tall ship with just a few other passengers, you can kayak, hike or track wildlife through binoculars, your route dependent only on the weather and your own whims.

2. Spot wildlife in the Cairngorms

Deer, otters, pine martens, red squirrels, capercaillies and golden eagles – just a handful of the species you might encounter while camping in the Cairngorms National Park. Head out into this rugged mountain landscape with an experienced tracker guide, wild camping in a tent with a compost toilet and solar-powered shower, for a truly Scottish safari.

Our top trip: Cairngorms wildlife holiday
See all our trips: Scotland wildlife holidays
Read more: Scotland wildlife travel guide

3. Go walking in winter

Hiking in the thick snow of the Cairngorms in winter is a challenge. But with crampons on your boots, and a professional guide at your side handling the navigation and weather assessments, you can enjoy an exhilarating sense of complete freedom. Your guide will also initiate you into vital mountain safety skills such as self-arrests using ice axes.

Our top trip: Scotland winter walking holiday
See all our trips: Scotland walking holidays
Read more: Scotland travel guide
Travel Team
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4. Get active in the West Highlands

Stay on the bank of the idyllic Crinan Canal, with dozens of walking and cycling routes on your doorstep and ample free time to explore outside a range of organised activities. You can try your hand at sea kayaking, watch for beavers in the river, or visit Scotland’s oldest castle. Every evening, return to a cosy cottage to relax, with fully catered options allowing you to also explore Scottish cuisine.

5. Learn the art of snow-holing in the Cairngorms

Trekking wintery peaks in the Cairngorms during the day is one thing; learning how to stay overnight, without a tent, is quite another. Join an expert mountain leader as you dig into the snow, creating a space large enough for your group to comfortably bed down in sleeping bags while the harsh wind whistles outside. You’ll be cosy and warm inside, though, with homemade soup fresh off the stove.

Our top trip: Winter trekking holiday in Scotland
See all our trips: Scottish Highlands holidays
Read more: Scottish Highlands travel guide

6. Go glamping & hiking in the Cairngorms

What’s more fun than trekking into the heart of the Scottish Highlands with your family for a few days of adventure? Doing it with a pony by your side carrying your gear, including a spacious tent. Explore one of the UK’s most biodiverse landscapes with an expert guide, picking up some fun expedition training.

Our top trip: Cairngorms glamping and hiking holiday
See all our trips: Scotland walking holidays
Read more: Scotland travel guide

7. Sail the wild waters of the Outer Hebrides

Roam some of the most dramatic islands and seascapes of the Outer Hebrides on a small ship cruise from Oban. St Kilda, the magnificent Small Isles and the remote Monarch Isles are all on the route, and you’ll be accompanied by an expert wildlife guide. That’s because you can expect to encounter everything from golden eagles to whales, dolphins, puffins and grey seals as you sail.

8. Track wildlife in the Highlands

Expert guides with an eye, and an ear, for the movements of wildlife, lead you across Scotland’s majestic Highlands across a range of fun and easygoing activities from hiking to boat trips and even sea kayaking. So that, while you’ll certainly spend a little time in specialist hides where appropriate, many of the animals you encounter from dolphins to otters and golden eagles will cross your path along the way.

Our top trip: Scotland Highlands wildlife holiday
See all our trips: Scotland wildlife holidays
Read more: Scotland wildlife travel guide

9. Mountain bike across the Highlands

Discover beautiful landscapes across the Scottish Highlands that car-drivers can only dream of, when you ride across them by mountain bike. From Fort William through the ‘Wild West’ to Glencoe, Speyside, the Cairngorms National Park and Perthshire, you’ll be treated to some truly special views. Small group tours offer camaraderie and the company of an experienced guide, as well as the opportunity to stay at a range of welcoming Highland guesthouses that love nothing more than the sight of a hungry horde of cyclists approaching.

Our top trip: Mountain biking holiday in Scotland
See all our trips: Scotland cycling holidays
Read more: Scotland cycling travel guide

10. Canoe the famous River Spey

No experience is needed for a four-day canoeing adventure along the River Spey, as you’ll learn paddling strokes and techniques as you go. Led by a knowledgeable guide, you’ll pass fragrant pine forests teeming with wildlife, hills clad with heather and one of Scotland’s most celebrated whisky regions. The sight of a golden eagle soaring above is far from rare. And one of the main highlights is pitching your tents by the riverside every evening, for a true expedition atmosphere.

Our top trip: River Spey canoeing holiday in Scotland
See all our trips: Scotland holidays
Read more: Scottish Highlands travel guide
Written by Rob Perkins
Photo credits: [Page banner: Robbie Shade] [Sounds of the Hebrides: Richard] [Get active in the West Highlands: a.poll_o] [Sail the wild waters of the Outer Hebrides: Donald Macauley]