I visited Scotland in February, and I expected it to be very cold, with snow and stormy weather. Advise on VT confirmed this, and so I decided that I rather did not want to rely too much on public transport which could easily be delayed or cancelled due to bad weather conditions. On the other hand I wanted to get out of Edinburgh and, during my ten days in Scotland, wanted to see as much of the country as possible and to get a good impression of its different landscapes. I already knew that one day I would go back and visit places like Inverness, the Isle of Skye and other places in the north, so I rather saw this trip as an introduction to Scotland, but still I wanted to get as many impressions as possible.
To make a long story short: What I needed were some guided tours!
I googled and found Rabbies, a tour company providing day trips from Edinburgh. I was fascinated by their itineraries and by their attitude and policy in general, and so I decided to book some tours with them.
In the end, the weather was great during my trip, with hardly any rain and no snow at all, but I am still happy that I did the tours with Rabbies. The itineraries were very good, and the three different guides I got to know all did a great job. I think if you don't have much time in Scotland, these tours are a good possibility to see parts you otherwise wouldn't visit. Of course you can't see much, but you can get at least an impression of the highlands, the castles and lochs. What I like about Rabbies is their professionalism and the fact that they are friendly and really care about their customers. They use small vans, so the groups are really small, and lunch is not included, so you can bring your own food if you want to, there is no need to spend a lot of money on an expensive lunch or waste your time in a restaurant if you rather want to be out exploring.
I absolutely recommend Rabbies, and I plan to return to Scotland and to take some of their multi days tours as well - visiting more places of the highlands as well as the Orkneys and the Hebrides is very high on my bucket list!
Inveraray is included in their "West Highland Lochs and Castles" tour, which also takes in Doune Castle, Callander, Loch Awe and Luss. You can see the itinerary and the other details here.
This was my favourite tour of the four ones I did with them so far. It was a great itinerary, we saw beautiful scenery and landscape all the time, and it was just a great day out.
The only concern I have is that I think if Doune Castle had been open, there would not have been enough time to visit it properly, so if Doune Castle is your main place you want to see, I would rather go there on your own to make sure you can visit leisurely.
The Inveraray Woollen Mill is a small complex next to the town's main car park. The shop itself is not very unique, it seems to be similar to the ever-present Edinburgh Woollen Mill, with the same tourist junk and cliché souvenirs. I bought a small book with poems by Robert Burns there, though!
On the first floor, there is a small Costa coffee shop - good because you can grab a quick coffee before you go, but also sad because it is bad to see the same chain shop even in this small and remote town!
The nice thing is that the coffee shop has toilets that you can use for free even if you don't buy anything there, and this is why I decided to write this tip!
When you arrive in Inveraray, you cannot really miss the Woollen Mill, it is the white building directly at the start of the town.