Scotland is simply one of those places you can keep returning to, year after year, to enjoy new experiences as the seasons change. Here, at Brightwater Holidays, we have visited over 35 of its islands between us and our collection of tours on offer for 2019 will visit a total of 33. With this in mind, we've rounded up our very own list of things to do, so that if you're considering a Scottish adventure, you can see a round up of the best we think this magnificent country has to offer...


1) Experience the fiery Up Helly Aa festival in Shetland next January

The annual winter festival of Shetland, which celebrates the lengthening of days and the coming of another year, is truly unmissable. The festivities run all day long, but they culminate in a torchlight procession and boat-burning ceremony later in the evening – real highlights of an unusual and uplifting winter event.

If you want to experience it for yourself, book a place on our Up Helly Aa tour today, which also includes a tour of the prehistoric and Norse settlement of Jarlshof, a visit to the stunning seacliffs at Eshaness and time in both Yell and Unst. 

Click here to book now from just £965pp (departing January 26th, 2019).


2) Admire the country's magnificent wildlife

Scotland is known for its incredible nature reserves as well as for the animals and birds that grace them. From big raptors such as the golden eagle and white-tailed sea eagle, to the scare black throated diver and the noisy red throated diver, there are myriad species to observe here. It is also common to spot the likes of puffins, guillemots, razorbills and kittiwakes in Scotland. Interestingly, due to the tidal currents and warm waters of the Gulf Stream, this is also one of the most important European habitats for dolphins, porpoises and whales – almost one third of the world's species of cetaceans have been spotted here.

Click here to book a place on our Mull Wildlife tour from just £895pp (departing May 30th, 2019).

3) Pay a visit to Dundee's newly opened V&A Museum

If you're something of a culture vulture, you'll love the brand new Victoria & Albert Museum, which opened in Dundee back in September. It is the first V&A to open outside of London and it is also the first building in the United Kingdom designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. 

This visually striking building presents the brilliance of Scottish creativity as well as the best of design from around the world, and the eclectic permanent collection here includes items such as Harris Tweed suits, original artwork from The Beano, a model of the Scott Monument, architects' drawings and shipbuilders' models. There is also a recreation of a Charles Rennie Mackintosh interior. 

Click here to book a place on our V&A in Dundee tour (March 31st, 2019) from just £499pp.

4) Seek out the sites made famous on screen by "Outlander"

Have the historical time travel novels by Diana Gabaldon captured your imagination? If so, why not go in search of the settings behind the stories? The landscape that "Outlander" is set in helps tell the story as much as the narrative itself, and there are a range of evocative destinations that can be visited if you only know where to look...

From the royal palaces of Falkland and Holyroodhouse, to the historic village of Culross in Fife and Culloden Battlefield – the backdrop to "Outlander" is closer than you think. 

Click here to book a place on our Outlander tour (departing June 13th, 2019) from just £1,495pp.

5) Sip golden drams at some of the world's finest distilleries

One of Scotland's finest exports is undoubtedly its whisky. Home to some of the world's most renowned distilleries – from Lagavulin and Bowmore, to Laphroaig and Glenlivet – no visit to this country is complete without a visit to (and a tasting at) one of the places that produces this decadent treat.

Learn about the different distilling methods, swirl the amber nectar around in a snifter and then feel the warmth move through your entire body as you finally take a sip – there are plenty of sites to discover depending on your whisky preference!

Click here for our Historic Houses of Scotland tour, which includes a visit to Edradour Whisky Distillery

6) Discover beaches that wouldn't look out of place in the Caribbean

If you're not familiar with the stunning beaches to be found in and around Scotland, allow us to illuminate you. The Hebridean island of Taransay, for example, was the setting for the popular year 2000 reality television show "Castaway", in which 36 men, women and children were tasked with building a community there from scratch. On the Isle of Harris, you have Horgabost Beach, where miles of clean, unspoilt land can be enjoyed. It is also home to the gorgeous white, sandy beach of Borve and the beach of Scarasta. Once you clap eyes on these beaches, you'll find it hard to believe you're still in the United Kingdom. 

Click here for our Grand Tour of the Outer Hebrides, which visits the Isle of Harris beaches.

7) Enjoy a classic steam train ride and glide across the Glenfinnian Viaduct

One of Scotland's most iconic sites is, perhaps, the Glenfinnian Viaduct (pictured right), which is located at the top of Loch Shiel in the country's West Highlands. It has been immortalised on film on many occasions, but most notably in the "Harry Potter" films. If you're planning a break to Scotland, you'd be missing out if you didn't include a trip aboard a classic steam train that travelled this route - it's simply wonderful.

If you treat yourself to a place on our Classic Scottish Steam Break tour, you'll encounter this engineering marvel aboard the charming Jacobite steam train.

Click here for our Classic Scottish Steam Break, which includes the aforementioned sights.

8) Enjoy Christmas among snow-covered Scottish landscapes

Dreaming of a white Christmas? Or at least a carol-filled, charming mini-break at a welcoming hotel in the Southern Uplands of Scotland? Look no further.

This is a festive treat unlike any other. What is it like to experience the holiday season in Christmas? Well, that's something we will leave to your imagination until you're ready to book – we will, however, just say that it's an experience you won't forget in a hurry. 

Click here for our Christmas in the Scottish Borders tour.

9) Admire the changing of the seasons in autumn

What could be a better frame for Scotland's dramatic landscapes than the changing colours of the autumn season? Visit the likes of Lamlash, Brodick, Corrie and Lochranza to see some truly stunning examples of wild and wonderful Scottish countryside. In October, the foliage is sure to blaze with reds, golds and ambers, so why not pay a visit during this time of year to see it in a different light?

We have a tour that showcases the Autumn Tints of Arran coming up in 2019. On this four-day holiday, you'll sail across the Firth of Clyde, enjoy a scenic circular tour of the island, visit Brodick Castle with its beautiful autumnal colours and stay in the Kinloch Hotel, which is located on the 'sunset side' of Arran. 

Click here to book our Autumn Tints of Arran tour, starting from just £435pp.

10) Visit Orkney's stunning Italian Chapel

Built by Italian prisoners of war, La Bella Cappella Italiana is one of this area's most-visited attractions and it's easy to see why. The chapel celebrated its 70th birthday in 2015 and it continues to inspire guests from all over the world who make it a stop on their holidays.

Several hundred Italians, captured during the North African campaign of World War II, were sent here to work on the Causeways and converted two huts into a chapel. The marvellous paintings in the interior were done by Domenico Chiocchetti, one of the prisoners who returned several times to restore and repaint parts of it. You can experience it for yourself on our Highlights of Orkney and Shetland tour. 

Click here for our Highlights of Orkney and Shetland tour, starting from just £1,095pp.

For our full range of Scotland tours, please click here. For more information about any of our Scottish Holidays, please don't hesitate to contact our friendly team on 01334 657155 today.