Sail around Scotland on a classic boat, take a guided walk around the beautiful islands, or learn to levitate on the water. Scotland has some incredible outdoor experiences, organised by responsible businesses who want to show you the best of our country in respectful ways.
What is an outdoor experience?
It might seem like an easy question – walking, watersports or simply soaking up the scenery from an incredible viewpoint.
But there’s actually a lot more variety of outdoor experiences to enjoy in Scotland.
You can choose between:
- A guided wildlife tour
- An open water swimming lesson
- A sailing adventure
- A guided fly fishing session
- A land rover safari
- And many other amazing outdoor experiences.
Why should an outdoor experience be part of my holiday?
Scotland has some amazing landscapes. From our ancient forests to our sandy shores, this land supports local communities and some special wildlife.
You can easily head out on a walk and soak them up.
But to get to really know Scotland and what kind of country this is, you need a guided outdoor experience. These experiences are run by responsible and knowledgeable companies, so you can enjoy:
- Local knowledge
- Tips on how to get the most out of your experience
- Knowing your impact on the country is minimised
Can I enjoy an outdoor experience responsibly?
Absolutely. Many of Scotland’s businesses have already developed responsible outdoor experiences. This can include:
- Raising awareness of climate change during the experience
- Helping people understand our connection to the natural world
- Managing land sustainably
- Regularly varying where the outdoor experience goes to minimise impact
- Training and upskilling staff
Where can I go to find an outdoor experience?
Wild Scotland is a group of outdoor experience businesses. It’s a member organisation set up to promote outdoor tourism and encourage high standards.
They offer you a trusted group of businesses with some of the most inspiring experiences that Scotland has to offer!
Each of Wild Scotland’s members is committed to delivering an unforgettable experience in a sustainable and responsible way. They protect Scotland’s natural environment whilst giving you the best experience you could have.
Their members include:
Dan the Merman – an open-water swim coach and guide
Dan works in a “hope spot” in Argyll, which is an area identified as critical to the health of the ocean. He stays responsible by:
- Sharing the importance and need to protect coastal and marine waters
- Encouraging you to use an e-bike or car share to get to the location – and using an e-bike himself
- Thinking about the arrival location, how frequently he’s using it, and how many people he is bringing
- Picking up litter from the beach while there
Book the experience:
- Join a class to learn/relearn front crawl and open water skills
- Book a bespoke coaching experience
- Enjoy a guided snorkelling experience
Find out more on Dan the Merman
Blue Wild Nature Boat Tours
Blue Wild Nature run boat tours from Dunbar and North Berwick to visit the seabirds living in the Firth of Forth.
They are a small, independent company who focus on:
- Inspiring visitors to understand marine life behaviours
- Encouraging their crew to expand their knowledge and skills
- Introducing other elements such as screen interactivity, augmented reality and mobile devices
Book the experience:
- Choose from a range of tours including short boat trips or longer day tours covering nature, history, ornithology (birds), photography and more
- The boats carry just 10-12 passengers and set off on time, but are quite relaxed about the return trip
Find out more on Blue Wild Nature Boat Tours
Provident Sailing run classic sailing holidays around the islands on the west coast of Scotland.
- Believe in the healing effect of sailing, that you can find peace and connection in the natural world
- Raise awareness of the energy used during the sailing trip
- Collaborate with other local businesses on delicious produce, and other experiences like wild swimming
- Organise beach clean ups on landing walks
Book the experience:
- Up to 10 people can enjoy a sailing holiday
- Their trips offer experiences such as the Caledonian Canal and the Inner Hebrides including Canna and Rum
Find out more on Provident Sailing
Outdoor experiences to try in Scotland
It’s an incredible feeling getting out onto the water in a powerboat, as the wind whips around you and you smell the sea air.
The small size of the boats allows them great access to sea caves, narrow inlets, and small island piers.
Jet skiing is a more active way to get the same adrenaline rush, as you move along behind the boat across a stunning loch.
Check out our powerboat and jet skiing experiences
Wildlife and sightseeing boat tours
Scotland has some incredible habitats that support a wealth of animals and birds, from puffins and seals to otters and birds of prey.
A wildlife boat tour is a great way to soak up the scenery, and watch Scotland’s natural world from a respectable distance as they thrive in their home environments.
- Checking out the incredible Fingal’s Cave on the Isle of Staffa
- Witnessing seabirds on the islands in the Firth of Forth
- Sailing carefully around the Corryvreckan Whirlpool
Wild Scotland’s wildlife boat tours
See all wildlife boat tours in Scotland
Classic sailing boat
Swan Trust, Shetland – built and launched in Shetland in 1900, the Swan was one of the finest boats among the Scottish fishing fleet. Having survived two world wars, the ship has been authentically restored by a team of volunteers.
You can become part of the ‘hands on’ crew for a trip under careful command of the skipper. Sail and work this classic ship in trips around Scotland.
It can be an incredible experience setting out on foot to explore a new (or even a familiar!) country for the day.
The benefits of a walking holiday are:
- You get more time to properly explore the area you’re visiting.
- You can learn more about the area through fascinating stories told by your guide.
- You can see all the best sights as your guide shows you the hidden gems, and helps you spot the local wildlife.
Options for your walking holiday include exploring Scotland’s islands, climbing the peaks of the Cairngorms, or embarking on self-guided routes to enjoy alone with helpful luggage transfers.
Check out all our 2+ day walking holidays
Get the most out of your fishing experience by hiring a ghillie. They will be your fishing guide and assistant, helping you find the best river beats, arranging your permits, providing instruction and sorting out meals and transport.
Or why not book a day on a fishing boat? The skipper will take you to the best spots so you can try your hand at catching fish on the open sea.
Find out more on fishing with a Wild Scotland member
Find more fishing experiences in Scotland
Learn how to climb trees safely and responsibly with these tree-top adventure courses. You’ll get all the best tips from the expert staff before getting your safety harnesses and heading up into the trees across wooden bridges and ropes.
Find out more on tree adventures and other nurturing outdoor experiences with Wild Scotland
Gain some outdoor skills with a bushcraft course. You can learn how to find water safely and responsibly, light a fire, build a shelter, forage for food and craft something from nature.
Take a course with one of Wild Scotland’s members and you’ll discover how to enjoy nature while protecting and respecting it too.
Find out more on bushcraft and other nurturing outdoor experiences with Wild Scotland
Discover what lies beneath our sparkling Scottish waters with wildlife, plant life and even shipwrecks. Beginners can try a taster session or build up your skills on a guided experience with a qualified operator.
Find out more on snorkelling and other nurturing outdoor experiences with Wild Scotland
Try out this incredible new activity and learn to fly across the water at speed! An eFoil is a type of small surfboard that lets you ride even the smallest waves using an advanced battery to power a silent motor.
Basically you’ll be “levitating” above the water while travelling at speeds of up to 30mph!
Want to know more? eFoil Scotland are based in Burntisland and can take you out on the Firth of Forth.
Travelling by canoe lets you take your time, soak up the scenery and the wildlife around you and really make the most of your time in Scotland.
Go Wild Highlands offer canoe trips and wilderness adventures throughout Sutherland, in the north Highlands.
Trip options include:
- Kyle canoe trips, taking a delicious picnic of homemade and homegrown produce
- Swallows and Amazons, combining canoeing and bushcraft
- Overnight wilderness adventure, cooking on an open fire
Find out more on Go Wild Highlands
Climb into the 4×4 with your guide and head off to explore the glorious Scottish countryside. The sightseeing safari offers the chance to:
- Spot wildlife
- Enjoy local produce
- Learn about local stories
- Try walking, biking or even boat activities
Find out more on safaris and other nurturing outdoor experiences with Wild Scotland
The Cateran Ecomuseum is a museum without walls – all the exhibits are outside! It’s based on the Highland Boundary Fault in Perthshire, and includes Pictish stones, historic towns and spectacular views.
There are a series of suggested routes to follow including:
- A look at the ancient glacial past of Glenshee
- A challenging cycling route with coffee stops through the Vale of Strathmore
- A walk around the 1,000-year-old town of Alyth
Find out more about the Cateran Ecomuseum
Wild Wimmin run wellness retreats on Mull with a wild swimming focus, and open water coaching sessions for women.
They focus on the safety skills for wild water swimming but they’re also keen not to take themselves too seriously and make sure everyone has some great fun!
Wilderness Scotland run women-only departures of some of their incredible outdoor experiences. They have all the great benefits of a standard trip – expert guiding, characterful accommodation and inspiring itineraries. But they are designed to let you travel with like-minded women in a relaxed and inclusive environment.
Check out the Wild Scotland women-only departures
Elie Seaside Sauna
Perched on the dunes at Elie harbour, the seaside sauna is an escape from the world with stunning views. Sit inside the portable sauna and soak up the setting sun through the heat-tempered full-length glass as your cares wash away!
It was inspired by the mobile sauna movement by our Nordic neighbours, and the passion of the sea swimming community in Elie.
Find out more about the Elie Seaside Sauna