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Hiking Suilven in Scotland: A Guide + Experience with Hamlet Mountaineering

Hiking Suilven in Scotland: A Guide + Experience with Hamlet Mountaineering


I wanted to put together a brief guide to hiking Suilven in Scotland as this is a very popular hill walk in the northern Scottish Highlands. The hike can be done on your own or with an experienced local guide, and I just recently came back from doing this hike.

If you’ve read our content on Scotland, and the North Coast 500 road trip in particular, you’ve probably seen photos of a beautiful twin peaked mountain.

That mountain is Suilven, and it’s found just south of Lochinver in the UNESCO listed North West Highlands Geopark. In a part of the world which is famed for its stunning landscapes and gorgeous mountains, Suilven still manages to stand out as an iconic mountain, largely because of the way it looks.

The steep sides and dual peaks give it a majestic look, and until you get close up, it looks to be almost unassailable for anyone without climbing gear.

Suilven

It is however definitely a mountain that can be climbed by any hiker with moderate fitness and a sturdy pair of hiking boots. That said, the final ascent to the top is definitely a steep climb that will test your leg muscles!

However, before I get into our personal experience climbing Suilven with Hamlet Mountaineering, I wanted to share some general tips on hiking Suilven. You can, of course, hike Suilven on your own or you can do it with a guide.

 

How to Hike Suilven

Suilven is located in the northwestern Highlands of Scotland near the town of Lochinver. It is located within the Assynt area of Sutherland and is part of the large North West Highlands GeoPark.

Suilven is 731 metres or 2,389 feet in height. This means Suilven doesn’t qualify as a Munro if you are a Munro-bagger as Munros are classified as mountains over 3,000 feet in height.

However, despite its lack of Munro status, it is considered as one of the best day hikes in Scotland by many hikers and is a very popular hiking destination.

 

Where is the starting point for the Suilven hike?

The most common starting point where most hikers start is just outside Lochinver. There’s a small walkers car park on Canisp Road (here on Google maps) which is on the road out to Glencanisp Lodge.

If this car park is full (it’s quite small and often full unless you arrive early), you’ll have to walk the half mile extra from Lochinver itself where there is more parking available.

There are other options for hiking Suilven, including tackling it from the south side starting at Inverkirkaig. You can also do the longer “Suilven circuit” where you start in Lochinver or Inverkirkaig, ascend the north side, descend the south side and return via Lochinver or Inverkirkaig.

Alternatively, you can kayak or canoe to near the base, starting near the village of Elphin and crossing Loch Veyatie. From the shores of Fionn Loch you are then well placed to tackle the south side of the mountain. This was the option we took for climbing Suilven.

 

How far is the Suilven hike?

From the carpark just outside Lochinver it’s a 12.5 mile or 20 km round trip. If you hike from Lochinver itself, add another mile / 1.6 km to that walk.

If you choose to do the Inverkirkaig version of the hike, this is around a 13 mile or 21 km round trip. This has you following the path to the pretty Kirkaig Falls and then continuing along a loch. This route can sometimes be boggy and tends to be the less popular option.

Finally, if you do the full loop, including Lochinver and Inverkirkaig, you’re looking at around a 16 mile or 26km hike.

 

How long do I need to hike Suilven?

The most popular option for hiking Suilven is as a day trip. This is usually done from near Lochinver (12.5 miles / 20 km round trip hike), and is a long day hike that takes most hikers between 7 to 10 hours. You’ll want to start early in day to ensure have enough time and ideally finish in daylight.

The route from Inverkirkaig is roughly the same distance, but as the path is not so popular and it can be boggy, it can take longer.

 

Best place to stay before or after Suilven hike?

Before and after hiking Suilven, we’d recommend staying in or near the town of Lochinver.

If you’re looking for overnight accommodation for your hike, Glencanisp Lodge was traditionally a popular hiker friendly option found on the trail out, however this is being refurbished and isn’t due to reopen until Easter 2022 according to the official website. So you’ll want to find another option in Lochinver (check listings here).

Note that for evening meals at restaurants in Lochinver, it is often best to book reservations in advance.

If you are doing the south side hike and canoe with Hamlet Mountaineering (as we did), you might want to also consider staying in or Ullapool instead ( see accommodation options here). We stayed in the well rated Harbour House in Ullapool before our trip.

Suilven from Glencanisp Lodge

 

When is the best time of year to hike Suilven?

We’d only recommend doing this in the milder months unless you are a particularly experienced hiker or hire a guide, as in winter the mountain will be icy. Your best bet is likely to be from April to October.

 

How fit or experienced do I need to be to hike Suilven?

This is definitely a long day hike with some steep sections in a remote part of the world. You will definitely want to be moderately fit. The path is well marked and easy to follow, but the weather conditions can change dramatically, so you will want to be fully prepared for all conditions.

You’ll also want to make sure that you let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return, and don’t expect to get phone signal for most of the hike as there aren’t many mobile cell towers in this part of the world.

When we hiked with Tim he had a full setup, from an emergency locator beacon through to a survival tent should we have run into difficulties, which was definitely good for peace of mind.

 

Does Suilven require any climbing expertise?

The main route from either side does not require and climbing expertise. However, it can be a steep path in places. In winter it is very likely to be icy, so if you plan on climbing Suilven in winter you will definitely need to bring appropriate equipment.

 

Do I need a guide to hike Suilven?

No, you can hike Suilven on your own, or you can do it with a guide. Although given this is a long full day hike in a remote area, we do recommend going with a hiking buddy if possible.

Local guides can also be hired to assist you with planning, guiding, and for their local expertise. We went with a guide from Hamlet Mountaineering as it allowed us to be able to canoe, camp overnight, and be able to approach from the south side without bringing much of our own equipment. This also allowed us to do the hike well away from the crowds as relatively few hikers approach from this side.

 

What should I pack for hiking Suilven?

The main things you are going to want to bring will include:

 

Where can I find guidebooks and resources for hiking Suilven?

You can see a more complete hiking guide for the hiking route from Lochinver on the Walk Highlands site here. It’s also included in several Scottish hiking guides including this guidebook to Scotland’s best hill walks.

Suilven

 

Our Experience Hiking Suilven

My brother-in-law was visiting from the USA, and one of his wish list items for our trip around the UK was a hiking and camping trip somewhere scenic. Naturally, the first place that sprang to mind was the northwest coast of Scotland. A friend of mine who lived in Scotland also was interested in joining us.

As we were doing this as part of a longer trip, we decided that hiring a local expert to handle all the logistics of the trip was going to be a lot easier than doing it ourselves.

I chose to contact a company called Hamlet Mountaineering. This is run by a friend of mine, Tim Hamlet. Tim offers a range of custom hiking, climbing, canoeing, and kayaking trips all over this beautiful part of the world. On previous tours of Scotland we’ve done some shorter day trips with him, including sea kayaking and loch canoeing.

I dropped Tim an e-mail and asked if he could put together an overnight trip which involved some hiking, a picturesque mountain and perhaps some canoeing. He recommended a two day / one night trip which included canoeing across a number of lochs, camping overnight in the wilderness, and summiting Suilven. That sounded perfect to us, and we booked.

Per person, we each paid £275 for our trip (2020 prices which is when we booked) with Hamlet Mountaineering. That included all our food, camping equipment, canoes, etc. All we had to bring was a sleeping bag and clothing. A full list of suggested clothing was provided well in advance of our trip.

The night before the hiking trip the three of us taking the trip all met and stayed in Ullapool at the Harbour House hotel.

The trip itself started with a 9am meeting in Elphin, just a 20 minute drive from the town of Ullapool where we had spent the night. Here I introduced Tim to my brother-in-law and friend, and we got to packing our gear into dry bags and barrels for the first part of the adventure, a canoe across the loch.

Suilven Hike Canoe Trip Hamlet Mountaineering

Suilven Hike Canoe Trip Hamlet Mountaineering

As there were four of us, we split into two canoes, which we loaded up with all the gear we needed for our mini expedition. That included our clothing and sleeping bags of course, but also all the food, drinks, tents, sleeping mats, etc.

Whilst we didn’t have perhaps the sunniest of days, the rain and wind held off, and we had a pleasant two hours of paddling from one end of Loch Veyatie to the other. Despite visiting in the peak summer months, we only saw one other canoe on the Loch. It really felt like we had this part of Scotland to ourselves.

Suilven Hike Canoe Trip Hamlet Mountaineering

Suilven Hike Canoe Trip Hamlet Mountaineering

At the end of the Loch, it narrowed to a shallow river, and here we had to hop out of the canoes and float them down stream for a stretch, before reaching Fionn Loch.

Tim had a lovely spot earmarked for our campsite on the shores of Fionn Loch, and we set about putting our camp together. We each got a tent of our own, and then there was a large communal kitchen tent to share. This very quickly came in handy as the Scottish weather decided it was time for a sprinkle of rain.

Suilven Hike Canoe Trip Hamlet Mountaineering Suilven Hike Canoe Trip Hamlet Mountaineering

Once we had everything set up, we had a spot of lunch, which was definitely an improvement over the dried packaged foods I remember from camping trips in my youth. The advantage of a canoe is that it can carry a lot, and Tim certainly didn’t skimp on lunch, with everything from locally sourced cheeses to wonderful meats which we put into tortilla wraps. This was all washed down with a nice cup of tea.

After lunch, we chose to brave the somewhat inclement weather and tackle the Suilven hike. On Tim’s trips there’s the option to do the Suilven hike the following morning if the weather is looking better, but as we had to be in Edinburgh the following evening for a specific time, we decided to do Suilven in the afternoon.

From our camp, it was a short canoe to the other side of the Loch, and then we set off up the side of the mountain. Now, this wasn’t a particularly long hike (around 7km / 4 miles round trip), but it did certainly involve a very steep climb. Overall, it took us around 4 hours in total with lots of stops for photos.

Suilven Hike Canoe Trip Hamlet Mountaineering

Suilven Hike Canoe Trip Hamlet Mountaineering

Suilven Hike Canoe Trip Hamlet Mountaineering

Suilven Hike Canoe Trip Hamlet Mountaineering
Photo credit Tim Hamlet

Suilven Hike Canoe Trip Hamlet Mountaineering

Photo credit Tim HamletThe weather was not exactly ideal, with a fair amount of rain to keep us cool as we climbed. However, there were breaks in the cloud cover, which cleared enough to offer us stunning views of the surrounding landscape. Then it was time for the descent, which was almost as hard as the ascent given the steep nature of the trail.

Suilven Hike Canoe Trip Hamlet Mountaineering

Still, we made it safely back down the hill, where the rain stopped. Back at camp, we enjoyed a slice of cake and some of the single malt whisky we’d brought along, before settling into an evening of chat and a mighty fine freshly cooked chilli.

The following morning dawned bright, and the sun even popped out for an hour or so to provide some wonderful photography opportunities. One of our party even took a refreshing swim in the loch before breakfast, which consisted of all the freshly made pancakes we could eat, topped with fresh fruit and butter.

Suilven Hike Canoe Trip Hamlet Mountaineering

Suilven Hike Canoe Trip Hamlet Mountaineering

Suilven Hike Canoe Trip Hamlet Mountaineering

Breakfast over, and needing to reach Edinburgh by a certain time, we packed up camp and canoed back up the loch, mostly in the sunshine, to end our trip.

Suilven Hike Canoe Trip Hamlet Mountaineering
Photo credit Tim Hamlet
Suilven Hike Canoe Trip Hamlet Mountaineering
Photo credit Tim Hamlet

Overall we had a truly fantastic time with Tim, who went above and beyond to ensure everyone had a great experience. We also got to climb a mountain I’ve been keen to summit for a long time, and had a lot of fun doing it!

If you’re looking for an amazing outdoor experience in the Scottish wilderness, perhaps as part of your North Coast 500 adventure, then we definitely recommend checking out Hamlet Mountaineering and seeing if Tim can help you with a trip.

 

Further Reading

That’s it for quick overview of hiking Suilven and our trip report. To help you further plan your trip to Scotland, we have a number of other posts which we think you will find helpful or inspirational.

  • For road trip inspiration in the area, check out our detailed guide to the North Coast 500. We also have a North Coast 500 Accommodation Guide, guide to our favourite B&Bs on the North Coast 500 as well as my photography highlights on the North Coast 500 for some inspiration for your trip.
  • If you’d like an itinerary for the North Coast 500, check out our detailed 7 Day North Coast 500 camping itinerary,  7 day North Coast 500 itinerary and 5 day North Coast 500 itinerary.
  • We have a guide to Loch Ness as well as some of our other favourite day trips from Inverness for some inspiration. We also have some detailed guides to other attractions near Inverness, including a guide to the Black Isle and tips on visiting the Cairngorms 
  • We’ve got an itinerary for visiting Skye and the Highlands
  • For Edinburgh, check out our 2 day Edinburgh itinerary, our guide to things to do in Edinburgh, and our guide to the best day trips from Edinburgh to get you started. We also have a guide to getting from London to Edinburgh.
  • For Glasgow, see our Glasgow and Loch Lomond itinerary, our guide to the best day trips from Glasgow, and our guide to things to do in Glasgow
  • For Aberdeen, we have a guide to things to do in Aberdeen, our favourite restaurants in Aberdeen, a suggested 2 day Aberdeen itinerary and a guide to the best day trips from Aberdeen.
  • We have a guide to all our favourite whisky distilleries in Scotland, which also has lots of information on how whisky is made, the different Scottish whisky regions, and more.
  • We have a guide to Outlander filming locations in Scotland, as well as Harry Potter filming locations in Scotland.
  • If you’re thinking of skiing in Scotland, see our complete guide to skiing in Scotland for all the information you need
  • If you’re driving in the UK for the first time, check out my tips for driving in the UK for some advice. We also have a guide to how much it costs to travel in the UK.
  • If you’d like a guidebook for your time visiting Scotland, we recommend the Rick Steves’ Scotland guide

We hope you enjoyed this post on experiencing Suilven. As always, if you have any questions or comments on this post, let us know in the comments below and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible!

A guide to hiking Suilven in Scotland, including my personal experience hiking Suilven with Hamlet Mountaineering.



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The Best Day Trips from Las Vegas

The Best Day Trips from Las Vegas


If you’ve visiting Las Vegas and wondering what there is to do outside the city, then our guide to the best day trips from Las Vegas has you covered.

Whilst there’s no shortage of things to do in Las Vegas, there are also a number of excellent attractions that you can easily visit in a day from the city. These include a number of lovely natural attractions which make for the perfect balance to the hectic pace of Las Vegas.

If you are visiting Las Vegas for a few days, then we definitely recommend allocating at least one of those days to a day trip outside the city. Let’s take a look at the options so you can decide for yourself which day trips you’d prefer!

Day Trips from Las Vegas

There are quite a few day trips you can do from Las Vegas. Some of these are shorter trips that you can do with half a day, others will take a whole day. There are also different options for how to do these day trips.

For each day trip, we’ve suggested the different options you have for doing them, from driving yourself to taking a tour. We’ve also listed public transport options where available, although as many of the day trips are to quite remote locations, public transport is often limited or non existent.

Also, if you plan on sightseeing in Las Vegas, check out the Go Las Vegas card. As well as including entry to many attractions in the city, the card also includes some day trips out of Las Vegas. So if you plan on picking one of those up, you might find it includes one of the tours you wanted to do anyway! Worth checking out.

 

Valley of Fire State Park

If you’d like to do some hiking and experience beautiful natural landscapes, then we highly recommend a visit to the Valley of Fire state park. This state park is so named because the red rocks that are found throughout the park give the impression that the valley is on fire, particularly at sunset.

We also recommend this park because it is less than an hour’s drive from Las Vegas and makes for an easy day trip or day tour that doesn’t include a lot of time driving. The main things to do here is to following the driving route to check out the various rock formations and scenic viewpoints and to hike on the many trails located within the park.

There are multiple observation points where you can get a stunning scenic view. If you visit in the cooler months outside of the heat of summer, there are also lots of hikes you can do, ranging from short easy walks through to longer half day and full day hikes.

If you visit the park in the summer, this can be a very hot part of the world and it may indeed feel like the world is on fire! We’d generally recommend limiting the length of any hiking expeditions in the peak heat of the summer months and bring lots of water and sun protection.

There are several picnic areas along the park’s driving route where you can stop for some shade, have a picnic, and use the restroom.

There’s an excellent visitor centre on site where you can learn all about the park, and this is also a good place to ask rangers for advice on hiking conditions and recommended hikes.

Valley of Fire State Park

 

Getting to the Valley of Fire State Park from Las Vegas

Found 50 miles northwest of Las Vegas, there are a few ways to get to the Valley of Fire State Park from Las Vegas. Here are some options.

 

Driving to the Valley of Fire State Park from Las Vegas

The 46,000 acre park is around a 50 minute drive northwest of Las Vegas.

So it is going to be around a 50 minute drive each way plus you’ll want to allow at least 2 to 3 hours exploring the park. If you plan on doing some of the trails, which range from a few hundred yards to 7 miles, then obviously you’ll need to spend longer.

Park entry is currently $10 for vehicles with Nevada plates, and $15 for other vehicles, and the park is open from sunset to sunrise. Parking is included with entry. You can see more on the official site here.

If you have your own car or choose to rent one, it can make for a good destination to visit with the Hoover Dam for a full day out. You can do this as a nice loop drive, taking in view of Lake Mead as well, with a total drive time of about 4 hours.

 

Public Transport to the Valley of Fire State Park from Las Vegas

Unfortunately the remote location of the Valley of Fire State Park means there aren’t currently any public transport options. The best option if you don’t have your own vehicle would be to either rent a vehicle or join a tour.

Ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft are not recommended as you need a way to get around the park, and you could end up stuck out here with no way to get back.

 

Tours of the Valley of Fire State Park from Las Vegas

If you don’t have your own vehicle and would prefer not to rent one, or would just like to let someone else handle the logistics of your trip to the Valley of Fire, then a guided tour is your best option.

Tours have a number of benefits, and they normally include a guide who can share information about what you are seeing to enhance your experience. They are also a good option if you want to do a hike, as an experienced guide can be invaluable to help you have a safe experience.

Most tours include a guide, water, and entrance fees to the park. However do always check the tour description to know what it includes and what to expect.

There are a number of Valley of Fire tours running from Las Vegas. Here are some to consider.

  • This guided hiking tour of the Valley of Fire offers a guided hiking experience. You can choose a hike to suit your experience level and fitness, with the tour lasting for 4-6 hours depending on the hike.
  • This small group 6 hour tour includes the main highlights of the park as well as a visit to the park visitor centre
  • This popular 5.5 hour tour with Pink Jeep tours offers comfortable transfers in the companies signature pink Jeeps. The tour includes the main highlights of the park and a stop at the visitor centre.
  • This full day 9 hour trip includes both the Valley of Fire and Red Rock Canyon, letting you experience two natural wonders in one day. This is a similar 8 hour tour.
  • One popular thing to do in Las Vegas is get married. Well, if you want a different backdrop, how about booking a Valley of Fire wedding tour with a private limousine!
  • This full day tour includes Hoover Dam, the Valley of Fire and Red Rock Canyon, letting you experience some of the best attractions outside Las Vegas in one day.
  • This full day tour has you exploring the Valley of Fire in a two person buggy, perfect for the thrill seekers amongst you.
  • If you’d prefer a private tour, this 5 hour private tour is a great option.
  • Finally, if you’re interested in getting great photos and learning about the local wildlife, check out this full day wildlife viewing photo tour.

Whilst we think those are some of the best tours on offer, there are more to choose from. See this list on GetYourGuide and this list on Viator for even more options.

Valley of Fire State Park

 

Hoover Dam

Found on the Arizona / Nevada border around a 40 minute drive from Las Vegas, the Hoover Dam makes for a popular half day trip from Las Vegas. This is probably the most popular day trip from Las Vegas and makes for a great half-day trip out of the city.

The dam sits at the southern end of Lake Mead, which is the largest reservoir in the USA by capacity, and which was formed as a result of the dam being built across the Colorado River.

The dam was built in five years and opened in 1936, two years ahead of schedule, thanks to the mammoth efforts of thousands of workers who came seeking work during the Great Depression. It was a massive and sometimes dangerous project, and over 100 workers died in its construction.

The dam has a number of purposes. It was built to regulate and control the Colorado River, and therefore reduce the risk of flooding to downstream communities. The large reservoir formed by the dam provides drinking water as well as irrigation water, and is also a popular recreation site.

It was also built to generate power, and when opened became the largest hydroelectric power station in the world.

Today, over a million people a year visit the Hoover Dam. It is possible to just visit and admire the view, but there are also a number of tours which take you inside the dam to tour the powerplant and walk some its tunnels where you will also learn all about the construction and history of this mammoth engineering achievement. If you visit, we can highly recommend taking one of these tours.

The main tours available are as follows.

  • A self-guided visitor centre tour. This costs $10 and lets you access the visitor centre where you can learn about the dam, as well as visit the observation deck
  • A guided powerplant tour. This costs $15, and as well as including the self-guided visitor centre tour, it lets you see the powerplant and some of the construction tunnels
  • A guided dam tour. This costs $30 and includes the previous two items, as well as seeing more of the inner workings of the dam.

We generally suggest that the guided powerplant tour is definitely worth it as it’s only a little bit more expensive than the self-guided tour but includes a lot more. Those with more of an interest, and more time on their hands, will want to take the full guided dam tour.

It’s also worth being aware that tours can be restricted or stopped at very short notice due to maintenance requirements or elevator issues. So it is always worth calling ahead before visiting to be sure that what you want to see is open before you visit. You can see contact details and lots more information on the official website here.

Day Trips from Las Vegas -Hoover Dam

 

Getting to the Hoover Dam from Las Vegas

There are a number of options for getting to the Hoover Dam from Las Vegas, which we’ll go through now.

 

Driving to the Hoover Dam from Las Vegas

First, if you have your own vehicle or if you’ve rented one, it’s easy to drive to the Hoover Dam from Las Vegas. It’s around a 40 minute / 37 mile drive from the city.

Parking is available on site. There’s a large parking structure on the Nevada side which can accommodate standard sized cars. This is the closest structure to the dam visitor center, and there’s a $10 fee for parking here.

For larger vehicles like RVs, oversized vehicles and vehicles with trailers, parking is available on the Arizona side of the dam. The first parking lot, closest to the dam, has a $10 daily fee.

There are four additional parking lots further up the canyon which are free, but the walk is a bit longer (at least half  a mile from the nearest one to the visitor center) and they don’t have as many spaces available. However, as you will likely want to walk across the dam anyway, if you can find a spot in the free parking zone, this will save you $10.

 

Public Transport to Hoover Dam from Las Vegas

There is currently no public transport that runs directly from Las Vegas to the Hoover Dam that we aware of.

However, you can take a public bus from Las Vegas to Boulder City. The Henderson and Downtown Express (HDX) takes around an hour from the Las Vegas strip to downtown Boulder City.

From Boulder City, you can then take a taxi or ride share on to the Hoover Dam, which is around a 16 minute drive.

You can also take a rideshare, Uber or Lyft, all the way from Las Vegas to Hoover Dam, a journey that takes around 40 minutes by car. The only downside with this approach is that whilst it will be easy to find a vehicle to get you from Las Vegas out to the Hoover Dam, there will be fewer vehicles operating around the Hoover Dam. So do keep this in mind.

 

Tours of Hoover Dam from Las Vegas

If you don’t have your own vehicle, then we think the best option is to take a dedicated tour of Hoover Dam from Las Vegas.

There are a lot of tours from Las Vegas to Hoover Dam, so it’s important to pick the right one for you. Differences include the length of time at the dam, whether entry or a tour on site is included, and whether other attractions are also included. Group size also varies depending on the tour operator.

We’ve put together our picks of tours available, to give you some good options to choose from. Always be sure to check exactly what is included before booking a tour so you know what you are getting.

  • If you’re short on time, this 3 hour express tour will get you good views of the damn as well as some time at Lake Mead, however there’s no time on this tour for going inside the dam
  • This four hour tour focuses on the Hoover Dam. You’ll get to go inside the dam, learn about its history and construction, and be accompanied by a certified tour guide.
  • This 5 hour tour includes a tour of the exterior of the dam as well as the interior, as well as a photo stop to see some bighorn sheep
  • This 6.5 hour tour includes a guided walk across the top of Hoover Dam and a tour of the generator area inside the dam. It also includes lunch, time in Boulder City and a visit to the Boulder Dam museum amongst other stops.
  • This full day tour includes a visit to Hoover Dam and a visit inside, as well as a visit to the West Rim of the Grand Canyon. A boxed lunch is also included.
  • This full day 3 in 1 tour includes the Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon and some highlights of Route 66! This does only include a photo stop at the Hoover Dam rather than a full tour, but it’s a good option for taking in a few attractions in one package.
  • If you’re looking for something a bit different, this helicopter tour from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon flies right over the Hoover Dam, for a unique perspective!
  • If you pick up a Go Las Vegas card, one of the included experiences is a Hoover Dam tour. So if you plan on doing a few different activities in the city which this pass covers, this can be a great way to save money and still visit the Hoover Dam!

Of course, there are lots more options – check out this list on GetYourGuide and this list on Viator for more ideas!

Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam Turbine Room

 

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

Just 15 miles to the west of Las Vegas, the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation area is a popular destination for a full or half day trip from Las Vegas.

The main highlight of this nearly 200,000 acre park are the huge red sandstone rock formations which form a series of peaks and rock walls. These walls are up to 3,000 feet high, and the area is popular for both hikers and rock climbers, as well as visitors who just want to appreciate the natural beauty.

If you are interested in hiking, there are a number of trails to choose from across a range of difficulty levels. You can see a full list of trails and download a trail map here.

Main access to the area is via a one way 13 mile scenic loop road which is accessible off Las Vegas highway 159. The loop road has a a number of parking areas and trailheads for hiking, and there are some spur roads leading off it where you can access additional trailheads as well as a series of petroglyphs.

The road has a slow maximum speed limit and is also suitable for cycling, Some tour operators offer electric bicycle hire and transport from Las Vegas if you’re interested in experiencing the area on two wheels.

A good starting point for any visit to Red Rock Canyon is the Red Rock Canyon visitor centre, found just past the fee station. Fees for entry are currently $15 for a vehicle. You can see more at the official website here.

 

Getting to the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area from Las Vegas

It’s around a 17 mile / 30 minute drive from the Las Vegas strip to the Red Rock Canyon visitor centre. Here are your options for visiting.

 

Driving to the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area from Las Vegas

If you have your own car or choose to rent one, then getting to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation area from Las Vegas is easy. It’s a 30 minute drive to the park entrance, and from there you can follow the 13 mile scenic loop road.

There are numerous parking areas as you drive the scenic loop road, many of which are at the start of the various hiking trailheads.

 

Public Transport to the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area from Las Vegas

There is no direct public transport to the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area from Las Vegas.

It is possible to take a rideshare, Uber or Lyft, out to Red Rock Canyon, however, be advised that there is very limited cell reception at the reserve, so there is a very real possibility of being stranded out there. You may also have a hard time finding a driver to take you back to Las Vegas. In addition, the first trail head is a mile from the entrance.

It would probably work out more cost effective to either book a tour or rent your own vehicle for the day than to do a rideshare option.

 

Tours of the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area from Las Vegas

As with other popular day trip destinations from Las Vegas, there are a number of tours you can take from Las Vegas to Red Rock Canyon. Some of these tours focus on Red Rock Canyon itself, whilst others include Red Rock Canyon with some of the other highlights in the area. Here’s a good selection to give you some options.

  • This half day tour by 4×4 vehicle gets you up into a less visited part of the park on the four wheel drive only Rocky Gap trail. It also explores the more popular parts of the park as well of course!
  • This 4-5 hour tour covers many of the highlights of Red Rock Canyon, including the Native American petroglyphs
  • Looking for something more thrilling? Check out this helicopter tour of Red Rock Canyon, which includes a landing above the valley and champagne.
  • If you’d like to pedal your way round the scenic loop (with some assistance), check out this tour which includes round trip transport and electric cycle hire. There are also tours offering guided mountain biking on tougher trails.
  • This 3 hour tour with Pink Jeep Tours focuses on the highlights of Red Rock Canyon, and includes a stop at the visitor centre
  • If you’d prefer to focus on some hiking, this guided hiking tour offers a choice of trails and a guided hike of between 2 and 2.5 hours in the canyon
  • This really fun tour has you exploring Red Rock Canyon by Scooter Car, in a fully guided experience with the opportunity to do some short hikes.
  • This 6-7 hour tour includes stops at a number of the Red Rock Canyon viewpoints, as well as a stop at Hoover Dam, Seven Magic Mountains and the Boulder City Art Guild area.
  • This full day 9 hour trip includes both the Valley of Fire and Red Rock Canyon, letting you experience two natural wonders in one day. This is a similar 8 hour tour.
  • This full day 10 hour trip visits the Hoover Dam, Valley of Fire and Red Rock Canyon, letting you experience a range of attractions in one full day of adventure

Whilst we think those are some of the best tours on offer, there are more to choose from. See this list on Viator, and this list on GetYourGuide for even more options.

 

Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is one of the most popular and well known natural attractions in the world, and it makes for a popular destination as a day trip from Las Vegas.

The Grand Canyon was formed by the Colorado River over millions of years. This massive 277 mile long canyon is over a mile deep in places, and it’s popular for everything from casual sightseeing through to hiking and rafting.

One of the most popular activities from Las Vegas is to take a helicopter flight out to the Grand Canyon, like this. This gives you a stunning aerial view of the Canyon, and also saves you a lot of driving time!

Of course, there are other options for getting to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas, which we’ll go over now.

Grand Canyon

 

Getting to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas

The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long, so when planning a trip here from Las Vegas it’s important to decide which part of the canyon to visit.

Most visitors will want to visit the Grand Canyon National Park which is where the deepest and most impressive stretches of the canyon are to be found. It’s also here, on the south rim, that you’ll find the Grand Canyon Village, home to the park’s restaurants, shops, and the expansive visitor centre.

From the Grand Canyon village there are a number of trails and viewpoints you can access, as well as a shuttle bus that will take you along the rim for additional views. As this is a National Park there’s an entry fee, and you can read more about opening times and prices here.

A closer option to Las Vegas is Grand Canyon West. This area of the park belongs to the Hualapai people, and is outside the National Park Area. They have food service on site, as well as the Grand Canyon Skywalk, a glass bridge that allows you to walk right out above the canyon. Note that there’s a fee to enter this area, and you can book tickets in advance here.

Both of these options can be visited individually from Las Vegas, and I’ll include information on getting to both so you can decide which works for you.

 

Driving to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas

From Las Vegas to Grand Canyon West, where you’ll find the Grand Canyon Skywalk, it’s around 130 miles, or 2.5 hours of driving. We think this is an achievable day trip for those wanting to visit part of the Grand Canyon.

However, if you are wanting to visit the Grand Canyon National Park and village, it is a much longer drive. By road, you’re looking at a 4.5 hour drive of almost 300 miles. So that would be nine hours driving in total.

Personally, we think this is stretching what we’d be happy to drive in a day, so if we were planning to visit from Las Vegas by car, we’d probably opt to spend the night. This would also let us enjoy a beautiful sunset in the Grand Canyon.

Alternatively, we’d consider taking a day tour rather than driving ourselves, so we can relax on the long trip there and back without the 9 hours of driving. Overnight tours are also available, like this one.

The other option would be to take a helicopter tour like this. Helicopter tours are a fantastic way to see different parts of the Grand Canyon without spending a lot time in the car. There are a number of operators offering helicopter tours, some of which include landing in the canyon and other features like champagne or snacks.

 

Public Transport to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas

Given the distances involved and the remote locations, you will likely not be surprised to hear that there’s no public transport available to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas.

There is a train service that operates to the Grand Canyon Village from Williams, Arizona, but this would still require you to figure out how to get to Williams. There are Greyhound services, but these take much longer than is possible in a day.

 

Tours of the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas

In our opinion, the best way to get to the Grand Canyon as a day trip from Las Vegas is to take a day tour. Whilst these do involve a lot of driving, you can rest on the tour vehicle and let someone else handle the driving.

You can also opt to take a helicopter tour, which will get you to and from the Grand Canyon a lot quicker, and thus save you a huge amount of travel time. Plus you’ll also get an amazing view of the canyon from the air, which is one of the best ways to experience its vast scale.

If you want to visit the Grand Canyon by vehicle but don’t want to spend too long in a vehicle, consider heading to the Grand Canyon West area rather than the Grand Canyon village, as this will significantly reduce your travel time.

Here are a number of tour options to consider for your trip.

  • This full day 14 hour tour will take you all the way to the Grand Canyon village area, and you’ll get 3.5 hours free time on site to explore. It also includes a photo stop at the Hoover Dam and a lunch stop on Route 66.
  • This is another full day 15 hour tour to the Grand Canyon village, which also includes a stop at the Grand Canyon caverns on the way, and around 3 hours in the park. Lunch and breakfast snacks are also included.
  • This half day tour has you flying to the Grand Canyon in a helicopter, landing below the rim and enjoying champagne and snacks with gorgeous views
  • This full day tour to Grand Canyon West includes a scenic helicopter flight, boat ride and lunch.
  • This full day tour to Grand Canyon West includes a photo opportunity at the Hoover Dam, as well as time to explore Grand Canyon West. Food is included, and the tour can be upgraded to include the Skywalk.
  • This full day 15 hour white water rafting trip from Las Vegas offers a unique viewpoint on the Grand Canyon as you ride a raft down the Colorado river.
  • This helicopter tour offers you the chance to see sunset over the Grand Canyon, followed by the lights of the Las Vegas strip at night. A snack, champagne, and landing in the Grand Canyon is included.
  • This 17 hour full day tour has you visiting three natural wonders, Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, and the Grand Canyon South Rim. A stop at Seligman, a Route 66 highlight, is also included, as is lunch.
  • This full day private tour includes the trip out to the Grand Canyon south rim where you will be able to watch the sunset, as well as some of the highlights of Arizona’s Route 66 on the journey there and back.
  • If you’d rather not drive so much in one day, you can also take a 2 day tour like this to the Grand Canyon. This tour includes accommodation and will give you lots more time to experience this natural wonder.

Whilst we think those are some of the best tours on offer, there are more to choose from. See this list on Viator, and this list on GetYourGuide for even more options.

Grand252520canyon252520sunrise_by_Laurence252520Norah25255B925255D

 

Zion National Park

Found just across the border in neighbouring Utah, Zion National Park is famous for its varied terrain and wildlife. The park has a unique geography due to its location on the edge of the Colorado Plateau, which has resulted in a diverse range of flora and fauna, as well as some stunning landscapes.

Naturally the park is a popular destination for hikers and lovers of nature, and it has everything from mountains to slot canyons to natural arches to tempt the visitor with.

Zion also has a rich cultural history, with evidence of human habitation in the area from at least 8,000 years ago. Zion was Utah’s first national park.

There’s a lot to see and do in the park. There’s an excellent visitor centre which is worth the visit, as well as a variety of trails which range from easy through to challenging. There’s also a shuttle bus to get you around the park.

As this is a National Park, there’s an entry fee, and you can see more about costs and opening times on the official website here.

Getting to Zion National Park from Las Vegas

Zion National Park is 160 miles north east of Las Vegas, so around a 2.5 hour drive. You have a few options for getting here from Las Vegas.

 

Driving to Zion National Park from Las Vegas

You can drive to Zion National Park from Las Vegas. It’s around a 2.5 hour drive. However, you should be aware that for much of the year the scenic road around the park is off limits to private vehicles, and you have to take a shuttle.

Most visitors who drive pay to park their vehicle in Springdale, from where there is a free shuttle to the visitor centre, following which you can take the Zion Canyon visitor shuttle to the main highlights and lookouts.

 

Public Transport to Zion National Park from Las Vegas

It is actually possible to visit Zion National Park by public transport from Las Vegas. A number of buses operated by Flixbus and Greyhound will get you to St. George in around 3 hours, and from here you can take a shuttle to Zion which takes around an hour.

We’d honestly prefer to take a tour or drive rather than do that, but it is at least an option!

 

Tours of Zion National Park from Las Vegas

There are a number of tours operating from Las Vegas to Zion National Park. Note that some of these tours also include other parks, such as Bryce Canyon. Whilst Bryce is very pretty, it’s an extra 2 hour drive each way from Zion, so if you visit both parks in one day you will have much less time to experience Zion.

Of course, it’s up to you which you would prefer, but we’ve primarily focused on tours that just go to Zion. If you want to include Bryce, consider a 2 day overnight tour like this instead.

  • This full day tour focuses on Zion National Park, and gives you six hours to explore the park yourself.
  • This small grouped guided walking tour of Zion National Park will take you to the highlights of the park in a fully guided experience, and includes park entry
  • The Go Las Vegas card includes a full day trip to Zion National Park, and includes your entry fee, lunch, snacks and water
  • This 14 hour small group tour visits both Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon, and include entry fees, lunch, snacks and bottled water, with around 1.5 hours in each park.
  • This 2 day small group tour includes both Zion and Bryce Parks, and gives you more time to experience and enjoy both parks.
  • This full day private tour of Zion National Park includes four hours in the park with a guide, as well as your park entry fees

There are of course many more tour options available. See this list on Viator, and this list on GetYourGuide for even more options.

 

Route 66

Arguably the world’s most famous road, Route 66 runs for over 2,400 miles from Chicago, Illinois to Los Angeles, California.

Driving the whole route obviously takes more than a day, and if you are planning on doing it all, we recommend reading our guides to spending 1 week on Route 66, 2 weeks on Route 66, and planning a Route 66 road trip for inspiration.

The good news is that part of the original Route 66 highway passes relatively near to Las Vegas. Specifically, the stretch from Seligman, Arizona, down to Needles, California is within driving distance of Las Vegas, meaning you can definitely visit Route 66 as a day trip from Las Vegas.

Some of the highlights along this stretch of the Route include Oatman, Hackberry, Peach Springs, and Seligman. You can see more of the highlights on this stretch of the route in our guide here. There are lots of quirky roadside attractions and some stunning scenery, making this one of our favourite parts of the Route to drive.

Route 66 Sign Arizona

 

Getting to Route 66 from Las Vegas

Let’s look at the options you have for visiting Route 66 as a day trip from Las Vegas.

 

Driving to Route 66 from Las Vegas

The closest stretch of Route 66 to Las Vegas is the section which passes through Kingman, Arizona. This is around 110 miles from Las Vegas, or just under two hours drive away.

From Kingman, you can follow the stretch of Route 66 to Seligman, which is an additional 87 miles, or a 90 minute drive. So you could easily do a nice long day trip from Las Vegas by car and see some of the highlights of this section of Route 66.

 

Public Transport to Route 66 from Las Vegas

You can take a bus from Las Vegas to Kingman. The service is operated by Flixbus, and the journey takes around 2 hours, depending on the time of day.

Of course, this only gets you to Kingman. Whilst this is home to a number of Route 66 attractions, including the Arizona Route 66 museum, it’s not quite the same as driving the route itself. Still, it is possible at least to visit Route 66 by public transport from Las Vegas.

 

Tours of Route 66 from Las Vegas

The majority of tours from Las Vegas which feature Route 66 do so primarily as an addon to another tour. It’s commonly found for example on tours to the Grand Canyon, like this one, because if you are travelling to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas, the route naturally crosses some Route 66 attractions like Kingman and Seligman.

If you want a tour which specifically focuses on Route 66, these are harder to come by. One option might be to book a private tour like this, and see if it can be tailored to focus more on Route 66 attractions. Alternatively, if you can get yourself to Kingman, there are some more focused Route 66 tours like this and this.

Of course, you might be happy to just experience parts of Route 66 as part of a bigger day trip, and that’s fine too! Here are some suggested tours which we suggest you check out.

  • This full day 14 hour tour will take you all the way to the Grand Canyon village area, and you’ll get 3.5 hours free time on site to explore. It also includes a photo stop at the Hoover Dam and a lunch stop on Route 66.
  • This full day tour to the Grand Canyon includes a stop in Seligman which has lots of interesting Route 66 attractions
  • This full day private tour includes a trip out to the Grand Canyon south rim where you will be able to watch the sunset, as well as some of the highlights of Arizona’s Route 66 on the journey there and back.

As you can see, there are not a great many day tours that include Route 66. If you want to see more of Route 66, then we would definitely suggest either using your own vehicle, or renting one for this particular adventure.

Route 66 Seligman

 

Death Valley National Park

Found in Eastern California, the rather terrifyingly named Death Valley is famous for a number of reasons.

First, it’s quite inhospitable. It got its name during the California Gold Rush, following the deaths of a number of prospectors who had to cross the valley to reach the gold fields. A combination of intense heat, difficult terrain and limited water supplies made the valley challenging to traverse, leading to the loss of life.

The Valley is regarded as being one of the hottest places on earth, with summer time temperatures regularly exceeding 100 F (39 C), and a recorded high of 134 F (57 C).

It’s also home to the lowest point in the USA. Badwater Basin in Death Valley is 282 feet (86 metres) below sea level.

Combine these extremes with the rugged landscapes, and you can see why a visit to Death Valley National Park is on the to-do list of many visitors to the area.

Our tip would be to visit outside of the hottest months if possible (June through August are usually very hot). In these months the temperatures can be deadly, and parts of the park and hiking routes are often closed. Visiting in the relatively cooler months will be a much more pleasant experience.

There’s lots to see and do in the park, from hikes to photo stops. You can also learn about the history of the park with a visit to the excellent Furnace Creek visitor centre. You can see more about the park opening house and admission fees at the official website here.

Let’s look at how to get to Death Valley as a day trip from Las Vegas.

Death Valley

 

Getting to Death Valley National Park from Las Vegas

There are a few options for visiting Death Valley National Park from Las Vegas. Here are the ones we recommend.

 

Driving to Death Valley National Park from Las Vegas

Death Valley is around 131 miles from Las Vegas, so around a 2 hour and 15 minute drive from the city. That makes it an achievable full day trip from Las Vegas.

If you have your own car, or rent one, driving is definitely a good option as the attractions in the park are spread out over an area, so you definitely want a car to get around.

Once inside the park, you’re probably looking at 3-6 hours of sightseeing depending on your interests and any hiking you want to do.

 

Public Transport to Death Valley National Park from Las Vegas

There is no public transport that will let you do a day trip from Las Vegas to Death Valley that we are aware of. In addition, even if there were, you would still need a way to get around inside the park.

So if you’re planning a visit to Death Valley from Las Vegas and don’t have your own vehicle, we’d suggest taking a tour as the best option.

 

Tours of Death Valley National Park from Las Vegas

A number of companies offers day trips from Las Vegas to Death Valley. Some of these tours focus on Death Valley itself, whilst others might include other stops. Here are some options to consider.

Hopefully that gives you plenty of options for taking a tour out to Death Valley from Las Vegas!

Badwater basin

 

Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend

The city of Page in northern Arizona, near the border with Utah, is known for two spectacular natural attractions. These are Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend.

Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon formed by the erosion of sandstone by rainwater. The canyon, which is divided into two main parts, is narrow and remarkably photogenic, and can only be visited on a guided tour.

Horseshoe Bend is a famous U-shaped bend on the Colorado River. The river sweeps around a large rock outcrop, with the name coming from the fact that from above it forms a similar shape to that of a horseshoe.

Whilst Horseshoe Bend is technically free to visit, there is a $10 fee for car parking. To get to the viewpoint, there’s a 1.5 mile round trip hike. Be aware that this offers no shade, so in the summer this can be a very hot 1.5 miles. Bring plenty of water and a hat! The viewpoint is around 1000ft above the river, making for a truly spectacular vista which is well worth the visit.

Antelope Canyon

 

Getting to Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend from Las Vegas

Let’s take a look at how to get to Antelope Canyon and Horseshow Bend from Las Vegas. It’s quite a distance, so expect to spend the whole day visiting these two locations.

 

Driving to Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend from Las Vegas

It’s around 270 miles from Las Vegas to Antelope Canyon, so you are looking at a round trip of around 9 hours if you choose to drive.

This is a similar amount of driving as visiting the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas, and as with that trip, it’s an adventure we probably wouldn’t choose to drive ourselves. For this length of a day out, we’d be much more likely to take a tour and let someone else handle the driving so we could relax.

Still, it’s certainly an option if you have your own car and don’t mind a long stretch of driving. If you do decide to drive yourself, be sure to book your Antelope Canyon tour well in advance as they book out and it would be a disaster to drive all this way and then not be be able to visit! You can book the Lower Antelope Canyon here, and the Upper Antelope Canyon here.

 

Public Transport to Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend from Las Vegas

So you can actually take a bus from Las Vegas to Page (with a change in St. George, Utah). However, as the total trip takes 5 – 6 hours and buses are not exactly regular, this isn’t something you can realistically achieve as a day trip. Check Flixbus and Greyhound for routes and prices.

However, traveling by public transit may be possible if you overnight in Page, and then take a local taxi from Page to Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon.

 

Tours of Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend from Las Vegas

There are a number of companies offering tours from Las Vegas to Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. As these attractions are close to each other, all the companies usually include them both, as well as some other scenic locations.

Note that Antelope Canyon can only be visited as part of a guided tour, and these tours are run by local Navajo guides. Some tours include the entry fee to Antelope Canyon as part of the overall price, whereas for others it will be an additional fee to pay, so do check when comparing tours what is included.

  • This small group tour to Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend includes admission to both attractions as well as lunch and bottled water
  • This good value large group tour includes Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend with admission, as well as a packed lunch and bottled water
  • This is another small group tour which includes both Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend, with admission fees included along with a picnic lunch, free WiFi and bottled water
  • This packed 17 hour tour includes Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, the Grand Canyon South Rim and a stop at Seligman on Route 66. It’s a busy full day, and it includes your entry to all the attractions as well as lunch
  • This small group tour from Las Vegas offers the choice of Lower Antelope Canyon or Antelope Canyon X, which is another part of the slot canyon system. The tour includes entry tickets and lunch, and also visits Horseshoe Bend.
  • If you’d rather not drive so much in one day, you might consider this 2 day small group tour from Las Vegas. This includes Antelope Canyon, as well as Horseshoe Bend, the Grand canyon and Hoover Dam. All fees except Antelope Canyon are included.

Whilst we think those are some of the best tours on offer, there are more to choose from. See this list on Viator, and this list on GetYourGuide for even more options.

Horseshoe Bend

That sums up our list of our favourite day trips from Las Vegas! Now let’s cover some tips on renting cars and where to stay in the city. For more planning information, see our guide to things to do in Las Vegas, which has lots of tips on visiting the city as well.

 

How to Rent a Car in Las Vegas

If you are visiting Las Vegas without a car, then you might be wondering if you should rent a car during your time here. Generally, for exploring the city and getting around, we’d suggest that a car is more hassle than it’s worth. Parking is expensive, traffic is bad, and there’s a decent enough combination of public transport and ride sharing services to make a car unnecessary for sightseeing in the city.

However, as you will have seen, most of the day trips from the city aren’t achievable unless you book a tour or have a car, due to limited public transport options.

Renting a car is definitely an option to consider. However, do keep a few things in mind when comparing renting a car to taking a tour. The main thing is the cost. Whilst car rental can be great value, don’t forget to add in any insurance and gas on top of the base price. In addition, most of the sights outside the city have some kind of fee, either for parking, or vehicle entry, or both.

We think that if you are just planning on doing one or two day trips from Las Vegas that a tour will probably be easier. Most tours pick you up from your hotel, include the majority of entry fees, and are fairly cost effective. You also don’t have to worry about the driving aspect.

Of course, the value of a car rental compared to a tour will depend on your group size and personal preference. If you’re travelling to Las Vegas as a family for example, the cost of a car rental might work out better value than booking a tour for all of you. Or, you might just prefer the flexibility that having a car offers.

Renting a car is easy to do, usually you just need to have a driving license and be aged 21 or over. You can see more in my guide guide to driving in the USA, which is worth reading if this will be your first time driving in the country. When it comes to actually renting a car, you have lots of options. There are rental agencies at the airport and in the city.

If you are looking to hire a vehicle, we recommend that you take a look at Priceline to compare car hire deals across a wide range of different providers, including the biggest names in the business, to get a great deal for your trip.

We have also often used and can recommend Enterprise, we generally find that they come up with the best deals when we’re looking to hire a car. We used them to rent a car on a recent trip to Las Vegas and it worked out great.

If you are considering an overnight or multi-day trip from Las Vegas, you might also consider an RV. There are campsites at or near most of the locations we’ve mentioned, and this would be a fun way to explore the area.

For RV rental we recommend starting with Motorhome Republic, who compare prices across a range of providers. See their USA listings here.

We can also recommend you check out RVShare, who offer peer to peer campervan rental – a bit like the AirBnB of RV rental.

 

Day Tours from Las Vegas

If you’ve decided on taking a day tour from Las Vegas, we have a few tips to share to help you decide between the.

First, check what’s included in the tour. Most tours include a guide (and a vehicle!), but then there are lots of other features to check for. Things to check for include any admission fees, water, snacks and other meals. If a tour seems much cheaper than alternatives, it’s usually because something like an admission fee isn’t included.

Next, check what sort of pickup the tour offers. Many tours offer hotel pick-ups, but this isn’t always the case, so if this is important to you make sure you pick a tour that will pick you up from your hotel.

Tour size is also something to consider. Whilst larger tours are usually cheaper due to the economies of scale, they are usually less efficient with time as organising a larger group takes longer. So a smaller group can usually see and do more in the same time span as a larger group.

When it comes to booking a tour, you have a few options. We usually prefer to use an online site which lists a variety of tours so we can compare prices and features. They usually allow for mobile ticketing as well so you can book the tour and then just show the ticket on your mobile.

For booking trips from and in Las Vegas, we recommend the following website:

  • GetYourGuide. They have over 200 tours and activities in and outside the city, and a good review system so you can check what other travellers have to say. We’ve used them for tours and attraction entry around the world and have always had a positive experience.
  • Viator. With over 800 tours and activities listed in and around Las Vegas, this TripAdvisor owned company has plenty of choice!
  • Vegas.com  – as well as offering hotels and show tickets, this Las Vegas focused site also offers a number of tours outside the city.

Also, before booking a tour don’t forget to check out the Go Las Vegas card. As well as giving you entry to many attractions in the city, the card also includes some day trips out of Las Vegas. So if you plan on picking one of those up, you might find it includes one of the tours you wanted to do anyway! Worth checking out as it can be a real money saver.

Finally, before heading out on any tour remember to bring along a reusable water bottle and sun protection with you on the tour, especially if visiting in summer. The heat and sun can be harsh and even deadly, especially for children and elderly.

 

Where to Stay in Las Vegas

If you’re doing day trips from the city, you’re going to need somewhere to stay in between those adventures. Well, Las Vegas has no shortage of accommodation to choose from. We’ve picked some of our favourites below.

Here are a few hotels in Las Vegas to choose from that we think you’ll enjoy. The majority of these are on The Strip, which we think offers the best Las Vegas experience. We have however also included some other options.

  • El Cortez Hotel & Casino – found on historic Fremont Street in the downtown part of the city, this 3* hotel offers great value and well reviewed accommodation with free parking
  • Sin City Hostel – if you’re looking for budget hostel style accommodation this hostel in the Arts District is a well reviewed option. Good value shared accommodation with private bathrooms for each room are available, and there’s a free breakfast every day as well as free parking.
  • Flamingo Las Vegas – the oldest resort still in operation on the Strip, the Flamingo has been operating as a casino and hotel since 1946. As the name suggests, it includes a garden courtyard which is home to a number of actual flamingos. It’s obviously an older hotel, but it does offer great value and an excellent location. We’ve stayed here and enjoyed it.
  • Paris, Las Vegas – this iconic Strip hotel features several replica Paris attractions, including the Eiffel Tower. There are 11 restaurants and 5 bars on site, as well as a casino, spa, gym, and hotel theater.
  • Caesars Palace – home of arguably the most famous buffet in Las Vegas, this 4* hotel has a range of celebrity owned restaurants, a casino, large shopping complex, spa, and nightclub.
  • New York New York – featuring a number of New York City highlights, including a 150 foot replica of the Statue of Liberty, this hotel and casino even has it’s own roller coaster. There are also 13 on-site restaurants and even an authentic Irish pub.
  • Mandalay Bay – found near the southern end of the Strip, this hotel has its own 11 acre beach  area replete with lazy river and splash pools.  Naturally there are also many dining options as well as bars, a casino, nightlife and live entertainment venues.
  • The Delano– if you’re looking for a more relaxing and quieter Las Vegas experience, this might be the hotel for you. With no casino and only one restaurant, the Delano offers an upscale, quiet experience with a private pool and beach area. If you’re looking for action, you can go next door to Mandalay Bay (the Delano’s sister hotel) to enjoy the large pool, numerous restaurants, theaters, and casino. We think this hotel offers the best of both worlds. Jess has stayed here and thinks it would make a great choice for for couples.
  • The Venetian – part of the largest resort in Las Vegas, this 5* hotel offers the full Las Vegas experience. From Gondola rides down the Grand Canal through to replicas of iconic Venetian landmarks, this is huge resort hotel really does have everything. You’ll find over 40 restaurants, 160 shop, bars, clubs, 10 outdoor pools, spa facilities, a rock climbing wall, and of course, a casino!
  • The Bellagio – found behind the famous fountains, this 5* luxury hotel offers fantastic rooms, a range of pools, bars and restaurants, botanical gardens, on-site shopping and of course, a casino. We stayed in a lovely room here with views of the Strip and the fountains, and had a wonderful time!

Of course, there are lots more options for places to stay in Las Vegas. You can see more options, including apartments, hostels and more on the booking.com listings for Las Vegas here. You can also see vacation rental listings for Las Vegas on Vrbo here.

 

Further Reading

That’s it for our guide to day trips from Las Vegas! To help you further plan your trip, we have a number of other resources we think you might find useful.

  • Check out our detailed list of suggested things to do in Las Vegas, which has all the sights you’ll want to see in the city as well as tips on saving money, getting around and more!
  • If you’re into hiking and stunning landscapes, you might consider planning a trip to the magical Havasu Falls from Las Vegas. This requires a bit of planning though, so check out my guide to the Havasu Falls hike, as well as what to pack for Havasu Falls for advice.
  • Las Vegas is a great starting point for a road trip in the USA. We have a two week USA road trip itinerary starting from Las Vegas we think you might enjoy
  • If you want some more USA road trip inspiration, see our itineraries for a USA Deep South road trip, California Road Trip, Route 66 Road Trip and Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip
  • To help you budget a trip in the USA, see our guide to how much it costs to travel in the USA
  • If you’ll be driving, see our tips for driving in the USA if this is your first time
  • We’ve visited a lot of other cities in the USA! See our guides to things to do in Huntsville, things to do in Savannah, things to do in Charleston, things to do in Albuquerque, visiting New Orleans during Mardi Gras, things to do in Cambria, things to do in Houston, things to do in Dallas, and things to do in Santa Fe to get started!
  • If you are wanting to take better vacation photos on your next trip, consider joining our online Travel Photography Course.

And we’re done! As always, we’re happy to hear your feedback and questions to help you plan your visit. Just pop them in the comments below and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

Guide to the best day trips from Las Vegas. Everything you need to plan a day out from Las Vegas, from the Hoover Dam to the Grand Canyon!



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Where to Sell Used Cameras and Photography Gear


If you are looking for the best place to sell your used cameras and other photography equipment, then this guide is for you. I’ve put together all my favourite places to sell photography equipment, as well as a guide to how to get the best price out of your old gear.

First, some background. As a professional photographer, I’ve collected quite a large amount of photography equipment over the years. As I upgrade my gear to meet my current needs, I sometimes find myself with a collection of used camera equipment that, if I’m honest with myself, I’m not likely to use again.

Camera equipment that isn’t being used takes up room in our homes and depreciates in value. In many cases, this equipment is perfectly usable, and another photographer would likely love to use it. This can include old cameras, lenses, tripods, external flashes, remotes, filters, photography bags, video gear, studio equipment, and more.

There are a number of reasons you might find yourself upgrading your camera equipment. When it comes to a camera body, you might want need additional features like a larger sensor or capabilities like faster autofocus that an upgrade offers.

For lenses, you might want something that offers improved stabilization, or a longer zoom, or a wider aperture. Or perhaps you’ve changed niches and just need a different set of lenses.

In my experience, it’s rare to have to replace camera equipment because it isn’t working (although of course this does happen). Rather, it’s because as photographers, we grow and change over time, and as this happens we find ourselves limited by what our existing equipment can do.

In these cases, rather than letting our assets continue to depreciate in value, it makes sense to sell them. This has a number of benefits. It will help you cover the cost of any new equipment you’ve purchased. It will benefit another photographer who’ll be able to purchase their equipment at a lower price.

Finally, selling our used cameras and photography great is good for the planet. Reusing equipment and letting it have a second or third life helps reduce the amount of new cameras that need to be manufactured.

Now that we’ve talked about reasons for selling your cameras and gear, let’s take a look at the best options you have for selling your used camera equipment.

Where to Sell Used Cameras & Photography Gear

I’ve put together this list of our favourite options for selling used camera equipment. These cover multiple options around the world, with both online and offline options. There are advantages and disadvantages to different options, which I’ll cover as I go through each one.

Where possible, I’ll also provide a representative sale price for a used camera, specifically my Canon 6D body, for each option. This should help you get a feel for how they differ, although of course you will want to compare your own equipment on each site as quotes will vary. Quotes were obtained in August 2021.

Note that while I tried to list options that will work for people worldwide, there are definitely more options available for those in the USA, UK, and Europe. If you know of more options that are available in more regions that I didn’t include, feel free to let me know in the Comments section!

Sell Used Cameras

 

MPB

MPB specialize in selling used photography equipment in the USA, Europe, and the UK. They also sell video equipment and related accessories like bags, tripod and filters. Their equipment comes from photographers who are looking to sell used camera gear.

They make this process as simple as possible for both the buyer and the seller.

As a seller, all you have to do is fill in a form where you list the camera equipment you want to sell and the condition it is in. This goes from “like new” through to “heavily used”. To get a quote you have to provide an e-mail address, and MPB then provides an instant quote for that equipment. They will also follow up with you about your quote via e-mail.

As an example, I put in the details for my Canon EOS 6D. In the USA, MPB.com would pay me:

  • $465 were this in like new condition
  • $230 for heavily used

If the quote sounds good, you book your shipping. MPB provides free insured shipping and tracking, with collection from your door. All you have to do is box the item up, print off the shipping label, and wait for the courier to collect it.

Once they receive the item, they assess the condition to be sure it matches what you selected. You’ll then be asked to accept the quote. Once you accept it, you’ll be paid, and the item will be listed for sale on their website.

If they assess the quality and your grade doesn’t match their assessment, you’ll be sent a revised quote which you can either choose to accept or reject.

You can cancel the process at any point up until you accept the quote, and if MPB already has your equipment they’ll return it free of charge.

You can also choose to trade in your equipment against equipment they have on their store if you would prefer that.

The MPB process definitely has advantages. It’s easy and simple to use, you get paid without having to worry about a product selling, you don’t have to take product images or handle questions from interested buyers, shipping and insurance is included, and the process is basically seamless. MPB also has very positive reviews from customers.

The downside is that you don’t have any control over the price. If you have a fully boxed product in great condition, you might be able to get a bit more by listing it yourself on one of the peer-to-peer trading sites we list later on this list. However, that will definitely require more effort on your part. They also won’t necessarily accept every bit of equipment, so if you have older gear you might not be able to get a quote on that.

MPB is available in the UK, the EU, and the USA. You can get a quote for your gear on their US store here, UK store here, and EU store here.

Available in: United States of America, United Kingdom, European Union

 

KEH

KEH is very similar to MPB, but they primarily focus on the American market. Whilst they do accept international sellers for items worth over $300, the seller is responsible for the shipping fees and any taxes, which in many cases rather eat into the profit margin. So we’d generally recommend KEH more for U.S. based sellers of used camera equipment.

If you are in the USA, then we definitely recommend you check out KEH. They will give you a free quote on your equipment, and you don’t even need to provide an e-mail address. This makes this one of the easiest options on our list for getting a free quote on your used camera equipment.

For a more personalised quote, you can set up a free one-on-one online video chat with a KEH representative. They’ll look at your gear and give you a quote based on the condition they see.

In both cases, if you are happy with the quote, you will be sent a shipping label. Sellers in the 48 contiguous states are eligible for free tracked shipping of their equipment. Free pickup is available for quotes over $300.

Again, I put in my Canon EOS 6D, and I got the following quotes for the gear.

  • $481 were this in “like new minus” condition
  • $299 for “bargain” condition

As you can see this is slightly higher than the MPB quote for this particular equipment. However as I said above, it’s worth getting a quote from both sites if you are in the USA as every site has different prices for different equipment. It takes literally seconds to get a quote on your equipment and there’s no obligation to sell.

If you are happy with the quote, you can print off the label and have it shipped to KEH. They’ll evaluate it, and if the value is the same or higher than the quote, you will be able to accept the quote. You also have the option to select a Quick Pay option for online quotes, whereby if the appraised value is the same or higher than your initial quote, they’ll pay you automatically without you needing to accept the quote.

If the value is lower, they will contact you for approval. If you are unhappy with the revised quote, or wish to cancel the process for any reason, they will return your equipment at no cost.

KEH is an easy option if you’re looking for a simple, no hassle option for selling your camera equipment. and you are based in the USA. Like MPB, you might get slightly less for your gear than using a peer to peer service, but the convenience definitely makes for a compelling case.

You can get a quote for your gear on KEH here. 

Available in: USA (and international sellers with higher value gear)

 

B&H

B&H are well known in the USA as a go-to place for buying camera equipment. They have a huge selection, and they also sell used camera equipment.

In order to get that used equipment inventory, B&H buys used photography gear from photographers. The process is very similar to KEH and MPB. You can get a free no obligation quote via their website, although you do have to provide an e-mail address.

If you choose to accept the quote and live in the contiguous 48 states of the USA, they’ll send you a FedEx shipping label so you can mail in your equipment.

They’ll evaluate the gear, ensure it matches the standard you selected, and if so, issue payment. If it doesn’t match, they’ll get in touch to discuss the quote. If you’re not happy, they’ll return the equipment at no charge to you.

One benefit of B&H is that they actually have physical stores. The NYC Superstore at 366 West 34th Street allows you to drop off gear for evaluation, which you might find more convenient if you happen to live in the NYC area.

In terms of price, for my Canon 6D, B&H quoted me:

  • $257.85 were this in “like new” condition
  • $0 for “shows considerable amount of use” condition

Obviously, a single data point isn’t going to be representative, but in the case of this old camera, B&H is definitely not offering me the most competitive price out there! This is likely because they have a lot of this particular type of camera in their inventory, or it’s just not a product they are interested in selling.

In this case, using a site like KEH or MPB, which specialise in used photography sales, would earn me a significantly larger chunk of change for my specific camera. However, it’s worth checking B&H anyway as the process is free and takes just a few seconds.

You can get a quote for your gear on B&H here.

Available in: USA

 

WEX Photo Video

If you are in the UK, then you are likely familiar with WEX Photo Video, who are one of the largest photography equipment retailers in the country. They have a large used selection of camera equipment, and offer the option for photographers to sell them their used gear.

They have two options. For popular products (see list here), you have the option to be paid in cash, or to get credit against a purchase on WEX. For other products, they only offer a credit. So if you are in the process of upgrading, this can work well. However, if you’ve already bought all your new gear and don’t want anything else, a credit might be of less value, although it has no time expiry.

In terms of the process, you fill in the online instant quote form, where you list your equipment and any accessories. There’s a 6 scale rating, which helpfully details what each rating means, and even includes guidance on shutter counts for camera bodies.

In terms of price, for my Canon 6D, Wex quoted me:

  • £366 including VAT were this in the highest “9+” condition
  • £162 including VAT were this in the lowest “6” condition

That’s certainly a competitive quote, although as this camera isn’t on their wanted list that price would be for part exchange only. It’s also easy enough to get a quote, although you do have to provide an e-mail address and they will send a few follow up e-mails.

WEX also promises to price match, so if you find a better quote somewhere else, like MPB UK, they will match it. So if you are in the UK, this is definitely one to strongly consider for selling your used camera.

If you are happy with the quote, you will be able to arrange a free collection, or a drop off at one of their many stores around the UK. Once they receive your item, they’ll send you a final valuation, which you can choose to accept, at which point you’ll get your credit or cash. If you change your mind at any point, your equipment will be returned free of charge.

If you’re looking to sell used camera equipment in the UK, WEX is definitely worth checking out for a simple and easy option.

You can get a quote for your gear on Wex Photo Video here.

Available in: UK

 

eBay

eBay is the site that is perhaps most well known for selling and buying second hand goods, which can be done either through an auction or with a fixed price.

Naturally camera equipment is a popular option to sell, and both new and used camera equipment can be bought and sold on the platform.

There are advantages and disadvantages to selling on eBay.

The main advantage is that you can set the price for your product yourself, so there is a possibility that you will be able to get more money for your used camera equipment compared to selling via somewhere like MPB or KEH.

Another advantage is that eBay doesn’t restrict what you sell (within reason of course). So if you have an older product that other sites aren’t interested in, you can still list it on eBay and get something for it. Even if you have a product that isn’t working, you can list it for parts.

Finally, eBay connects you with a wide audience of buyers around the world, and handles the payment process for you as well.

Looking at listings for the Canon EOS 6D on eBay, they currently go at a range from $315 at the low end through to around $550 for one in excellent condition. So this is marginally higher than selling to a specialist used camera store.

However, when comparing prices, don’t forget that eBay charges various fees, including a final valuation fee based on the sale price, which is normally between 10% and 13%. There are also various other small fees depending on the type of listing you choose and any listing upgrades.

You’ll also have to remember the cost for shipping once your item has sold. Some sellers include this as part of their listing fee, whilst others will list it separately.

Once these fees are taken into account, the difference between selling it yourself and selling it via a site like MPB or KEH is generally not that great.

There’s also the fact that you have to spend time putting your listing together, taking various photos of your product, and competing against all the other sellers out there. If you don’t use eBay regularly, selling from an account that doesn’t have many ratings can also put buyers off.

Of course, eBay is still a good option, particularly if you already have an active eBay account. Personally I find it’s of more use for buying used equipment rather than selling it, as the prices tend to be slightly better compared to other sites. For selling, I find the effort isn’t worth any small extra return, with the exception of equipment that other sites aren’t interested in.

eBay is also a good option to consider for those who lives in parts of the world which do not have a lot of physical or online photography retailers. While people in some countries like the US, UK, and Europe may have a lot of different options for where they can sell used cameras, there are more limited options for regions of South America, Africa, Australia, and Asia.

You can start the process of selling your gear on eBay here.

Available in: Most countries worldwide

 

Adorama

Adorama is another large US based retailer of camera and video equipment, and they also allow photographers to sell their used equipment.

The process is not quite so straightforward though, at least, in terms of getting a quote. For Adorama,  you still fill in an online form. When you select your equipment, there are only three choices of condition, “like new”, “excellent” or “good”. So if you are selling heavily used camera equipment, Adorama is likely not going to be interested.

In addition, unlike the stores listed so far, you don’t get an instant quote. Instead, Adorama takes your details and will then contact you with shipping information. In fact, you only get a quote once they have evaluated your equipment.

I submitted my 6D to them for them for a quote, but I have yet to hear back. I’ll update this post if that changes.

Whilst this does mean they can be more selective up front with the equipment they select, it isn’t quite so straightforward a process compared to other stores. And you would end up losing a few days of time if you aren’t happy with the quote.

If you live in New York City, you also have the option to take your gear in to be appraised at either their 42 W 18th Street in Manhattan or the 370 19th Street store in Brooklyn. You can also give them a call to see if they’re going to give you a quote. However, we think one of the earlier options in our list will likely be easier overall if you’re looking for this sort of service.

You can start the process for getting a quote for your gear on Adorama here.

Available in: USA

 

Gear Focus

Gear Focus launched in 2019, with the aim of creating an online marketplace specifically focused on photography and video equipment.

They offer two options for selling your gear.

First, you can list it yourself as you would on any other marketplace like eBay, where you provide the description and images. Once sold, you ship the product to the buyer, and Gear Focus pays you. If you choose this route, both you and the seller are protected under their protection policy.

Alternatively, if you would prefer not to have to deal with product images and creating a listing, Gear Focus will buy your gear from you, and they promise to beat other quotes you may have received from other stores.

The main advantage of Gear Focus is that they offer market leading rates for a marketplace style listing, currently just 3.5% per sale, and no listing fees.

The disadvantage is that they are quite a new service, so they have fewer users, meaning your gear might take longer to sell if it sells at all. However, I would expect this to improve over time as it becomes more well known. There are also few reviews for the service online, although I have not found anything negative about the site either.

When I searched Gear Focus, I found two used Canon 6D cameras. One had sold for $350, and one which was still listed at a rather optimistic $950.

You can get a quote for your gear on Gear Focus here, and list it for sale here.

Available in: USA

 

Facebook Marketplace

If you use Facebook you are probably familiar with Facebook Marketplace. This is a free service whereby you can list items for sale for other Facebook users to buy.

The Facebook Marketplace is basically the same as a classified listing service. There are no fees for listing your camera equipment, although you do have the option to promote your product for a fee, using the Facebook advertising system.

Other than putting your product in front of a Facebook audience, Facebook doesn’t do anything else. If a buyer is interested, you’ll have to arrange the payment and shipping (or collection). There’s no buyer or seller protection.

In terms of pricing, looking at my Canon 6D, at time of writing there are models on Facebook Marketplace ranging from $340 through to a rather optimistic $1,000.

As with eBay, you will need to take photos of your product, create the listing, and field any queries. Additionally, you’ll have to figure out how to accept payment and arrange the hand over of the product.

Facebook Marketplace is definitely an option to consider if you don’t mind the overhead that comes with this sort of listing, but other options are easier if they are available in your country.

Available in: Over 50 countries worldwide

 

Craigslist

Launched in 1995 as an e-mail list service, Craigslist is perhaps the most well known online classified systems. Doggedly sticking to a text based interface, Craigslist is today available in over 70 countries worldwide.

The main advantage of Craigslist is that it’s free to list items for sale, and it reaches a massive audience. It also allows users to list items they are interested in buying, so you can find buyers for your equipment before you even list it.

There’s a photo / video subsection on most of their sites where you can sell photography gear, and we’ve successfully sold lenses and camera bodies on Craigslist when we lived in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Price wise, Canon 6D bodies currently list on Craigslist for between $400 and $600, which is roughly in line with other sites. Just be aware that many users will haggle on the price, so you might want to factor this in to your initial listing.

Like other classified services, Craigslist doesn’t facilitate anything other than communication between the buyer and seller. Once you have set up your listing, you will then have to handle collection and payment.

Craigslist is really designed for in person product exchange between local buyers and sellers, and you will definitely want to read their guide to avoiding scams and personal safety to keep yourself safe. Having such a large volume of users means that scam e-mails are definitely a problem on the platform.

If you are interested in selling locally, Craigslist is definitely an option, and one we have successfully used for local in person sales.

You can start the process of selling your camera equipment on Craigslist here.

Available in: Over 70 countries worldwide with a focus on larger cities

 

Local Photography Stores

So far the services I’ve listed have all been online, but of course this is not the only way to sell your camera equipment.

Many local photography stores will also purchase your camera equipment, and this can also be a good way to get your gear appraised for quality. In some countries like Japan, this is going to be your best way to sell your used gear unless you want to sell it peer-to-peer.

I’ve already mentioned stores like B&H and Adorama who will let you bring your equipment in for valuation, but there are a great many other local photography stores around the world where you’ll be able to sell or trade-in your used camera equipment.

This can be an easy way to make a bit of income from it without having to worry about shipping or listing, and is worth checking out if you have stores in your vicinity.

Sell Used Cameras price tag

 

Tips for Selling Used Camera Equipment

Now we’ve covered a variety of options for selling your used camera equipment, we just wanted to go through a few tips to help you have a successful selling experience.

 

Decide if you want to Sell to a Business or Directly to a Consumer

As you will have noticed from this guide, there are two main ways to sell used camera equipment. First, you can either sell it to a business, who will pay you up front and handle the resale via their own store. Alternatively, you can sell it directly to a consumer.

Each approach has benefits and disadvantages, which I’ll go over now.

If you choose to sell it to a business like KEH or MPB, the main advantage is convenience. It takes moments to get a quote, and then all you have to do is pack up the items and send them off. Assuming they pass the quality check, you’ll get paid.

The disadvantage is that you have no control over the price. Obviously these stores have to make a profit, and that usually comes about by buying items at a slight discount, and selling them at a slight premium, compared to a direct sale site like eBay.

If you opt to sell directly to a consumer on a site like eBay, the main advantage is that you can set your own price. There’s also no limit on what type of gear you can list, so if you have older equipment that online stores aren’t interested in, you can still try your luck on eBay.

You still have to be reasonable when it comes to setting a price. For popular items, you’ll be competing against many other listings, so you’ll need to match these prices. In our research, the prices you can expect to get on a site like eBay are not that much higher than by going to a site like KEH, but this will vary depending on the product.

The disadvantage of selling directly to a consumer is that there’s more overhead involved. You have to create the listing, take the photos, and answer queries. Depending on the site, you might have to work out the payment or how to meet the buyer. There’s also packaging and shipping to consider. Some sites  also charge relatively high fees that will eat into your revenue.

We definitely think selling to a business is a lot easier, but it’s always worth getting some quotes and checking these against current prices on a site like eBay (factoring in fees) for the items you are selling before making a final decision.

 

Be Honest About the Condition

Whether you are sending your camera to a store which pays for used equipment like MPB or KEH, or listing it on a marketplace like eBay, it’s really important that you are honest about what condition it is in.

For stores like MPB or KEH, they’re going to evaluate your gear against their criteria. For camera bodies, this means checking things like shutter counts and the condition of the body. For lenses, they’ll be checking for things like dust or fungus inside the lens, as well as any scratches.

If you’re selling it on a marketplace like eBay, there is quite a lot of protection for the buyer should an item not match the description.

On platforms like Craigslist, most buyers will want to physically inspect and test the equipment prior to purchase.

The ultimate result if you aren’t honest about the condition of the gear is that the sale will fall through, or you’ll get a lot less than you were initially quoted for it.

 

Take Lots of Photos of the Items

If you are selling your gear on a peer-to-peer marketplace like eBay, I’d definitely recommend taking as many photos as the platform supports you posting for free, which is usually at least 10.

Take shots of what you are selling from multiple angles and in good light with a plain background. If it’s a lens, make sure to take photos from both ends with the caps off, so buyers can see it is scratch, fungus, and dust free.

If there are issues with the equipment, as well as making this clear in the description, make sure to take photos so the buyer knows exactly what they are looking at. If there is a scratch on a lens or a rubber grip is peeling, take a photo of it. This makes sure everyone is aware ahead of time of any issues and what exactly they look like.

 

Describe the Gear and What is Included Accurately

As well as detailing the condition, when you’re listing a camera for sale it’s important to describe it fully so people know exactly what they are getting.

Not everyone is going to be an expert in camera equipment, so listing the full specifications will be helpful.

If you are including accessories like a charger, battery, memory card, carrying case or original box, then make sure you include this in the description. If you are leaving out accessories that people might reasonably expect to be included, like a battery or battery charger, be sure to make this clear as well.

 

Keep the Original Boxes and Accessories

It might be too late for your current gear, but it’s generally good practice when buying camera equipment to keep hold of the original box it came in as well as any manuals or accessories.

Having the original box will make shipping it easier, plus buyers like to receive the box as well and it can add a small amount of value to your sale.

Depending on the gear, the accessories will vary. For a camera, it will usually include the battery, battery charger, any cap or included case, strap, cables and software it came with. For lenses, there should be a front and back cap as well as a lens cap. Some lenses also include a sun hood and camera case.

If you have recently bought camera equipment, I recommend putting all the boxes and accessories somewhere safe so should you ever decide to sell it, you’ll be able to get maximum value for it.

 

Set a Realistic Price

When it comes to selling your gear on a marketplace like eBay, it’s important to set a realistic price. A good idea is to check what other sellers have their gear listed for on the site you plan to list on, as this will give you an idea of the current market price.

If you set a really unrealistic price, such as the person trying to sell a used Canon 6D body for $1,000, it is unlikely you are going to sell it.

 

Consider Trading In Your Used Gear

If you’re planning on buying new or used camera equipment, take stock of what you have that you might no longer need, and see if the store you are buying from offers a trade-in.

Compare this trade-in against what you might get for selling it, as well as the convenience of such a trade, and decide if this might be a good option for recouping some of the value of your existing equipment.

 

Consider Donation or Recycling if Not Sellable

You may find that some of your equipment is difficult to sell or is just not worth much. You might then consider donating it to someone, selling it for display purposes, or finding a recycling program that can properly recycle it.

If you have a working camera, consider if you know someone who might like it or consider seeing if a local school or thrift shop might want it.

For older items, you might consider if they might be useful as display items. For example, I have a few old film cameras that are just not worth much.  Your best options there may to be able to sell or donate them for display purposes. For example, some shops like to use old film cameras for display purposes. A local museum may also be interested in having it.

Finally, if you can’t sell or donate it, I’d recommend finding a recycling program if one is available where you live to dispose of it properly and hopefully reuse its valuable materials.  Many camera manufactures and electronics stores will recycle digital cameras, as well as lenses and accessories. You can see more about recycling a digital camera here.

 

Further Reading

That’s it for our guide to selling used camera equipment. Hopefully it’s given you lots of ideas for how and where to sell your gear.

Before you head off, I wanted to share some more photography guides and resources that we’ve put together, to help you on your photography journey.

  • We have a guide to where to buy used camera gear, in case you wanted to save money on your purchase
  • We have a guide to common camera problems, which you will probably find answers a lot of your camera questions, from blurry photos to fixing brightness issues
  • We have a beginner’s guide to photography to help you get started. We also have a guide to the exposure triangle, which is a key photography concept to master early on.
  • Knowing how to compose a great photo is an important photography skill. See our guide to composition in photography for lots of tips on this subject
  • We are big fans of getting the most out of your digital photo files, and do to that you will need to shoot in RAW. See our guide to RAW in photography to understand what RAW is, and why you should switch to RAW as soon as you can.
  • You’re going to need some way of editing your photos. See our guide to the best photo editing software, as well our our guide to the best laptops for photo editing
  • We have a guide to improving Adobe Lightroom Classic CC performance. It’s our favourite editing software, but can be a bit slow if not properly configured!
  • If you’re looking for advice on specific tips for different scenes, we also have you covered. See our guide to Northern Lights photography, long exposure photography, fireworks photography, tips for taking photos of stars, and cold weather photography.
  • If you’re looking for a great gift for a photography loving friend or family member (or yourself!), take a look at our photography gift guide for some inspiration
  • We have a detailed guide to how to use a DSLR camera
  • We have a guide to why you need a tripod, and a guide to choosing a travel tripod
  • If you’d like a book to help you understand all this, check out this guide to mastering shutter speed, aperture and ISO
  • Our guide to the best travel camera – a great overall post to get started with
  • Our guides to the best compact camera, best mirrorless camera and best DSLR camera. These posts dive deep into each of these camera types to help you decide which might be best for you
  • Our guide to the best camera for hiking and backpacking. Different needs require different cameras, and this guide will help you pick a camera if you hike or backpack regularly
  • Our guide to the best lens for travel photography. If you buy a DSLR or mirrorless camera, you’ll be able to change the lens. This guide will help you figure out the best lens for your camera and budget.
  • Finally, if you want to improve your photography overall, you can join over 2,000 students on my travel photography course. I’ve been running this since 2016, and  it has helped lots of people take their photography to the next level.

And that’s it! Thanks as always for reading. If you’ve got any great places you shop for second hand camera gear, or any feedback or questions on this post or photography in general, do pop a comment in the comments below! We love to hear from readers, and will get back to you as soon as we can!

A guide to where to sell used cameras, as well as used lenses and other photography gear. All the options plus tips on selling used equipment



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Glen Coe Scotland - A Complete Guide to Visiting

Glen Coe Scotland – A Complete Guide to Visiting


Scotland’s Glen Coe is a beautiful valley which draws people who want to see some of the spectacular Scottish Highlands scenery. Glen Coe has been designated as both a national nature reserve as well as part of a national scenic area.

It’s a fabulous location for hiking, mountain biking, and getting outdoors. It is also a wonderful area for photography, and is one of our favourite photography spots in Scotland. But there are also a number of other things to do in and around the small village of Glencoe, Scotland, including visiting museums and historical attractions, kayaking, and even skiing in the winter.

It’s also a favourite with film fans, with a range of movies and TV shows using the dramatic scenery of Glen Coe as a backdrop. From Harry Potter to James Bond, Glen Coe is no stranger to the silver screen.

In today’s post, we’re going to share everything you need to know to plan your own visit to Glen Coe, including how to get here, where to stay in Glen Coe, what to see during your visit, and more! Let’s get started with the basics.

Basic Information for Visiting Glen Coe

Let’s start by providing you with all the practical information you need to plan your own visit to Glen Coe. This can help you plan when to visit, how to get there, and where you want to stay.

Is it Glen Coe or Glencoe?

When you are researching Glen Coe, you will likely come across the names “Glen Coe” and “Glencoe” being used interchangeably. Glen Coe is the valley itself, as a glen in Scotland refers to a valley. Glencoe is the name of the village which is found at the foot of the valley.

So I will use Glen Coe for the valley and area and Glencoe when specifically referring to the town in this post. You will see though that many businesses and people use these interchangeably.

Glen Coe and Glen Etive

 

Where is Glen Coe?

Glen Coe is a valley in Scotland which is found in the Highland region of Scotland in the country of Argyll. It’s on the west side of Scotland, with the nearest village being Glencoe.

Glen Coe is around 120 miles from Edinburgh by car (2.5 hours), 90 miles from Glasgow (2 hours), 16 miles from Fort William (30 minutes) and 85 miles from Inverness (2 hours).

 

How to Get To Glen Coe

There are a number of options for getting to Glen Coe.

First, you can drive. From Glasgow, Inverness and Edinburgh it’s between a 2 hour to 2.5 hour drive as mentioned above. Driving will give you the most flexibility in terms of sightseeing and getting around the Glen Coe valley itself.

If you are driving yourself, you can definitely visit Glen Coe as a day trip from Edinburgh, Glasgow or Inverness, although taking more time will obviously let you see and do more in the area!

You can also take public transport to reach Glen Coe. There is a train station in Bridge of Orchy which has direct links to Edinburgh and Glasgow. There is also a train station at Fort William.

You can also get coaches or buses to Fort William. This is most practical from Inverness, as the bus from Inverness to Fort William only takes a couple of hours. You can see train and bus timetables and book tickets online in advance here.

From Fort William, local buses operate to Glencoe village, as well as to a number of stops in Glen Coe valley. You can check public transport times in Scotland on the traveline Scotland website here.

Finally, one of the easiest options for visiting Glen Coe from the major cities in Scotland is to take a tour. Many day tours and multi-day tours include Glen Coe on their itineraries. Obviously this will give you a bit less flexibility than driving yourself, but if don’t have your own vehicle or would prefer to let someone else navigate the highland roads, this will definitely be the easiest option.

Some suggested tours to consider are below. Also see the section on tours to Glen Coe further on in this post for more ideas.

For more tour options, see the section later on in the post.

 

When to Visit Glen Coe

Glen Coe can be visited year round, and we have enjoyed visiting at all different times of the year.

Depending on when you visit there are different things to see and do, and you will have to plan accordingly as well. Here are some things to think about at different times of year.

It’s also worth being aware that the weather in Scotland can be fickle at any time of year, so being prepared for rain and cooler temperatures even in summer is a wise idea.

Glencoe Scotland in Winter

Visiting Glen Coe in Winter

Glen Coe can be absolutely beautiful in winter, with snow capped mountains and beautiful golden winter light. It’s one of my favourite times to visit for photography. If you’re into skiing, then winter is also when the Glencoe ski centre is open.

Of course, winter brings with it its own set of challenges for visiting Glen Coe. The weather can be very poor, daylight hours are more limited and it’s going to be quite cold. So you will want to pack appropriate clothing and be prepared for changeable weather.

 

Visiting Glen Coe in Spring

Visiting Glen Coe in spring brings with it a number of benefits. There are longer hours of daylight, the landscape starts to turn from brown to green, and the wildflowers start to come out.

Spring still offers the change of snow on the mountains, meaning you can get nice contrast in your photos, but it’s likely to be less crowded than in the summer.

 

Visiting Glen Coe in Summer

For the chance of the best weather, you’ll want to visit Glen Coe in summer. Whilst Scotland rarely gets “hot”, a good summers day in Glen Coe will see temperatures in the mid 20s C / 70s F. This makes for pleasant walking, and you’ll have plenty of hours of daylight for sightseeing.

Of course, there are some downsides to visiting in summer. It’s going to be a lot busier and crowded, so expect more traffic on the roads and more challenges finding a parking space if you are driving. Summer is also the time of the dreaded highland midge – a ferocious biting insect that travels in a swarm and can be quite unpleasant. If you’re travelling the highlands in summer, you’re going to want to bring insect repellant!

 

Visiting Glen Coe in Autumn

Scotland in Autumn can be stunning, as the trees turn a wide variety of colours. It’s also usually a quieter time of year for travel, and the light can be stunning for photography.

Whilst much of Glencoe is open moorland without many trees, there are definitely patches of woodland which can make for some nice photography opportunities. In addition, the heather often blooms in early Autumn, creating a riot of purple across the landscape.

 

Camping at Glen Coe

There are a number of campsites where you can pitch a tent or park a motorhome or caravan in the Glen Coe area.

Some options include:

  • Glencoe Mountain Campsite – Right in the heart of Glen Coe, this campsite is next to the ski centre and open year round. There are both tent pitches and caravan / campervan hookups available.
  • Red Squirrel Campsite – found on the river Coe a couple of miles outside Glencoe village this is a quiet campsite offering tent pitches and showers. Motorhomes are accepted but there aren’t any hookups available
  • Invercoe Caravan & Camping Park – on the shores of Loch Leven this campsite offers a range of accommodation options, from tent pitches through to caravan / motorhome sites with hookups. There are also lodges available.

It’s also worth noting that wild camping is allowed in Scotland. The definition of this is quite clear – it’s for tent based camping and is usually defined as camping away from roads and habitation. It doesn’t include motor homes. So if you are hiking into the backcountry, this is definitely an option. You can find out more about wild camping in Scotland on the Scottish Outdoor access code website here.

 

Glen Coe Accommodation

If you’re planning on visiting Glen Coe for longer than a day, then you will need somewhere to stay. There are a range of accommodation options, some in the Glen itself, and some within an easy driving distance. The closest population centres are Glencoe Village and Bridge of Orchy. Fort William is also close to Glen Coe and makes for a good base.

Here are some options we recommend.

  • Glencoe Youth Hostel – found just outside Glencoe village, this well rated hostel offers both shared and private accommodation as well as a kitchen for preparing meals.
  • Clachaig Inn – found in the Glen Coe valley, this well located inn is moments away from a key Harry Potter filming location. There’s a good on-site restaurant and pub, as well as comfortable private rooms.
  • Cruachan Hotel – just minutes walk from the centre of Fort William, this well rated hotel offers a range of private accommodation options as well as an on-site restaurant
  • The Isles of Glencoe Hotel – just outside of Glencoe village on the shores of Loch Leven, this 3* family friendly hotel has a swimming pool and range of private accommodation options. There’s also a restaurant and bar on site.
  • Loch Leven Hotel & Distillery – this family run hotel features a 17th century bar and they brew their own gin on site. Found on the shores of Loch Leven
  • Kingshouse Hotel – Found in the heart of Glen Coe, this recently renovated hotel offers both private rooms as well as a bunkhouse for hikers. There’s also an on-site restaurant and bar.
  • Bridge of Orchy Hotel – with good rail links and a local bus stop, Bridge of Orchy makes for a good base for exploring Glen Coe. This well rated 4* hotel offers a restaurant and bar, as well as a number of lovely en-suite rooms.

Of course, there are many more options in the area. See listings on booking.com for Glencoe here for more ideas of what’s available.

Clachaig Inn Glen Coe

 

Things to do in Glen Coe

Now that you are prepared for your visit to Glen Coe, we wanted to share some of our favourite things to do when you are actually visiting! These are all either in or close to the village of Glencoe, or within the Glen Coe valley itself.

 

Stop at the Visitor Centre

Operated by the National Trust for Scotland, the Glencoe Visitor Centre is a great place to start your visit to Glen Coe. The visitor centre provides a lot of information on Glen Coe as well as nearby Glen Etive.

Here, knowledgeable staff will be able to give you information on walks in the area, what wildlife is around, as well as up to date weather forecasts. They have a large 3D map to assist them with helping you plan your time and get oriented.

There are also a number of interesting exhibits, including a short film on the geological history of the area, and a exhibit that showcases some of the mountaineers who have made the sport so popular in the area. There’s also information on the infamous Glen Coe massacre of over 300 members of Clan MacDonald in 1692.

There are a number of walks that start from the visitor centre itself, which range in difficulty and can be a good option for those of you looking for a hike to do in the area. Sometimes there are also staff-led nature walks happening as well.

There is also a café and gift shop here with all profits being used to help protect and conserve the nature reserve.

There is a small fee to visit and for parking but it is free for National Trust members.

 

Go Hiking

One of the most popular activities in Glen Coe is hiking. It’s not hard to see why – with spectacular landscapes and seemingly endless wilderness to explore, this is a fantastic location for lacing up those hiking boots and hitting the trails.

There are a wide variety of hikes available to suit all levels, from short walks that are under an hour long, to more challenging full day hikes up some of the peaks like Buachaille Etive Mor, from where you can get a lovely view of the surrounding valley as well as Rannoch Moor.

A great resource for finding hiking trails in Glen Coe and Scotland in general is the Walk Highlands website, and you can see some suggested trails in Glen Coe here.

Another option is to take a hike with a local guide who will ensure you remain safe and also take you to some of the best spots. This list of tours has some hiking options that include Glencoe.

 

Practice your Landscape Photography

As a travel photographer, I obviously had to list photography as one of the top things to do in Glen Coe. The landscapes here make for some spectacular photography opportunities, and you could spend days exploring and taking photos in the area.

I also want to say that you absolutely don’t have to be a professional photographer or carry a pile of high end equipment to get great shots at Glen Coe. Of course you will be rewarded if you take the time to do so, but you can also get lovely photos with a smartphone or compact camera too!

There are multiple excellent locations for photography around Glen Coe. Some of my favourites include the view of the Lagangarbh hut, the views of Buachaille Etive Mor and the views of the Three Sisters.

However, there are plentiful locations for photography to discover, including small bodies of water and rivers that can lend an interesting compositional element to your photos.

If you’d like a guided tour of some of the best photography locations, it’s possible to book a private photography tour of Glen Coe like this, which include transport and guide.

Glencoe river

Glen Coe Road and Mountains

 

Look for Wildlife

Glen Coe is a National Nature Reserve, which means it’s been recognised as containing habitats and species of national importance. Wildlife lovers will therefore enjoy the opportunities available in the Glen for spotting wildlife.

Species you might be lucky enough to spot range from the always impressive red deer through to mountain hares, ptarmigans, golden eagles, pine martens, and more! Birders in particular will enjoy what’s on offer and I’d recommend bringing along a pair of binoculars.

The best place to see wildlife is to get away from the road and head off on some of the trails. The staff at the Visitor Centre are good people to ask for trail suggestions during your visit.

Red Deer Stag in Glen Coe

 

Go Cycling and Mountain Biking

Glen Coe is a popular area for downhill mountain biking, but it also has cycle routes that are appropriate for cyclists of all levels. So whether you’re looking to throw yourself down the side of a mountain, or looking for something a bit more dialed back, you should find something to match your preferences.

One of the most popular cycling routes in the Glen Coe area is the Lochleven Circular Route (a 21 mile cycle route that circles Loch Leven). You might also consider biking a section of the The Caledonia Way, which is  a 234-mile long distance cycle route.

If you want more focused mountain biking, then both Glencoe Mountain in Glen Coe itself and nearby Nevis Range offer dedicated downhill mountain biking routes with varying degrees of difficulty.

You can bring your own bike or hire one from a local bicycle rental shop.

 

Visit the Glencoe Folk Museum

If you want to learn more about the people who have called Glen Coe home over the centuries, then you will want to visit the Glencoe Folk Museum in Glencoe village.

Founded in the 1960s, the museum is primarily set in a pair of restored 18th century thatched cottages. It has a wide array of objects in display, from Jacobite relics to classic toys and domestic items, as well as memorabilia from the first and second world wars.

There is also a whole room dedicated to the massacre of Glencoe. This covers the events of the early morning hours of the 13th February 1692, when hundreds of members of the MacDonald clan were killed by government forces under the command of Robert Campbell.

The events were particularly shocking, as the perpetrators had spent the previous fortnight accepting the hospitality of the MacDonald’s. Such a breach of highland hospitality sent shockwaves through the country.

The Glencoe Folk Museum is well worth a visit. There’s a small fee to visit, and you can see prices and opening hours here.

 

Go Skiing at Glencoe Mountain

Yes – you can go skiing in Scotland! There are five ski resorts in Scotland, and one of those just happens to be in Glen Coe. The Glencoe Mountain ski centre is actually the oldest commercial ski resort in Scotland, and has been open since 1956.

Today, there are 20 runs which are serviced by 8 lifts. These range in difficulty from beginner runs to expert runs, and Glencoe boasts both the steepest and longest ski slopes in Scotland. It’s also relatively easy to reach, as there’s a bus stop at the ski centre, as well as a large on-site car park.

In addition to skiing, you can also enjoy snowboarding, sledging, and other winter activities here during the winter months.

There’s even on-site accommodation at micro lodges, although you’ll need to bring your own sleeping bag. If you are visiting Scotland in winter, then you might enjoy coming up to Glen Coe for a day or two of skiing.

If you’re visiting outside the ski season, then Glencoe Mountain is still well worth visiting. Usually the chair lift runs in the summer, and there’s a range of mountain biking, hiking and other outdoor activities available as well.

Finally, skiers planning on coming to this part of the world for skiing might also consider including the Glen Nevis resort. This is near Fort William, so only 30 minutes away, and combining the two resorts will give you some variety if you plan to spend a few days in the area.

Glencoe Ski Centre Lifts

 

Find Film and TV Locations

The dramatic landscapes of Glen Coe mean that it has had a starring role in a range of films and TV shows. These have included the films Highlander and Rob Roy and the opening credits sequence of the television show Outlander.

Glen Coe is however perhaps best known for two film franchises – Harry Potter and James Bond.

In James Bond’s Skyfall movie, the titular characters family home is found down the road which leads from Glen Coe to Glen Etive. This road is well worth driving as it is absolutely beautiful, although you’ll want to read my guide to driving on single track roads if you’re not familiar with them.

Another popular film series that extensively filmed in Glen Coe was of course the Harry Potter series. Multiple scenes were filmed in Glen Coe, including the location of Hagrid’s Hut in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

For more details on Harry Potter filming location in Glen Coe as well as elsewhere in Scotland, see our guide to Harry Potter filming locations in Scotland.

If you’re interested in a tour, there are themed tours available for various TV and film locations which include Glencoe, such as this tour of Outlander filming locations from Edinburgh or this tour from Edinburgh of Harry Potter filming locations.

Hagrid's Hut Filming Location in Glen Coe
Hagrid’s Hut Filming Location in Glen Coe

 

Go Ice Climbing

If you’ve ever wanted to try ice climbing, but weren’t quite sure how, then you are in luck! Just near Glen Coe in Lochaber (7 miles from Glencoe village) is Ice Factor, the National Ice Climbing Centre.

The good news is that you don’t need to visit in winter or have any previous climbing experience to have a go at ice climbing at Ice Factor. They have an indoor ice climbing wall, which is the largest in the world, where you can learn how to ice climb up to a height of 12 metres!

There’s more than just ice climbing on offer here though. There are indoor rock climbing walls which are a great place to practice your rock climbing skills, and there’s also an outdoor 250 metre long aerial adventure. The latter is ten metres high, and whilst I am proud to say I completed it, I must admit to being quite nervous about the whole thing!

I can definitely recommend the ice climbing experience, I had a lot of fun learning how to climb the ice even if I didn’t quite make it the full 12 metres up!

Ice Factor Glen Coe Scotland

 

Visit Local Historical Sites

There are a number of local historical sites in Glen Coe that will be of interest to those looking to get a feel for the history of area.

The first of these is Signal Rock. Also known as the hill of the sun, this hill is believed to have been used as the gathering place for Clan MacDonald in times of emergency. Beacons would have been lit atop the hill, hence the name.

Signal Rock can be reached via a relatively easy walk of around 1.5 miles round trip, which shouldn’t take more than 60-90 minutes for the averagely fit hiker. You can see a route map here.

Another site you can visit and pay your respects is the Glencoe Massacre Memorial. This commemorates the members of Clan MacDonald who lost their lives in the Glencoe Massacre. This is found a short walk from the Glencoe Folk Museum in Glencoe village. You can see the exact location on Google maps here.

On your way to the Glencoe Massacre memorial you’ll also find the Glencoe War Memorial, which commemorates the residents of Glencoe who were killed or listed as missing in the two World Wars.

To learn more about the the history of the area and get advice on more historical attractions to visit in the area, we recommend visiting both the Glencoe Visitor Centre and the Glencoe Folk Museum mentioned earlier in the article. If you will be visiting Fort William, you might also want to stop at the West Highland Museum.

 

Waterfall Spotting

If you love waterfalls, there are quite a few nice to discover in Glen Coe. These are generally not huge, but they are certainly very picturesque. Some can be seen from the road, like the Meeting of Three Waters near the base of the Three Sisters.

Others you can discover with a bit of hike. One of my favourites is the waterfall with a backdrop of Buachaille Etive Mor. This is found here on Google Maps.

There are also larger waterfalls in the nearby area which aren’t in Glen Coe itself. Grey Mare’s Tail and Steall Falls are two large waterfalls that each require around a 90 minute round-trip hike to reach, but they are well worth the effort in my opinion.

Waterfall in Glencoe at sunset

 

Play a Round of Golf

Whilst not strictly in Glen Coe itself, I wanted to include Woodlands Golf Course in my guide to visiting Glen Coe as it’s so scenic.

Offering nine holes in Glenachulish, which is around 4 miles west of Glencoe Village, this is definitely one of the more picturesque golf courses in Scotland.

There’s a fee for visiting, with your ticket allowing you play as many rounds in one day as you like. You can book your visit online here.

 

Go Canoeing or Kayaking on Loch Leven

The River Coe which flows through Glen Coe pours out into Loch Leven at Glencoe village. This sea loch is almost nine miles in length, and there are a number of islands within the Loch, one of which is the burial place of the MacDonald clan.

If you’re interested in exploring the Loch, a great option is to take a kayaking trip with a company like this, which will let you experience the Loch from the water.

 

Attractions Near Glen Coe

If you have more time in the area, you might also want to explore nearby areas such as the town of Fort William, the Ben Nevis nature area, and Loch Lomond National Park. Here are some suggested sights you might consider visiting.

  • Ben Nevis Distillery – found at the base of Ben Nevis, this whisky distillery produces single malt whisky. The distillery is usually open for tours, you can see more on the website.
  • Lochaber Geopark – covering a large area around Fort William which also includes Glen Coe, the Lochaber Geopark is one of three geoparks in Scotland. It signifies this is an area with outstanding geological heritage. Visitors can enjoy taking one of 6 geotrails, and there’s a visitor centre where you can learn about the park in Fort William.
  • Glen Nevis/Ben Nevis – if you’re looking for a good hiking challenge, then consider tackling Ben Nevis. At 1,345m / 4,413ft this is the highest mountain in the UK, and it’s a popular day hike as well as destination for climbers and ice climbers.
  • Fort William is the nearest town of any size and the local transport hub. The town is known as the Outdoor Capital of the Highlands, and there are also lots of outdoor gear and services available here. It is also home to a couple museums, including the West Highland Museum.
  • From Fort William you can take a scenic ride on an old steam train – the Jacobite Express. This was made particularly famous thanks to it playing a starring role as the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter films.
  • The Jacobite Steam train is well known for crossing the impressive Glenfinnan viaduct, which was also a scene in the Harry Potter movies. This viaduct is about 20 minutes drive from Fort William.
  • If you’d like to visit a castle ruin, then the nearest to Glen Coe is Inverlochy Castle. Just near this is the Inverlochy Castle hotel, one of our favourite five star castle hotels in Scotland.
  • To the south of Glencoe you will find the Loch Lomond National Park. Here there’s a huge amount to see and do, and you could easily create an itinerary for Scotland that included these locations. See our guide to things to do in Loch Lomond for some inspiration

Glenfinnan Viaduct Scotland Harry Potter Train

 

Tours of Glen Coe

One good option for experiencing Glen Coe is to take a tour which includes a stop here. There are a range of tour operators offering tours which include a stop at Glen Coe, with departures from locations around Scotland.

It’s definitely important when booking a tour to check what it actually includes. For example, some tours will only include a couple of photos stops in the Glen, whilst others will be a more comprehensive experience. So do pick a tour that is right for what you want to experience. Here are some suggested tours which include both day trips to Glen Coe and also some multi-day tours which stop in Glen Coe.

As you can see, there are lots of options to choose from, with both day trips to Glen Coe and multi-day tours available.

Tour Glen Coe Rabbies

 

Further Reading

That’s it for our guide to visiting Glen Coe in Scotland! To help you further plan your trip to Glen Coe and Scotland in general, we have a number of other posts which we think you will find helpful or inspirational.

  • I previously had published a photo essay on Glen Coe which has more Glen Coe photos from this lovely location
  • We have a guide to Outlander filming locations in Scotland, as well as Harry Potter filming locations in Scotland. Both used Glen Coe as a backdrop of course!
  • If you’re thinking of skiing in Glen Coe, see our complete guide to skiing in Scotland for all the information you need
  • We have a guide to Loch Ness as well as some of our other favourite day trips from Inverness for some inspiration. We also have some detailed guides to other attractions near Inverness, including a guide to the Black Isle and tips on visiting the Cairngorms 
  • We’ve got an itinerary for visiting Skye and the Highlands
  • If you’re driving in the UK for the first time, check out my tips for driving in the UK for some advice. We also have a guide to how much it costs to travel in the UK.
  • For road trip inspiration, check out our detailed guide to the North Coast 500 and North Coast 500 Accommodation Guide, as well as my photography highlights on the North Coast 500 for some inspiration for your trip. If you’d like an itinerary for the North Coast 500, check out our detailed 7 Day North Coast 500 camping itinerary.
  • For Edinburgh, check out our 2 day Edinburgh itinerary, our guide to things to do in Edinburgh, and our guide to the best day trips from Edinburgh to get you started. We also have a guide to getting from London to Edinburgh.
  • For Glasgow, see our Glasgow and Loch Lomond itinerary, our guide to the best day trips from Glasgow, and our guide to things to do in Glasgow
  • For Aberdeen, we have a guide to things to do in Aberdeen, our favourite restaurants in Aberdeen, a suggested 2 day Aberdeen itinerary and a guide to the best day trips from Aberdeen.
  • We have a guide to all our favourite whisky distilleries in Scotland, which also has lots of information on how whisky is made, the different Scottish whisky regions, and more.
  • If you’d like a guidebook for your time visiting Scotland, we recommend the Rick Steves’ Scotland guide

And that’s it for our guide to visiting Glen Coe in Scotland! Thanks for reading. As always, we’re open to your feedback and any questions you might have on this or any of our other posts. Pop them in the comments section below, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

A detailed guide to visiting Glen Coe in Scotland. Guide to things to do in Glen Coe, where to stay in Glen Coe and lots more!



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How to Practice Travel Photography From Home

How to Practice Travel Photography From Home


As a full time professional travel photographer and travel blogger, I think it’s fair to say that I love both travel and photography. However, obviously we can’t travel all the time. With this in mind, today I wanted to share some tips on how to practice travel photography without traveling.

It’s very easy to fall into the habit of only using our cameras for specific occasions, like capturing events or when we go on vacation. However, doing so means that we get out of the photography habit, and our skills can get a bit rusty.

Like any skill, photography takes time and effort to master, and regular practice helps us improve. Only using our cameras when on a trip or at a special event means we are more likely to forget key photography concepts and let our skills decline. You don’t want to miss that perfect vacation moment because you can’t remember how to set your camera up quickly when it happens!

In this post, I’m going to go through a number of tips and options you have for improving your photography when not traveling. These are all things that I have personally found useful for keeping my photography skills relevant and up to date, even when I’m not actively traveling and taking photos. I hope you find them useful too!

Tips for Practicing Travel Photography Without Traveling

This series of ideas should give you plenty of options for improving your photography skills at home without having to travel anywhere. You should be able to do all of these things from home, in your backyard, or locally.

You can use as many or as few of these ideas as you like to up your photography game and start learning how to take better photos right from your own home.

These tips are also designed to work across all kinds of cameras. So whether you prefer to use a smartphone, a compact camera, a bridge camera, a mirrorless camera or a DSLR camera, you should find plenty of ideas to get you started.

Robin

 

Practice Portrait Photography with Family and Friends

For many people, the main reason they take photos is to record moments with friends and family. This might be while traveling, at a special event, or just when having fun at home. Recording events that have meaning to us is one of the main reasons we take pictures.

Taking portraits of people is an important photography skill that will serve you well in a variety of situations. This includes when on vacation so you can get photos of friends and family you are travelling with. It will also let you get great photos when you are at home and you want to capture important moments.

The good news is that you don’t have to go anywhere to practice portrait photography. You can do it at home! All you need is a willing subject to practice on. My advice is to get used to how different lighting affects the image, to play with different settings that allow you adjust the depth of field of the image, and to try different angles and compositions to see what works well.

Jess portrait
Portrait photography at home with my lovely wife Jessica

 

Practice Wildlife Photography with Pets, Birds and Other Wildlife

If you have pets, the chances are you’d like to take great photos of them. Pet photography can be great practice for wildlife photography in general, which is a useful skill to learn for travel as well. Who knows what fun and interesting critters you might encounter on your travels that you’ll want to photograph?

As well as practicing on your pets, you can also use other animals in your neighbourhood to hone your skills. Birds or other animals like squirrels can provide interesting backyard subject matter that will let you hone your wildlife photography skills.

Techniques to focus on include getting the composition right, tracking the focus on potentially fast moving subjects, and learning how to be patient around animals so you get the results you want.

Cat Turkey
“Wildlife” photography with a cat

 

Take an Online Photography Course

One of the best ways to improve your photography is to take a dedicated course. A good photography course will teach you all the skills you need to improve your photography, from the basics of how a camera works, through to composition, light, and of course – how to use photo editing software properly!

Some courses may also cover more advanced photography topics, such as long exposure photography, or astrophotography, and they may includes guides to photography with specific cameras like action cameras, smartphones, or drones.

Depending on your preferences, there are a range of different courses on the market. Some provide the information via video, whilst others are primarily written. Courses may also come with bonus features, like feedback on your images and access to course exclusive membership forums or Facebook groups.

Since 2016, I’ve been running an online photography course of my own, and I’ve helped over 2,000 students improve their photography to date. The course is primarily written content with some video tutorials, and covers all the topics I mentioned above.

You also get feedback from me as you progress, access to webinars, interviews and videos, as well as exclusive membership of a Facebook group where you can get feedback on your work and take part in regular challenges. You take the course and improve your photography from home, no travel required, and it will help you improve your images no matter what kind of camera you have.

My course is available for an amazing one-off price for lifetime access, and I think you should check it out. Which you can do by clicking here.

Travel Photography Course

 

Practice Low Light Photography Indoors

One of the more challenging scenarios for photography is when there is limited light available. Most cameras struggle to produce great images when there’s less light available, such as at night or indoors when dining at a restaurant.

Learning how to take good photos even in low light situations, and to the specific limitations of your camera, are essential photography skills. Low light photography is really easy to practice at home, all you need is a subject and a low light situation. Try taking the sort of pictures you might like to take when on a trip, such as photos of your food, people, a piece of furniture, or a room in your house.

Things to master include knowing how to use your camera flash (and how to disable your camera flash!), as well as how to increase your ISO to compensate for the darker environments.

Check out my guide to the exposure triangle in photography for more on how to set your camera up for different scenarios, as well as my article of indoor photography tips for more ideas.

 

Check Out Your Camera’s User Manual

I can almost feel your eyes glazing over as you read this tip. I appreciate that most of us find the manuals for electronics somewhat dry, and camera manuals are no exception.

However, every camera is slightly different, and the best way to start mastering all the features of your camera is to learn what they are and how to access them. Most camera manuals are very detailed and will walk you through everything you need to know to get the most from your particular camera model.

I can almost guarantee you that if you haven’t read your camera’s user manual before, there is probably some new setting, shortcut, tip, or feature that you will discover.

If you’ve lost or mislaid your camera manual, you can normally download an electronic copy from the manufacturer’s website.

 

Understand How Your Camera Works

A camera is simply a tool that allows a photographer to take a picture. If you can understand how your camera does that at a high level, then you will be well on the way to taking better photos.

Cameras offer a range of different features and settings, but at their heart there are a lot of similarities between different types of camera. Understanding the basics of how your camera works will help you ensure you are able to make the most of it in a range of situations.

Whilst every camera is slightly different, the basics remain the same, especially across different classes of camera such as DSLR camera or mirrorless cameras. To help you out, I’ve put together a guide to how to use a DSLR camera, a guide to how to use a mirrorless camera, and a guide to how to use a point and shoot camera.

These should help you understand exactly how to get the most out of your camera model.

Exposure compensation button
Learning the different features of your camera

 

Learn How to Edit Photos

Editing photos is a key skill in photography. This was the case in the days of film, and is still the case in our digital world.

Thankfully, editing digital files is a lot easier than editing film. For starters, you don’t need a dark room or an array of foul-smelling chemicals. All you need is some software and a bit of time.

Every digital image is edited at some point between the shutter button being pressed and a usable JPG file being created. If you shoot in JPG, the camera applies a variety of edits to your image when it saves it to your memory card, including sharpness, contrast, and saturation edits.

If you shoot in RAW, you will have to use photo editing software to turn your RAW files into usable images.

Editing your photos gives you a lot more creative control over your final image. Editing lets you do basic things like cropping and straightening a horizon, through to more complex tasks like removing objects or replacing the sky in an image.

Photo editing is a valuable photography skill that doesn’t require you to travel anywhere to learn it. You can practice on your existing library of images, and I think it’s the perfect photography skill to learn from home.

When using photo editing software on a computer we recommend either Adobe Lightroom or Skylum Luminar. The former requires a monthly subscription, the latter is available for a one-off fee. You can also save €10 / $10 on Luminar with the discount code “travelcats”.

For more options, including mobile options, see our guide to the best photo editing software and apps.

Luminar AI
A view of a photo being editing in Luminar

 

Get to Grips with a Travel Tripod

In my opinion, a tripod is an essential bit of kit for any photographer. You can see my reasons for why you need a travel tripod here. In summary though, the main reasons to use a tripod are that they open up more photography options, allow you to shoot in low light, and let you avoid blurry images. They’re also handy for getting better self portraits and group shots!

The good news is that you don’t need a huge bulky tripod to get better photos. Instead you can use one of our recommended travel tripods.

These are lightweight, designed to fold up small, and are easy to pack and carry. They range in size from the mini tabletop tripods to more full-size travel tripods, so you can get the size of tripod that works for your travel style. Travel tripods are also available in a wide range of prices for just about any budget, from about $30 through to over $500.

Like any tool, to get the most out of it you’ll want to be familiar with it. That means knowing how to set it up quickly, how to attach your camera to it, and how to adjust it to get the shot you want. You can easily practice with your tripod at home, even if you don’t actually take any photos!

Lightbox
Practicing product photography with a small tripod

 

Master Depth of Field

Depth of field is a key compositional skill for photographers. Adjusting the depth of field allows you to control how much of the image is sharply in focus, and how much is out of focus. Really out of focus areas of an image create nice patterns, which are referred to as bokeh in photography.

Depth of field can be adjusted by changing the aperture on your camera, and a shallow depth of field where less of the image is sharply in focus is often favoured for wildlife and portrait images. However, you can practice adjusting depth of field with any subject. It can also often be simulated on a smartphone by using the “portrait” mode.

For more on this topic, see my detailed guide to depth of field in photography.

what is depth of field
An example of depth of field in a back garden

 

Understand the Exposure Triangle

One of the most important concepts to master when learning photography is the concept of the exposure triangle. This concept helps explain how your camera actually captures the image, and describes the three main controls you have for adjusting how bright or dark the image is.

This brightness or darkness is referred to as the exposure, and as there are three main controls for adjusting the brightness, it’s described as a triangle.

The controls you can change on most cameras and some smartphones are ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. Changing each of these also affects how the final image looks beyond brightness, with different settings changing motion, depth of field and noise in the image.

This is an important topic, and one that can take a bit of time to get to grips with. I recommend starting with my guide to the exposure triangle in photography.

EXPOSURE TRIANGLE

 

Take Photos of Motion

A common photography subject when traveling, or even at home, is photos of subjects in motion. These subjects could be people or animals, like running children or pets, or things like vehicles or moving water.

Subjects in motion pose unique challenges for the photography. First, there’s the question of focusing on a moving subject, so mastering your camera’s focus capabilities and learning how to track a moving subject is important.

Next there’s the issue of motion blur. If an object is moving, it can appear blurred in images. This might be a desired effect, for something like car headlights at night, or it might be something you are trying to avoid, such as with a portrait of a person or a picture of a bird.

Either way, you control motion in your images by learning how to master your camera’s shutter speed. So my tips for motion in photography are learning how to control shutter speed, and the effect it has on your images, as well as how to set up your autofocus to track moving subjects. Good subjects to practice on are children, pets, or backyard wildlife like birds and squirrels.

hummingbirds
Hummingbirds in flight at a feeder

 

Practice Macro Photography

Macro photography is another fun photography technique that you can learn at home. Macro photography is where you take an image of something in extreme close-up and make it larger than life size.

Macro photography is commonly used for photographing very small subjects, and is often associated with image of small insects. However, macro photography can feature any subject shot in close up.

To get a true macro photography you need a lens that supports a 1:1 magnification, known as a macro lens. What this means is that the size of the subject in real life is the same size as it appears on your camera’s sensor. Macro lenses are available for all types of camera, including clip on version for many smartphones.

Practicing macro photography at home just requires you to have the right kind of lens and some subjects to photograph. Lots of subjects can work, from jewellery to insects to flowers! Just look for something that is small and intricate for the best results.

_by_Laurence Norah
A macro shot of a dandelion head

 

Learn Food Photography

One thing many of us love to do when we’re on vacation, or even out at a local restaurant, is to take photos of our food.

If you’ve done this yourself, you might have noticed that food photography is quite hard. Many restaurants are poorly lit for photography, and getting great food photos (or any photo for that matter) in dim lighting conditions can be a challenge.

You can practice your food photography skills at home, which can help you learn how to overcome some of these limitation. All you need is a plate of food to work with. My tips are to learn how to use the available light, and how to set your camera up to get the best results. You can also practice arranging a nice looking table setting, and explore how different angles can make a plate look good.

 

Learn Key Composition Techniques

Composition is one of the most important photography techniques to learn. Composition is all about how the different elements in your shot work together to create a cohesive and attractive image. The end goal should be that your subject, or subjects, are clearly defined and obvious to the viewer as the main focal point of the image.

Other elements in the shot should compliment and enhance the subject, and not detract or confuse the viewer.

There are a number of common compositional techniques you can use to achieve this, which are often referred to as the rules of composition. They are more like guidelines though, as you don’t have to rigidly follow them in order to take a great image.

Popular composition techniques that you can practice in your own photos at home include the rule of thirds, leading lines, use of color, spacing and separation, and symmetry. Check out my guide to composition in photography for lots of tips and ideas on these and other composition techniques.

 

Take Advantage of Sunsets and Sunrises

It can be hard to stay motivated to use your camera while at home, but setting specific times to go out and shoot during the week can be a great idea. Two of the best times of the day to head outside for photos is around sunrise and sunset.  The light around these times, which photographers refer to as the golden hour, is often warm and ideal for photography.

So if you are able to be outside during these times and have decent weather, you should have some nice light to use to practice your photography. If you are a morning person, you can take advantage of sunrise and if not, sunset is probably your best bet!

Sunset
Sunset view from a hill behind our house

 

Practice Selfies

When we travel, it’s nice to get photos of ourselves in the places we visit. Often, folks like to just hold up their phone camera and take a shot of themselves, but this doesn’t always result in the most flattering or well composed self portrait.

Practicing your selfie skills will ensure you get the best photos of yourself and those you are travelling with. And, like all the other tips in this guide, this is a photography skill you can learn at home.

We prefer to use a tripod where possible to get photos of ourselves together, as we find the results tend to be better. However, it’s not always feasible to setup a tripod, so we also travel with a selfie-stick for our phone. These allow you to get a better angle and composition on your shot, and not be limited by the length of your arm!

We have a detailed guide to how to get great photos of yourself. You can definitely practice these tips before heading out on a trip!

how to take better pictures of yourself
“Selfie” on a solo hike, taken from my tripod

 

Join a Local Photo Club

In addition to taking an online photography course, joining a local photo club or camera club is a great way to keep motivated to use your camera when you are at home. Photography clubs can vary widely in how they are set up and what they offer.

Some offer weekly lectures of photography topics and regular photo meetups for members. Other may be more loosely organized and allow members to arrange meetups and events as they wish.

These can not only be a great way to learn some new camera skills and stay motivated to use your camera, but it is also a great way to learn some new local photo spots and meet some fellow photography lovers.

 

Explore Fun Photo Effects and Techniques

Another idea when looking to improve your photography skills at home is to try something completely new and different. Don’t be afraid to let your mind go wild with stuff to try. You can take photos of all kinds of fun stuff around your home!

Try photographing soap bubbles in your sink, doing “fake” travel photos at home, trying out some wacky editing techniques, playing with reflections, sun rays, lens flares, light trails, throwing liquid into the air and letting it freeze, light painting… the list goes on!

Being home is a time when you can really push your creative limits and try new things. Some of these things will look good, some most certainly won’t, but you’ll likely have a fun time and get some good photos from it! If you have kids, it can be fun to get them involved too.

If you’re looking for ideas, Instagram, YouTube, or Pinterest can be great sources of inspiration for some new home photography ideas! You can also look into fun photography aids like a lensball or prism, as well as props or 360 cameras, for more fun!

Science252520Festival252520Edinburgh252520Light252520Workshop_by_Laurence252520Norah-825255B325255D
Fun with light painting!

 

Research Travel Photography Equipment

Probably one of the most popular questions we get from readers is what kind of camera they should upgrade to in order to take better photos.

Camera equipment certainly can make a difference to your images and what you can achieve. However, your skill as a photographer and your knowledge about how to properly use the equipment you have is definitely the most important factor when it comes to getting great shots.

That said, understanding why you might need a more expensive camera, or the difference between a smartphone and a DSLR, is definitely helpful. Most photographers, as they progress through their learning journey, find themselves limited by their gear and needing an upgrade at some point.

This might be in order to get better photos in low light, to capture better shots of fast moving subjects, or to shoot in specific scenarios such as underwater.

The main thing when deciding on an upgrade is knowing what the problem is that you are trying to resolve, and being able to pick a camera that will resolve that problem and enable you to get the photos you want.

To help you with that decision, we have put together some details guide to the best cameras on the market today across a range of camera types. They also go into detail as to what to look for any why, so you are able to make a fully informed decision.

To get you started we have a detailed general guide to the best travel camera. We also have detailed specific guides to the best compact camera, best bridge camera, best action camera, best mirrorless camera and best DSLR camera.

Where to buy Used cameras

 

Test Lenses at Home with Rental Services

If you have a camera where you can change the lens, such as a mirrorless or DSLR camera, then you might already realise that the lens you choose to use makes a huge difference to the images you are able to take.

You might want to capture a whole landscape with a wide-angle lens, shoot great portraits with a wide-aperture prime lens, or shoot wildlife and distant objects with a telephoto lens. You might also just prefer more of a “walk-around” lens, which will let you do most things without having to carry a bag of lenses around with you.

Regardless, as you start to investigate lenses you will quickly come to the realization that lenses are expensive, and picking up a lens for every situation might not be feasible on your budget.

Instead, you’ll want to pick the best lens or lenses for your preferred photography style. To help you decide, a great option is to rent a few lenses at home, try them out, and decide which work for you. Then you can make the appropriate investment.

There are a variety of services you can use for lens rental. We recommend Lens Rentals who have a huge selection of lenses across a range of manufacturers. Their shipping includes the cost of shipping the lens to you and the return shipping. Even better, they have a program where if you like the product you can buy it directly from them.

If you’re in the market for a new lens and wondering what to look for, check out our guide to the best camera lenses for travel which should give you some great options to get started!

 

Learn How to Use Your Camera’s Focus Tools

In the majority of photos you take, your goal will be to have your subject sharply in focus. Most cameras and smartphone cameras offer a variety of focus modes, depending on the situation.

These will vary from a standard focus which will just focus on a point, through to continuous and tracking focus systems. These latter options can be used to track a moving subject and allow you to capture sharp images even if your subject moves between shots.

There are also a number of even more advanced focus tracking systems which can automatically identify common focal points such as the eyes of people or animals in your shots. These can make getting sharply in focus shots even easier.

Whatever your camera system and the focus modes it offers, the main thing is to understand exactly what the options you have are. You don’t want to miss focus on an important shot because you had the camera in the wrong focus mode!

Focus Mode

 

Get a Photo Guide to your Next Travel Destination

If you are planning a future trip to somewhere that you are particularly excited to photograph, you might consider getting a photo guide to that location. You can find photography guides to most of the world’s most popular photography locations, both as published books and as online articles and blogs.

For example you can pick up photo guidebooks to locations like Yosemite National Park, Zion National Park, and Iceland. You can find travel blog posts such as my own guides, which include photography locations in London, photography locations in Paris, and many more.

These can not only provide you with tips and locations for taking photos at these locations, but they can keep you excited about travel photography in between trips.

 

Set up a Photography Portfolio

An important skill to develop as a photographer is the art of self-curation. When you go on vacation, the chances are that you will take hundreds of photos. However, the reality is that even close friends and family might not want to see every image you’ve taken.

Learning how to filter your images and only share the best ones is a key skill. One way to hone this skill is to set up an online portfolio website of your work. This will force you to evaluate your photos and pick out those that really represent your work.

There are a variety of websites where you can setup an online photography portfolio. These range from fully featured paid options specifically designed for this purpose, through to setting up a nice looking dedicated profile on a social media site like Instagram. Depending on your requirements, there are quite a few options to choose from. You can use some of the more simple ones for free to house photos to show friends and family or if you can pay for a more professional website that comes with a range of theme or portfolio options.

Some of the photography portfolio websites which will also let you sell your photos online as well. If that’s an option you’d like to explore, I recommend checking out SmugMug, where you can build a great looking portfolio website and also sell your images.

I have a full review of SmugMug here, and you can also save 15% if you sign up with this link. I also have a round up other photography portfolio websites here.

Smugmug screenshot Laurence profile

 

Learn Astrophotography

There are many photography techniques that you can learn at home, which will improve your photography skills and increase the types of photography you’ll be able to do when you travel.

One fun photography subject you might want to learn to take pictures of is the night sky. Learning how to photograph things like the moon and the stars will require you to master a number of different photography techniques. It will also require you to understand more of the features of your camera.

Plus, you might get some lovely images of the night sky as a bonus! All you need to learn astrophotography are clear skies and minimal light pollution. If you live in a city, you may need to go outside of it to be able to do star photography. Full moons, however, are generally visible even in the middle of a big city at night.

I have a guide to taking pictures of stars, as well as how to take pictures of the northern lights, which are a great starting point.

Star Trails
A star trails image

 

Further Reading

I hope this guide has given you lots of idea for improving your photography from home. I also wanted to share some more photography content we’ve written which will hopefully also help you take better photos

  • We have a guide to how to use a compact camera, how to use a DSLR camera, and how to use a mirrorless camera. We also have a guide to how a DSLR works
  • Knowing how to compose a great photo is a key photography skill. See our guide to composition in photography for lots of tips on this subject
  • We have a guide to what depth of field is and when you would want to use it.
  • We are big fans of getting the most out of your digital photo files, and do to that you will need to shoot in RAW. See our guide to RAW in photography to understand what RAW is, and why you should switch to RAW as soon as you can if your camera supports it.
  • We have a guide to the best photo editing applications which includes both paid and free options
  • You’re going to need something to run your photo editing software on. See our guide to the best laptops for photo editing for some tips on what to look for.
  • Color accuracy is important for photography – see our guide to monitor calibration to ensure your screen is set up correctly.
  • If you’re looking for a great gift for a photography loving friend or family member (or yourself!), take a look at our photography gift guide,
  • If you’re in the market for a new camera, we have a detailed guide to the best travel cameras, as well as specific guides for the best cameras for hiking and backpacking, the best compact camera, best bridge camera, best mirrorless camera and best DSLR camera. We also have a guide to the best camera lenses.
  • If you want a camera or lens, but the prices are a bit high, see our guide to where to buy used cameras and camera gear for some budget savings options.
  • We have a guide to why you need a tripod, a guide to choosing a travel tripod, and a round-up of our favourite travel tripods
  • If you’re looking for more advice on specific tips for different scenarios, we also have you covered. See our guides to Northern Lights photography, long exposure photography, fireworks photography, tips for taking photos of stars, taking photos in snow, and cold weather photography.
  • Finally, if you want to take your photography to the next level, check out my online photography course!

And that’s it! As always we’re always open to hearing your feedback and answering your questions. Just pop them in the comments below and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can!

Looking to improve your photography? This guide has loads of practical tips and ideas for practicing your travel photography from home!



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20+ Things to do in Dallas Texas – Plus Tips for your Visit!

20+ Things to do in Dallas Texas – Plus Tips for your Visit!


Are you looking for the best things to do in Dallas Texas? You’re in the right place! We’ve thoroughly explored the city to find all the best attractions, and we’re going to share them with you in this post.

As you’ll discover, there’s a lot to do in Dallas. You can learn about fine art, explore the set of one of the world’s most famous ’80s TV shows, discover amazing science museums, enjoy great food, and learn more about the tragic assassination of President Kennedy.

Beyond the attractions, we’ll also share everything else you need to plan your visit to Dallas, Texas. We’ll include tips on getting around, where to stay and how to save money on your visit.

20+ Things to Do in Dallas Texas

This guide covers some of our favourite attractions in Dallas. As you’ll discover, there’s something for everyone, whether you are visiting Dallas with family, as a couple or on your own.

When planning your trip, always check opening times and prices in advance as these can change. We’ve included links to all the relevant websites to make this easier for you.

 

Dallas Museum of Art

We’ll start our tour of things to do in Dallas with a visit to the Dallas Museum of Art. This is found in the Art District of downtown Dallas, and it’s one of the largest art museums in the USA.

The museum is home to a collection of over 24,000 objects which date from 3,000BC to the present day. The collection includes art from artists all around the world, and includes many masterpieces. So whether you are into European masters like Monet or Van Gogh, ancient America Art, or 2nd century Gandharan Buddhist art, we’re fairly sure you’ll find something to enjoy.

The Dallas Museum of Art is free to visit, although special exhibitions do charge an entry fee. You can see more about opening times and ticket prices here.

Speaking of art, if you love public art Dallas is an excellent city to explore. In addition to the art on feature in this museum and other museums and galleries in the city, you’ll find hundreds of sculptures, street murals, mosaics, art installations, paintings, memorials, and other pieces of art spread out throughout the city.

A few we’ll highlight in this guide, but a lot of public funding and donations have contributed to a large amount of art finding its way to this city, many of it free to see. You can se a full list of the current public art in the city here.

Dallas Museum of Art

 

Perot Museum of Nature and Science

If you’re visiting Dallas with family, or just people who love interactive science focused museums, then make sure to include the Perot Museum of Nature and Science on your to-do list. The museum was funded in part by donations from the family of Ross Perot and was named in their honor.

Note there are two Perot Museum campuses in different parts of the city. The main one I’m referring to in this Dallas guide is the Victory Park campus which opened in downtown Dallas in 2012. The other campus is found in Fair Park.

The massive Perot Museum at Victory park is a natural history and science museum which spreads out across five floor. It’s home to 11 permanent exhibitions. These cover everything from local ecosystems, to interactive exhibits where you can “race” local sporting legends, to the full evolution of life on Earth over four billion years.

If you’ve ever wanted to see a 60lb gold nugget, experience the Big Bang or travel through a shale gas well, this is the museum for you. We had a lot of fun visiting here and can highly recommend it.

The Perot Museum of Nature and Science has an entry fee, with some discounts available. You can see opening hours and prices on the official website. We visited using our Dallas CityPASS, which includes this location as well as a number of others. Note that a ticket to the Victory Park campus also gets you in to the Fair Park campus museum which is much smaller.

Perot Museum of Nature and Science Dallas

Perot Museum of Nature and Science Dallas

 

Sixth Floor Museum

Dallas is commonly known as the location where President John F. Kennedy was tragically assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald on the 22nd November 1963. The shooting took place from the sixth floor of a Texas School Book Depository window, as the presidential motorcade drove through Dealey Plaza.

Today, people associate Dallas with lots of things, but from 1963 to the early 1980s many Americans’ main association with Dallas was “that city where Kennedy got shot”. This would only change in the early 1980s where it would become “the city where J.R. Ewing got shot”! More on that later.

Today, the sixth floor of the building has been turned into a museum which has a recreation of the area where Oswald fired from. This museum, known as the Sixth Floor Museum, also covers the life, death and legacy of President Kennedy, with films, photographs, artifacts and interactive displays.

There’s also a nod to the many conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination, although if these are of interest you would probably prefer to take a tour that has more of a focus on these, like this one.

We found the museum very interesting, and highly recommend it if you’re visiting Dallas. There’s an entry fee, and you can see more about prices and opening hours on the official website here.

We visited using our Dallas CityPASS, which includes this location as well as a number of others. It’s also included on this full day small group tour of Dallas, as well as this tour which focuses on the JFK assassination.

Sixth Floor Museum Dallas

Sixth Floor Museum Dallas

 

Dealey Plaza

Found in the West End district of downtown Dallas, Dealey Plaza is a city park which is often known as the birthplace of Dallas. It was here that the first home was built in Dallas in the mid-19th century, which later became the first courthouse and post office.

Dealey Plaza is also known as the location where President John F. Kenney was assassinated as his motorcade passed through here. The area is now a National Historic Landmark District, which is why the buildings here are older and in sharp contrast to the more modern office buildings nearby.

There’s a plaque commemorating the assassination in the plaza, and there are two white “X” markings on Elm Street which mark the two locations where President Kennedy was shot. There’s also a memorial plaza, which I will cover in the next entry.

There are also a number of fountains and reflecting pools, historic buildings, statues as well as two pergolas in Dealey Plaza.

Dealey Plaza is free to visit and open year round. Be aware that Elm Street is an active road, so please take care when visiting this area. We saw several tourists almost get hit by cars trying to take pictures in the middle of the road!

Dealey Plaza

JFK Assassination white cross Dallas

 

Kennedy Memorial and Plaza

Found within Dealey Plaza, The Kennedy Memorial and Plaza is a massive concrete memorial that was erected in memory of President John F Kennedy. Erected in 1970 and designed by architect Philip Johnson, the memorial serves as a cenotaph, or empty tomb, meant to symbolise Kennedy’s free spirit.

The memorial is a couple of hundred yards from where Kennedy was assassinated, and is essentially a large roofless square room with two openings. Visitors are welcome to enter and walk around the room.

Other than the president’s name in gold lettering on the north and south faces of the memorial, there are no other words or symbols on the memorial itself. There are two granite squares in the plaza, one near each of the memorial entrances, which are both inscribed with the same epitaph.

The Memorial is free to visit and open year round. At night, it is illuminated, and the design is set up to create the illusion that the large concrete structure is floating and supported by the beams of light.

JFK Memorial Dallas

 

John Neely Bryan Cabin

Sitting somewhat incongruously in the Downtown area of Dallas is a little log cabin, which we happened upon by chance as we wandered around.

This is actually a replica of the first house in the city. John Neely founded Dallas in the 1840s, and built his first home near the river. This log cabin, located in Founder’s Plaza, is a 1930s replica of the original. There’s a plaque outlining the history, and it’s fun to take a look and see what a pioneer home looked like back then from the outside.

Note that the house is locked, so you can’t actually go inside. However it is free to visit and worth a moment of your time to take a look at and read the historical plaque. Jess is drawn by historical plaques!

John Neely Bryan Log Cabin Dallas

 

Belo Garden Park

If you’re looking for some green spaces in downtown Dallas, consider heading to Belo Garden Park. Once a parking lot, this area is now a 1.7 acre public park which has trees, an interactive fountain, and a variety of seating areas.

It’s a good place to relax and have a picnic in between visiting many of the attraction in our list, and kids in particular love to cool off in the fountain on a hot Texas day!

 

Nasher Sculpture Center

Found next door to the Dallas Museum of Art, the Nasher Sculpture Centre is a museum dedicated to modern and contemporary sculpture. It houses the collection of Patsy and Raymond Nasher, who started collecting sculpture in the 1950s.

The collection is home to a series of masterpieces which include sculptures by Rodin, Matisse, Picasso and Miró. The majority of the work is housed inside across two floors, but my favourite area was the outdoor garden which is also home to a number of interesting pieces and which is lovely for a peaceful wander.

The Nasher Sculpture Center has an admission fee. You can see prices and opening hours on the official website here.

Dallas Nasher Sculpture Museum

 

Dallas World Aquarium

Another attraction that may be of interest, especially if you’re visiting Dallas with kids, is the Dallas World Aquarium. Found in downtown Dallas, this is both an aquarium and a zoo, with fish, birds, mammals and reptiles on display.

The Aquarium is spread out across two main levels. The lower level is home to a number of water tanks, which feature sea animals from around the world. There’s also a tunnel you can walk through to get a view of the fish all around you.

The upper level is set out to recreate a part of the Orinoco rainforest, and is home to birds and a variety of animals, including the only public display of three-toed sloths in the USA.

The Dallas World Aquarium has an admission fee, and you can see opening hours and prices on their website here.

World Aquarium Dallas

 

Old Red Museum

If you want to learn about the history of Dallas and Dallas County, then you’ll want to head to the Old Red Museum. This is found in a large old red sandstone building (hence the name) which was originally  the Dallas County courthouse.

The museum will take you on a journey from the prehistory and settlement of Dallas, right through to Dallas as a modern city. This story is told through artifacts and exhibits, with everything from Lee Harvey Oswald’s handcuffs through to J.R Ewing’s Stetson hat on display. There are also usually some special exhibits which change over time.

The Old Red Museum is open most of the year and has an admission fee. You can see more about pricing and opening hours on the official website here. It’s also included on this full day small group tour of Dallas

Old Red Museum Dallas

 

Reunion Tower

One of my favourite things to do when visiting a city for the first time is to go up to a high observation deck or other viewpoint, and get a view of my surroundings.

In Dallas, the best option for getting a stunning view of the city is to head up the Reunion Tower. This 561 ft / 171 m purpose built tower was built in 1978 and quickly became one of the mot recognizable landmarks in the Dallas skyline. It has a cafe and observation deck. There was also originally a revolving restaurant and a club, but these are not currently operational.

The observation deck, known as the GeO-Deck, is where visitors will head. Here you get spectacular views over the surrounding city. You can also explore an interactive digital experience and learn more about what you are seeing.

The Reunion Tower has an admission fee, and you can check times and prices online here. We visited using our Dallas CityPASS, which includes this location as well as a number of others. You can also buy tickets online here.

Reunion Tower Dallas

 

Giant Eyeball

If you love quirky public art, you’ll definitely want to visit the Giant Eyeball. Found at 1601 Main Street in downtown Dallas, this is a 30ft tall realistic depiction of a human eyeball.

Titled “Eye”, the artwork is the creation of artist Tony Tasset, and was originally made for a temporary display in Chicago in 2007. It was purchased by the Joule Hotel in Dallas, and since 2013 has been a main feature outside the hotel.

The Giant Eyeball is free to visit and makes for a fun photo stop as you’re wandering downtown!

Giant Eyeball

 

George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum

Every US President from Herbert Hoover (1929-1933) through to George W.Bush (2001-2009) has had a presidential library established in their name in their home state, as a part of the official presidential library system.

Each library serves as the archival location for all the papers, records and artifacts from that President’s terms of office. Each library also acts as a museum to its respective president, usually including information on key events during their term. In addition, many of the President’s have chosen to be buried at their respective presidential library.

Texas is home to three Presidential Libraries, the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum in Austin, the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station, and the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas.

We visited the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum in Austin, Texas during our time there, and enjoyed it greatly. So when we were in Dallas, we made sure to visit the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum.

This covers the eight years of Bush’s presidency, which included the second Gulf War as well as the 9/11 terrorist attacks. There’s also a full-size replica of the Oval office, and a selection of the 43,000 gifts that were given to the President and First Lady.

In addition to the presidential content, you can also often learn a lot about a president’s more personal life at these libraries. Jess chatted with a staff member for quite a while and was surprised by things she didn’t know. For instance things that stood out was his little sister’s death from leukemia as a child, his struggles with being a wartime president, his veteran art project, and the current projects at their Prairie Chapel Ranch.

The museum has an admission fee, and you can see more about opening times and prices here.

We visited using our Dallas CityPASS, which includes this location as well as a number of others.

George W Bush Presidential Library and Museum Dallas George W Bush Presidential Library and Museum Dallas

 

Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden

Dallas has a number of nice green spaces and city parks, but if you want to get lost amongst a larger expanse of greenery, you’ll want to head to the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden.

Found a little out of town on the shore of White Rock Lake, this 66 acre botanical garden is the perfect place for a walk amongst some beautiful gardens.

There are a range of garden areas to explore, which also include fountains, play areas, and picnic areas. There are also flowers, plants and trees from all around the world to enjoy. Regular themed events also take place – when we visited it was near Halloween, and there were pumpkins galore!

There’s an entry fee to visit, and you can see more on opening times and prices on the website here.

Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden

 

Thanksgiving Square

Right in the heart of downtown Dallas you’ll find Thanksgiving Square. Here, people of all cultures and religions are invited to celebrate their thoughts, values, and spirituality, and find a moment of peace in an otherwise busy city environment.

The square is home to a a garden which features fountains, as well as various symbolic installations. Our favourite was the Ring of Thanks —a 14 foot diameter ring which is covered in gold leaf. Visitors are invited to walk through the ring.

There’s also a 50ft high bell tower which features three bronze bells in the form of the Liberty Bell, as well as a non-denominational chapel where all are welcome to give thanks.

Thanksgiving Plaza Dallas

 

Dallas Zoo

Another good option if you’re visiting Dallas with family and looking for things to do is the Dallas Zoo.

Found three miles south of downtown Dallas, this 106 acre zoo is the largest and oldest zoo in Texas. It’s home to over 2,000 animals across over 400 species. There’s a fantastic range to see, from Galapagos tortoises through to tigers, lions, penguins, chimpanzees, and more.

One of my favourite activities was the opportunity to get close with the giraffes at the giraffe feeding station.

You could easily spend most of a day at Dallas Zoo. There’s so much to see and it is a wonderful family day out in Dallas. There’s on-site parking, but it’s also easy to reach by public transport.

The Dallas Zoo is also included on the Dallas CityPASS, although you have to decide between this location and the George W. Bush Presidential Library. Otherwise you can see opening hours and admission prices on the website here.

Dallas Zoo

 

Bishop Arts District

If you’d like to explore a more eclectic part of town, then you might enjoy a visit to the Bishop Arts District part of town. Here you’ll find a wide selection of locally run shops as well as dining, drinking, and entertainment venues.

This is a fun and quirky neighbourhood and a great place to shop and eat. We’re sure you’ll find something to enjoy, and possibly a souvenir or two from your visit as well. Lovers of street art will also enjoy the many murals that adorn the walls here.

The Bishop Arts District is open year round, with individual stores and venues having their own opening times.

Another option if you’re looking for another district to explore is the Deep Ellum neighborhood. This is know for its live music scene, as well as its bars, clubs, and street art, etc. Just be aware that this area has had some issues with crime so do take normal precautions as you would anywhere else. Deep Ellum can also be visited on a tour like this.

Bishop Arts District Dallas

Bishop Arts District Dallas

 

Dallas Heritage Village

If you’d like to travel back in time, then you should plan a visit to the Dallas Heritage Village. This is home to the largest collection of 19th century pioneer and Victorian homes and commercial properties in Texas.

Spread across 20 acres in Dallas’ first city park, the heritage village has 21 authentic original buildings. The collection is also home to around 24,000 objects and materials that related to life in Dallas and North Central Texas, from the frontier days of the 1840s up to the early 1900s. These include tools for a range of crafts as well as furnishings, domestic accessories, and an extensive photographic collection.

We loved wandering around the Dallas Heritage Village, which felt just like stepping back in time.

There’s an entry fee to visit, and you can see more about opening hours and prices on the official website here.

Dallas Heritage Village

 

Pioneer Plaza

Pioneer Plaza is another public park in downtown Dallas, and at 4.2 acres is the largest public space in this part of the city. It’s a popular place to visit, largely due to the very impressive set of  sculptures that you’ll find in the park.

A large sculpture group depicts one of the 19th century cattle drives that would have taken place through this area, as the Texas longhorn cattle were taken from southern parts of the state up to the railway lines in the north.

The sculpture consists of 49 bronze cast steers as well as three trail riders atop their horses, set against a man-made limestone cliff and even a stream replete with waterfall. It’s the largest bronze monument of its kind on the world, and is very impressive to experience in person!

It’s free to visit the Pioneer Plaza which is open year round. It’s also included on this full day small group tour of Dallas.

Pioneer Plaza Dallas

Pioneer Plaza Dallas

 

The Flying Red Horse

Basketball fans will likely know that the logo for the Dallas WBNA team (The Wings), is the mythical flying horse Pegasus. This flying horse is also used as the logo for a local brewery (Pegasus City Brewery), as well as appearing in some other artwork around the city.

Pegasus has been associated with Dallas since 1934, when a giant neon-lit sculpture of two back to back red horses appeared at the top of the Magnolia Building. This was the city’s first skyscraper, and the logo was created for the Magnolia Oil Company.

The horses rotated, and being neon, were visible both day and night for miles around. Unfortunately, in 1999, the original statue was removed, with a new version added in 2000.

The good news is that the original statue can still be visited. Even better, it’s not 450 feet in the air. Instead, it’s on ground level just outside the Omni Dallas Hotel, who are the new owners. It’s free to visit and worth a few minutes of your time for a photo of this Dallas icon.

Big Red Horse

 

Go Shopping

If you enjoy shopping, then you will definitely want to allocate some of your time in Dallas to a little retail therapy. The city is home to a wide range of retailers, from luxury department stores like Dallas-based Neiman Marcus, to handcrafted artisanal boot stores like Miron Crosby.

With everything from small independent outlets through to massive malls like the Galleria, whatever your style of shopping or budget, you are sure to find something to suit!

Galleria Dallas

 

Dallas Cowboys Stadium Visit

The city of Dallas gives it name to the Dallas Cowboys, a professional American Football team who compete in America’s NFL. The Cowboys are one of the most famous and valuable of the American football teams.

Home games are played at the AT&T stadium, which is found in the city of Arlington, also found in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, around 20 miles west of downtown Dallas. Texans take football seriously and if you want to experience an American football game, this is an excellent place to do so.

The Stadium is also open for tours, and Cowboys fans (or those with an interest in the sport in general), can visit, see how a massive stadium like this works, and even practice throwing a football on the field.

As the stadium is a little outside Dallas, you’ll need to plan your transportation. You can also take a tour like this which includes round trip transport.

 

Southfork Ranch

If you were alive back in the 1980s, and even if you weren’t, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of the TV show “Dallas”. The original series ran from 1978 to 1991 and featured 357 episodes that told the story of the Ewing family and their oil empire, all set in and around the city of Dallas. The show was rebooted and ran for a further 3 seasons from 2012 to 2015.

A lot has changed in the city since the original series first aired; however, one thing has remained the same, and that is the location used as the Ewing Home for most of the show – Southfork Ranch.

This home, originally known as Duncan Acres, is found on 300 acres of Texas ranchland. It’s around 25 miles north of Dallas itself, and is today open for tours.

Even if, like me, you aren’t a huge “Dallas” fan, I’d argue that Southfork Ranch is well worth the visit. The tours are a lot of fun, you’ll get to hear how the show was shot, and there are lots of props, photos, and memorabilia from the show to enjoy. If you were a “Dallas” fan like Jessica, then this is definitely an unmissable location.

As well as touring the ranch house itself, it’s also possible to head out onto the ranch on horseback. Both novice and experienced riders are welcome, with trail rides and riding lessons available. There’s even a 3 day educational camp where you can learn what it takes to be a cowboy or cowgirl!

Southfork Ranch is open for tours most of the year. They also host private events and concerts, so you’ll want to check availability and book in advance to guarantee your spot. You can see tour times and prices online here.

As it’s a little outside the city of Dallas itself, you’ll need to either drive yourself, or arrange transportation. You can also book a tour that includes round trip transportation from Dallas, such as this one or this one.

Southfork Ranch

Southfork Ranch

 

Attend a Festival or Event

Dallas plays host to a number of festivals and events throughout the year, including concerts, art festivals, sports games, and more.

One event to keep an eye out for if you are in Dallas towards the end of September or start of October is the State Fair of Texas. This has taken place most years since 1886, and is held in Fair Park just outside the downtown.

We happened to be in Dallas when the State Fair was on, and we loved seeing Big Tex, exploring the farm and craft halls, eating unhealthy fairground food, watching a couple of shows, and doing a few rides.

If you’re from outside the USA, then a visit to a State Fair is an absolute must – you probably won’t have experienced anything quite like it!

If you’re not in Dallas for the State fair, check the city events calendar to see what else might be on when you do visit!

Texas State Fair

Texas State Fair

Things to do in Dallas

 

Map of Things to do in Dallas Texas

To help you plan your time in Dallas, we’ve put together this map of all the attractions we’ve mentioned. The image below covers the downtown attractions, but if you click here you can see a Google maps version with the out of town attractions as well.

Things to do in Dallas Map

 

Where to Stay in Dallas

As a major city, there’s no shortage of options for places to stay in Dallas, from more budget oriented options through to five star hotels as well as options like vacation rentals. We’ve picked some options that you might consider for your visit across a range of budgets.

We’ve stayed in both a budget-friendly Airbnb and a 5-star hotel in the city, so we’re sure you can find something that will fit your taste and budget.

These are approximately ordered from low priced through to higher priced, but do always check for your dates as pricing can change.

  • Deep Ellum Hostel – if you’re looking for a centrally located budget option, this is a well reviewed hostel offering air-conditioned shared and private accommodation as well as a shared kitchen
  • Hotel Indigo Dallas Downtown – a popular 3* hotel in the centre of Dallas. Private rooms include en-suite facilities, coffeemakers and refrigerators. There’s also on-site dining, room-service and a fitness centre, as well as a free shuttle to get you anywhere within 3 miles of the hotel.
  • Fairmont Dallas – a well rated and good value 4* hotel found in the Dallas Arts District. Rooms are en-suite with a coffee machine, and there’s a fitness centre, pool and restaurant on site.
  • Lorenzo Hotel – a very well reviewed 4* hotel in downtown Dallas. The hotel has evening entertainment, a dining area and outdoor pool, and the en-suite rooms have coffee makers
  • The Adolphus – a very popular luxury 4* hotel in the Dallas Arts and Financial Districts. There’s a rooftop pool with a bar, a fitness centre and restaurant on-site.
  • Hotel Crescent Court – this luxury 5* hotel is well-reviewed and found in the Uptown District. Rooms have a coffee machine, there’s an on-site restaurant, fitness centre, spa and pool.
  • Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek – this beautiful 5-star hotel is just a couple of miles from the downtown. A former expansive private residence, the hotel is today one of the more well known luxury hotels in the area with an excellent on-site fine dining restaurant. We stayed here during our time in Dallas and loved it.

There are of course more options. We’ve also stayed in an AirBnB in Dallas – you can see their listings for the city here. For more ideas, see our guide to AirBnB alternatives.

Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek Dallas Hotel

 

How to Get Around Dallas

Many of the attractions in downtown Dallas are quite close to each other, and as such, are relatively easy to walk between. However, you should be aware that in the summer months Texas gets very hot and humid, so you will likely not want to spend a lot of time outside in the heat.

Some of the attractions are a little outside the city centre, and for these you’ll either need your own transport or to use the local public transportation options.

Public transport in Dallas is excellent. The Dallas Area Rapid Transit system, or DART, is a bus, train, and trolley system which links the majority of the downtown area with the surrounding suburbs.

With the exception of the Southfork Ranch and Cowboys Stadium, all the attractions on our list can be reached by public transport from the downtown area.

Of course, there are also taxis and ride-sharing apps, and you can also use your own vehicle to get around if you prefer. Most hotels and many attractions have on-site parking available, although this will often come with an associated charge.

Dallas transport options

Dallas transport options

 

Tours in Dallas

As well as all the attractions we’ve listed, you might also consider taking a tour of Dallas or some of its attractions. There are a variety of tours available, from food focused tours, through to tours of popular sights as well as tours to out of town attractions. Here are some tours you might consider for your time in the city.

  • This tour tells the story of JFK assassination, with a visit to the sixth floor museum, Dealey Plaza, Kennedy Memorial and the home of Lee Harvey Oswald. This is a similar tour that doesn’t include the museum.
  • Food lovers will want to check out this food walking tour of the Uptown Dallas area. It includes a walking tour as well as a number of tastings
  • If you’d like a full day tour which includes a number of city highlights, check out this full day small group tour of Dallas. It includes the Old Red Museum and Sixth Floor Museum, as well as many other city highlights.
  • Fans of the Dallas Cowboys might enjoy this tour, which includes a city sightseeing tour and a ticket for the Dallas Cowboys Stadium Tour
  • If you want to head out to Southfork Ranch and learn about the TV show Dallas, this tour includes your entry as well as round-trip transfers plus a city sightseeing tour
  • Looking for a spooky experience? Check out this evening haunted walking tour of Dallas, which includes stops at a number of pubs as well.
  • You can take a 2 hour Segway tour of historic Dallas
  • This is a 3 hour walking tour of the Deep Ellum part of Dallas
  • This private tour of the city highlights will take you through many of the highlights of the city

As you can see, there are plenty of options for tours in Dallas! You can see more Dallas tours on Viator here, and GetYourGuide here.

dallas skyline

 

Save Money on Attractions in Dallas

One of the most expensive parts of travel is the cost of attraction entry. Whilst we’re happy to pay for great attractions, we certainly don’t mind the opportunity to save where possible.

Like many large cities, Dallas has an attraction pass. Whilst not as comprehensive as the attraction passes for a city like New York, there are still some significant savings to be had.

The main attraction pass for Dallas, and the one we used, is the Dallas CityPASS.  This currently includes the following attractions:

  • Perot Museum of Nature and Science
  • Reunion Tower GeO-Deck
  • The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
  • Dallas Zoo –OR- George W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum

As you can see, the pass gives you entry to four attractions, and can save you 40% on entry. We think that’s pretty awesome, and we used our pass to visit all the attractions on the list. You can check it out and buy yours in advance of your visit by clicking here.

Dallas CityPASS

 

Further Reading

We hope this guide has given you lots of ideas for things to do in Dallas Texas when you visit. To help you further plan your trip, we have a number of other resources we think you might find useful.

  • We have a guide to things to do in Houston Texas
  • We have a guide specifically for visiting Space Center Houston, to help you plan your visit to this awesome attraction
  • We have a detailed guide to things to do in Austin, another wonderful city in Texas.
  • We also have a guide to things to do in San Antonio
  • If you do visit San Antonio, we have a detailed guide to visiting the Alamo, and the San Antonio River Walk, which will help you plan your time visiting these two popular San Antonio attractions
  • If you decide to visit these cities, it would make for a great Texas road trip. To help you plan such a trip, see our guide to how much it costs to travel in the USA, as well as tips for driving in the USA if this is your first time
  • If you want some road trip inspiration, see our itineraries for a USA Deep South road trip, California Road Trip, Route 66 Road Trip and Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip
  • We’ve visited a lot of other cities in the USA! See our guides to Things to do in Huntsville, Things to do in Savannah, Things to do in Charleston, Things to do in Albuquerque, Visiting New Orleans During Mardi Gras, Things to do in Cambria and Things to do in Santa Fe to get started!

And that’s it for our guide to what to do in Dallas! As always, we’re happy to hear your feedback and questions to help you plan your visit. Just pop them in the comments below and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

A detailed guide to things to do in Dallas Texas. All the top attractions, plus tips on getting around, where to stay and saving money!



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10 Day Thailand Itinerary - Detailed Plan, Map, and Tips

10 Day Thailand Itinerary – Detailed Plan, Map, and Tips


Are you looking to travel to a country with amazing food, fantastic beaches, warm and friendly people, and a range of accommodation options to suit every taste? Well, you have pretty much described Thailand.

In this guide, I’m going to share with you a detailed 10 day Thailand itinerary. I’ve spent months travelling in Thailand, and I’ve been lucky enough to visit many parts of this wonderful country. Based on my experiences, I wanted to share my highlights. These are the places I would recommend to first-time visitors to Thailand who are planning to spend around 10 days in Thailand.

I wanted this itinerary to cover a range of what Thailand has to offer, which includes ancient temples, gorgeous beaches, spectacular jungle scenery, and cultural attractions. I also wanted to make sure that you spend more of your time sightseeing and less time just travelling from Point A to Point B. With that in mind, the itinerary doesn’t have you rushing around too much. After all, you want to spend your Thailand trip seeing attractions rather than the inside of a train, bus, or plane!

This guide starts off with a detailed idea for how to spend 10 days in Thailand. I’ll then cover a number of practicalities for your visit so you can plan the perfect Thailand adventure! Let’s get started.

10 Day Thailand Itinerary

Bangkok – 3 Days

Our Thailand itinerary starts in Bangkok. This is the capital city of Thailand and where most international travelers will arrive in the country.

I recommend you allocate 3 days to explore. This will give you time to adjust to the climate and any time difference. It will also give you time to sightsee in the city itself, and also to take a day trip to a nearby UNESCO world heritage site. More on that shortly. First, let’s look at what you should get up to in Bangkok.

There’s a huge amount to see in the city, which has excellent nightlife, a wide range of restaurants and street food vendors, and of course, a great many temples.

My first suggested stop for your time in Bangkok is the city’s most popular attraction: The Grand Palace. From the 18th century this was the official residence of the Kings of Siam, which later became known as Thailand. Today the palace isn’t home to the monarch, but it is still used for a number of official ceremonies and events.

It’s a good starting point to learn a bit about the history and culture of Thailand. There is a lot to see at the Grand Palace, however, one location you mustn’t miss is Wat Phra Kaew. Also known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, this is the most sacred Buddhist temple in the country. It is home to an image of the meditating buddha which is made from jasper.

I’d recommend allocating half a day to visiting the Grand Palace. It’s open every day, and you can either buy tickets on the door, or in advance from the official website.

Another highlight I’d recommend in Bangkok would be a visit to a floating market. Here you’ll find local vendors selling a range of products, with some delicious street food on offer as well.

There are quite a few floating markets to choose from in the Bangkok region, and some of them are quite far from the city centre. Khlong Lat Mayom is a good option which is relatively easy to visit by yourself. There are also tours like this and this which will take you to some of the more popular floating markets and provide transport.

One of my favourite locations in Bangkok is Wat Arun. This is a temple, of which there are of course many to choose from in Bangkok. However, I think Wat Arun (full name Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchaworamahawihan), which means Temple of Dawn, should be on your short list.

Wat Arun Thailand

There’s been a temple on this location since at least 1656. The temple is known for its large central “prang”, a large tower which is originated from the Khmer architecture. This is covered in white porcelain tiles, and at sunrise and sunset in particular, the light striking it is quite beautiful.

The temple has a small fee for visiting. You can find out more about opening hours and pricing on the official website here.

For your final day in Bangkok, my recommendation is to take a day trip out to the nearby UNESCO world heritage listed city of Ayutthaya.

Found around 90 minutes north of Bangkok by car (2 hours by train), Ayutthaya was once the largest city in the world. At its height, it had over a million inhabitants, and the city was the capital of the Ayutthaya Kingdom, a precursor to modern Thailand which existed from 1350 to 1767. This Kingdom fell in 1767 when the Burmese invaded, and burnt the majority of Ayutthaya to the ground.

The good news is that parts of the old city survived, particularly the large temple complexes which were primarily built from stone. The new city of Ayutthaya arose around the ruins of the old, and a visit today offers an interesting glimpse across two time periods of Thailand’s history.

There are many sights to see in Ayutthaya, and I have a guide to the highlights of Ayutthaya here. In short though, be sure to visit Wat Phra Mahathat, Wat Phra Si Sanphet, Wat Chaiwatthanaram, and Wat Buddhaisawan.

Getting to Ayutthaya from Bangkok is easy. You can either do it yourself by public bus or train, you can hire a private driver like this, or you can take a tour. A tour is definitely the easiest way. Most tours include pickup from your accommodation, tickets to a number of the temples, and some also include soft drinks and meals.

The tour we’d recommend is this one, which also include a boat cruise back from Ayutthaya to Bangkok. However there are lots of options to choose from, you can see more here.

Reclining Buddha at sunset Thailand

A quick side note on scams in Bangkok, which you should be wary of on your first visit. The two most common that you’ll likely encounter are the “closed temple” trick and the “tuktuk scam” trick. Read more on these scams in the section on “Safety in Thailand” which I cover later on in the post.

That rounds up your three days in Bangkok. Now we’ll provide some tips on where to stay, and how to get to your next destination.

 

Where to stay in Bangkok

Bangkok is a large city, and there are a huge range of accommodation options to choose from. These range from budget friendly backpacker hotels through to five star luxury hotels, and everything in between.

Here are some suggestions to get you started across a range of price points, which are approximately ordered from budget to high end.

  • Baan U-Sabai Hostel – Less than a mile from the popular Khao San road, this highly rated hostel offers great value rooms with shared bathrooms.
  • Siam Eco Hostel – Found in Bangkok’s Phaya Thai district, this is a very highly rated hostel with air conditioned rooms, a shared kitchen and a shared lounge. Free breakfast is included.
  • Old Capital Bike Inn -a good value well rated 3* hotel with individually styled air conditioned en-suite rooms. Breakfast is included, and it’s close to the Khao San road area
  • Inn a Day – this well rated 4* hotel offers river side views and is just 650 yards from the Grand Palace. Air-conditioned rooms feature balconies and en-suite facilities, and breakfast is included
  • Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok – a luxurious and well located 5* hotel with pools, a range of restaurants and spacious en-suite rooms
  • Mandarin Oriental Bangkok – a spectacular high end 5* hotel with beautiful river views, on-site spa, high end restaurants, and wonderful rooms.

Of course, there are a great many more options in Bangkok to choose from! You can see listings for Bangkok on Booking.com here, Hostelworld here, Agoda here, and AirBnB here.

 

Getting to Kanchanaburi from Bangkok

Your next stop on this 10 day tour of Thailand is the town of Kanchanaburi. This is around 100 miles west of Bangkok, and you have a few options for getting here.

First, you can take public transport. A train runs from Bangkok’s Thonburi station, and takes around 3 hours to Kanchanaburi. This was my preferred option as the scenery is lovely. Alternatively, you can take a public bus, with both minibuses and larger public buses making the route. These take around 2 hours, although it will vary depending on traffic.

You can also hire a private transfer that will take you from your accommodation in Bangkok to Kanchanaburi. This is obviously less hassle than navigating the public transport system and will save you time, with the downside that it will be slightly more expensive.

Another option is to take a tour from Bangkok. For example, this 2 day tour includes your transportation, overnight accommodation and visits all the major attractions in the area. A good option if you’d like everything to be arranged for you.

Finally, you might prefer to drive. It is possible to rent a car in Thailand, usually all you need is a valid driver’s license and an international driving permit. The traffic in and around the cities can be quite hectic, but outside of the cities the roads are usually pretty good, with road signs in both Thai and English.

For this itinerary though, I’d suggest that driving wouldn’t be my first choice, as the public transport system is easy to use and works well.

 

Kanchanaburi – 2 Days

Your next overnight stop is the town of Kanchanaburi. This was made famous by the 1957 film The Bridge over the River Kwai , which tells the story of the hardships faced by civilian labourers and prisoners of war who were forced to build the Burma railway by the Japanese military.

Whilst the characters in the film were fictional, the story behind them was very much real. It’s estimated that 100,000 civilians and 13,000 prisoners of war lost their lives building what became known as the Death railway.

As a result of the movie, the Bridge over the River Kwai (River Kwae in Thailand) became a popular location for visitors, and there is a lot to see and do here. I have more detail in my guide to things to do in Kanchanaburi, but I’ve outlined some highlights below.

First, of course, there’s the bridge over the River Kwai itself. The titular bridge built during the war was destroyed by Allied forces before the war’s end, and was in fact in a a different location. However there is a bridge that carries rail traffic which you can walk across, so this is where visitors go.

Bridge Over the River Kwai

There are also some museums that tell the story of the war and the railway’s construction. These include the JEATH War museum and the Thailand-Burma railway centre. There is another museum, the WWII Museum and Art Gallery which is close to the bridge, but this museum has fairly poor reviews so probably one to skip.

Next, many of those prisoners of war who died in the construction of the railway were buried in Kanchanaburi. There are two cemeteries in Kanchanaburi, which are the final resting place of almost 9,000 souls.

If you stay in our recommended location near the Kanchanaburi railway station, you’ll be within a mile’s walk of most of the attractions in the area. Alternatively, there are plenty of local buses to get around, and bicycle hire is another popular transport option. We hired bicycles and explored the local area thoroughly, which was a lot of fun.

There are a number of other attractions in and around Kanchanaburi. One we highly recommend is Erawan Falls. This is a series of stunning waterfalls, arguably the most beautiful in Thailand, which cascade down through the jungle and create a number of wonderful swimming pools.

Erawan Falls are found in Erawan National Park, which is around a 90 minute public bus ride from Kanchanaburi. From the park entrance (a fee is charged) it’s around a two hour round trip hike to see the full extent of the falls, which are spread out across seven tiers. You’ll want to bring water, sunblock and a bathing suit. Expect to spend at least half a day making the trip.

You can do this trip yourself using public transport, or you can take a tour like this which includes Erawan Falls as well as some other attractions in the area.

Finally, there are also a number of temples in and around Kanchanaburi, and the night market is also excellent for delicious food.

As you can see, there’s plenty to do in Kanchanaburi and the area, and we’ve only scratched the surface. This is why we feel two full days is very much justified! Now, let’s look at where to stay and how to get to your next stop on this itinerary.

Erawan252520Falls252520Kanchanburi_by_Laurence252520Norah25255B325255D

 

Where to stay in Kanchanaburi

Kanchanaburi is not a huge town in terms of population, but it is geographically spread out. There are three main locations – the northern area around the famous railway bridge, the area near the main train station which is around 1.5 miles along the bridge, and then the main part of the town which is 3 miles along the river from the bridge.

My recommendation is to stay in the area near the train station on the river. This puts you within an easy 30 minute walk (or short bike ride) of the main attractions, and you’ll also be near the night market that happens in the vicinity of the train station.

Here are some suggested accommodation options in this area, again ranging from budget to more expensive.

  • T & T Hostel – this is a well reviewed and great value budget hostel location. It’s around a mile from the bridge and 750 yards from the train station, with a lovely riverside location. Both private and shared rooms are available.
  • Sam’s House Kanchanaburi – this is a popular and well located great value three star property that features both raft house style accommodation and bungalows. There’s an on-site restaurant and a great value breakfast option is available.
  • Natee The Riverfront Hotel – a very well reviewed 4* river front hotel around a mile from the famous bridge. Rooms are en-suite with tea/coffee making facilities, there are good river views and an on-site wellness centre with hot tub.
  • River Kwai View Hotel – this 4* hotel is found 450 yards from the River Kwai bridge, making it a great option if you’d prefer to be close to this attraction. Rooms are air-conditioned, en-suite, and offer good views.
  • Dheva Mantra Resort – if you’d prefer a resort option, this 5* property is a fantastic option. It’s a little way out of town, but features everything from a fitness centre through to on-site restaurants and a large landscaped pool.

Again, there are lots more options beyond the above. You can see listings for Kanchanaburi on Booking.com here, Hostelworld here, Agoda here, and AirBnB here.

 

Getting to Khao Sok from Kanchanaburi

Your next stop is the Khao Sok National Park, which is in the Surat Thani province. This is around 300 miles / 500 km south of Bangkok, and will be one of the longer journeys you make on this trip.

First, you will need to get back to Bangkok as there’s no direct route from Kanchanaburi to Khao Sok. So you can follow the previous instructions in reverse.

Then, to get from Bangkok to Khao Sok you have a few options. The nearest transport hub is the city of Surat Thani, from where you can take a local bus, a tour like this, or arrange private transport to Khao Sok.

The fastest option for getting from Bangkok to Surat Thani is to fly. Good value direct flights are available, with a number of flights operating each day.

Another option, which was what we did, is to take the overnight train from Bangkok to Surat Thani. These depart at varying times, and arrive at Surat Thani in the morning. This is quite a popular route, so you will want to book this well in advance, especially if you want a first class ticket (which includes a bunk bed).

Finally, you can also take a bus from Bangkok to Surat Thani. This takes around 10 hours, and a number of routes are available. We’d advise against taking a daytime bus though as this will use up a lot of your sightseeing time—instead we’d recommend an overnight bus. Our overall preference would be an overnight train though as they tend to be more comfortable.

 

Khao Sok – 2 Days

When people ask me for tips on where to visit in Thailand, I always tell them that they must visit Khao Sok National Park, and specifically Cheow Larn Lake within the park. You can read my experiences visiting here if you need some convincing.

The National Park was established in 1980, and covers 739 square kilometres, much of which is made up of virgin rainforest which predates the Amazon.

Naturally, there is a lot to see and do in the park, with popular activities including trekking and caving. There’s a huge number of species of both flora and fauna in the park as well, with the massive endangered Rafflesia kerrii plant being the most well known.

To get around the park you can take public transport, or you can take a tour which includes transport like this. Most of the hotels and hostels in the park can also arrange private transport.

My favourite area of the park is Cheow Lan lake. This is a man made lake which was created after the construction of the Ratchaprapha Dam in 1982. The dam created the 165 square kilometre lake, which sits amongst the stunning karst limestone formations.

Khao Sok Lake Thailand

Spread out across the lake are a series of lake house hotels. These floating hotels offer beautiful views of the surrounding scenery and the opportunity to disconnect from the world. A stay at one of these hotels is, in my opinion, a must for any visitor to this region.

Because the lake house hotels are floating on the lake, and therefore only accessible by boat, you will need to book your stay in advance of your visit. There are a number of lake house hotels to choose from across a range of styles and budgets. Many of these offer round-trip transport options from nearby locations, including Surat Thani.

Of course, if you would prefer to visit other parts of Khao Sok National Park instead of the lake, this is also an option. There are a number of hotels within the park, most of which are clustered around Khao Sok village near the National Park headquarters. From here you can take advantage of the plethora of hiking opportunities.

I have stayed both on the lake, and at a hotel in Khao Sok village. If I was on a limited timescale, I would definitely choose the lake option, but of course the choice is yours!

Khao Sok Lake Thailand

 

Where to stay in Khao Sok National Park

There are two main locations for accommodation in Khao Sok National Park. There’s Khao Sok village, which is home to a range of hotels, guesthouses and restaurants. This is also where you’ll find the Khao Sok National Park headquarters. Here are some options in Khao Sok.

  • Sunshine Khao Sok Hostel – at the budget end of the spectrum is this highly rated and great value hostel. Rooms are air-conditioned and feature mountains views, with shared facilities. Breakfast is also available.
  • Khaosok Good View Resort – this is a great value well rated hotel with private en-suite rooms that feature balconies and jungle views. There’s also a pool and on-site restaurant.
  • The Bliss Khao Sok Boutique Lodge – this boutique hotel features comfortable en-suite rooms with air-conditioning and terraces. There’s also a restaurant and bar.
  • Khao Sok Jasmine Garden Resort – this 3* resort features a pool and restaurant. Accommodation is in en-suite air-conditioned bungalows.

The other main area where you can stay is around Cheow Lan Lake, where you’ll find the lake house resorts. This would be my recommended place to stay. The scenery is beautiful, staying in a floating lake house is a unique experience, and it’s a wonderful opportunity to disconnect from the world.

There are around 15 lake hotels where you can stay the night and these need to be booked in advance. Here are some options to choose from.

They vary from very basic through to more luxurious options, and as always, we’d advise reading reviews before booking to avoid disappointment. It’s also worth being aware that many properties do not have cell coverage or WiFi reception, and might require payments in cash.

  • Keereetara – this is one of the lakehouses which is closer to the pier. It offers good value accommodation with breakfast included.
  • Keereewarin – comfortable cabins at a reasonable price with good reviews. Breakfast is included
  • Panvaree Resort – this lake house resort offers a number of accommodation options, which include individual floating cabins. All rooms are air-conditioned, breakfast is included, and the reviews are good
  • 500 Rai Floating Resort – if you’re looking for the best, this is the lake house to go for. The air-conditioned floating bungalows are large and spacious and some come with hot tubs! It is the most expensive option, but reviews suggest it is worth it. Note that it is included on this tour.

 

Getting to Phuket from Khao Sok

The next stop on this Thailand itinerary is the city of Phuket. This is around 110 miles / 150km south of Khao Sok. Phuket doesn’t have a train connection, so for public transport you’ll be looking at either a bus or minibus. The trip from Khao Sok to Phuket by bus takes about 4 hours.

You can also arrange a private transfer, which most hotels will be happy to arrange for you. This will cost you more, but should save you a couple of hours of driving time.

 

Phuket – 3 Days

It’s time for some time on the beach and in the sea! For this, I recommend you head to the island of Phuket. This is Thailand’s largest island, and also one of the most popular destinations in the country for beach goers.

If you’d rather not be amongst the crowds, then you might prefer to head further south, perhaps down to the Trang region, which you can reach by train from Surat Thani. The coastal region near the town of Trang is lovely, as are the nearby islands of Ko Muk, Ko Libong and Ko Ngai.

Anyway, back to our recommended destination of Phuket, which is popular for a reason. It has many beautiful beaches, a plethora of tourist services, and some of its own local attractions.

Phuket is also an excellent base from which to explore two wonderful locations in Thailand. These are the Similan Islands and Ao Phang Nga National Park, both of which are easy to reach as a day trip from Phuket.

So my suggestions for Phuket would be to spend your three days as follows, in any order you prefer.

One day spent on Phuket discovering its beautiful beaches (most of which are on the west coast), as well as local attractions such as the Thai Hua Museum, Chinpracha Mansion and Big Buddha Statue.

Then, spend two days doing day trips to nearby spots such as the Similan Islands and Ao Phang Nga National Park.

Similan Islands Thailand

Of course, if you just want to hang on the beach and not spend money day tripping, some days on the beach are a good plan too!

If you want to do day trips from Phuket, I’d plan and book in advance any day trips you want to do. If you want to do two day trips, I’d recommend taking tours to visit the Similan Islands on one day and Ao Phang Nga National Park on a second day.

The Similan Islands are a group of islands found about 60km / 40 mi off Thailand’s west coast, slightly to the north of Phuket. They are a world famous snorkelling and diving location, and also have some absolutely spectacular white sand beaches ringed with turquoise waters.

Obviously, as these are islands you need some kind of boat to get to them. Basically, you have to book a tour. The best option is to take a tour which includes a transfer via high speed speedboat, as otherwise you lose a lot of the day on the transfer.

My suggestions are this tour or this tour. These both feature hotel pickup from Phuket, your national park fee, snorkelling equipment, meals, and soft drinks. I actually did an overnight tour to the Similan Islands, and it was a highlight of our time in Thailand. You can read about that here.

The other day trip I recommend is to Ao Phang Nga National Park. This is a huge national park which spans the Strait of Malacca, and is filled with beautiful limestone karst islands.

The most famous of these is the so called James bond Island (Khao Phing Kan), which appeared in the James Bond movie “The Man with the Golden Gun“. The island is particularly recognisable for the tall but narrow karst tower (Khao Ta Pu) that is just offshore.

James Bond Island Thailand

Again, as this is a trip that requires a boat, you’ll want to take a tour. there are a number of tours from Phuket to Ao Phang Nga National Park, most of which style themselves as tours of James Bond Island.

My recommendation is to pick a tour which includes time canoeing around some of the rock formations in the park, as well as your meals, soft drinks and your national park fee.

This is an early-bird tour which aims to skip the crowds. It can get busy in the park and on James Bond island in particular, so this is a good option. This is another option which uses a longtail boat. Finally, if you want a private experience, this is a private tour option.

Of course, it’s up to you how you spend your three days in the area. You might choose to relax on the beaches, take different tours, visit the attractions or buy souvenirs. It’s up to you!

Ao Phang Nga Thailand

 

Where to stay in Phuket

Phuket is a popular destination, and as such there is no shortage of places to stay. For ease of transport I’d recommend staying in Phuket Town itself. Alternatively, if you would prefer to be close to a beach and have access to more evening entertainment, then consider Patong which is the island’s main resort town.

Here are some suggested places to stay on Phuket, ordered from budget to higher end.

  • Aekkeko hostel – This is a centrally located and well rated hostel in Phuket Town offering both shared and private accommodation. There’s a shared kitchen, lounge and garden area
  • Book a Bed Poshtel – another very well rated centrally located hostel in Phuket Town featuring both private and shared rooms. There’s also a pool, shared kitchen and evening entertainment.
  • Casa Blanca Boutique Hotel – this centrally located 3* hotel in Phuket Town offers private en-suite air conditioned rooms with tea/coffee making facilities. There’s also a pool and garden for guest use.
  • The Memory at On On Hotel – a well reviewed and centrally located 3* hotel in Phuket Town . All rooms are en-suite and air-conditioned
  • WOO Gallery & Boutique Hotel – this is a very well rated boutique hotel with air-conditioned en-suite rooms in Phuket Town . Breakfast and room service are available and there’s an on-site restaurant
  • Rak Elegant Hotel Patong – found just near Patong Beach, this 4* hotel has a fitness centre, swimming pool, room service and private en-suite air-conditioned accommodation
  • Lady Naya Villas – if you’re looking for a 5* experience on Phuket, this is a great option. Private villas with pool are available, as are standard rooms. Naturally all rooms are en-suite and air-conditioned, and there’s an on-site restaurant and spa. This is found in the south of Phuket Island.

Again, there are lots more options beyond the above. You can see listings for Phuket on Booking.com here, Hostelworld here, Agoda here, and AirBnB here.

 

Getting from Phuket to Bangkok

Now all you have to do is return to Bangkok from Phuket. I’m going to suggest you fly as there’s no direct train. There are multiple direct flights a day from Phuket Airport, which take around 90 minutes. From Bangkok, you can fly home.

You can of course also take a bus to return to Bangkok, but it’s a 10 – 12 hour trip, and not one I’d recommend unless you really love long bus rides! If you do want to take the bus, you can book tickets in advance here.

_by_Laurence Norah-2

 

10 Day Thailand Itinerary Summary

Here’s a quick summary of this itinerary for easy reference.

  • Days 1 – 3: Bangkok
  • Days 4 & 5: Kanchanaburi
  • Days 6 & 7: Khao Sok
  • Days 8 – 10: Phuket

 

10 Day Thailand Itinerary Map

To help you visualise this trip, here’s a map of Thailand with the key locations marked. You can also see this on Google Maps here.

10 Day Thailand Itinerary Map

 

Tips for Travel in Thailand

Now that you have an idea of where to go for your Thailand adventure, I wanted to share some tips on travelling in this wonderful country.

Getting to Thailand

Most visitors to Thailand arrive by plane into Suvarnabhumi Airport (code BKK), which is also often referred to as Bangkok Airport. Bangkok does have another airport, Don Mueang International Airport, which despite the name is primarily used for domestic flights.

From Suvarnabhumi Airport there are a number of options for getting into the city, with the easiest and fastest being the Airport Rail Link. This special purpose train connects the airport with the centre of Bangkok.

 

Getting Around Thailand

I’ve provided some recommended options for getting between the stops on this itinerary. I also just wanted to share in general the options you have for travelling around Thailand. I’ll cover both travel inside the destinations as well as travel between the stops.

 

Transport within Cities and Towns in Thailand

Like most other countries, the cities in Thailand have a range of transport options. For the smaller towns, you might find you can easily get around on foot or bicycle. Bike rental is quite easy, and many guest houses and accommodation providers will be able to arrange this for you.

However, for the larger cities like Bangkok, you will likely want to use some form of transport as distances might be too far to easily walk.

Different options are available. Bangkok has the widest range, from the excellent metro system, through to taxis, tuk-tuks, and ride hailing firms like Uber and Grab. If you hail a taxi, make sure they put the meter on. Some drivers may be reluctant to do this, if so, just wave them on and get another taxi.

 

Transport between Cities in Thailand

First, there are the bus services. There are two types of bus in Thailand. The first are the large and comfortable long distance buses. These are usually air-conditioned and run to a schedule, and they connect many of the major cities in the country. You can buy tickets from the major bus stations (make sure to go to a ticket counter), or online in advance here.

The second type of buses are the small minibuses. These tend to run on an ad-hoc basis on shorter routes. In my experiences, they are faster than the larger buses, although the ride can be slightly hair-raising and sometimes uncomfortable depending on the number of passengers the driver tries to squeeze in.

After the bus is the train. Thailand has a fairly extensive train network which covers quite a lot of the country. The trains are usually slower than the buses, but make for a good overnight option if you can get a sleeper bunk. You can book tickets online in advance from the official Thai railways website here (you need to click the option to put it in English).

For longer distances, we’d usually recommend flying. Thailand has a number of domestic flight routes between a number of towns and cities, and they are both inexpensive and quick. You can see flight times and prices and book online here.

Private transfer services can also usually be arranged to take you from one place to another, such as from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi. These can be more comfortable ways to get round but are also going to be more expensive.

Another option is to rent a car and drive yourself. It is possible to rent a car in Thailand, usually all you need is a valid driver’s license and an international driving permit. The traffic in and around the cities can be quite hectic, but outside of the cities the roads are usually pretty good, with road signs in both Thai and English.

For this itinerary though, driving wouldn’t be my first choice, as the public transport system is easy to use and works well.

Finally, if you’d rather not plan and book a trip like this yourself, you can also take a tour. The next section has some recommended tours that you might enjoy.

Bangkok Thailand

 

Tours of Thailand

If you would prefer to take a tour rather than plan your own trip, we’ve put together some suggestions. Tours have the advantage that you can relax and know someone else is handling all the logistics, so you can get on with having fun.

You’ll also get to meet and hang out with some fellow travellers, and the tour leader will be on hand to share information about the culture and history of Thailand as you travel.

Here are some tour options to give you an idea of what is available in Thailand.

  • This 8 day tour of Thailand with G Adventures includes Bangkok, Ko Tao, Ko Phangan, and Khao Sok
  • This 8 day National Geographic Journeys small group tour of Thailand with G Adventures includes Bangkok, Ko Samui, Khao Sok, and Krabi
  • This 9 day small group tour of southern Thailand with Intrepid Travel includes Bangkok, Koh Samui, Khao Sok National Park, and Ao Nang.
  • This 9 day small group tour of southern Thailand with Intrepid Travel focuses more on the beaches, with stops in Bangkok, Surat Thani, Ao Yang and Ko Yao Yai
  • This 12 day tour of Thailand with G Adventures includes Bangkok, Kanchanaburi, Ayutthaya, Chiang Mai, and Phuket, and is designed for families

If you do decide to book a tour and are comparing different options, don’t forget to check all the inclusions and exclusions. Some tours might seem more expensive, but might include more comfortable accommodation options or extra meals and activities that make it worth it for you.

 

When to Visit Thailand

Thailand can be visited year round, however there are times of year where the climate is more pleasant than others.

Thailand has a tropical climate, with a wet season and a dry season. The dry season is between November and March. Temperatures will be pleasant at this time of year, and it won’t rain so much.

The rainy season is April through October, with the hottest part of the year between March and May, when the rain can make rural areas more inaccessible, and the temperatures can be hot and humid.

If you’re travelling more on a budget, then be aware the prices will be higher in the November – March time as this is the most popular time to visit, and prices will be a little lower in the off-season.

Khao Sok Lake Thailand

 

Safety in Thailand

Thailand is overall considered a safe and welcoming place, with friendly people. The most common problems that tourists are likely to encounter are similar to those elsewhere in the world. There are some common scams to be aware of, and of course, in popular locations you’ll want to keep a close eye on your belongings from opportunistic pickpockets and thieves.

The most popular scams in Thailand are the “closed temple” scam and the “cheap tuktuk” scam.

The closed temple scam usually involves a helpful person outside a temple, who will inform you that the temple you are trying to visit is closed. This often happens at the temple’s back gate or emergency exit, which will obviously look closed. Luckily, the helpful person will know of a much better nearby temple, which he can take you to.

On the way to this temple, if it even exists, you will take a detour via a range of stores and tour operators. If you buy anything at these locations, which will often be at inflated prices, the person guiding you will get a commission. Ultimately, you will generally just lose time in this scam. If a temple looks closed, make sure you are at the right entrance, and if it really is closed, I’d recommend finding another temple yourself.

The cheap tuk-tuk trick will feature a helpful tuk-tuk driver who will promise to take you anywhere you want to go for some ridiculously cheap price that seems too good to be true.

Ultimately, you might get to your destination. However, on your way you will stop at a series of, you guessed it, shops and tour operators! Again, generally you’ll just lose time, but it’s best to avoid this altogether.

Overall, just practice the same sensible behaviour you would when you are at home, like not exploring unknown locations late at night, letting someone know of your location and trip plans, etc. Overall, I never had a problem in Thailand, and would expect the majority of travellers to have a similarly safe experience.

There is a low risk of malaria in parts of Thailand, particularly in the forested and hilly areas of the country. It is generally not recommended that most tourists take anti-malarial medications, because the risk is so low in most tourist spots, but those planning to travel into more malaria prone areas or may be particularly at risk should check with a medical professional before traveling.

 

Internet Access in Thailand

Thailand is a very well connected country with free WiFi available in most locations all across the country.

There’s also excellent 3G and 4G coverage across much of the country, and if you have an unlocked device you can buy pay as you go SIM cards for very reasonable prices.

To get an idea of what’s available, take a look at this page, which lists all the pay as you go options for Thailand, with a focus on data prices. For more on information on connecting to the web when you travel, see my guide to getting online when travelling.

Of course, internet access and WiFi is not totally universal. Some of the National Parks and islands might not always have connectivity, so do keep this in mind.

Khao Sok Lake Thailand

 

Food in Thailand

Thai food is seriously amazing (in my opinion anyway!), with different regions offering different cuisines and cooking styles. The food features a range of flavours and fresh ingredients, with spicy curries and flavourful stir fries being popular options. You’ll probably recognise many favourites such as Pad Thai, Red & Green Curries, and spicy soups.

In my experience, the southern cuisine was spicier than the northern cuisine, with the yellow curry in the far south being eye wateringly hot.

Some of my personal highlights of Thai cuisine include Pad Thai, Khao Soi (unique to the north), green, red and yellow curries, Som Thai, and my absolute favourite, mango sticky rice. In reality though, it’s hard to go wrong, pretty much all Thai food is fantastic!

 

Budget in Thailand

Thailand is popular amongst budget travellers, and it very easy to travel in the country on $10 – $50 USD a day. However, Thailand is not just for budget travellers, with plenty of high end hotels, restaurants, and private tour options also available.

When planning your budget, think about your accommodation, transport, food and tour / entry costs.

 

Power Outlets in Thailand

Thailand uses a 220v system, so if you are travelling from the United States or other countries which use a 110v system then you need to be sure your devices support this standard.

In my experience, most low power electronics like smartphones and cameras automatically switch voltages and you don’t need to buy new chargers, just check it’s rated for 220v on the label.

Higher powered items like hair dryers usually don’t support dual voltages unless you have a specific travel model. You can read more about this topic in my guide to travel adaptors for travel.

Plug socket wise, Thailand confusingly has two types of socket, one with round holes that matches most European style plugs, and a two pin flat plug that will match a US two pin plug. So sometimes you may have the right plug and other times you won’t, so it is best to bring along some plug adaptors no matter where you are coming from for your electronic devices.

A good option, and what we do, is travel with a universal travel adaptor and a power strip, thus ensuring you don’t have any power issues.

 

Further Reading and Information for your Thailand Itinerary Planning

We have a lot of content about Thailand on our site. Here are some of our more relevant posts to check out.

And that just about sums up my guide to visiting Thailand for 10 weeks, as well as everything you might need to know to make the best of your trip!

If you’ve got any thoughts on feedback on this post, or ideas for where you’d recommend, do pop them in the comments below!

A detailed 10 day Thailand itinerary. Day by day break down of what to see and do, where to go, how to get there and where to stay!

This post was written by me in collaboration with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), as part of a paid campaign to help promote travel to Thailand. You can read more about travel in Thailand here. All opinions are my own, and you can see how we work with companies and what that means for our content in our code of ethics.



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How to Take Photos in Snow

How to Take Photos in Snow


In this post, I’m going to share with you a number of snow photography tips to help you get great photos in the snow.

Snowy conditions make for some wonderful photography opportunities. However, taking photos in snow can be a little bit challenging. This is for a number of reasons, from the brightness of the snow, through to the cold weather conditions that can hamper a camera’s functions. Then of course you have to consider general winter issues, like ice and cold, that can make conditions challenging for a photographer.

I’ve taken photos in the snow in locations around the world, from high altitude ski resorts through to winter in Nordic countries like Finland where the temperature has been below minus 30 degrees Celsius / Fahrenheit.

I’ll include some tips for getting great photos of snowy scenes, the camera settings you need for snow photography, some ideas for snow photos, and some tips on suggested camera gear and accessories for snow photography. Let’s get started.

Tips for Taking Photos In Snow

Here are some tips for getting the best photos in snow, whatever your camera.

 

Start with the Composition

Whatever type of camera you have and regardless of the subject or scene, the composition of your image should always be one of your key considerations.

Composition in photography is all about deciding what is going to be in your image, and how the different elements of the image work together. So you need to think about what exactly your image is of – the subject – and compose around that.

There are lots of compositional tips and tricks you can use to improve your image, from things like the rule of thirds through to use of color, leading lines and so on. If you’d like some tips, see my guide to composition in photography to get you started.

 

Shoot at Blue and Golden Hours

Light is a key component of photography. Through the course of the day, the light changes in both its direction and color. In the early morning and late evenings, when the sun is just below the horizon, the light is very blue and cold in tone, and this time is known as the blue hour.

Just after the sun rises and before it sets, the light is very yellow and warm in tone, and this period is known as the golden hour.

These times of day are good for photography in general, but are particularly good for shooting snowy scenes. This is because snow is very reflective, and tends to amplify and reflect light well. So a warm sunset or cool pre-dawn tones can look really wonderful as part of a snowy scene.

It’s also worth keeping in mind when planning your snowy photography shoots that you will generally be shooting in the winter season in most destinations. This means that the days will be shorter, giving you less time for daytime photography.

However, it does carry the advantage that sunrise / sunset are closer together, and you can usually capture the golden and blue hours without having to get up really early or go to bed really late. When I’ve done winter photography in the artic circle, sometimes I’ve found that the few hours of daylight are all golden all the time, which made for fantastic photography opportunities.

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Get the Focus Right in Snow

One thing you might notice when shooting in snow is that your camera or smartphone might struggle to lock focus, with the autofocus hunting backwards and forwards. In a worst case scenario, it won’t be able to auto focus at all, and you won’t be able to take a photo. Or you might get an out of focus shot which isn’t usable.

The reason for this is down to the way that most camera focus systems work. The focus function normally require a contrasting area to focus on—any area of the scene with contrasting elements. A large expanse of white snow tends not to have much contrast, and so the camera doesn’t have much to lock onto.

This issue isn’t specific to snow. You will often have the same problem if you try to take a picture of a wide open blue sky—the camera has nothing to lock onto.

In both these scenarios, the solution is to find something other than a uniform expanse to focus on. With the case of a blue sky, this might be something like a cloud. With snow, it might be a tree, or a person, a building, an animal, or any object that stands out against the white snow.

You might need to change the camera’s focus mode and specifically select the object you want it to focus on in order to get the results you require. So instead of full autofocus, you might change to a single point and focus there.

If you are still struggling to get focus using the automatic focus system, then check if your camera has a manual focus option. If so, you can use this to over ride the autofocus system and get a sharp image. Note that not all cameras and lenses support manual focus. Most DSLR and mirrorless cameras do, but not all compact or smartphones have manul focus.

 

Use the Exposure Compensation Feature for Snow Photography

One very common issue that I see when folks on my photography course send me questions about snow photography, is that their images are coming out darker than they expect, with photos of snow looking gray rather than white.

Snow photos coming out too dark happens all the time, but luckily there is a simple fix that works across pretty much all cameras and other devices.

First, you might be wondering why your snow photos are coming out too dark, or are “under-exposed” to use the correct photography term. The reason is down to the way that a camera evaluates the light in a scene. To put it in simple terms, all the white snow in the scene confuses the camera, causing it to reduce the amount of light it captures, and therefore underexposing your image.

If you want to learn more about how a camera works and the concepts of exposure, see my guide to exposure in photography, and my guides to how a DSLR works as well as how a mirrorless camera works.

The good news is that there is a simple fix to gray snow in your photos. All you have to do is use your camera’s exposure compensation feature. This tells the camera to let more light in when taking the photo, and will result in a brighter image.

Nearly every camera on the market, including smartphones, have an exposure compensation option. It will either be available directly via a button on the camera itself, that looks like “+/-“, or via the camera menu.

When you press the button, you should be given a scale that runs from negative numbers to positive numbers, perhaps from -3 to +3, with zero in the middle. Any number above zero will increase the brightness, any number below zero will decrease the brightness.

Each full positive increment of 1 (i.e. from 0 to 1 or 2 to 2) will result in the image being twice as bright.

Each full negative increment of 1 (i.e. from 0 to -1 or -1 to -2) will result in the image being half as bright.

For snow photography, a good rule of thumb is to increase the exposure by “+1”, also known as one stop. Then shoot and adjust if needed.

You should be able to do this from most shooting modes, although this will vary by camera and device. If you have any issues, either look up your camera manual, or search the internet for “exposure compensation + your camera model“.

Exposure compensation button

 

Use a Lens Hood

If you have a camera with a removable lens, like a mirrorless camera or a DSLR camera, then you should consider using an accessory known as a lens hood. These are also sometimes called sun hoods.

A lens hood is simply an extended piece of circular plastic that fits onto the end of the lens, giving it an extended look. Usually, the main reason to use a lens hood is to reduce unwanted glare entering the lens from the sides of the shot, which can cause flares and other image quality issues in your photos.

In snow photography, there is often a lot of glare as the snow is so bright, and a lens hood can help cut down on this, giving you higher contrast and cleaner images.

However, even if it’s not sunny, a lens hood can offer benefits for snow photography. Primarily, if it’s snowing, a lens hood can help stop flakes of snow landing directly on the glass of your lens. This protection is why I nearly always have a lens hood on my camera—it’s helpful in both snow and rain to help keep my lens dry.

Some lenses come with a lens hood. If not, they are generally inexpensive to buy for most cameras. You can purchase them either direct from the manufacturer or from third party manufacturers. Click here for a list of lens hoods. Just make sure the lens hood is designed for your lens, as lenses are of a different diameter and the lens hood needs to match.

 

Try a Polarizing Filter

Another snow photography tip for cameras that support interchangeable lenses is to use a polarizing filter. A polarizing filter is a bit of glass that attaches to your lens which is used to filter out polarized light.

Polarized light is generally light which has been reflected from a certain type of surface, which includes snow. If you use a polarizing filter when shooting snow, it cuts down on the glare, and will improve the contrast and colors in your image.

Polarizing filters have a lot of uses in photography in general, from cutting down on reflections to making the clouds in a blue sky really pop. So they are definitely a worthwhile investment for a range of photography subjects beyond snow photography. You can read more about polarizing filters here.

 

Use Aperture Priority or a Special Snow Photography Mode

For the majority of photography that I do with either our DSLR or mirrorless cameras, I have the camera set to aperture priority mode. Snow photography is no different.

I like aperture priority because it allows me to easily control the depth of field of a photo, but frees me up from worrying about setting the shutter speed and ISO as I would have to in manual. Of course I keep an eye on these settings to ensure they are within acceptable parameters, but generally I prefer to let the camera deal with those things so I can focus on getting the shot itself.

When shooting snow, in most situations it will be outdoor situations with plenty of light, so I don’t have to worry about the shutter speed dropping too low or the ISO going too high. Instead, I can focus on the composition of my shot and capturing the moment.

Most cameras with an aperture priority mode let you set it via the camera’s mode dial. Aperture priority will be marked as “A” or “Av” in most cases.

If your camera doesn’t have an aperture priority mode, then you might check to see if it has a snow photography mode (or winter mode), which will help ensure correctly exposed images. Alternatively, try either the portrait mode for shooting portraits, the action mode if you are capturing fast moving action, or the landscape mode for landscapes.

Waterfall long exposure photography Scotland

 

Shoot in RAW if available

For a long time, the RAW format was the exclusive domain of higher end digital SLR cameras. These days though, many more devices can shoot in RAW, including high end smartphones from Apple and Samsung and higher end compact cameras.

A RAW file is an unprocessed (in most cases) version of the image file which doesn’t sacrifice image data for file size. RAW files have a number of downsides, including the size of the file and the fact you have to edit them. However, the upsides are that you have a lot more control over the final look of the image when it comes to editing.

I have a great deal more information on what RAW is in photography here. Suffice to say, if your device supports RAW photography, it is worth trying it out for snow photography.

 

Protect Your Gear

When you’re out shooting the snow, you need to be mindful of how the conditions can affect your gear.

To start with, when it’s cold, expect your battery to last for fewer photos. You might not notice too much difference if the temperatures are just around freezing point, but as it gets colder you will definitely notice a big drop off in capacity. So you’ll want to carry spare batteries and keep then in an inside pocket (such as in a vest or interior jacket) to keep them warm.

Next, if you are in really cold conditions, you’ll want to be careful when taking your gear back to a warm location like your house. The rapid temperature change can cause condensation to build up even inside the camera, which will not do the sensitive electronics any good. To prevent this, place the whole camera inside something like a sealed freezer bag before you bring it inside.

If the weather is even more extreme, then you might consider a camera cover like this which will protect the whole camera from snow and rain. These are a useful accessory for photography in general, and are not too expensive.

I have more tips on protecting your gear (and you!) from the cold in my winter photography tips guide.

 

Be Safe

Our last snow photography tip is just to be safe. Photographing snow is a lot of fun and very rewarding, but you obviously have to take care in wintery conditions.

There are all sorts of hazards when it’s cold, from the health risks associated with the cold itself like hypothermia and frost bite, through to slippery surfaces when icy and avalanches.

Always put your health and safety first, even if it means missing a possibly great shot. If you’re heading to remote locations, follow best practice and ensure someone knows where you are and what your itinerary is. If you are travelling alone, be sure to have a way to contact someone in the area if you run into any trouble.

Snowy2BFinland_by_

 

Camera Settings for Snow Photography

I’ve covered this in part in the tips section, but here’s a quick overview of my suggested settings for snow photography for some different camera types to get you started.

These are of course suggested settings to get you started and you may need to adjust depending on your specific situation, image style, and device.

 

Snow Photography Settings for Mirrorless / DSLR / Camera with Manual Control

If you have a mirrorless camera, DSLR camera or other camera with manual controls, set it up as follows:

  • Aperture priority, wide apertures (f/1.2 – f/4) for shallow depth of field, and narrow aperture (f/8 – f/16) to get more of the scene in focus
  • ISO – either set the ISO to Auto, or adjust based on the light. Usually 100 – 400 will be fine except at night.
  • Shutter speed – in aperture priority this will be set for you
  • Exposure compensation: Set to +1
  • RAW: configure the camera to capture images in RAW mode
  • White Balance: Set to Auto and you can adjust this when post processing

Snow Photography Settings for Compact Camera / Camera without Manual Control

If you have a compact camera or a camera that doesn’t give you manual controls, then try the following for photographing snow:

  • Set the camera to “snow” or “winter” mode if it has one (many do)
  • Exposure Compensation: Nearly every camera has some form of exposure compensation feature. Set this to +1. There might be a “+/-” button on the camera, otherwise check your camera manual for the feature
  • White balance: Auto
  • Flash: Off (see here for instructions on disabling camera flash)

 

Snow Photography Settings for Smartphone Cameras

If you have a smartphone, the chances are you have limited manual control over many of the key settings. However, most smartphones these days are very clever, and should be able to get great snowy photos without too much adjustment on your part. Some things to try:

  • HDR mode on – this will ensure an evenly lit image across the whole frame
  • Exposure Compensation: Nearly every smartphone has an exposure compensation feature in the camera app. Set this to +1
  • White balance: Auto
  • Flash: Off (see here for instructions on disabling camera flash)

 

Snow Photography Ideas

Now you are all ready to take some great photos in the snow. But you might be wondering what exactly to take photos of. Here are some subjects and image types to consider.

 

Landscapes

A beautiful snowy landscape is a classic scene to photograph. My tips would be to ensure there is good depth in your shot with defined foreground and background elements to give your viewer a sense of perspective and scale.

You can also use a subject like a person to add some color and a human touch to a shot. Another option might be to use a snowman or other human created object to interest your viewer.

La2BMasella2BSkiing2BPyrenees_by_Laurence2BNorah-7

 

Wildlife

Snow makes a great backdrop to wildlife photography. From a beautiful red breasted robin through to majestic stags, you can easily use an animal as the key subject in your snow photographs.

Stag NC500

 

Action Shots

If you’re looking for fun ways to take pictures of people in snow, then I think capturing action is a great way to do that. This could be people having a snowball fight, sledding, building snowmen, skiing, making snow angels, or simply out for a walk in a winter wonderland.

For action photography, you might want to switch to shutter priority rather than aperture priority if your camera supports this, as this way you’ll be able to control whether you freeze your subject (fast shutter speed) or capture some of their motion (slow shutter speed).

La2BMasella2BSkiing2BPyrenees_by_Laurence2BNorah-6

 

Gear for Snow Photography

Snow photography doesn’t require specialized equipment to get great results, however you may consider investing in some of the following in order to have a better experience and improve your images.

 

Further Reading

That’s it for my guide to taking pictures in snow. If you found this useful, you might enjoy some of my other photography content. Here are some articles to get you started.

  • If you’re looking for more advice on specific tips for different scenarios, we also have you covered. See our guide to Northern Lights photography, long exposure photography, fireworks photography, tips for taking photos of stars, and cold weather photography.
  • We have a guide to how to use a compact camera, how to use a DSLR camera, and how to use a mirrorless camera. We also have a guide to how a DSLR works
  • Knowing how to compose a great photo is a key photography skill. See our guide to composition in photography for lots of tips on this subject
  • We have a guide to what depth of field is and when you would want to use it.
  • We are big fans of getting the most out of your digital photo files, and do to that you will need to shoot in RAW. See our guide to RAW in photography to understand what RAW is, and why you should switch to RAW as soon as you can if your camera supports it.
  • We have a guide to the best photo editing applications which includes both paid and free options
  • You’re going to need something to run your photo editing software on. See our guide to the best laptops for photo editing for some tips on what to look for.
  • Color accuracy is important for photography – see our guide to monitor calibration to ensure your screen is set up correctly.
  • If you’re looking for a great gift for a photography loving friend or family member (or yourself!), take a look at our photography gift guide,
  • If you’re in the market for a new camera, we have a detailed guide to the best travel cameras, as well as specific guides for the best cameras for hiking and backpacking, the best compact camera, best bridge camera, best mirrorless camera and best DSLR camera. We also have a guide to the best camera lenses.
  • If you want a camera or lens, but the prices are a bit high, see our guide to where to buy used cameras and camera gear for some budget savings options.
  • We have a guide to why you need a tripod, a guide to choosing a travel tripod, and a round-up of our favourite travel tripods

 

Looking to Improve Your Photography?

If you found this post helpful, and you want to improve your photography overall, you might want to check out my online travel photography course.

Since launching the course in 2016, I’ve already helped thousands of students learn how to take better photos. The course covers pretty much everything you need to know, from the basics of how a camera works, through to composition, light, and photo editing.

It also covers more advanced topics, including astrophotography, long exposure photography, flash photography, and HDR photography.

You get feedback from me as you progress, access to webinars, interviews and videos, as well as exclusive membership of a Facebook group where you can get feedback on your work and take part in regular challenges.

It’s available for an amazing one-off price for lifetime access, and can also be bought as a gift if you know someone who would love to learn photography. Find out more by clicking here.

And that’s it! I’d love to hear about your thoughts on snow photography, and am happy to answer any questions you have. Just pop them in the comments below and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

Snow photography tips, including camera settings for snow photography, ideas for what to photography in the snow, gear advice and lots more!



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Outlander Filming Locations in Scotland

Outlander Filming Locations in Scotland


The popular Outlander TV show and book series is set primarily in Scotland, and many Outlander filming locations are also real life locations that you can visit on a trip to Scotland.

A visit to these filming locations is often a must for fans of the TV show, where they can see the locations that have brought the show to life.

In this guide, we’re going to share with you all our favourite Outlander filming locations around Scotland that you can actually visit yourself. This is based on our own explorations in Scotland from our time living there, as well as a specific tour of Outlander locations that we took.

If you’re an Outlander fan who is travelling with friends or family who haven’t seen the show, we still recommend bringing them along on your Outlander adventure. You definitely don’t need to be a fan of the TV show or to have watched many episodes to enjoy visiting the locations, as many of them are interesting and scenic. After all, that’s often why they were chosen to be in the show!

The majority of the Outlander filming locations can be easily visited as a day trip from Edinburgh or day trip from Glasgow, although you would need more than one day to visit all of them. However, basing yourself in either Edinburgh or Glasgow is likely the best option as this will let you access most of the filming sites quite easily.

In this guide I’m going to go through all our favourite Outlander filming locations in Scotland, and provide you with all the information you need to visit them yourself. Note that this will contain spoilers for all seasons of the show to date as I describe the scenes and events that happen at each location.

Let’s get started!

Where is Outlander Filmed?

Outlander is primarily filmed in Scotland. Much of the filming takes place at the Wardpark Studios near Glasgow. However, a number of scenes have been shot at locations all across country. Even those scenes which are set outside of Scotland, such as those set in North Carolina (USA) and France, were also filmed in Scotland.

Although almost all of Outlander has been filmed in Scotland, a few filming location outside of Scotland have been used, including Prague, Czech Republic and Cape Town, South Africa.

For the first few seasons of the show, many publicly accessible and well known locations in Scotland were used.

However, as the show became ever more popular, the studio had to move to more studio shooting, shooting on private estates, and more off the beaten path filming locations, to avoid all the fans hoping to catch a glimpse of the stars. This is why you will find more locations from earlier seasons of the show in this guide.

In addition to using our travel guide to Outlander filming locations, we can also recommend picking up the official companion books to Outlander, available here for the Seasons 1 & 2, and here for Seasons 3 & 4. They have hundreds of photos of the sets, information from the crew and cast on the filming process and locations, and lots more to get you excited about visiting the real life Outlander locations!

Callanish Standing stones
Callanish stone circle – believed to be the inspiration for the Craigh na Dun stone circle from Outlander

 

40+ Outlander Filming Locations in Scotland

There are a great many locations where Outlander was filmed in Scotland. Here are some of our favourite locations.

These are not in a strict order – we’ve grouped some together that are easier to visit together, and tried to list some of the more iconic locations first. However, everyone has their own idea of which are the best outlander locations, so you are welcome to pick and choose which ones you want to visit of course!

 

Kinloch Rannoch – Craigh Na Dun

One of Outlander’s most well known moments is when Claire travels back through time at the Craigh na Dun stone circle.

Fans visiting Scotland are always keen to know how to visit the standing stones from Outlander. Unfortunately, you can’t actually visit them because they don’t exist. The stone circle in the show was created out of Styrofoam, and the set was built on private land near the village of Kinloch Rannoch.

The good news is that you can of course visit Kinloch Rannoch as the surrounding scenery as seen in the show is very much real. Loch Rannoch in particular is beautiful, and there’s lovely Highland scenery in the area.

If you would prefer to see some standing stones, you have a great many options in Scotland. First, the stone circle that is believed to have inspired the look of the stones at Craigh na Dun is the 5,000 year old Callanish stone circle on the island of Lewis & Harris.

Another popular option are the Clava Cairns near Inverness, where there’s a split stone similar to the one from the show.

Clava Cairns standing stone outlander

In terms of visiting, the village of Kinloch Rannoch is on the shores of Loch Rannoch. This is around a two hour drive from Edinburgh, Glasgow, or Inverness. It’s not on any public transport routes so you will have to have your own vehicle to visit.

Clava Cairns is a lot easier to visit, being found just a few miles outside of Inverness. A number of tours include the Clava Cairns on their day trips from Inverness.

The Callanish standing stones will require you to visit Lewis & Harris, either using your own vehicle, or on a tour like this.

Clava Cairns

 

Doune Castle – Castle Leoch

Doune Castle, found just outside the village of Doune, is a 15th century medieval stronghold found around an hour’s drive from both Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Doune Castle features as Castle Leoch, the Mackenzie family home, in the first season of Outlander. Both exteriors and interiors of the castle were used for a number of scenes and a small village was built outside the front entrance of the castle to appear in the show.

It’s worth noting that their is a Clan MacKenzie in real life, and their family home is at Castle Leod. This is found about 14 miles north west of Inverness. Whilst it served as the inspiration to Castle Leoch in the Outlander novels, it was not chosen as a filming location. However, many fans still wish to visit Castle Leod. You can see more about Castle Leod in my section on related Outlander locations further on in this guide.

Doune Castle is no stranger to the silver screen. Before Outlander, it was well known as the filming location of the Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The TV show Game of Thrones also shot early scenes here, with the castle standing in for Winterfell.

Doune Castle is open for visitors, and you can learn about both the Outlander and Monty Python filming when you visit. It’s operated by Historic Scotland, and there’s a fee to visit. It’s free for Historic Scotland members and English Heritage members.

You can also get a Historic Scotland Explorer Pass that gives you access to a number of attractions over a time period. This will be worth getting if you plan on visiting some of the other Historic Scotland attractions on our list, or in Scotland in general.

Doune Castle is a popular attraction in Scotland, and is included on a number of tours from Edinburgh, including this one and this one. You can also visit it on a tour from Glasgow like this.

Of course, if you have your own transport you can also visit Doune Castle by car. In addition, a public bus runs from Stirling to Doune, and you can get to Stirling by train from locations around Scotland. You can check train times and book tickets here, and you can get general public transport information for Scotland on the Traveline Scotland website here.

Outlander Filming Location - Doune castle

 

Hill of Row – Fraser’s Ridge

Whilst you are visiting Doune, you might try searching out the iconic Fraser’s Ridge location where Jamie and Claire live in North Carolina. The log cabin they live in is actually found on the Hill of Row, a stretch of high ground to the south east of Doune.

The exact location of the cabin, which features from Season 4 of the show onwards, is not publicly known. However, it is believed to be in woodlands not too far from the David Stirling memorial if you are feeling adventurous!

 

Culloden Battlefield

The Culloden Battlefield, just outside of Inverness, was the culminating point of the Jacobite rebellion, which the Outlander series largely revolves around.

This battlefield saw the Jacobite army defeated by British forces in 1746, with a great loss of life, largely on the Jacobite side.

The Battle of Culloden features in Outlander in Episode 12 of Season 2. The principle filming location for the battle scenes was Cumbernauld Glen, a beautiful ancient woodland found between Falkirk and Glasgow. The real Battle of Culloden is a historical monument with thousands of war graves, and so was not used for the battle scenes in the show.

However, later on in Episode 12 of Season 2, we see Claire in 1960s Scotland visiting the Clan Fraser memorial stone at the Battle of Culloden. This was filmed at the actual battlefield, and the Clan Fraser memorial stone can be visited today. There are also memorial stones to many of the other clans as well as the English fallen around the site.

Culloden Battlefield is open for visitors. The site is managed by the National Trust for Scotland, and there is a fee to visit. It’s free for National Trust members. Overseas visitors can buy a National Trust Touring Pass which grants access to over 300 properties across the UK for a number of days.

You can see details of opening hours and prices here.

Culloden Battlefield is 5 miles east of Inverness. You can reach it in around 40 minutes by public bus from Inverness, or you can drive yourself in around 15 minutes. Alternatively, you can visit it on a tour like this.

Clan stone memorial

 

Blackness Castle – Fort William

One of my favourite Outlander filming locations in Scotland is the spectacular Blackness Castle. This 15th century sea fortress is found 45 minutes drive from Edinburgh, and it stood in for Fort William in Season 1 & Season 2 of Outlander.

Specific scenes filmed at Blackness Castle include Jamie being given lashes in the courtyard by Black Jack Randall, and Jamie and Claire escaping later on in the season. In Season 2, Brianna and Roger visit Fort William, and Blackness Castle reprises its role.

The castle is quite a feat of engineering. It looks much like a ship, with a tall triangular shaped wall surrounding the imposing central keep.

Blackness Castle is operated by Historic Scotland, and there’s a small fee to visit. It’s free for Historic Scotland members and English Heritage members.

Blackness Castle is also visited on a number of day trips, including this tour of Outlander filming locations near Edinburgh.

Blackness Castle can of course be visited by car, and there’s parking on site. By public transport, the best option is to take the train to Linlithgow from either Edinburgh or Glasgow, and then take a local bus out to Blackness.

You can check train times and book tickets here, and you can get general public transport information for Scotland on the Traveline Scotland website here.

Outlander Filming Location - Blackness Castle

 

Culross – Cranesmuir

The beautiful village of Culross was used for multiple scenes across a number of Outlander seasons. Fans will likely associate it most with the fictional village of Cranesmuir, featured in Season 1 of Outlander as the home of Geillis Duncan. Part of the the village were actually repainted for the show to more muted shades of grey and brown.

Culross is also where you’ll find Culross Palace. This featured in Outlander as Geillis Duncan’s parlour. The garden to the rear of the palace featured as the Castle Leoch herb garden, where you see Claire gathering plants for medicinal use in Episode 3 of Season 1.

Culross Palace also appeared as a tavern in Season 2 of the show, and the village re-appeared in Season 4 as the location of Balriggan Cottage, the home of Laoghaire.

When you visit Culross, you will quickly see why the Outlander crew were so keen to use it. The village is one of the finest examples of a 17th century burgh (an autonomous municipal corporation) surviving today. It was a port city on the Firth of Forth and an important coal and salt trading town.

After the 18th century the towns fortunes declined, and it became a bit of a ghost town. This worked in its favour from a preservation perspective, as many of the buildings survived largely unchanged to the present day.

Parts of the town, including Culross Palace, are preserved by the National Trust for Scotland. The village itself is free and open to visitors, however Culross Palace has an entry fee. It’s free for National Trust members. Overseas visitors can buy a National Trust Touring Pass which grants access to over 300 properties across the UK for a number of days.

You can see details of opening hours and prices here.

Culross is an easy 45 minute drive from Edinburgh, and can also be reached by public transport from Edinburgh in around 90 minutes. It can also be visited as a day trip from Edinburgh on a tour like this.

Culross palace garden

Outlander Filming Location - Culross

 

Midhope Castle – Lallybroch

Midhope Castle is a 15th century tower house found just on the outskirts of Edinburgh on the Hopetoun Estate. Outlander fans will instantly recognise the building as Lallybroch, the family home of Jamie Fraser. It primarily featured in the first two seasons of the show.

The building itself is actually derelict inside, although the exterior is fairly intact. For the show, only the exteriors were used. It’s not possible to go inside the castle, and there wouldn’t be much to see if you could.

As a result of the popularity of the location and its close proximity to Edinburgh, the owners of the estate charge a small fee for parking on site. It’s also not open year round – you’ll want to check opening times and pricing on the website here.

Access can close due to work on the estate or farming activities, so you will definitely want to check it is open to avoid a wasted visit. Tour operators may have access at time when they are not allowing regular visitors so taking a tour can be a good way to visit here.

To visit, you can either drive yourself, or take a taxi from the city. Another option is to visit as part of a tour like this.

Outlander Filming Location - Midhope castle

 

Hopetoun House – Duke of Sandringham’s Residence

Midhope Castle is on the grounds of Hopetoun Estate, where you’ll also find the spectacular 17th century Hopetoun House. This is one of Scotland’s most impressive stately homes. Of course, it was also a filming location for Outlander, primarily as the Duke of Sandringham’s residence.

In Season 1, the Red Drawing Room inside the house was used as the interior of the Duke’s home. Exteriors were also used, with the Sea Trail and West Lawn used as the duel location between the Duke and the McDonald clan leader. A sword fight from Season 1 played out on the rear steps of the house.

Season 2 of the show featured a number of scenes set in Paris. The courtyard behind the Stables Tearoom stepped in for a Parisian street for some of this season.

Hopetoun House is open for visitors seasonally, and you can visit both the house and the grounds. There’s a fee to visit. You’ll want to have your own transport as there’s no easy public transport access. Alternatively, you can visit on a day tour from Edinburgh like this.

If you have your own vehicle, then we’d recommend including Midhope Castle, Blackness Castle, Abercorn Church, and Linlithgow Palace on your Outlander itinerary, as they are all close to each other. Culross is also quite close by.

You can see more about prices and opening times to plan your visit to Hopetoun House and Estate here.

 

Abercorn Church – Frank’s Grave

The tiny village of Abercorn is between Hopetoun House and Midhope Castle, and is where you’ll find the 11th century Abercorn Church. This is a very pretty small parish church, where you’ll also find a small museum.

Abercorn Church appeared in Season 4 of the show, as a graveyard in 1960s Boston where Frank is buried. Bree visits his grave to pay her respects in Episode 7 of the season, and Abercorn Church was the filming location for the scene.

Abercorn Church is free to visit. You will likely want your own car, and we’d suggest including the other nearby locations on your trip out here, including Hopetoun House and Midhope Castle.

 

Linlithgow Palace – Wentworth Prison

Once a residence of the monarchs of Scotland, the massive 15th century Linlithgow Palace was destroyed by fire in 1746. Today, the ruin is still an impressive structure, with most of the walls surviving (if not the roof).

Linlithgow Palace was used in Season 1 of Outlander, as the filming location for Wentworth Prison. It was here that Jamie was held and abused by Captain “Black Jack” Randall.

Linlithgow Palace is in the town of Linlithgow, around a 20 mile drive west of Edinburgh, or 30 miles east of Glasgow. It’s easy to reach by public transport as there’s a train station, which offers access to Edinburgh (about a 20 minute train ride away) and Glasgow (about a 30 minute train ride away). You can check train times and book tickets here.

Of course, you can also visit Linlithgow on a guided tour of Outlander locations such as this one.

Linlithgow Palace is operated by Historic Scotland, and there’s a fee to visit. It’s free for Historic Scotland members and English Heritage members.

You can also get a Historic Scotland Explorer Pass that gives you access to a number of attractions over a set time period. This will be worth getting if you plan on visiting some of the other Historic Scotland attraction on our list, or in Scotland in general.

Outlander Filming Location – Linlithgow Palace

 

Newhailes House – Governor Tryon’s Home, North Carolina

Newhailes house is a 17th century Palladian mansion, found just 6 miles outside of Edinburgh in Musselburgh. It was used as Governor Tryon’s home in North Carolina in Season 4 of the show.

In Episode 1 of Season 4, Jamie chats with the Governor about land grants. The show was filmed in the Dining Room and Library of Newhailes House, both of which can be visited (although when we visited photography wasn’t allowed inside).

Newhailes House and Grounds are operated by the National Trust for Scotland, and there’s a fee to visit.  It’s free for National Trust members. Overseas visitors can buy a National Trust Touring Pass which grants access to over 300 properties across the UK for a number of days.

You can see opening times and prices here.

Newhailes House can easily be visited by car from Edinburgh, it’s around a 20 minute drive. Alternatively, you can take a bus or train from Edinburgh to Musselburgh, and then it’s a short walk to the estate.

Outlander Filming Location – Newhailes House

 

Craigmillar Castle – Ardsmuir Prison

Whilst many people are aware of Edinburgh’s famous city centre castle, there is another castle just outside the city centre – Craigmillar Castle. It is one of the places we recommend to those looking for lesser known things to do in Edinburgh.

Dating from the late 14th century, Craigmillar Castle is a truly impressive castle to visit. The walls in some places are over three metres thick! Today much of the castle is ruined, but the main structure is still obvious and it is fun to explore all the different parts of the castle. Its most famous historical visitor was probably Mary, Queen of Scots.

Craigmillar Castle appeared in Season 3 of Outlander, where it filled the role of Ardsmuir Prison. It was here that Jamie and a number of other Jacobite rebels were imprisoned following the Battle of Culloden. In the show, this was set in the Scottish Highlands, but in real life it’s just outside Edinburgh and easy to visit.

Many parts of the castle featured in the show, including the internal courtyard, the castle exteriors, and some of the internal stairways.

Craigmillar Castle is operated by Historic Scotland and there’s a fee to visit. It’s free for Historic Scotland members and English Heritage members.

You can also get a Historic Scotland Explorer Pass that gives you access to a number of attractions over a set time period. This will be worth getting if you plan on visiting some of the other Historic Scotland attraction on our list, or in Scotland in general.

You can see prices and opening times on the official website here.

You can easily reach Craigmillar Castle from Edinburgh. It’s around a four mile drive by car, or around 35 minutes by bus to Craigmillar, followed by a short walk.

Outlander Filming Location - Craigmillar Castle

 

Backhouse Close, Edinburgh – A. Malcolm’s Print Shop

Edinburgh is well known for its closes or narrow little alleyways that are generally found running off the Royal Mile.

One of these, Backhouse Close, was the filming location of Alexander Malcolm’s print shop in the 5th Episode of Season 3. Claire walks down Backhouse Close (renamed Carfax Close in the show) to visit the shop and reunite with Jamie. You’ll see her walk up the exterior stairs here before entering the shop for their reunion.

The inside of the shop was actually a set, so it can’t be visited, but the exterior looks very similar to how it did in the show, despite it being set in the 18th century. Backhouse Close is easy to find, it’s right next to the Museum of Edinburgh.

Backhouse Close was also used other filming locations for the show, to depict scenes of various Edinburgh streets. One notable scene that was shot here was when Jamie leads Claire to his less than salubrious lodgings (the brothel operated by Madame Jeanne).

There actually was a real life brothel on this street in Edinburgh, the Cock and Strumpet, at the present day Acheson House. This 17th century building features as the outside of Jamie’s lodgings in Outlander.

It’s easy to visit this location yourself, or you can take a guided walking tour of the Outlander Edinburgh locations like this.

Outlander Filming Location – Backhouse Close

 

Summerhall, Edinburgh – Lecture Hall

Summerhall is one of our favourite venues in Edinburgh. It has its own on-site gin distillery, microbrewery, and entertainment space, as well as a variety of venues for lectures, entertainment, and festival events. It was originally built and used as a teaching college for veterinarians.

One of its rooms is an original lecture theatre that would have been used as a teaching space when Summerhall was a veterinary school. It has distinctive curved wooden seating, and was used for teaching anatomy. The design gave all the students a good view of any animal dissections!

This is the last surviving room of its type in the UK. It was used for Season 3 of Outlander, and it was here in Episode 2 that we see Claire starting her medical studies in Boston in the middle of the 20th century. It’s also here that she meets Joe Abernathy for the first time.

Parts of Summerhall are open to the public, although the anatomy lecture hall isn’t always open. We actually attended a lecture here during the Edinburgh Science Festival, and it’s also a popular Edinburgh Fringe venue. So if you want the full lecture experience (minus the dissection!), this is a good way to visit. Alternatively, you should contact Summerhall directly prior to your visit and ask if you can visit the room.

Outlander Filming Location – Anatomy Lecture hall summerhall

 

Signet Library – Governor’s Mansion, Jamaica

One of our favourite places for afternoon tea in Edinburgh is at the beautiful Colonnades restaurant, which is found in the downstairs room of the Signet Library building just off the Royal Mile.

The upstairs room was the filming location for the Governor’s Mansion in Jamaica for Episode 12 of Season 3. Jamie and Claire visit the mansion to meet the governor, and these scenes were shot in both the downstairs and upstairs rooms of the Signet library.

For visiting, the upstairs rooms are generally off limits to the public as they are being used as private offices. However, you absolutely can visit the downstairs, and the best way to do that is by booking one of the delicious afternoon teas!

Outlander Filming Location – Signet Library

 

Dunure Beach & Castle – Ayr Harbour & The Silkies’ Isle

The small village of Dunure on Scotland’s west coast was used for a number of scenes in Outlander. First, the harbour here was used as Ayr harbour, where Jamie and Claire board the Artemis to Jamaica in Episode 9 of Season 3. In Season 4, Outlander returned to this location, and this is where Brianna boards the ship to North Carolina in Episode 7.

As well as the harbour scenes in Seasons 3 and 4 of the show, the nearby coastline and the ruins of Dunure Castle were also used as an Outlander filming location. In Season 3, during a flashback in episode 8, Jamie escapes Ardsmuir Prison and travels to the Silkies’ Isle.

In the books the Silkies’ Isle is depicted as being one of three small islands found off the far north coast of Scotland. However, the filming location that was used for the Silkie’s Isle wasn’t actually an island at all, it’s the shore near Dunure. It’s just the magic of the camera that makes you think it’s an island. You’ll see Jamie swimming from the beach here, and exploring Dunure Castle in search of Claire. He doesn’t find Claire, but he does find the MacKenzie treasure.

Other scenes from these episodes were also shot here, including the scene where Jamie and Claire watch Young Ian being kidnapped by pirates, which was filmed on the beach.

Both Dunure Harbour and Castle are free to visit. The Castle is in ruins and some parts are fenced off for safety, but you can certainly visit the exterior.

The easiest way to visit Dunure is to drive. It’s around an hours drive south of Glasgow, or two hours from Edinburgh. Another option is to take public transport, with public buses running to Dunure. You can check bus times for Scotland at traveline.

Outlander Filming Location – Dunure Beach

Outlander Filming Location – Dunure Castle

 

Glencoe – Opening Credits

The opening credits from Outlander feature a range of different scenes from the show, from many of the filming locations around Scotland. One of the standout locations though is the beautiful Glencoe Valley, which is one of Scotland’s most beautiful valleys.

Glencoe has appeared in numerous films, including James Bond’s Skyfall, the Harry Potter series, and the Highlander. It’s not hard to see why – the valley is truly spectacular and scenic, and is a favourite amongst landscape photographers and visitors to Scotland in general.

Glencoe is around a 2.5 hour drive from Edinburgh or Glasgow. It can also be visited on a day trip from either city, including on a tour like this from Edinburgh, and one like this from Glasgow. If you’re visiting Scotland in winter, Glencoe is also a popular destination for skiing in Scotland!

Outlander Filming Location – Glencoe

 

Highland Folk Museum – Village where rent is collected

Found in Newtonmore in the Cairngorms National Park, the Highland Folk Museum is a fantastic outdoor museum which showcases what life in the Highlands has been like over the last few hundred years.

The Museum actually started on the island of Iona in 1935, and it moved a number of times before settling on its present day location in Newtonmore in the 1980s. Today, the site takes up 80 acres and is home to numerous buildings and artifacts which run from the 1700s to the 1900s.

Outlander fans will be particularly interested in the reconstruction of a 1700s township, which features a number of beautiful old thatched buildings. In Episode 5 of the first Season of Outlander, Claire and Jamie visit a village to collect rent, and the village in the show was the 1700s township in the Highland Folk Museum.

Very little set building had to be done as the village is so authentic already, so if you want to really step into the world of Outlander, this is definitely one of the best locations to do just that! As well as the houses here, there are also costumed docents who do period-relevant demonstrations. So it all feels very authentic.

The Highland Folk Museum is in the Cairngorm National Park, 16 miles from Aviemore, or 44 miles (1 hour drive) from Inverness. It is easy to visit by car, and there are also train and bus services to the town of Newtonmore. You can see timetables here.

The museum is also visited on a number of tours, including this 3 day tour from Glasgow and this 4 day tour from Edinburgh.

At the time of writing, and when we visited, entry was by donation. Of course, museums like this can only survive if visitors do donate – you can read more about the importance of donating to free museums here.

Outlander Filming Location – Highland Folk Museum

 

Falkland – Inverness

In the first and second seasons of the show, we find Claire in Inverness at various time points including the mid 20th century and the 18th century.

Whilst the real city of Inverness is very picturesque, clearly the Outlander crew decided it wasn’t quite the look they wanted. As a result, scenes depicting Inverness were actually filmed in the village of Falkland which is found in Fife.

General street scenes featuring the buildings of Falkland were used as Outlander locations. Examples include the Covenantor Hotel as Mrs. Baird’s Guesthouse, where Frank and Claire take their honeymoon in Episode 1 of Season 1. It’s a real hotel, and you can book here to stay the night if you want! Just be aware that only the exteriors of the building were used in the show.

Another easily recognisable location from the first episode of the show is the Bruce Fountain in the centre of the village. This was where we saw Jamie’s ghost staring up at Claire. A number of other buildings and locations in Falkland also appeared as background or shop windows in the first and second seasons of the show.

In addition, the cellar kitchen of Falkland Palace was also used as an apothecary room in Episode 12 of Season 2.

Falkland, being a village, is of course free to visit. Falkland Palace is operated by the National Trust for Scotland, and there’s a fee to visit.  It’s free for National Trust members. Overseas visitors can buy a National Trust Touring Pass which grants access to over 300 properties across the UK for a number of days.

You can get to Falkland in around an hour by car from Edinburgh. By public transport, you can take the train to nearby Markinch, and then take a local bus.

Falkland is included on this tour, which also visits Anstruther where you could visit the Scottish Fisheries museum and see the “Reaper”, which was used as the vessel that transported Claire and Jamie to France at the end of Season 1. This tour also features Falkland.

Outlander Filming Location – Falkland

Outlander Filming Location – Falkland Palace

 

Drummond Castle Gardens – Versailles

Drummond Castle Gardens are a series of formal gardens on the Drummond Castle estate in Perthshire. The castle itself consists of a tower house dating from the 15th century and a mansion dating from the 17th century, although they were both rebuilt in the 19th century.

Unfortunately, the castle itself cannot be visited as it is a private residence. The good news for Outlander fans is that it is actually the gardens which are the star attraction, and these are open to the public.

In Episode 2 of Season 2 of Outlander, Claire and Jamie visit the spectacular palace of Versailles, just outside Paris. This palace is famed for its incredible gardens, and the gardens at Drummond Castle were deemed the best option in Scotland for recreating the Versailles look.

Of course, the gardens at Versailles were built on a scale that was only possible by a European monarch, and the Drummond Castle gardens aren’t quite the same. But they are still beautiful in their own right, and well worth a visit. In the show, the gardens are used with a computer generated backdrop of the palace of Versailles for some scenes.

There is a fee for visiting the Drummond Castle gardens, and you can find out more about prices and opening times on the official website here.

The best way to reach Drummond Castle is with a car. It’s around a 90 minute drive from Glasgow or Edinburgh. By public transport you will want to travel to Crieff or Muthill, from where you can take a taxi for the last few miles of the journey.

Alternatively, Drummond Castle Gardens is one of the stops on this very comprehensive 3 day Outlander tour from Glasgow.

 

Gosford House – Versailles

Found just outside of Edinburgh near the town of Longniddry, Gosford House is a 19th century neoclassical mansion.

Along with Drummond Castle, Gosford House was used as a filming location for Versailles. Specifically, the house was used as the Versailles stables. If you’ve visited Versailles, you’ll be aware that the stables were a extravagant affair, capable of housing over 2,000 horses and home to over 1,500 workers!

The exterior of Gosford House was used to stand in for the stables in Season 2 of Outlander, in Episode 5. You can see Jamie outside the stables discussing a horse purchase with the Duke of Sandringham.

However, it’s worth bearing in mind that some computer wizardry was used in order to make the building look like a French 18th century building rather than a 19th century neoclassical mansion!

Gosford House is open for tours on some days of the year, and they also sometimes run Outlander specific tours. You can read more about opening times and prices here.

Gosford House is around 17 miles east of Edinburgh. You can reach it be car or public transport from Edinburgh in around 45 minutes.

 

Dunkeld House Hotel Grounds – North Carolina wilderness

Dunkeld House Hotel is around a 90 minute drive north of Edinburgh and Glasgow. It’s a beautiful 4* luxury country house hotel set in 280 acres of land, dating from 1897.

Despite the home itself being picturesque, it wasm’t actually featured in the show. Instead, the woodlands of the property were used to stand in for the North Carolina wilderness in Season 4 of the show. Jamie, Claire, and Young Ian journey through the wilderness here on their way to save Roger from the Mohawk in Episode 10 of Season 4.

As a hotel, Dunkeld House is obviously open for guests (check prices and book online here), and there’s also a spa and restaurant on site. We can also recommend visiting nearby Dunkeld when you are in the area, as the ruined cathedral there is beautiful.

 

Faskally Forest – Mohawk Village

Just north of Pitlochry, a little further on from Dunkeld, is Faskally Forest. Created as a model woodland in the 19th century, today the forest is managed by Forestry and Land Scotland. There are a series of lovely walks here, some of which take you around Loch Dunmore.

Faskally Forest featured in Season 4 of Outlander as the location of the Mohawk village where Roger is held in the last four episodes of the show. Quite an elaborate set was created here, including wigwams and canoes, although nothing remains today. However, this is a lovely part of the world, and the walks through the forest are well worth the visit.

You will need your own transport to visit Faskally forest.

Outlander Filming Location – forest

 

Tibbermore Parish Church – Cranesmuir Church

Tibbermore Parish Church is a small church dating from 1632, found in the tiny village of Tibbermore, just to the west of Perth.

Tibbermore Parish Church was used in the 11th Episode of Season 1 of Outlander, as the location where Claire and Gellis are tried for witchcraft.

In the show, this takes places in Cranesmuir Church. Other scenes from Cranesmuir were filmed in Culross, but Tibbermore is actually just outside Perth. The magic of TV! We assume it was chosen because it has a natural layout for a trial. The church looks pretty much exactly the same in real life as it does in the show.

Tibbermore is a 15 minute drive by car from Perth, which is the nearest city, or you can take a bus from Perth. You can also travel by car from Edinburgh or Glasgow in around an hour. If you want to travel by public transport from these locations, you’ll want to head to Perth first and then take a local bus. You can see public transport timetables here.

The church is no longer operational as a church, and is managed by the Scottish Redundant Churchs Trust. It is possible to visit, however you’ll need to arrange your visit in advance with the keyholder. This is easy to do if you plan ahead, and you can see the details on the official website for the church here.

 

Dean Castle – Beaufort Castle

Dean Castle is found to the south west of Glasgow in Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire. The castle, which sits in the Dean Castle Country Park, has two parts, a Keep and a Palace.

The Keep is a defensive structure which dates from 1350, and features very thick walls and minimal windows. The original Palace building dated from the 1300’s, however it was destroyed in a fire in 1735, and was restored in the mid-20th century.

Ok, let’s talk about Outlander. Dean Castle was thef ilming location for Beaufort Castle in Season 2 of the show. It’s the home of Jamie’s grandfather Lord Lovat, and appears in episode 8 of the show when Claire and Jamie visit Lord Lovat.

The castle and the country park are free to access, and are maintained by East Ayrshire council. There are also sometimes free tours of the castle.

From Glasgow it’s around a 30 minute drive to Dean Castle Country Park. You can also take the bus from Glasgow, which takes around 35 minutes. You can see public transport timetables here.

Note there is a real Beaufort Castle in Scotland as well, which is found near Inverness, but this was not used in filming of the show.

 

Troon – Coastal Port

Troon is a popular coastal town in South Ayrshire from where you can get lovely views of the Isle of Arran. It has some gorgeous beaches, and one of these beaches is where Jamie, Claire, and Murtagh board the Christabel ship bound for Paris at the end of Season 1.

If you’re looking for this location, you’ll want to head to the Troon south beach. Specifically, the area around the sand dunes is where the filming took place.

As a side note, you can actually see the actual ship as well, although in another part of Scotland. The ship that was used was a 1902 two-masted sailing lugger called “Reaper”, which today lives in the Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther, Fife. So when you are exploring the Outlander locations in Fife, don’t forget to add this to your list!

Troon can be easily reached by train from Glasgow in under an hour. You can check train times and book tickets here. It’s also possible to drive here, which will take around 40 minutes from Glasgow or around 2 hours from Edinburgh.

 

Drumlanrig Castle – Bellhurst Manor

Drumlanrig Castle is in the south west of Scotland, in the Dumfries & Galloway region. The castle, which is the home of the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch and Queensberry dates from the mid-17th century. It’s an impressive construction, known for its use of pink sandstone.

It’s also a big place. The castle has 120 rooms, 17 turrets and four towers! It’s also home to a well known art collection, which includes a painting by Rembrandt and one by Leonardo Da Vinci.

Of course, you’re interested in the Outlander scenes filmed at Drumlanrig Castle. Well, in Season 2 of Outlander, the castle was used as the location of Bellhurst Manor. Fans will recognise this as the Duke of Sandringham’s estate, which featured in the 11th Episode of Season 2.

Many locations were used for the show, both inside and outside the castle. You’ll see an army camp set up in the grounds, with the castle in the background. Inside, a number of rooms were used for filming the episode, including the reception room, dining room, and salon. In addition, the bedroom where Claire is locked in is one of the bedrooms, the one made famous as the location where in real life Bonnie Prince Charlie slept one night.

Outlander fans will have plenty to experience at Drumlanrig Castle. The Castle is open on some days of the year and there’s a fee to visit. Both the grounds and the castle itself can be visited. For the castle, you can only visit on a guided tour. You can check prices here.

The castle is in a fairly remote location, so we advise having your own transport in order to visit.

 

Callendar House – Bellhurst Manor

Whilst Drumlanrig Castle was the setting of Bellhurst Manor for the majority of the scenes, it wasn’t the only real-world location used.

Callendar House, which is found in Falkirk, is a stunning 19th century mansion that was built in the style of a French Renaissance chateau around a previous 14th century tower house. It’s been visited by many notable historical figures, including Mary Queen of Scots, Oliver Cromwell, Bonnie Prince Charlie, and Queen Victoria.

The kitchen in Callendar House stood in for the Bellhurst Manor kitchen in the 11th episode of Season 2. It’s a fully working kitchen of the Georgian period, so was perfect for the show.

Callendar House is operated by the Falkirk Community Trust and is open to the public. There’s a self-guided tour of the home, which has a number of permanent exhibitions. The Georgian kitchen itself has costumed staff who actually create food here as well, giving you a really authentic insight into a working Georgian kitchen.

Callendar House is free to visit. Whilst here, don’t forget to visit the Antonine Wall in the grounds, which was built by the Romans as a more northern version of Hadrian’s Wall. Other attractions in Falkirk include the Falkirk wheel and the Kelpies statues.

Falkirk is around 25 miles west of Edinburgh. It is well connected, and you can get here by train or bus from towns and cities around Scotland. You can also drive yourself of course. Callendar house is also visited on this 3 day Outlander tour from Glasgow.

Callendar House

 

Muiravonside Country Park – Battle of Prestonpans

Not too far from Callendar House is the Muiravonside Country Park. This is a 170 acre country park which is also operated by the Falkirk Community Trust.

The park has walking trails through woodland and parkland, a mini farm that demonstrates farming practices, a children’s play area, a cafe, and a sculpture trail. They also run a variety of events and activities throughout the year. It’s a popular place for families.

The park also featured in Outlander, specifically in Season 2 of the show, where it was the location of the Battle of Prestonpans in Episode 10. Shots such as Dougal testing the British rifle and many of the battle scenes were filmed on location.

Muiravonside Country Park is free to visit and open year round. It’s around a 45 minute drive from Edinburgh, just past Linlithgow. You will want your own transport as it’s not easy to reach by public transport.

 

Preston Mill – Lallybroch Mill

Preston Mill is a very pretty old mill, found in the village of East Linton to the east of Edinburgh. The mill, which is one of the oldest working water-driven meal mills in Scotland, dates from the 19th century. However, there has been a mill in this location since at least the 16th century.

Preston Mill appeared in a number of scenes in the first Outlander Season. First, when we see Jamie repairing a waterwheel at Lallybroch in Episode 12, this is the Preston Mill waterwheel.

In addition, the museum exhibition room that you can visit at Preston Mill was also used for Outlander. It was the location of the court ante-room from the witch trial in Episode 11. The rest of the trial was filmed at the previously mentioned Tibbermore Church.

Preston Mill is a National Trust for Scotland property, and there is an entry fee. It’s free for National Trust members. Overseas visitors can buy a National Trust Touring Pass which grants access to over 300 properties across the UK for a number of days.

You can see opening hours and prices on the official website here.

Preston Mill is 23 miles east of Edinburgh, and you can visit by both public bus or train from Edinburgh. By train, you’ll want to travel to North Berwick and then take a local bus service to East Linton. You can see public transport timetables here. It’s also possible to drive from Edinburgh, which should take around 40 minutes.

Additionally, Preston Mill can be visited as part of this private tour, which has departures from multiple locations in Scotland including Edinburgh and Glasgow.

 

Aberdour Castle – Monastery

Aberdour Castle, which dates from around 1200, is one of the oldest castles in Scotland. It’s found in the village of Aberdour in Fife. The original medieval part of the castle has lost its roof, but the more recent 17th century addition is still covered up.

Aberdour Castle featured in the first Season of Outlander as the abbey where Claire tends to the wounds that Jamie received from “Black Jack” Randall in Episode 16. Multiple locations were used, including exterior shots of the castle, the stables, and the upstairs gallery. Staff on site will be able to direct you to specific locations if you have any questions.

Aberdour Castle is operated by Historic Scotland. It’s open year round, and there’s a fee to visit. You can see prices and opening hours online here. It’s free for Historic Scotland members and English Heritage members.

You can also get a Historic Scotland Explorer Pass that gives you access to a number of attractions over a time period. This will be worth getting if you plan on visiting some of the other Historic Scotland attraction on our list, or in Scotland in general.

Aberdour Castle is easy to get to by car from Edinburgh, it takes around 40 minutes. There’s also a train station in Aberdour offering direct services to Edinburgh, which takes around 30 minutes.  You can check train times and book tickets here.

 

Dysart Harbour – Le Havre Port

Dysart harbour is a very picturesque harbour on the Fife Coastline. The harbour dates back to the mid 15th century, and is still in active use today. Over time it has seen a wide variety of goods pass through, including salt and coal. Today it is primarily leisure and fishing boats using the harbour.

Dysart harbour was used as the French port of Le Havre in the first episode of Season 2 of Outlander. We see Claire and Jamie arrive in 1745 France with Murtagh aboard the Christabel.

The show had shots of much of the harbour, as well as the harbourmasters’ house, although the old buildings in the background shots aren’t actually there—in reality it’s just a large wall! The harbourmasters’ house however was used in the show, as the guesthouse where they get rooms.

Another scene that appeared to be shot at this location was Jared’s wine warehouse. However, this was actually shot at Deanston Distillery, near Doune Castle, not here.

Dysart harbour is easy to visit. You can take a direct train from Edinburgh to Kirkcaldy, and then take a local bus to Dysart. Alternatively, it’s around a 50 minute drive from Edinburgh.

 

Deanston Distillery – Jared’s Wine Warehouse

There is obviously more to Scotland than Outlander locations. We think visiting a Scottish whisky distillery whilst in Scotland is a must for any visitor, even those who might not particularly like whisky.

The good news for Outlander fans is that you can combine a visit to a whisky distillery with an Outlander filming location.

Deanston Distillery, which is found just next to the village of Doune, is a Scotch whisky distillery found in a former cotton mill. It’s been producing whisky since 1966, and you can take a tour of the distillery, learn how whisky is made, and sample the product.

Deanston Distillery was the filming location of Jared’s wine warehouse in Season 2 of the show. We see Claire entering the warehouse in Episode 1 of Season 2, where Claire goes to inspect some men suffering from smallpox.

The location used for this shooting was the Deanston Distillery maturation warehouse, where the magic happens to turn the spirit in the barrels into Scotch whisky. Whisky casks and wine barrels are actually the same, and whisky is often matured in old wine barrels for the flavour. The only inauthentic point in the scene is that the liquid in the barrels in the background is most certainly not wine!

You can visit Deanston distillery, and you can see tour times and price on their website here. It’s close to Doune Castle, the filming location for Castle Leoch, so it would make sense to visit the two together.

You can reach Deanston distillery by car in around an hour from Edinburgh. In addition, a public bus runs from Stirling to Doune, and you can get to Stirling by train from locations around Scotland.

We visited Deanston distillery on this tour from Edinburgh.

Outlander Filming Location – Deanston Distillery

 

Glasgow Cathedral – L’Hopital Des Anges, Paris

Glasgow is Scotland’s largest city, and with the film studios located nearby, you would expect to find a few Outlander filming locations here. And you would not be disappointed! Our next few locations are all in Glasgow.

We’ll start with the oldest building in the city, which is Glasgow Cathedral. This dates from 1136, making it the oldest cathedral on mainland Scotland. The cathedral is dedicated to St. Mungo, the patron saint of Glasgow, who is buried within. The cathedral is very much worth a visit when you are in the city, and is one of our recommended things to do in Glasgow.

Outlander used the the cathedral crypt as the filming location of the Parisian hospital, L’Hôpital des Anges. This appears in Season 2 of the show a number of times, as Claire works here and tends to patients. She also recovers here after losing her baby.

The exterior of the cathedral is not featured in the show. The exterior shots of the hospital were actually filmed in Prague.

Glasgow Cathedral is looked after by Historic Environment Scotland, and is free to visit, although donations are of course welcome. It is an active place of worship, so there are events and masses taking place here. You can find out more about opening times and plan your visit on the official website here.

Outlander Filming Location – Glasgow Cathedral

 

University of Glasgow – Harvard University

Founded in 1451, Glasgow University is one of the oldest universities in the English speaking world. It’s a large affair, which is today spread out across multiple campuses around the city.

The main campus today, and the one that Outlander fans will want to visit, is Gilmorehill. This is a little to the west of the city centre, and was built in 1870 in a glorious Gothic revival style.

Despite bearing no real resemblance to the real-life Harvard University in Boston, Gilmorehill campus was chosen as the filming location for the Harvard University scenes. These were shot at a number of different locations, including the gorgeous cloisters which appeared in Episode 5 of Season 3.

Parts of the University of Glasgow is open to visitors, and you can take a self-guided tour of the main highlights. It’s free to visit – see more on the official website here.

Outlander Filming Location – Glasgow University Cloisters

 

Kelvingrove Park – Boston Park

Next to the University of Glasgow you will find Kelvingrove Park, one of Glasgow’s oldest public parks which dates from 1852. The 85 acre park is home to a number of walking trails and monuments, as well as the excellent Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.

Kelvingrove Park was used in Episode 2 of Season 3 of Outlander. In this episode, we see Claire walking through a Boston park pushing a pram, which is actually Kelvingrove park. She passes a bagpiper busking, and crosses a bridge. The bridge that she crosses is the Prince of Wales bridge which is located near the bandstand.

Kelvingrove Park is free to visit and it is open year round.

Outlander Filming Location – Kelvingrove Park

 

Dowanhill Street Glasgow – Furey Street Home, Boston

Glasgow was a popular location for filming scenes set in Boston! Another location the Outlander team used to depict 1940s Boston in Season 3 of the show was Dowanhill Street.

Dowanhill Street is a long residential street in the west end of Glasgow, not too far from the university. It runs from Victoria Crescent Road at it’s north end to Dumbarton Road at the south end, and it’s around a third of a mile long.

The street is home to many old Victorian era houses made of red brick, and was used as the location for Claire and Frank’s home on Furey Street. The house used was number 124 which is at the north end of the street, between Downside Road and Victoria Crescent Road.

The interiors of the house were not shot here, it was just used for external scenes. The street appeared throughout the first episodes of Season 3 as we progress from the 1940s to the 1960s.

Please be aware if you visit that this is a street of private residences, as is the house that was used. Whilst you are of course welcome to stroll the street and imagine yourself in mid 20th century Boston, do be respectful of the owners and don’t venture onto private property.

 

Glasgow City Chambers – City of Westminster Register Office

The Glasgow City Chambers are an impressive civic building found on George Square – the city’s main civic square. The chambers are the home of the local government in Glasgow, and they are also where you’ll find the Glasgow City Council registration office. This is where births, deaths and marriages are registered in the city.

It is appropriate therefore that this was where, in Episode 7 of Season 1, Frank and Claire get engaged. This is set in the City of Westminster in London, but it was actually filmed in Glasgow, at number 45 John Street, which is where you’ll find the entrance to the Glasgow City registration office.

Only the outside of the building was used for the show. However, we can recommend taking a free tour of the Glasgow City chambers. These run twice a week on working days. You can find out more about tour times here.

Outlander Filming Location – Glasgow City Chambers

 

Pollok Country Park – Castle Leoch & French Countryside

A little to the south west of Glasgow is Pollok Country Park, the largest park in the city. The estate was gifted to the city in 1966 by the Maxwell family, who had owned it for over 700 years, on the provision that it would remain a public park.

As well as the large area of parkland, the park contains the Burrell Collection, an impressive art collection, as well as Pollok House.

Pollok Country Park was used for quite a few scenes in multiple seasons of Outlander, so if you’re an Outlander fan visiting Glasgow, it’s a must-visit.

In the first Season of Outlander in Episode 4, Claire is outside with some children on the grounds of Castle Leoch. These scenes were filmed in the park. In Episode 14 of the same season, the gypsy camp that Claire and Murtagh find was also shot in the park.

In Season 2 of the show, the park is used for scenes of French countryside. These are primarily in Episode 6. We see Claire in a carriage on her way to the duel between Jamie and Randall. The bridge she crosses is easily recognisable as a bridge that you can visit in the park. The duel itself was also shot in the park, as were earlier scenes in the episode where Jamie and Fergus are riding.

Finally, Season 4 of the show saw the Outlander crew return to Pollok Country Park again, this time for scenes in the USA. In Episode 3 of Season 4, Roger and Brianna attend a Scottish festival in 1970s North Carolina, which was filmed in the park as well.

As you can see there are many scenes from Outlander which were filmed in Pollok Country Park, although many of them were general scenes in woodland or fields so there is not necessarily a lot to see! Still, it’s a lovely park and it is well worth visiting, as is Pollok House.

Pollok Country Park is free to visit and open year round. It’s around a 20 minute drive from the city centre, or a 25 minute bus ride. Pollok House is a National Trust for Scotland property, which has an entry fee. We have visited and it’s well worth it in our opinion!

Pollok2BHouse2BGlasgow2Bby2BLaurence2BNorah

 

Abercainy Estates – River Run

Abercainy is a 1,400 acre private estate near the town of Crieff, which has been the home of the Moray family for over 700 years. It’s primarily used as a wedding and events venue, with the large house a popular location for big events.

Abercainy was the location of the North Carolina “River Run” plantation, which is owned by Jamie’s Aunt Jocasta. This appears in Episode 2 of Season 4, as well as in Episode 6 of Season 5.

The plantation house was built from scratch on set, although only the lower half of the house was built, with the upper part being computer generated. Only the external shots were filmed here whereas all the interior scenes were shot on a set.

Abercainy Estate is a private property so it not usually open to visitors, only those who have booked an event. However they do have open days so it is sometimes possible to visit and do a tour. That said, don’t expect to see much, as the plantation home was a fabrication which doesn’t actually exist. You can see more on their website here.

 

Devil’s Pulpit – Liar’s Spring

The Devil’s Pulpit, also known as Finnich Glen, is a deep gorge known for its green mossy sides and the red appearance of the water that runs through it (caused by the red sandstone riverbed).

The Devil’s Pulpit appeared in Season 1 of Outlander, as the location for Liar’s Spring. The legend has it that if you drink from the spring, you have to tell the truth, otherwise you die. In Episode 6, Dougal Mackenzie makes Claire drink from the water to ensure she’s not an English spy.

You can of course visit the Devil’s Pulpit, but be prepared for a bit of a challenge. First, it’s a popular location with minimal parking, and public transport in the area is not great. Second, the descent down into the gorge is via a very steep and muddy path, which can be challenging. Finally, the water levels in the gorge can rise dangerously quickly so you need to be fully prepared.

I’d recommend reading my guide to visiting the Devil’s Pulpit, so you know what to expect!

Devils2BPulpit2BScotland_by_Laurence2BNorah255B3255D

 

Map of Outlander Filming Locations

There are a lot of Outlander filming locations around Scotland, as you can probably tell from this post! To help you plan out your Outlander adventure, we’ve put together this map of Outlander filming locations. You can also see this on Google here.

Outlander filming locations Map Scotland

 

Other Locations Related to Outlander

In this guide we’ve primarily focused on actual Outlander filming locations. However, there are a few other locations throughout Scotland that are very strongly tied to the show, that we think you might consider visiting even if they weren’t actually filming locations. Many of these served as inspiration for places in the books and TV show.

 

The World’s End Pub, Edinburgh

In Episode 6 of Season 3, Claire and Mr. Willoughby have a conversation in the World’s End pub. This is a real pub on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh.

Whilst the scene was actually filmed on a set, it’s fun to visit this location and have a drink or meal when you’re in Edinburgh. The pub dates from the 16th century, and its name comes from a time when Edinburgh was a walled city. The pubs wall was a part of the city’s ancient wall, with the relatively safe world of Edinburgh ending just past the pub!

Outlander Filming Location - The Worlds End

 

Clava Cairns

Found just outside of Inverness near the Culloden Battlefield, the Clava Cairns are one of the most popular locations for fans of Outlander looking for the real Creagh Na Dun standing stones.

Part of the reason for their popularity is that one of the stones is split in two, similar to the stones in Outlander. Additionally, they are relatively accessible compared to many other stone circles in Scotland.

So, whilst the Clava Cairns were not an actual filming location for Outlander, fans seeking a great photo of a standing stone will definitely enjoy a visit here.

Clava Cairns are a prehistoric site, dating to 4,000 years old. As well as the stones, there are three large cairns – mounds of stones that would have been the burial site for important individuals.

Clava Cairns are free to visit. They are just a few hundred yards from the Culloden Battlefield, so we would recommend visiting as part of your trip there.

Clava Cairns standing stone outlander

 

Rothiemurchus Estate – Tulloch Ghru

Tulloch Ghru is a popular walking location in the Caingorms National Park. It’s on the Rothiemurchus Estate, just outside the popular town of Aviemore. As a side note, this is a great base if you’re planning on skiing in Scotland!

The Rothiemurchus Estate was used as the location where Claire first meets Jamie having passed through the stones. This takes place in Episode 1 of Season 1, and Tulloch Ghru was the filming location.

Like many other scenes like this in Outlander, this is a tricky one to pin down exactly as it is shot in woodland. However, if you are looking for a lovely walk in stunning highland countryside, which happens to have featured in Outlander, this is an excellent option. You can find information on some self guided walks on the Rothiemurchus website here.

Rothiemurchus Estate is on the outskirts of Aviemore, and is easy to reach by bus, car or a 30 minute walk from Aviemore.

 

Callanish Standing Stones

The Callanish standing stones on the Isle of Lewis & Harris are, in our opinion, the stones that most closely resemble the Creagh Na Dun stone circle from Outlander. If you are lucky enough to be visiting Lewis & Harris, then a trip to these stones is a must.

They are on a beautiful location atop a hill, with stunning views of the surrounding landscape, and are believed to be around 5,000 years old. They are also usually cited as being the inspiration the Outlander set designers used to create the stone circle in the show.

The Callanish standing stones are open year round and are free to visit. There is also a visitor centre on site which has a small museum, which has an entry fee.

Callanish Standing Stones

 

Inverness

The city of Inverness is known as the capital of the Highlands. It’s a beautiful city with lots to see and do, and there are also some great day trips from Inverness, including to nearby Loch Ness.

Whilst Inverness wasn’t an Outlander filming location, much of the show and books are set in and around the city, and we think it is well worth visiting on your trip to Scotland.

Fort George Inverness

 

Castle Leod

As mentioned in my section on Doune Castle earlier on in my post, the real world location of the Clan MaKenzie family home is at Castle Leod. This 17th century tower house served as the inspiration for Castle Leoch in the books, however it was not chosen as a filming location as it was deemed to be less accessible than Doune Castle.

Many fans still wish to visit Castle Leod, and it’s a popular inclusion on Outlander tours from Inverness, such as this one.

Castle Leod has some open days each year, but it is not always open. It is also possible to arrange a visit with a private tour guide. If you want to visit Castle Leod on your own, we suggest checking the official website here for information on how to do so.

You can reach Castle Leod by car, or you can take a public bus from Inverness to Strathpeffer and then it’s around a mile walk to the castle.

 

Beauly Priory – Lovat Fraser Grave Site and Church

The beautiful ruins of 13th century Beauly Priory are one of our recommended stops when driving Scotland’s North Coast 500. Not much is known about the priory or the monks who lived here. It operated for just over 400 years before being disestablished in 1634, and falling into ruin.

The priory is surrounded by a graveyard, where a number of members of Clan Mackenzie and Clan Fraser are buried. It wasn’t a filming location, but it featured in the Dragonfly in Amber novel as the location where Claire meets Maisri the Seer.

Beauly2BPriory2Bby2BLaurence2BNorah-4255B3255D

 

Tours of Outlander Filming Locations in Scotland

In our experience, the two easiest ways to see Outlander filming locations Scotland are to drive yourself, or to take a tour, although you can still see a number of sites via public transit. Driving yourself will let you visit some of the more off the beaten path locations, but will require some careful planning. Sometimes certain attractions may only be open to those on a tour.

A tour is an easy way to let someone else handle all the planning, and they are usually very cost effective as well. We also like that someone else does the driving, and most tours feature knowledgeable guides who can share with you everything you need to know about the locations you’re seeing, and which Outlander scenes specifically were filmed there.

Here are some tours we suggest from different departure points in Scotland. These include both single and multi-day tours, as well as some shorter walking tours of specific locations.

  • If you want to visit the sites virtually, this is a guided live virtual tour of many of the filming locations in the show
  • This private walking tour in Edinburgh visits many of the filming locations in the city, including Backhouse Close
  • This 1 day tour from Edinburgh includes Culross, Doune Castle, Linlithgow Palace, Blackness Castle, and Midhope Castle.
  • This 1 day tour from Edinburgh includes Culross, Doune Castle, Linlithgow Palace, Blackness Castle, Falkland, Hopetoun House and Midhope Castle. This is a similar tour.
  • This private tour from Edinburgh is with a guide who starred as an extra in multiple episodes of the show. It includes Midhope Castle, Blackness Castle, Doune Castle and Culross
  • This 1 day private tour from Edinburgh includes Midhope Castle, Falkland, Culross, Hopetoun House and Doune Castle
  • This 1 day private tour from Glasgow offers multiple departure options, and visits Preston Mill, Linlithgow Palace, Dounce Castle, Blackness Castle, Culross and Falkland
  • This 1 day tour from Glasgow includes Culross, Doune Castle, Falkland, Linlithgow Palace, Blackness Castle and Midhope Castle.
  • This private 1 day tour from Inverness visit a number of locations that are related to Outlander, including Castle Leod,  Culloden Battlefield, and Clava Cairns
  • This 3 day tour from Glasgow stops at multiple Outland filming locations, including Blackness, Midhope castle, Falkland, Doune Castle, Culross, Hopetoun House, Linlithgow, Callendar House, Drummond Gardens, the Highland Folk Museum and Clava Cairns
  • This 3 day private tour is available from many locations around Scotland. It visits multiple Outlander filming locations and related sites, including Midhope Castle, Hopetoun House, Blackness Castle, Highland Folk Museum, Drummond Gardens, Doune Castle, and Culross
  • This 4 day tour from Edinburgh visits many Outlander sites, including Culross, Falkland, the Highland Folk Museum, Clava Cairns, Doune Castle, Midhope Castle and Blackness Castle
  • Finally, this is a fully customizable private tour option that you can make as long or as short as you like, depending on your interests and budget!

Rabbies bus by Laurence Norah

 

Tips for Visiting Scotland for Outlander

To help you plan your Scottish Outlander adventure, we wanted to share some tips we think you will find useful.

Where to Base Yourself in Scotland for Outlander

If you look at our map of Outlander filming locations, you’ll see that the majority of them are within easy driving distance of Edinburgh and Glasgow. As such, we would recommend staying in either Edinburgh or Glasgow. If you have more time, we’d also recommend basing in Inverness as well.

When to Visit Scotland for Outlander Locations

Many of the Outlander locations are at sites or attractions which are only open seasonally, so you will want to plan your trip based on when the attractions you are most interested in visiting are open.

Many attractions in Scotland outside of the bigger cities are closed in the winter, with many being open from April to October. Our favourite months for travel in Scotland are in May and September. These times are a little less busy than the summer months, but you still have a good chance of nice weather, and the majority of attractions will be open.

Note that a few attractions may only be open a few times a year or may require a booking or advanced reservation to visit. So once you decide which places you most want to visit, be sure to check on the opening dates, times, and if reservations are required.

How Many Days to Visit Outlander Locations in Scotland

You will want a minimum of one full day to visit some of the key Outlander locations. A full day should allow you to visit between 4 and 6 locations, depending on what part of Scotland you are focused on visiting.

If you are planning an Outlander focused trip to Scotland and wanted to visit the majority of locations in this guide, we’d suggest planning a trip that is 5 to 7 days in length. You could do this trip by driving yourself or you could book tours that would take you to most popular attractions

As an example itinerary for a self-driving trip, if you had five days, we’d suggest splitting that time with a couple of days in Edinburgh, a couple of days in Glasgow, and then a day in Inverness. This would let you visit the majority of filming locations around Scotland.

It is also easy to book a guided Outlander tour, or a series of day tours to see the Outlander attractions. For example, if you have 5 days in Scotland, you could arrive in Edinburgh and explore it on your own for the first day, and then take this 4 day tour of the major Outlander sites.

How to Get to the Outlander Locations in Scotland

The two easiest ways to get to the Outlander filming locations in Scotland are to either drive yourself, or to take a tour.

If you drive yourself, this will give you the ultimate flexibility in terms of which locations you visit, how many you visit in a day, and how long you spend at each location. The downside is that you will have to do quite a bit more planning, and factor in the budget for any car rental.

If you are visiting Scotland, you’ll likely want to hire a car. We recommend checking out the prices at either Priceline or Enterprise to see what options are available.

You can also take a tour of course to visit Outlander locations, and we mention a number of tour options in recommend Outlander tour options. Both private and group tours are available, and tours are available from a day in length up to multiple days in duration.

A tour has many advantages in that someone else will handle all the planning, and all you have to do is show up and enjoy yourself. In addition, the tour guide can tell you all about the locations you are visiting, and provide context, history and entertainment.

Of course, with a tour you can lose some flexibility in terms of your trip, although we think the tours do focus on some of the best Outlander filming locations, so you don’t need to worry about that too much. Another option is to tailor make a private tour, giving you the best of both worlds.

We’ve recommended a number of Outlander tours, but there are many more. We suggest looking for Outlander tours on GetYourGuide, Viator and Rabbies as a starting point.

Finally, a number of the Outlander locations in Scotland can be visited by public transport. This will often be the lowest cost option, but will also take the most time. If you do want to visit Outlander locations by public transport, we recommend using the Traveline Scotland website for planning both bus and rail travel. You can book train tickets online in advance here. For local bus tickets, you can usually just buy these on the bus or from a local bus operator.

 

Further Reading and Resources

Hopefully this guide to the Outlander filming locations helps you find all your favourite locations from the show on your trip to Scotland, as well as the information you need to get to them!

Before you head on your Outlander adventure, we wanted to share some additional resources that we think will help, both with finding Outlander locations and with visiting Scotland in general.

  • This book on Outlander in Scotland features information on many of the filming locations
  • This book offers a detailed guide to the making of the first two Outlander Seasons, with lots of photos of the sets and information from the crew and cast on the filming process. The sequel covers Seasons 3 and 4.
  • If you want to dive into the world of Scottish cooking, there are two official Outlander Kitchen books you can buy
  • We have a guide to all our favourite whisky distilleries in Scotland, which also has lots of information on how whisky is made, the different Scottish whisky regions, and more.
  • For Edinburgh, check out our 2 day Edinburgh itinerary, our guide to things to do in Edinburgh, and our guide to the best day trips from Edinburgh to get you started. We also have a guide to getting from London to Edinburgh.
  • For Glasgow, see our Glasgow and Loch Lomond itinerary, our guide to the best day trips from Glasgow, and our guide to things to do in Glasgow
  • For Aberdeen, we have a guide to things to do in Aberdeen, our favourite restaurants in Aberdeen, a suggested 2 day Aberdeen itinerary and a guide to the best day trips from Aberdeen.
  • From Aberdeen you can also tackle the North East 250! This is a newer driving route which covers spectacular scenery, many Speyside distilleries, and the wonderful Moray Firth coastline. See our 3 day NE250 itinerary for advice on that one.
  • For more road trip inspiration, check out our detailed guide to the North Coast 500 and North Coast 500 Accommodation Guide, as well as my photography highlights on the North Coast 500 for some inspiration for your trip. If you’d like an itinerary for the North Coast 500, check out our detailed 7 Day North Coast 500 camping itinerary.
  • We have a guide to Loch Ness as well as some of our other favourite day trips from Inverness for some inspiration. We also have some detailed guides to other attractions near Inverness, including a guide to the Black Isle and tips on visiting the Cairngorms 
  • We’ve got an itinerary for visiting Skye and the Highlands
  • If you’re driving in the UK for the first time, check out my tips for driving in the UK for some advice. We also have a guide to how much it costs to travel in the UK.
  • For wider UK trip planning, we have suggested one week and two week UK itineraries as a starter, plus lots more UK content to help you plan your trip.
  • For other film location inspiration in the UK, see our guide to Harry Potter filming locations in Scotland, our guide to Harry Potter filming locations in the UK, and our guide to the Game of Thrones locations in Northern Ireland
  • If you’d like a guidebook for your time visiting Scotland, we recommend the Rick Steves’ Scotland guide

And that’s it for this comprehensive guide to Outlander filming locations! Thanks for reading. As always, we’re open to your feedback and any questions you might have on this or any of our other posts. Pop them in the comments section below, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

Detailed guide to 40+ Outlander Filming Locations in Scotland. Details of which scenes were filmed where, tips on visiting them + map!



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Where to Buy Sightseeing & Attraction Tickets Online and Save Money

Where to Buy Sightseeing & Attraction Tickets Online and Save Money


We travel a lot, and we love to visit sights and attractions when we do so. Visitor attractions that charge entry fees may include museums, amusement parks, national parks, castles, historic buildings, zoos, experience based attractions, scenic city viewpoints, hop-on- hop-off buses, boat rides, and the like.

Many of these activities have an entry fee, and these can quickly add up. In fact, attraction entry often makes up a significant amount of our travel budget.

Over our years of travel, we have learned a lot about buying sightseeing and attraction tickets so we don’t spend any more money than we have to. Of course, we don’t mind paying to visit attractions, but we certainly prefer to let our budget stretch as far as possible!

In this guide, I’m going to share with you tips for getting the best deals when buying sightseeing. I’ll go through the options you have when it comes to buying attraction tickets online, the advantages and disadvantages of each, and share our tips on saving money when buying tickets for sightseeing.

Where to Buy Sightseeing & Attraction Tickets Online

I’ll now go through the main options you have to where to buy tickets online, and list the pros and cons of each option.

 

Online Sightseeing Ticket Websites

First, there are a number of websites which sell tickets to attractions all around the world. These are a great starting point for a search as they’ll usually have all the major sights listed, and in some cases are cheaper than buying from the attraction directly.

These websites are often able to give lower prices that other ticket buying options because they sell in higher volumes. In addition, some can have exclusive agreements with attractions for specific products, meaning some ticket types are only available through these third party sites.

In terms of disadvantages, you do have to keep an eye out for any fees that the service charges. The sites we’ve chosen don’t add extra fees except for some specific tickets, but it’s always good to check what the final price is.

The websites we like to use are as follows.

 

GetYourGuide

With over 60,000 activities available around the world, including tours and attractions, GetYourGuide is usually the first place we go to when looking to buy tickets online.

GetYourGuide have tickets for attractions all around the world, and in our experience the pricing is usually either the same or slightly better than booking direct. They also don’t charge booking fees except for very specific tickets like the Louvre.

The website is easy to use and navigate, and you can filter specifically for entry tickets.

We like how the key information you need to know is presented clearly and conspicuously. Ticket features like skip the line, the cancellation policy, and ticket validity are highlighted.

There’s also a comprehensive review system in place so you can see the experience of other users, and every product for sale has a detailed overview of what to expect. They also accept payment in multiple currencies.

We also really love the mobile ticket option that is offered for many products. For products that support mobile tickets, GetYourGuide sends you the ticket to your phone. You can then display the ticket on entry on your phone, which saves having to print out a ticket. Printing tickets can be a challenge when travelling! Of course, if you’d rather have a printed ticket that’s also an option.

I’ve used this mobile ticketing option whilst standing outside attractions looking at long ticket lines, and it’s let me skip the line and get inside, often whilst saving money on the ticket counter price as well!

 

Viator

Viator is probably one of the best known websites for booking tours and activities online. In fact, with over 345,000 activities to choose from, this TripAdvisor owned company definitely covers a lot.

We generally start with GetYourGuide because we prefer the interface, but we will usually also check Viator to compare prices. They also have a larger selection of products, so this is a good place to look if we can’t find an entry ticket elsewhere. This is especially the case for less well known destinations, where Viator is more likely to have products than the other sites on our list.

Viator offers a powerful filter system for finding attraction tickets. First, you can select just to view tickets and passes, which you can then filter by additional criteria such as being family-friendly or whether they offer skip the line access.

Payment is accepted in multiple currencies, mobile tickets are available for many products, and naturally there’s a review system in place. There’s also detailed information provided on every experience, featuring information on what to expect, inclusions and exclusions, as well as meeting point / redemption information.

Overall, Viator is definitely a great option for buying tickets for attractions online.

 

Tiqets

Whilst Tiqets does have some tours, the site specializes in venue tickets for attractions. This means that it has less products in its overall inventory (around 3,000 attractions are available), but the focus makes it easy to find specific tickets.

Tiqets has tickets for properties all around the world, from museums through to other types of attraction like hop on hop off bus tours and even theme parks. They also feature some smaller attractions and venues that are exclusively available on the Tiqets platform. So if you can’t find an attraction on another platform, it’s definitely worth checking Tiqets out.

Tiqets offers competitive prices, customer reviews of their products, payment in multiple currencies, and mobile tickets. Their filtering system however is not particularly powerful, so whilst you can find suggested attractions in a destination, we find it works best if you have an attraction in mind already.

 

Civitatis

Civitatis is the leading online platform for booking tours and activities for the Spanish speaking market. However, they do now also offer their services to English speakers.

With over 45,000 activities to choose from in destinations around the world, which includes tickets to attractions, there is certainly plenty of choice.

When it comes to features, Civitatis covers all the main things you would need. You can search a destination specifically for tickets, and filter by features like accessibility, price and cancellation policy. You can also filter by availability, so if you’re searching for something to do last minute, you can skip those things that aren’t available.

Naturally there are reviews of the products from other customers, payment is accepted in multiple currencies, and there are no hidden fees or surcharges. One thing we have noticed is with Civitatis is that many tickets need to be printed out, and there’s no option to filter by mobile ticket, so do keep this in mind.

 

Klook

Finally, another website which is worth checking for tickets to attractions is Klook. Launched in 2014, Klook have over 100,000 products available in more than 350 destinations around the world. Based out of Hong Kong, Klook is a great option if you are looking for attractions across Asia in particular.

The Klook website is very easy to navigate, and it’s easy to filter by the type of activity you are searching for. So if you are specifically looking for attraction tickets in a city, you’ll be able to find them quickly. You can even filter by the type of attraction you are interested in, from museums & exhibitions, through to theme parks and animal attractions like zoos.

Klook indicates before you buy if instant confirmation is available, and the majority of tickets can either be displayed on your mobile (or printed out if you prefer). Klook has thousands of user reviews for their tickets, and accepts payment in a number of currencies.

 

Empire State Building view from uptown

 

City / Region / Themed Attraction Passes

If you are visiting a city or a region and plan on doing quite a lot of sightseeing, then you might want to consider a pass that includes entry to a number of attractions.

There are a number of different types of passes available, from passes that are for a specific city, through to passes that might cover a type of attraction in a country, such as national parks.

When considering any kind of pass, you will need to do a little bit of research and planning to find out if the pass will save you money. You’ll also want to see if you get any useful perks with the pass, like public transport, skip-the-line entry to attractions, or discounts on shopping and dining.

The majority of these passes can normally be purchased online directly from the pass website. Some are also available for sale on the online ticket sale sites we mentioned above.

Passes have the advantage that you can see a lot of sights and save considerable money when doing so. The disadvantage is that unless you want to spend more money, you are limited to the attractions they cover, and you do have to do a bit of research to make sure the savings are worth it.

Here are some of the different types of pass, with examples for each type, to give you an idea of what’s out there.

 

Flexible City Attraction Passes

When we visit a city for sightseeing, we always check to see if there’s a flexible city attraction pass for sale. A flexible pass is one that lets you visit any number of attractions you want from a comprehensive list, and they are usually valid for a set number of days.

In our experience, you do need to plan to see quite a few sights in order to get the financial benefit of one of these passes. You will also want to check that the pass covers the attractions that you plan on visiting!

We have used flexible city passes in destinations around the world, and written reviews of many of them. You can see our reviews for some of our favourite attraction passes at the following links:

Of course, there are a great many more passes for cities around the world like the San Francisco Pass.

Paris Passes_by_Laurence Norah

 

Fixed City Attraction Passes

The other type of city pass that is worth considering is one that allows you to visit a fixed number of attractions. Usually the pass will either include a set number of attractions, or you can pick from a list. Either way, you will only be allowed to visit the specified number that the pass you buy covers.

The advantage of one of these passes is that they usually last for much longer, and are sometimes a little bit more cost effective.

The cities that have these passes also commonly overlap with the more flexible but shorter duration passes. So you will have a choice as to whether you want to visit a lot of attractions over a shorter period of time, or fewer attractions over a longer period of time.

There are quite a few of these passes available. We like the CityPASS products particularly, they normally include 5 – 7 of the top attractions in a city and offer significant savings. They also often cover cities that over passes don’t. We used one during our time in Houston for example, and saved quite a bit of money.

Other companies offering passes of this type include the GoCity passes and the Sightseeing Pass, both of which have the option of a pass with a fixed number of attractions, and which cover many cities around the world.

 

Passes / Combined Tickets for a Specific Organisation or Region

Another category of pass that can save you money, depending on your trip, is a pass that comes from a specific organisation.

Some examples of this type of pass include the National Parks pass in the USA and passes for National Trust or English Heritage sites in the UK.

Additionally, there are passes that focus on a selection of similar attractions in a region. Examples include the Royal Edinburgh ticket, the Loire Valley Castles pass and the Bavarian Castles pass.

There are lots of these types of passes offered by organisations and regions around the world. Our tip when travelling is to do a search for the region or attraction you are looking for to see if a pass or combination ticket is available.

Some may only include two attractions, but if you were planning on visiting them both anyway, then it can be worth it!

Where to Buy Sightseeing & Attraction Tickets Online and Save Money

 

Annual / Season Passes

For attractions you plan to visit multiple times in the same year or season, you might consider getting an annual or season pass. This will often save you a lot of money if you make several visits and may come with additional benefits as well such as priority entry, free entry to special exhibitions, and discounts in the restaurant or gift shop.

Annual / Season passes are particularly popular for things like ski resorts, major museums, zoos, and theme parks. You can also often get season tickets or passes for performance venues like theatres. Generally these kind of passes need to be purchased directly from the attraction website or in person, but may also be available on third-party ticket sites as well.

Sometimes these passes will be referred to as memberships. What they all have in common is that they tend to cover one venue (or sometimes a few venues under the same brand), and offer significant savings if you plan on visiting multiple times a year.

As an example of savings, a single-day ticket to a USA Disney Park usually costs from $100 – $130, whilst an annual pass will be usually start at around $1200. So if you plan on visiting a Disney Park for more than ten days in a year, an annual pass will usually give you great savings, as well as additional perks like free parking.

 

Tours that Include Attraction Entry

We also wanted to mention that another option for visiting attractions is to take a tour that includes attraction entry.

Whilst a tour is nearly always going to be more expensive, you do get an expert guide who can help you understand what it is you are seeing, as well as guide you to all the highlights. In addition, many tours include multiple attractions, so this can be a great way to see a lot of sights without worrying about having to book lots of separate tickets.

We often take a tour or two when we first arrive into a city. It’s a great way to get oriented and see some of the major highlights. We also find that it’s a good way to get some insider tips on other sights to see in the destination, as well as find out where to eat!

There are lots of walking tour companies operating around the world, many of which are listed on sites like GetYourGuide and Viator.

Two companies that we particularly like are Take Walks and Context.

Take Walks are one of our favourite small to mid size walking tour companies. We’ve taken tours with them in Florence, Venice and Rome, as well as in New York. They run walks in locations all over the world, including a number of exclusive access tours to locations like the Vatican and St. Mark’s Basilica. We think their full day tours in particular are an excellent way to get acquainted with a city.

We’ve also taken a number of walking tours with Context in various cities around the world. We love how small their tour groups are, and how the tour leader is always a true subject matter expert – usually holding an advanced degree on the topic of their walk!

We’ve got a discount code for Context, booking through our links will get you 10% off automatically.

Take Walks guided Tour Colosseum

 

Online Direct from the Attraction

Finally, of course, you can also book directly from the attraction’s website if they sell tickets directly online. In some cases the tickets will be cheaper than buying in person to encourage visitors to book online in advance. Although note that there may be a booking fee or tax added which may increase the price.

The advantages of buying direct are that you are usually ensuring more of your money goes to the attraction. There are also often ticket types and experiences that are exclusively available on the attraction’s own website, and if you have questions about your visit, direct contact with the attraction is going to get you the best answers.

However, there will also be some disadvantages. There might not be support for multiple currencies or extended customer service hours as you would get with a platform like GetYourGuide. In addition, the website may not be available in your language, making it hard to know what to do.

There also are unlikely to be reviews from other customers. In addition, if you are visiting multiple attractions, having to hop between websites and enter payment details multiple times can be more time consuming than doing it through one single website.

Naturally, we’re not suggesting you shouldn’t buy direct. It’s always worth checking the price, and some locations have exclusive ticket options, VIP experiences or skip the line entry that can only be purchased directly. So keep this one in mind when hunting for deals, and weigh the advantages and disadvantages before buying.

 

Buying Tickets In Person Versus Online?

You may be wondering if you should just buy your tickets in person rather than online for an attraction? Buying tickets online is the most traditional and obvious way to purchase attraction tickets after all.

All you have to do is show up at the attraction and purchase the ticket from an on-site ticket counter. This can still be a good option, but it depends a lot on the attraction you want to visit and how flexible you are on the trip.

However, there are quite a few disadvantages of buying tickets in person.

For major attractions such as the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona or the Colosseum in Rome, tickets often sell out well in advance. In addition, many of these popular attractions have a timed entry system, so even if tickets are available on the day, it might not be for the time you want. So then the consequence is you may not get to visit an attraction if you don’t book in advance.

Next, and again this primarily applies at popular attractions, there are often very long lines at the on-site ticket office. We prefer not to waste our limited vacation time standing in ticket lines where possible! So the consequence is that you may wait in long ticket lines versus buying a ticket that allows you to skip the line. This may also mean you have less time to visit other attractions at a destination.

There are some other disadvantages to buying tickets in person. For example, you might not get the best price on-site. In addition, there may be limited payment options available if you purchase a ticket in person. At smaller attractions for example, they might require cash payment in a local currency.

This is an exception, but is definitely something to keep in mind if you are used to paying with a credit or debit card.

Of course, it’s not all negative. There are some advantages to buying tickets in person.

The main advantage of buying a ticket in person is that it gives you a lot of flexibility with your planning.

If you’re the kind of person who just likes to wander around a destination and visit attractions on a last-minute whim, then you will likely find that buying tickets at the ticket desk is the easiest way to do that.

Finally, for smaller attractions or those found more off the beaten path, buying in person might be the only way to purchase tickets. In addition, for these smaller attractions, you know that when you pay in person all of your money is going to support the attraction.

For us, we usually only buy our tickets in person for off the beaten path attractions where online purchase isn’t possible, or for those smaller attractions we visit on a whim at the last minute.

Generally though, we prefer to shop online at one of the locations we’ve mentioned, and see if we can get a better deal for our entry.

Where to Buy Sightseeing & Attraction Tickets Online and Save Money

 

Tips for Saving Money on Sightseeing

We just wanted to share a few tips for saving money on sightseeing and for buying tickets online.

First, when comparing prices on tickets across different websites, always check what the final price is. You might find that booking fees or taxes are added to the initial price at checkout, which may make the ticket more expensive than another website or buying it in person.

To get a fair comparison of price, you will want to be comparing what you will actually be paying for the tickets, including any fees and taxes.

If you are thinking about purchasing an attraction pass, make sure that you will visit enough attractions to make it worth it. Attraction passes offer significant savings, but you do usually need to visit a few of the included attractions before realising those savings. Otherwise it might be more cost effective to just pay for those attractions you do plan on visiting.

If do you purchase an attraction pass, make sure you read through everything it covers. Some might include a transport pass or other bonus, that can save you even more money on your trip.

 

Further Reading

We hope you found guide to buying tickets online useful! Before you head on, we wanted to share some more of our travel tips to help you plan your travels.

And that’s it for our guide to buying tickets online! We hope you found it useful. As always, we’re open to your feedback and questions – just pop them in the comments below. Safe travels!

Where to Buy Sightseeing & Attraction Tickets Online



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