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Classic Scotland & The Orkney islands

(12 days / 11 nights)

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Explore the highlands and the islands

This unforgettable journey will take you around some of the most beautiful and dramatic scenery in Scotland, to experience legendary castles, stunning beaches, Viking ruins, charming old towns and mysterious megaliths. On this tour, you get all the exciting adventures and highlights of our Classic Scotland tour, which goes around the Highlands and to the Isle of Skye, plus the chance to discover the history-rich Orkney Islands and to explore the northernmost parts of Scotland, driving along the scenic North Coast 500.

12 days / 11 nights

Price p.p. from

Approx 1646 GBP

The amount will be charged in GBP

— Why book with Nordic Visitor

  • Hassle-free & seamless travel experience
  • Flexible & customisable tour options
  • Quality & value for your money
  • Trusted local experts in Scotland
  • Great customer reviews

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Tour Highlights

  • Explore some of Scotland’s top sights on the famous and breathtaking Isle of Skye
  • Visit the mysterious and ancient “Heart of Neolithic Orkney
  • Walk along the mysterious Loch Ness and visit the castle on its shores
  • See the striking natural beauty of the Scottish Highlands
  • Drive along the famous North Coast 500
  • Discover Scotland‘s historic capital Edinburgh and stroll up the Royal Mile
  • Enjoy some quiet time in nature at the Trossachs National Park
  • Photograph the picturesque Dunnottar Castle
  • Discover historic sites around the country with the Historic Scotland Explorer Pass
  • Enjoy a road trip with peace of mind with your personal itinerary from a local travel expert

Travel style

Self-Drive i

Interest

Active i, Castles and Royalty i, Classic i, Countryside and natural scenery i, Heritage i, Highlands i, Honeymoon & Romance i, Isles i, Off the Beaten Path i

Season

Apr - Oct

Departure

Daily

Driving distance

1820/1130 km/mi

Itinerary

A day-by-day plan to guide your journey.

Download PDF
  • Day 1: Arrival in Edinburgh

    Make your way into Edinburgh city centre where your hotel will be located. Many travellers opt to take a taxi or use public transport, but for a more direct and comfortable ride, we will be happy to organise a private airport transfer for you. For those arriving early in the day, we recommend spending the afternoon walking through the city, strolling along the Royal Mile and exploring the Old Town and New Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are also plenty of museums and landmarks to visit within the city centre, including the majestic Edinburgh Castle.

    Spend the night in Edinburgh. 

    Included: Entrance to Edinburgh Castle

    Attractions Attractions Attractions Attractions Attractions Attractions Attractions Optional Extras
  • Day 2: Scotland's Dramatic East Coast

    Today, start your road trip driving up to Fife. Your first stop will be the quaint village of Falkland, where you can explore its Renaissance palace. From there, drive east to the town of St Andrews, famous for being the home of golf and of the oldest university in Scotland. As you continue north, pass by Dundee, a UNESCO City of Design. You can then take the direct route to Aberdeen, or take the coastal scenic route, which will take you past the St. Cyrus National Nature Reserve and the spectacular Dunnottar Castle, near Stonehaven.

    Spend the night in the Aberdeen area.

    Included: Entrances to St Andrews Castle & St Andrews Cathedral

    Driving distance: 235 km / 145 miles

    Attractions Attractions Attractions Attractions Attractions Attractions
  • Day 3: Royal Deeside, Castles & Whisky

    Today will take you into the Scottish Highlands. First drive along the “Deeside Tourist Route”, an enchanting route through the Cairngorms National Park. On the way, there is a plethora of castles you could visit, including 16th-century Crathes Castle, and of course, the Scottish residence of the Royal Family, Balmoral Castle, which you can visit from April to July. You will then continue to Speyside, which is famous for its whiskies. You may want to visit one of the many distilleries (there are over 40 to choose from!), such as Glenfiddich or Aberlour.

    Spend the night in the Inverness area.

    Driving distance: 240 km  / 150 miles

    Attractions Attractions Attractions Attractions
  • Day 4: Journey to Orkney

    Today your drive will take you north, across the Black Isle Peninsula, all the way to the seaside village of Scrabster. We recommend making a stop on the way at the fairytale Dunrobin Castle. In the early afternoon, you‘ll catch a ferry to Stromness on Orkney, a beautiful 1.5-hour journey across the Pentland Firth with spectacular views of the Old Man of Hoy. Once you‘ve reached mainland Orkney, drive to the capital, Kirkwall, a former Viking stronghold. Here you can explore the city centre and the magnificent 12th-century St Magnus Cathedral. 

    Spend the night in the Kirkwall area. 

    Ferry from Scrabster to Orkney: 1.5 hours

    Driving distance:  205 km / 130 miles

    Attractions Attractions Attractions Attractions Attractions
  • Day 5: The Wonders of Orkney

    You have the whole day to explore the gems of Orkney, admire its stunning scenery and ruins dating back millennia to the Stone Ages. The highlight of Orkney‘s wonders is the “Heart of Neolithic Orkney”, a UNESCO World Heritage Site area that comprises a group of Neolithic monuments. This includes the 5,000 year-old prehistoric village of Skara Brae, the mysterious Ring of Brodgar stone circle, the huge megaliths at the Standing Stones of Stenness and the chambered cairn of Maeshowe, where 12th-century Vikings left one of the largest collections of Norse runic inscriptions. 

    Spend another night in the Kirkwall area. 

    Included: Entrances to Skara Brae & Maeshowe

    Driving distance: 56 km  / 35 miles 

    Attractions Attractions Attractions Attractions
  • Day 6: The North Coast 500 Route

    Today you journey back to the mainland by ferry before taking on part of the famous North Coast 500 route. Scotland‘s version of Route 66 stretches around the northern coast of Scotland, and is known for its incredible vistas of rocky cliffs, gold sand beaches and beautiful mountains. We recommend stopping along the way to visit the beautiful Smoo Cave, the largest and most dramatic sea cave in Britain, the pristine beaches and turquoise waters of Durness, and the 15th-century ruins of Ardvreck Castle before arriving at the charming and whitewashed village of Ullapool

    Spend the night in the Ullapool area.

    Ferry from Orkney to Scrabster: 1.5 hours

    Driving distance: 250 km / 150 miles

    Attractions Attractions Attractions Attractions Attractions
  • Day 7: Along the Dramatic West Coast to Skye

    Start the day by visiting the breathtaking mile-long Corrieshalloch Gorge and enjoying a walk to the Falls of Measach. During your drive along the west coast, we recommend stopping at Inverewe Garden, which boasts some 2500 exotic plants and flowers, which flourish in Northern Scotland thanks to the warm currents of the Gulf Stream. Your drive will then take you through the dramatic landscape of the Torridon Hills. Before reaching Skye, we recommend stopping at the picturesque village of Plockton, on the shores of Loch Carron.

    Spend the night on the Isle of Skye or nearby.

    Driving distance: 265km / 165 miles

    Attractions Attractions Attractions Attractions Attractions Attractions
  • Day 8: The Isle of Skye

    Today take full advantage of your day on Skye, a haven for nature lovers. You can visit the village of Portree, with its colourful buildings and local shops before going on a drive around the northern part of the island via the breathtaking Trotternish Peninsula. There you can enjoy a walk up to “The Old Man of Storr” rock pinnacle and see the beautiful Kilt Rock Waterfall. Other highlights include the Quiraing, the An Corran Beach at Staffin, where you may spot ancient dinosaur footprints, and the mystical Fairy Glen.

    Spend another night on the Isle of Skye or nearby.

    Driving distance: 70 km / 45 miles

    Attractions Attractions Attractions Attractions Attractions
  • Day 9: The Beauty of Loch Ness

    Today’s journey will bring you back to the Scottish mainland. Make sure to stop at the picturesque Eilean Donan Castle, a sight you will surely recognise from many photographs, films and TV shows. Drive all the way to the shores of the mysterious Loch Ness, where you can visit the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition. You might also wish to take a boat tour on Loch Ness in search of its notorious and elusive monster, or go explore the nearby Urquhart Castle ruins on the shores of the loch.

    Spend the night in the Fort William area.

    Included: Entrance to Urquhart Castle

    Driving distance: 240 km / 150 miles

    Attractions Attractions Attractions Attractions Attractions
  • Day 10: Travel along Dramatic Glens

    Today’s journey takes you past Scotland’s most famous valley, Glen Coe, which offers world-famous scenery. You could stop at the grave of Rob Roy at Balquidder and the beautiful Falls of Dochart in the village of Killin. Alternatively, you could travel the longer scenic route via the seaside town of Oban onto the historical valley of Kilmartin Glen and past the charming village of Inveraray. This region is considered to have one of the most important concentrations of Neolithic and Bronze Age remains in Scotland, including cairns, standing stones, and castles.

    Spend the night in the Trossachs National Park area.

    Driving distance via Glen Coe: 130 km / 80 miles
    Driving distance via Kilmartin Glen/Inveraray: 285 km / 180 miles

    Attractions Attractions Attractions Attractions
  • Day 11: Trossachs National Park

    Today’s drive will bring you back to Edinburgh (you can choose to end your trip in Glasgow in the optional activities below). Drive through the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, where you could stop to take a walk in nature, enjoy an optional steamship tour on Loch Katrine, or visit a local whisky distillery. For a fun photo opportunity, don’t miss Doune Castle, featured in Monty Python & the Holy Grail and Outlander. If time allows, you could also stop by Stirling Castle, one of Scotland’s top attractions, or at the Kelpies, two impressive horse-head sculptures.

    Spend the night in Edinburgh. 

    Included: Entrances to Doune Castle and Stirling Castle

    Driving distance: 130 km / 80 miles

    Attractions Attractions Attractions Attractions Optional Extras
  • Day 12: Departure from Scotland

    On your day of departure, we recommend taking the Airlink bus or a taxi directly from your hotel to reach the airport. If you would like to add any additional nights to your trip or to arrange a private transfer, you can do so during the booking process. If your flight is in the afternoon, you may have time for some last-minute shopping, to visit one of Edinburgh’s museums, or take one last stroll through the charming city centre.

    Optional Extras

Map

Here’s a map of your travel route, to help put things in perspective.

Accommodation

Sleep soundly, in the accommodation type of your choice, and wake up ready to enjoy another day of exploration.

Comfort

Rooms with private WC and shower (or bath) in a three-star hotel, B&B, well-appointed guesthouse or similar. All provide breakfast..

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Quality

Rooms with private WC and shower (or bath) in a boutique guesthouse, three- or four-star hotel or the best accommodation of that s..

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Rental car

Enjoy your journey with two driver authorization, free GPS and excess waiver insurance as standard.

Toyota Yaris (manual)
or similar

  • x4
  • x3
  • x1
  • M

Toyota Yaris (manual)
or similar

  • Type: A
  • Passengers: 4
  • Luggage: 1
  • Doors: 3
  • Transmission: Manual

Kia Picanto (automatic)
or similar

  • x5
  • x3
  • x1
  • A

Kia Picanto (automatic)
or similar

  • Type: B
  • Passengers: 5
  • Luggage: 1
  • Doors: 3
  • Transmission: Automatic

Vauxhall Astra (manual)
or similar

  • x5
  • x5
  • x2
  • M

Vauxhall Astra (manual)
or similar

  • Type: C
  • Passengers: 5
  • Luggage: 2
  • Doors: 5
  • Transmission: Manual

Toyota Auris (automatic)
or similar

  • x5
  • x5
  • x3
  • A

Toyota Auris (automatic)
or similar

  • Type: D
  • Passengers: 5
  • Luggage: 3
  • Doors: 5
  • Transmission: Automatic

Ford Mondeo (automatic)
or similar

  • x5
  • x4
  • x4
  • A

Ford Mondeo (automatic)
or similar

  • Type: F
  • Passengers: 5
  • Luggage: 4
  • Doors: 4
  • Transmission: Automatic

BMW 520 (automatic)
or similar

  • x5
  • x4
  • x4
  • A

BMW 520 (automatic)
or similar

  • Type: G
  • Passengers: 5
  • Luggage: 4
  • Doors: 4
  • Transmission: Automatic

Vauxhall Zafira (manual)
or similar

  • x5
  • x5
  • x5
  • M

Vauxhall Zafira (manual)
or similar

  • Type: H
  • Passengers: 5
  • Luggage: 5
  • Doors: 5
  • Transmission: Manual

Kia Sportage (automatic)
or similar

  • x5
  • x5
  • x3
  • A

Kia Sportage (automatic)
or similar

  • Type: J
  • Passengers: 5
  • Luggage: 3
  • Doors: 5
  • Transmission: Automatic

Mercedes Vito (manual)
or similar

  • x9
  • x3
  • x9
  • M

Mercedes Vito (manual)
or similar

  • Type: K
  • Passengers: 9
  • Luggage: 9
  • Doors: 3
  • Transmission: Manual
  • *upgrade to automatic available upon request