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Grand Tour of Scotland

(17 days / 16 nights)

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A Scottish Experience of a Lifetime

This self-drive journey in Scotland has it all. Enjoy historic cities such as Edinburgh, St. Andrews, Aberdeen, Stirling and Inverness as well as beautifully secluded villages like Inveraray and Luss. Take in the magnificent isles of Orkney, Mull, Skye, Harris and Lewis as well as legendary sites in the Scottish Highlands, including Loch Ness, historic castles such as Eilean Donan, dramatic coastlines and ruins of Old Norse and Stone Age settlements.

17 days / 16 nights

Price p.p. from

Approx 1756 GBP

The amount will be charged in GBP

Type

Self-Drive

Interest

Best Seller, Castles and Royalty, Classic, Culture and History, Highlands, Honeymoon & Romance, Isles, Off the Beaten Path

Season

1 Apr - 31 Oct

Departure

Daily

Driving distance

2146/1333 km/mi

Itinerary

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

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  • Day 1: Arrival Day in Edinburgh

    Welcome to Edinburgh. For an easy and comfortable way to get from Edinburgh Airport to your hotel in the city centre, we are happy to arrange a private transfer for you (at additional cost). After settling in, go out and explore. Edinburgh has a long and storied history, so there’s no shortage of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, museums and landmarks to visit, including the majestic Edinburgh Castle.

    You can easily travel around the city centre on foot, and we recommend strolling along the Royal Mile or walking to Castle Hill for a spectacular view of the city. For a good introduction to the city, why not join the Edinburgh Tour, a 1-hour guided tour on a double-decker bus covering the top attractions, or a guided walking tour of the Old Town. And of course there are plenty of restaurants and bars to enjoy some warm Scottish hospitality—not to mention a taste of the local whisky.

    Spend the night in Edinburgh.

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  • Day 2: Fishing Villages of Fife & St. Andrews

    Start your drive today across the remarkable Forth Road Bridge to Fife and follow the scenic coastal route around the East Neuk. Take your time to visit the enchanting fishing villages of Anstruther, Elie and Pittenween on your way to St. Andrews, the “home of golf”. You can also choose to drive an alternative route to visit the delightful village of Falkland and its palace. 

    Enjoy the remainder of the day exploring the beautiful, historical city of St. Andrews, famous for its old ruins, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club that was founded in 1754 and the University of St. Andrews, the oldest in Scotland dating back to 1410. 

    Spend the night in St. Andrews area

    Driving distance: 105 km / 65 miles

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  • Day 3: Castles of Aberdeenshire

    Today you will find yourself in Aberdeenshire, an area home to over 300 castles. Travel via the city of Dundee, where you can find museums and attractions such as the ship RRS Discovery.

    Continue via the coastal route. On the way you may wish to visit the St. Cyrus National Nature Reserve and the spectacular ruins of Dunnottar Castle, a site of some incredible historical tales, perched near some gigantic sea-cliffs. You can also visit the village of Stonehaven with its relaxing outdoor pool and scenic beach lined with seafood restaurants.  Spend the rest of the day exploring Aberdeen, often referred to as the “granite city."

    Spend the night in the Aberdeen area.

    Driving distance: 132km / 82 miles

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  • Day 4: Whisky & Highland History

    Head into the majestic Scottish Highlands today via the “Highland Tourist Route”.  On the way is the Grampian Transport Museum at Alford, an interesting stop to gain an insight into the history of transport in the area. Continue onwards via Cairngorms National Park along the lovely valley of Upper Donside and into Speyside, the “heart of whisky”.  This would be a good place to visit one of the local distilleries and see how the “water of life” is produced.   

    Further along, your drive takes you through Grantown-on Spey, a popular salmon fishing area. And if time allows, you can visit the fairytale-like Cawdor Castle or Culloden Moor, where the last battle on British soil occurred in 1746—an event considered “the beginning of the end for the highlands.”

    Spend the night in the Inverness area.

    Driving distance: 190 km/ 118 miles

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  • Day 5: Orkney Islands & Norse Heritage

    Head north via the beautiful Black Isle Peninsula, passing the picture-perfect Dunrobin Castle on the way to the seaside village of Scrabster, where you will take the ferry to Stromness on Orkney—a beautiful 1.5-hour journey over Pentland Firth with spectacular views of the Old Man of Hoy. After landing, continue to Kirkwall, the largest town of the Orkney Islands and a former Viking stronghold. Here you have the opportunity to explore the city centre, including the magnificent 12th century St Magnus Cathedral.

    Spend the night in the Kirkwall area

    Driving distance:  201 km / 125 miles

    Ferry from Scrabster to Orkney: 1.5 hours

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  • Day 6: Stone Age Ruins of Orkney

    Spend another day exploring fantastic Orkney, noted for its stunning scenery and ruins dating back millennia to the Stone Ages. This is a great opportunity to visit the “Heart of Neolithic Orkney”, a UNESCO World Heritage Site area that includes a group of Neolithic monuments on Mainland, the largest of the Orkney Islands. 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 in the 12th century raiding Vikings left one of the largest collections of Norse runic inscriptions.

    Spend another night in the Kirkwall area.

    Driving distance: 56 km / 35 miles

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  • Day 7: Cliffs & Beaches of the North Coast

    Start the day early and take the ferry back to the Scottish mainland. From here your drive offers amazing vistas including rocky cliffs, gold sand beaches and beautiful mountains of the rural north coast. We recommend visits to the beautiful Smoo Cave, the largest and most dramatic sea cave in Britain, and the pristine beaches and turquoise waters of Durness. Further ahead you can visit the 15th century ruins of Ardvreck Castle before arriving at the charming and whitewashed village of Ullapool.

    Spend the night in the Ullapool area.

    Driving distance: 251 km / 156 miles

    Ferry from Orkney to Scrabster: 1.5 hours 

    Note: During the months of April, May, September and October, the ferry on Day 7 to Scrabster departs at 06:30 AM on weekdays. If travelling in these months we recommend starting your journey on Sunday or Monday in order to take the ferry on weekends, which departs at 09:00 AM.

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  • Day 8: Gaelic Culture & Neolithic Megaliths of Lewis

    Take the ferry in the morning to Stornoway and enjoy the beautiful sights of Lewis, an isle where the Gaelic culture and language still thrives. The main attraction here are the spectacular 4,000 year-old Callanish Standing Stones, an impressive collection of Neolithic stone circles and megaliths often referred to as the “Hebrides’ Stonehenge.” 

    Another highlight today is the Black Arnol Museum, a must for anyone wanting to learn more about island life in the old days. In Stornoway you might also wish to visit the newly renovated Stornoway Museum located within the Victorian era Lews Castle, which houses exhibits about the island including six of the famous Lewis Chessmen.      

    Continue south and spend the night on the Isle of Harris.

    Driving distance: 69 km / 43 miles

    Ferry from Ullapool to Stornoway: 2.5 hours

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  • Day 9: Isle of Harris & the Golden Road

    Today enjoy the Isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides, famous for its idyllic sandy beaches and craggy landscapes. Explore the small village of Tarbert and then take in the striking scenery on a drive along “The Golden Road” towards Rodel.

    On the way, enjoy a walk on Luskentyre Beach with its miles of white sands and dazzling turquoise waters, stop to admire tiny rural communities and perhaps take some time to explore the beautiful medieval St. Clement’s Church. You can also visit the Harris Tweed outlets for a genuine souvenir, as this tweed is still woven by hand in the Outer Hebrides.

    Spend another night on the Isle of Harris.

    Driving distance: 177 km / 110 miles

  • Day 10: Island Hopping & Northern Skye

    Today you’ll travel from island to island as you take the ferry from Tarbert to Uig on the picturesque Isle of Skye in the Inner Hebrides. After arriving, we recommend a drive around the northern part of the island via the breathtaking Trotternish Peninsula. Here you can explore the mystical, wooded Fairy Glen and further along, via the Quirang rock face, visit the Staffin Beach where you might spot old dinosaur footprints, view the beautiful Kilt Rock waterfall and enjoy a walk up to “The Old Man of Storr” rock pinnacle for stunning views.  

    Spend the night on the Isle of Skye or nearby vicinity.

    Driving distance: 71 km / 44 miles 

    Ferry from Tarbert to Uig: 1 hour and 40 min

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  • Day 11: Dunvegan Castle & Coral Beach

    Today you have a full day to take in the magic of Skye, a paradise for nature lovers and history enthusiasts alike. Take some time to wander around the scenic village of Portree with its colourful buildings and little stores selling handicrafts and local souvenirs. Head to the western part of the island to visit the romantic Dunvegan Castle and Gardens, home to the Chief of Clan MacLeod. We also suggest heading to Claigan Coral Beach for a walk along one of the most beautiful beaches of Skye.

    Spend another night on the Isle of Skye or nearby vicinity. 

    Driving distance: 84 km / 52 miles

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  • Day 12: Experience the Magic of Skye

    Enjoy another full day at your leisure in the mesmerizing surroundings of Skye. There are many great areas for hiking, such as the folklore-rich Fairy Pools, and you can take in the beauty of the Cuillin Mountains on an optional sailing tour. You might also wish to visit the Talisker Distillery to sample some genuine single malt Scotch whisky.

    Spend another night on the Isle of Skye or nearby vicinity.

    Driving distance:  87 km / 54 miles

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  • Day 13: Eilean Donan Castle & Loch Ness

    Experience two of Scotland’s most famous attractions today. After departing Skye, drive towards the picturesque Eilean Donan Castle, a sight you will surely recognize from many photographs, films and TV shows. Then head for Loch Ness, where you can visit the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition to learn about the story of the lake and, of course, its notorious and elusive monster. If you want to go out searching for Nessie yourself, you can take an optional boat tour and visit to the Urquhart Castle ruins.

    Spend the night in the Fort William / Loch Ness area.

    Driving distance: 237 km / 147 miles

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  • Day 14: Isle of Mull

    Head to the seaside village of Oban and take a scenic ferry ride over to the Isle of Mull, a place characterised by white sandy beaches, mountains that rise sharply out of the sea and thriving wildlife.  Here you can explore the charming village of Tobermory with its multi-coloured houses scattered around the harbour.

    You also have the option to take a detour to the west coast of the island, from where you can take an optional ferry ride from Fionnphort over to the Isle of Iona, home of dazzling beaches and sacred sites such as Iona Abbey.

    Spend the night on the Isle of Mull. 

    Driving distance: 104 km / 65 miles  

    Ferry transfer – Oban to Craignure:  46 minutes

    Driving distance – alternate route to Fionnphort: 216 km / 134 miles

    Optional ferry – Fionnphort to Iona:  10 minutes each way

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  • Day 15: Kilmartin Glen, Luss & Loch Lomond

    Take the ferry in the morning back to the mainland, then travel on a scenic route with views of Loch Linnhe to the historical valley of Kilmartin Glen. This area is considered to have one of the most important concentrations of Neolithic and Bronze Age remains in Scotland, with many cairns, standing stones, rock carvings, stone circles, forts and castles.

    On this route you can also stop at the charming village of Inveraray on the shores of Loch Fyne, where you have the opportunity to visit Inveraray Castle, the home of the Duke of Argyl. Continue on to the shores of the beautiful Loch Lomond and visit the pretty conservation village of Luss.

    Spend the night in the Loch Lomond / Trossachs National Park area.

    Driving distance: 250 km / 155 miles

    Ferry transfer – Craignure to Oban:  46 minutes

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  • Day 16: Trossachs National Park to Edinburgh

    It’s time to head back towards Edinburgh today. But first you can take some time to enjoy the beautiful Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park area. Take a walk in nature to spot wildlife, enjoy an optional steam-ship tour on the tranquil lake Loch Katrine, follow in the footsteps of Rob Roy or visit a local whisky distillery. For a fun photo opportunity, don’t miss the Doune Castle, featured in the classic film Monty Python & the Holy Grail and the Outlander TV series as “Castle Leoch”. Another ideal place to visit is Stirling Castle and the monument of William Wallace.

    Back in Edinburgh, return your rental car and enjoy the rest of the day at your leisure, perhaps with a fine dinner to top off your amazing journey.

    Spend the night in Edinburgh.

    Driving distance: 132 km / 82 miles

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  • Day 17: Departure

    To get to Edinburgh Airport, you can take the Airport Express bus from Waverley Bridge or a taxi directly from your hotel. If your flight is in the afternoon, use the morning to enjoy some last-minute shopping, visit one of Edinburgh’s museums or simply relax and take in the old world atmosphere of the city.

    If you wish to spend more time in Edinburgh or Glasgow before or after the tour, ask your travel consultant about adding extra nights or services, such as private airport transfers. We can also extend your trip with other destinations in the Nordic region such as Iceland or Norway. Contact us for details about customizing your itinerary.

Map

Here’s a map of Scotland, to help put things in perspective.