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Orkney & the Highlands

(11 days / 10 nights)

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Explore the highlands and islands

This is an unforgettable journey of legendary castles, dramatic beaches, Viking ruins, charming old towns and mysterious megaliths. Take a drive through the Highlands to the history-rich Orkney Islands, and follow the scenic North Coast 500 route on your way to the Isle of Skye. Other notable highlights of this tour include Loch Ness, Loch Lomond, Edinburgh and Inverness.

Due to limited accommodation in the months of July, August and early September, package bookings are only available on request. Please contact a travel consultant to check availability and for further information.

11 days / 10 nights

Price p.p. from

Approx 1086 GBP

The amount will be charged in GBP

Type

Self-Drive

Interest

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

Season

1 Apr - 31 Oct

Departure

Daily

Driving distance

1534/953 km/mi

Itinerary

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

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  • Day 1: Arrival Day in Edinburgh

    Welcome to Scotland. For an easy and comfortable way to get from the Edinburgh or Glasgow airport to your hotel in the Edinburgh 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 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: Into the Scottish Highlands

    Start your drive today across the remarkable Forth Road Bridge and head towards the majestic Scottish Highlands today. There are many possible stops depending on time and interests. Notable highlights include the picture-perfect village of Dunkeld, perched on the banks of the River Tay, and the 13th century Blair Castle nestled in the heart of Highland Perthshire. Travelling through the Cairngorms National Park, another ideal stop is at the Highland Folk Museum in Newtonmore, where actors and restored buildings help bring Highland history to life.   

    If time allows, head to the Battlefield of Culloden Moor, where the last battle on British soil occurred in 1746—an event considered “the beginning of the end for the Highlands”. There you can also visit Clava Cairns, a series of tombs and standing stones which pre-date Stonehenge by some 1,000 years. Then continue on to Inverness, regarded as “Capital of the Highlands.”

    Spend the night in the Inverness area.

    Driving distance: 251 km / 156 miles

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  • Day 3: Orkney Islands & Norse Heritage

    Head north via the beautiful Black Isle Peninsula, passing the fairytale 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.  

    Once you’re back on dry land, 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: 203 km/ 126 miles  

    Ferry from Scrabster to Orkney: 1.5 hours

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  • Day 4: 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.  

    Today 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 raiding Vikings in the 12th century 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 5: The North Coast 500 Route

    Start the day early and take the ferry back to the Scottish mainland. From here you’ll follow the North Coast 500 route, Scotland's answer to Route 66. This drive offers amazing vistas of rocky cliffs, gold sand beaches and beautiful mountains of the rural north coast. 

    Along your drive today 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 to Scrabster departs at 06:30 AM on weekdays. If travelling in these months we recommend starting your journey on Tuesday or Wednesday in order to take the ferry on weekends, which departs at 09:00 AM.

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  • Day 6: Eilean Donan Castle & Isle of Skye

    Start the day by visiting the breathtaking mile-long Corrieshalloch Gorge and enjoy a walk to the Falls of Measach.   Head towards the Isle of Skye and make a stop at the iconic Eilean Donan Castle, a sight you will surely recognize from many photographs, films and TV shows. Then head for the picturesque Isle of Skye in the Inner Hebrides.   

    Spend the night on the Isle of Skye or nearby.

    Driving distance: 192 km / 119 miles

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  • Day 7: Day of Leisure on Skye

    Today you have a full day to take in the magic of Skye, a haven for nature lovers and history enthusiasts alike. Take some time to wander around the scenic village of Portree with its colourful buildings and boutiques. We also recommend a drive around the northern part of the island via the breathtaking Trotternish Peninsula. Here you can enjoy a walk up to “The Old Man of Storr” rock pinnacle for stunning views and view the beautiful Kilt Rock waterfall.  

    Other suggested highlights include the An Corran Beach at Staffin, where you may spot dinosaur footprints dating back 165 million years, the Quirang rock face, and the mystical Fairy Glen. 

    Spend another night on the Isle of Skye or nearby. 

    Driving-distance: 66 km /41 miles

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  • Day 8: Loch Ness & Urquhart Castle Ruins

    Today head over to the mainland and drive along the shores of 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 lake.

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

    Driving distance: 254km/ 157 miles

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  • Day 9: Through Famous Glens to Loch Lomond

    Head to Rob Roy country, the Trossachs and Loch Lomond area today. This journey takes you past Scotland’s most famous valley, the magical Glen Coe, combining world-famous scenery and history. Other worthwhile sights in the area include the grave of Rob Roy, the notorious outlaw and folk hero, at Balquidder and the beautiful Falls of Dochart in the village of Killin. 

    Alternatively, you can take a longer scenic route via the quaint seaside village of Oban through 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 enjoy views to Loch Linnhe and stop at the charming village of Inveraray on the shores of Loch Fyne, where you can visit Inveraray Castle, the home of the Duke of Argyl.   

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

    Driving distance via Glen Coe: 129 km / 80 miles 

    Driving distance via Kilmartin Glen/Inveraray: 285 km / 177 miles

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  • Day 10: 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 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 dedicated to William Wallace, the rebellious Scottish knight and subject of the film Braveheart.  

    Back in Edinburgh, return your rental car and enjoy the evening 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 11: 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.