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Scotland’s North Coast & Famous Lochs

(9 days / 8 nights)

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Follow your compass north in Scotland

This road trip takes you a little further off the beaten path in Scotland. Take a journey through the Highlands to the rugged north, to the amazing Orkney Islands and along the scenic North Coast 500 Route. Explore fairytale castles, sandy beaches, rocky cliffs, old ruins and prehistorical sites, and visit famous places including 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.

9 days / 8 nights

Price p.p. from

Approx 954 GBP

The amount will be charged in GBP

Type

Self-Drive

Interest

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

Season

1 Apr - 31 Oct

Departure

Daily

Driving distance

1199/634 km/mi

Itinerary

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

Download PDF
  • 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 your time and interest. 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-like 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 arriving to 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: 201 km / 125 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. 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 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 the day 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: Loch Ness & Fort William

    Start the day by visiting the breathtaking mile-long Corrieshalloch Gorge and enjoy a walk to the Falls of Measach. Then head for Loch Ness, where you can visit the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition to learn about the story of the lake or visit to the Urquhart Castle ruins standing beautifully at the banks of loch Ness. If you want to go out searching for Nessie yourself, you can take an optional boat tour to look out for its notorious and elusive monster.

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

    Driving distance: 179 km / 111 miles

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  • Day 7: 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 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.

    Alternately, you can choose to travel a longer scenic route via Oban with views of Loch Linnhe to the historical valley of Kilmartin Glen. It 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. 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.

    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 8: 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”. Other great places to visit are 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 9: 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.

Reviews

We don’t like to brag, so we’ll let our happy customers do it for us.

Hotels were of highest standard

We were pleasantly surprised at the high level of our accommodations. We asked for an upgrade of a guaranteed ensuite, and all the hotels were of the highest standard. The map with the highlighted tour and places to stop and see was very useful. The pickup and drop-off service was well worth the extra expense. The drivers were very knowledgeable and courteous. What a wonderful way to start and end the trip. We needed the emergency number when we were boarding the ferry. It was reassuring to have Nordic Visitor quickly resolve our registration problem.

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 the journey, with authorization for two drivers and free GPS in the rental car of your choice.

Toyota Yaris
or similar

  • x4
  • x3
  • x1
  • M

Toyota Yaris
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
or similar

  • x5
  • x5
  • x2
  • M

Vauxhall Astra
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

Vauxhall Insignia
or similar

  • x5
  • x4
  • x4
  • M

Vauxhall Insignia
or similar

  • Type: E
  • Passengers: 5
  • Luggage: 4
  • Doors: 4
  • Transmission: Manual

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
or similar

  • x7
  • x5
  • x1
  • M

Vauxhall Zafira
or similar

  • Type: H
  • Passengers: 7
  • Luggage: 1
  • Doors: 5
  • Transmission: Manual

Kia Sportage
or similar

  • x5
  • x5
  • x3
  • M

Kia Sportage
or similar

  • Type: I
  • Passengers: 5
  • Luggage: 3
  • Doors: 5
  • Transmission: Manual

Mercedes Vito
or similar

  • x9
  • x3
  • x9
  • M

Mercedes Vito
or similar

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

Price per person from

Approx 954 GBP

The amount will be charged in GBP

Monthly price comparison Our best price per person when booking for two.

2017
2018

Tour Information

Travel seasons and price savings
July and August are Scotland’s busiest travel months, known as the high season. August is an especially busy month in the City of Edinburgh, due to a number of major festivals taking place throughout the month. The Isle of Skye can also be quite congested in July and August, with its status as one of Scotland’s ‘must see’ destinations. During this season, there is less availability at accommodations and attractions tend to be the most crowded.
 
Booking a tour in the shoulder season — May and June — offers a more peaceful travel experience, a better chance at reserving preferred accommodations and prices that are as much as 15% lower than high season. For even greater savings and fewer crowds, consider booking in the low season, April and October. 
 
 
Good to know:
  • Remember, motorists drive on the left side of the road in Scotland.
  • If you are not used to driving on the left, we highly recommend choosing a vehicle with automatic transmission when you book online. Keep in mind that in a manual transmission vehicle, you need to shift gears with your left hand as the driver seat is on the right. (Floor pedals are the same.)
  • On Day 7, the optional longer route adds an extra 156 km (97 miles) of driving.
  • During the months of April, May, September and October, the ferry on Day 5 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.
Currency rate
All bookings are charged in British Pounds (£, GBP). Prices displayed in other currencies are indicative only and based on the daily exchange rate. Therefore, conversions from GBP to other currencies will fluctuate from day to day.

After booking with Nordic Visitor
After booking your package with Nordic Visitor, you will be contacted within two working days by one of our travel consultants, who will serve as your dedicated contact person for all of your travel needs before, during and even after your holiday. Your travel consultant will provide you with details about your booking and your remaining payment (if not paid in full). You will also receive more information about what to expect during your holiday.

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