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Ultimate Journey of Scotland

(21 days / 20 nights)

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Experience Scottish culture and see its dramatic landscapes

This 3-week ultimate tour of Scotland is perfect for those who want to discover the Scottish Highlands and Islands in depth. Your personal itinerary will take you from the historic capital, Edinburgh, into the scenic Highlands to the very northern tip of Scotland. From there, you will visit the main islands of the country, Shetland, Orkney, Harris and Lewis, Skye and Mull, to learn about Viking and Gaelic cultures, visit historical sites, and admire the dramatic vistas over rugged mountains and stunning coastlines.

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— 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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— Book With Confidence

  • Optional cancellation insurance
  • Affordable deposits from 10%

Terms and conditions apply

Tour Highlights

  • Explore some of Scotland’s top sights on the famous and breathtaking Isle of Skye
  • Experience the Nordic landscapes and Viking heritage of Shetland
  • Enjoy island-hopping between Orkney, Harris, Lewis, and Mull
  • See the striking natural beauty of the Scottish Highlands
  • Discover Scotland‘s historic capital Edinburgh and stroll up the Royal Mile
  • Walk along the mysterious Loch Ness and visit the castle on its shores
  • Visit the spectacular Callanish Standing Stones and the “Heart of Neolithic Orkney
  • Drive along the famous North Coast 500
  • Discover historic sites around the country with the Historic Scotland 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, Countryside and natural scenery i, Culture and History i, Heritage i, Highlands i, Isles i, Off the Beaten Path i

Season

Apr - Oct

Departure

Tue, Thu, Sat

Interest

Active i, Castles and Royalty i, Countryside and natural scenery i, Culture and History i, Heritage i, Highlands i, Isles i, Off the Beaten Path i

Driving distance

2760/1720 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: Fishing Villages of Fife & St Andrews

    Start your epic road trip by driving across the Firth of Forth, taking in the magnificent UNESCO World Heritage Forth Rail Bridge. Follow the scenic coastal route around the East Neuk, along which you can visit the enchanting fishing villages of Anstruther, Elie and Pittenween. You can also choose the alternative route which passes through the delightful village of Falkland where you can visit its Renaissance palace. Continue east to reach the historic town of St Andrews. It is famous for being the home of golf and home to the oldest university in Scotland.

    Spend the night in St Andrews or nearby.

    Included: Entrance to St Andrews Castle & St Andrews Cathedral

    Driving distance: 105 km / 65 miles

    Attractions Attractions Attractions Attractions
  • Day 3: Dundee & Dramatic East Coast Scenery

    Travel north today via the city of Dundee, where you can find museums and attractions such as the ship RRS Discovery and the V&A museum. On your way up the east coast, you may wish to visit Glamis Castle, the childhood home of the late Queen Mother. You can then travel along the scenic road, passing by the St. Cyrus National Nature Reserve and the spectacular ruins of Dunnottar Castle. Spend the rest of the day exploring Aberdeen, referred to as the “Granite City." Pop into the Maritime Museum or marvel at the sparkling Marischal College.

    Spend the night in the Aberdeen area.

    Driving distance: 130 km / 80 miles 

    Attractions Attractions Attractions Attractions Attractions Attractions
  • Day 4: Castles of Aberdeenshire

    You have until early evening to explore Aberdeenshire, an area home to over 300 castles. Head into the majestic Scottish Highlands today via the “Deeside Tourist Route, an enchanting drive through the towering splendour of Cairngorms National Park. On the way, you can visit 13th-century Drum Castle, or the 16th-century Crathes Castle. If time allows, you could also drive a bit further along to visit the Royal Lochnagar whisky distillery. You may also wish to visit Balmoral Castle (open April - July), the home of the Royal Family in the Highlands.

    Tonight you will board the overnight ferry from Aberdeen to Shetland

    Ferry crossing from Aberdeen to Lerwick: 12.5 hours. Please note this is an overnight ferry with cabin accommodation.

    Driving distance: 160 km / 100 miles

    Attractions Attractions Attractions Attractions
  • Day 5: Arrival in Shetland

    This morning, disembark at the charming harbour town of Lerwick, capital of the Shetland Isles. To get to know the town, we recommend exploring Fort Charlotte and visiting the Shetland Museum & Archives where you can learn about the islands’ history. Later, drive to Clickimin Broch, a stone-built round house found only in Scotland. Take a 10-minute ferry to the Isle of Bressay to explore its rich natural heritage and incredible wildlife. You could then visit the Shetland Textile Museum, or spend the day visiting one of the beautiful Northern Isles of Yell & Unst.

    Spend the night on Shetland.

    Driving distance:  180 km / 110 miles

    Attractions Attractions
  • Day 6: Remarkable Heritage Sites of Shetland

    Today you visit the South Mainland of Shetland, home to some of Shetland’s most jaw-dropping scenery and best archaeological sites, including the Isle of Mousa. At the ancient settlement of Jarlshof you can explore 4,000 years of human history, by seeing the remains of an Iron Age broch, Pictish wheelhouses, Norse dwellings, and a medieval farmstead. Only a short distance away is Sumburgh Head Nature Reserve with its Royal Society for the Protection of Birds exhibition and its famous lighthouse overlooking the cliffs. For an incredible view and photo opportunity don’t miss St. Ninians beach near Bigton!

    Spend another night on Shetland.

    Included: Entrance to Jarlshof

    Driving distance: 85 km / 55 miles

    Attractions Attractions Attractions
  • Day 7: Journey to Orkney

    Travel to the wild and glorious peninsula of Northmavine, joined to the rest of the Shetland Mainland at Mavis Grind where the relentless Atlantic Ocean has nearly cut through to the North Sea. There, you could travel to the spectacular Eshaness Cliffs with their imposing lighthouse, or hike up to the top of Ronas Hill, Shetland's highest peak. Topped by a prehistoric chambered burial cairn, the summit offers a breathtaking panorama across this ice-carved landscape.  Later, catch a ferry from Lerwick to Orkney, a beautiful 6-hour journey across a wild part of the North Sea.

    Spend the night in the Kirkwall area. 

    Ferry from Lerwick to Kirkwall: 6 hours

    Driving distance:  130 km / 80 miles

    Attractions
  • Day 8: 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 9: Day at leisure on Orkney

    Spend another leisurely day exploring Orkney. Take some time in the main settlement Kirkwall, a former Viking stronghold. Here you can explore the city centre and the magnificent 12th-century St Magnus Cathedral. South of Kirkwall, visit the Italian Chapel, a beautiful Roman Catholic chapel in Lamb Holm which was constructed by Italian POWs during the Second World War. You can also drive to the southernmost tip of Orkney to the Tomb of the Eagles, a Bronze Age chambered tomb.

    Spend another night in the Kirkwall area. 

    Driving distance: 70 km / 45 miles 

    Attractions Attractions
  • Day 10: 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, mountains, and gold sand beaches. 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 11: Gaelic Culture & Neolithic Megaliths of Lewis

    This morning catch the ferry from Ullapool to Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, where the Gaelic culture and language still thrives. In Stornoway, you could visit the Stornoway Museum located within Lews Castle, which houses exhibits about the island including six of the famous Lewis Chessmen. You will want to make the detour toward the west side of the island to see the spectacular Callanish Standing Stones, an impressive collection of Neolithic stone circles and megaliths. We also recommend visiting the Black Arnol Museum to learn about the history of the island life.

    Spend the night on Lewis or Harris.

    Ferry from Ullapool to Stornoway: 2.5 hours

    Driving distance: 165 km / 100 miles 

    Attractions Attractions Attractions Attractions Attractions
  • Day 12: Harris & The Golden Road

    Today enjoy the beauty of the Isle of Harris. You can explore the small village of Tarbert and then take in the striking scenery on a drive along “The Golden Road” towards Rodel. We recommend exploring the beautiful medieval St Clement’s Church and going for a walk on Luskentyre Beach, one of the most spectacular in Scotland, boasting miles of white sands and dazzling turquoise waters. 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 Lewis or Harris.

    Driving distance: 70 km / 45 miles

    Attractions Attractions Attractions Attractions
  • Day 13: Island Hopping to Skye

    Today you’ll catch the ferry from Tarbert to Uig on the Isle of Skye. Upon your arrival on Skye, we recommend 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 the night on the Isle of Skye or nearby.

    Ferry from Tarbert to Uig: 1 hour and 40 min

    Driving distance: 80 km / 50 miles

    Attractions Attractions Attractions Attractions Attractions Attractions
  • Day 14: Dunvegan Castle & Coral Beach

    Spend a full day taking in the magic of Skye, a paradise for nature lovers and history enthusiasts. Wander around the scenic village of Portree, with its colourful buildings and local shops selling handicrafts and souvenirs. Drive to the western of the island to visit the romantic Dunvegan Castle, home to the Chief of Clan MacLeod. We also recommend going for a walk along Claigan Coral Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches of Skye. You can also visit Neist Point, the most westerly point on Skye that offers stunning sea views.

    Spend another night on the Isle of Skye or nearby.

    Driving distance: 130 km / 80 miles

    Attractions Attractions Attractions Attractions
  • Day 15: The Magic of Skye

    Enjoy another full day at your leisure in the mesmerizing surroundings of Skye. The island is perfect for those who love hiking as there are great areas and mountains all over, including to the mystical Fairy Pools and taking in the beauty of the Cuillin Mountains. You could also take part in a sailing tour to get a different perspective. For the single malt enthusiasts, or for those who want to taste the true flavour of Scotland, visit the Talisker Distillery to sample some genuine Scotch whisky.

    Spend another night on the Isle of Skye or nearby.

    Driving distance: 160 km / 100 miles

    Attractions Attractions Attractions
  • Day 16: 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: 260 km / 160 miles

    Attractions Attractions Attractions Attractions Attractions
  • Day 17: Fort William to the Isle of Mull

    Start your day with a scenic ferry ride over to Craignure on the Isle of Mull, a place characterised by white sandy beaches, rugged mountains and thriving wildlife. Your first stop will be Duart Castle, standing proudly by the sea cliffs of the island. We then recommend taking the scenic route along the west coast, past the highest peak Ben More. Stop on the way at one of the most beautiful beaches in Scotland, Calgary Bay. Continue to the charming village of Tobermory, the largest settlement of the island.

    Spend the night on the Isle of Mull or Oban area.

    Ferry from Oban to Craignure: 45 minutes

    Driving distance: 180 km / 115 miles

    Attractions Attractions
  • Day 18: Beautiful Isles of Iona & Staffa

    Today you have a full day at your leisure on Mull. You have the option to head to the west coast of the island, from where you can take a ferry ride from Fionnphort over to the Isle of Iona, home of dazzling beaches and sacred sites such as Iona Abbey. From Iona you can join a boat trip to the uninhabited Isle of Staffa, where you can admire Fingal’s Cave, a natural arched sea cave with impressive basalt columns. While on the boat tour, you might come across dolphins, porpoises and minke whales. 

    Spend another night on the Isle of Mull or Oban area.

    Included: Entrance to Iona Abbey

    Driving distance: 180 km / 115 miles

    Attractions Attractions Attractions
  • Day 19: Kilmartin Glen, Luss & Loch Lomond

    Today, take the ferry back to the mainland and continue your drive along the scenic route 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, including standing stones and circles as well as forts and castles. On the way we recommend a stop at Inveraray on the shores of Loch Fyne, where you could visit Inveraray Castle. Continue to the shores of the beautiful Loch Lomond and visit the charming conservation village of Luss.

    Spend the night in the Trossachs National Park area.

    Ferry from Craignure to Oban: 45 minutes

    Driving distance: 245 km / 150 miles

    Attractions Attractions Attractions Attractions
  • Day 20: Trossachs National Park to Edinburgh

    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 21: 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 Plus

Standard rooms in good quality and comfortable three-star hotels in combination with well-appointed guesthouses or country hotels.

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Superior

Standard rooms in four-star hotels or boutique guesthouses in combination with Superior rooms in premium three-star hotels.

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Rental car

Enjoy your road trip with a free GPS and Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) to reduce liability.

Toyota Yaris (manual)
or similar

  • x4
  • x3
  • x1
  • M

Toyota Yaris (manual)
or similar

  • Description: Economy
  • Passengers: 4
  • Luggage: 1
  • Doors: 3
  • Transmission: Manual

Vauxhall Astra (manual)
or similar

  • x5
  • x5
  • x2
  • M

Vauxhall Astra (manual)
or similar

  • Description: Compact
  • Passengers: 5
  • Luggage: 2
  • Doors: 5
  • Transmission: Manual

Toyota Auris (automatic)
or similar

  • x5
  • x5
  • x3
  • A

Toyota Auris (automatic)
or similar

  • Description: Economy
  • Passengers: 5
  • Luggage: 3
  • Doors: 5
  • Transmission: Automatic

Ford Mondeo (automatic)
or similar

  • x5
  • x5
  • x4
  • A

Ford Mondeo (automatic)
or similar

  • Description: Standard
  • Passengers: 5
  • Luggage: 4
  • Doors: 5
  • Transmission: Automatic

BMW 520 (automatic)
or similar
limited availability

  • x5
  • x5
  • x4
  • A

BMW 520 (automatic)
or similar
limited availability

  • Description: Premium
  • Passengers: 5
  • Luggage: 4
  • Doors: 5
  • Transmission: Automatic

Kia Sportage (automatic)
or similar
limited availability

  • x5
  • x5
  • x3
  • A

Kia Sportage (automatic)
or similar
limited availability

  • Description: Intermediate SUV
  • Passengers: 5
  • Luggage: 3
  • Doors: 5
  • Transmission: Automatic

Mercedes Vito (automatic)
or similar
limited availability

  • x8
  • x3
  • x5
  • A

Mercedes Vito (automatic)
or similar
limited availability

  • Description: Premium Passenger Van
  • Passengers: 8
  • Luggage: 5
  • Doors: 3
  • Transmission: Automatic*
  • *manual option available upon request

Monthly price comparison

Our best price per person when booking for two.

Optional extras

Customise your adventure with these Optional Extras.

Tour Information

We recommend that all our travellers read through the following information about driving in Scotland, what the tour includes, the itinerary, accommodation, and other useful information for your travels.

ABOUT OUR SELF-DRIVE TOURS
This is a self-drive tour, which means you will follow a detailed and personalised itinerary during your road trip in Scotland. No dedicated driver or tour guide is included. All accommodation, rental vehicle, and other planned activities or added services will be pre-booked by Nordic Visitor (as specified in the itinerary). As this is a self-drive tour, you are welcome to stop when and where you wish on your drive. Except for accommodation and booked activities, other highlights we’ve listed in the itinerary are suggestions based on Nordic Visitor favourites.

TRAVEL SEASONS IN SCOTLAND
Scotland is beautiful all year long, but we want travellers to be aware that the summer is the high travelling season, with July and August being the peak months. Due to this fact, many of the highlights, such as Isle of Skye and Edinburgh, will be extremely popular and offer limited availability, for attractions, accommodations, restaurants and tours alike.

For a more relaxing experience, we recommend booking well in advance or arriving during the shoulder season, from April to June or September and October. However, if you wish to travel in July or August, we will endeavour to make this a great adventure.  

ACCOMMODATION
Our team of local travel experts carefully selects hotels, B&Bs, and guesthouses around the country based on excellent ratings, personal experience and comfort. Generally, in Scotland, whilst room sizes may vary, our room types are based on European standard sizes. Please note that twin rooms, triple and family rooms are not commonly available in Scotland, so please contact us for booking assistance if that is something you would like. Please also be aware that, due to the historic nature of the properties we usually select, most of the rooms are only accessible by going up stairs, as there are often no lifts available. Please contact us if you are not able to walk up stairs.

DRIVING IN SCOTLAND
The roads in Scotland are usually in good conditions all year long and are renowned for their road trip worthiness. Please be aware that in the UK motorists drive on the left side of the road (and on the right side of the car). If you are not used to driving on the left, we highly recommend choosing a vehicle with automatic transmission for your self-drive tour. If you want a manual transmission vehicle, keep in mind that you will need to shift gears with your left hand (floor pedals are the same). Drivers will also have to get used to the narrower roads of the UK as well as the rural single-track roads with passing places, and be careful of animals on the road.

For inexperienced drivers who still want to explore and discover Scotland, we recommend one of our guided small group tour or our privately guided tours, where you will have a local, experienced guide at the wheel.

ARRIVAL/DEPARTURE FROM GLASGOW
If you are planning on arriving in Glasgow, you could book a private transfer from Glasgow Airport to your accommodation in Edinburgh to start the journey in a comfortable way. During certain tours, you will have the options to end your trip in Glasgow, rather than Edinburgh, as well if that is more convenient for you.

SAFETY & WEATHER CONDITIONS
Please note that sightseeing and transport is dependent on weather and road conditions and might need to be altered if conditions are not favourable. This includes ferries and drives. If something unexpected occurs, you can call our 24-hour helpline to speak directly with a Nordic Visitor staff member.

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 business days by one of our travel consultants who will serve as your dedicated contact person for all 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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