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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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 milesDriving distance via Kilmartin Glen/Inveraray: 285 km / 177 miles
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
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.