Scottish Highlands & Islands
Top rated by our Tour Directors, this is our most definitive and complete vacation to Scotland, totaling 15 days. Lowland sights include the country's second-largest city of Glasgow, Gretna Green, Carlisle, and, of course, the capital city of Edinburgh and its fascinating castle. In the Scottish Highlands, enjoy visits to ...Read Full Description
- Carlisle, United Kingdom; Edinburgh, United Kingdom; Glasgow, United Kingdom; Inverness, United Kingdom; Isle Of Skye, United Kingdom; United Kingdom
- Trip Length:
- 15 days
- Best Time to Go:
- May, June, July, August, September, October
- Recommended for:
Infants (under 2)
Children (2 - 5)
Children (6 - 8)
Children (9 - 11)
Children (12 - 14)
Children (15 - 17)
Adults (18 - 20)
Adults (25 - 29)
Family Trip, Group Retreat, Trip Around the World
Detailed Trip Description
Top rated by our Tour Directors, this is our most definitive and complete vacation to Scotland, totaling 15 days. Lowland sights include the country's second-largest city of Glasgow, Gretna Green, Carlisle, and, of course, the capital city of Edinburgh and its fascinating castle. In the Scottish Highlands, enjoy visits to pretty Braemar, a whisky distillery in the Spey Valley, and the Highland capital of Inverness. Visit Culloden Moor, Fort George, and Cawdor Castle on a half-day excursion. Then, enjoy the unique Orkney Islands in the company of a Local Guide. The stunning scenery of northern Scotland leads you to the isles of Skye and Mull for 2-night stays on each. Back in Glasgow, there is time for last-minute shopping before completing this exceptional experience.
Day 1 - On the Plane
Flight to Glasgow.
Board your overnight transatlantic flight.
Day 2 - Glasgow
Arrival in Glasgow, Scotland.
Check into your hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax in Scotlands largest city. Before tonights welcome dinner join your Tour Director and traveling companions for a toast to happy touring with a congenial group. (D)
Day 3 - Carlisle
Start your grand tour of Scotland with interesting Lowland sights: Scottish poet ROBERT BURNS BIRTHPLACE and MUSEUM at Alloway; Gretna Green, where the blacksmith used to wed runaway couples. Step over the border for a guided visit to CARLISLE CASTLE, which has guarded England's frontier with Scotland since the 11th century. It is here where Mary, Queen of Scots, was imprisoned in 1568. Overnight nearby. (FB,D)
Day 4 - Edinburgh
First follow a section of Hadrians Wall, the Roman coast-to-coast defense against marauding northern tribes. First see Vistas of wild Northumberland National Park on the way back over the Scottish border, then glimpses of the house of Mary, Queen of Scots, and Jedburgh and Melrose Abbey ruins. Finally, a highlight visit to Sir Walter Scotts ABBOTSFORD HOUSE for a fascinating guided tour. Spend a night in Edinburgh, the 'Prince of Cities.' A unique optional experience: board the former Royal Yacht Britannia, which for the Queen was once the perfect royal residence for glittering state visits and family holidays. Tour five decks and see how the Royal Family and crew of 240 lived and worked on board. Dinner rounds off this optional evening.
Tickets are included for tonight's performance of the world renowned MILITARY TATTOO, a vast spectacle of massed Scottish pipe bands which takes place in an arena on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle. (FB)
Day 5 - Edinburgh
Full Day Sightseeing.
Morning city sightseeing with a Local Guide introduces you to the 200-year-old œNew Town and famous scientists, inventors, and novelists. In the "Old Town," drive up the narrow Royal Mile to EDINBURGH CASTLE to admire Scotlands Crown Jewels, then explore HOLYROOD PALACE (except when the Queen is in residence). The afternoon is free to enjoy this "Prince of Cities" at your own pace.
Tonight, dont miss our optional Scottish evening with Highland dancers, bagpipers, and the Ceremony of the Haggis. (FB)
Day 6 - Inverness
Over the elegant Forth Road Bridge and through Fife to St. Andrews, whose Royal and Ancient Golf Club, founded in 1754, has given us the rules of golfing. Cross the Firth of Tay and from Dundee head into the Highlands with a lunch stop in pretty Braemar, home of the Royal Highland Games for over 900 years. Drive through the Grampian Mountains, following the River Dee in the area where the Royal Family spends their summer holidays. Later, visit a WHISKY DISTILLERY, where your guide explains the ancient art of converting barley, water and yeast into a heart-warming liquor.
The next two nights are spent in the Highland capital. (FB,D)
Day 7 - Inverness
Highlands Excursion. Fascinating visits on today's excursion. At CULLODEN VISITOR CENTRE the story unfolds of the crushing Hanoverian victory over Bonnie Prince Charlie's Scottish clans. Next, a visit to FORT GEORGE, the mightiest artillery fortification in Britain, created by George II as the ultimate defense following the 1746 Battle of Culloden. For a complete contrast, call into CAWDOR CASTLE, the setting for Shakespeare's Macbeth and for over 600 years home to the Thanes of Cawdor. View the castle rooms and take a stroll through the gardens. Back in Inverness, the rest of the day is free to explore this compact city. Our recommendation would be to join the Loch Ness Experience optional excursion which includes a cruise on the loch followed by supper at a local inn. (FB)
Day 8 - Inverness
Continue an unforgettable journey through spectacular scenery to the remote northern-most part of Scotland. Follow the coast road to majestic DUNROBIN CASTLE, originally built in 1275 and was for centuries the seat of the Dukes and Earls of Sutherland. Visit the formal gardens overlooking the North Sea and tour the castle's opulent interior. Also enjoy a fascinating FALCONRY DISPLAY.
Before dinner at your hotel in the fishing port of Thurso you may want to join your Tour Director for an optional excursion to a village to meet the locals in a pub. (FB,D)
Day 9 - United Kingdom
Excursion to the Orkney Islands.
A fascinating day full of adventure. Via Dunnet Head, the northernmost point on the British mainland, and past the late Queen Mothers Castle of Mey you head for John oGroats. Board a ferry for the 45-minute crossing to South Ronaldsay, one of the Orkney Islands, where a local coach and knowledgeable driver-guide await you. Cross the four Churchill Barriers and overlook Scapa Flow, where the German fleet scuttled itself in World War I. Visit the ITALIAN CHAPEL, built by prisoners of war in 1943 from scrap metal, concrete, and other materials, then head for SKARA BRAE, part of the Orkney World Heritage Site, where you see the fascinating remains of a 5,000-year-old Neolithic village, and visit SKAILL HOUSE. Yet more highlights: the Ring of Brodgar, the Orkneys Stonehenge, and finally Kirkwall, the small and picturesque island capital with a distinct Viking flavor and impressive red sandstone cathedral.
Return to the mainland by ferry in the late afternoon. (FB,D)
Day 10 - Isle Of Skye
Thurso-Isle of Skye.
A day to sit back and enjoy the breathtakingly wild and unspoiled scenery, some of the finest in Britain. The region is remote and the roads are single track and somewhat uneven. The northern coast is lined with miles of yellow sandy beaches and pretty estuaries. Heading inland, the hills and mountains take on a purple hue as the summer progresses, mists create an eerie atmosphere, and the glens and lochs form a picture-book landscape. This is Scotland at its best! Make a lunch stop in the quaint fishing port of Ullapool, and its an early evening arrival on the Inner Hebridean Isle of Skye. (FB,D)
Day 11 - Isle Of Skye
A full day on Skye to absorb the breathtaking scenery of this spectacular and history steeped isle. Explore Portree, the tiny island capital, then visit remote DUNVEGAN CASTLE, seat of the chiefs of Clan MacLeod since 1200, and learn of connections with Bonnie Prince Charlie and Flora MacDonald. Take in the views of the Cuillin Hills on the way back to Broadford. (FB,D)
Day 12 - Isle Of Skye
Isle of Skye-Isle of Mull.
Call at the Clan Donald Centre for a visit to its MUSEUM OF THE ISLES and an insight into 13 centuries of clan history before boarding your ferry at Armadale to sail across the Sound of Sleat. Rejoin the mainland at Mallaig and follow the 'Road to the Isles,' pausing at Glenfinnan, the site where Bonnie Prince Charlies standard was raised in 1745; then follow the shores of lovely Loch Linnhe.
The final leg of the days journey includes the ferry from Lochaline to Fishnish on the Isle of Mull, where the next two nights are spent. (FB,D)
Day 13 - United Kingdom
A leisurely day to relax and enjoy the best of the Scottish western isles. Drive across Mull for a visit to the beautiful and fascinating Isle of Iona. This is the burial place of many Scottish kings and chiefs, including Macbeth. And it is here that in 563 A.D., St. Columba established one of the earliest Christian monasteries in the British Isles. Time to visit the CATHEDRAL and explore the religious settlement before returning to the hotel early afternoon. Later, enjoy the drive up to Tobermory for a visit to the quaint island capital. To complete your Mull experience, take the optional visit to Torosay Castle, where the Laird conducts you through his ancient home and hosts a glass of local whisky. (FB,D)
Day 14 - Glasgow
Isle of Mull-Glasgow.
The final island ferry crossing brings you this morning to Oban. Then travel over the Pass of Brander, and from Inveraray follow the road known as 'Rest and be Thankful' to the 'Bonnie Banks' of Loch Lomond, the most famous loch of all. Back in Glasgow this afternoon your orientation city tour takes in the fine 12th-century cathedral, imposing university buildings, and elegant Georgian squares built by the wealthy tobacco barons.
Time for last-minute shopping before bidding farewell to your traveling companions during dinner at your hotel. (FB,D)
Day 15 - Glasgow
Your homebound flight arrives the same day. (FB)
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