Best of the Highlands - 4 day tour
Best of the Highlands
4 day / 3 night tour
Price range: £455 - £850
This tour introduces us to Scotland's moods and landscapes, covering the country roads from the rugged west to the far north. Head northwards along the North Coast 500 route to reach the mighty cliffs of Duncansby Head and remote John O’Groats. Travel westwards through scenic Glen Carron to explore the Isle of Skye and iconic Eilean Donan Castle. This is the perfect introduction to the beauty of Scotland!
Glen Coe - stop to soak up the atmosphere of Scotland’s most famous glen
Isle of Skye - see the stunningly beautiful Cuillin Hills, amazing Fairy Pools and visit colourful Portree
Eilean Donan Castle - view one of Scotland’s most picturesque castles
Duncansby Head - enjoy the dramatic sea views and abundant birdlife
Dolphin Spotting - get an up-close view of the Moray Firth dolphin colony, hopefully
Movie locations - Highlander, 39 Steps and Trainspotting
Guest house accommodation included - hotel upgrade option available
Full Tour Itinerary
Day 1 - Edinburgh - Glen Coe - Inverness
From Edinburgh we will make our way to Rannoch Moor, a wilderness that extends over 50 sq miles. Next we'll enter brooding Glen Coe. There is a stop in the heart of the Glen so we can enjoy the spectacular surroundings for ourselves.
Our crossing of the Ballachulish Bridge will bring us to Fort William which sits in the shadow of Ben Nevis.
The majestic beauty of the Great Glen is next – Loch Lochy, Loch Oich and finally Loch Ness will provide wonderful views at every turn. We'll drive the entire length of Loch Ness stopping so you can visit Urquhart Castle and take a monster spotting cruise.
Our tour is based in Inverness, the capital of the Highlands, for the next three nights.
Overnight: Inverness (3 nights)
Day 2 - Isle of Skye and Eilean Donan Castle Excursion
After breakfast we make our way to Garve then on through Strath Bran to the remote village of Achnasheen. From there we strike out through picturesque Glen Carron, stopping to enjoy the panoramic views over to the attractive village of Lochcarron which sits by the banks of a loch that shares its name.
We cross "over the sea to Skye” and follow the picturesque coastal route, enjoying the wonderful vista over the sea lochs to the Isle of Scalpay. There are grand views of the mighty Cuillin Hills too as we make our way to Portree, the island’s main town. We’ll make a stop here so you can discover the town on your own and enjoy time for lunch. The colourful houses that surround the harbour make a wonderful backdrop for an "I was there” selfie!
This afternoon we travel to Talisker, the only malt whisky distillery on the island. The whisky produced here has a unique peaty taste thanks to the natural spring water used in the production process. You can take an optional tour to discover more about the traditions of this famous whisky followed by a tutored tasting of the end product.
Later we make a stop to visit the Fairy Pools. After a 20 minute walk, we will reach the deep natural pools that are filled with the turquoise waters of the River Brittle after it cascades over a series of waterfalls. Local legend has it that the fairies use the pools for bathing.
Returning to the mainland we stop to photograph fairytale Eilean Donan Castle set on its little island on Loch Duich. Our return journey takes us through Glen Shiel, where the Five Sisters of Kintail will come into view. These soaring peaks are each over 3,000 feet (914 m) high!
The final part of our journey takes us through Glen Moriston to the timeless beauty of Loch Ness and onwards to Inverness.
Day 3 - John O’Groats and the Far North Excursion
Our destination today is the very edge of mainland Britain as we head for the Northern Highlands. We travel from Inverness over the Moray, Dornoch and Cromarty Firths to reach “Whisky Country”, a region home to several famous whiskies. These include Glenmorangie, which is produced in Tain, a town that can trace its history back to 1066.
On the outskirts of Golspie, we’ll stop to visit Carn Laith Broch, a well-preserved Iron-age broch which was built as a defensive settlement. With walls almost 4 metres high it makes an impressive sight overlooking the sea.
The Great North Road climbs “The Ord”, the gateway to the famous county of Caithness, where we reach picturesque Helmsdale, a village once the centre of a vast gold rush.
Historically, herring-fishing was the primary industry of Caithness. The importance of the “Silver Darlings”, as they were known, created little fishing villages such as Lybster and Dunbeath. Each has a natural harbour lying below the high and rugged cliffs. A stop here offers the opportunity to enjoy the seascapes.
After a souvenir photo stop in John O’Groats at the very tip of Scotland, it’s on to spectacular Duncansby Head to discover nature at its most striking. It’s well worth the short walk for the reward of beautiful views of the towering stacks, home to a large, varied, and noisy bird population.
We make a brief stop in Wick, before beginning the return journey to Inverness.
Day 4 - Inverness - Dolphin Spotting - Edinburgh
Our last day starts with a visit Clava Cairns, an ancient burial site surrounded by standing stones which date back over 4,000 years. Fans of the Outlander novels will be interested to know that this is where Diana Gabaldon is thought to have taken inspiration for Craigh Na Dun, the split-stone where Claire falls back in time to 1743.
Next, there is a brief stop at Culloden Moor, where you can take a walk on the battlefield site where the Jacobite army of Bonnie Prince Charlie was routed by the Government troops.
After a drive through Glen Convinth, we reach the attractive town of Beauly. The monks who built Beauly Priory in the 13th Century called it Beau Lieu or beautiful place. It's easy to see why.
Our tour continues through the Black Isle to reach Cromarty, a historic fishing port on the Cromarty Firth. After enjoying some free time make for Chanonry Point, a popular vantage point to spot the community of bottlenose dolphins that live in the Moray Firth.
On the outskirts of Inverness, join your motorcoach for the tour south. The route will take us into the spectacular Cairngorms National Park then the Spey Valley, for the best views of the Cairngorm Mountains. There’s dramatic scenery all around as we travel through the Pass of Drumochter and head for Highland Perthshire.
After a break in delightful Pitlochry, we continue through the rolling countryside to Perth. The final part of our journey is through the Kingdom of Fife then over the Firth of Forth to journey's end in Edinburgh.
The order in which excursions are operated may vary.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I expect on this Freestyle Mini Tour?
These tours are ideal if you are an independent spirit as they offer the ideal blend of structured sightseeing and relaxing free time. Instead of spending your entire tour with the same group you’ll join a different party of fellow passengers each day to explore different aspects of the Highlands. All Freestyle Mini Tours are based in Inverness, which is an excellent base offering good quality accommodation, great shopping plus a wide choice of dining opportunities and evening diversions. A bonus is having to unpack, just once, plus there is no luggage restrictions. On the journeys between Edinburgh/Glasgow and Inverness you’ll travel in a large motorcoach allowing you to relax and enjoy the journey in comfort. Once you are based in Inverness you will travel on a different excursion each day by air-conditioned mini or midicoach. Each tour is led by a local driver/guide who will provide an entertaining and informative commentary. Comfortable guest house accommodation with en-suite bathrooms, tv and other amenities is included in the price of all tours. You can choose to upgrade to hotel accommodation, at extra cost, if you wish. Breakfast is included during your stay in Inverness. Each morning you’ll be picked up from your lodgings by the tour coach. After a day of discovery you’ll be dropped in Inverness City Centre where you can get something to eat before returning, independently, to your accommodation. If you are a free spirit that likes to get behind the tourist veneer then a Freestyle mini-tour is just for you.
What options are available on this tour and what is the cost?
Admission fees are not included in the cost of the tour so to complement your itinerary you can choose to participate in these exciting options:
Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness Cruise
Visit hauntingly beautiful Urquhart Castle, once one of Scotland’s largest castles. The castle boasts a commanding presence overlooking the loch. After time to explore the castle and admire the views take to the water for a cruise on Loch Ness. Please note that for operational reasons it’s not possible to visit Urquhart Castle only.
The cost of the ticket is £19 per adult and £15 per child.
Please note that not all attractions take payment by credit/debit card so it is recommended that you carry sufficient cash should you plan to make a visit. In some cases discounts are available to tour passengers. Your driver/guide will provide you with more information if this applies.
Tell me about my accommodation and which type of room should I choose?
The cost of accommodation is included in the cost of your tour. On this tour you can choose between Guesthouse/B&B or Hotel accommodation: Guesthouse and B&B. The guesthouses and B&Bs are family run and offer comfortable accommodation in bedrooms that have en-suite bathrooms, tv, tea/coffee making facilities and other amenities. Bedding, towels and basic toiletries are provided. Some guesthouses and B&Bs offer enhanced facilities such as a resident’s lounge where you can relax with other guests. Hotel. We select comfortable hotels that are a minimum of 3 stars with bedrooms featuring en-suite bathrooms, television, tea and coffee making facilities and other amenities. All have restaurants offering a selection of Scottish and international dishes as well as comfortable bars where you can relax and un-wind. All hotels are city-centre located. The guesthouses and B&Bs are a 10/15 minute walk from Inverness City Centre.
Tell me what the visit to a whisky distillery will be like?
A visit to a traditional whisky distillery is a feast for all the senses. After a warm welcome you’ll normally have a short audio/visual presentation on the the history of the distillery and the traditional methods used in the distilling process. Next is a tour of the distillery where you you will experience all stages of the whisky making process from mashing and fermenting to distilling and maturation. Your tour will end with a tutored tasting of a malt whisky and the opportunity to buy a souvenir of your visit in the distillery shop.
What meals are included ?
A full Scottish breakfast is included from day 2 onwards. This hearty meal consists of fruit juice; a choice of cereal; bakery basket; cooked items such as eggs, bacon, sausage, mushrooms, tomato and, maybe, a taste of haggis! plus tea or coffee. Vegetarian and lighter Continental options are always available. Lunch and dinner are not included in the price. During the touring day there will be a stop where you can enjoy lunch in a local pub or restaurant. Your driver/guide will be happy to suggest a conveniently located restaurant where you can enjoy good food for dinner.
- 3 nights guest house or hotel accommodation
- Location: Inverness (3)
- Scottish/Continental breakfast (3)
Visits, Admissions and Experiences
- Full day excursion to Eilean Donan Castle and the Isle of Skye with local driver/guide
- Full day excursion to John O'Groats and the Far North with local driver/guide
- Transportation by luxury air-conditioned touring coach or mini/midi coach
- Live commentary in English
- Services of an experienced guide and/or driver/guide
- Service charges and taxes
- Admission charges
- Meals, snacks or items of a personal nature
- Gratuity to your driver/guide
From 1 Parliament Square
Royal Mile/High Street
Edinburgh EH1 1RE
Check-in: 07:45 hrs
Tour Departs: 08:00 hrs
Tour Returns: 20:00 hrs
Child discount applies to children aged 3 to 15 years.
We’re really sorry but children aged under 3 years cannot travel on this tour.
Photo-ID may be requested to confirm discount entitlement.
Book by paying a 20% deposit. Make date changes or get a full refund with 8 days notice before travel. Click here for more information.
The price of this tour includes guest house accommodation with en-suite bathroom. You can up-grade to hotel accommodation at extra cost during the booking process.
In order to give you maximum flexibility admission fees are not included in the cost of this tour.
Please see the FAQ section for more information on this tour.
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Customer Reviews Overall Rating:
Rating:18 Sep 2019
We had a wonderful and thorough experience with the Best of the Highlands tour. Informative and welcoming guides, guided us through the beautiful Scotland Highlands, explored the castles and lochs, strolled the villages, and sampled traditional Scottish whisky and food. A highly recommended tour for travellers looking to appreciate Scotland Highlands!CHIN from SINGAPORE, SG
Rating:31 Oct 2017
We enjoyed the tour, Richie, Chris and Kevin had good knowledge of all the places that we visited.Edgar from Gurgaon, India
Rating:16 Oct 2017
My only complaint is the Lunch stop should be a minimum of 1 1/2 hours allowing time to eat and at least visit the too...Portree, Especially...I also think the trip up to Inverness should allow a few more short picture stopsAlison from Stittsville, Canada