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Grand Tour of the Outer Hebrides - 6 day tour
Grand Tour of the Outer Hebrides
6 day / 5 night
The Western Isles lie off the West Coast of Scotland and feature dazzlingly white beaches, loch-dotted landscapes, pre-historic sites and an amazing array of wildlife. This extended tour through the islands of the Outer Hebrides will introduce you to their stunning beauty and unique culture, all preserved by their remote location on the very edge of Europe.
Glenfinnan - tour along the famous “Road to the Isles” to see the Glenfinnan Viaduct, famous from the Harry Potter movies
Isle of Eriskay - Walk-in Bonnie Prince Charlie’s footsteps along the beach where he first set foot in Scotland in 1745
Isle of Vatersay - learn the story of the SS Politician, which was the inspiration for the book, Whisky Galore
Isle of Barra - admire the white sandy beaches and enjoy free time in the charming village of Castlebay
Isle of Lewis - experience a full day tour visiting the pre-historic sites of Dun Carloway Broch and the Callanish Standing Stones
Movie locations - Harry Potter, Whisky Galore and Brave
Hotel accommodation included
Full Tour Itinerary
Day 1 - Edinburgh/Glasgow - Mallaig - Benbecula
Bidding farewell to Edinburgh and Glasgow our journey takes us into the scenic beauty of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. After a break for refreshments, we travel over the vast wilderness of Rannoch Moor to reach Glen Coe, famous for its mountain scenery and being the site of the infamous massacre of the MacDonald clan in 1692.
A drive along the banks of Loch Linnhe brings us to Fort William and Ben Nevis, Britain’s tallest mountain. The next part of our journey will take us along the “Road to the Isles”, one of Scotland’s most scenic routes where we will pass the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct, made famous in the Harry Potter movies.
At Mallaig, we board the ferry for our crossing to Lochboisdale on the island of South Uist. As we make our way, lookout for beautiful views of the Cuillin Hills on Skye and the small isles of Rum and Canna. Dinner will be served en route, so on arrival, we head directly to our hotel on Benbecula.
Please note: some departures may operate in reverse.
Overnight: Dark Island Hotel, Benbecula (or similar) (2 nights)
Day 2 - Exploring Eriskay and Vatersay
After our first Hebridean breakfast, it’s time to board our coach and make our way through South Uist and across the causeway to reach the little island of Eriskay. Meaning “Eric’s Island” in Norse, this was where Bonnie Prince Charlie landed on 23 July 1745 to start his ultimately failed attempt to capture the British Crown for the Stuart Dynasty. We’ll see the beach where this critical event in Scottish history occurred.
As we continue our drive, look out for an Eriskay Pony. They are unique to the island and only recently saved from extinction. We board the ferry bound for Barra, where, as we arrive in Castlebay, there are beautiful views of Kisimul Castle to enjoy.
We’ll visit the castle, once a stronghold of the Clan MacNeil. It dates from the 11th Century and is the sole example of a medieval castle in the Western Isles. During our tour, we’ll see the great hall, kitchen, dungeon and the impressive 60-foot tower.
Back on Barra, we’ll see Cockleshell Beach, the only airfield where the tides dictate the flight times.
Look out for “Suidheachan”, the former home of the author Sir Compton MacKenzie, who wrote “Whisky Galore”, a tale that was based on an actual event that took place here in 1941. The book spawned two movies. The classic version dates from 1949 and was filmed mainly on the neighbouring island of Vatersay, our next destination.
We’ll return to Eriskay by ferry and return to our hotel, where dinner awaits.
Day 3 - Benbecula - Isle of Harris - Stornoway
It’s time to bid farewell to Benbecula today as we travel northwards using the causeway to reach North Uist. The landscape is scattered with little lochans, while on the coast, there are beautiful sandy beaches to explore. At Berneray, we catch the ferry for the short crossing to the Isle of Harris.
Our landfall is in Leverburgh, a little village renamed by Lord Leverhulme, who planned to turn the village into a major fishing port. His dream died with him in 1925, and the project was abandoned.
We’ll stop in Rodel to visit St Clement’s Church, which dominates the village. Built for the Clan MacLeod, it dates from the 15th Century and was dedicated to Pope Clement I. The church tombs are amongst the most spectacular in Scotland.
We take the coastal route to see the stunning beaches at Horgabost, Borve and Scarasta. There are also fantastic views over to the little island of Taransay, which found unlikely fame in the BBC programme “Castaway”.
We’ll make a stop so you can enjoy some refreshments in Tarbert, the primary community on the Island of Harris. From here, we’ll travel through the mountainous scenery of North Harris and make our way into Lewis. Our home for the next three nights will be in Stornoway.
Overnight: Caberfeidh Hotel, Stornoway (or similar) (3 nights)
Day 4 - Excursion to Callanish Standing Stones and Norse Mill
After breakfast, we leave Stornoway behind and make our way to the wild west coast of Lewis to visit the Standing Stones of Callanish. Thought to be over 5,000 years old, there are some 50 stones, including 19 monoliths marking out a megalithic avenue and a circle of 13 stones, with a cairn in the middle. The purpose of the stones is lost in the mists of time. Some experts claim it was a place of ritual activity. Others suggest it was some form of astronomical observatory.
Later, we move on to visit the Black Houses at Gearrannan. These thatched houses were once a common sight throughout the Highlands and Islands until relatively recently. Housing livestock as well as people, they were built with double walls to give extra protection from the elements. Many had no chimney, so the smoke just escaped through the turf roof.
Our last visit today is to Shawbost, where we’ll visit the Norse Mill and Kiln, a well-preserved grain mill of a style used by the Vikings, who settled in Lewis around the 12th Century. This example was used by the islanders up until the 1930s. Enjoy the lovely ocean views as we explore these picturesque thatched buildings.
Day 5 - Butt of Lewis Excursion
This morning is spent in Stornoway. This bustling port is the island’s main town and developed from a Viking settlement around a sheltered bay.
Today, we visit Lews Castle, built as a country house that was gifted to the people of Stornoway in 1923. Today it’s a museum that contains six of the fascinating Lewis Chessmen, a collection of 12th Century chess pieces. You can also take a virtual journey through the islands in a series of wrap-around video presentations.
On the outskirts of Stornoway sits Eaglais-na h-Aoidhe, also known as St Columba’s Ui Church. This medieval building is one of the most significant archaeological sites on Lewis. It’s thought the main church dates from the 13th Century or even earlier. It became the burial site for the Macleod Chiefs of Lewis. During your visit look out for the two central carved stones, they are amongst the best examples to be found in Scotland.
Later, we travel to the northerly tip of the island, home to generations of hardy seafarers. We’ll visit the Port of Ness before moving on to the Butt of Lewis, where the Atlantic waves crash into the cliffs, guarded by a unique lighthouse designed by the prolific lighthouse engineer David Stevenson in 1862.
Day 6 - Stornoway - Inverness – Edinburgh/Glasgow
We have an early start this morning as we head to the ferry terminal for our sailing back to the mainland. Crossing The Minch will take around 2 hours and 30 minutes, and breakfast will be served on board.
The sheltered waters of Loch Broom will guide us towards the picturesque town of Ullapool, where we disembark. Back on our coach, we’ll travel through the North West Highlands to reach Inverness, the Capital of the Highlands.
Our journey south will continue into the picturesque Cairngorms National Park, then through the Grampian Mountains to reach Highland Perthshire.
After a break, we’ll continue through the Kingdom of Fife, then across the Forth Estuary to reach Edinburgh, and then to Glasgow.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I expect on this Escorted Tour?
If you enjoy the art of first-class travel whilst enjoying amazing value then an Escorted Tour is just for you. These tours are carefully researched and combine quality hotels, luxury travel, informative visits and leisure time. You’ll find our Escorted Tours to be memorable - for all the right reasons!
You will travel aboard a state of the art motorcoach with air-conditioning, reclining seats, oversized windows and emergency washroom. Many coaches are equipped with WiFi too.
An experienced tour manager will lead the tour and your coach will be expertly driven by a professional driver. In certain locations you’ll may be joined by a local guide who will provide local insight and show you the highlights.
These tours are inclusive of superior tourist class accommodation, transportation, selected admission fees and many meals.
On many tours you’ll have the chance to personalise your touring experience by participating in some carefully planned optional excursions. These are at additional expense and, if available, details will be provided with your tour documentation.
What type of room should I choose?
Selecting the right sleeping arrangements can be a little bit confusing, so here is a description of what you can expect from the hotel accommodation offered as part of your tour:
Single room - this is a room for one person sleeping in a single bed.
Twin room - this is a room for two people sleeping in two separate beds.
Double room - this is a room for two people sharing one large bed.
Family room - this is a room for three people sleeping in one large bed (2 people) and one single bed (1 person).
Please note that a family room is normally a standard double or twin room with either a sofa bed or a rollaway bed.
All room types, other than twin rooms, are subject to availability.
Can you arrange pre or post tour accommodation?
If you are flying internationally to reach United Kingdom then it is worth considering arriving a day early to relax and let the jet-leg subside.
Please email us for a quotation at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How much luggage can I bring?
You can bring one suitcase and one carry-on bag per person. The maximum weight allowance and luggage dimensions varies by tour so you should check the tour documentation for the luggage policy that applies to your tour.
What meals are included?
One of the great things about travelling on an Escorted/ Premium Escorted Tour is the generous number of meals included as standard.
Start the day with a freshly cooked breakfast or, if you prefer, there’s always a lighter continental option available too. You’ll find a number of evening dinners included which will give you the opportunity of sampling some local delicacies.
Check the “What’s Included' list on the relevant tour page for the exact number of meals that are featured on your tour.
- 5 nights hotel accommodation
- Location: Benbecula (2) and Stornoway, Isle of Lewis (3)
- Cooked/Continental breakfast (5)
- Table d’hote dinners (5)
Visits, Admissions and Experiences
- Admission to Kisimul Castle, St Clements Church, Callanish Standing Stones, Gearannan Blackhouse village, Norse Mill, Lews Castle and Museum and St Columba’s Church Ui.
- Touring by luxury air-conditioned coach with reclining seats
- All ferry fares and reservations
- All baggage handling and hotel tips are included
- Services throughout the tour of a professional Tour Director
- Service charges and taxes
North Hanover Street Bus Stance, Glasgow, G1 2BP
Tour departure times will be advised in your tour documentation.
Check-in: TBA hrs
Tour Departs: TBA hrs
Tour Returns: TBA hrs
Outside Reception at the Delta Hotels by Marriott Edinburgh
111 Glasgow Road
Edinburgh EH12 8NF
Tour departure times will be advised in your tour documentation.
Check-in: TBA hrs
Tour Departs: TBA hrs
Tour Returns: TBA hrs
Please contact us for information on child prices.
The price of this tour includes hotel accommodation with en-suite bathroom.
Departure and Return Times
Final timings and pick-up points will be confirmed with your joining instructions approximately 10 days before departure.
Please see the FAQ section for more information on this tour.
Blogs and Guides - discover insider tips and ideas
Customer Reviews Overall Rating:
Rating:(5 /5) 15 May 2023
The scenery was stunning. The hotels were nice. The driver, Ian, was first rate. I have never seen a more well cared for and clean coach. And he'd done this trip many times, so was able to point out places of interest and share local stories. Definitely a trip worth taking!Maureen from ,
Rating:(4 /5) 21 Aug 2022
A very full itinerary made the most of our time in the Outer Hebrides, maximising the number of islands visited. Some long days but literally covered a lot of ground. Very interesting history, archaeology and geography with stunning scenery too.Jean from Leeds, GB