Highlands and Islands - 8 day tour
Highlands and Islands
8 day / 7 night tour
On this wide-ranging tour of Scotland’s glorious West Coast, visit Skye to discover the towering peaks of the craggy Cuillin Mountains and the dramatic scenery of the Quiraing. Spend time in Glen Coe then Loch Ness before travelling to the very edge of Europe to explore the magical islands of Harris and Lewis. Discover ancient sites, walks along unspoilt beaches and experience the lilt of Gaelic.
Kilmartin Glen - discover 5,000 years of history at the birthplace of the Scottish nation
Jacobite Steam Train - selected tours enjoy a one-way ride on the famous West Highland Line aboard the real Hogwarts Express
Skye - discover the unrivalled beauty of the Cuillin Hills and the lunar landscape of the famous Trotternish Peninsula
Lewis - explore the mysterious pre-historic Callanish standing stones
Harris - take a stroll along the golden sands of Luskentyre Beach
Movie locations - Harry Potter, The Land That Time Forgot and The Rocket Post
Guest house accommodation included
Full Tour Itinerary
Day 1 - Edinburgh - Inveraray - Oban
Departing from Edinburgh, we travel westwards across Scotland to reach Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city.
Soon we enter the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, a natural wonder just waiting to be discovered. Loch Lomond is a real highlight - it's Britain's largest lake and one of Scotland's loveliest. It has 30 islands, including one inhabited by a colony of wallabies! We’ll make a stop in the pretty village of Luss so you can stroll by the "bonnie, bonnie banks".
The Argyll Forest Park is famed for its ancient trees, tranquil lochs and mountains. Look out for Ben Arthur, affectionately known as "The Cobbler” - it’s one of Scotland’s most popular climbs.
Soon our coach starts our ascent of the "Rest and be Thankful” mountain pass. You’ll soon realise why this road has such an unusual name when you look down on General Wade's original road that winds its way through Glen Croe all the way to the summit!
The 3rd Duke of Argyll built the "new" town of Inveraray at the head of Loch Fyne. The town sits in the shadow of Inveraray Castle and, as we will discover, this pleasant town retains much of its 18th Century charm.
From Lochgilphead we enter Kilmartin Glen. This mysterious Glen has one of the most concentrated areas of prehistoric sites in Scotland, including a linear cemetery – a line of burial cairns stretching over 2 miles.
Nearby is Dunadd, a hill fort that dates from the Iron Age. Dunadd was the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Dalriada, so this part of Argyll has played an important part in the creation of modern Scotland!
Soon we arrive in the bustling, beautiful port of Oban, our stop for tonight. Oban is known as the "gateway to the isles", so why not take a pre-dinner stroll and admire the views over the busy harbour?
Day 2 - Oban - Glen Coe - Isle of Skye
We bid farewell to Oban and make our way to the Connel Bridge. As we cross Loch Etive, look out for the Falls of Lora below.
Glen Coe is arguably Scotland's most famous Glen partly because of its awe-inspiring beauty and, more sinisterly, because of the infamous massacre that took place here in 1692. The sad tale will be told as we make a short diversion to explore this special place for ourselves.
Fort William's glorious setting on the banks of Loch Linnhe has made it a popular tourist destination since the arrival of the steamships in the mid-1900s. The town sits in the shadow of Ben Nevis, which, at 4,406 feet, is the tallest mountain in the UK.
Here selected departures* will board the famous Jacobite Steam Train for a trip along one of the most scenic railway routes in Europe!
Along the way, see Ben Nevis, Britain's tallest mountain and savour stunning loch-side vistas at every turn.
One of the journey's highlights is crossing the 21 arches of the Glenfinnan Viaduct, famous for its appearance in the Harry Potter movies. Look out for the evocative Glenfinnan Monument built in tribute to the Jacobite clansmen.
There are lovely coastal views as we head towards Mallaig, where there is free time to explore before boarding a ferry to cross to the magical Isle of Skye, our home for the next two nights.
* Monday departures from1 May to 11 September 2023
All other departures will include a cruise on Loch Ness and a visit to Urquhart Castle instead.
Overnight: Isle of Skye (2 nights)
Day 3 - Touring the Magical Isle
After breakfast, we board our coach to explore the beautiful Isle of Skye.
From the little villages and gentle scenery of the southern part of the island, the views will change dramatically as the Cuillin Hills come into sight. Considered by many to be amongst the finest hills in Britain, the Cuillins present a simply unforgettable vista.
Set around its natural harbour, the picturesque town of Portree is the largest community on the Isle of Skye. The town's name means the "King's Port" following a visit by King James V in 1540. Today the pretty painted houses surrounding the harbour give Portree an old-fashioned appeal. During our stop, there will be time to explore the town and browse the interesting shops surrounding bustling Somerled Square.
Later we tour the famed Trotternish Peninsula. From Portree, we travel northwards to the little ferry port of Uig, where ferries sail to the Outer Hebrides. At little Kilmuir, there is a monument to Flora MacDonald, who famously assisted Bonnie Prince Charlie in escaping the Government Troops who were hunting for him.
We'll stop to explore The Quiraing, a dramatic terrain formed by a landslide and enjoy a walk through a landscape that dates from Jurassic times! See if you can identify the rock formations that are known as the "Needle", "Table" and "Prison".
A short drive brings us to Kilt Rock, so named because the basalt columns of this rock fall to resemble the pleats of a kilt - we will stop so you can snap an "I was there" photograph!
Day 4 - Isle of Skye - Eilean Donan Castle - Inverness
After breakfast we bid farewell to the Isle of Skye and return to the mainland.
We stop to visit picturesque Eilean Donan Castle. This is, without doubt, one of Scotland's most iconic sights. The castle stands on a little island situated at the confluence of Loch's Alsh and Duich. We'll have time to discover the castle for ourselves during our stop here.
There are wonderful views as we travel through Glen Shiel, look out for the impressive mountain range known as the Five Sisters of Kintail. Wildlife thrives in this part of Scotland so as we drive through this striking scenery you might see local residents such as red deer, golden eagles and pine martins.
Enjoy a scenic drive along the banks of mysterious Loch Ness and free time to explore the attractive village of Drumnadrochit. This afternoon take the opportunity to visit impressive Urquhart Castle and take a monster-spotting cruise on the dark and deep waters of Loch Ness.
A relaxing drive brings a late afternoon arrival in Inverness, the Capital of the Highlands.
Day 5 - Inverness - Dunrobin Castle - Stornoway (Isle of Lewis)
After breakfast, we leave Inverness behind and enjoy grandstand views of the Moray Firth as we travel over the Kessock Bridge.
Just outside Golspie lies magnificent Dunrobin Castle, the most northerly of Scotland’s great houses. This grand chateau-like castle is the home of the Earls and Dukes of Sutherland, and it has a commanding position overlooking the Moray Firth. We’ll make a stop so you can visit this splendid castle and tour some of its 189 rooms and take a stroll through the extensive gardens.
We’ll explore the Knockan Crag National Nature Reserve, which is one of the most important geological sites in Europe. We’ll discover more about the mysteries that are locked up in the rocks during our visit.
The fishing port of Ullapool sits on Loch Broom and is where we board our ferry for the crossing of The Minch to reach Stornoway, on the Isle of Lewis.
On arrival, it is a short drive to our comfortable accommodation for the next two nights.
Overnight: Stornoway, Isle of Lewis (2 nights)
Day 6 - Exploring Isle of Lewis
Together Harris and Lewis make Scotland’s largest island. These islands have been inhabited for over 6,000 years, and there is a real sense of history as we will discover as we spend today discovering Lewis.
After breakfast, we will make our way to the Butt of Lewis, where a lighthouse stands warning passing ships of the nearby rocks. This is the most northerly point of the Outer Hebrides. Due west from here is nothing but the North Atlantic until you reach Newfoundland, Canada!
The astonishing Callanish Standing Stones is our next visit. Archaeologists believe that these 15-foot (5 m) stones were placed here by Neolithic people sometime between 3,000 and 1,000 BC, and the site is rated second in importance only to Stonehenge.
A short distance away is the impressive Dun Carloway Broch, an Iron Age stone fort known to have been built more than 2,000 years ago. This is one of the best-preserved fortified towers in Scotland, and it’s beautifully located with wonderful views over Loch Carloway and the sea beyond.
The weaving of Harris Tweed cloth has, traditionally, been an important home-based industry for islanders, so when we visit a local weaver, there will be an opportunity to see the fabric being hand-woven in the time-honoured fashion – a truly fascinating process.
Day 7 - Exploring Isle of Harris
Today we concentrate on the neighbouring island of Harris. We’ll travel through the imposing hills of North Harris to reach the little village of Tarbert, the main port serving the island.
The little island of Taransay has found fame as the setting for the popular TV programme, Castaway as well as the movie "Rocket Mail”. We’ll stop so you can admire the views and take a stroll along Luskentyre Beach, which appears never-ending. This is a great place to enjoy some beach combing. Look out for the machairs which sit behind the beach - these green grassy plains are covered in a mass of wild flowers in the summer.
We return to Stornoway for some free time so can explore this bustling port before our island interlude comes to an end. We'll make our way to the ferry port where the MV Loch Seaforth waits for our crossing back to the mainland. On arrival we make our way to our overnight accommodation in Inverness.
Day 8 - Inverness - Cairngorm National Park - Edinburgh
There’s time to explore Inverness, the Capital of the Highlands, before travelling the short distance to visit tragic Culloden Moor. It was here that the Jacobite army of Bonnie Prince Charlie was routed by Government troops in a bloody battle in 1746.
We’ll stop at Dalwhinnie Malt Whisky Distillery so that you can discover how our National drink is lovingly produced. After our tour, you’ll have the chance to sample a "wee nip” and shop for souvenirs.
The Cairngorms National Park is Britain’s largest and contains five of Scotland’s six highest peaks. The park provides a stunning backdrop to our travels through the Spey Valley then, we descend through the Drumochter Pass to reach the pleasant Victorian tourist town of Pitlochry, where we will stop for refreshments.
The dramatic scenery of Highland Perthshire gives way to rolling farmland as we reach the "Fair City” of Perth then we join the motorway for our journey through the ancient Kingdom of Fife.
The final part of our drive offers wonderful views of the Forth Bridge as we make our way into Edinburgh.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I expect on this Signature Multi-day Tour?
For the discerning traveller a Signature Multi-day Tour offers amazing value for money, comfortable accommodation, well-paced sightseeing and luxury travel.
All of this combines to create the definitive Scottish experience.
Each tour is hosted by a professional driver/guide, who has been chosen for their extensive knowledge as well as their driving skills. And being locals you are sure to get that extra insight. If you should have any problems during your stay, they’ll go out of their way to help.
You will want to see as much as possible, but you don’t want to be rushed. Our tours are carefully planned to strike the right balance, and as well as comfortable mini/midicoach travel many feature memorable railway or ferry journeys.
Having somewhere pleasant to stay after an exciting day of discovery is an important part of your holiday experience. Comfortable guest house accommodation with en-suite bathrooms, tv and other amenities is included in the price of all tours.
On many tours you can choose to upgrade to hotel accommodation, at extra cost, if you wish.
A tasty Scottish breakfast is included each morning of your stay.
Can you tell me more about the optional extras on this tour?
To give you complete choice admission fees are not included in the cost of this tour. The tour itinerary has been carefully designed to provide sufficient time for you to visit these attractions:
If you click on the links above they will provide you with more information on each attraction including current admission prices. In some cases a special discount is offered to tour passengers, your driver/guide will provide details if this applies.
Please note that credit/debit cards are not always accepted so it is recommended that you carry sufficient cash with you should you want to make a visit.
What type of room should I choose?
There are different bedrooms types to choose from, here is what you can expect:
Single room - one person sleeping in a single bed
Twin room - two people sleeping in two separate beds
Double room - two people sharing one large bed
Family room - three people sharing a room sleeping in one large bed (2 people) and one single bed (1 person)
Please note that a family room can be a standard double room with either a sofa bed or a rollaway bed.
What is the journey on the Jacobite Steam Train like?
Described as one of the great railway journeys of the world this memorable trip will take you past a list of impressive extremes.
Starting near the highest mountain in Britain, Ben Nevis, it visits Britain’s most westerly mainland railway station, Arisaig; passes close by the deepest freshwater loch in Britain, Loch Morar and the shortest river in Britain, River Morar, finally arriving next to the deepest seawater loch in Europe, Loch Nevis!
The train will cross the 21-arched Glenfinnan viaduct (a location made famous in the Harry Potter films) which overlooks Loch Shiel and the Jacobite monument. The train may pause on the viaduct, time permitting, to allow you to take in the magnificent view.
Standard class tickets are included in the cost of the tour. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to upgrade these tickets to First Class.
Will I hear Gaelic being spoken?
The Outer Hebrides is the heartland of Gaelic culture and the majority of islanders will speak the Gaelic language, as well as English.
Of course, there is no need to learn Gaelic to enjoy your time in the Outer Hebrides, but if you would like to learn a few words why not try:
Hello - Halò
Goodbye - Mar sin leibh
My name is - Is mise
How are you? - Ciamar a tha sibh?
I’m fine thank you - Tha gu math tapadh leibh
Excuse me - Gabh mo leisgeul
Cheers! - Slàinte!
- 7 nights guest house accommodation
- Location: Oban (1); Isle of Skye (2): Inverness (2) and Stornoway, Isle of Lewis (2)
- Scottish/Continental breakfast (7)
Visits, Admissions and Experiences
- One-way journey on the Jacobite Steam Train or cruise on Loch Ness with a visit to Urquhart Castle
- Transportation by luxury air-conditioned mini/midi coach
- Live commentary in English
- Services of an experienced 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: 08:15 hrs
Tour Departs: 08:30 hrs
Tour Returns: 19:00 hrs
Concession discount applies to adults aged 60 years and above; students and children aged 3 to 15 years inclusive.
We’re really sorry but children aged under 3 years cannot travel on this tour.
Photo-ID may be requested to confirm discount entitlement.
The price of this tour includes guest house accommodation with an en-suite bathroom.
One medium sized suitcase/bag per person (maximum weight: 15 kilos)
Jacobite Steam Train
Monday departures from 1 May to 11 September 2023 include a one-way journey on the Jacobite Steam Train.
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.
Blogs and Guides - discover insider tips and ideas
Customer Reviews Overall Rating:
Rating:(5 /5) 07 Jul 2016
I really enjoyed my tour . The timing was very well done, and our 2 drivers (Andrew and Fergus were very nice and very knowledgeable). Some of the accomodations were less nice than expected given the price but overall, no complaints at all.Lebret from Saint Julien en Genevois, France
Rating:(5 /5) 03 Nov 2015
Both Andrew and David were excellent drivers/guides. Each with an unique style. We had a wonderful group of passengers and an unforgettable experience. If I may make one criticism, a little silence every now and again to take in the stunning surroundings would have also been appreciated but the amount of history both men knew was remarkable. I'd definitely recommend you!Fiona from Weesp, Netherlands
Rating:(5 /5) 02 Aug 2015
This was an excellent tour, Martin and I enjoyed it immensely; we only wish we could have kept travelling for another 8 days! Both Andrew and David were super guides. They both had their own style, one was a strict time keeper while the other was somewhat more laid back. Our group was also brilliant, age range 28 - 72. I've already recommended Highland Experience to many people on Facebook.Fiona from Weesp, Netherlands