Orkney Explorer - 5 day tour
5 day / 4 night tour
The Orkney Islands are famed for their fascinating history, stunning panoramas and incredible wildlife, but these are just some of the highlights of this fantastic tour. Head through the Highlands, visiting Glen Coe, Loch Ness and Culloden Moor. Take the short sea crossing to Orkney, and during your stay, visit pre-historic sites, mighty St Magnus Cathedral and learn of the critical role these islands played during both World Wars. This tour has something for everyone!
Loch Ness - experience a cruise on the dark waters of Scotland’s most mysterious loch!
Northern Highlands - see the rolling countryside, stunning seascapes and historic fishing villages that hug the coast as we head for the Far North
Skara Brae - explore this well-preserved village to learn how life was lived here during Neolithic times
Ring of Brodgar - discover one of the largest and finest stone circles in the United Kingdom
Kirkwall - enjoy a two-night stay in the bustling capital of the Orkney Islands
Movie locations - Venus Peter, The Silver Darlings and Winter Solstice
Guest house accommodation included
Full Tour Itinerary
Day 1 - Edinburgh - Glen Coe - Loch Ness
We leave Edinburgh behind and head towards Stirling, then into the beauty of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park.
Our scenic drive takes us along the beautiful banks of Loch Lubnaig then on through "bonnie" Strathyre towards Glen Ogle and Glen Dochart. After climbing the "Black Mount", we reach the vast wilderness of Rannoch Moor, which stretches out ahead of us.
There's a photo-stop so that we can enjoy the spectacular and dramatic scenery of Glen Coe before making the short journey to Fort William.
Next, we explore Glen Mor, better known as The Great Glen, which runs diagonally through the Highlands. This is a picturesque landscape of striking mountains and deep lochs.
The famous engineer, Thomas Telford, used the three lochs of the Great Glen to create the Caledonian Canal, which links the Irish Sea to the North Sea.
We will follow the canal route as we journey northwards to the village of Fort Augustus by the banks of Loch Ness. Why not mount a Nessie-spotting loch cruise on the Loch before heading to our accommodation.
Overnight : Fort Augustus
Day 2 - Fort Augustus - Inverness - Kirkwall (Orkney Islands)
Today sees an early start as we drive the entire length of Loch Ness to reach Inverness, the Capital of the Highlands. Along the way, there's sure to be stories of the loch's most famous resident to be told!
Leaving Inverness, we join the famous North Coast 500 route. Our journey takes us across the Moray, Cromarty and Dornoch Firths. After following the coastal route, we enter some of Europe's oldest landscapes, where we have the chance to see wildlife such as golden eagles and red deer.
We board the ferry, crossing the Pentland Firth to reach the Orkney Islands.
On our arrival, it is a short drive to the famous Italian Chapel, where few will fail to be moved by the dedicated workmanship of the Italian prisoners of war who crafted this place of worship from a humble Nissen hut.
Their story and many others will be told as we view Scapa Flow, the scene of momentous events during both World Wars.
The Viking stronghold of Kirkwall is our home for the next 2 nights.
Overnight: Kirkwall (2 nights)
Day 3 - Exploring the Orkney Islands
Orkney is home to many astonishing historical treasures, and today will be an unforgettable day of discovery.
On our itinerary are visits to Maeshowe, a magnificent tomb built almost 5,000 years ago and the Ring of Brodgar, a stone circle that once comprised of 60 megaliths. Today with 27 stones still standing, some over 5 metres tall, it takes little imagination to visualise the extent of this historic monument.
Uncovered by a storm in 1850, Skara Brae is one of the best-preserved groups of Stone Age houses in Western Europe, and our visit will reveal the stone furniture, hearths and drains that present such a remarkable picture of Neolithic life.
The day will finish with a visit to the beautiful St Magnus Cathedral, one of Europe’s outstanding architectural achievements and over 800 years old.
Day 4 - Kirkwall -Dunrobin Castle - Inverness
There’s a relaxed morning in Kirkwall with time to visit some of the popular craft and jewellery shops for a unique souvenir of your visit.
Later we board the ferry and bid farewell to the Orkney Islands.
On reaching the mainland, we head for impressive Dunrobin Castle, the ancestral home of the Dukes and Earls of Sutherland. There’s a chance to visit this imposing castle to see the splendid rooms and period treasures, including a magnificent furniture collection, silver and hanging tapestries.
Don’t forget to visit the formal gardens, which offer panoramic views over the Moray Firth. It’s said the design was inspired by the gardens at the Palace of Versailles.
From Dunrobin, our journey to Inverness will take us across the Dornoch and Cromarty Firths then to the Black Isle.
Our crossing of the Kessock Bridge brings us to Inverness, the Capital of the Highlands, our home for tonight.
Day 5 - Inverness - Culloden Moor - Edinburgh
After breakfast, we drive the short distance to visit haunting Culloden Moor. Here, the Jacobite army of Bonnie Prince Charlie was routed by Government troops in a bloody battle in 1746.
The Cairngorms National Park is the largest in Britain 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 impressive 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 too.
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.
What are the optional extras on this tour and how much do they cost?
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.
How much luggage can I bring?
Luggage space on the tour is restricted so the amount of luggage that you can bring is limited to 1 bag per person that weights no more than 15kg and has maximum dimensions of 55 x 40 x 20cm.
Luggage larger than this will only be carried if space is available.
Tell me more about the optional Loch Ness Cruise?
Mount your very own Nessie adventure by taking a one hour cruise to explore the deep, dark and mysterious waters of Loch Ness.
The cruise boat is equipped with on-board sonar, comfortable seating inside and out as well as toilets.
Refreshments are available for purchase or you can bring packed food.
You can purchase a ticket from your driver/guide on the day of the tour and payment is in cash only.
- 4 nights guest house accommodation
- Location: Fort Augutus (1): Kirkwall, Orkney Islands (2) and Inverness (1)
- Scottish/Continental breakfast (4)
- Transportation by luxury air-conditioned mini/midicoach
- Ferry to the Orkney Islands
- 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.
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.
One medium sized suitcase/bag per person (maximum weight: 15 kilos)
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) 17 Jun 2022
From start to finish our guide, Graham, was knowledgeable, helpful, kind and friendly - I can't praise the him enough. The tour itself was a dream come true, with a surprise or two (Norse Settlement, Orkney and Clava Cairns) along the way. Superb.Mary from Columbia, US
Rating:(5 /5) 13 Aug 2016
If tall, your knees feel cramped and pushed up against the seat in front of you. Our guide, Mark was great. He was informative and entertaining.Lynn from Galena, United States
Rating:(4 /5) 23 May 2016
It was an excellent experience. Gary was a nice driver and knowledgeable guide. Kept us engaged. Very friendly. Accommodation was lovely and cozy with courteous land lady. Thanks. I am unable to fill remaining feedback, may I am accessing email on mobile.Deepak from Pune, India