Skye, Orkney and the Highlands - 8 day tour
Skye, Orkney and the Highlands
8 day/ 7 night tour
This comprehensive tour of Scotland's Highlands and Islands is the perfect balance of discovery, travel and hospitality. A relaxed two-night stay on both Skye and Orkney provides the perfect opportunity for in-depth sightseeing of these legendary isles. Back on the mainland, there is much to enjoy including bustling Inverness, ancient Kilmartin Glen and even, on some departures, the Jacobite Steam Train, the real Hogwarts Express!
Oban - enjoy an overnight stay in this bustling fishing port known as Scotland’s seafood Capital
Isle of Skye - explore the majestic scenery of this famed island including the stunning Cuillin Hills and the lunar landscape of Trotternish
North Coast 500 - experience amazing seascapes as you travel along Scotland’s Route 66
Orkney Islands - visit iconic pre-historic sites including Skara Brae, Maeshowe and the mysterious Ring of Brodgar
Culloden Moor - discover the story of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobite rebellion
Movie locations - Harry Potter, Stardust and Made of Honour
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 waiting to be discovered. Loch Lomond is a real highlight - 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 take a 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 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. This attractive seaside town is known as Scotland's seafood capital, so why not head to a local restaurant to sample some freshly landed delicacies?
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.
On selected tours* we leave our coach in Fort William and board the famous Jacobite Steam Train for an unforgettable trip on the scenic West Highland Line.
Chuffing out of the station, we follow the banks of Loch Eil to reach Glenfinnan, where the train crosses the famous Viaduct featured in the Harry Potter movies as part of the route to Hogwarts.
Look out for the Glenfinnan Monument, built to commemorate the ill-fated Jacobite up-rising of Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745.
The scenic journey continues with beautiful views of Lochs Eilt, Ailort and nan Uamh before reaching the silver sands of Morar (made famous in the popular film Local Hero) and Mallaig.
After some free time to explore this historic fishing port, we board a ferry to cross “Over the sea to Skye”.
A short drive brings us to our island 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 - Isle of Skye Excursion
Good morning! After breakfast, we join our fellow travellers to explore Scotland’s most romantic island - Skye!
Our first treat is the jagged peaks that make up the Black and Red Cuillin. These untamed mountains are famed the World over for their challenges to climbing enthusiasts. We’ll make a stop so you can capture the scene from a popular viewpoint.
Enjoy time for lunch in Portree, the largest town on the island. It’s set around a picturesque natural harbour which makes a great spot to enjoy some freshly cooked fish and chips!
Next, we travel northwards to explore the fascinating geology of the Trotternish Peninsula. Here we’ll find the volcanic landscape of the Trotternish Ridge which includes impressive pinnacles known as the Old Man of Storr and The Quiraing. We’ll also see Kilt Rock with its striking waterfall freefalling 60 metres to the sea below!
Afterwards, return to your accommodation with time to relax before heading out for dinner.
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 at every turn as we travel through Glen Shiel. Look out for the soaring peaks of the mountain range known as the "Five Sisters of Kintail". They make a magnificent sight.
From Invermoriston we follow the banks of enigmatic Loch Ness to the little village of Drumnadrochit. There’s an extended stop here so you can relax in this pleasant Highland village. Alternatively, you can take the opportunity of visiting Urquhart Castle, once one of the largest fortresses in the Highlands and take a short monster-spotting cruise on Loch Ness.
Later we will make our way to Inverness our home for tonight.
Day 5 - Inverness - North Coast 500 - Kirkwall (Orkney Islands)
From Inverness, we join the famous North Coast 500 route and make our way across the Black Isle across the Cromarty and Dornoch firths. From here we drive along the northeast Highland coastline, travelling into some of Scotland's most dramatic scenery. This is some of Europe's oldest landscapes and here we have the chance to see wildlife such as Golden Eagles and red deer.
We board the ferry, crossing the Pentland Firth into the Orkney Archipelago. 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 Nissan 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 6 - Exploring the Orkney Islands
Orkney is home to many outstanding historic treasures and today will be a unique day of discovery. On our itinerary today 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 beautiful St Magnus Cathedral, one of Europe’s great architectural achievements and over 800 years old.
Day 7 - Kirkwall - Dunrobin Castle - Inverness
We have a relaxed start today with free time in Kirkwall before joining the coach for the drive to South Ronaldsay where we board the ferry back to mainland Scotland. On arrival at Gills Bay, we join the scenic coastal route for our journey southwards to Inverness.
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.
Later we’ll make our way to the Black Isle and across the Kessock Bridge into Inverness.
Day 8 - Inverness - Culloden Moor - Edinburgh
After breakfast, we travel 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.
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 maximum flexibility the cost of admission fees and other optional extras are not included in the tour price. This gives you complete freedom to choose as the mood takes you. On this tour there are optional visits to:
Following the link above will give you more information on these attractions including current admission prices. At some locations a special discount is offered to tour participants, your driver/guide will give you more information if this applies. Credit/debit cards are not always accepted so you should plan to have sufficient cash with you should you wish to make any visits.
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.
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 meals are included ?
A full Scottish breakfast is included from day 2 onwards.
This hearty meal can consist 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 vegan 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.
- 7 nights guest house accommodation
- Location: Oban (1); Isle of Skye (2); Inverness (2) and Kirkwall, Orkney Islands (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/midicoach
- 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) 19 Sep 2022
This tour is a great way to see the country and relevant islands in the company of very experienced and accommodating tour guides. Their historical and practical knowledge of the areas visited was excellent. The scenery was breathtaking and the routes taken from place to place showed the countryside at its most spectacular. If you want lochs, sea, hills , history, this tour is for you!Marie from Paris, FR
Rating:(5 /5) 17 May 2018
Andrew was an amazing tour guide!! Very knowledgeable about everything and could very easily answer any questions we had. The tour itself was also fantastic and had the perfect amount of stops and perfect amount of time spent at each place. I would highly recommend this tour to lots of people.Madeline from Canada,
Rating:(4 /5) 17 Sep 2017
Very nice tour and good quality service! Only comments: it was really hot this summer and the airco in the bus didn't work well; a bit more practical information in advance would be nice (for instance after 5 days we had to change to another bus and guide).from 0,