Highland Highlights - 5 day tour
5 day / 4 night tour
Price range: £645 - £1,080
This far-reaching tour of the Scottish Highlands will give you real insight into the history, landscape, legends and people that make the spectacular Highlands of Scotland such a distinctive and romantic place. The magical mixture includes a journey along the famous North Coast 500 route to see the dramatic seascapes of the Far North; the scenic beauty of the magical Isle of Skye and the remote splendour of the Applecross Peninsula.
Loch Ness - visit the impressive ruins of Urquhart Castle and enjoy a monster-spotting cruise on the loch
Isle of Skye - see the majestic peaks of the Cuillin Hills, the stunning Fairy Pools and visit colourful Portree
Eilean Donan Castle - see Scotland’s most romantic castle
Applecross Peninsula - savour the panorama from the Bealach na Ba mountain pass then relax in the tranquil surroundings of Applecross village
North Coast 500 - Scotland’s own Route 66 boasts dramatic seascapes, quaint fishing villages and incredible wildlife
Movie locations - King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Made with Honour and Rob Roy
Guest house accommodation included - hotel upgrade option available
Full Tour Itinerary
Day 1 - Edinburgh - Glen Coe - Inverness
Leaving Edinburgh behind we head for the motorway and the ancient city of Stirling, where there are fine views of its magnificent castle and the imposing Wallace Monument.
Soon we enter the Highlands and enjoy the views as we climb the Black Mount to reach the arresting bleakness of Rannoch Moor.
There is a stop amid the stunning beauty of Glen Coe before we head for Fort William, which sits at the foot of Ben Nevis, Britain’s tallest mountain. After a break for lunch, we enter the natural beauty of the Great Glen.
After driving along the banks of Lochs Lochy and Oich, we reach probably Scotland’s most famous stretch of water, Loch Ness. There will be a stop at Urquhart Castle so you can visit this ancient fortress then go “Nessie-spotting” as you cruise across the deep and dark waters of the loch.
It’s a short drive to Inverness, where a representative will transfer you to your accommodation.
Overnight: Inverness (4 nights)
Day 2 - Isle of Skye and Eilean Donan Castle Excursion
Today we point our compass west to the beautiful Isle of Skye. We begin our journey with a drive through the Black Isle to reach Achnasheen.
The journey continues with a scenic tour through Glen Carron, stopping to enjoy the panoramic views over Loch Carron.
A short drive takes us “over the sea to Skye”, where we follow the coastal route which includes beautiful vistas towards the islands of Pabay and Scalpay. The jagged Cuillin Hills dominate Skye; so we will find the very best vantage point to appreciate them along the way.
The destination for this part of the tour is Portree, the island’s main town. We will stop so you can enjoy lunch and browse the many independently owned shops that can be found off the main square. You might want to take a stroll to admire the attractive harbour surrounded by pastel-painted buildings.
This afternoon we make for Talisker Distillery, set by the banks of Loch Harport. Dating from 1830 this is the island’s original distillery, and it produces a smoky-tasting malt whisky that is enjoyed by aficionados all over the World. During our time here, there is a chance to tour the distillery to learn about the production process and enjoy a tutored tasting.
Our last stop on Skye is to see the delightful Fairy Pools. The 20-minute walk is rewarded with the glorious sight of the bright-blue waters cascading over waterfalls to fill a series of natural pools. With the Cuillin Hills in the background, it makes an excellent social-media post.
Back on the mainland, we stop to view iconic Eilean Donan Castle, which sits on a little island at the point where three great sea lochs come together.
Fascinating stories of battles and bloody clan feuds add colour to our trip through Glen Shiel before stopping in Invermoriston to see Thomas Telford’s famous bridge and the rushing falls of the River Moriston below.
The last part of our tour takes us along the banks of Loch Ness to reach Inverness.
Day 3 - John O’Groats and the Far North Excursion
We leave Inverness and head across the Black Isle to the Cromarty Firth where, depending on tide conditions, we may see our first seals.
We will make a stop in the town of Golspie. High above the town is an astonishing statue, 27m (90') high. This is of the First Duke of Sutherland, whose agents were involved in the most notorious of the Highland Clearances during the 19th century. We'll hear more about this sad episode in the history of Scotland as we head North.
There will be a stop in John O' Groats for that "I was there” photograph before making our way to stunning Duncansby Head where, after a stroll along the cliff-top path, there are views of the dramatic sea stacks and seascapes to enjoy. Duncansby is rich in birdlife including Guillemot, Kittiwakes and, the most famous residents, Puffins (until late July).
After our visit to Duncansby, we turn southwards for home. Our journey will take us through Wick and there will be a comfort stop along the way before we make the journey's end in Inverness.
Day 4 - Applecross and Torridon Excursion
Our journey commences with a drive across the Black Isle and through scenic Glen Carron to Lochcarron. This attractive village sits overlooking a stunningly beautiful loch of the same name. This is surely one of the gems of the Highlands.
A highlight of today is the dramatic climb over the Bealach na Ba, which means the Pass of the Cattle, in Gaelic. The Pass is the third highest road in the United Kingdom and climbs to over 2,000 feet! We’ll make a stop at the summit so you can enjoy the breath-taking views over to the Isle of Skye.
On our arrival in Applecross there's time for a visit to the famous Applecross Inn for lunch. Later spend some quality time enjoying the spectacular seascapes or discovering the sad tale of the highland clearances at the Applecross Heritage Centre. In this area wildlife abounds—nature lovers look out for red deer, pine marten (one of the rarest of British mammals) and otters.
We return to Inverness along the banks of Loch Torridon then through the Ben Eighe National Nature Reserve.
Day 5 - 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 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 are the optional extras on this tour and how much do they 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.
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.
Is there much walking involved on your tours?
On most tours you’ll have the chance to stretch your legs. If you have someone in your party who has mobility issues then there is normally an alternative at most stops .
What sort of clothing should I bring with me?
We recommend bringing comfortable waterproof shoes and layered clothing that you can remove or add as conditions change. If your tour involves travel by ferry or cruise boat you might want to bring a light jacket if you plan to sit out on deck.
- 4 nights guest house or hotel accommodation
- Location: Inverness (4)
- Scottish/Continental breakfast (4)
Visits, Admissions and Experiences
- Full day excursion to Eilean Donan Castle and the Isle of Skye with local driver/guide
- Full day excursion to Applecross and Torridon with local driver/guide
- Full day exursion 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:(5 /5) 29 Sep 2017
Fred, Richie and Chris were incredible tour guides. The sites I saw will last a lifetime. Going on this tour makes me want to come back to Scotland againDarren from Las Vegas, United States
Rating:(5 /5) 08 Feb 2017
Loved every minute of this trip and would do it again in a heartbeat!Mrs. from Cambridge, Canada
Rating:(4 /5) 17 May 2016
Some Driver-guides were very good, full of zeal. Some others were just merely doing their job to get by, a real disappointment! Worse still, one of them didn't know the place well enough to offer a good experienceLum from Singapore, Singapore