Highland Panorama - 5 day tour
5 day / 4 night tour
Enjoy famous sights and hidden gems on this popular tour centred in Inverness. From your base explore the Highlands in comfort including the picturesque Isle of Skye and iconic Eilean Donan Castle. Travel to the Far North to experience stunning seascapes and explore the beauty of the Cairngorms National Park. The highlight is a one-way trip from Mallaig to Fort William aboard the famous Jacobite Steam Train, including a crossing of the Glenfinnan Viaduct, known as the "Harry Potter Bridge". On this tour, you’ll discover some of the finest scenery Scotland has to offer.
Price range: £710 - £1,200
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 beautiful Fairy Pools and visit colourful Portree
Eilean Donan Castle - see Scotland’s most romantic castle
Jacobite Steam Train - experience spectacular scenery on a journey aboard the real Hogwarts Express
Northern Highlands - discover one of the most breathtaking coastlines in Europe
Movie locations - Made with Honour, Outlaw King and Highlander
Guest house accommodation included - hotel upgrade option available
Full Tour Itinerary
Day 1 - Edinburgh - Glen Coe - Inverness
We start the day by making our way to remote Rannoch Moor and then into dramatic Glen Coe. We’ll make a photo-stop here so you can soak up the beauty of this special place.
Historic Fort William sits on the banks of Loch Linnhe and in the shadow of Ben Nevis - Britain’s tallest mountain.
The Caledonian Canal leads us through the Great Glen, with it’s wonderful loch-side views, all the way to Loch Ness. We’ll make a stop so you can visit Urquhart Castle and take a short cruise on Loch Ness - keep a close watch in case "you know who” makes an appearance!
Shortly we will arrive in Inverness, our home for the next four nights.
Overnight: Inverness (4 nights)
Day 2 - Isle of Skye and Eilean Donan Castle Excursion
Leaving Inverness behind we make our way to Garve then on through Strath Bran to the remote village of Achnasheen. From there we strike out through picturesque Glen Carron, stopping to enjoy the panoramic views over Loch Carron.
We cross "over the sea to Skye” and follow the scenic coastal route, enjoying the incredible vista over the sea lochs to the Isle of Scalpay.
There are grand views of the mighty Cuillin Hills too as we make our way to Portree, the island’s main town. We’ll make a stop here so you can discover the town on your own and enjoy time for lunch. The colourful houses that surround the harbour make an excellent backdrop for an "I was there” selfie!
Later head to Talisker Distillery for the opportunity to discover how malt whisky is produced using traditional methods. The tour ends with a tutored tasting of a wee dram and, if you fancy, a chance to visit the distillery shop.
Our last stop on Skye will be to see the famous Fairy Pools. Against the backdrop of the Cuillin Mountains, the pure turquoise water cascades over waterfalls to create the natural pools which have become a social-media phenomenon.
Returning to the mainland, we stop at fairytale Eilean Donan Castle set on its little island on Loch Duich. There is plenty of time to photograph this iconic castle before our return journey continues through Glen Shiel, where the Five Sisters of Kintail will come into view. These soaring peaks are each over 3,000 feet (914 m) high!
The final part of our journey takes us through Glen Moriston to the timeless beauty of Loch Ness and onwards to Inverness.
Day 3 - John O’Groats and the Far North Excursion
Our destination today is the very edge of mainland Britain as we head for the Northern Highlands. Today we join the famous North Coast 500 route, famed for its fabulous coastal scenery, as we discover the Northern Highlands.
From Inverness, we cross the Black Isle then make for the Cromarty and Dornoch Firths. As we reach Loch Fleet lookout for the resident seals, who can often be seen sunning themselves on the rocks.
There is a refreshment stop in Golspie, a pleasant town that sits at the foot of Ben Bhraggie, which has a 100 foot (30 m) statue at the summit. Known locally as “the mannie”, it celebrates the first Duke of Sutherland, who gained infamy due to his role during the notorious Highland Clearances.
Next is a stop to visit Carn Liath Broch. This remnant of the Iron Age was a defensive settlement, probably used by an extended family and their livestock. Even in its ruined state, this seaward looking structure is undoubtedly impressive.
There are many attractive fishing villages along this part of the coastline. They were built during the boom in herring fishing at the turn of the 20th Century. We’ll stop so you can enjoy lunch and take a stroll around the harbour to discover the story of the “Silver Darlings”.
John O’Groats is the most northerly village in mainland Britain. There is a stop here for a souvenir photo and the chance to savour the beautiful sea views.
Later we move on to visit Duncansby Head where a stroll along the cliff-top path is rewarded with spectacular views of the sea stacks and the cliffs teeming with birdlife including Fulmar, Guillemot, Kittiwake and Puffins (until late July/early August).
Our journey southwards will take us to through Wick, which was founded by the Vikings. They named it Vik, meaning Bay in Norse.
There will be a comfort stop en-route to Inverness where we will arrive around 19:15 hrs.
Day 4 - Jacobite Steam Train and Cairngorms National Park Excursion
Today we have an unforgettable journey on the famous Jacobite Steam Train, but first, we leave Inverness behind and travel through the impressive Great Glen which brings us to Ben Nevis, Britain’s tallest mountain.
We’ll make a stop at the viewpoint to capture the scene before making our way along the “Road to the Isles”, one of Scotland’s most scenic routes. The end of the road is the historic fishing town of Mallaig, where we will enjoy time for lunch.
Waiting for us at the Railway Station is the gleaming Jacobite Steam Train, which starred as the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter movies. Climb aboard one of the vintage carriages and take your seats. The whistle blows and the train pulls out of the station on the journey of a lifetime. During the trip, we’ll pass Britain’s deepest loch and shortest river.
At Glenfinnan, we’ll cross the famous viaduct and enjoy the stunning views of the Glenfinnan Monument. It was here that Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his standard at the start of the 1745 Jacobite Uprising.
Sadly, we leave the train in Fort William and rejoin our coach for a scenic drive through the Cairngorms National Park.
There is a stop in Aviemore before making the short drive back to Inverness and the end of a magical day out.
Day 5 - Inverness - Dolphin Spotting - Edinburgh
After breakfast, we make a visit to Clava Cairns, a group of three prehistoric burial cairns surrounded by standing stones. This picturesque setting is thought to have inspired the Outlander author, Diana Gabaldon, to create the cleft stone of Craigh Na Dun where Claire time travels all the way back to 1743.
After a short drive, there's a brief stop at Culloden Battlefield where you can learn about the famous battle, in 1746, between the Jacobite army of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Government troops.
Our next stop is the attractive town of Beauly. It is thought that the town was named "Beau Lieu" - Beautiful Place, by the French monks. They built a Priory here in the 13th Century which was visited by Mary, Queen of Scots in 1564 and still stands in the centre of the town, surrounded by trees.
A scenic drive through the Black Isle will bring us to Cromarty, a historic fishing port which retains much of its Old World charm.
At Chanonry Point, which overlooks the Moray Firth, we hope to see some of the Bottlenose Dolphins that call this stretch of water home.
Later we return to Inverness to join our coach for the journey south. Enjoy stunning views as you travel through the Cairngorms National Park then descend through the Grampian Mountains to reach Highland Perthshire.
Enjoy a break in Pitlochry, an attractive Victorian resort, before heading for Perth.
The last part of the journey is through the Kingdom of Fife, then across the Firth of Forth, where there are up-close views of the Forth Bridges, before reaching the end of the tour 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.
Can you tell me more about the optional extras on this tour?
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:
Visit to 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.
The links above will give you more information on these attractions as well as current prices. On some tours discounted prices are available to tour passengers - your driver/guide will provide more information if this applies. Not all attractions accept payment by credit or debit card so you should carry sufficient cash should you be planning a visit.
Tell me about my accommodation and which type of room should I choose?
The cost of accommodation is included in the cost of your tour. On this tour you can choose between Guesthouse/B&B or Hotel accommodation: Guesthouse and B&B. The guesthouses and B&Bs are family run and offer comfortable accommodation in bedrooms that have en-suite bathrooms, tv, tea/coffee making facilities and other amenities. Bedding, towels and basic toiletries are provided. Some guesthouses and B&Bs offer enhanced facilities such as a resident’s lounge where you can relax with other guests. Hotel. We select comfortable hotels that are a minimum of 3 stars with bedrooms featuring en-suite bathrooms, television, tea and coffee making facilities and other amenities. All have restaurants offering a selection of Scottish and international dishes as well as comfortable bars where you can relax and un-wind. All hotels are city-centre located. The guesthouses and B&Bs are a 10/15 minute walk from Inverness City Centre.
What sort of weather can I expect?
Ah, this is the $64,000 question! It may surprise you to know that we have a very temperate climate in Scotland. The geography of Scotland means that it does rain more frequently in the west of the country and there are stronger winds in the east. If it does rain on your tour we will not be too concerned and neither should you be – we need it to make our whisky!
Tell me what the visit to a whisky distillery will be like?
A visit to a traditional whisky distillery is a feast for all the senses. After a warm welcome you’ll normally have a short audio/visual presentation on the the history of the distillery and the traditional methods used in the distilling process. Next is a tour of the distillery where you you will experience all stages of the whisky making process from mashing and fermenting to distilling and maturation. Your tour will end with a tutored tasting of a malt whisky and the opportunity to buy a souvenir of your visit in the distillery shop.
- 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 the Great Glen and Cairngorms National Park with local driver/guide
- Full day excursion to John O'Groats and the Far North with local driver/guide
- One way Jacobite Steam Train trip on the West Highland Railway Line
- 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.
Product code HEX 02089