Scottish Isles and Glens - 12 day tour
Scottish Isles and Glens
12 day / 11 night
Although this magnificent tour spends quality time in the sophisticated cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh, the main focus is the beauty and history of Scotland’s Highlands and Islands. You’ll discover well-known icons such as Glen Coe, Loch Ness, and Culloden Moor during your travels. You’ll also get off the beaten track to visit lush Inverewe Gardens, the picturesque Isle of Bute and even take the ferry to explore the ancient Orkneys. If you want to get under the skin of Scotland, this is the tour for you.
Isle of Bute - visit the Victorian splendour of Mount Stuart House
Dunvegan Castle - discover the history of the Clan Macleod and see priceless family heirlooms, including the “Fairy Flag”
Inverewe Gardens - discover exotic plants from around the world, creating a riot of colour and scents
Orkney Islands - see the famous pre-historic attractions of Skara Brae and the Ring of Brodgar
Edinburgh - tour through the Georgian New Town and ancient Royal Mile to visit Edinburgh Castle
Movie locations - Made of Honour, The World is not Enough and Trainspotting
Hotel accommodation included
Full Tour Itinerary
Day 1 - Glasgow Arrival and City Tour
Your Scottish trip starts at 2:30 pm when you meet your tour director at your Glasgow hotel.
Enjoy a tour of Glasgow city centre, which is famous for its Victorian and Art Nouveau architecture. Once a city famed for shipbuilding and heavy engineering Glasgow has transformed itself into a centre of culture and the arts.
Take a drive along the banks of the River Clyde to hear about Glasgow’s maritime heritage before touring through the west end to see Kelvingrove Park and the impressive buildings of Glasgow University.
On returning to your hotel, have a welcome drink with the group, then enjoy a free evening to dine on your own.
Overnight: Novotel Glasgow Centre Hotel (or similar) (2 nights)
Day 2 - Mount Stuart House and Isle of Bute Excursion
Today take a short ferry ride to the Isle of Bute, where a drive around the coast will reveal wonderful sea and island scenery.
Take a guided tour of the highly-decorated chambers of Mount Stuart House, built in the late 1870s for the 3rd Marquess of Bute. See the many Victorian comforts that were highly innovative for the era.
Spend some time in Rothesay, the main town on the island.
Return to Glasgow to enjoy some free time before dining independently in one of the city’s popular restaurants.
Day 3 - Loch Lomond - Glen Coe - Kyle of Lochalsh
Travel alongside the famous banks of Loch Lomond, well-known for its unparalleled natural beauty.
Stop to view the majestic scenery of Glen Coe, and hear the infamous tale of the massacre of the Clan Macdonald that took place here in 1692.
At Fort William, look out for the towering peak of Ben Nevis, Britain’s tallest mountain, before enjoying some retail therapy at the famous Spean Bridge Woollen Mill.
Continue your drive north to visit the iconic Eilean Donan Castle. The first fortified castle was built in the 13th century, rebuilt several times and partially ruined in 1719.
Check in to your charming family-owned hotel near Kyle of Lochalsh.
Overnight: Balmacara Hotel, Kyle of Lochalsh (or similar) (2 nights)
Day 4 - Dunvegan Castle and Isle of Skye Excursion
Travel to Dunvegan Castle, a stronghold of the Chiefs of MacLeod for nearly 800 years, making it the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland. View priceless family heirlooms and stroll through formal gardens.
See the stunning landscape of Skye, including magnificent Kilt Rock, before visiting Portree, the island’s main town. Take a stroll down to the harbour to see the brightly painted houses that sit overlooking the bay.
Return to your hotel for free time before dinner.
Day 5 - Kyle of Lochalsh - Inverewe Gardens - Ullapool
Enjoy fabulous Highland scenery as you drive north along the west coast to visit Inverewe Gardens, where an oasis of exotic trees and shrubs was created from 50 acres of bleak headland in 1862. The varied plantings thrive due to the warmth of the Gulf Stream.
Take a brief drive around this attractive town located on the banks of Loch Broom, then check in to your hotel.
Overnight: Royal Hotel, Ullapool (or similar)
Day 6 - Ullapool - John O’Groats – Kirkwall (Orkney Islands)
Today explore more of the Highlands as you travel through one of Scotland's most sparsely-populated regions with vast tracts of bogland, rugged mountains and coastline.
Now the route is famous as The North Coast 500 you'll travel along the coastline through remote hamlets and vast areas of open land.
Learn about the Highland Clearances, a tragic period of history when many crofters were forced off the land and emigrated to the United States, Canada and other countries.
Continue to Scrabster, on the northern coast of Scotland, to join the ferry for the Orkney islands.
Dinner will be served during the crossing and on arrival, make for the hotel in Kirkwall.
Overnight: Ayre Hotell, Kirkwall (or similar) (2 nights)
Day 7 - Exploring the Orkney Islands
After breakfast, it’s time to explore the Orkney Islands.
We start with a drive around the northern part of the Orkney mainland, past the Earl’s Palace. This remarkable building was the home of the notorious Robert Stewart, half-brother of Mary Queen of Scots, who was the Earl of Orkney in the late 1500s.
Our first visit is to Skara Brae, a 5,000 year-old village considered one of Europe’s best-preserved prehistoric settlements and one of Orkney’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
After free time for lunch in the port of Stromness, travel to see the Ring of Brodgar, a circle of prehistoric standing stones,
Later, return to Kirkwall to see 12th century St Magnus Cathedral.
Enjoy some leisure time in the afternoon to browse around the town and then enjoy dinner on your own.
Day 8 - Kirkwall - Dunrobin Castle - Inverness
We start the day with a stop at the tiny Italian Chapel. This ornate structure was built from two Nissen huts by Italian prisoners-of-war who decorated the interior with intricate paintings.
Later see Scapa Flow and drive across the Churchill Barriers, created during World War II to deter German U-boat attacks.
Return by ferry to the mainland, then enjoy spectacular coastal scenery as we drive to visit Dunrobin Castle. This fairy-tale castle has been the ancestral home of the Earls and Dukes of Sutherland since the 13th Century.
It was redesigned in the mid-1800s to a design by Sir Charles Barry, who created the Houses of Parliament in London.
With 189 rooms, this is the largest mansion in northern Scotland. During your visit see the dining room, music room and library, which has over 10,000 volumes and contains priceless artefacts.
Later, continue south to your hotel in the centre of Inverness, the Capital of the Highlands.
Overnight: Columba Hotel, Inverness (or similar) (2 nights)
Day 9 - Urquhart Castle & Culloden Battlefield Excursion
Cruise the mysterious waters of Loch Ness to visit the mighty ruins of Urquhart Castle, once Scotland’s largest castle, which was destroyed in the Jacobite wars.
Later stop at the Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre to learn about the ferocious battle that ended the Jacobite Uprising. Here, Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Jacobite army was defeated by the Government Troops commanded by the Duke of Cumberland.
This was the last battle ever fought on British soil and the outcome ended the clan system in Scotland.
There will be time to take a walk on the moor before returning to Inverness in time to relax before dinner.
Day 10 - Inverness - Pitlochry - Edinburgh
Drive through the majestic scenery of the Cairngorms National Park to visit Leault Farm, where highly-trained dogs obey the commands from a shepherd to round up sheep.
Continue south to Pitlochry to visit Blair Athol Distillery, where we will discover how whisky is distilled and enjoy a tasting at the end of the tour.
Drive to your hotel in Edinburgh, then attend a Scottish Evening to dine on excellent local cuisine followed by a lively music and dancing show.
Tour departures between 29 July and 14 August 2023 will enjoy a free night to dine independently.
Overnight: Apex Grassmarket Hotel, Edinburgh (or similar) (2 nights)
Day 11 - Edinburgh City Tour & Edinburgh Castle
This morning discover Edinburgh on a sightseeing tour.
See the wide streets, grand squares, and elegant townhouses of the 200-year-old Georgian "New Town” then take a drive along part of the Royal Mile, the oldest part of the city where some houses reach 11 stories tall.
Tour grand Edinburgh Castle to see historic buildings, the Stone of Scone and the Scottish Crown Jewels. Also, appreciate great panoramic views over the city from the ramparts.
The afternoon and evening are free.
Departures between 29 July to 14 August 2023 attend a performance of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
Day 12 - Tour Ends in Edinburgh
Your tour ends after breakfast.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I expect on this Premium Escorted Tour?
If you enjoy the art of travelling in comfort and style then a Premium Escorted Tour is for you.
You’ll travel in a group that is restricted to around 40 fellow travellers.
Travel is aboard a state of the art motorcoach with air-conditioning, on-board WiFi, reclining seats and oversized windows. For your comfort there is an emergency washroom on-board too.
An experienced tour manager will lead the tour and your coach will be expertly driven by a professional driver.
In certain cities you’ll be joined by a local guide who will provide local insight and show you the highlights.
These tours are fully inclusive of first class/superior class accommodation, transportation, admission fees and most meals.
Savvy travellers appreciate that these tours have no hidden extras – all the ingredients needed for a great tour are included in the tour price. There are no optional extras for you to budget for during your holiday.
What kind of accommodation do you use?
The group will stay together in first class or superior tourist class hotels. Each has been carefully selected for comfort, quality and ambiance located in the best locations close to the shopping areas and the key sights.
You will discover a pleasant balance of familiar brand hotels such as Hilton, Marriott and Accor together with locally owned family-run hotels.
In rural locations your accommodation will be in the best available hotels. A full hotel list will be provided as part of your Tour Documentation.
Tell me about the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo?
Staged every year as part of the world-famous Edinburgh Festival, the Edinburgh Military Tattoo is a unique and memorable celebration of music, dance and military pageantry.
Set against the spectacular backdrop of the floodlit Edinburgh Castle, almost a thousand musicians, pipers, drummers, singers, and dancers perform at The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo on the Esplanade.
One of the most memorable moments is the stirring performances of the Massed Pipes and Drums and Military Bands that emerge from beneath the portcullis gate, playing the rousing battle tunes of Scotland's famed regiments.
As the show unfolds, there are spectacular displays from the many overseas performers who bring a flavour of their national culture through music and dance.
This unforgettable spectacle is brought to an emotional and poignant close each evening as a lone piper, spotlit high on the castle ramparts, plays a haunting lament. A mass chorus of Auld Lang Syne and the dazzling march out brings the curtain down on a truly memorable night's entertainment.
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.
Do I need to follow the complete tour itinerary?
Subject to the itinerary it may be possible to join the tour late; leave early or miss a day to pursue your own itinerary (proving the tour is staying in the same hotel for two nights or more, of course).
Please feel free to contact us to discuss your requirements - we’ll do our best to help.
Unfortunately we can’t discount the price of the tour to compensate for any unused portions of the tour.
- 11 nights hotel accommodation
- Location: Glasgow (2); Kyle of Lochalsh (2); Ullapool (1); Kirkwall (2), Inverness (2) and Edinburgh (2)
- Scottish/Continental breakfast (11)
- Welcome drink with your Tour Director
- Table d’hôte dinners (6)
- Scottish Evening in Edinburgh (not Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo departures)
Visits, Admissions and Experiences
- Admission to Mount Stuart House, Eilean Donan Castle, Dunvegan Castle, Inverewe Gardens, Skara Brae, Italian Chapel, Ring of Brodgar, St Magnus Cathedral, Italian Chapel, Dunrobin Castle, Urquhart Castle, Culloden Moor Visitor Centre and Edinburgh Castle
- Sheepdog demonstration on a working Highland farm
- Tour and tasting at Blair Athol Whisky Distillery
- Cruise on Loch Ness
- City tours of Glasgow and Edinburgh
- Tickets are included for the World-famous Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo on 29 July to 14 August, 2023 departures
- Touring by luxury air-conditioned coach with extra-legroom, reclining seats, on board washroom and Wifi
- Ferry to the Isle of Bute
- Ferry to the Orkney Islands
- All baggage handling and hotel tips are included
- Services throughout the tour of a professional Tour Director
- Service charges and taxes
Please check your tour documentation for the commencement time of the tour
From The Novotel Glasgow City Hotel
181 Pitt St
Glasgow G2 4DT
The tour will end in Edinburgh after breakfast on day 12
Check-in: 14:30 hrs
Tour Departs: 15:00 hrs
Tour Returns: 9:00 hrs
Child discount applies to children aged 8 to 18 years inclusive on the basis that they share a room with an adult.
We’re sorry but children aged under 8 years cannot travel on this tour.
Photo-ID may be requested to confirm discount entitlement.
The price of this tour includes hotel accommodation with en-suite bathroom.
Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo
Selected departures include a visit to this famous celebration of music, dancing and culture performed against the backdrop of Edinburgh Castle.
Please see the FAQ section for more information on this tour.