Scottish Islands Highlights

Explore the extremes of North West Europe's last great wilderness. 12 days to enjoy 4 fantastic west coast islands and the prehistoric beauty & history of the northern Orkney Islands, coupled with an escape to the Western Isles of Lewis and breathtaking Harris. Also explore Edinburgh at your own pace, with 2 independent nights (pre/post).

Scottish Islands Highlights

Explore the extremes of North West Europe's last great wilderness. 12 days to enjoy 4 fantastic west coast islands and the prehistoric beauty & history of the northern Orkney Islands, coupled with an escape to the Western Isles of Lewis and breathtaking Harris. Also explore Edinburgh at your own pace, with 2 independent nights (pre/post).

Tour Highlights

  • Small intimate coaches
  • Scenic views of beautiful Scotland
  • Visits to: Oban, Islay and the Whisky Coast, Skye, Mull, and Iona

West Coast Explorer Tour Includes

  • Thirteen (13) nights accommodations; two (2) nights in Edinburgh (pre/post) at pre-booked mid-ranged 3-4 * hotel in Edinburgh City. To be advised at time of booking
  • Three (3) nights at the Bowmore Distillery Cottage
  • Two (2) nights at your choice of B&B or Hotel in Oban, Plockton, and Kirkwall
  • Breakfast daily (except for morning of arrival, continental self-serve at the Bowmore Cottages)
  • Arrival and departure transfers in Edinburgh
  • Twelve days (12) days of custom touring
  • All service charges and hotel taxes

Additional Notes

Part of this tour has a number of rooms in the beautiful Bowmore Distillery Cottages. These are self-catering cottages in the grounds of the distillery itself and offer a unique accommodation experience. The cottages have between 3 and 6 bedrooms and these are all en-suite but are NOT serviced during your stay. The kitchen and lounge facilities are shared and self-service continental breakfast ingredients will be provided. PLEASE NOTE THAT DUE TO THE SHARED NATURE OF THE ACCOMMODATION INDIVIDUAL BEDROOMS DO NOT HAVE LOCKABLE DOORS. When these rooms are full we will use nearby B&Bs.*


Itinerary

Day 01, Edinburgh

Arrive Edinburgh; Transfer to your hotel is included, however. You are free to enjoy this beautiful city on your own. (Please note: hotel check-in is generally between 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm. If you are arriving into Edinburgh early the hotel will be happy to hold your luggage until your room is ready).

Day 02, Edinburgh - Touring Begins - Islay

Make your way to the Edinburgh departure point (see departure point information below) for 8:15 am (If you booked a departure point transfer at time of booking, your driver will collect you as noted on your voucher). Depart Edinburgh at 8:30 am. Leaving Edinburgh, we will head west through Scotland's largest city, Glasgow, along Loch Lomond then through the mountains to the beautiful little village of Inveraray on the banks of Loch Fyne. Time to explore before traveling through Argyll and into the ancient Kingdom of Dalriada. We stop in Kilmartin, to see the mysterious stone circles and standing stones and visit the community museum. From here it is a short drive to Kennacraig where we catch the early evening ferry to Islay. Ferry just over 2 hours where we can look out for wildlife such as dolphins and whales. On arrival on Islay it is a short drive to Bowmore for our three (3) night stay.

Day 03, Touring - A full day exploring Islay

A flexible day with a mixture of beautiful scenery, white sand beaches, short walks and of course the famous Islay whiskies renowned for their strong peaty flavors. We will take the short drive to the west of the island via Saligo Bay for a visit to Kilchoman Distillery, with the option of a coastal walk to Machair Bay for any non-whiskey lovers. Later, we will explore the tiny harbor village of Portnahaven before taking the back roads along the west coast with its lovely sandy bays, on the way back to Bowmore. Optionally visit Bowmore distillery or just relax and explore the village.

Day 04, Touring - Another day in paradise!

We explore the southern side of the island, home to the smokiest and peatiest of all whiskies - Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg. We visit Ardbeg for a tour, tasting and lunch (on your own). We follow that up with a visit to Laphroaig or a visit to the ruins of Kildalton church with its famous 8th Century Celtic cross. Alternatively, we may stop in Bridgend where you could visit the community craft producers at Islay House Square or take a walk through the woods along the nearby River Sorn. Return to Bowmore for overnight.

Day 05, Touring - Oban

This morning you take the ferry back to the mainland then travel through Argyll along the coast to Oban - the main ferry port for the islands, and known locally as the ‘Charing Cross' of the north. On arrival in Oban your guide will drop you at your accommodation. You will say goodbye to this group here, and will be collected by your new guide and group on the morning of day 6. You will have a free afternoon in Oban to enjoy this bustling and busy highland town. For those who are partial to some retail therapy, there are numerous shopping possibilities, or for those who wish to continue their thirst for Scottish whisky, Oban distillery is nicely situated in the heart of the town. A hike uphill will bring its own rewards with stunning views from the most photographed structure in the west, McCaig's folly. The folly built on instruction by a local banker in 1897 resembles the coliseum in Rome, and provides magnificent vistas over the distant Firth of Lorne. You will stay in this glorious highland town for 2 nights.

Day 06, Touring - Oban

Is an early start crossing on the ferry to Mull and enjoying an island adventure exploring her dramatic coastlines and wild beauty, before taking the small ferry to the peace and tranquility of Iona - birthplace of Celtic Christianity and ancient burial ground of Scottish Kings. Here you can visit the historic abbey with its intricate carved crosses in the churchyard or explore the rocky headlands and sandy coves of this island gem. There is also an opportunity to take a small boat out to the is- land of Staffa and view the dramatic basalt columns immortalized by Mendelssohn in his Hebridean Overture “Fingal's Cave”. You then return on the ferry to Oban for your second night.

Day 07, Touring - Plockton

We travel north along the west coast around Appin, passing Castle Stalker and Glencoe, scene of the infamous massacre of the Clan Macdonald in 1692. We pass through Fort William and take the historic road to the Isles to catch the ferry to Skye. We travel through Glenfinnan. Glenfinnan is home to a 100-year-old viaduct, which was made famous when the Hogwarts Express steamed across it on the way to school in the Harry Potter films. From Glenfinnan the road crosses mountains and glens before reaching Arisaig and on through a spectacularly scenic stretch of coast with fantastic views of the islands of Rum, Eigg, Muck and Skye. From here we travel to the picturesque fishing village of Plockton, where we are dropped off at you accommodations in the early evening.

Day 08, Plockton

Is a very flexible day on Skye. There are many possi bilities depending on the weather and your driver/guide will use his/her local knowledge to decide on the best day out for the group. For example: heading west towards the 13th century home of the Clan MacLeod - Dunvegan Castle, the emerald green valley of Glendale or the dramatic sea-cliffs and lonely lighthouse at Neist Point. In the afternoon the tour may concentrate on the south of the island. Spend time heading down to Elgol for seascapes and views of the Cuillin, or Talisker and its beautiful bay or perhaps Glenbrittle and its famed waterfalls. We return you to your accommodation in Plockton in the late afternoon for you to enjoy a free evening in the village.

Day 09, Inverness

You will be collected from your accommodation for the short drive to the famous stronghold of Eilean Donan Castle, used in the film “Highlander”, set at the junction of 3 lochs as protection against Viking raiders. Then you travel east taking in the stunning views over Loch Duich and the 5 Sisters of Kintail. Continue on to Loch Ness for lunch and the possibility of spotting “Nessie”. Half an hour south of Loch Ness you will stop in the village of Spean Bridge and join a new bus for the continuation of your tour to Orkney. Your guides will help you transfer your luggage and introduce you to your new travelling companions. With your new crew you will continue north following the Great Glen travelling the entire 23 miles of the famous Loch passing by Urquhart castle. You can expect to arrive in Inverness, the Highland capital, and the place of our overnight stay at approx. 18.30 where you will be dropped off at your pre booked accommodation.

Day 10, Kirkwall

Is an early start, leaving behind the ‘Capital of the Highlands', crossing over the Black Isle, and past Andrew Carnegie's Skibo Castle. From here you drive through the northeast Highland coastline, travelling into some of Scotland's most dramatic scenery, and enjoy amazing views of some of Europe's oldest landscapes and the chance to see wildlife such as Golden Eagles and Red Deer. Onwards through Scotland's most northerly mainland village, John o' Groats, and then to Gills Bay, where you board the ferry, crossing the Pentland Firth into the Orkney Archipelago. From here it is a short drive to the famous Italian Chapel where we stop for a visit before continuing to the Viking stronghold of Kirkwall, Capital of Orkney where you shall stay for 2 nights. Here you can visit Kirkwall's magnificent Viking Cathedral and its historic winding streets.

Day 11, Kirkwall

Is your chance to explore this fantastic, ancient island; a land of contrasts where fertile green pastures are fringed by shores of golden sands washed by waters of the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean. You will visit the 5000 year old village of Skara Brae (older than the Pyramids of Egypt!), the mystical prehistoric stone circle at Brodgar and the Druidic standing stones of Stenness. We stop in Stromness - one of Scotland's most picturesque seaboard vil- lages and then travel onto Maeshowe, where in the 12th century the Vikings left one of the largest collections of Norse runic inscriptions. Then it's back to Kirkwall for our 2nd night after what is sure to be a memorable day.

Day 12, Ullapool

Is a relaxed start to the day, as you leave Orkney and sail the Viking waters back to the mainland. From here you travel the old road right across the very top of Scotland, driving past the stunning Ben Loyal and Ben Hope mountains following the rocky cliffs and stunning golden sand beaches of our northern coast- line. We then visit the far northwest highlands and the grandeur, expanse and wilderness of the mountains of Assynt before stopping to view the 15th century ruins of Ardvreck Castle. From here we travel to Ullapool, situated at the mouth of Loch Broom, a beautiful white-washed fishing village where we spent our last night's stay on tour.

Day 13, Edinburgh

Leaving Ullapool behind you, you take in the drama of the River Droma as it plunges 60m down into Corrieshalloch Gorge, before taking in the beautiful Loch Glascarnoch, on the way past the ‘Capital of the Highlands' Inverness. You can then visit Culloden Moor, the site of The Battle of Culloden in 1746, one of the bloodiest events in our history and the last battle to have been fought on the British mainland, before taking a short drive to the ancient standing stones at Clava Cairns, made famous by Diana Gabaldon in the “Outlander” books. This prehistoric and stunning Bronze Age burial ground is one of the oldest in Scotland. From here you travel through the ancient Caledonian Pine Forest, hugging the Cairngorm mountain range. Lunch will be spent in these beautiful surroundings before travelling through big tree country of Perthshire, through the Kingdom of Fife and back to Edinburgh.

Day 14, Edinburgh - Home

After breakfast, transfer from your hotel to the Airport for your return flight to the U.S.

Rates & Hotels

2018 Dates & Prices (Click Date to Book)
Dates Land Only
Aug 23  (Sold Out) $3839
Aug 30  (Sold Out) $3839
Sep 06  (Sold Out) $3639
Sep 13  (Sold Out) $3639
Sep 20  (Sold Out) $3639
Sep 27  (Sold Out) $3639
Oct 04  (Sold Out) $3469
Oct 11  (Sold Out) $3469
Oct 18  (Sold Out) $3469
$3429
2019 Dates & Prices (Click Date to Book)
Dates Land Only
$3239
$3239
$3479
$3479
$3479
$3479
$3479
$3499
$3719
$3739
$3739
$3739
$3739
$3739
$3739
$3739
$3939
$4139
$4139
$4139
$3939
$3939
$3739
$3739
$3739
$3739
$3519
$3519
$3519
2018 Dates & Prices (Click Date to Book)
Dates Land Only
Aug 23  (Sold Out) $4399
Aug 30  (Sold Out) $4399
Sep 06  (Sold Out) $4199
Sep 13  (Sold Out) $4199
Sep 20  (Sold Out) $4199
Sep 27  (Sold Out) $4199
Oct 04  (Sold Out) $4029
Oct 11  (Sold Out) $4029
Oct 18  (Sold Out) $4029
$3989
2019 Dates & Prices (Click Date to Book)
Dates Land Only
$3769
$3769
$4009
$4009
$4009
$4009
$4009
$4029
$4029
$4269
$4269
$4269
$4269
$4269
$4269
$4269
$4469
$4469
$4669
$4669
$4459
$4459
$4259
$4259
$4259
$4259

Hotels/Plans Available for Departure Dates

B&B Option
Hotel Option

Tour Details

Your land package begins: / Your land package ends:

(As most International flights are overnight flights - please book air accordingly)

Flight Details


Accommodation Details

Edinburgh Hotel

-

Pre and post nights booked at a mid-level hotel [more]

Bowmore Distillery Cottages

Bowmore, Isle of Islay, Argyll -

A stay with us at Bowmore Distillery Cottages offers the chance to reflect on the heritage of these ancient practices in beautifully renovated cottages, located at the centre of a charming village on a beautiful Hebridean island. [more]

-

Choice of B&B / Guesthouse / 3* Inns throughout Scotland on our escorted Scotland tours [more]

Pricing

Your tour land price is per person based on two (2) people sharing a twin or double room. When a single room is booked, a single supplement will apply. There are no triple rooms for this tour.

Children allowed on this tour from ages 5-15 (children under 5 not allowed and children 16 or older are considered adults).

This tour does not include:

  • Items not noted on itinerary
  • Lunches
  • Dinners
  • Tips to driver/guide
  • Visitor attractions

Airfare

Airfare is additional. Once you select your date, you will be given the opportunity to search our system for the best available airfare from your home city. The dates shown will be the start/end date of your tour. However, you can alter these dates to arrive earlier or extend your stay as needed.

Our system will search for the best possible airfare during your booking process. Note: airfare cannot be booked sooner than eleven (11) month from the date of departure.

Departures & Transfers

Departure date is the date one would start touring in Edinburgh including any pre/post nights. Does not include air travel.