Day 01, U.S. to Edinburgh
Depart U.S. for overnight flight to Edinburgh. Package begins on day 02.
Day 02, Edinburgh
Arrive Edinburgh. Collect your self-drive car. Your visit starts in Edinburgh, see the elegant Charlotte Square and the tree lined crescents of the 18th century Georgian New Town - both fine architectural examples of the period. Leave the car at the hotel and visit Princes Street, the city's main thoroughfare with its many shops and the peaceful gardens. Travel through the Old Town, steeped in history with its cobbled streets. The High Street was the center of all activity in centuries gone by. Pass St Giles Cathedral, the City Chambers and John Knox House as you wander along the Royal Mile which extends from Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyrood House. Overnight in Edinburgh area at Houstoun House Hotel, Channings or similar.
Leave Edinburgh and cross the Forth Estuary via the impressive suspension bridge on M90 to Perth. The City of Perth is the former capital of Scotland and is situated at the head of the River Tay - famous for its salmon. Near Perth is Scone Palace, the private home of the Earl and Countess of Mansfield. The Palace has been a private home for over 400 years. As the former crowning place of Scottish Kings, the Palace boasts a magnificent collection of antiques - in particular ivories, porcelain and tapestries. Continue on the A93 north via Blairgowrie, the Devil's Elbow and Spittal of Glenshee to Braemar. See Crathie Church where the Royal Family attend Sunday service when holidaying at nearby Balmoral Castle. Overnight in the Royal Deeside area at Norwood Hall or similar.
Traveling through the Cairngorm Mountains you will leave the area on the A941 to Dufftown and the Spey Valley. Many of the famous Malt whiskies are produced in this region - Cardhu, Glenlivet, Glenfiddich and Tamdhu to name but a few. Later in the day you will reach Elgin, an elegant city with the ruins of a magnificent medieval cathedral. Elgin is also well known for its cashmere with its visitor center and restored old mills. Continuing along the Moray Firth you will arrive in Nairn, an attractive family resort, well known for its beautiful sandy beaches and golf courses. The A96 will take you to Inverness passing Cawdor Castle. A family home for over 600 years, Cawdor Castle is surrounded by beautiful gardens and worth a visit. Shakespeare's Macbeth was thane of Cawdor and the castle is one for the traditional settings for Duncan's murder however the castle itself was built many years after the events of the play. From here drive to Nairn or further north past Inverness to the hotel. Overnight in the wider Inverness area at Mansfield Castle or Knockomie.
Spend your day at leisure in the area. Do some sightseeing in the city of Inverness, the capital of the Highlands, which combines some rich and romantic history with the present. Alternatively you can travel further into the highlands to Gairloch with its turquoise waters and sandy beaches along the west coast. Or along the east coast to the stunning Dunrobin Castle. Overnight again at Mansfield Castle or Knockomie.
Touring Tip! Wherever you decide to do today, ensure to include at visit to the Black Isle Brewing at Muir of Ord. This is a small, independent organic brewery, brewing some extraordinary beer. There are tours daily over the summer.
From Inverness, follow the A82, south along Loch Ness, the most famous of all Scottish Lochs. It is around 800 feet deep and is famous for its monster ‘Nessie'. Loch Ness forms part of the Caledonian Canal which runs through the Great Glen. Continue via Invermoriston and to the next lochs in the canal - Loch Oich and Loch Lochy. You will arrive in Fort William situated at the foot of Ben Nevis, Britain's highest mountain at 1344 meters. Continue the route along the coastal road A 828 into Argyll. Overnight at Stonefield Castle or Loch Melfort House or similar.
Today is free to discover this beautiful area. We recommend a visit to Campbeltown, set on a deep bay sheltered by Davaar Island and the surrounding hills. Enjoy a guided tour and find out the secrets of whiskey making in Kintyre at the Springbank Distillery, founded in 1828 by the Mitchell family - and still in their hands today. It retains the old distilling methods to make Longrow whiskey, and welcomes visitors, provided you phone beforehand. Close by, Glenbarr Abbey is an 18th century Gothic mansion and visitor center, offering a fascinating glimpse of family life in years gone by. The Heritage Centre is a treasure-trove of interesting information, artifacts and exhibits, with a comfortable tea room too. At the mouth of Campbeltown Loch is Davaar Island, reached by foot at low tide, with its cave paintings depicting the crucifixion. Far from ancient, they were painted in 1887 by Archibald MacKinnon, inspired by a dream. Overnight again in the area. Day 7 You have the choice this morning to take the A85 or A83 towards Crianlarich. From here you can take a small detour to Killin to see the Falls of Dochart, the dramatic waterfalls rushing through the center of the picturesque village. Drive along Loch Lubnaig through the beautiful Strathyre Forest towards the charming market town of Callander where you may wish to stop. The city of Stirling is also worth a visit. The historic Royal Burgh stands on a bend on the River Forth and is known as the ‘Gateway to the Highlands' due to its strategic position. The imposing castle towers above the town on a 250 foot rock overlooking the nearby battlefield of Bannockburn. Around the town are various monuments commemorating famous Scottish patriots such as Robert the Bruce and William Wallace. Last overnight in Edinburgh area at Houstoun House Hotel, Royal Scots Club or similar.
Day 08, Edinburgh - Home
After breakfast, return your car rental to the airport, for your return flight back to the U.S.