Full Scottish breakfast daily; 2 lunches; 9 three-course dinners with wine and choice of menus, including a welcome dinner and a farewell dinner in Glasgow
Inside visits and special features are shown in UPPERCASE in the tour description.
Arrive in Glasgow, Scotland. Welcome to Glasgow! Check into your hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax in Scotland’s largest city. At 6 pm, meet your Tour Director and traveling companions for a welcome dinner with wine at your hotel.
Glasgow–Glengoyne–Stirling–Bannockburn–Edinburgh. Start your grand tour of Scotland with a guided tour of a WHISKY DISTILLERY, where you hear about the ancient art of converting barley, water, and yeast into a heart-warming liquor. Next, visit STIRLING CASTLE, a great symbol of Scottish independence and favored residence of Scotland’s kings and queens. Today’s final highlight is the BANNOCKBURN VISITOR CENTRE, commemorating the key battle in the Scottish Wars of Independence of June 23-24, 1314. Drive on to Edinburgh, your base for the next three nights. Tonight, don’t miss our optional Scottish evening with Highland dancers, bagpipers, and the Ceremony of the Haggis.
Edinburgh. Morning city sightseeing with a Local Guide introduces you to the 200-year-old “New Town” and the famous scientists, inventors, and novelists who lived there. In the “Old Town,” drive up the narrow Royal Mile to EDINBURGH CASTLE to admire Scotland’s Crown Jewels, then explore HOLYROOD PALACE (when available). After time on your own in Edinburgh, why not take an optional excursion to Rosslyn Chapel, made world-famous by Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, and also one of Scotland’s most remarkable buildings.
Edinburgh. Abbotsford Excursion. Today’s excursion brings you into parts of the Scottish Lowlands and Border Counties. Drive through rolling hills and leafy valleys to ABBOTSFORD HOUSE and enjoy a guided tour of Sir Walter Scott’s home. It contains an impressive collection of historic relics, weapons, and armor, as well as an extensive library with over 9,000 rare volumes. Then, visit MELROSE ABBEY, the burial place of Robert the Bruce’s heart. This afternoon, join a unique optional experience: board the former Royal Yacht Britannia to see how the Royal Family and crew of 240 lived and worked on board. Dinner rounds off this optional evening. For departure numbers August 5, August 12, and August 19, tickets are included for tonight’s performance of the world-renowned MILITARY TATTOO.
Edinburgh–St. Andrews–Braemar–Inverness. Over the elegant Forth Road Bridge and through Fife to St. Andrews. Cross the Firth of Tay and from Dundee, head into the Highlands with a lunch stop in pretty Braemar, home of the Royal Highland Games. Drive through the Grampian Mountains and Cairngorms National Park to Inverness, the Highland capital, where you spend the next two nights.
Inverness. Highlands Excursion. Fascinating visits on today’s excursion. Stop first at CLAVA CAIRNS, featured in the popular TV series Outlander and one of Scotland’s most evocative sacred prehistoric sites with three exceptionally well-preserved burial cairns, each enclosed by stone circles. At CULLODEN VISITOR CENTRE, the story unfolds of the crushing Hanoverian victory over Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Scottish clans. Then, call at romantic, fairytale CAWDOR CASTLE, set in stunning grounds with beautiful gardens and home to the Thanes of Cawdor since 1370. Back in Inverness, the rest of the day is at leisure. Our recommendation for this afternoon would be to join the Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle optional excursion, which includes a cruise on the loch.
Inverness–Thurso. Continue an unforgettable journey and follow the coast road to majestic DUNROBIN CASTLE, for centuries the seat of the Dukes and Earls of Sutherland. Visit the formal gardens and enjoy a fascinating [LF] FALCONRY DISPLAY. Overnight is in Thurso, the most northerly town on Britain’s mainland. Before dinner, you may want to join an optional excursion to a local pub.
Thurso. Excursion to the Orkney Islands. A fascinating day full of adventure. At John o’Groats, board a FERRY for the 45-minute crossing to South Ronaldsay, one of the Orkney Islands, where a local coach and driver-guide await you. Cross the four Churchill Barriers and overlook Scapa Flow, where the German fleet scuttled itself in World War I. After [LF] a light LUNCH at the Tasting Hall café, take a guided tour of the award-winning ORKNEY BREWERY and sample the local ale. Then, head for SKARA BRAE, where you see the fascinating remains of a 5,000-year-old Neolithic village and visit SKAILL HOUSE. Yet more highlights: the Ring of Brodgar, the Orkneys’ Stonehenge, and finally Kirkwall, the small and picturesque island capital. Return to the mainland by FERRY in the late afternoon. (B,L,D)
Thurso–Durness–Ullapool–Isle of Skye. A day to sit back and enjoy the breathtakingly wild and unspoiled scenery, some of the finest in Britain. The northern coast is lined with miles of yellow-sand beaches and pretty estuaries, and the hills and mountains take on a purple hue as the summer progresses. This is Scotland at its best! Drive via Durness to the quaint fishing port of Ullapool, where you enjoy a [LF] traditional FISH & CHIPS lunch at a local restaurant. Late-afternoon arrival on the Inner Hebridean Isle of Skye. (B,L,D)
Isle of Skye. Striking landscapes, weird rock formations, and dramatic waterfalls will capture your attention on your drive around the Trotternish peninsula. Visit the thatch-roofed cottages at the MUSEUM OF ISLAND LIFE, close to the last resting place of Highland heroine Flora MacDonald. Then, follow the spectacular coast route, stopping for photos of waterfalls and gorges, to the island capital of Portree. On the way back to Broadford, take in the views of the jagged and dark peaks of the Cuillin Hills.
Isle of Skye–Glenfinnan–Isle of Mull. Call at the Clan Donald Centre for a visit to its MUSEUM OF THE ISLES and insight into 13 centuries of clan history before boarding your FERRY at Armadale to sail across the Sound of Sleat. Rejoin the mainland at Mallaig and follow the “Road to the Isles.” Stop at Glenfinnan with its viaduct, as seen in the Harry Potter films, then take the FERRY to the Isle of Mull, where you conclude your day with a visit to the quaint island capital of Tobermory.
Isle of Mull. Iona Excursion. A leisurely day to relax and enjoy the best of the Scottish western isles. Drive across Mull to visit the beautiful and fascinating Isle of Iona. Time to visit the ABBEY and explore the religious settlement before returning to the hotel in the early afternoon.
Isle of Mull–Inveraray–Glasgow. The final island FERRY crossing brings you to Oban. Then, over the Pass of Brander and from Inveraray to the “Bonnie Banks” of Loch Lomond. Back in Glasgow this afternoon, your orientation city tour takes in the fine 12th-century cathedral, imposing university buildings, and elegant Georgian squares. Time for last-minute shopping before enjoying a farewell dinner with wine at your hotel.
Glasgow. Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning.