A pastoral wonderland, Scotland abounds with rolling green hills, sea-sprayed islands, and stately ancient castles. Begin your tour in the beautiful city of Edinburgh where you'll see the famous Edinburgh Castle, home of the Scottish crown jewels. History buffs and golfers alike will enjoy a visit to St. Andrews, the birthplace of golf, to see the Royal and Ancient Clubhouse and the famous Old Course. In Pitlochry, a vibrant Victorian town surrounded by the most glorious mountain scenery in Europe, visit the smallest distillery in Scotland and enjoy a tasting of Highland malt whisky. Travel along the beautiful coast to Dunrobin Castle, built in 1275, where you can visit the formal gardens overlooking the North Sea and enjoy a spectacular falconry display. During a ferry ride to the Orkney Islands look out for porpoises, seals, and the adorable otters that live in Gill's Bay! You'll also see the remains of a Neolithic village which was built at the same time as Cheops Pyramid in Egypt. Revel in the beauty and legend of Loch Ness, one of Britain's most scenic bodies of water; and learn about Scottish farming during a delightful sheep dog demonstration.
Day #1 Overnight Flight - An overnight flight transports you to a country of stunning landscapes, lively cities, stirring history and distinct myths and stories.
Day #2 Edinburgh, Scotland - Tour Begins - Your tour begins in Edinburgh. Tonight, meet your fellow travelers at a lovely welcome dinner.
Day #3 Edinburgh - A locally guided tour of this regal city includes Edinburgh Castle, home of the Scottish Crown Jewels, and the Palace of Holyrood*, the Queen’s official residence in Edinburgh and former home of Mary, Queen of Scots. This afternoon you have free time to explore the city or strike up conversations with the locals to hear stories in their distinctive brogue.
Day #4 Edinburgh - St. Andrews - Pitlochry - Aviemore - Travel to St. Andrews, the beautiful town in the Kingdom of Fife that gave the world the game of golf, to see the Royal and Ancient Clubhouse and the famous Old Course. Next, stop at Pitlochry, a vibrant Victorian town. There is time to explore before visiting the Edradour Whisky Distillery, the smallest distillery in Scotland. Taste and see for yourself why Highland malt whisky is considered the world’s finest. Continue to Aviemore, Scotland’s premiere highland resort.
Day #5 Aviemore - Inverness - Thurso - At Inverness, visit the prehistoric burial ground of Clava Cairns where some of the graves date back to 3,000 B.C. Then, visit Culloden Battlefield where, in April 1746, a half-hour battle changed the course of history and the lives of the Highland people. Next, visit the majestic Dunrobin Castle**, built in 1275. Enjoy a fascinating falconry display in the formal gardens overlooking the North Sea. Later, soak in the breathtaking coastal drive along windswept cliffs that overlook Scotland’s pristine Moray Firth. Your day concludes in Thurso where you will visit Caithness Horizons, Thurso’s museum of natural resources.
Day #6 Thurso - Orkney Islands - Thurso - A full day of adventure awaits in the Orkney Islands. Traveling to Gill’s Bay, board a ferry bound for St. Margaret's Hope. On the crossing you’ll see seabirds, perhaps porpoises and seals, and if you are very lucky, the family of otters that live in Gill’s Bay! A local guide introduces this magical place that very few visitors to Scotland get to experience. Visit the Italian Chapel and Skara Brae where you will discover the remains of a Neolithic village built at the same time as Cheops Pyramid in Egypt. Next, pass the prehistoric Ring of Brodgar, reported to be older than Stonehenge. Visit the town of Viking Kirkwall before returning to the mainland.
Day #7 Thurso - Loch Ness - Ballachulish - Today, enjoy stunning and unspoiled landscapes as you travel through Inverness, known for people who delight in the craic - Gaelic for “light hearted chat.” Take in the panorama of Loch Ness, one of Britain’s most scenic bodies of water. Keep your eyes open - you never know when Nessie will appear! Here, enjoy a visit to the striking ruins of Urquhart Castle. Travel through the Great Glen, famous for its many lochs (lakes), before arriving at your hotel situated on lovely Loch Linnhe.
Day #8 Ballachulish - Isle of Skye - Ballachulish - Take the stunningly beautiful ride along the “Road to the Isles” and over the Skye Bridge to the legendary Isle of Skye, also known in poetry and song as Eilean a' Cheò (The Misty Isle). Enjoy dramatic views of the Cuillin Hills. Then, visit Armadale Castle and Gardens*** and the Museum of the Isles where you will learn about island life and the history of Skye. Conclude your visit with views of the isle from yet another vantage point during a ferry crossing back to the mainland. Returning to Ballachulish, see Glenfinnan where Bonnie Prince Charlie rallied the clansmen for battle during the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion.
Day #9 Ballachulish - Drymen - Begin your day with a delightful sheep dog demonstration and the opportunity to learn about Scottish farming at the Scottish Wool Centre in Aberfoyle. Continue to Stirling Castle, first erected 900 years ago and formerly used as a royal residence for the House of Stewart - this is where Mary, Queen of Scots, was crowned in 1543. Join your fellow travelers for a Scottish farewell dinner complete with Scottish piper.
Day #10 Drymen - Tour Ends - Your tour of Scotland comes to a close in Drymen.