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Summary

In Brief

  • 1 Night Sleeper Train
  • 1 Night Fort William
  • 2 Nights Isle of Skye
  • 2 Nights Durness
  • 2 Nights Orkney
  • 1 Night Inverness
  • 2 Nights Edinburgh

About

Recommended for:
Activity adventure | History & culture | Natural world | Self-drive

On our Highlights of Scotland tour you'll stay in our carefully selected four-star guest houses - where you can enjoy the very best in Scottish hospitality at the end of each day of adventures.

Our suggested driving route starts in the port town of Fort William, before continuing on to Portree on the Isle of Skye, Durness in the remote northwest Highlands and on to Kirkwall on the Orkney Islands. Returning to the mainland, you'll drive south at your own pace, stopping at Inverness and lastly in Edinburgh, where the tour finishes. In between, you'll travel through some of Scotland's most dramatic Highland, loch-side and island landscapes.

Day by day itinerary

Day 1
Journey to Fort William

Journey by Sleeper Train to Fort William on Scotland's spectacular west coast.

Stay: Sleeper Train

Day 2
Fort William

A wonderfully scenic journey takes you across the wilderness of Rannoch Moor and into the heart of the Highlands. Your destination is Fort William located on Scotland's west coast at the foot of Ben Nevis, the UK's highest mountain.

On arrival you may enjoy a complimentary whisky or sherry in the hotel's reading lounge, which enjoys views down to the River Nevis and the surrounding town.

Stay: 4-star guesthouse, Fort William (B)

Day 3
Isle of Skye

Collect your hire car and travel on the magnificent Road to the Isles and then by ferry over the sea to the Isle of Skye. The short sailing across the Sound of Sleat provides great views of Skye and back across to the west coast.

Your accommodation during your stay in Portree is situated on a scenic promontory overlooking Portree harbour and is set in its own immaculately kept grounds with superb views of Portree Bay and the Cuillin Mountains. From the lounge and conservatory you can enjoy the outstanding views over Portree Bay to the Old Man of Storr and Raasay or even better if the weather is fine relax and enjoy the scenery from the large garden and patio area.

Stay: 4-star guesthouse, Isle of Skye (B)

Day 4
Isle of Skye

A full day on Skye to visit romantic Dunvegan Castle, sample some fine Island whiskies, enjoy a great day's walking or climb aboard a fabulous cruise which will take you into the heart of the Cuillin Mountains.

Stay: 4-star guesthouse, Isle of Skye (B)

Day 5
Durness

After two nights sampling Island life, leave the Isle of Skye behind and travel to the picturesque village of Plockton. On the western seaboard, the village of Plockton is set in an incomparable location on a sheltered bay of Loch Carron, surrounded by a bowl of hills.

After a leisurely visit to Plockton continue to travel a few miles east, where you will pass the most recognisable and photographed of Scotland's Castles, Eilean Donan. Situated on an offshore islet and magically linked to the mainland with a stone-arched bridge, the first castle was built here in 1230.

Enjoy some truly spectacular scenery as you travel through Torridon, the pretty village of Gairloch and Ullapool on the shores of Loch Broom. The coastline here is broken by a series of pebble bays and it's a great place to get away from it all. In summer, there are boat tours to the Summer Isles, which are still used as seasonal sheep pastures by local crofters.

As you travel further north you'll pass the spectacular peaks of Cul Mor, Stac Pollaidh and Cul Beag before continuing into the areas known as Caithness and Sutherland both of which are full of wonderful Highland scenery.

We suggest that you travel on the coast road that will eventually lead you to Durness, in the far northwest corner of Scotland. This spectacularly located village is tucked away between several gorgeous white-sand beaches and is a magical place to stay.

Stay: 4-star guesthouse, Durness (B)

Day 6
Durness

Durness is a perfect spot for relaxing beach-front strolls and the village also boasts the spectacular Smoo Cave, a sea cave which you can explore by boat or by foot. Evidence has been found of human occupation here dating back 5000 years, and elsewhere in the area archaeology suggests pictish farming settlements going back over 2000 years.

Walk into Sandwood Bay, one of the most beautiful beaches in the British Isles or enjoy a guided trip to Cape Wrath, the most North-Westerly point in Scotland. See some of Britain's highest cliffs, seabirds and wildlife and spectacular Cape Wrath lighthouse.

Stay: 4-star guesthouse, Durness (B)

Day 7
Kirkwall, Orkney Islands

Travel along Scotland's northern coast to the small town of Scrabster. From here you'll continue your northward journey by sea, across the Pentland Firth to the picturesque town of Stromness on the wonderful Orkney Islands.

Orkney is an archipelago of 70 or so islands and skerries, of which 17 are currently inhabited. The islands are low-lying, gently sloping and richly fertile with the exception of the Island of Hoy, which is both high and rugged.

Orkney's famous archaeology, superb wildlife, breathtaking landscapes, and a traditional island welcome are well known and many people return again and again to drink at the wellspring of ancient culture and modern hospitality.

Stay: 4-star guesthouse, Kirkwall (B)

Day 8
Orkney Islands

Spend the day exploring the two main towns on the Mainland. The fishing port of Stromness is the very image of an island town, with a narrow, flagstone-paved main street and tiny alleyways leading down to the waterfront. Meanwhile, Kirkwall is the capital of Orkney and was once a Viking stronghold. This bustling market town is set back from a wide bay and is home to Highland Park Distillery and the magnificent St Magnus Cathedral, the most spectacular Viking structure.

Alternatively, take a day trip to visit one of the other Orkney Islands. You may choose to soak up the wonderful peace and quiet on remote Papa Westray by taking the shortest scheduled flight in the world. Or visit the wild and hilly Island of Hoy, with its towering cliffs and the spectacular Old Man of Hoy. Shapinsay has a fine castle and wonderful beaches, while the isolated isle of North Ronaldsay is the most northerly, surrounded by powerful rolling seas and seemingly endless skies.

Stay: 4-star guesthouse, Kirkwall (B)

Day 9
Inverness

This morning you will take the ferry back to the mainland before descending through a wild and vastly un-inhabited area to Inverness. You will soon arrive in the beautiful countryside of the Black Isle in Easter Ross, a truly spectacular part of the world, before you arrive at your destination in Inverness - the Capital of the Highlands. Attractively set on the banks of the River Ness, Inverness is the gateway to the Great Glen and the brooding stillness of Loch Ness, 'home' of the Loch Ness Monster.

Stay: 4-star guesthouse, Inverness (B)

Day 10
Edinburgh

Your journey takes you south along the Great Glen back to Fort William. You may wish to stop in Fort Augustus and take a cruise on Loch Ness aboard the Royal Scot - cruises depart on the hour from 10am and last one hour.

Once back in Fort William, return your hire car and continue your journey south by train to Edinburgh, Scotland's majestic capital City. Edinburgh is a great place to wander, with a wealth of narrow cobbled alleys and hidden courtyards tempt you off the main streets at every turn and for one of the most spectacular views of any city in the world just take a walk up Arthur's Seat.

Stay: 4-star guesthouse, Edinburgh (B)

Day 11
Edinburgh

Enjoy a City Sightseeing Bus Tour, a visit to Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyrood House and explore the many attractions of this beautiful city.

Day 12
Departure

Depart Edinburgh for your journey home.

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