Day 1: Arrive in Edinburgh, Scotland
Welcome to Edinburgh! Having cleared customs, you will be greeted by your driver, holding a sign displaying your name, at the information desk in the Arrivals Halls. You will be escorted to your chauffeur-driven car, and your luggage taken care of and loaded into the vehicle. Then you will be driven safely and in comfort to centrally based accommodation. On arrival your driver will unload your luggage. Today, you will enjoy a city tour on board the Edinburgh City Hop on Hop off Sight- seeing Bus. The bus will help you compare Edinburgh’s Old Town to the elegant Georgian New Town, with its 3 main streets and square at either end. Learn about the hangings that took place in the Grassmarket as you marvel at the impenetrable Castle Rock above you, and hear about historic attempts to capture Edinburgh Castle. Drive along the Royal Mile, which joins Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
Today you will visit Edinburgh Castle. See the Crown Jewels and learn about the battles and sieges fought at the castle. Also you will learn about the royals who lived and died within its walls. From the Castle you will see the panoramic views over Edinburgh City. Explore Edinburgh City at your leisure this evening or retire to your centrally based accommodation to rest.
Overnight: Edinburgh – 1 Night
Day 2: St. Andrews & Pitlochry
After a good nights’ rest, take delivery of your Avis Car Rental at 24 East London Street, Edinburgh EH7 4BQ and travel north into Fife. Set off on a coastal route and pass through some picturesque fishing villages of the East Neuk. Elie and Earlsferry, St Monans, Pittenweem, Anstruther and Crail are among them. Continue to St Andrews, a former royal burgh named after Saint Andrew the Apostle. The town is home to the University of St Andrews, the third oldest university in the English- speaking world and the oldest in Scotland.
Next follow in the footsteps of countless kings and explore the unique collection of porcelain, ivories and French furniture with a visit to Scone Palace in Perth. Scone Palace was the crowning place of Scottish kings where Macbeth, Robert the Bruce and Charles II were once crowned.
Continue onto the bustling town of Pitlochry where you will visit Blair Athol Distillery, home to Bell’s Whiskey, for a fine whiskey tasting. Time permitting you may consider a visit to Blair Castle, the ancient seat of the Dukes and Earls of Atholl and home to Europe’s last remaining private army, the Atholl Highlanders. The remainder of the evening will be at your leisure.
Overnight: Pitlochry – 1 Night
Day 3: Royal Deeside, Moray Speyside & Inverness
Make your way through the Cairngorm’s this morning and descend into Braemer in the heart of Royal Deeside. From here you will begin your castle trail. Royal Deeside is home to many fine castles and has more castles per square mile that just about any part of Scotland. Today you will visit Braemer Castle, a 17th century castle with a colourful past and an exciting future. Built by the Earl of Mar in 1628, it has been hunting lodge, fortress, garrison and family home. See the castellated turrets, a star shaped curtain wall and a bottle necked dungeon. You will also see Balmoral Castle where Her Majesty the Queen traditionally spends her annual holiday time.
Continue into the heart of Speyside where you will have the opportunity to explore some of Speyside’s finest distilleries. The Whiskey Trail is made up of eight distilleries and a cooperage. Included are Benromach Distillery, Speyside’s smallest working distillery and Strathisla Distillery, the oldest in the Highlands. Other distilleries include Cardhu, Dallas Dhu, Glen Grant, Glen Moray, Glenfiddich, The Glenlivet and Speyside Cooperage.
Continue along the Moray coast where you will discover some picturesque fishing villages, secluded coves and magnificent beaches. Perhaps make a brief stop in Elgin with its cobbled marketplace and crooked lanes. See the historic ruins of the 13th century cathedral which is crucial to the history of Elgin. Travel through Cawdor which is home to the romantic 14th century Cawdor Castle, best known for its literary connection to William Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth. Continue on to Inverness on the banks of the River Ness for an evening at your leisure. You will see Inverness Castle, now used as a court house, which sits picturesquely over the city. Explore some of the historic buildings in the Old Town, browse some of the city shops or enjoy a great selection of cafes and restaurants this evening.
Overnight: Inverness – 1 Night
Day 4: Isle of Skye
Take this morning to continue your exploration of Inverness. Today you will visit Culloden Battlefield where you will learn about the battle which took place on 16th April 1746. The battle marked the end of 1745 Jacobite Rebellion and is still a moving place to visit. Uncover the background to this ferocious and brutal battle as you walk around the moorland and see the various monuments commemorating troops.
Depart Inverness and travel along the shores of Loch Ness. There will be an opportunity to explore the impressive ruins of Urquhart Castle before turning into the wilderness of Wester Ross and the mountains of Kintail. Today you will pay a visit to one of Scotland’s most iconic castles, Eilean Donan. The castle is situated on its own island and looks out over the Isle of Skye. Witness some truly outstanding scenery at the point where three great sea-lochs meet.
Cross over Skye Bridge and head for Broadford where you might like to break for some lunch. Enjoy the wonder the wonderful views over the bay before continuing forth to the Island capital, Portree. With colourful houses and a traditional harbour, Portree overlooks a sheltered bay and has an old fashioned yet charming appeal. Enjoy an abundance of cafes and restaurants this evening.
Overnight: Isle of Skye – 1 Night
Day 5: Skye & Oban
Spend some time exploring Skye this morning before departing. Today you will visit Dunvegan Castlem & Gardens which is the ancestral home of the Chiefs of Clan MacLeod. Built on a rocky outcrop on the shores of Loch Dunvegan once entirely encircled by the sea, Dunvegan is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland. Make your way along the coast and perhaps pay a visit to Carbost, home of the Talisker Distillery. Unravel the intangible mysteries of this magical Isle as you head back to the mainland.
Make your way towards Oban where on route, you might like to like make a brief stop at Fort William which lies in the shadow of Ben Nevis. Travel through Glencoe which is probably Scotland’s most famous and most scenic Highland glen – and deservedly so. Experience the dramatic beauty and breathtaking serenity of this vast sweeping pass.
Arrive in Oban, the Seaford Capital of Scotland. The town is situated in a crescent occupying the hills surrounding Oban Bay. See McCaigs Tower, the Colosseum lookalike which stands dramatically over the town and perhaps if you like you could even climb from the town as the 10 minute walk is well worth the effort as you can witness the peaceful gardens inside the tower and the spectacular views over the town and nearby islands. Enjoy a wide selection of cafes and award winning restaurants this evening.
Overnight: Oban – 1 Night
Day 6: The Trossachs & Sterling
Today you will visit the historic Oban Distillery which is both one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland and one of the smallest with just two pot stills. Pre-dating the town of Oban, it was originally established in 1794 by brothers John and Hugh Stevenson. It underwent a refurbishment in the 1890s and there has been little change to the present buildings since then. The distillery’s tours offer visitors the chance to witness the traditional craftsmanship of whisky production first-hand before enjoying complimentary drams of the Oban 14 year old West Highland Malt.
Today you will travel along Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park. Loch Lomond is the largest freshwater expanse in mainland Britain. Mountains loom to the north, while a scattering of islands can be found at the south end of the loch. Continue to Stirling to visit the iconic Sterling Castle, one of Scotland’s most historically important sites. It was once a favoured residence of the Stewart kings and queens who held grand celebrations at the castle. Return to Edinburgh this evening in preparation for your departure flight the following day.
Overnight: Edinburgh – 1 Night
Day 7: Depart
Make your way to Edinburgh Airport this morning in plenty of time to return your car rental and check in for your departure flight.
Slan Go Foill (Goodbye For Now!)