On this 11-day Caledonian Explorer itinerary, explore the iconic areas in Scotland at a relaxed pace and experience what this truly fascinating country has to offer. This tour starts in Edinburgh and finishes in Glasgow, taking in both cities with a huge amount of exploration in between including the Highlands and the Isle of Skye.
- Edinburgh: Castle and the Royal Mile
- St Andrews: Cathedral and the famous Old Course
- Cairngorm National Park
- Highland Folk Museum
- Culloden Battlefield
- Dunrobin Castle
- Isle of Skye
- Loch Ness (Monster sighting not guaranteed)
- Glenfinnan Viaduct and Monument
- Glencoe and Rannoch Moor
- Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park
- Stirling Castle
- Glasgow Cathedral and Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery
* Additional day can be added to go to Ayrshire and Robert Burns Country
DAY 1: ARRIVAL INTO EDINBURGH
09:00 – Take a panoramic tour of the City including Holyrood Park and Arthurs Seat.
11:00 – Tour of Edinburgh Castle
12:30 – Lunch
14:00 – Continue to explore on foot by walking the Royal Mile and Greyfriars Graveyard.
15:30 – Take coach or walk to hotel and check in for a 2 night stay.
Overnight Stay Edinburgh
DAY 2: PANORAMIC TOUR AND VISITS TO THE ROYAL YACHT BRITANNIA AND ROSSLYN CHAPEL
10:00 – Visit the Royal Yacht Britannia (Self-guided with audio tour)
12:30 – Continue back into Edinburgh and stop for lunch.
13:00 – Lunch
15:00 – Depart city centre for visit to Rosslyn Chapel *
The Chapel has talks conducted by their onsite staff included in the ticket.
17:00 – Depart Rosslyn and take the short journey back to Edinburgh.
Overnight stay in Edinburgh
*An Alternative to Rosslyn Chapel would be a Holyrood Palace visit in the city centre
Holyrood Palace is the official Royal residence in Scotland. Here you can explore the many state rooms and chambers including the Long Gallery and the apartments of Mary Queen of Scots. The ruined Augustinian Abbey founded by David I in 1128 is also within the grounds.
DAY 3: FIFE, ST. ANDREWS, AND ENTERING THE HIGHLANDS!
09:00 – Depart Hotel and journey north out of Edinburgh.
09:45 – Arrive in South Queensferry for views of the Forth rail and the road bridges.
10:15 – Depart South Queensferry, cross over the River Forth and tour around picturesque fishing villages in the ‘East Neuk’ of Fife.
12:00 – Arrive in St Andrews
13:00 – Enjoy St Andrews at your leisure and there are a huge variety of places to have lunch, shop and of course get great photos of the Swilken Bridge on the 18th Fairway and the West Sands Beach which is famous for the opening scene of Chariots of Fire.
14:30 – Depart St Andrews and travel through Fife towards the Highlands.
16:00 – Arrive in Dunkeld
The name Dunkeld means ‘Fort of the Caledonians’ in Gaelic. Enjoy a walkthrough the town to the Cathedral on the banks of the River Tay.
16:45 – Depart Dunkeld and travel to Pitlochry.
17:20 – Arrive Pitlochry.
Overnight in Pitlochry. Pitlochry is a picturesque Victorian town with plenty of charm.
DAY 4: CAIRNGORM NATIONAL PARK AND CULLODEN MOOR
09:00 – Depart Pitlochry and take the short journey to Blair Atholl.
Get your first views of the Perthshire countryside. Drive past the Pass of Killiecrankie which was the site of where the Jacobites led by ‘Bonnie Dundee’ defeated an army of Williamite Royalists.
09:30 – Arrive at Blair Castle and grounds for a visit and guided tour.
Blair Castle is the seat of the Clan Murray and the Dukes of Atholl. Enjoy its rich history and explore its stunning grounds. Look out for the Blair Atholl Highland Cattle!
11:00 – Depart Blair Castle and travel north through the Grampian Mountains.
The scenery becomes more rugged and dramatic as you continue north.
12:15 – Lunch in Newtonmore
13:30 – Visit the Highland Folk Museum in Newtonmore.
This is an open air museum which gives visitors a flavour of what it would have been like living in the Highlands in the 1700’s. The re-constructed Highland Village was also used in the TV series Outlander.
14:40 – Depart the Highland Folk Museum and travel further north towards Inverness.
Here you will get great views of the Cairngorm Mountains within the largest National Park in Scotland.
16:00 – Arrive at Culloden Moor and Visitors Centre.
The site of the last pitched battle on British soil – here you will learn about the fate of the last Jacobite attempt to put James Francis Stuart on the throne, led by his son Bonnie Prince Charlie.
17:30 – Depart Culloden and take the short journey to Inverness, the Capital of the Highlands, our base of 2 nights.
Overnight for 2 nights Inverness
DAY 5: THE BLACK ISLE, SUTHERLAND AND DUNROBIN CASTLE
09:00 – Depart Inverness taking the Kessock Bridge over the Moray Firth, Cromarty Firth towards Portmahomack.
View the rolling and fertile countryside of the Black Isle and get views of the high peaks of Easter Ross. Here we learn of the ancient peoples of Scotland and hear stories about the Picts, Scots and Vikings.
10:20 – Arrive at Tarbat Discovery Centre, Portmahomack.
This old church has been converted into an interactive museum with incredible ancient artefacts including Pictish carved stone slabs.
11:20 – Depart Portmahomack and travel over the Dornoch Firth to the town of Dornoch
12:00 – Enjoy an early lunch here in Dornoch and explore its shops and beautiful Beaches.
Dornoch also has a championship golf course as well as a stunning Cathedral which is where Madonna and Guy Ritchie were married.
13:10 – Depart Dornoch and travel to Dunrobin Castle the seat of the powerful Sutherland Family.
13:45 – Arrive Dunrobin Castle and visit the Castle and Grounds.
This is an incredible building with many rooms to explore. There is also a falconry display at 1400 included in the ticket. Learn of the family history dating back to the 13th Century and take photographs of this Scottish Baronial style Castle.
15:40 – Depart Dunrobin Castle and travel back to Inverness.
Time and weather permitting you can go via Cromarty to see Dolphins and great views of the Moray Firth.
17:00 – Arrive Inverness for an overnight stay.
DAY 6: LOCH NESS AND TRAVELLING TO THE ISLE OF SKYE
09:00 – Depart Inverness and travel south down the Great Glen with views of the Northern part of Loch Ness.
09:30 – Arrive at the Clansman Harbour and take a boat trip on Loch Ness with Jacobite Cruises. Take this cruise and get the best views of the Loch – keep your eyes out for any unusual sightings!
Loch Ness is an enormous body of water some 23 miles long but over 290 meters deep. Learn of its geography as well as its legends.
11:00 – Arrive by cruise at Urquhart Castle and discover this iconic ruin.
You will be able to see at first hand the turbulent history of Urquhart Castle that was a vital fortress protecting the waterway of Loch Ness. It was largely destroyed in 1690 by the occupiers at the time – the Grant family, to avoid their enemies from taking it. It is an ideal place for photos of the Loch.
12:00 – Lunch in nearby Drumnadrochit or Invermoriston.
13:40 – Depart the Loch Ness area and travel west along Glen Moriston.
The scenery is incredible as you go from Glen Moriston to Glen Shiel with jagged peaks and eventually opening out to a Sea Loch – Loch Duich.
15:00 – Arrive at Eilean Donan Castle for photographs and a visit.
This is perhaps the most photographed Castle in Scotland and was used in films such as the ‘Highlander’, ‘Entrapment’ and James Bond ‘The World is not enough’.
16:20 – Depart Eilean Donan and drive over the Bridge to the Isle of Skye.
Overnight on Isle of Skye – 2 nights
Hint: Skye gets very busy, to ensure you get a place to stay on the island book in advance!
DAY 7: ISLE OF SKYE DAY TOUR
This day tour allows you to explore all the best sights and places on the Island at a relaxing pace.
09:00 – Depart the hotel and journey around the Trotternish penninsula. This island is filled with stories of the Faerie folk, the Cuillin Mountains and Clan histories. Enjoy many photo opportunities of places such as Kilt Rock, the Old Man of Storr, The Quiraing.
Skye’s is the largest of the Inner Hebrides and has a unique landscape and history. Much of its place names reflect its Norse history when the Vikings occupied the Island.
12:30 – Enjoy Lunch and a visit at Dunvegan Castle.
Dunvegan has been owned by the MacLeod Family for generations and has a fascinating history. The grounds are great to explore and look out for seals at the beach.
14:00 – Depart Dunvegan and travel down the dramatic coast line to Talisker.
14:45 – Arrive at Talisker Whisky Distillery and take a guided tour at 1500.
Talisker has been producing an Island Single Malt since 1830 and here you will get a chance to try its product and learn about how Scotland’s National drink is made.
16:30 – Depart Talisker and further explore the Island travelling back to your hotel for the night.
17:30 – Arrive back to hotel
Overnight Isle of Skye.
DAY 8: SKYE TO STIRLING – via GLENFINNAN, FORT WILLIAM AND GLENCOE
08:30 – Depart Hotel.
09:00 – Visit the Clan Donald Centre in Armadale, Skye.
Here you can explore the ruins of the MacDonald Castle overlooking the Sound of Sleat. The gardens are wonderful to explore as is the museum which tells you about the MacDonald Clan and the Lords of the Isles.
10:00 – Depart the Clan Donald Centre and take the very short drive to the Ferry Port at Armadale.
10:40 – Take the ferry crossing back to the Mainland with fabulous views of the Isles of Rum and Eigg. The crossing takes around 45 minutes.
11:30 – Arrive at the Mallaig and drive down the ‘Road to the Isles’.
This is a lovely journey looking at where Bonnie Prince Charlie first landed on the Mainland in 1745.
12:20 – Arrive at Glenfinnan for views of the Viaduct famously used in Harry Potter. Walk up to the view point or over to the Glenfinnan monument on the banks of Loch Shiel.
12:40 – Depart Glenfinnan and continue to Fort William.
Look out for views of Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest Mountain.
13:20 – Lunch in Fort William
Fort William has a pedestrianised main street lined with shops, bars and cafes. It is fun and to explore this lively town,
15:00 – Depart Fort William and travel along the banks of Loch Linnhe. Then head east into what is perhaps the most spectacular Glens in Scotland – Glencoe.
16:30 – Depart Glencoe area and travel down towards Stirling getting great view points on the way.
Cross back over the Highland Line again as we get closer to Stirling. Look out for views of Doune Castle which was used in the Film Monty Python and the Holy Grail and also in Outlander.
Approx 18:00 – Arrive into Stirling
Overnight in Stirling for 1 night.
DAY 9: STIRLING CASTLE AND LOCH LOMOND
09:20 – Depart hotel and drive up to Stirling Castle
09:30 – Tour the Castle. Highlights include the Great Hall, The Stirling Heads, The Royal Palace to name just a few. You will also get spectacular views of the Wallace Monument and surrounding countryside.
11:20 – Depart Stirling Castle and travel west towards Loch Lomond, Britain’s largest inland Lake and also has a famous song about it!
12:40 – Arrive at the conservation village of Luss on the Western Shores of Loch Lomond.
We will be travelling through old Macgregor territory with tales abound about the most famous of its clansmen – Rob Roy.
13:00 – Enjoy lunch at Luss
14:30 – Depart Luss and travel towards Glasgow, Scotland’s largest City and our base for 3 nights.
15:40 – Arrive in Glasgow to check in and time to explore the city.
Overnight for 2 nights in Glasgow
DAY 10: DAY TOUR OF GLASGOW
This day tour explores Glasgow’s past and present and tells you about its beginnings to its industrial heritage and why it was referred to as the ‘2nd City of Empire’.
09:30 – Take a tour of Glasgow
Highlights include George Square, Modern Art Gallery, High Street, Doulton Fountain.
10:30 – Arrive at Glasgow Cathedral and walk around this historic building. You will also be able to visit the St. Mungo Museum of Religious Life.
Find out about Glasgow’s Patron Saint – St. Mungo and the changes Glasgow Cathedral made throughout the ages. Get views of the Necropolis – the burial place for many of Glasgow’s wealthy Merchants.
12:00 – Depart Glasgow Cathedral and continue on your tour of Glasgow taking in the University buildings and West End.
12:45 – Arrive at Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery.
Discover some of the highlights then explore ‘Glasgow’s Portal to the World’.
Kelvingrove Art Gallery opened in 1901 and displays a huge amount of art and exhibits from all over the word. It’s most famous piece of art is Salvador Dali’s Christ of Saint John of the Cross.
Have lunch at Kelvingrove
15:00 – Tour back to the City Centre – Have more time to explore the city. The Modern Art Gallery and the City Chambers are recommended to visit and if shopping is needed then a walk down Buchanan Street is a must.
Overnight stay in Glasgow
DAY 11: FAREWELL AND AIRPORT TRANSFER
Depart hotel for short transfer to Glasgow airport. We hope you have enjoyed this 11-day caledonian explorer tour
ADDITIONAL DAY OPTION
An additional day option when in Glasgow would be to tour down to Ayrshire and visit the Burns Heritage centre and Birthplace museum.