Orkney and Scotland's Northern Coast
Escape to the rugged northern coastline, the mysterious Loch Ness, the Caledonian
forests of Cairngorm National Park, and the magical beauty of the Orkney archipelago. You will unearth some of the most well-preserved prehistoric sites in Europe, including castles, Nordic ruins, and a famous battle site. You will also have a chance to find the Loch Ness Monster, and explore the beautiful red sandstone coast, while learning about the vibrant culture of these remote island communities.
4 Nights Accommodations at
B&B or 3* Hotel
All Ground Transfers via
Daily Touring with
Daily Breakfast (other meals
Meet your guide at the Edinburgh Bus station located at St Andrew's Square at 8:30am (pre-night required). You'll head towards Stirling, passing historic Stirling Castle and the William Wallace Monument.
You'll also view Doune Castle (site of Monty Python's Holy Grail.) before stopping in the small town of Callander for refreshments. You'll cross over the fault line into the magnificent Highlands, taking in the splendor of Loch Luibnaig, Loch Earn, Glen Ogle and Glen Dochart. Continuing north, we travel over the wild and remote Rannoch Moor into Glencoe. The stunning views and spectacular landscapes of the super (extinct) volcano and scene of the infamous massacre of the Clan MacDonald in 1692, are not to be missed.
A stop at the imposing mountain Glen is included so you can snap some pictures and enjoy the spectacular
views. You continue north up the Great Glen to the mysterious beauty of Loch Ness, traveling the entire 23 miles of the famous Loch; plenty of time to try and spot Nessie!
Arriving in Inverness, you will be dropped off at your booked accommodation. The remainder of the day is at your leisure to explore this compact, cosmopolitan city on the banks of River Ness.
After a hearty Scottish breakfast, it's an early start as you leave behind Inverness, crossing over the Black Isle, and past Andrew Carnegie's Skibo Castle. From here you drive through the northeast Highland coastline, traveling into some of Scotland's most dramatic scenery. Enjoy amazing views of some of Europe's oldest landscapes and the chance to see wildlife, such as golden eagles and red deer. Soon you arrive at Scotland's most northerly point of mainland Britain; John o' Groats, and then to Gills Bay, where you'll board the ferry, crossing the Pentland Firth into the Orkney Archipelago.
From here it's a short drive to the famous Italian Chapel. After a visit, we continue to the former Viking stronghold of Kirkwall, the capital of Orkney. Enjoy the sights, including the magnificent St. Magnus Cathedral, shopping along the historic winding streets, and maybe sample a wee dram at the Highland Park Distillery; of what the Scots call "their water of life".
(Breakfast, Inverness; Accommodations, Kirkwall)
Today you'll explore this fantastic, ancient island; a land of contrasts where fertile
green pastures are fringed by shores of golden sands washed by waters of the North Sea and
Atlantic Ocean. You'll visit the 5000 year old village of Skara Brae (older than the Pyramids of
Egypt!), the mystical prehistoric stone circle at Brodgar, and the Druidic standing stones of
Stenness. Then you'll have a brief stop in Stromness, one of Scotland's most picturesque
seaboard villages. You'll continue onto Maeshowe, where in the 12th Century the Vikings left
one of the largest collections of Norse runic inscriptions. Later in the day, you'll return to Kirkwall.
(Breakfast & Accommodations, Kirkwall)
After breakfast, you'll depart Orkney and sail the Viking waters back to the
mainland. From here you travel the old road right across the very top of Scotland, driving past
the golden sand beaches of their northern coastline. You then visit the far northwest highlands,
passing Ben Loyal, Ben Hope, Durness, and Assynt, before stopping to view the 15th century
ruins of Ardvreck Castle. The scenery along the way is among the most dramatic in all of
Scotland. From here, it's a short distance to Ullapool, staying overnight in this quaint,
whitewashed fishing village.
(Breakfast, Kirkwall; Accommodations, Ullapool)
Leaving Ullapool behind you, take in the drama of the River Droma as it plunges 197 ft
(60 meters) down into Corrieshalloch Gorge. Just outside of Inverness, you'll visit Culloden Moor,
the site of The Battle of Culloden in 1746. The pitched battle was an attempt to reinstate a Stuart
monarch on the throne of Britain, and is today considered one of the most significant clashes in
British history. We'll take a short drive to the ancient standing stones at Clava Cairns, made famous
by Diana Gabaldon in the "Outlander" books. This prehistoric and stunning Bronze Age burial ground
is one of the oldest in Scotland. From here you travel through the ancient Caledonian Pine Forest, hugging
the Cairngorm Mountain Range. Enjoy lunch in these beautiful surroundings before traveling
through big tree country of Perthshire and the Kingdom of Fife. Later in the day, you'll return to Edinburgh
and on to your next Avanti Destination!
** Itinerary and inclusions are subject to change