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The Scottish Highlands RECOMMENDATIONS See all

3 Days in the Scottish Highlands: Suggested Itineraries

By Viator, September 2013

4.5 151 Reviews | Add your review

The ruggedly beautiful Scottish Highlands is one of the last wildernesses in Europe. Here, a heritage of romance and individualism mirror a magnificent backdrop of powerful seas, imposing mountains and verdant flora. Due to a history of migrations and the Highlands’ challenging geography, this region is one of the most sparsely populated places in the world. The quiet beauty of the Highlands is but one of its draws; on a three-day itinerary you’ll also get to see its wildlife and a history that dates back to the Stone Age.

Day 1: The Islands and Skara Brae

On your first day, take a day trip to the Orkney Islands. Departing from Inverness, the Highlands’ capital, you’ll take a ferry to Orkneys, an archipelago on the north end of Scotland. As you cross the Pentland Firth, keep your eyes peeled for puffins, seals and even whales. Once you have disembarked, your journey really begins. By coach, you’ll visit the capital town of Kirkwall, home to the Viking cathedral of St. Magnus, and continue on to the Orkneys’ famous prehistoric artifacts.  As you cross the islands, you’ll be awed by some of the oldest and most-intact Neolithic sites in Europe, in particular, the Stone Age village of Skara Brae. Skara Brae predates Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids, and along with Ring of Brodgar and the Standing Stones of Stenness, it is a fascinating glimpse into human history and social development. The tour concludes at John O’Groats, the northernmost tip of Scotland. The tour is about 14 hours, so you’ll want to pack refreshments.

Day 2: John O'Groats

If you didn’t get enough wildlife on your trip to the Orkneys, consider a wildlife cruise from John O’Groats. This trip is relatively short; at 90 minutes, it’s a fun and informative jaunt filled with plenty of opportunities to photograph the Highland’s spectacular scenery, as well as its abundant birdlife. Puffins, razorbills and kittiwakes all make their home amid the rugged cliffs, and you can also see Atlantic gray seals, porpoises and the occasional whale. Spend the morning exploring John O’Groats and take this tour in the afternoon; in particular, you’ll want to see the Stacks of Duncansby, three peculiar rock formations jutting out of the sea. These and other amazing, natural architecture are the real reason for visiting John O’Groats, as they are some of the most impressive natural formations in the world.

Day 3: Nessie's Place

You might want to make your last day in the Highlands an options-open sort of affair. For starters, there’s Loch Ness. This 23 mi (37 km) long lake is most famous for 'Nessie,' the mysterious sea creature who may or may not inhabit its chilly waters; boat cruises allow visitors a chance to search for the monster, though your chances of finding it are slim. Urquhart Castle, on the loch’s western shore, is popular with locals and visitors. Other attractions in and around Inverness include Fort George, an 18th century fortress and museum; the Clava Cairns, burial sites that are thousands of years old; and the allegedly haunted Castle Stuart. Inverness is also well-known for a fairly vibrant nightlife; its bars and pubs are popular stops for the best in regional live music.

Tours & Tickets

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Isle of Skye Day Trip from Inverness

4.5 star rating: Recommended 22 Reviews

Explore the romantic Isle of Skye on a full-day trip from Inverness. Taking in spectacular Highland scenery, your tour passes Loch Ness and the ruins of ...  Read more

Location: Inverness, United Kingdom
Duration: 10 hours (approx.)

From USD $83.55

Scottish Highland Games Day Trip from Edinburgh

4.5 star rating: Recommended 9 Reviews

Don’t miss the opportunity to experience the color and energy of the unique Scottish Highlands Games on a day trip from Edinburgh. See men in kilts tossing the ...  Read more

Location: Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 9 hours 30 minutes (approx.)

From USD $95.48

Orkney Islands Day Trip from Inverness

4.5 star rating: Recommended 75 Reviews

This day trip from Inverness visits some of the main attractions of the Orkney Islands including Skara Brae, The Churchill Barriers, Scapa Flow, The Ring of ...  Read more

Location: Inverness, United Kingdom
Duration: 14 hours (approx.)

From USD $107.42

Orkney Islands Day Trip from John O'Groats

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 39 Reviews

Explore the Orkney Islands on this day trip from John O'Groats. Take the ferry and island hop across the Churchill Barriers to visit Kirkwall, home to the ...  Read more

Location: John O'Groats, United Kingdom
Duration: 11 hours (approx.)

From USD $90.37

Best of the Scottish Highlands Tour from Inverness: Black Isle, Loch Ness and Scotch Whisky

3 star rating: Worth doing 3 Reviews

Venture through Scotland’s Highlands on a full-day trip from Inverness with an expert guide. Traveling by luxury minivan, you’ll explore the area known as the ...  Read more

Location: Inverness, United Kingdom
Duration: 8 hours (approx.)

From USD $71.61

John o’Groats and Duncansby Head Day Trip from Inverness

Visit the northeastern tip of the British mainland on this must-do day trip to John o’Groats and Duncansby Head from Inverness. Traveling by luxury minivan ...  Read more

Location: Inverness, United Kingdom
Duration: 10 hours (approx.)

From USD $83.55

Wildlife Cruise from John O'Groats

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 2 Reviews

Enjoy a spectacular afternoon Wildlife cruise from John O'Groats this summer. Pass rugged cliff scenery and see arctic skuas, storm petrels, colonies of ...  Read more

Location: John O'Groats, United Kingdom
Duration: 90 minutes (approx.)

From USD $20.46

Applecross Peninsula Day Trip from Inverness

Visit the land that time forgot – the magnificent Applecross Peninsula – on Scotland’s wonderfully windswept west coast. Remote and isolated, yet only a couple ...  Read more

Location: Inverness, United Kingdom
Duration: 9 hours (approx.)

From USD $71.61

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