Your 5-day excursion of Scotland’s rugged Highlands and the Isle of Skye begins in Edinburgh, where you’ll meet your guide and group. You’ll set off in the morning by luxury van to your first destination: Stirling Castle. During the next days, you’ll travel by coach, ferry and on the famous Jacobite Steam Train. Witness the best of the region, from brooding historic landmarks like William Wallace monument, Eilean Donan Castle, Clan Donald Skye and Culloden Battlefield to the stunning natural settings of Loch Ness and the Rannoch Moors. Enjoy group tours by day and free time to explore Oban, Isle of Skye and Inverness by night.
Your tour includes round-trip transport, four nights stay in a 3-star hotel or guesthouse and daily breakfasts. Also included is admission to the Loch Ness boat cruise and Tomatin whisky distillery.
Day 1: Edinburgh – Stirling – Highlands – Oban
Leave the Royal Mile in central Edinburgh by air-conditioned coach, and head north to the ancient Scottish capital of Stirling to see the site of the Battle of Stirling Bridge — a fight that took place during the 13th-century First War of Scottish Independence. From the site, take in stunning views of Stirling Caste and the towering Wallace Monument.
Travel through the wild plains of Rannoch Moor and into brooding Glencoe, site of the massacre of 1692. Gaze out of your window at the scenery, pass the Isles of the Dead, and continue to Oban, a lovely west coast fishing port where your overnight accommodation awaits.
Overnight: 3-star guesthouse or hotel in Oban
Day 2: Oban – Jacobite Steam Train – Isle of Skye (B)
After breakfast, travel along the west coast by coach, and then take the Jacobite Steam Train from Fort William to Mallaig — a journey voted by UK travel magazine Wanderlust as the 'top rail journey in the world.’ The train itself starred as Hogwarts Express in many of the Harry Potter films, and its route crosses Glenfinnan viaduct — a sight made famous in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
Relax as you pass the village of Glenfinnan, where bonnie Prince Charlie raised his standard at the start of the failed Jacobite campaign, and hop off the train at Mallaig. Then, board your ferry and travel across the sea to the beautiful Isle of Skye, typified by its awe-inspiring mountains, myths and legends. Your first stop on the island is Clan Donald Skye, a sweeping 20,000-acre (8,094-hectare) estate, for a walk around before your final journey of the day to the island’s capital Portree. Check in to your accommodation and spend your night at leisure.
Overnight: 3-star guesthouse or hotel in Portree, Isle of Skye
Day 3: Isle of Skye – Eilean Donan Castle – Loch Ness – Inverness (B)
Enjoy breakfast in your accommodation and then spend your morning exploring the Isle of Skye with your guide. Visit the Quiraing rock formation at Trotternish Ridge, stroll around Kilt Rock to marvel at its basalt columns, and soak up the raw beauty of the island’s wind-whipped cliffs and extraordinary geological scenery.
In the afternoon, return to mainland Scotland by crossing Skye Bridge, and then travel through the glorious west coast countryside to one of Scotland’s most-photographed landmarks: Eilean Donan Castle. Used as a filming location in the 1986 movie Highlander, the ruins of the romantic castle look out over three sea lochs, and the landmark is widely considered as one of Scotland’s most iconic sights.
After admiring the ruins and taking photos, travel through the Great Glen to Loch Ness, home of the fabled Loch Ness Monster, aka Nessie. Use some free time for a stroll along the banks of the famous freshwater loch, and then make your way to Inverness, capital of the Highlands, to check in to your overnight accommodation.
Overnight: 3-star guesthouse or hotel in Inverness
Day 4: Inverness – Loch Ness – Ullapool – Inverness (B)
Relax over breakfast, and spend your morning back at Loch Ness looking for the monster on a Loch Ness boat cruise.
Back on dry land, leave Loch Ness behind and head through the northwest Highlands to the small coastal village of Ullapool for a look around. Stretch your legs on a stroll, and take in the stunning vistas of Loch Broom, a photogenic sea loch located nearby. In the late afternoon, return to Inverness and spend your last evening in the Highlands doing whatever you wish.
Overnight: 3-star guesthouse or hotel in Inverness
Day 5: Inverness – Culloden Battlefield – Aviemore – Pitlochry – Edinburgh (B)
Check out of your accommodation after breakfast, and visit the atmospheric Culloden Battlefield, scene of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s defeat at the end of the Jacobite Rebellion. Explore the site with your guide, and perhaps check out the visitor center and exhibition to learn more about the Jacobite Rebellion — the series of battles that helped shape Scottish history.
In the afternoon, travel through Cairngorms National Park and stop for a visit to Aviemore, a village set within the National Park that offers breathtaking views of the Cairngorms Mountains. Enjoy some free time for a walk before traveling south to Pitlochry. Here, you have the opportunity to visit a local whisky distillery (admission own expense) to learn about the Scotch whisky that’s produced in the town. Finally, return to the start point in central Edinburgh, where your 5-day tour finishes in the early evening.