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Edinburgh, the Highlands and Islands

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9 days From $3,195 $2,895 per person
4.5 stars(209 reviews)
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Discover the West Highlands and Cairngorms on this fabulous round trip rail tour of Scotland.

Travel among a group of like-minded travelers led by a professional tour manager
Save up to $400

Offer ends June 27th: Save up to $400 off per person on select 2024 escorted vacations.

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Limited Time Offer: Single Supplement Charges Waived on Select Departures. Book online or call for details.

Mobility Rating 2

2024 Tour code: SHS24

About the tour

Lochs and glens, castles and islands lie in wait of your discovery as we travel through the beautiful island of Scotland. The explorations begin in Edinburgh, where you can explore on your own before traveling to Glasgow. In Glasgow, we board the renowned West Highland Line and travel along lochs, past mountainscapes, and through quaint villages. Leaving the mainland, we journey by ferry to the Isle of Mull and a taste of authentic Scotch whisky. Continuing, we enjoy highlights such as Neptune's Staircase, a cruise of Loch Linnhe, a ride aboard the Jacobite Steam Train and the legendary Loch Ness. One final train ride, this time aboard the Kyle Line, takes us to Kyle of Lochalsh, where we visit the 13th century Eilean Donan Castle. As the tour wraps back to Edinburgh, enjoy even more quintessential Scottish vistas and feel your heart fill with memories of this wonderful country.

 

Unforgettable Experiences

Jacobite Steam Train
Jacobite Steam Train
Ride across the 21arched Glenfinnan Viaduct, made famous by the Harry Potter films, and savor incredible views of the breathtaking Small Isles while riding the Jacobite Steam Train.
Cruise Loch Ness
Cruise Loch Ness
Cruise across Scotland's most legendary body of water, keeping watch for its mythical inhabitant as you venture toward 13th-century Urquhart Castle that sits at the water's edge.
Visit Eilean Donan Castle
Visit Eilean Donan Castle
Isolated on a small island, Eilean Donan Castle is a remarkable example of a 13th-century clan fortress and is a memorable place to explore while visiting the Isle of Skye.
West Highland Line
West Highland Line
Skirt the shores of Gare Loch and Loch Lomond and climb through the idyllic and untouched landscapes of the Scottish Highlands aboard Scotland's beloved scenic train, the West Highland Line.
Taste Scotch Whiskey
Taste Scotch Whiskey
Discover the nuanced flavors and age-old distilling processes that make Scotch whiskey a beloved drink worldwide at a traditional Scotch Whiskey tasting in Ballachulish.
Kyle Line
Kyle Line
See the dramatic ebbs and flows of the Scottish landscape while riding from the East Coast to the West on one of the country's most scenic railway, the Kyle Line.
Farewell Scottish Experience
Farewell Scottish Experience
Savor authentic Scottish cuisine and ambiance during a farewell dinner with the group.

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 - Joining the Tour in Edinburgh

Our fantastic Scottish tour begins at the superb Apex Hotel Waterloo Place, located close to Edinburgh's main station, just off the renowned Princes Street. Your Tour Manager is available at the hotel later this afternoon, and your day is free to explore Scotland's fascinating capital. Overnight Edinburgh.

Includes
  • Dinner
Day 2 - The West Highland Line

Today we travel to Glasgow, before changing trains for a journey on one of the world's most spectacular scenic railway lines, The West Highland Line. During our time onboard, we travel along a hillside ledge overlooking Gare Loch before we enter the spectacular Highlands, an idyllic, remote and untouched landscape. The incredible route skirts the western banks of Loch Lomond and climbs quickly from Crianlarich to Upper Tyndrum and wild Rannoch Moor. Mighty mountains provide an imposing backdrop to the nearby village of Ballachulish. Overnight Ballachulish.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 3 - The Isle of Mull

Today, we travel to the town of Oban. Leaving the mainland by Caledonian MacBrayne ferry, we make the 40-minute crossing to the Isle of Mull. As we head through the small islands and across to Mull, the incredible picture-postcard views are truly awe-inspiring; rugged coastline, hills rising sharply from the water's edge, endless greens, purples and browns of the moorland and jagged, exposed rock faces. We enjoy a Whisky tasting at our hotel tonight. Overnight Ballachulish.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 4 - Neptune's Staircase, Loch Linnhe & Glencoe

Today we travel by coach to Neptune's Staircase, an impressive flight of eight locks operated by a team of at least three lock keepers. Situated on the Caledonian Canal, the locks are each placed at slightly different levels, overcoming a total height difference of 64 feet. It now takes approximately one-and-a-half hours to pass from one end of the staircase to the other, where water overcomes gravity and nature to climb the hillside. From here we continue to Loch Linnhe where we enjoy a scenic cruise across the water. After our cruise, we visit Glencoe, one of Scotlands most iconic glens. Glencoe has been used as the backdrop of many films over the years, most recently being used for the James Bond film, 'Skyfall'. Overnight Ballachulish.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 5 - The Jacobite Steam Train

This morning we join the Jacobite Steam Train* for a journey to Mallaig on the final leg of the wonderful West Highland Line, arguably the most scenic in the UK. During the journey the train steams past Ben Nevis, then climbs into the mountains surrounding Glenfinnan, a small town famous as the rallying point for Bonnie Prince Charlie's assault on the British throne. Here we cross the 21-arched Glenfinnan Viaduct seen in the 'Harry Potter' films; one of the most iconic engineering works found throughout the British railway network. As we head towards Mallaig, we drop down to the sea's edge and the landscape opens up with the first views of the rugged 'Small Isles' - Rum, Eigg, and Muck - which hang tantalizingly close offshore and tease in and out of view near our journey's end. After time for lunch, we make the return journey by coach, passing the Glenfinnan Viaduct, to Inverness, where we stay for three nights. (B, D)

*On early departures the Jacobite Steam Train does not operate and we make this excursion using Scotrail's scheduled service.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 6 - Loch Ness

Today, travel to Loch Ness to enjoy a cruise. This iconic loch is most famous for its mythical dweller, the Loch Ness Monster, however it is also surrounded by some of Scotland's most breathtaking scenery. Enjoy your short cruise surrounded by the purple pained mountains, before taking a trip to Urquhart Castle, a 13th-century castle that sits perched on the banks of the loch. These atmospheric ruins are a delight to explore, and you have some free time here before we coach back to Inverness. The rest of your day is spent at leisure.

With no scheduled dinner at the hotel tonight, you have the perfect opportunity to enjoy a meal at one of the many pubs or restaurants the city is known for. Overnight Inverness.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 7 - The Kyle Line & Eilean Donan Castle

Today we enjoy one of the most breathtaking railway journeys in Europe, the Kyle Line. This incredibly scenic route takes us across Scotland from east coast to west, crossing the Caledonian Canal as we leave Inverness and skirting the shores of crystal-clear lakes. Countless photo opportunities present themselves as we wind through wooded hillsides and over sparse moors, climbing over the highlands and past charming loch-side and seaside towns. The tracks rise and fall over hills and valleys, traveling at low speed throughout most of the journey, giving you time to soak up the terrific views. The train sweeps one way and the next, wild deer grazing beside the tracks that follow a route dictated by politicians and powerful landowners as much as by civil engineers. During the final part of the journey we pass the picturesque white-washed houses in the village of Plockton. We arrive at Kyle of Lochalsh, the end of the line, located across a short stretch of water from the Isle of Skye. Afterward, we make a visit to Eilean Donan Castle, situated on a tiny island in Loch Duich, joined to the mainland by a small, elegant bridge. The island was part of the Macrae Clan's territory and in the 13th century, they built Eilean Donan Castle, which was initially designed to defend the clan's land from invading Vikings but which actually saw more battles between the warring Scottish clans. This evening, a local storyteller weaves their magic as they tell us time-honored stories of Scottish myths and legends. Overnight Inverness.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 8 - Inverness to Edinburgh

We leave Inverness, traveling south through the Cairngorms, via Aviemore, Pitlochry and Kingussie, to arrive back in Edinburgh for one final night where we enjoy a farewell dinner. Overnight Edinburgh.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 9 - Tour Conclusion

After breakfast this morning, the tour concludes, and your Tour Manager bids you farewell. You are free to begin your journey home or enjoy more time sightseeing independently.

Includes
  • Breakfast

Additional information

Please note

Please note that while every departure of this tour will feature the same excursions, the order may differ from that shown above.

Additional departures are available, please speak with a rail specialist for details.

Departure times

Departure times vary based on selected rail vacation. This information will be provided in your final documents. For more information please speak with your rail specialist.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular vacation with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.

Hotels

Apex Waterloo Place Hotel, Edinburgh

Apex Waterloo Place Hotel, Edinburgh

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Inverness Palace Hotel & Spa, Inverness

Inverness Palace Hotel & Spa, Inverness

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Trains

Jacobite Steam Train
The Kyle Line
Scotrail
West Highland Line

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Reviews

4.5 stars4.5 / 5 · 209 reviews

  1. 5 stars
    (136)
  2. 4 stars
    (51)
  3. 3 stars
    (16)
  4. 2 stars
    (4)
  5. 1 star
    (2)

Wayne Thomas

5 stars

Submitted 20/Jun

Trip escort (Angie) was very helpfull and knowledgeable. Hotels were nicee and in good locations, loved the Kings House location, quite and pretty.

Collected by Trustpilot

C. Kevin ODonoghue

4 stars

Submitted 18/Jun

Should have been better thought out, too much sitting around, and more than a little short on the amenities. Too much wasted time. Visit to the Isle of Skye was an insult. As was the visit to Glenfinnan. Very nice group of participants. Tour director was excellent but poorly supported. Hotel selection was very good. Absence of planned midday meals was a missed opportunity.

Collected by Trustpilot

Connie Kent

4 stars

Submitted 17/Jun

Our tour guide, Richy, was fantastic. The tours were great. The accommodations were wonderful, I just didn’t realize we would be on coaches as much as we were. Train travel was a small part. I would have liked more free time in the seaside towns we visited and in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Collected by Trustpilot

Jerome Richardson

5 stars

Submitted 16/Jun

The hotel and meal arrangements were first class. Our guide Liz was amazing and made the experience all it could be. Your choice of activities made for a trip full of great experiences. I am so glad our first overseas adventure was with you!

Collected by Trustpilot

Cynthia Toth

4 stars

Submitted 15/Jun

Excellent accommodations and sites visited; guide gave good historical background, we enjoyed the special speakers and traditional Scottish evening meal.

Collected by Trustpilot

Timothy Spruill

5 stars

Submitted 15/Jun

Aside from cold weather and rain (outside your control) we enjoyed the tour and found the guide to be highly skilled, knowledgeable and helpful when needs arose.

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