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Orkney & The Shetland Islands

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All aboard for a nostalgic journey through the Scottish Isles, where tradition is not merely written in books, it is an all-encompassing essence that guides us from one stunning island to the next.

7 days From $1,995 per person
Travel among a group of like-minded travelers led by a professional tour manager
Special Offer

Book a qualifying 2023 escorted rail tour & save up to $300 per person. Book by October 7, 2022.

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2023 Tour code: GR-SOSA-23

About the tour

Experience another side of Scotland on a journey to Shetland and the Orkneys, some of the most impressive destinations across the Scottish Isles. This immersive journey explores these remote locales, presenting their wildlife, heritage and customs as we travel from one historic destination to the next. Beginning in Edinburgh, travel by train through the spectacular scenery of the Scottish Highlands to Aberdeen. A walking tour introduces us to the unique architecture and layered history of this thriving port city, and then we join an overnight ferry at the harbor to sail through the North Atlantic to Shetland. Our time in Shetland is filled with adventure ranging from castle ruin-viewing to watching Shetland ponies and puffins romping in their picturesque natural environments. Enjoy a visit to the capital city of Lerwick and excursions to places like Brae and Jalshof, a town that has seen nearly 4,000 years of human life. Another ferry ride takes us to the remote Orkney Isles, where Neolithic history is as bountiful as natural beauty. Marvel at the preserved past as a guide leads us between four incredible sites: the Standing Stones of Stenness, the Ring of Brodgar, Maeshowe and Skara Brae. We return to mainland Scotland by ferry and explore Castle of Mey. Our memorable exploration of Scotland's off-the-beaten path destinations concludes with a rail journey back to Edinburgh.

Highlights

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 - Edinburgh

Arrive in Edinburgh and transfer on your own to your centrally located hotel, the Radisson Blu Edinburgh. Get acquainted with your tour manager and fellow travelers this evening during a three-course meal at the hotel. Overnight Edinburgh. 

Includes
  • Dinner
Day 2 - Aberdeen

This morning a private transfer takes us to the rail station, where we board the train bound for Aberdeen. On arrival, we embark on a walking tour of the harbor, home to a charming selection of historic fishermen's cottages and the genteel district of Old Aberdeen. Here we see the 15th-century St Machar's Cathedral and the historic stone mansions that line leafy lanes. Afterwards, we board a ferry for an overnight crossing to Shetland - Britain's northernmost outpost. Closer to Bergen, Norway, than Edinburgh, the landscapes here have a unique Norse influence. Overnight ferry. 

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 3 - Lerwick & Hillswick

We arrive in Lerwick, the capital of the Shetlands Isles, where we meet our guide for the day. Our first visit is to Scalloway, the ancient capital of the Shetlands. Here, we discover the brooding ruins of Scalloway Castle, which date back to 1599. Next, we head to the coast for a unique encounter with Shetland's world-famous ponies, learning about their history and enjoying a meet and greet against a spectacular coastal backdrop. We continue by coach to the picturesque village of Brae for a fish and chip lunch at an award-winning local restaurant. Afterwards, we travel north, taking in incredible views of the volcanic Cliffs of Eshaness. Overnight Hillswick. 

Includes
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 4 - The Wildlife of the Shetlands

We explore the pre-historic Norse settlement of Jarlshof today, seeing some of Europe's oldest signs of life, which date from around 2500 BC, before continuing to Sumburgh Head, a protected nature reserve notable for its steep cliffs, lighthouse and seabird population. It's possible to spot puffins, guillemots and even razorbills here. Next, we admire the dramatic landscapes surrounding the villages of Gulberwick and Cunningsburgh ahead of returning to Lerwick, where there's free time ahead of our ferry journey to the remote Orkney Islands. Overnight Orkney. 

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 5 - Discover the History of the Orkneys

Our day begins with a special talk from Nick Card, an expert on the Neolithic history of the Orkney Isles. Afterwards, we set out on a tour through the heart of Neolithic Orkney, visiting four different monuments: the Standing Stones of Stenness, the Ring of Brodgar, the chambered tomb of Maeshowe and Skara Brae - also known as the 'Scottish Pompeii'. Our final stop is the highly ornate Italian Chapel on Lamb Holm. After a day of exploration, we take the overnight ferry and travel back to mainland Scotland. Overnight ferry. 

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 6 – Castle of Mey & Inverness

Arriving in Scrabster early this morning, we transfer to Castle of Mey, a former royal residence with striking turrets and a walled garden. There's free time to explore before we continue to the village of John o'Groats, the most northerly point of mainland Britain. Our day concludes with a rail journey to Inverness followed by dinner at our hotel. Overnight Inverness. 

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 7 – Inverness to Edinburgh / Tour Conclusion

This morning we board a train bound for Edinburgh, where our rail tour of Shetland and the Orkneys concludes. 

Includes
  • Breakfast

Additional information

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

Radisson Blu Hotel, Edinburgh

Radisson Blu Hotel, Edinburgh

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St Magnus Bay Hotel, Hillswick

St Magnus Bay Hotel, Hillswick

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Global Rail Adventures Brochure

Global Rail Adventures Brochure

The definitive guide to our 2023 Global Rail Adventures

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