Explore the UNESCO World Heritage site of Edinburgh with its incredible history; discover the arts and craft scene on the Isle of Skye; get behind the scenes at a historic formal garden; and attend a traditional Highland Games, an ancient summer tradition. Your experienced and knowledgeable guide will lead you through this fascinating small country on our carefully crafted journey. The summer during the Highland Games is absolutely best time to see Scotland. Temperatures are at their warmest in August with an average of 66 degrees F. You’ll end your trip at Blair Castle one of Scotland's stately homes, and the last castle in the British Isles to be attacked in 1746 during the last Jacobite rising. Bear witness to history, drink Scottish tea, stroll through Scottish gardens and have a wee taste of Scotch. Your trip leader Helen has been a world traveler for decades but no enjoys leading people around her beloved home country.
Here's a day-by-day itinerary of the trip.
On arrival in Edinburgh, you’ll hop in a taxi at the airport that will take you into the city to your hotel the 4-star Kimpton Charlotte Square, just a stone’s throw away from the Old Town and that offers incredible views of the Edinburgh skyline.
This afternoon you are free to explore the city or simply relax at the hotel after your journey. Your guide will meet you in the bar for pre-dinner drinks and a full trip briefing before you enjoy a delicious welcome dinner.
Dinner Venue: Monteiths
Your guide will meet you in the lobby of your hotel this morning and you will head out to start exploring this vibrant city. Take a walk along the famous royal mile, stopping to admire the iconic landmarks such as St Giles’ Cathedral and Edinburgh Castle. Explore the castle’s Great Hall, the Royal Palace, St Margaret’s Chapel and Mons Meg – the six-ton siege gun.
After a cafe lunch, you will head to the port of Leith and take a tour of the Royal Yacht Britannia, the late Queen Elizabeth’s floating palace that took her all over the world. See her bedchamber and where state functions used to take place as well as the kitchens and into the heart of this magnificent ship.
This evening is free for you to enjoy one of the many eateries that the city has to offer, and your guide will help you make reservations, or snuggle up and enjoy room service in your room.
Through the rolling hills of Perthshire and into the Highlands you will head west this morning to the fabled Isle of Skye.
Our first stop is the pretty village of Dunkeld, with its historic cathedral and charming shops laid out along a traditional high street. Don’t miss the Aran Bakery and Deli! We stop for lunch at the iconic House of Bruar, with time after lunch to browse its classic Scottish country wear. Continuing north with the scenery becoming more dramatic by the mile, we pause at Eilean Donan Castle for a photo of this stunning castle before crossing the graceful Skye Bridge, arriving at our country house hotel late afternoon.
Skeabost began back in 1871 as a Victorian hunting lodge and the view is simply to die for! Your accommodation sits right on the shore of Loch Snizort, and your rooms will offer fantastic views across the loch and to the hills beyond.
After check-in you’ll have some time to explore before joining your fellow travelers and guided at the hotel’s restaurant for dinner.
Overnight: Skeabost House Hotel, Skye, or similar
We spend today exploring northern Skye, taking in the Waternish and Trotternish Peninsulas, admiring the beautiful landscapes and meeting some of the local craftspeople who call this region home. On Waternish, we’ll visit a local tannery and then meet an artist in her gallery and learn how the landscapes and light inspire her work. After pausing for lunch in Portree, we’ll explore Trotternish, where we’ll admire the fantastic rocky landscapes and take a short walk on the coast or into legend-filled valley.
After some to rest and recover back at the hotel, we’ll meet up again for our evening repas at the hotel.
Mainland of Scotland
Heading back to the mainland of Scotland you will stop this morning at the impossibly quaint fishing village of Plockton where you can spend some time exploring or simply enjoying a coffee at a local cafe and watch the world go by.
After lunch, we visit Attadale Gardens, for a private tour. Dating back over 250 years since the manor house was first built, the gardens are in a constant state of reinvention. Our private tour will cover the many highlights and is followed by coffees in the historic house.
Afterwards, it’s a short transfer to the capital of the Highlands, Inverness, where we check into our 5-star hotel, located in a peaceful location next to the River Ness. After resting and refreshing we’ll meet up in the dining room.
Overnight: Ness Walk Hotel or similar
After breakfast we head north this morning to Dornoch, with various options for stops along the way. We arrive in Dornoch before noon, ready to watch the Chieftain’s Parade – the historic march which traditionally opens the Dornoch Highland Games. Highland Games were first invented as a way of testing who was the strongest and bravest of the clan. Musicians and dancers were also encouraged to showcase their talents so they could be a great credit to their clan.
Today the format has been taken from Victorians times, with athletes coming from all over the world to compete in the ‘heavy events’ such as ‘Tossing the Caber’ or ‘Stone Putt’. Ladies can buy their own lunch today as there are lots of food stands at the Highland Games, or why not try a few different tastes. Spend the afternoon watching the events, admiring the dancers, and enjoying the music of this traditional Scottish day out before we head back to our hotel in Inverness.
Tonight, enjoy a free evening to try out the buzzing restaurant scene, or pop into a nearby Scottish pub for a pint and haggis or fish and chips.
Cairngorms National Park
It is time to start heading south as your adventure is coming to close. Enjoy the scenery as you pass through the Cairngorms National Park with its impressive mountains and epic views. On the way to your final accommodation, we visit Blair Castle, home to Europe’s only private army. After lunch at a working water mill if time permits, we pop in to visit a local chocolatier, famous for his hot chocolate and truffles! The perfect end to the day.
Lunch Venue: Blair Atholl Watermill & Tea Room
Your final accommodation this evening is a quaint hotel on the banks of the babbling River Tay, that offers incredible food and a lovely wee bar where you can raise a glass to your vacation and the memories that will linger long after you leave these mystical lands.
Overnight: Grandtully Hotel, or similar
Your guide will take you back to Edinburgh airport this morning in time for onward connections, arriving at Edinburgh Airport by 12 noon.
Note: Anyone booking an international flight which departs before 3pm today would likely require a private transfer from the hotel at a cost of approximately £300. Transfers should be arranged before traveling to Scotland.
Kimpton Charlotte Square is near the old town of Edinburgh. Everyone gets their own fabulous room.
Helen has always loved to travel, but after working in some countries you wouldn’t normally include on your bucket-list (Congo and Afghanistan for starters!) the draw back home to Scotland finally became too strong to resist. She is now in her element, creating bespoke tours and taking guests all over her favourite country, exploring the nooks and crannies, telling tall tales, sampling the finest local produce, and embracing the outdoors to truly experience Scotland’s magical scenery.
Includes one night stay at the Kimpton Hotel in Edinburgh
"Welcome to Scotland"
The rich culture and gorgeous landscapes make Scotland a destination that seems to have it all. You’ll feel welcomed by friendly locals as you explore rugged mountains, lively cities, and quaint tea shops. You’re sure to be greeted by a sheep or ten, too. From the medieval architecture in southern cities like Glasgow to the northern isles with breathtaking landscape, Scotland is a destination with much to offer.
Breakfast each day starting on Day 2
Most meals unless noted including a glass of wine/beer with each dinner
The services of an experienced guide throughout
Ground transportation throughout except airport transfer upon entry
All guided activities and entry fees
Gratuities for included meals and accommodation
Meals which are not included: 2 lunches and 2 dinners
Spa treatments, souvenirs or personal laundry
Gratuities for the main driver and guide
Taxi from airport to hotel in Edinburgh upon arrival
Travel and Medical Insurance (required)