Explore the UNESCO World Heritage site of Edinburgh with its incredible history. Discover the arts and crafts scene on the Isle of Skye. Go behind the scenes in a historic formal garden and attend 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. Summer during the Highland Games is the best time to see Scotland. In August, temperatures are at their warmest, at an average of 66° F. You’ll end your trip at Blair Castle, one of Scotland's stately homes and the last castle on the British Isles to be attacked in 1746 during the final Jacobite rising. Bear witness to history, drink Scottish tea, stroll through elegant gardens, and have a wee taste of Scotch. Your trip leader, Helen, has been a world traveler for decades. Now, she enjoys leading people around her beloved home country.
Here's a day-by-day itinerary of the trip.
On arrival in Edinburgh, hop into a taxi at the airport. Your destination is the 4-star Kimpton Charlotte Square. A stone’s throw from the Old Town, the hotel has incredible views of the Edinburgh skyline.
This afternoon, you're free to explore the city or 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 a delicious welcome dinner.
Dinner Venue: Monteiths
Your guide will meet you in the hotel lobby in the morning. You're headed 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'll 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, discover where state functions took place, and find the kitchens in the heart of this magnificent ship.
This evening, enjoy one of the many eateries the city has to offer, or snuggle up and enjoy room service in your room. Your guide will help you make reservations.
Through the rolling hills of Perthshire and into the Highlands, you'll 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'll stop for lunch at the iconic House of Bruar, with time after lunch to browse its classic Scottish country wear. As we continue north, the scenery becomes more dramatic by the mile. We'll pause at Eilean Donan Castle to photograph this stunning castle before crossing the graceful Skye Bridge, arriving at our country house hotel in the late afternoon.
Skeabost began back in 1871 as a Victorian hunting lodge. The view is to die for! Your accommodation sits right on the shore of Loch Snizort, and your rooms boast fantastic views across the loch and to the hills beyond.
After check-in, you’ll have time to explore before joining your fellow travelers and guide 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 crafters who call this region home. On Waternish, we’ll visit a local tannery, 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 the legend-filled valley.
After a rest at the hotel, we’ll meet again for our evening repast at the hotel.
Mainland of Scotland
Heading back to the Scottish mainland, we'll stop at the impossibly quaint fishing village of Plockton, where you can spend time exploring or enjoying a coffee at a local cafe as you watch the world go by.
After lunch, we'll visit Attadale Gardens for a private tour. Dating back over 250 years, the gardens are in a constant state of reinvention. Our private tour will cover the many highlights, followed by coffee in the historic house.
Afterward, 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 a rest, we’ll meet for dinner in the dining room.
Overnight: Ness Walk Hotel or similar
After breakfast, we'll head north to Dornoch, with various stop options along the way. We'll arrive in Dornoch before noon, ready to watch the Chieftain’s Parade – the historic march that traditionally opens the Dornoch Highland Games. Highland Games were first invented as a way to test for the clan's strongest and bravest. Musicians and dancers were also encouraged to showcase their talents as a credit to their clan.
The format today has come from Victorian times, with athletes coming from all over the world to compete in the ‘heavy events’ such as ‘Tossing the Caber’ or ‘Stone Putt.’ Buy lunch from one of the many food stands at the Highland Games. Why not get adventurous and try a few 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 head south. Your adventure is coming to a close. Enjoy the impressive mountains and epic views as you pass through the Cairngorms National Park. On the way to your final accommodation, we'll visit Blair Castle, home to Europe’s only private army. After lunch at a working water mill, if time permits, we'll pop into a local chocolatier, famous for 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. It serves incredible food and has 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 for onward connections, arriving at Edinburgh Airport by noon.
Note: Anyone booking an international flight that departs before 3 p.m. 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 countries you wouldn’t 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 to every corner of her favorite 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.
"Welcome to Scotland"
Rich culture and gorgeous landscapes make Scotland a destination that has it all. You’ll be welcomed by friendly locals as you explore rugged mountains, lively cities, and quaint tea shops. A sheep or ten are sure to greet you along the way. From the medieval architecture in southern cities like Glasgow to the breathtaking landscapes of the Northern Isles, 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)