Enjoy the best of both worlds with a mix of private guided tours and transfers mixed in with a number of days on a small group trip taking in the best sights (some off the beaten path) along the way. After spending time in Edinburgh exploring the sights in the company of a private guide or doing some independent exploring, make your way to Inverness to meet up with your small group multi-day tour make the most of the sightseeing opportunities en route through Europe's last great wilderness region. One of the most interesting places on earth, the Orkney Islands offer a mix of outstandingly rugged coastal scenery teeming with bird and sea-life, the greatest single collection of pre-historic remains in the world, a land steeped in Viking history, and contemporary sites dating from the two great World Wars. Remember, there is always the option to add a full day or afternoon of private guided services throughout your small group multi-day tour. Do things your way, at an affordable price, knowing that you have 24/7 support as you travel.
The small group tours depart every 2nd Tuesday from May 13, 2014 until September 30, 2014. The small group tours have a maximum of 16 people per trip.
Meet your driver for your private airport transfer today.
A welcome package with a city map, train tickets (if relevant), and any other touristic information that we deem you may find useful will be waiting for you upon your arrival at your first hotel on your trip.
This is a fantastically central hotel, located in the heart of Grassmarket, steps away from Edinburgh Castle in the Old Town. The Apex City (4*) is located next door to its sister hotel, the Apex International. One of the best hotels in Edinburgh, the Yu Spa leisure facilities are based at the Apex International Hotel next door, and are available to residents free of charge and open daily. Facilities include ozone pool, tropicarium, plunge shower and gym with state-of-the-art technogym equipment.
You will be met at your central Edinburgh hotel by your guide to commence your walking tour. The buzz of Scotland's capital city sits in perfect contrast to the peaceful tranquility of the surrounding Lothians region. Edinburgh has one of the most beautiful cityscapes in the world, making it the ideal city break destination. From ceilidhs and science to ghost, film and food festivals there's always something going on in the festival city, and that's just for starters. Discover world-class museums and galleries, learn the history of the city or spend an afternoon pub crawling - whatever your fancy! Make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes and perhaps take an umbrella!
The Witchery Restaurant located on the Royal Mile is a great place for dinner. The 16th century building located close to the Castle is lit exclusively by candlelight. The tapestry-draped main dining room is an ode to opulence: the seats are a rich red leather, the ceiling is gilded, and the walls are covered with oak panels salvaged from an old cathedral. The Secret Garden annex, meanwhile, is full of brass candlesticks and stone statues, and displays a series of painted doors that tell the story of Edinburgh's wine trade with France. The menu is equally sumptuous, offering dishes such as melt-in-your-mouth steak tartare, rabbit wrapped in Parma ham with tea-soaked prunes, and loin of roe deer with an earthy black pudding. But be sure to save room for the desserts — from the chocolate torte to the bramble, sherry and mascarpone trifle, they make a wickedly decadent end to the meal. Please speak to your Sales Advisor if you would like to have a reservation made for you.
Meet your driver for a private train station transfer. Please note that this service includes up to 3 hours of service.
Travel from Edinburgh to Inverness by train. Approximately 3.5 hrs.
Transfer using a local taxi. Please note that this is not included in trip price and is payable locally.
Inverness is the City in the Highlands where you'll find the warmest of welcomes - whether you choose to visit, explore, shop, relax or just live Inverness. It's in a Scot's nature to be friendly and helpful, and the locals are always up for a chat. Explore this city with your private guide by foot.
The Kingsmill Hotel (4*) is surrounded by the Invernesshire Mountains and is just a 1 mile from the city centre. The hotel has an excellent reputation, and hospitality has been enjoyed by both locals and visitors to Inverness for many years. The hotel is set in four acres of carefully kept gardens and manicured lawns. At the Kingsmills Hotel you’ll find high standards of hotel keeping in a quiet and pretty location. You’re close enough to the city centre to walk there, or you can take a stroll in the hotel grounds with scarcely a hint that you’re in the middle of the Highland capital. The hotel has the pedigree plus dashes of character and panache only delivered by genuine hoteliers. The conservatory is light, spacious and very relaxing while the bar is stocked with over 40 whiskeys. The Kingsmill hotel also boasts an extensive leisure club with a swimming pool, solarium, sauna, and gym.
Meet your small group who you will be with for the next number of days as you journey on adventure of the Orkneys and Scottish Highlands. Departure time is 8:30am from The Waterside Hotel - 19 Ness Bank, Inverness-Shire, IV2 4SF and it is recommended to be here 15 minutes before departure.
Departing from Inverness, you'll spend a spectacular day travelling through the unspoilt North Highlands to Beauly, a beautiful and inspiriting region of ancient landscapes and fascinating history. The sleepy stone-built village is home to the ruins of Beauly Priory founded in 1230. Pass through the attractive Victorian spa town of Strathpeffer before arriving at Dunrobin Castle with its towering conical spires, home to the Earls and Dukes of Sutherland since the 1400's. From here, you'll pass through the ‘gold rush’ village of Helmsdale and continue through the Caithness, a large area of unspoilt and dramatic scenery with high cliffs and offshore stacks. Arrive at Scotland’s northern-most tip to catch the early evening ferry to the Orkney Islands, a stunning trip sailing pass Hoy, famous for its towering sea stack, the Old Man of Hoy.
Arriving at Scotland’s northern-most tip, you will catch the early-evening ferry to the Orkney Islands. The ferry trip is stunning in the setting sun as you pass by that famous sea stack, The Old Man of Hoy.
Enjoy an overnight stay in Kirkwall later this evening. Your hotel will be determined at a later date.
The Orkneys are perhaps most renowned for their amazing archaeological sites, and today you will have the chance to go back in time to explore the Neolithic stone circles of the Ring of Brodgar and the Stones of Stenness. Enter the tomb of Maeshowe to see the artefacts left by Stone Age man. Then it is on to Skara Brae, a collection of ten stone-age houses occupied from about 3100 to 2500 BC, which were only discovered in 1850 when they were uncovered by a storm. The attraction presents a remarkable picture of life around 5,000 years ago, before Stonehenge was built.
Travel through the beautiful island landscapes this afternoon, where birds and flowers are abundant, and explore how the previous settlers lived. Their huge fortified brochs are scattered throughout the islands, and Gurness is one you can explore. The Vikings are also much in evidence, since for several hundred years from around 700AD the country was under Norse rule, and most place names still reflect the Norse heritage.
If the tide permits, you can walk “across the Atlantic” to the tidal island of the Brough of Birsay and visit the remains of the Viking village. Tides permitting, you will also walk to the Brough of Birsay where Magnus Erlendsson, Earl of Orkney, was slain by his cousin in 1117.
Today spend some free time this morning in the former Viking settlement of Kirkwall, the main town on the islands, with interesting historical sites such as St Magnus Cathedral, the Earl’s Palace and the Bishop’s Palace. This is also home to one of Scotland’s best distilleries, Highland Park Distillery, where you will stop to explore the traditional methods utilised in producing their famous single malt.
As you travel down through the southern Orkney isles you will come to more recent history - see Scapa Flow, a huge natural harbour that served as the base for the home naval fleet through two World Wars. As well as being the resting-place of HMS Royal Oak, sunk by a daring German U-Boat, it is also the graveyard of the German High Seas Fleet which was scuttled here at the end of the First World War. Visit the Italian Chapel, originally a couple of old Nissen huts, decorated in imaginative style by Italian prisoners of war.
This morning, you will take the ferry back to the mainland.
After taking the morning ferry back to the mainland, the first port of call is towards John O’Groats where a visit of the Castle of Mey is in order. This is the beloved home of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, who restored the abandoned building and created the beautiful gardens. Then, following the beautiful coast road, take in the views crossing the Dornoch and Cromarty Firths on the return journey back to the Capital of the Highlands, Inverness, where your Small group tour comes to an end.
Drop-off 5:30pm at The Waterside Hotel, 19 Ness Bank Inverness, Inverness-Shire IV2 4SF. Bid farewell to your Guide and fellow travellers as you close the chapter on this part of your travels.
Travel from Inverness to Edinburgh by train. Journey will take approximately 3.5hrs.
Ann Saxon ,
November 06, 2013
"Our trip was fantastic!!! I cannot say enough good things. Lianne worked with our exact dates and time frame beautifully.Our drivers were prompt and friendly. The private guides were so knowledgeable. We left with an appreciation of the history, the culture, and the beauty of Andulasia. We were very pleased and will certainly recommend your company to friends and family."
Edwards Family ,
November 28, 2013
"People do not know what they are missing by not going to Romania. The landscape: beautiful, clean, untouched. The people: People exceeded friendly! Super safe. Wherever we went, we received the reception of "Welcome, welcome! You are our guest", by everyone. Food & Drink: Everything had such incredible flavor! They use only the freshest ingredients and everything is organic. Every meal was a new, exciting experience to our palettes. Architecture: The beauty, intricacy, history. One cannot help but appreciate the abundance of castles, churches and buildings boasting such incredible architecture. Experience Romania sooner than later! You’ll be so glad you did! Once again, Kensington Tours, and special thank you to Claudia.
Coby Scherr ,
November 05, 2013
"Everyone involved in our Portugal trip made it terrific. Exactly as advertised. Every event on time and most pleasant. Guides were well-informed, courteous and friendly. Really made for a great journey every time. Each hotel was clean, upgraded and staffed with knowledgeable and friendly folks. Breakfasts were complete -- almost too much to eat. It will always be a wonderful memory thanks to Kensington Tours."
Mike Mikkelsen ,
November 15, 2013
"Lianne Kim did a great job for us (on our tour of Spain). Most enjoyable - thanks for all you did."
November 09, 2013
"My trip to Holland and Belgium was a lifelong dream and Kensington Tours made it greater than my dream. I was treated like royalty, even when I missed some of my connections. They quickly solved any problems that U had. All the drivers were courteous and helpful. My accommodations were top notch. I would highly recommend them to anyone looking for a better tour experience. Thanks to Richard Racicot for booking the best fo me."
Couples Dellinger & Hubbell ,
November 06, 2013
"We've been raving to everyone about the food, the friendliness of the people and the amazing history and sites in Turkey. Yes, we want to go back."
John Edstrom ,
October 22, 2013
"Overall, our tour in Spain was very enjoyable, and well planned and executed. Our private tour of the Alhambra was excellent. Virginia, tour guide for royal palace ruins outside of Cordoba, was also excellent. In Seville, we went to the Flamenco Show/dinner, and the Flamenco was outstanding!"
Kevin Wilshere ,
October 19, 2013
"Great trip to Spain! Thanks again for all your help, Lianne. The destinations, hotels, guides and everything were all top notch."
Chery lWestlund ,
November 07, 2013
"My husband and I took a 3 week vacation to southern Europe and North Africa and had a great time. All the guides were very knowledgeable and bend over backwards to accommodate us. The arrangement made by Kensington went off without a hitch. This is our second trip with Kensington (we went to Peru in 2009) and we will certainly book with them again."
Randy Gramlich ,
October 07, 2013
"Thank you for your follow up, we both loved our time in Croatia. It’s really a beautiful place, especially the coast. Our time in Dubrovnik and Split were awesome, in hind sight we both wished we would have went back to Split from Plitvice Lakes rather than carry on to Zagreb. We both found Split much more appealing and would have definitely preferred to spend another night there rather than Zagreb. We’ll know for next time! Your choice of hotels was great. It was an incredible view from the Bellevue hotel in Dubrovnik and the Vestibule in Split was in the best possible location. We were able to relax in our room listening to the wonderful singers in the courtyard and its central location made it so easy to walk anywhere we wanted to see with ease. "
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