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 3rd Tuesday from May 05, 2015 until September 29, 2015. 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.
Enjoy a private half day tour with your own vehicle and local guide to show you around the city's top sights including Edinburgh castle, St. Giles Cathedral, Holyrood palace and Scott monument. (entrance fees for passengers and guide not included). Pick up and drop off at your hotel.
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.
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.
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. You will pass through the attractive Victorian spa town of Strathpeffer, the ‘gold rush’ village of Helmsdale and the Caithness, a large area of unspoilt and dramatic scenery with high cliffs and offshore stacks, before arriving at the Castle and Gardens of Mey. This is the beloved home of Queen Elizabeth, the late Queen Mother, who restored the abandoned building and created the beautiful gardens.
Afterwards, you will continue on to 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.
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 Maes Howe to see the artifacts 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. The Brough of Birsay was 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 - 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. Afterwards, visit the Italian Chapel, originally a couple of old Nissen huts decorated in imaginative style by Italian prisoners of war, before returning to the mainland by ferry and driving to Wick for your overnight accommodation.
Today you will visit Dunrobin Castle. With its towering conical spires, this castle has been home to the Dukes of Sutherland since the 1400s. 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.
Visit the Apex City Hotel (4*), a contemporary hotel in central Edinburgh, located in the heart of Grassmarket, steps away from Edinburgh Castle in the Old Town. The Apex City is situated 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.
The Kingsmills Hotel (4*) is surrounded by the Invernesshire Mountains and is just one mile from the city center. The Kingsmills Hotel is a luxury four-star resort with Spa and Leisure Facilities, located 15 minutes from Inverness Airport. Set within 4 acres of manicured grounds and only 1 mile from the center of Inverness, it is perfect for both leisure hotel breaks. Between the historic mansion house, the luxurious Kingsclub and Spa and the newest addition of Luxury Rooms, the privately owned hotel has 134 relaxing bedrooms, many with private balconies and patios or views over the neighboring golf course. At the Kingsmills Hotel you’ll find a high standard of hospitality in a quiet and pretty location. You’re close enough to the city center 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 West End Hotel offers the simple comforts and is among the finest places to stay in Orkney. It was built in Kirkwall in 1824 by a retired sea captain and became Orkney's first hospital in 1845. Today, owners Gifford Leslie and Robert Dawson provide a warm welcome and comfortable guest rooms, each with a shower-only bathroom. The property has been refurbished in the past few years and is now fresh and inviting with the ideal blend of both old and new to cater to all tastes.
Please note that your hotel may be the above, or a hotel of similar standard and will be confirmed prior to departure.
Mackays Hotel is located in Wick, in the beautiful area of Caithness. Built in 1883, the hotel has gained wide recognition for its high standard of award-winning service, high standards, comfortable rooms and fine food. At Mackays Hotel, all bedrooms have ensuite bathrooms, flat screen digital TV’s with Freeview channels, direct dial telephones, free wireless broadband access, tea, coffee and biscuits, hairdryer and a local guide prepared by the staff.
The Kingsmills Hotel (4*) is surrounded by the Invernesshire Mountains and is just one mile from the city center. Between the historic mansion house, the luxurious Kingsclub and Spa and the newest addition of Luxury Rooms, the privately owned hotel has 134 relaxing bedrooms, many with private balconies and patios or views over the neighboring golf course. At the Kingsmills Hotel you’ll find a high standard of hospitality in a quiet and pretty location. You’re close enough to the city center 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.
Vanessa Oquendo ,
April 21, 2014
"Melissa Field was extremely helpful! She was courteous, professional, knowledgeable, and friendly! She kept me updated on the status of everything and provided timely correspondence. She took ownership for any problems I had and remedied them. I had the most amazing time of my life in Iceland and Paris! I would not have experienced everything without the help of Kensington Tours."
Marilynn Weaver ,
April 21, 2014
"All of our guides were beyond fabulous! Our time in Dublin was much too short, would have loved to stay there at least one more full day. Would recommend extending this package to 15 days for any future visits. The train to Edinburgh was super! Beautiful scenery and great steak pies!"
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."
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."
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 Westlund ,
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 bent over backwards to accommodate us. The arrangements 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. 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. "
Jay Steffan ,
September 24, 2013
"We just returned from a 10 day trip to Paris and Normandy. We spent three nights in Paris and then enjoyed a seven night cruise on the Seine to Normandy with AMA Waterways. The time in Paris was well spent and has piqued our interest to return for a more thorough visit. Guide Wafaa Lankey was superb in our visit to Versailles. The Seine cruise was relaxing and beautiful. So many wonderful little towns and we wished we had more time in each one to explore and enjoy.
We traveled to Croatia and Slovenia using Kensington earlier this year which was a fantastic trip."
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