Scotland is land of intrigue, drama, warmth and culture that will enchant visitors of all ages and interests. Scotland is a captivating place of immense contrasts and is surely one of the most beautiful and historically fascinating countries in the world. From refined Edinburgh to the gentle rolling hills, dramatic coasts, towering mountains, breath-taking lochs and heather covered highlands all richly peppered with ancient castles, villages, and abbeys tell the tale of its often turbulent history. Beyond the mainland, the Western and Orkney Isles retain much of their Norse character and offer some of Scotland’s most seductive scenery and mythical heritage. Enjoy some independent time in Edinburgh (or further afield) availing of any number of private tours or time to explore yourself, and join a small group multi-day tour to discover the surrounding areas.
Small group tours typically depart every 2nd Sunday from April 21 - October 6, 2013. Tours are guaranteed with a minimum of 4 participants. In general, the maximum group size is 16.
Consider adding additional days to your trip with the services of a private guide and/or driver to see more of the country - your time on either side of your small group tour can be customized to suit your needs (and private guided tours can be added throughout your small group experience as desired).
Meet your driver for your private airport transfer today. Please note that this service includes up to 3 hours of service.
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 fee and guide services at Edinburgh Castle are included.
The Royal Terrace Hotel in central Edinburgh is part of an impressive terrace of prestigious Georgian townhouses, overlooking Scotland's historic capital. Combining traditional charm with contemporary luxury, the hotel enjoys a tranquil location on a quiet city street and is only a short walk from Princes Street, George Street and The Royal Mile. Many of the rooms offer spactacular views of either The Firth of Forth or the private gardens to the rear of the hotel. Facilities include an onsite swimming pool, sauna & steam room. There is also an exclusive complimentary techno gym with cardiovascular equipment.
Meet up with your Guide and fellow travellers of your small group tour this morning. The rendezvous is at 08.30am (please be here 30 mins before this) at the Royal Terrace Hotel, 18 Royal Terrace - Edinburgh, EH7 5AQ.
Depart Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh, and travel to the picturesque fishing villages of the East Neuk region including Pittenweem, one of Scotland’s best preserved and most attractive villages, home to brightly-hulled fishing boats and a jumble of red pantiled grey slated houses. Continue to St Andrews, known as the home of golf, which attracts visitors from all over the world. The medieval centre, with its narrow alleys and cobbled streets, leads to the now ruined cathedral and the adjacent church of St Regulus.
In the afternoon travel north towards the picturesque Victorian village of Ballater, your base for the night.
Enjoy a Scottish themed welcome dinner tonight.
The Glen Lui Hotel is located in a peaceful corner of Ballater Village on Royal Deeside in a tranquil woodland setting with wonderful views across Ballater Golf Course to majestic Lochnagar. Their aim is to provide you with a warm, friendly, comfortable, Scottish experience along with a high standard of food, accommodation and service that will persuade you to return time after time to enjoy their quiet location and magnificent views. The property is a Malt Whisky Embassy and there is a good varied selection of single malts from all regions of Scotland on their Whisky Menu. The Wine List has a good selection of Old and New World varieties to suit most palates. (Please note that your hotel may be the above or a hotel of similar standard and will be confirmed prior to departure).
Leave Ballater and travel through the beautiful Cairngorms National Park to Nairn. Here you visit Cawdor Castle, a superb fairy-tale castle dating from the late 14th century. You will have time to explore the castle and its gardens before you will continue on to Clava Cairns, an exceptionally preserved prehistoric burial site, built about 4,000 years ago.
Travelling a short distance and you you will stop at Culloden, the site of the Battle of the same name, where you visit the museum, which brings the battle vividly to life and learn about the events that unfolded here.
Inverness, the capital of the Highlands, is your final stop today and this evening is yours to spend at your leisure.
Waterside Hotel is located on the beautiful banks of the River Ness in the heart of Inverness, the capital City of the Highlands and has 28 well appointed double, twin, single & family en-suite bedrooms. RefleXions conservatory restaurant with views of the River Ness from every seat serves innovative food with traditional heritage. Their open plan bar and lounge areas with wooden floors and leather sofas offer a contemporary and relaxed atmosphere. (Please note that your hotel may be the above or a hotel of similar standard and will be confirmed prior to departure).
Today you travel to the mysteriously beautiful Loch Ness, the largest body of fresh water in Britain and known around the world for ‘Nessie’, the legendary Loch Ness Monster. As you enjoy your scenic drive through Glen Sheil you will see some of the most beautiful scenery in Scotland.
Your next stop is the peaceful village of Stromeferry, where you will have the opportunity to trawl for shellfish with a local fisherman before sampling his freshly caught catch of the day.
Then travel to Plockton, a charming little village comprised of neatly painted cottages and a tiny harbour before continuing to the stunning Isle of Skye.
Hotel Eilean Iarmain on the beautiful Isle of Skye is small and privately owned, situated on a sheltered bay in the south of Skye, with expansive views over the Sound of Sleat to the hills of Knoydart on the mainland. The hotel is decorated in cotton and linen chintzes, with traditional furniture. There are log fires in the reception rooms, and a wood panelled dining room where candlelit dinners can be enjoyed overlooking the bay and the island of Ornsay. The hotel has a 2 AA Rosette restaurant offering excellent a la carte dining, and a well-stocked bar which serves a particularly good selection of malt whiskies and local real ale. (Please note that your hotel may be the above or a hotel of similar standard and will be confirmed prior to departure).
Today is devoted to the Isle of Skye, renowned for its wildlife, history, geology, and incredible scenery. The north Highlands delivers scenery on a grand scale and today you see examples of this as you enjoy some of Skye’s most startling geological features including the extraordinary Quiraing, the famous Kilt Rock and the spectacular Old Man of Storr. During the day you will explore Portree, the Island’s main town. This lovely, pastel cottage-lined harbour has a thriving culture and a bustling port.
No visit to the Isle of Skye would be complete without a visit to a whisky distillery. Talisker Malt Whisky Distillery is the only distillery on the Isle where you can still see single malt whiskey being produced. Enjoy a complimentary dram after your tour to learn about the history of Scotland’s most famous export and how it is produced.
This morning you will travel through glorious Scottish highland scenery as you pass Glen Garry, with fantastic views of its loch. You should have time to reflect on the Commandos Memorial near Spean Bridge and to see Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain, as you follow the Caledonian Canal.
Visit historic Fort William and enjoy the splendid isolation of the pass of Glen Coe, where the Campbells tragically massacred the MacDonalds. You will then travel the back roads through the wooded Glen Orchy before arriving in Oban.
Overnight in the Queens's Hotel (or similar) in Oban tonight. The hotel has been restored to its original Victorian elegance and has 2 suites and 44 rooms in total, in three buildings, with a number of Twin, Double, Single and Family rooms. Most of the rooms have Jacuzzi baths with overhead showers. All suites and rooms are finished to a 4 star standard. (Please note that your hotel may be the above or a hotel of similar standard and will be confirmed prior to departure).
Today you will take the ferry from Oban to the Isle of Mull, the second largest island of the Inner Hebrides. From Craignure you travel to Fionnphort, which means 'Port of the White Sands' in Gaelic. This charming village is home to approximately 100 people and is famed worldwide for its unique red granite which is quarried just north of the village.
After lunch you will continue your tour with a short ferry ride to the mystic Island of Iona, a tiny island widely recognised as a spiritual haven attracting many pilgrims and tourists each year. Iona is steeped in history and is renowned for its natural beauty and serenity. It is here, that you visit Iona Abbey and Nunnery, one of Scotland’s most sacred and historical sites. After spending time in Iona make your way to Duart Castle. This 13th century castle is the oldest inhabited castle on Mull and is dramatically perched on a cliff overlooking the rugged coast. Walk through the dungeons and staterooms or explore its grounds before heading back to Oban.
Travel to Callander, often referred to as the ‘gateway to the Highlands’, before you continue to Stirling. Known as the heritage capital of Scotland, Stirling boasts the finest concentration of historical buildings in Scotland. This is where the Wars of Independence were fought and won and three centuries of monarchs ruled. Wander through the old town and enter the spectacular cliff-top castle, one of the largest and most important castles, both historically and architecturally, in Scotland. Then travel back to Edinburgh where your tour comes to an end.
Your Small Group Tour ends this afternoon upon arrival at The Royal Terrace Hotel at approximately 5.30pm. Bid farewell to your Guide and fellow travellers as you close the chapter on this part of your travels.
Avail of any of the optional tours available in the thriving city of Edinburgh. Consider a private tour with your own Licensed Guide and private vehicle if you have any interest in a certain aspect of the city such as the architecture or history - or if you just want to get a great indepth introduction to the city. Consider doing a guided walking tour - one of the best ways to see the city. If you feel like venturing out of the city, there are lots of places of interest such as Blair castle, Perth, whiskey distilleries, Cairngorm National Park - for a Lough ness themed tour, and the majestic Sterling castle sitting on its high volcanic rock, visible for many miles in every direction. Please speak to your Sales Advisor if any of these options are of interest.
VISA/PASSPORTThere are no border controls when travelling within the United Kingdom including the land border with England. Scotland has the same immigration and visa requirements as the rest of the United Kingdom.
United Kingdom is a party to the Schengen Agreement. As such, U.S. citizens may enter for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa. The passport should be valid for at least three months beyond the period of stay.
HEALTHHealth insurance is recommended. Medical facilities are good quality. We recommend that you see a health-care provider who specializes in Travel Medicine. The doctor or health-care provider will determine what vaccinations and medication you will need, depending on factors such as your health and immunization history, areas of the country you will be visiting, and planned activities. For more information on travel requirements, visit the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website: http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/united-kingdom.aspx COUNTRY INFOCapital: Edinburgh Language: English & Gaelic in parts of Scotland Religion: Predominantly Christian, with sizeable Muslim, Sikh, Jewish and Hindu minorities. Time: GMT (GMT + 1 from last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October). Electricity: 240 volts AC, 50Hz. Square three-pin plugs are standard. Telephone: Country code +44. Mobile Telephone: Roaming agreements exist with most international mobile phone operators. Coverage is mostly good, but can be patchy in rural areas. Internet: There are Internet cafes and centers in most urban areas.
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