Scotland, the U.K.’s northernmost country, is a land of mountain wildernesses such as the Cairngorms and Northwest Highlands, interspersed with glacial glens (valleys) and lochs (lakes). Its major cities are Edinburgh, the capital, with its iconic hilltop castle, and Glasgow, famed for its vibrant cultural scene. Scotland is also famous for golf, the game first played at the Old Course at St Andrews in the 1400s.
Day 1: Entering Scotland at Edinburgh
This morning, you touch down in enchanting Edinburgh, where a private driver will be waiting to take you from the airport to your luxurious and elegant hotel in the heart of Scotland’s bustling capital. After dropping off your luggage and freshening up, you’ll get the unique opportunity to explore this fantastic city in a truly one-of-a-kind way: as you take to the air in a privately guided helicopter tour over the area, taking in the incredible scenery and gorgeous buildings that fill the landscape. After touching down, you’ll travel to the nearby port city of Leith, where you can enjoy lunch on some of the finest food in the city at one of the area’s Michelin-starred restaurants.
After this delectable meal, return to Edinburgh to perambulate through the Georgian architecture of the New Town, from the red sandstone walls of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery to the beautiful graves and monuments that fill the Old Calton Burial Ground. The New City is also the commercial heart of Edinburgh and home to the city’s best shopping, from the home goods at Grays of Edinburgh on George Street to the world’s most famous fashion houses on Multrees Walk. Overnight in Edinburgh
Day 2: Walking the Capital’s Most Famous Thoroughfare
After a hearty and delicious breakfast, you’ll be ready to set out and see the sights of Edinburgh’s Old City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995 and one of the most beautiful examples of medieval architecture in the country. Begin at the Place of Holyroodhouse, the principal residence of the kings and queens of Scotland for more than four centuries and the primary residence of the monarch of the United Kingdom in Scotland. You can tour the sumptuous Historic Apartments that were once the home of Mary, Queen of Scots, view the selection of the Royal Collection that is housed in the newly-created Queen’s Gallery, and stroll the grounds at nearby Holyrood Park before turning up the Royal Mile, the main street of Old Town Edinburgh.
Pass by St. Giles Cathedral, the High Kirk of Scotland, and the strangely beautiful Heart of Midlothian, a mosaic set in the sidewalk that marks the former location of the Old Tolbooth, once the administrative center of Edinburgh in the Middle Ages. After stopping at the incomparable Bollinger Bar for the great British tradition of afternoon tea, you’ll crest Castle Rock and enter the domain of mighty Edinburgh Castle, an iconic landmark of the city and one of the most important fortresses in the country. Explore the exhibits at the National War Museum of Scotland, gaze down upon the city from the castle’s imposing ramparts, and visit the Crown Room to cast your eye on the Honours of Scotland – the oldest Crown Jewels in the British Isles. The collection includes the famous Stone of Scone, the coronation stone of every English and British monarch since Edward I. Overnight in Edinburgh
Day 3: A Day of History in the Scottish Lowlands
A gorgeous excursion into the scenic Scottish Lowlands awaits you today, as you leave the bustling streets of the capital for the peaceful serenity of the countryside. Begin your adventure at Stirling Castle, perched prominently on Castle Hill and dominating the nearby Firth of Forth and the landscapes beyond, where many kings and queens of Scotland have been crowned, and where William Wallace made his heroic stand against the English during the Wars of Independence. You can check out the famous Stirling Heads – carved oak roundels that are some of the finest examples of Scottish Renaissance art still in existence – before walking through the cavernous Great Hall and visiting the Wallace Monument, a Gothic tower soaring into the crisp clear blue of the Scottish sky.
From Stirling Castle, you make your way through the gorgeous south of Scotland until you reach the charming coastal town of St. Andrews, home to the oldest university in Scotland, the ruins of the largest cathedral in Scotland, and the ancient game of golf. You can walk the Old Course at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club or enjoy tea at one of the city’s restaurants offering sensational vistas over the water, before returning to Edinburgh for the evening. Overnight in Edinburgh
Day 4: Touring the Center of the Whisky World
Today you venture out to the rough and rugged grandeur of the famous Scottish Highlands, ready to encounter beautiful sights, enchanting buildings, and some of the most famous Scotch whisky distilleries in the country. Your tour begins at Dunkeld, a quaint and charming village that is one of the most complete of Scotland’s 18th-century country towns, where you’ll find a darling main street of pubs, shops and restaurants, as well as a gorgeous cathedral that boasts some of the most incredible stained glass windows in the country.
After spending some time in this delightful village, you’ll marvel at the elegant turrets, beautiful white walls and fascinating façade of Blair Castle, which has been the ancestral home of the powerful Clan Murray for centuries. The castle is home to fantastic works of art and truly decadent furnishings; the grounds and gardens surrounding the castle are some of the finest in the country.
Your final stop on your Highland excursion is to the banks of the River Spey, where there are more single malt distilleries than any other region in the world. You can discover the production techniques of a farmhouse-sized distillery at The Edradour, purported to be the smallest distillery in the country, or climb the nearby mountains to visit The Dalwhinnie Distillery, one of the highest distilleries in Scotland at more than 1,000 feet above sea level. You can also visit some of the larger and more famous whisky makers of the region, from the many elegant offerings at The Macallan to the singular experience of filling your own bottle of single malt straight from the cast at The Glenlivet, the most popular brand of Scotch in the world. Overnight in St. Andrews
Day 5: From Culloden to Inverlochy
Your majestic expedition into the iconic Highlands of Scotland continues today, as you’ll encounter some of the most breathtaking landscapes and fascinating history in the entire country. Start at the grassy plains and rolling fields just outside of Inverness known as Culloden, where Bonnie Prince Charlie led his band of Jacobite rebels to a disappointing and decisive defeat in 1789, ending his hopes of sitting the British throne in the last-pitched battle ever fought on British soil. The battlefield itself has been kept in immaculate condition, and you’ll find the field much as it was when Charlie’s rebels formed their lines and valiantly defended the rights of their sovereign.
Lunch this afternoon is at one of the fine restaurants of Inverness, the largest city in the region and the acknowledged culinary capital of Scotland, where you can enjoy delicious dishes of traditional Scottish fare before leaving the city. Make your way down the western coast of Loch Ness, the most famous lake in the country and the largest body of fresh water by volume in the entire United Kingdom. There, you’ll witness the spectacular ruins of Urquhart Castle right on Loch Ness’s picturesque shores. Be sure to take in the beautiful woods that surround the loch and cruise upon the inky-black waters in search of the world’s most famous sea monster. Your final stop today is at the ruins of Inverlochy Castle, a13th-century structure whose remains have been untouched for centuries, offering visitors an incredible look into Scotland’s rich and vibrant past. Overnight in Inverness
Day 6: A Gorgeous Glen and a Lovely Loch
Return to the south as today you wind through what many consider to be Scotland’s most scenic and breathtaking landscape, winding past the rugged west coast and along the ridges and glens that have made this area a by-word for natural splendor. Pass through the majestic and awe-inspiring mountain pass at Glen Coe, surrounded by soaring peaks and precipitous cliffs that tumble powerfully yet gracefully into a verdant valley that is among the most photographed areas in the entire country. You’ll discover the tragic history of this beautiful place as your guide regales you with tales of the infamous Massacre at Glencoe, where scores of people from Clan MacDonald were betrayed by guests in the late-17th century.
Then it’s on to the beautiful shores of Loch Fyne, the longest sea loch in Scotland and famed for its oysters, where you can stop for lunch at the charming restaurant right on the shore. Pass by the famed bonnie bonnie banks of Loch Lomond, whose placid and serene surface is dotted by scores of islands, including Inchmurrin, the largest fresh-water island in the British Isles.
This evening sees you in glamorous Glasgow, the largest city in the country and a seat of Scottish culture. Here, you can walk the bustling and alluring city streets before enjoying a delicious seafood dinner at one of the city’s best restaurants. Overnight in Glasgow
Day 7: Scotland’s Biggest City and an Unforgettable Excursion
In the morning, set out to discover the many amazing buildings, marvelous museums and pristine parks of this captivating city, widely regarded as the “Second City of the British Empire,” during the Victorian and Edwardian eras of the late-18th and early-19th centuries. Walk the gorgeous tombs and magnificent monuments of the Glasgow Necropolis, the final resting place for many of the city’s most illustration citizens, before stopping at the nearby Glasgow Cathedral, a Gothic marvel whose towering spire is still a prominent feature in Glasgow’s constantly evolving skyline. Visit some of the city’s best museums, from the excellent collection at the Gallery of Modern Art to the eclectic and engaging exhibits at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, where you can learn about the history of the Scottish people, view paintings by artists like Dali, Rembrandt, Monet and Van Gogh, and ogle at the Supermarine Spitfire, a WWII-era airplane, that hangs suspended from the museum’s ceiling.
The afternoon features a truly rare and special treat, as you’ll hop inside the basket of a hot air balloon to float over the fantastic natural splendor of the nearby Trossachs, a wooded glen whose gorgeous serenity and incredible beauty simply cannot be overstated. This is the landscape which inspired Sir Walter Scott’s poem “The Lady of the Lake,” which single-handedly inspired the Highland Revival of the 19th century, and that served as the refuge of the famous castle rustler Robert MacGregor, better known to the world as Rob Roy. You’ll be moved by the inimitable grandeur of this incomparable area, and taking it all in while you cruise the sky in style and grace is sure to be an experience you will never forget. The evening sees you back in Glasgow, ready to enjoy the nightlife of this lively and boisterous city. Overnight in Glasgow
Day 8: Goodbye from Glasglow
After a delicious breakfast, a private driver will collect you from your hotel and take you to the airport in plenty of time to board the plane that will take you back home. You are sure to always remember the amazing experiences of the past eight days, from perambulating the streets of Scotland’s grandest cities to exploring the phenomenal countryside from the Highlands to the Scottish border. From the grandest hotels and fanciest restaurants to the rustic charm of Scotland’s lochs and glens, this is truly a vacation unlike any you’ve ever known.
1) 3 Nights hotel in Edinburgh with Breakfast
2) 1 Night hotel in St Andrews with Breakfast
3) 1 Night hotel in Inverness with Breakfast
4) 2 Nights hotel in Glasgow with Breakfast
5) Return Airport Transfers
6) Land Transport
7) Sightseeing as per Itinerary
***Hotels are subject to availability
*** Rates are Subject to change without Prior Notice