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Legendary Scottish Isles, Edinburgh & Glasgow (Eastbound)

11 days with Tauck   Rating: Deluxe

Itinerary
Click for Dates and Prices Day 1 Arrive Glasgow 
Tour begins 6:00 PM. A transfer is included from Glasgow International Airport to one of hotels in the heart of the city: the Kimpton Blythswood Square Hotel, the Dakota Glasgow, or the Grand Central Hotel Glasgow. Settle in and join us this evening for a welcome reception followed by dinner at the hotel. (D)

Day 2 Explore Glasgow and embark Le Champlain 
A tour of city sights includes the Glasgow Cathedral and Necropolis, George's Square, Buchanan Street, the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art, and Princes Square. This afternoon, visit Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, one of the city's most popular attractions, featuring a wide-ranging collection of art and artifacts of cultural history, ancient history, natural history, and more. You'll also visit the Glasgow Riverside Museum, an award-winning, state-of-the-art museum of transport, where you can climb aboard a tram, train, or bus, help put out a fire with an interactive fire engine, and discover Glasgow's shipbuilding history. Drive to Greenock and embark your ship, Le Champlain, your home for the next seven nights. Tonight you sail for the Isle of Mull in the Inner Hebrides. (B, D)

Day 3 The Isle of Mull 
Sail to the Isle of Mull, a popular destination for naturalists and photographers in search of Britain's more elusive birds and wildlife. Land in Tobermory late in the morning for a choice of excursions. Take a boat tour with a guide who will educate you about the cetacean life, birdlife, and local history; a guided walk along the coastal cliffs offers great opportunities for sighting and photographing wildlife; drive along the scenic coastline to Duart Castle, a medieval landmark on the sea cliffs, home of the Maclean Clan –restored in the 20th century – a rare opportunity to visit a clan seat that is still owned by its members, or enjoy a short but scenic drive to Aros Park where you'll enjoy a 2 hour guided walking tour. Discover the flora and fauna found in this beautiful park as you enjoy coastal views, the waterfall Sphut Dubh, and breathtaking views of the village of Tobermory and Calve Island along the way. This evening, join us aboard ship for the Captain's welcome reception followed by dinner as you sail for the Isle of Skye. (B, L, D)

Day 4 Skye castles and storybook landscapes 
Known in Gaelic as "isle of mist," Skye is steeped in Celtic and Norse legend, a land of faerie glens, storybook mountains, and otherworldly landscapes that seem to spring from Tolkien's Middle Earth. At Portree, a fishing town in a harbor sheltered by cliffs, take your choice of shore excursions. Take a cruise around Portree Bay and Raasay Sound on a wildlife safari which may include seals, otters, dolphins, and sea eagles along with enchanting coastal views. Alternatively, travel to Kintail where iconic Eilean Donan Castle stands on a small tidal island; destroyed in 1719 and restored in 1932, it is the most photographed castle in Scotland, and you can explore it while learning its turbulent history. Your third choice is a visit to medieval Dunvegan Castle, the seat of the MacLeod Clan, rising four stories high on a promontory overlooking Loch Dunvegan and the sea. The fourth choice takes you to the Kyle of Lochalsh, a scenic area of castles, hills, and lochs – and the site of Armadale Castle and Gardens, the spiritual home of the Clan Donald. The estate includes 40 acres of formal gardens, walking trails, and an award-winning Museum of the Islands that tells the 1,500-year history of the clan and the Highlands. Afterwards, you'll have the opportunity to spend the afternoon in colorful Victorian Portree to explore on your own, or you can return to the ship. Late afternoon, a professional photographer will give a presentation of his works and discuss photography on the Scottish Isles. Set sail this evening for the Isle of Lewis.  (B, L, D)

Day 5 Lochs, brochs and standing stones 
The Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides offers a dreamlike landscape of windy rolling hills, moors, vivid colors, and dramatic, rugged shores. Dock in the town of Stornoway, founded by Vikings in the 9th century, and take your choice of excursions. Set off on a sea safari to view marine-life and some of the most magnificent coastline in Scotland; the coastal waters warmed by the Gulf Stream are known to draw porpoises, bottle-nosed dolphins, pilot whales, orcas, grey and common seals, basking sharks, and seabirds including puffins, gannets, fulmars, shearwaters, and petrels. Or enjoy a panoramic coach excursion that includes the Standing Stones of Callanish, Dun Carloway Broch, one of the best-preserved stone-built circular constructions, and Gearrannan Blackhouse Village situated in a beautiful secluded bay. Another excursion features a visit to Carloway Harris Tweed Mill with an opportunity to see tweed being woven on the traditional hattersly loom. If you're looking to stretch your legs, "Great Bernera Walk" offers an opportunity to enjoy a two-hour hike on a rocky island off the northwest coast of Lewis where you can immerse yourself in island history as well as the stunning landscape along the coast. Join us this evening for traditional Scottish music and dance performance aboard the ship. (B, L, D)

Day 6 Orkney Islands & Stromness 
The Orkney archipelago belonged to Norway until 1468 when the king of Norway gave them to the king of Scotland as collateral for a loan. When Norway tried to repay the loan, Scotland wouldn't give the islands back. But after all, who would? Arrive in Kirkwall, once a medieval Norwegian port, now the largest town on the Orkney Mainland, where you have a choice of shore excursions. Take a guided walking tour of Kirkwall that includes its medieval cathedral and bishop's palace, then visit Scapa Flow and the stunning Italian Chapel, built by Italian prisoners of war during World War II. Join us for a music and folklore evening aboard ship, featuring a storyteller well-versed in local myths and legends. Drive to Marwick Head Nature Reserve, one of the best places in the UK to see wildlife, and take a clifftop walk above a seabird city of as many as 25,000 birds, including razorbills, kittiwakes, guillemots, and puffins. Or discover the remarkable range of food and drink found throughout the Orkney's on an excursion that combines the finest local produce with the beautiful landscapes and coastline. Our final excursion offers an exploration of the four monuments that make up the heart of Neolithic Orkney and includes lunch in a historic country hotel as well as a visit to the best-preserved Neolithic settlement, Skara Brae. (B, L, D)

Day 7 Treasure of the Shetland Islands 
The Shetland Islands are an archipelago of more than a hundred windswept islands, of which only 16 are inhabited; the rest are havens for wildlife. Towns and villages are few, but there are thousands of archaeological sites throughout the islands, including the remains of prehistoric fortresses and settlements. Arrive dockside at Lerwick on the largest island, where you have a choice of shore excursions. Drive to the southern tip of mainland Shetland to visit the uninhabited island of Mousa, site of a 2,000-year-old broch (round stone tower), 43 feet high, the best preserved in the world; explore its beehive-like chambers and climb the internal staircase to the top for panoramic views; cross to Shetland's east coast for a view of St. Ninian's Isle, where a cache of Pictish treasure was discovered in the 1950s (the Picti were tribes known to the Romans as "painted people."); visit Jarlshof near Sumburgh Head to see a 5,000-year-old settlement with remains dating from the Stone Age to the 17th century AD, a microcosm of Shetland history; then ride to the top of Sumburgh Head for views of the sea, seabird colonies, and Shetland's first lighthouse, built in 1821 by Robert Stevenson (grandfather of the writer Robert Louis Stevenson); lighthouses were the family business, and there are Stevenson lighthouses all over the Highlands. Alternatively, you can visit Mousa Broch, then explore its island, a breeding ground for European storm petrels, arctic terns and guillemots; a 2-mile walk includes a visit to a seal pool, and sweeping views of wildflowers and the North Sea – or head to the west mainland for a visit to Scalloway, its 17th-century castle, and the Scalloway Museum; learn about the village's clandestine role in World War II, and visit a farm that breeds Shetland Ponies. A guided walking tour through Lerwick takes you to its lifeboat station, lodberries (waterside houses for unloading ships), the town hall, and the Shetland Museum and Archives, followed by time to explore the town on your own. Aboard ship this evening, a local historian will lecture on the "Shetland Bus," a secret operation during World War II that smuggled agents in and refugees out of occupied Norway at night by way of fishing vessels. (B, L, D)

Day 8 Inverness: Cairns and Cawdor Castle 
Arrive this afternoon at Inverness on the Scottish mainland, where you have a choice of shore excursions. Drive outside the city for a walking tour of the Clava Cairns of Bulnuaran, well-preserved prehistoric grave monuments in a tranquil woodland setting not far from Culloden Moor. The cairns (dry stones built in elaborate circles, kerbs, passages, and mounds) date back to 2500 BC and offer an evocative look into Scotland's ancient past; then take a sidestep into medieval history with a visit to Cawdor Castle, famous for its association with Shakespeare's Macbeth (although the 11th-century Thane was long gone before the castle was built). Alternatively, you can visit Culloden Moor, the field where Bonnie Prince Charlie's Jacobite uprising was defeated in 1746, and the prince fled into exile and legend. You can choose instead to take a cruise on the Caledonian Canal from Dochgarroch to Loch Ness and visit the ruins of Urquhart Castle, overlooking the famous loch in its atmospheric, spectacular mountain landscape. A visit the Glen Ord Distillery offers a look into how its award-winning single malt whiskeys have been made since 1838, on a private tour with, of course, a tasting of several Glen Ord offerings. Return to the ship and join us this evening for the captain's farewell reception followed by dinner as you sail for Edinburgh. (B, L, D)

Day 9 Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh Castle & more 
Under the watch of its lofty clifftop castle, Edinburgh rambles over rocky hills beside the sea, inviting you into its captivating maze of crooked medieval streets, cozy passages, avenues, shops, pubs, townhouses, and monumental palaces. Disembark Le Champlain and tour the iconic Edinburgh Castle, standing on a crag of volcanic rock above the city skyline; over one thousand years of turbulent history have played out within its venerated halls, gates, courtyards, and battlements. Then enjoy a guided walk along the Royal Mile, the cobbled main street lined with shops, pubs, museums, and intriguing alleyways called "closes" and "wynds", as well as churches, law courts, the Parliament house and St. Giles Cathedral. (B)

Day 10 Another day well spent in Edinburgh 
Begin the day with a visit to Holyroodhouse, the Queen's official residence in Scotland (Tauck has arranged a private early opening) where you'll explore the magnificent state apartments, the royal gardens, and the royal art collection. A guided walking tour introduces you to more Edinburgh city sights, including medieval Old Town with its enticing nooks and crannies; stately New Town with its wide streets and Georgian townhouses; the Royal Botanic Garden; see Robert Louis Stevenson's birthplace; Charlotte Square with its gracious Victorian mansions and park; Princes Street, the main shopping thoroughfare; and Inverleith Terrace, one of the city's most exclusive residential neighborhoods. The rest of the afternoon is yours to spend as you please. Join us tonight for a farewell reception and dinner at your hotel. (B, D)

Day 11 Journey home 
Tour ends: Edinburgh, Scotland.  Fly home anytime. A transfer is included from the Kimpton Charlotte Square Hotel, the Balmoral Hotel, or the Principal Edinburgh George Street Hotel to Edinburgh Airport or the Edinburgh Waverley Train Station. Allow three hours for flight check-in. (B)
Map
All This Included
There’s no better way to explore all the natural and cultural riches that Scotland and its islands have to offer – from treasured tartans and traditions of the clans, to the wonders of single malt whiskies at a distillery in the Highlands to the distinctive folkways of the captivating Scottish Isles...
 
Our 11-day trip including a 7-night cruise aboard the luxury small ship Le Champlain, plus a choice of hotel stays in Glasgow and Edinburgh. Cruise to the celebrated Orkney and Shetland Islands, and the more remote isles of Iona, Mull, Skye and Lewis; explore eclectic Edinburgh, the traditions of Scottish music and dance, the Highlands’ incredible scenery, brooding Loch Ness and much more. Enjoy private early-opening visits to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, a sea safari, and more.
  • Visits to Skara Brae, a Neolithic settlement, and Gerranean Blackstone Village, a living museum, on Orkney Mainland
  • All gratuities to Tauck Director, ship staff and local guides
  • Tauck’s private shore excursions and distinctive inclusions valued at $2,447
  • Early private visit to Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh
  • Visit to Clava Cairns, a Neolithic cemetery, outside Inverness
  • Visit to Culloden Moor and Fort George
  • Canoe ride on Loch Ness
  • Tour and tasting at the Glen Ord Distillery
  • Visit to Mousa Broch, a Neolithic fortress as well as a Shetland Pony farm on Shetland Mainland
  • Visit to Marwick Head Nature Reserve on Orkney Mainland
  • Wildlife safaris on the Isle of Skye and Isle of Mull
  • Lunch and tea at Kinloch Lodge, Isle of Skye
  • Visits to Dunvegan Castle, Armadale Castle, and Eilean Donan Castle on the Isle of Skye
  • Visit to the state-of-the-art, interactive Glasgow Riverside Museum
  • Exclusive music, dance, and storytelling performances
  • Exclusive lectures by local experts aboard ship
  • Aboard ship – alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are available throughout the day, including house wines & spirits; premium spirits and wines are available at extra cost
  • Airport transfers upon arrival and departure as noted
  • 25 meals; service charges, applicable fuel surcharges, taxes and porterage
Accommodations
Glasgow: Dakota Glasgow
Cruising: Cabin onboard Le Champlain
Edinburgh: The Balmoral 
Notes
  • Cabin upgrades are available. 
  • Due to the popularity of this trip, you may be traveling with a group of up to 160 Tauck guests, with one Tauck Director for approximately every 40 Tauck guests.
  • For all bike rides, hikes and activities marked with an asterisk (*), participation is at your own risk and requires a signed liability waiver to be provided.
  • Please ask your Vacations To Go travel counselor for more information.
Terms and Conditions
For Tauck terms and conditions, please click here.

* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.