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8-Night Discover Scotland Tour

Price: From $1,098 Per Person
8 Nights

Enjoy eight nights in beautiful Scotland, as you discover storied cities steeped in historic beauty, majestic Highland scenery, and the unique Scottish culture. Arrive in Edinburgh, and spend two nights in Scotland's bustling & historic Capital. From Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace, to the unique two-tiered Victoria Street, charming and picturesque Edinburgh quite literally has it all! Next, strike north for two nights in Inverness - The Capital of Scotland's Magnificent Highlands - located just north of Loch Ness. From Inverness, you'll head south along the banks of Loch Ness for a two night stay in scenic and mountainous Fort William. From Fort William, you have the option of daytripping to the breathtaking Isle of Skye. Spend your final two nights in historic Stirling, the scene of centuries of Scottish war, drama and intrigue! Highlights include: The Royal Yacht Britannia, Blair Atholl Castle, Cairngorms National Park, Culloden & Bannockburn Battlefields, Loch Ness, Cawdor & Urquhart Castles, The Isle of Skye Glenfinnan, Glencoe, Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park, Stirling Castle and much, much more!

                            **Use tabs above to view Itinerary, Prices & How to Book.**

Tour Highlights

ACCOMMODATION

  • 2-nights in a 4-star hotel & 6-nights in Authentic Scottish Guesthouses

TRANSPORTATION

  • Rental Car including Insurance, Unlimited Mileage

DINING OPTIONS

  • 8 Full Scottish Breakfasts

POINTS OF INTEREST

  • White Walls of Blair Atholl Castle
  • Cairngorms National Park
  • The Mysterious Loch Ness
  • Culloden & Bannockburn Battlefields
  • The Isle of Skye
  • Steall Waterfall
  • Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park
  • Stirling Castle & The Wallace Monument

Edinburgh, Scotland

Arrive at

Arrive at Edinburgh Airport, Scotland

Arrive at Edinburgh Airport. If arriving from the U.S., please note that your flight is overnight.

Edinburgh is a small airport, ensuring that your experience there is a pleasant one. The airport is located 8 miles west of downtown Ediunburgh, and it takes approximately 30 minutes to make the journey by car or bus.


Accommodation

Bonham Hotel - Edinburgh, Scotland

4 Star
Room Type: Double

Check in policies:

Check-in is after 3.00pm on your day of arrival. Check-out before 12.00 noon.


Overnight Location

Edinburgh, Scotland

On The Map: Edinburgh is located in the southeast of Scotland. Edinburgh is well served by a good network of roads and motorways, including the M8 from Glasgow to the west, and A68 from Newcastle, England to the southeast.

Edinburgh knows how to welcome travelers with grace and charm. She also knows how to kick up her heels and enjoy a nice shot of Scotch Whisky after a festival. The hill that Edinburgh Castle stands upon has been Scotland’s remarkable silent witness since the Bronze Age. Today her streets are filled with cutting-edge galleries and museums, tributes to the love of literature and music, fine cuisine, quirky shops, theater, and an extravagance of festivals. Four ancient streets, called the Royal Mile, are the main thoroughfare.  Running through medieval Edinburgh with her 66 alleys, tumbling shops, cobblestones, and tight homes the Royal Mile takes you to New Town.  Here you’ll stroll through fine gardens, perfect Georgian architecture and broad squares. The mix of time, while lost in time, is a heady brew. There may be no finer city than Edinburgh Scotland, to participate in the gifts of the past with an eye to a brilliant future. 


Must-See Sites

The Royal Mile, Scotland

On The Map: The Royal Mile is located in Old Town Edinburgh, and runs between Edinburgh Castle & Holyrood Palace.

The Royal Mile is the main thoroughfare of Old Town Edinburgh, and boasts a number of famous historical sites and buildings, as well as an impressive array of shops, eateries and pubs. The Royal Mile is actually more than a mile by 107 yards. It starts at the entrance to Edinburgh Castle & ends at the gates of Holyrood Palace. There are several independently named streets which connect to make up the Royal Mile: Castlehill, Lawnmarket, High Street, Cannongate, and Abbey Strand. The major attractions on the Royal Mile are: Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace, The National Museum of Scotland & Camera Obscura - Scotland's oldest purpose-built attraction.


Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

On The Map: Edinburgh Castle is located at the top of the Royal Mile, at the west end of Edinburgh's Old Town. From its lofty position on Castle Rock, the castle dominates the Edinburgh skyline, and is impossible to miss!

Edinburgh castle sits on a high, rocky hill with a narrow ridge running east above the Old Town of Edinburgh. There has been a fortification of some kind here for thousands of years. The castle has existed through layers of time and history, and it is indeed magnificent. Edinburgh Castle has highlighted the city’s skyline for 800 years, is a national symbol, and it is Scotland’s most popular site to visit. The castle was a vital possession in Scotland’s historic struggles. The castle houses the Honours (Crown Jewels) of Scotland, the Stone of Destiny, the famous 15th century gun Mons Meg, the One O' Clock Gun and the National War Museum of Scotland. In addition to guided tours provided by the castle stewards, there is an audio guide tour available in eight languages. The audio tour takes the visitor on a tour around the castle, explains its architecture, and tells its dramatic history.


National Museum of Scotland, Scotland

On The Map: The National Museum of Scotland is located on Chambers Street, in the heart of oldtown Edinburgh. A mere few minutes walk from the Royal Mile, Chembers Street links George IV Bridge & South Bridge

The National Museum’s forte is artifacts from around the world. The recently opened more modern Museum of Scotland is a small miracle and dedicated to the story of Scotland and its people. They have separate identities, while sitting right next to each other. Very handy. Together, they are considered one of the finest collections in the world. The rarest antiquities in Scotland create a treasure trove for the senses and imagination. Some highlights include: Ivory chessmen made by invading Vikings in the 12th century; Holy relics, one linked to St. Columba and Iona and the other to Robert the Bruce; A staff carried by St. Fillian in the 8th century, one of the finest examples of artistry present 1,200 years ago; The Maiden, a 16th century guillotine; Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Canteen—all the stuff he needed to travel and dine in style!; Egyptian mummy cases, decorated with Egyptian symbols of death and resurrection; a 3,500-year-old Egyptian toy mouse with string that would have been pulled by a child. When it walks the tail wags!


Edinburgh, Scotland

Accommodation

Bonham Hotel - Edinburgh, Scotland

4 Star
Room Type: Double

Check in policies:

Check-in is after 3.00pm on your day of arrival. Check-out before 12.00 noon.


Must-See Sites

Gilmerton Cove, Scotland

On The Map: Gilmerton Cove is located in the Gilmerton suburb of southeast Edinburgh. It's not walkable from downtown, but is served by the 3, 3a & 29 buses.

Gilmerton Cove is a series of strange, hand carved passageways and chambers that lie 10 feet below ground to the south of Gilmerton crossroads. After five years of work by Gilmerton Heritage Trust and The City of Edinburgh Council to restore and preserve it for future generations, it opened in August 2003, providing visitors of all ages with an educational and fun experience. The entrance to Gilmerton Cove is through a visitor centre adapted from a traditional mining cottage. This cottage now houses imaginative audio and visual displays that depict the various theories behind the origins of Gilmerton Cove which, after extensive archaeological and historical research, still remain a mystery. Just how old the caves are is unknown, but records go as far back as the 18th century and the system appears to be very much older. Who constructed them? When? Why? And what have they been used for over the years? Tomb of ancient kings? Meeting place for one or more persecuted religious groups? Masonic Lodge Room? Witches Coven? Illicit Whisky Still & Drinking Den? Knights Templar Retreat? Some theories even suggest that the Templars buried the Holy Grail here. Whatever the real answers, everyone can agree that it is truly a fascinating and mysterious site to visit. Daily tours are available by prior appointment - call 07914 829177. Please note that Gilmerton Cove is not located in the heart of Edinburgh. It's a 30-minute bus ride - use Bus No. 3 or 29 from Princes Street.


Camera Obscura, Scotland

On The Map: Camera Obscura is located in the heart of Edinburgh. Right on the Royal Mile and only 100 metres from the entrance to Edinburgh Castle.

Camera Obscura is Scotland’s oldest purpose-built attraction, originally established in 1835. There's certainly something for everyone in this unusual and highly entertaining venue. Enjoy unique views of Edinburgh from the fascinating Camera Obscura and rooftop terrace. In World of Illusions, experience five floors of interactive hands-on fun, including The Vortex Tunnel, Mirror Maze and Shrinking Room. At Light Fantastic, be dazzled by the spectacular collection of 3D holograms. In The Magic Gallery, interact with incredible things like floating sweets, Victorian bendy mirrors & fish that swim on the floor! Get involved, play with & touch everything. Money back guarantee if not fully satisfied, and voted ‘Best family attraction in Britain’, in The Telegraph newspaper in 2010.


Holyrood Palace, Scotland

On The Map: The Palace of Holyrood House is located in the heart of the City of Edinburgh. The famous Royal Mile connects Edinburgh Castle at its western end and Holyrood to the east.

The official residence in Scotland of Her Majesty The Queen, this beautiful palace sits at the bottom of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, sheltered by Arthur’s Seat. Holyrood has many strong ties in Scottish history, and is well-known for being the home of Mary Queen of Scots. Visitors can view the stunning Royal Apartments, which show the different tastes of each monarch with fine plasterwork ceilings and decadent furnishings. On a tour round the palace you can see the Great Gallery, hung with portraits by Jacob de Wet, of the real and legendary kings of the country, and see the display on the Order of the Thistle, the highest honour in Scotland. Visitors can also take a guided tour of the historic Holyrood Abbey ruins, and learn of the building’s fascinating history through the centuries from its beginnings in 1128.


Royal Yacht Britannia, Scotland

On The Map: The Britannia is berthed at Ocean Terminal, Leith - just 2 miles north of the heart of Edinburgh. Majestic Tour Buses depart regularly from Waverley Bridge in the centre of town, and stop at the Royal Botanic Gardens en route.

Discover the floating palace that served the British Royal Family for over forty years from 1954. This magnificent ship has played host to some of the most famous people in the world. But, above all, she was home to Her Majesty The Queen and the Royal Family. The Queen played a large role in the design of the ship, personally approving plans and choosing the furniture and decor. She was once quoted as naming the yacht as the one place she could truly relax. Now in Edinburgh you are welcome on board to discover the heart and soul of this most special of royal residences. Experience what life was like on board The Royal Yacht Britannia with a fascinating audio tour of five decks. Highlights of the tour include the elegant State Apartments, the Crew’s Quarters, the Engine Room and the stunning Royal Deck Tea Room. Complimentary audio guide in 22 languages. Open year round with free parking at Ocean Terminal. **Authentic Ireland clients receive a 10% discount on admission - on arrival, show any official Authentic Ireland voucher / document, to avail of the discount.**


Inverness, Scotland

Accommodation

Lynver Guesthouse - Inverness, Scotland

Guesthouse
Room Type: Double/Twin

Check in policies:

Check-in time is between 3.00pm & 6.00pm on your day of arrival. If you expect to arrive outside these hours, please contact the owner in advance on 01463 242 906.


Enroute Sightseeing

Cairngorms National Park, Scotland

On The Map: The Cairngorms National Park, (Scotland's biggest), occupies a large region in the northeast of the country. The nearest major town is Aberdeen to the east, but Cairngorms NP is quite central to all Scotland's large cities.

Scotland’s pristine National Park, the Cairngorms, have the highest, rugged mountain range in Britain rising to 4,296 feet. This country is heaven for walkers, skiers, rock climbers & nature lovers. A number of species of rare birds are attracted to the thriving, unusual alpine flora. Rock-climbers and skiers particularly love the challenge of the Cairngorms. Its craggy sides attract climbers from around the world—they practice at the Cairngorms before trips to the Himalayas! During the summer a funicular railway climbs Cairngorm. The views over the Spey Valley are spectacular. There’s also a steam railway, dating from 1863, that runs from Aviemore and Broomhila.  This is a great way to get up-close to nature if you’re not into the thrills-and-chills of mountain sports!  Also, many estates in the valley supplement their income by introducing visitors to the Highlands. See Britain’s only herd of reindeer and walk among them - the Cairngorm Reindeer Center is happy to take you to these lovely animals. With mixed woodlands at the base, and the summit forming a sub-polar plateau, the Cairngorms present a huge variety of flora.  Ancient Caledonian pines, once common in the area, still survive in Abernathy Forest.  Fragile and flourishing, Arctic flowers thrive in the heights.


Enroute Sightseeing

Blair Castle, Scotland

On The Map: Blair Castle is located in Perthshire in the centre of Scotland, just north of Pitlochry Town. The castle is accessed via the main A9 road that connects the towns of Inverness (to the north), and Pitlochry & Perth (to the south).

The only man in Europe still allowed to have a private army is the Duke of Atholl, who resides at Blair Castle! The sight of his magnificent, white castle on the main road north will stop you in your tracks. The oldest part of the castle was built in 1269.  During the Jacobite campaigns, it was designed anew, and the turrets were added.  A brilliant stroke of genius. The ancient seat of the Dukes and Earls of Atholl and home to the Atholl Highlanders, Blair Castle stands proudly against the magnificent backdrop of Highland Perthshire. With collections that fill over 30 rooms, there are few historic homes in Britain that can claim to have more comprehensive family treasures than Blair Castle, which portrays Scottish life over 700 years. After a tour of the castle you can enjoy the variety and tranquility of the grounds and gardens which form part of one of Scotland's great estates.


Enroute Sightseeing

Pitlochry, Scotland

On The Map: Pitlochry is located in the very heart of Scotland. Cairngorms National Park is very close by to the north, and Edinburgh less than 1.5 hours to the south via the A9 road.

When Queen Victoria fell in love with the Highlands of Scotland, Pitlochry was a quiet village surrounded by the pine-covered hills of the Central Highlands. It became famous when she named it one of the finest resorts in Europe, and visitors began arriving to discover the magic of the Highlands. This vibrant town in the wooded valley of the River Tummel runs along a main street that’s lined with shops and eating places. It bustles with visitors, but relax and go with the flow. Look behind the busy-ness, and you’ll see the charming, Highland Victorian town that is still Pitlochry. Pitlochry is farther from the sea than any other place in Scotland, and it makes a good base for exploring the surrounding scenery, which is spectacular.


Overnight Location

Inverness, Scotland

On The Map: Inverness is located on Scotland's central northern coast. The town is accessed via the A9 road from the southeast (Cairngorms National Park), A82 from the southwest (Loch Ness) , and A96 from the northeast (Speyside, Whisky Country)

Inverness is the true capital of the Highlands, and with 50,000 people, it is one of Scotland’s fastest growing cities. It is also one of the Highland’s oldest settlements. All roads still lead to the Highland’s center, Inverness. It feels like a compact town, but it has the bustle and air of a lovely city. Let your imagination run wild, and take a ghost tour led by an 18th century ghost, complete with period costume. Expect to hear tales of the city’s blood-chilling past, including ghosts, witches, murders, and spells! Stroll along the River Ness, or cruise on the Moray Firth, searching out bottlenose dolphins. It is very peaceful, especially if you’ve just been ghost-hunting... The River Ness flows through Inverness, and salmon fishermen come during the summer, even where the river runs right through the city’s center. High above the city is Inverness Castle, a unique Victorian built of red sandstone. Just below the castle is the museum and Art Gallery which runs exhibitions and workshops for kids. The main shopping area fans out from there in three directions, and includes a lively gathering place where pipers and other musicians get together and make music.


Inverness, Scotland

Accommodation

Lynver Guesthouse - Inverness, Scotland

Guesthouse
Room Type: Double/Twin

Check in policies:

Check-in time is between 3.00pm & 6.00pm on your day of arrival. If you expect to arrive outside these hours, please contact the owner in advance on 01463 242 906.


Must-See Sites

The Black Isle, Scotland

On The Map: The Black Isle is located just north of Inverness in the Highlands of Northern Scotland. Construction of the Kessock Bridge (completed in 1982 and part of the A9 road) has greatly aided to access to the peninsula.

Despite its name, the Black Isle is not an island, but a peninsula, surrounded on three sides by water. The description ‘Black’ is just as misleading as Isle, and no one knows where the name originated. There are however a number of theories, the most colourful relating to the practice of black arts and witchcraft in mediaeval times. About 23 miles long by 9 miles wide at its broadest point, a drive around the peninsula, particularly if spending a few nights in Inverness, is well worth the effort. One of the Isle’s highlights is the village of Cromarty, poised on the tip of the peninsula. Probably the Highlands' best preserved historic town, Cromarty offers a wealth of attractions: sandy beaches, unusual architecture, Bottlenose Dolphins, pleasant eateries, and even a multi-award winning museum. Much of the village is original 18th century design, with little influence by modern-day architecture. The small fishing villages of Fortrose, Rosemarkie and Avoch are also highlights, located on the east coast of the Black Isle. Just across the water is the massive and imposing Fort George, built after the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion, in the hope of deterring any further unrest among the Highland Clans.


Culloden Battlefield, Scotland

On The Map: Culloden Battlefiled is located just 15 minutes from Inverness in the north of Scotland. From Inverness, travel approx. 7 miles east on the B9006, Culloden Road. A daily bus service also runs from Inverness to the battle site.

Since the 1630s Britain had suffered political and religious upheaval. Civil war was a constant fear as Scotland, Ireland and England struggled to find a way to live and prosper together. The 1745 Jacobite Rebellion against the British Government, led by the exiled Prince Charles Edward Stuart ('Bonnie Prince Charlie') had had some success. However at 1.00pm on 16 April 1746, the Culloden Battle began. Hardly an hour had passed between the first shots and the final flight of the Prince's army. Although a short battle by European standards, it was an exceptionally bloody one, and would change the course of history in Britain. The exciting new Culloden Battlefield visitor centre and exhibition opened in December 2007. Through recent archaeological and historical research the National Trust for Scotland discovered that the previous centre was sited on the third Government line of the battlefield. With the Trust's resolve to return the battlefield to as original a condition as possible, the centre was moved. The new centre and exhibition allows the whole Culloden story to be told in an innovative and interactive way, which appeals to all the family.


Cawdor Castle, Scotland

On The Map: Cawdor Castle is located in the north of Scotland. The castle is accessed via the B9090 road whichintersects with the main A96, northeast of Inverness Town.

Cawdor Castle has been the home of the Thanes of Cawdor since its construction in 1370. Originally consisting only of its central tower, the current structure is a result of significant additions in the 15th, 17th & 19th centuries. Well known for its fictional association with Shakespeare's Macbeth, Cawdor is also famed for its magnificent gardens, portions of which are over 300 years old. After you step inside, this other-worldly castle makes historical facts pale. Cawdor Castle fulfills all Shakespearean thoughts of love and tragedy. With its original keep, built in 1454, a drawbridge, ancient yew tree and enough weapons to start an uprising, this castle is the stuff of legend. The garden and estate, complete with maze, are equally remarkable. Who could ask for anything more? Cawdor Castle is open to the public between May & September each year.


Speyside, The Whisky Triangle, Elgin, Scotland

On The Map: Speyside is a name that is associated with the area between the towns of Elgin, Keith and Grantown, in the northeast of Scotland. The area is just about one hour drive east of the city of Inverness.

Speyside is a gentle area that feels more dreamlike than parts of everyday life. Signposts often read like a well-stocked bar! Whisky, a word derived from the Gaelic ‘uisce beatha’, means “water of life”. It has been distilled here, legally and otherwise, for more than 600 years. (The first record of making whisky in Scotland was in 1494.) Whether the Scots took it to Ireland, or the Irish brought it with them to Scotland in the 6th or 7th century, isn’t clear. There are eight distilleries, mostly founded in the early 18th century, linked by the signposted Malt Whisky Trail. Glen Grant, Cardhu, Strathisia, Glenlivet, Benromach, Dallas Dhu, Glen Moray, and Glenfiddich. Each offers guided tours and whisky tastings, and opening times and admission fees vary. But come to Speyside even if whisky is not on your agenda. This area is romantic and the River Spey is gorgeous.


Fort William, Scotland

Accommodation

Buccleuch Guesthouse - Fort William, Scotland

Guesthouse
Room Type: Double/Twin

Check in policies:

Check-in time is between 3.00pm & 6.00pm on your day of arrival. If you expect to arrive outside these hours, please contact the owner in advance on 01397 701 276.


Enroute Sightseeing

Urquhart Castle, Scotland

On The Map: Urquhart Castle is located on the western shore of Loch Ness in the northern Highlands of Scotland. The castle is approx. 16 miles southeast of Inverness on the main A82 road, in close proximity to the village of Drumnadrochit.

Wild natural beauty and 1,000 years of history - Urquhart Castle offers a taste of the Highlands at their most dramatic. Magnificently sited, overlooking Loch Ness, Urquhart is one of the largest castles in Scotland, and remains an impressive stronghold despite its ruinous state. Urquhart witnessed considerable conflict throughout its 500 years as a medieval fortress and its history from the 13th to 17th centuries was particularly bloody. Following Edward I’s invasion, it fell into English hands and was then reclaimed and lost again. In the 14th century, it figured prominently in the Scots’ struggle for independence and came under the control of Robert the Bruce after he became King of Scots. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the castle and glen were frequently raided from the west by the ambitious MacDonald Lords of the Isles, before ultimately falling into decay in 1689. The castle’s history and that of its noble families – Durward, MacDonald and Grant - is told in the exhibition and audio-visual display in the new visitor centre. The centre features an outstanding array of medieval artefacts found at the castle. The visitor centre contains retail, interpretation area, audio-visual presentation and tearoom and toilets on one level. The centre's veranda offers stunning views of the loch.


Enroute Sightseeing

Loch Ness, Scotland

On The Map: Loch Ness is a long stretch of freshwater, extending for approx. 23 miles southwest of the northern city of Inverness.

Loch Ness holds more water than all the lakes and reservoirs in the U.K. put together. Is it any wonder that a monster would choose to live there? During the Ice Age, glaciers tore and deepened a trench halfway through Scotland, creating a long glen of steep, forested mountains and mysterious lochs. Castles and forts abound, bearing witness to the Great Glen’s strategic importance. There is, of course, the elusive Loch Ness monster. She still attracts scientific interest, so keep your camera ready! Loch Ness is almost 1,000 feet deep and, on most days, has unusually black water, owing to the high peat content of the surrounding soil. This is an immensely atmospheric loch that is surrounded by everything you could hope for: mountains, castles, abbey ruins, and several enchanting villages. Loch Ness is worth every ounce of its fame.


Enroute Sightseeing

Fort Augustus, Scotland

On The Map: Fort Augustus is located at the southern end of Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands. The main A82 road connecting Fort William (to the southwest) and Inverness (to the northwest), passes right through town.

Fort Augustus takes its name from the fort built in this location, after the defeat of the 1715 Jacobite uprising. It named after King George II's younger son, Prince William Augustus, who later became the Duke of Cumberland. The infamous "Butcher Cumberland" was responsible for repressing the Highlands and destroying the ancient clan system after the final defeat of the 1745 Jacobite uprising at Culloden. Today, almost nothing remains of the original fort, although parts thereof were incorporated into the Benedictine Abbey (pictured) when it was built in 1876. Fort Augustus’ main attraction (aside from the natural beauty of its surrounds) is the Caledonian Canal, which bisects the town. The canal connects Corpach near Fort William with Clachnaharry in Inverness, was completed in 1822, and at 60 miles long can be regarded as one of Scotland's greatest engineering feats.  To the north the canal enters Loch Ness, and within the village itself is a series of stacked locks that provide a relaxing and entertaining spectacle. Immediately next to the locks is the Caledonian Canal Heritage Centre - an excellent place in which to gain an insight into the history and operation of the Canal. This area is part of a very attractive village centre, built along either side of the locks. The Clansmen Centre is another interesting diversion, where appropriately attired guides demonstrate 17th century clan weaponry, and provide insights into what clan life was really like.


Overnight Location

Fort William, Scotland

On The Map: Fort William sits at the head of Loch Linnhe, and the foot of the Great Glen and snow-peaked Ben Nevis. The major A82 road runs through town connecting it with Glasgow to the south & Inverness to the northeast.

Fort William got its name from the original fort built here in 1650 to keep the Highland clans in order. It's a convenient touring base for the Northwest of Scotland, and a popular hub for walkers, mountaineers, and scenery lovers of every type. Its appeal is not that of a destination town, but rather its location to some of the most stunning natural beauty in Scotland. Ben Nevis, Scotland’s highest, and most rugged is the most obvious draw, but it's certainly not all. The West Highland Museum on Cameron Square exhibits the 18th century “Secret Portrait of Prince Charles.” This was done when all paintings of Stuarts were completed in obscure swirls so the viewer didn’t get into trouble for having any connection, at all, to the Stuart side of the Royal family. Just northeast of town is the acclaimed “Treasures of the Earth,” one of Europe’s finest collections of crystals and gemstones. The “Underwater Center,” on the banks of Loch Linnhe, is the world’s leading diving instruction and training center. Also north of town are the impressive ruins of Inverlochy Castle.


Fort William, Scotland

Accommodation

Buccleuch Guesthouse - Fort William, Scotland

Guesthouse
Room Type: Double/Twin

Check in policies:

Check-in time is between 3.00pm & 6.00pm on your day of arrival. If you expect to arrive outside these hours, please contact the owner in advance on 01397 701 276.


Must-See Sites

Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland

On The Map: Eilean Donan Castle is located on the west coast of Scotland. At the meeting point of three sea lochs, the castle is situated by the picturesque village of Dornie on A87 road -  the main tourist route to the Isle of Skye.

Could there be a finer setting for a castle?  Possibly not. Eilean Donan is one of Scotland’s, and indeed the worlds, most photographed castles.  Snuggled on an island off the hilly shores of Loch Duich, this castle was built in the 13th century.  Ruined during one of the Jacobite risings in the early 18th century, it was restored to all its glory some two centuries later when Colonel John MacRae-Gilstrap bought the island in 1911. He proceeded to restore the castle to its former glory. After 20 years of toil and labour the castle was re-opened in 1932, and it is now the headquarters of the Clan McRae. Today, you can explore nearly every part of the castle, and enjoy a journey through the history of the area. The Castle now has its own visitor centre, which includes the Ticket Office, Coffee Shop, Gift Shop and toilets.


The Skye Museum of Island Life, Scotland

On The Map: The Skye Museum of Island life is located in Kilmuir, on the northern coast of the island's Trotternish Peninsula. From Portree (20 miles / 35 minutes away), head north on the A87, then smaller A855 roads until you reach the village of Kilmuir

This Skye museum is a wonderful depiction of what island life was like for crofters (Highland farmers) at the turn of century circa 1900. The museum consists of seven thatched roof cottages, each of which illustrates a different aspect of island life. The central cottage is home to the reception and gift shop, and the four closest to it are crofter cottages with recreated interiors; The Old Crofhouse, The Weaver's House, The Old Smithy & The Old Barn. The other two structures are the Ceilidh House and The Byre, which together boast a superb collection of historical material about Skye. The museum first opened in 1965, making use of a thatched cottage (now The Old Croft House) that had been built at the beginning of the 1800s, and which had been in use as a family home until 1957.


Dunvegan Castle, Scotland

On The Map: Dunvegan Castle is located on the west coast of the Isle of Skye, off the west coast of Scotland. From Portree, take the A87 road north and then the A850 west to Dunvegan.

Any visit to the Isle of Skye is incom­plete without savouring the wealth of history and clan legend on offer at Dunvegan Castle & Gardens. Built on a rock in an idyllic loch-side setting, Dunvegan is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scot­land and has been the ancestral home of the Chiefs of Clan MacLeod for 800 years. On display are many fine oil paintings and clan treasures, the most famous of which is the Fairy Flag. Legend has it that this sacred Banner has miraculous powers and when unfurled in battle, the clan MacLeod would invariably defeat their enemies. Visitors can enjoy tours of this extraordinary castle and Highland estate, delight in the beauty of its formal gardens, or take a boat trip onto Loch Dun­vegan to see the seal colony. Visitors can also enjoy an appetising meal at the MacLeods Table Cafe or browse in one of its four shops.


Isle of Skye, Scotland

On The Map: The Isle of Skye is a large island located off the west coast of Scotland. Skye is accessed via a landbridge (A87 road) from Kyle of Lochalsh on the mainland, or by ferry from Mallaig, reached via the A830 road from Fort William.

“Cloud Island” is the name Norse settlers gave to the Isle of Skye. It is fitting. A 50-mile-long banquet of velvet moors, jagged mountains, shimmering lochs and towering sea cliffs produce stunning scenery. If the weather turns, there are plenty of castles, crafting museums, and cozy pubs and restaurants to please anyone. Along with Edinburgh and Loch Ness, Skye is one of the places in Scotland that people enjoy visiting the most. A wild geological past has produced some of Britain’s most dramatic scenery. From rugged Northern Skye to the ice-sculpted peaks of the Cuillins, the island is riveted with many lochs. The traveler is never more than five miles from the ocean. Skye is everything we think of the Highlands to be:  Wild, fierce, and mesmerizing. Overnight stays on Skye are at the island's main town - Portree. The location of Bonnie Prince Charlie's final days in Scotland in 1746, Portree today is a bustling port and Skye's cultural hub.


Stirling, Scotland

Accommodation

West Plean House - Stirling, Scotland

Guesthouse
Room Type: Double/Twin

Check in policies:

Check-in time is between 4:00pm & 10:00pm on your day of arrival, If you expect to arrive outside these hours, please call the B&B owners in advance on 01786 812 208.


Enroute Sightseeing

Glenfinnan, Scotland

On The Map: Glenfinnan Village is located in the western highlands of Scotland, 10 or so miles from the coast. The Village is most easily accessed via the A830 road, 17 miles west of the town of Fort William.

This small, beautiful village has sat comfortably among the hills of Glen Finnan for centuries. The village is located within a lovely u-shaped valley that follows a north-east to south-west route with Loch Shiel in the center of the glen. Of major interest is the Glenfinnan Monument (pictured). The column, erected in 1815 is a tribute to the Jacobite clansmen who fought and died in the cause of Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie). The raising of the Prince's Standard took place at the head of the loch on 19 August, 1745, in a last attempt to reinstate the exiled Stuarts on the throne of Great Britain and Ireland, Unfortunately for the Prince and his followers, their campaign came to a grim conclusion in 1746 on the battlefield at Culloden. The nearby Glenfinnan Viaduct is also well worth a visit. This wonderful piece of late Victorian construction was completed in 1901, and the viaduct was the first structure in the world to use at that time the new building material 'Mass Concrete'. Over 100 feet in height and made up of 21 arches, this viaduct is a beautiful piece of engineering and is a glorious sight. The viaduct has recently gained notoriety from its use in the Harry Potter films, as the Hogwarts Express winds its way to Hogwarts Castle.


Enroute Sightseeing

Glencoe, Scotland

On The Map: Glencoe runs east-west along the route of the main A82 road. Fort William is a mere 16 miles to the north, while Glasgow is 90 miles to the south

'Glen Coe' is probably Scotland’s most famous and scenic Highland glen – and deservedly so - it really does merit the description 'spectacular'. The best approach is from the south on the A82, one of the major routes through the Highlands. The road climbs over the bleak expanse of Rannoch Moor and drops down between the steep scree-strewn sides of Glencoe. Awesome mountains such as Buachaille Etive Mor and the Three Sisters loom on either side, with riverine scenery at the bottom of the glen. The area is a paradise for walkers and climbers in all seasons, and skiers and snowboarders in the winter. The name Glencoe means 'Valley of Weeping', and has a haunting atmosphere as a result of the Massacre of Glencoe in 1692. This was carried out by the British army, when the chief of the MacDonalds of Glencoe had been slow to swear allegiance to William of Orange. The picturesque village of Glencoe lies at the northwest end of the glen. In the TV series Outlander, Glencoe features in the show's opening credits. It has also starred on the big screen, in Harry Potter movies, Highlander and Rob Roy.


Enroute Sightseeing

Steall Waterfall, Scotland

On The Map: Steall Falls is located in Glen Nevis, just 15 minutes drive southeast of Fort William.

Steall Waterfall takes its name from the gaelic 'An Steall Bàn', which means The White Spout. And quite a spectacular spout it is at almost 400 feet tall - the second highest in Scotland. It is a relatively short hike to the falls from the Lower Falls carpark - between 30 & 45 minutes each way. Serious walkers wishing to indulge in a longer hike can instead leave their cars at the Braveheart carpark. The path through Nevis Gorge is well-maintained and straight-forward, but of course good footwear is essential. The gorge is the epitome of Highland beauty, as you find yourself surrounded by superb views, wild flowers, cascading streams and most likely some grazing Highland cattle! Soon the gorge opens-up to reveal a hanging valley, into which Steall Waterfall makes its impressive drop. Walk on for another 15 minutes or so, and you'll arrive at the wire rope bridge, where one can test their nerve in pursuit of a close-up waterfall view!  If you are a Harry Potter fan, Steall Falls is featured in a few scenes such as the famous battle between Harry and the Horntail dragon in the Goblet of Fire.


Overnight Location

Stirling, Scotland

On The Map: Stirling is located in Central Scotland, less than 45 minutes on the M80/A80 from Glasgow to the southwest & 1 hour on the M9 motorway from Edinburgh to the southeast.

Stirling is a taste of both the Lowlands and the Highlands. It is packed with castles and tales of people who are larger than life, and it is blessed with awe-inspiring, natural beauty. “Hold Stirling and you control the entire country…” This simple strategy has ensured that a castle, or some sort of fortification, has existed here in Scotland since prehistoric times. Stirling is associated with King Arthur and some believe it was the locale for Camelot. In recorded history, we know that Alexander I dedicated a chapel here. Below the very impressive Stirling Castle, Old Town Stirling is protected by the 16th century walls built to keep Mary, Queen of Scots, safe from Henry VIII. And, it was here, that the infant James VI was crowned in 1567. This area was also the home of Rob Roy, whose exploits still echo through the Highlands. There is something about Stirling that feels like a fairy tale. Its sense of time is similar to Edinburgh, but the hustle and bustle is turned down. The atmosphere is easy to absorb.  With its winding cobblestone streets, and the old town clinging to the slopes beneath the castle, you can feel the layers of time and heroism. Take a quiet walk in the moonlight on Stirling’s magic streets.  It’s an experience to be savored.


Stirling, Scotland

Accommodation

West Plean House - Stirling, Scotland

Guesthouse
Room Type: Double/Twin

Check in policies:

Check-in time is between 4:00pm & 10:00pm on your day of arrival, If you expect to arrive outside these hours, please call the B&B owners in advance on 01786 812 208.


Must-See Sites

Battle of Bannockburn, Scotland

On The Map: The site of the Battle of Bannockburn is located just 2 miles south of the city of Stirling in central Scotland. To access the site from the M9/M80 motorways, take Junction 9 onto the A872 road.

Stirling Castle was central to the defence of the main route into northern Scotland, and between 1296 and 1314 it changed hands five times! In 1314, the castle was held by a garrison of King Edward II’s troops, and besieged by the Scots. Edward II marched rapidly northwards to relieve the garrison and Robert the Bruce chose a site at the crossing of the Bannock Burn to stop the advance of Edward’s army. The Battle of Bannockburn was a turning point for the beleaguered Scots.  Facing a thorough onslaught by the English in 1314, Robert the Bruce led the Scots to an astonishing victory. The Scots won their independence, their nation, and their pride. In 1329, in large part due to this battle, Scottish independence was ratified by the Pope. The sense of history here is tangible and Bannockburn is still a focus for Scottish pride today. You can find out what inspired this great Scottish victory at the Bannockburn Heritage Centre. Don't miss the gripping new film depicting the dramatic events of June 1314, as well as walking the battlefield under the gaze of Robert the Bruce himself, immortalised in a statue by Pilkington Jackson (pictured).


Wallace Monument, Scotland

On The Map: The Wallace Monument is located just north of Stirling City. It is signposted from both the town centre and the main A91 road.

William Wallace (1270 – 1305) was a powerful man with bright eyes. Standing more than six and a half feet tall, he was a veritable giant in a time when most men were five-feet-tall! Wallace spent his childhood near Stirling under the supervision of his uncle, a priest. Wallace probably led a comfortable and peaceful life as a child, and must have trained in the martial arts of the time, including horsemanship and swordsmanship. When King Edward I, known as Edward "Longshanks,” came to the throne of England in 1272, a reign of tyranny and terror began to subdue the Scots and cement English rule. Life had changed, and when Wallace came of age, he fought. The 220-ft National Wallace Monument commemorates the great man and his valiant fight for Scotland’s independence. Visitors will learn about Wallace’s dramatic tale in detail, as well as other national heroes like Robert the Bruce and Rabbie Burns. . Most electrifying is the “talking head’, which presents Wallace’s defense before his brutal execution in 1305. When you climb to the top, you’ll see Wallace’s amazing and massive two-handed broadsword, and the 360 degree view is extraordinary.


Stirling Castle, Scotland

On The Map: Stirling is located in the town of Stirling in Central Scotland. Stirling is less than 45 minutes on the M80/A80 from Glasgow to the southwest & 1 hour on the M9 motorway from Edinburgh to the southeast.

Stirling Castle sits high on a rocky crag above the town. It is a magnificent castle and is one of the finest examples of Renaissance architecture in Scotland. Stirling occupied a key position in Scotland’s battle for independence. Seven battlefields can be seen from the castle, and the 220-foot Wallace Monument at Abbey Craig recalls William Wallace’s (the Scottish Hero on which the movie 'Braveheart' was based) defeat of the British in 1297 at Stirling Bridge. For generations Scotland’s royalty gathered at Stirling Castle to revel in its impressive buildings, superb sculptures, fine craftsmanship and beautiful gardens. Today Visitors can do the same. Highlights include The Great Hall, Chapel Royal, Regimental Museum of the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, The Great Kitchens and Tapestry Studio. Guided tours of the castle help bring its rich and colourful past to life in vivid detail.


Doune Castle, Scotland

On The Map: Doune Castle is located in the town of Doune in Central Scotland. Doune is located approx. 8 miles northwest of Stirling along the A84 road to Callander. Callander is a further 16 miles northwest of the Castle.

Doune Castle has a rich and varied history, dating from the late 1300s. It's a fascinating place and visitors get a real sense of what life was like in a living, working castle. A labryrinthine collection of rooms, passageways and staircases are available to explore, and The Lord's Hall is particularly well-preserved. Many people however, visit the castle for reasons other than a history lesson! If it looks familiar, that's not surprising, as Doune regularly appears in TV shows and movies. Currently, Doune stars as Castle Leoch, the seat of Clan MacKenzie, in the acclaimed 'Outlander' TV series. The Castle is used for exterior scenes of the fictional Castle Leoch, but production designers also used molds of the architecture at Doune to build sets at the studio, for interior castle shots! Doune is also the castle used in most 'castle scenes' of the cult 1975 movie 'Monty Python & The Holy Grail'. Doune is a big draw for the many fans of the Monty Python movies. More recently, Doune Castle has once again gained fame - this time on TV, for its use in the opening episode of the excellent mini-series, 'Game of Thrones'. CGI technology played a large part in transforming Doune into Winterfell, home of the Starks in George R.R. Martin's HBO series. The interior was later used for the great feast scene, when King Robert Baratheon comes to call on the Starks.


Depart From

Depart from Edinburgh Airport, Scotland

Return to Edinburgh Airport 2 hours prior to your flight's scheduled departure. This will allow ample time to check in for your flight home.

Edinburgh is a small airport, but offers a surprisingly large array of shops and restaurants. If you have some time on your hands after check-in and security, you won't be bored!


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  • 8-nights from Contemporary City Hotel to Authentic Scottish Guesthouse
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  • 8 Full Scottish Breakfasts

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“Last Minute Trip”

Jul 17, 2019 by Dylan. Your Hometown: Nashville

I had a last-minute work trip that I added a vacation too. Authentic Vacations were quick and found me exactly what I needed. They worked within my budget and it was seamless when I got to Ireland!

“Summer vacation with wife and 14 yr old daughter”

Jul 17, 2019 by C.J. Driggers. Your Hometown: GILBERT, SC

We had an awesome trip to the wonderful island of Ireland. Everything went smooth for us and our agent Lonna set us up with great accommodations. It seemed each hotel/b&b got better as the trip went along! We went for 8 days with 2 in Dublin, 1 in Kinittey, 2 in Killarney, 1 in Dingle, 1 in Doolin, and 1 in Trim before departing for home. My wife and daughter liked Dingle the best, while I thought Killarney offered the best of all worlds. I will say as an American, driving over there is an adventure. Major roadways are not a problem, but I've been on golf cart paths wider than some of the rural 2-lane roads found in the countryside. The only piece of advice I could offer is that when in Dublin, take the hop-on/off tour bus 1st thing around the entire city. Then get off the bus and explore the parts of the city that seem interesting to you. If you stay at the Ashling Hotel, walk across the bridge in front of the hotel and go around the corner of the train station to your right to get on the convertible bus. Knowing this would have saved us several hours as we wasted half a day trying to figure this out on our own.

Jul 17, 2019 by Nancy Foldesi. Your Hometown: Simi Valley

This was our second trip with Authentic Ireland and we loved it even more than our first trip. Aran Islands was a great spot. Rugged and beautiful! Our driver for the 3-day portion was great. Very helpful with great ideas. Our stay in Sheen Falls was magical. The cottage and villa were stocked with everything we needed to make a fantastic breakfast!! Also wine and candy 😎 Michelle was so helpful and gave me wonderful advice. She booked our perfect meal at The Lime Tree!! Perfect family vacation!!

“Ireland Trip 2019”

Jul 17, 2019 by Meghan Fahey. Your Hometown: Vermont

We booked a 10 day stay in Ireland. My boyfriend and I made our first international trip together. We had a great time! I had been to Ireland before, but the itinerary AV made was outstanding. The pace was great for a cross-country road trip and Michael was excellent at listening to our expectations and our wishlist. The Mystical Rose and Mena House were our very favorite B&Bs! Ring of Kerry was spectacular! We never had a bad meal! IT was outstanding to have all the planning stream-lined in one document. We just got back July 1st, and are already talking about Scotland! I had never been to Galway-what an addition to the trip. We saw everything we planned and had enough time to try other experiences. Ireland is getting more touristy by the second, so I would highly recommend planning and booking in advance for as much as possible. There were 2 B&Bs that we were not overwhelmingly enthused by, but they got the job done. We could not have had better weather-only one day of rain! The Blarney Castle was fantastic and driving ourselves was not even that bad. All in all, a great experience!

“40th Anniversary Trip”

Jul 10, 2019 by Kenneth Elder. Your Hometown: Katy, TX

My wife and I spent 16 days traveling all over Scotland. We had an amazing trip! We had read many of Con's blogs and planned many of our activities based on his blog.

Con and his team set up the hotel/B&B stops for us along the way and my wife and I drove the rental car over 1500 miles touring the countryside, castles, distilleries, and sites around Scotland, as we pleased.

Most of the accommodations were very nice, but, like most anywhere you travel in Europe, many of the showers in the bathrooms are more like a phone booth. Very cramped.

Except for being a little warmer than we anticipated, the weather was perfect. Out of 16 days, we had two days of rain.

Driving on the wrong side of the road, from the wrong side of the car, on some of the narrow, single lanes, winding coastal roads, with your wife navigating and yelling at you to slow down, was an adventure all by itself. I wish we had taken a "GoPro" camera to put on the dash to record some of the roads we drove on! Make sure you have an international phone plan or a GPS! Google Maps worked great for us.

As someone else mentioned in their review, the "Spirit of Scotland" dinner show was underwhelming, as was the food, but it was already included in our package. Probably could have spent those 2-3 hours doing something more interesting.

Con was very helpful in helping arrange our trip and gave some very useful tips and insight.

One suggestion I would make to Authentic Vacations for those who are renting a vehicle and driving in Scotland is that they provide some explanation of road signs and some details about highway speed limits. Such as, unless posted differently, the speed limit on Scotland highways is 60 MPH.

AND, in Scotland, the speed limit is in MPH, not Kilometers. Speed cameras are used extensively in Scotland, so mind your speed.

Thanks, Con and Authentic Vacations. We had a wonderful vacation!

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