Day 1: Australia – – Edinburgh
Make your way to the airport and board your Emirates or Qatar Airways flight towards Edinburgh in Scotland!
Day 2: Edinburgh
Your flight touches down at Edinburgh Airport. Catch the Air/Skylink bus, using the ticket included in your tour package, and travel into the centre of Edinburgh to reach your hotel for check in. The remainder of the day is at your leisure to rest in your room, or begin to get to know Edinburgh by taking a leisurely wander around this resplendent city.
Day 3: Edinburgh – – Fort William (B)
Breakfast is taken at the hotel and you then head to the train station to catch a train towards Fort William. Your journey on the train is covered by your ScotRail Spirit of Scotland pass. This journey takes between four and five hours, and passes through Glasgow, by Loch Lomond and into Trossachs National Park.
Located in the western Scottish Highlands, Fort William is a popular jumping-off point for visiting Ben Nevis and Loch Linnhe.
Day 4: Fort William – – Mallaig – – Fort William (B)
Anticipate seeing more of the west coast of the Scottish Highlands today as you board The Jacobite. This renowned steam train covers a 41-mile route from Fort William to Mallaig, and provides passengers with up-close views of truly stunning countryside, including Loch Eil, Glenfinnan Viaduct and Arisaig. All you need to do is sit back and enjoy the journey. Please note that in the case of The Jacobite not being available, your group will set out on the same rail route aboard a ScotRail train via Glenfinnan. Return to Fort William at the end of your rail excursion and have the remainder of the day as leisure.
Day 5: Fort William – – Glasgow (B)
Board a southbound train to reach Glasgow, the gorgeous port city beloved for its mix of Victorian-era and art nouveau architecture. You have the day as free time upon arriving in Glasgow and checking into the hotel.
Day 6: Glasgow (B)
Glasgow is one of the epicentres of Scotland’s art and culture scene, and its bounty is yours for the discovery thanks to an entire day of free time! Head into the centre of Scotland’s largest metropolis and begin to tick off major landmarks. Explore inside the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum or any of the 22 galleries dotted across Glasgow’s cityscape, such as the Riverside Museum of Transport and Travel, Gallery of Modern Art, and Scotland Street School Museum. Visit the Clydeside or Glengoyne Distilleries, admire the architecture of Glasgow Cathedral and the nearby Necropolis, or seek out servings of typical Glaswegian cuisine such as black pudding, macaroni pie and chips, Cullen skink, and sweet cranachan.
Day 7: Glasgow – – Inverness (B)
Breakfast is served at the hotel before heading to the rail station to board a train to Inverness. This trip takes slightly less than four hours and will take passengers into the spectacular Stirling region, past Perthshire and through Cairngorms National Park. Inverness is the largest city – and the capital – in the Scottish Highlands. The city’s Old Town is known for its impressive cathedral and an indoor market offering everything from clothes and handicrafts, to souvenirs, picnic supplies and more.
Day 8: Inverness – Isle of Skye – Inverness (B)
A full-day excursion takes you to the Isle of Skye today. This is Scotland’s most-visited island and has a landscape characterised by imposing medieval castles, untamed wilderness and charming fishing villages. It is an early start as you depart Inverness and travel along the Great Glen Fault and arrive at arguably Scotland’s most legendary lake, Loch Ness. Stop for your chance to spy the mythical monster rumoured to hide among the lake’s depths and admire the sight of Castle Urquhart from afar. There is a pitstop in Invermoriston before your group continues through the Highlands to Eilean Donan Castle. Take your own captures of the castle – among the most photographed in Scotland – but be sure to put down your smartphone or camera for a few minutes to absorb the glory of your surrounds without looking through a screen.
The trip carries on and makes the crossing to the Isle of Skye. Follow a road along the island’s east coast through the Red Cuillin Mountains to Sligachan for another photo stop. There is some time for a quick bite to eat in the town of Portree ahead of exploring the Trotternish Peninsula – expect to see the Old Man of Storr, Kilt Rock and the Quiraing. Pause in Kyleakin for refreshments and the opportunity to see Castle Moil, or the Skye Bridge and Eilean Ban. Your return trip to Inverness sees you move along a different route, offering another fill of the diverse Highlands scenery.
Day 9: Inverness – – Thurso (B)
Board a train travelling north towards Thurso. A possible stop along the way is Dunrobin Castle and the gorgeous manicured grounds that surround this stately structure. Learn about those lucky enough to call the castle home, the Earls of Sutherland, and watch a falconry display carried out in the gorgeous gardens. It is then back onto the train as it continues to Thurso, the northernmost town on the British mainland and the location of your overnight stay.
Day 10: Thurso (B)
You have the entire day to sightsee around Thurso however you like. This pretty town also makes an excellent base for seeing more of the surrounding countryside, and you may even make use of your rail pass to catch a train to Wick, the former Viking settlement that is sure to pique the interest of history-lovers. Wick was once one of the busiest herring ports in Europe and is located on the banks of the River Wick. Those thinking of visiting Wick can make plans to see the remains of the 12th-century Castle of Old Wick, one of the oldest castles in Scotland. Otherwise, those looking to have a quieter rest day can stay closer to Thurso and choose to explore the town centre, strolling past heritage facades, cute cafes and the wellhouse of Meadow Well. There are some small galleries to put on your radar too.
Day 11: Thurso – – Inverness (B)
Begin the journey south by hopping aboard a train back towards Inverness. You have free time upon arrival and can use the day to tick off seeing Inverness Castle, St Andrews Cathedral or Falcon Square. You may also have time to venture just beyond the city’s limits to make the trip to the Culloden Battlefield, Cawdor Castle and Fort George.
Day 12: Inverness – – Cairngorms – –Edinburgh (B)
Today’s train journey takes you through Cairngorms National Park on the way to Edinburgh. There may be a chance to stop in Aviemore and take a return trip on the well-known Strathspey Railway (at own cost). If not, your group travels through Perthshire and crosses the Fort Rail Bridge ahead of arriving in Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland, in the afternoon.
Day 13: Edinburgh (B)
Enjoy a whole day to explore Edinburgh today! This elegant city is as renowned for its good looks as it is for its history, arts and culture offerings, and culinary clout. Take the walk up the Royal Mile to Edinburgh Castle (at own cost) to head inside this imposing landmark. Learn about some of the sights within the Castle, including St. Margaret’s Chapel and the glittering Crown Jewels of Scotland. Take a nip or two of Scotland’s most famous tipple with a tour at the Scotch Whisky Experience, another popular to-do located along the Royal Mile. This experience includes a whisky barrel ride while learning about the production of Scotch whisky, and you’ll also be treated to a nosing and tasting. You might also look to visit Holyrood Palace, the official residence of Queen Elizabeth when she is Scotland.
Return to your hotel in the afternoon to freshen up in anticipation of tonight’s highlight: the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo! Make your way back to Edinburgh Castle for this world-renowned event; a spectacle that celebrates music, dance and military pageantry. The Tattoo is broadcast around the world (televised in about 40 countries!), and has been a fixture on the Edinburgh events calendar since its first official performance in 1950. Witnessing this incredible display is the perfect way to spend your final night in Scotland!
Day 14: Edinburgh – – Australia (B)
Have breakfast at the hotel ahead of checking out. You are at your leisure until the time comes to make your own way to the airport and begin the return journey to Australia.
Day 15: Australia
Arrive back in Australia today.