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Experience parts of Scotland that other tourists never visit.

Scotland's Hebrides Islands, off its west coast, are remote and unspoiled.  The rare Gaelic language is still heard in these places, and the empty beauty of the islands have a feeling of timelessness, belonging to no time and to all time.

 
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Scotland's Islands and Highlands Tour

A comprehensive tour of seven islands in Scotland's Inner and Outer Hebrides plus time in the Highlands
 

Tobermory on the Isle of Mull

Relax and enjoy a very different pace of life in quaint little seaside towns such as Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, which is just one of the places we'll visit and stay in on our comprehensive tour of Scotland's Hebrides Islands this June.


Enjoy 11 days of touring the islands (and some of the mainland too) of Scotland, with visits to small uninhabited isles (Fingal's Cave on Staffa) as well as to the largest of the islands (Lewis/Harris and Skye) and some of the remotest (again, Lewis and Harris).

We also include visits to the famously distinctive whisky distilleries on Islay, to ancient mysterious stone circles, castles, and in between coaching and ferry rides, we have time for what is regarded as the world's finest railway journey on a vintage restored steam train too.

Of course you can add anything extra you like before and/or after the main tour activities, so you've everything you need for a wonderful, varied and complete 2011 vacation.

Tour Dates (2011)

The tour starts on Monday 13 June at 12.30pm at the Glasgow Railway Station.  We recommend you should arrive in Britain no later than the previous day, Sunday, 12 June.

If you're starting your travels in the US, you'll probably take an overnight flight on Saturday 11 June (or sooner), to arrive into Britain on Sunday (or sooner).

The tour ends on Thursday 23 June when we arrive first into Edinburgh and then subsequently Glasgow in the afternoon.  You can then either return directly home or add your own arrangements as it suits you.

If you're traveling immediately back to the US, you might choose to spend a night either in your choice of Edinburgh or Glasgow or in the city you'll be flying out of, on the Thursday night, and plan to fly home on Friday 24 June.  You'll arrive back in the US at much the same time and on the same day as when you leave Britain.

Tour Inclusions

  • Large luxury coach for best views while touring and complete with onboard restroom for best comfort

  • Small group, to avoid the crowded impersonal feeling - maximum size 24 - lots of room and comfort for everyone on a 38 seater coach

  • Expert Scottish driver/guide plus David Rowell ('The Travel Insider' himself) as dedicated tour leader

  • One night stay in Campbeltown  on the mainland

  • Two night stay in Bowmore on the Isle of Islay

  • One night stay in Oban on the mainland

  • Two night stay in Tobermory on the Isle of Mull

  • One night stay in Fort Augustus on the mainland

  • One night stay in Portree on the Isle of Skye

  • Two night stay in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides

  • Breakfasts every morning

  • Feature dinners on the first and last nights

  • Area touring every day

  • Eleven different ferry rides through beautiful island vistas

  • Five different islands in the Inner Hebrides and two different islands in the Outer Hebrides

  • Ride on the Jacobite Steam Train from Ft William to Mallaig

  • Tastings and Tours of two of the famous Islay whisky distilleries plus visit for lunch at a third

  • Day tour to the holy Isle of Iona and to Staffa, site of Fingal's Cave (made famous by Mendelssohn)

  • Visits to Eilean Donan, Torosay, Urquhart and Dunvegan Castles

  • Visit to the Loch Ness Visitor Center

  • Visits to several stone circles and other ancient mysterious structures

Scottish Islands tour itinerary mapTour Itinerary

This tour gives you an opportunity to visit all the major islands off the west coast of Scotland.

You'll visit seven different islands, and enjoy eleven different ferry and boat rides plus two steam train rides.

Island life is slower, more relaxed, and very different to Edinburgh and Glasgow.  After this tour, you'll have a much better understanding of the diversity of this semi-independent nation.

Click here for the detailed day by day itinerary.

Click here for a daily diary written by one of the members of the 2010 tour group.

Tour Cost

Because this tour is with a small group, and because it has a substantial fixed cost (ie coach and driver/guide), the cost per person significantly varies based on the total number of people joining.

Rather than choose a price and either make an undue profit (or loss) depending on the number who participate, we're setting the price on a variable scale, depending on the total number who sign up.

  • $2995 if the group size is 14 or fewer people
    (Note - we were full with 24 people on our 2010 tour so hopefully we will have more than 14 in 2011 - and we already have 11 signed up!)

  • $2945 if the group size is 15 - 16 people

  • $2895 if the group size is 17 - 18 people

  • $2845 if the group size is 19 - 20 people

  • $2795 if the group size is 21 + people (max group size 24)

Rates are per person, share twin.  You should plan for the $2895 price, and hopefully enjoy a pleasant surprise if the group size exceeds 14.  We'll let you know as/when (if) the group size grows to above 14 and the price per person falls.  We closed last year's tour full with 24 people so hopefully will get more than 14 in 2011 too.

A single supplement of $595 is available.  We will also help to match together singles if you'd like to share with a compatible fellow single traveler.

These prices reflect a 3% discount for cash/check.

A $500 per person non-refundable deposit is required to confirm your places on this tour.

Tour does not include the costs of travel between to and from the tour start and end points.

A Note about the Hotels

The small towns we are staying in do not have large five star hotels.  They have smaller hotels, and in some cases even a group as small as ours will be filling the entire hotel, or will need to be split over two hotels in a town.

The hotels are not generic faceless chain hotels.  They are standard class hotels, often full of unique individuality and character, and are probably converted buildings rather than custom designed as hotels to start with.  They are generally rated at three stars.  But they are the best that are sensibly available in the places we have chosen, and while the rooms may be small, they are clean and reasonably comfortable, and all rooms have their own private bathroom.

The hotels are full of character, and even the bad parts - such as they may be - will hopefully add to the island experiences.

We make these comments not to apologize for bad hotels, because none of them are bad, but simply to explain about where we'll be staying and what to expect.  I've stayed at nearly all of them myself and used them on previous tours, and been happy in all cases.  If you, for example, look on TripAdvisor, you'll see that these hotels (and the ones we don't use as well) tend to get a wild swing of reviews from five out of five down to one out of five - we feel that the reason for this is whether people have a realistic expectation and a positive attitude or not.

For example, if you treat the staff politely and in a friendly manner, they will be polite and friendly back, but if you treat them rudely, they'll probably be rude back to you!  So our interpretation is that the number of stars given by each reviewer is as much a reflection on the reviewer as it is on the place stayed at.

Tour Upgrades

Some (but not all) of the hotels have upgraded rooms available for an extra price, and the Jacobite steam train has first class carriages as well as standard class.

Upgraded rooms may be larger than standard rooms, may have a higher standard of fittings and furniture and amenities, sometimes have a bath as well as shower, and may have better views.

We offer two upgrade options - one is to upgrade from the standard hotel rooms to the next category of rooms (and to first class on the train), and the second upgrade is to upgrade, where available, up two categories of rooms in the hotels (and to first class on the train).

To upgrade from standard to the first level of superior category where available would be an extra $250 per person (share twin)

To upgrade from standard to the second level of superior category where available would be an extra $400 per person (share twin).

What about the Air Fare?

You will save money and gain flexible convenience if you arrange your own air travel.  These days airlines seldom give discounts to groups, and sometimes even charge more, while also adding extra restrictions to the tickets!

You can choose whichever carrier has the best fare and the best schedules for you, and you can also choose a carrier that you wish to earn miles with.  You can even cash in miles and fly on frequent flier awards.

We'll be pleased to answer any questions you might have about arranging your air transportation, of course.

Where in Britain Should I Fly To?

Most people will choose to fly to London, because there are the most flights to London (either Gatwick or Heathrow airport is fine to choose).

It is a quick and very pleasant 4.5 - 5 hour train journey from London to Glasgow and from Edinburgh (or again Glasgow) back to London, with no need to change trains on the way.

And, if you prefer - perhaps because you can get a special low airfare, or maybe because you're trying to cash in frequent flier miles - you can of course fly to any other airport in Britain.  Indeed, just about all other airports are closer to Scotland than is London!  We'll help arrange trains so that you get to Glasgow by 12.30pm on the Monday to join the group.

Joining and Leaving the Tour

Joining the tour is simple and straightforward - please be at the Glasgow Central Railway station (note there are several railway stations in Glasgow) by 12.30pm on Monday 13 June.

As for leaving the tour, you can of course leave at any time and any place.

On the final day, once we return to Ullapool (a remote place and not somewhere you'd likely want to leave the group at!) you can get off the coach anywhere on its route via Inverness (we stop at their main railway station) and Pitlochry and down to Edinburgh (we stop at the main Waverly Railway station) and on to Glasgow (we stop at Glasgow Central station, the same place we started the journey).

The two most convenient places though are likely to be either Edinburgh or Glasgow, with a third option possibly being Inverness (if you wanted to, eg, then collect a rental car and drive around some more of the Scottish Highlands yourself).

How to Extend or Vary this Tour

There are many ways you can extend or vary this tour.

You can spend more time in Britain before the start of this tour, and/or anywhere else (eg in Europe) too.  We recommend that you arrive into Britain (or anywhere else in Europe) a day or more before the Monday 13 June tour start, so as to give you a chance to unwind from the flights and at least partially pre-adjust to the time zone changes and jet lag.

During the tour, all of the day touring is of course optional and you can substitute your own activities if you prefer.

After the tour, you can spend more time in Scotland, or travel on anywhere else in Britain and/or Europe.

So, you have many choices about adding extra time and sightseeing.  We're here to help ensure your experience is as good as possible, and will be pleased to help you with your pre or post tour planning - please don't hesitate to ask.

Pre-Tour Night at Culcreuch Castle

One very popular option in 2010 was spending Sunday night (12 June) at Culcreuch Castle, a 700+ year old castle about 30 miles north of Glasgow.

Let us know if you'd be interested in doing this.

Post-Tour in York

New for 2011 is an option to travel from Edinburgh to York at the end of the tour on Thursday 23 June and to enjoy two or three days in this ancient walled city and around beautiful Yorkshire.  Let us know if you'd be interested in doing this too.

Travel Insurance

We recommend you should consider travel insurance as prudent protection.  Rather than attempt to sell you some policy ourselves that may or may not suit your needs, we recommend you go to this insurance shopping site, which offers comparisons between something like 100 different policies offered by 18 different insurers, giving you all the options you need.

For more information about travel insurance than you probably ever thought you'd want to know, you can read our three part series on the subject.

Need More Information?

If you've a question or need more clarification, go ahead and ask.  Click for Live Chat Help (if we're online) or send us an email, or feel free to call us at (206)337-2317.

Request to Join the Tour

Your Name as on your passport, Age & Citizenship

Name         
Age                                
Citizenship                      

Name of Companion as on their passport, Age, Citizenship

Name         
Age                                
Citizenship  

If traveling as a single, would you like to share a cabin with a fellow tour member?

  No share
  Share requested

(comments)

blank

Your Address

City, State, Zip

Phone (Day)

Phone (Night)

Email

 

Upgrade Request?

 

Would you prefer twin beds or one double size bed

   One Double Bed     Two Twin Beds

Any special needs

Any other comments

As soon as your application is accepted, you will be asked to send in your $500 per person confirming deposit.

Tour Terms and Conditions

Our standard terms and conditions apply to this tour.

In addition, please note these extra terms :

1.   Deposit is required within seven days of your participation being confirmed.  Full payment is due on or before 21 March 2011.

2.   US citizens require a current passport that will not expire for at least six months after the date of their planned return back to the US in order to be admitted to Britain.  They do not require a British visa.  Citizens of other countries should check with the airline that will transport them to Britain to determine what passport and visa requirements may apply.

3.   Tour price is subject to change prior to full payment being received and is based on a UK/US exchange rate in the wholesale range between 1.55 and 1.65 and estimates of 2011 prices for hotels, ferries, etc in Scotland.  If the exchange rate varies outside of this rate prior to final payment being received, and if our estimates need to be updated for actual prices, the tour price will be adjusted (either up or down - in 2011 it was reduced) to reflect the change in the cost of tour components.  If the price of the tour increases by more than 10%, participants will be offered a no cost, no penalty opportunity to cancel and receive a full refund of all monies paid.  Once final payment has been received, your price is guaranteed.

4.   Triple share rates may be available.  Ask for a quote if this is required.

5.   There's plenty of room in the coach's luggage bays for as much luggage as you choose to bring.  But most hotels will not provide porterage and some may have you on an upper floor with no elevator, so you'll find it easier if you try and limit yourself to one main suitcase and one smaller item per person.
 

The Travel Insider is licensed by the State of Washington as a seller of travel - registration number 602 036 247.
 

Originally published 30 Jun 2010, last update 08 Jul 2017

 
More Information
Our Groupless Tour Philosophy
Why You Should Choose a Travel Insider Tour
Standard Terms and Conditions
Scotland's Islands Tour June 2011
Detailed Daily Itinerary for Scotland's Islands Tour June 2011
Trip Diary from the 2010 Tour
 
 
 

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