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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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Detailed Day by Day Itinerary for the

2018 Scotland's Islands & Highlands Tour

A beautiful view out over the Campsie Fells while driving from Glasgow to Fintry and Culcreuch Castle. 

Me (on the left) and driver Jim (on the right), always at the ready to point out sights and answer your questions.


Click the map to open a larger version in a new window.  Please note route is approximate and subject to change.

Tour 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, enjoy eleven different boat rides, plus take one of the world's finest steam train rides (on the 'Harry Potter' train, aka The Jacobite).

There's a huge amount more to Scotland than 'just' Edinburgh and Glasgow.  After this tour, you'll have a much better understanding of the diversity of this semi-independent nation.

Please click here to open up a Google Map showing the daily itinerary in summary form.  Note that this is a bit, ahem, experimental.  But hopefully it will help you understand in more detail where we'll go.

And please click here to return to the main Scotland's Islands Tour page, or here to read about our pre and post tour options.


Please click here to open a table showing the dates we visit each place on each tour. 

Day 1  (Saturday - or earlier)  Leave the US

To arrive in Britain on Sunday, you probably need to take an overnight flight on Saturday

You should make your own arrangements to fly from the US to Britain, departing on Saturday - or earlier if you wish to spend extra time in Britain before the start of the main tour.

Please click here to see the pre-tour options we offer prior to the main tour starting.


Day 2 (Sunday  - or earlier) Arrive in Britain

You can fly to London or to any other convenient city in Britain

Many people will fly to London, but you can also choose other destinations in Britain such as Manchester, or even Glasgow itself.

Choose whatever British city which makes best sense for you in terms of convenience and cost.

Many of us will enjoy an optional stay at a Scottish Castle this evening.

Tour Starts on Day 3 (Monday) :  Traveling to Scotland then coach to Campbeltown

Our deluxe 38 seater coach has lots of space for everyone, great views from its high seating and huge picture windows, restroom, even a video system
We travel alongside the Kyles of Bute this afternoon
The main street in Inverary
Campbeltown's waterfront

If you're not already there, make your way to Glasgow today, perhaps by train, and if so, likely up the beautiful West Coast Main Line from London.

The tour starts at Glasgow's Central Railway Station, where we're met at the station by our luxury coach and personal driver/guide at 12.30pm, giving people traveling from London.

We drive along the shores of Loch Lomond and through the Loch Lomond National Park before traveling around Loch Fyne and then enjoying an afternoon refreshment stop in the small town of Inverary.  Visit their jail - or perhaps the renowned Loch Fine Whisky store and stock up on some rare and wonderful whiskies.

We then continue down the Kintyre Peninsula and to Campbeltown where we spend the night in a small inn close to its harbor.  Campbeltown is the smallest of the six major whisky producing regions in Scotland.

This evening we'll have a welcome dinner and get to better know our traveling companions.

Here's a Google map showing today's route.

2010 Tour Member Jeanette's Diary Record of this day on the 2010 tour.

Special Features - Two ferry rides, Welcome Dinner

Day 4 (Tuesday) :  Ferry to the Isle of Islay

The Islay ferry nearing Port Askaig, with the Paps of Jura in the background.
The lovely small Lochside Hotel in Bowmore - one of the hotels we'll be using for our two nights on Islay

Today we travel south to Southend, at which point we're only 19 miles from the Irish Coast and - weather permitting - we may be able to enjoy a fine view both of Ireland and the Mull of Kintyre.

Southend is reputed to be where St Columba, Scotland's original missionary who brought Christianity to the country, first set foot on the mainland in Scotland in 563.  We see a stone footprint allegedly dating back to the time of his landing at Southend in 563.

We then go up the west side of the Kintyre peninsula to Kennacraig, where we then take a ferry across the Sound of Jura, and over to the Isle of Islay, famous for its distinctive peaty smoky (some would even say seaweedy) whisky.

The ferry ride lasts 2 hours.

We'll visit one of Islay's famous distilleries and spend two nights in Islay's main town of Bowmore.

Here's a Google map showing today's route.

2010 Tour Member Jeanette's Diary Record of this day on the 2010 tour.

Included Meals - Breakfast
Special Features - Ferry Ride, Isle of Islay, Distillery Tour

Day 5 (Wednesday) :  Sightseeing around Islay

Islay's 8th century Kildalton Cross, the best preserved of these Celtic style crosses of anywhere in Scotland
Lagavulin - one of the seven distilleries on Islay, and some might suggest the finest whisky of anywhere

Once the home base for the Lords of the Isles, Islay is the most southerly of the Hebrides and is known for it's rich and colorful landscape, shaped by natural forces and human influence spanning thousands of years.  We'll spend some of today touring around Islay, including a visit to Finlaggan, the historical center of the Lords of the Isles.

A highlight of the day will be visiting the Kildalton Cross in a very beautiful and remote part of Islay that normal tours never go to.

The farmland, woodland and peatland set below the sweeping hills support a wide variety of wildlife from many bird species, including the rare corncrake.  Chances are you'll see many different birds during our day of touring.

Later in the day, we visit a different distillery, and then we spend a second night in Bowmore.

Here's a Google map showing today's route.

2010 Tour Member Jeanette's Diary Record of this day on the 2010 tour.

Included Meals - Breakfast
Special Features - Visit Finlaggan, Distillery Tour

Day 6 (Thursday) :  Ferry back to mainland, overnight in Oban

Some of the many burial slabs at the Kilmartin Church.  In the distance, in the background, are some stone circles that we'll also visit.
A view of Oban, with the distillery on the left and McCaig's Tower above it.

We take a 2 hr 20 minute ferry journey from Port Ellen back to the mainland this morning, and then make our way north to the town of Oban.

On the way we'll stop in the Kilmartin area where you can look at and wonder about some ancient stone circles and burial cairns, and then visit the churchyard containing the largest collection of 14th and 15th century carved burial slabs.

We arrive in Oban mid/late afternoon and spend this evening in this lovely Victorian era town, considered the gateway to the islands.

Here's a Google map showing today's route.

2010 Tour Member Jeanette's Diary Record of this day on the 2010 tour.

Included Meals - Breakfast
Special Feature - Ferry Ride

Day 7 (Friday) :  Ferry to the Isle of Mull

Duart Castle dominates the Sound of Mull.  We pass by this imposing structure on our ferry ride and then visit it.

Pretty little Tobermory, a lovely quiet town to relax in and enjoy the view across the Sound of Mull.

This morning we travel across from Oban to Craignure on the Isle of Mull.  This is a short 45 minute crossing.

 Mull is a beautiful island with moorland, forest and mountains, and magnificent cliff scenery to the south.

Upon arriving on Mull, we'll travel to Duart Castle, then visit the MacQuarie Mausoleum before continuing by coach to the picturesque fishing village of Tobermory where we'll spend two nights.

Here's a Google map showing today's route.

2010 Tour Member Jeanette's Diary Record of this day on the 2010 tour.

Included Meals - Breakfast
Special Features - Ferry Ride, Duart Castle visit, Macquarie Mausoleum, Isle of Mull

Day 8 (Saturday) :  Cruise to the Isles of Iona and Staffa

Iona Abbey, a site of pilgrimage for thousands of people every year.
Distinctive Staffa, with Fingal's cave on the right hand side.

This morning we travel to the southwest tip of Mull and then take a very short passenger ferry over to the sacred Isle of Iona.

Iona is often referred to as 'The Cradle of Christianity in Scotland' as it was here that St Columba first landed after being banished from Ireland in 563AD. Once settled on the island, Columba and his followers built a wooden monastery. This was later replaced with stone when the monastery was turned into a Benedictine Abbey around 1200. Today the abbey has been fully restored and is open to the public.

We then proceed by launch to the distinctive island of Staffa, and Fingal's cave, made famous in the overture written by Mendelssohn after a visit.  The island is composed of columnar basalt and overlying 'slaggy' basalt.  We hope to spend some time ashore if time and currents allow before returning back to Fionnphort on Mull and traveling back to Tobermory by coach.

Here's a Google map showing today's route.

2010 Tour Member Jeanette's Diary Record of this day on the 2010 tour.

Included Meals - Breakfast
Special Features - Isles of Iona and Staffa, Ferry and boat rides

Day 9 (Sunday) :  A ferry, a maybe some fish and chips, and a famous train ride

The pretty little fishing village of Mallaig

The Jacobite Steam Train on the 21 arched Glenfinnan viaduct

This morning we leave Tobermory and take a ferry across the Sound of Mull back to the mainland, and then travel in our coach on some of Scotland's scenic backroads - places that seldom see a tour bus.

In the past we've had locals stop and stare in amazement as we drive past, wondering who/what we are and if we were lost!

Our travels take us up to the fishing village of Mallaig.  Fish and chips for lunch, anyone?

After lunch we travel by a beautifully restored vintage steam train along the route featured in 'Harry Potter' and described as the 'Top Railway Journey in the World' by Wanderlust Magazine in 2009.

This train takes us from Mallaig to Fort William, where we'll enjoy a two night stay.

Here's a Google map showing today's route.

2010 Tour Member Jeanette's Diary Record of this day on the 2010 tour.

Included Meals - Breakfast
Special Features - Ferry ride, Jacobite Steam Train

Day 10 (Monday) :  A solemn place, a castle, a cruise, and possibly even a monster

The somber bleakness of Glencoe
The ruins of Urquhart Castle on the shores of Loch Ness

We go searching for monsters on a one hour Loch Ness cruise

The staircase lochs on the Caledonian Canal at Fort Augustus, at the foot of Loch Ness

After breakfast this morning we go to the eerie and unhappy area of Glencoe, where in 1692 a treacherous group of Campbells betrayed their MacDonald hosts and slaughtered 78 people, acting on the orders of the English king.

324 years later, you can still sense the anguish in this area.  The Campbells have been vilified in Scotland ever since, and no wonder so many Scots wish independence from 'The Auld Enemy' (England).

But, enough of this.  We then drive north to Loch Ness, where we'll visit the ruins of Urquhart Castle on the shores of Loch Ness.

Then we'll visit the Loch Ness Monster visitor center in the nearby tiny town of Drumnadrochit before returning to Fort Augustus, a lovely little town at the foot of Loch Ness where we'll enjoy a late afternoon cruise on the loch, while eagerly searching for monsters.  Monster sighting not guaranteed!

We return back to Fort William for a second night.

Here's a Google map showing today's route.

2010 Tour Member Jeanette's Diary Record of this day on the 2010 tour.

Included Meals - Breakfast
Special Features - Glencoe Visitor Center, Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness Visitor Center, Loch Ness cruise

Day 11 (Tuesday) :  Ferry to the Outer Hebrides and the Isles of Harris and Lewis

Eilean Donan Castle
The new Skye Bridge was controversial when first opened - many islanders didn't want Skye to become more accessible to mainlanders!

The Cuillin Mountains on the Isle of Skye
A view of downtown Stornoway from across the bay

After breakfast this morning we travel to one of the most immediately recognizable of Scotland's castles - Eilean Donan, the clan home for the MacRae and MacKenzie clans.

We then cross the revolutionary Skye Bridge, causing the Isle of Skye to now be conveniently connected to the mainland - too conveniently, in the opinion of some locals!

We journey on to the island's main town of Portree, enjoying gorgeous views over to the impressive Cuillin mountains.  We'll stop in Portree for a wander around and break, before heading to the northern tip of the island to see Flora MacDonald's grave.

What next?  Another ferry ride, this one from Uig over to Tarbert on the Isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides.

We then travel on our coach onto the Isle of Lewis and to our home for the next two nights in Stornoway.

Here's a Google map showing today's route.

2010 Tour Member Jeanette's Diary Record of this day on the 2010 tour.

Included Meals - Breakfast
Special Features - Eilean Donan Castle, Isle of Skye, Ferry ride, Isles of Harris and Lewis

Day 12 (Wednesday) :  Sightseeing around the Isle of Lewis

The Butt of Lewis lighthouse, at the northwestern tip of the Hebrides.
The Black House is a traditional long three room house - living and sleeping rooms for people, and a room for cattle.
Dun Carloway is an ancient broch or small fortress more than 2000 years old.
The Calanais or Callanish standing stones are in an area full of such ancient mysterious constructions.

We'll enjoy a fascinating day of touring around the Isle of Lewis today.

We first go all the way up to the Butt of Lewis and the lighthouse there - this is the most northwestern point of the Hebrides.

We next visit the Black House in Arnol.  This is a traditional style thatched house.  It has a continually burning peat fire inside, but no chimney.  The peat smoke preserves the thatch.  People lived in this house until the 1960s.  Next to it is a 1920s style croft cottage which we can also visit.

We travel on to visit a tweed woolen mill - together with the adjacent Isle of Harris, this area is famous for its Harris Tweed.

Next we visit Dun Carloway, one of the best preserved broch towers in Scotland and dating to about the first century BC.

Lastly we visit the Calanais Standing Stones, a cross shaped setting of stones dating back to about 3000 BC, and from which other stone circles can be seen in the area.

We then return back to Stornoway and a farewell dinner at the hotel this evening.

Here's a Google map showing today's route.

2010 Tour Member Jeanette's Diary Record of this day on the 2010 tour.

Included Meals - Breakfast, Dinner  Special Features - Visit four attractions, Farewell Dinner

Day 13 (Thursday) :  Ferry back to mainland and return to Edinburgh or Glasgow

The MV Isle of Lewis travels between Stornoway and Ullapool.  It steams at 18 knots and holds 123 cars and 680 passengers.  On board facilities include an observation lounge, quiet area, lift for the disabled, shop, children's play area, food service and bar.

The Victorian resort town of Pitlochry

An early morning start today when we take the 7.00am ferry from Stornoway back to Ullapool on the mainland.

Our coach then drives us down through the Highlands to Inverness, where we make a quick detour to visit the Culloden battlefield, site of Scotland's last battle against the English.

Then it is on to the lovely Victorian resort town of Pitlochry where we'll stop for lunch.  After lunch we continue on to Edinburgh, and finally to Glasgow.  We expect the coach to arrive in Edinburgh at about 4.25pm and into Glasgow at 5.40pm.

You are free to leave the tour in Inverness, Edinburgh or Glasgow (or anywhere else on the coach's route from Ullapool back down to Edinburgh and Glasgow).

Please click here to see the options we offer after the end of the main tour.

Here's a Google map showing today's route.

2010 Tour Member Jeanette's Diary Record of this day on the 2010 tour.

Options :  You can now choose to either immediately travel on from Inverness/Edinburgh/Glasgow or to stay for some extra time in Scotland in either city.

Included Meals - Breakfast
Special Feature - Ferry Ride

For More Information

Please return to the main page for more information about our 2018 Scotland's Islands Tour, and to read about our pre and post tour options.  And here's a link to jump you directly down to the booking form.

Originally published 10 July 2017, last update 26 Jun 2019

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