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Grand Castles of Scotland

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A historical tour of the Scottish Kingdom

 

Discover the history of Scotland on a driving trip through the picturesque eastern highlands. Explore the greatest Scottish castles, quaint villages and wonderful parks of Inverness Shire, Aberdeenshire and Perthshire. Choose your trip arrival and departure points and let our travel experts take care of everything else.

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Scotland

Arrival in Edinburgh. Private transfer to your accommodation. Note: Arrival in Glasgow is also possible.

Lose yourself in the city’s fabulous landmarks starting with Edinburgh Castle that offers spectacular views of the entire city. Explore the Royal Mile with its beautiful architecture and many shops, restaurants, pubs, and cafés. Climb to the top of Arthur’s Seat for more great views. Discover the Queen’s residence at the Palace of Holyroodhouse and her former yacht, the Royal Yacht Britannia. Venture down under the streets of Edinburgh to discover the lost Mary King’s Close and its fascinating story.

Overnight at an iconic 4-star hotel in Edinburgh.

Day 2: Culloden and Inverness

Pick up your rental car and head out to explore the stunning countryside of Scotland. 

Connect with the past at the Culloden Visitor Centre and Battlefield, getting the true story of life and times of Scotland. Visit the powerfully moving site of the final Jacobite Rising – the last and most harrowing pitched battle to be fought on British soil. Explore the interactive visitor center, view fascinating artifacts from both sides of the confrontation, and experience the battle in the immersive surround cinema. 

Continue your journey to Inverness with its exciting culinary scene. Stroll through the quaint Victorian Market and along the peaceful River Ness with the imposing Inverness Castle on one bank and St Andrew’s Cathedral on the other.

Overnight at a historic 4-star hotel near Inverness, the former lodging and battle headquarters of Bonnie Prince Charlie during the Jacobite uprising.

Day 3: A taste of Scottish history

Spend the day visiting wonderful examples of Scottish history, from mighty fortifications to religious sites.

Following the 1746 defeat at Culloden, the British created the ultimate defense against further Jacobite unrest. The result, Fort George (named after King George II), is the mightiest artillery fortification in Britain, if not Europe. Its garrison buildings, artillery defenses bristling with cannon, and superb collection of arms provide a fascinating insight into 18th century military life. The other remarkable piece of history is Cawdor Castle, one of the best-preserved strongholds in Scotland. Its tall tower was built in the 14th century, other sections being added around 1454. The drawbridge and pit prison speak to its incredible defense capabilities. 

Visit the red sandstone Fortrose Cathedral erected in the 13th century. The two sections that still stand today are the chapter house and the nave’s south aisle, although the outline of the rest of the cathedral is also visible. On the ceiling of the western chapel there are two heraldic bosses, representing Earl Alexander and Bishop John Bulloch.

Finally, explore Corrimony Cairn, a passage grave of the Clava type dating from the 3rd millennium B.C. Built by Neolithic farmers, skilled in working stone, the beliefs of the builders remain unknown. Each group had their own collective tomb, built with the help of other groups in the area, with feasts and gifts being given to the helpers.

Overnight at a historic 4-star hotel near Inverness.

Day 4: Captivating Aberdeenshire

Depart the region of Inverness and head for Aberdeenshire to visit a stunning and really old castle with a lovely garden. Enjoy the scenic route along the coast and through villages as you reach the wonderful Delgatie Castle built around 1049. Most recently the home of the late Captain John Hay of Delgatie, Feudal Baron, the Castle has largely been in the Hay family for the last 650 years. Mary Queen of Scots stayed at Delgatie for three days after the Battle of Corrachie in 1562. Her bedchamber is open to visitors. The castle also boasts a wonderful kitchen and makes for a great lunch stop.

Overnight at a charming 3-star countryside inn in the Royal Deeside area.

Day 5: Castles and gardens

Castle Fraser is a fabulous place to soak up the atmosphere of old Scotland. Later additions made the building into a huge fortified structure, one of the largest tower houses in the country. Home of the distinguished Fraser family, the castle is filled with family portraits, ornaments and mementos that tell the story of the lairds. The traditional walled garden includes specimen trees, herbaceous borders, a medicinal border and organically grown fruit and vegetables. A walk through its parkland is worthwhile to see how the estate’s design combined functionality with beautiful vistas. 

Standing against a backdrop of rolling hills and set within its own glorious gardens, Crathes Castle is every inch the classic Scottish tower house. Discover the intricate maze of turrets, towers, and marvel at the oak panels and painted ceilings. Find a labyrinth of cultural history, from family portraits to fine antique furniture. The garden is a wonderful jungle split into eight sections, the massive yew hedges are thought to have been planted as early as 1702, and the trails team with wildlife.

Overnight at a charming 3-star countryside inn in the Royal Deeside area.

Day 6: Braemar and Balmoral

Heading into the heart of The Cairngorm Mountains and National Park are two iconic castles. 

Braemar Castle dating from the 17ty century has an exciting story. Built by the Earl of Mar, it has been a hunting lodge, fortress, garrison and family home. Balmoral Castle has been the Scottish home of the Royal Family since it was purchased for Queen Victoria by Prince Albert in 1852. The monarchs were so struck with the Highlands that they resolved to purchase a place there. Guided tours of the Ballroom are available. 

 Overnight at a charming 3-star countryside inn in the Royal Deeside area.

 

Day 7: Life in the Highlands

Depart Aberdeenshire and drive south to the scenic area of Perth. 

Arriving in Newtonmore visit the unique Highland Folk Museum, an award-winning and highly innovative museum that recreates an entire Scottish village. Experience life as it once was set in bucolic Scotland. 

Lift your spirits with a tour of Edradour, the smallest traditional distillery in Scotland and arguably the most unique. Dating back to 1825, it stands as the last stronghold of handmade single malt whisky from a farm distillery still in production today. Committed to retaining authentic small-scale production, Edradour produces over 25 distinctive expressions of Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky each with a wonderful character and flavor.  

Overnight at a 4-star boutique hotel in Perth.

Day 8: In and around Perth

Enjoy a day in Perth, Scotland’s ancient capital and a modern cosmopolitan gem. Nicknamed ‘the Fair City’ after The Fair Maid of Perth by Sir Walter Scott, the elegant city boasts a number of art galleries, museums and lovely parks. 

On the edge of North Inch in Perth visit Balhousie Castle that served as headquarters for the Black Watch, an infantry born in the aftermath of the first Jacobite rebellion. It went on to fight in many British Army campaigns from the West Indies to North Africa. 

Travel back in time at Huntingtower Castle where Mary Queen of Scots spent her honeymoon with Lord Darnley. A lordly residence for 300 years, the castle has witnessed some dramatic events, such as the ‘Ruthven Raid’ in which Mary’s son was held captive, and the ‘Gowrie Conspiracy’ that led to the downfall of the Earl with the same name.

Alternatively, visit Scone Palace, one of Scotland’s most important stately homes. Scone was the former capital of the Pictish kingdom and later the seat of parliaments and the crowning place of the Kings of Scots, including Macbeth and Robert the Bruce. The Palace that houses an outstanding collection of antiques, paintings and rare artifacts makes for a perfect ending of your trip.

Day 9: Return home

Drive to Edinburgh and drop off the rental at the airport. Depart for home.

Note: Departure from Glasgow also possible.

Book this itinerary for $3,415.00/person.

Pricing is based on double room occupancy. Other options (i.e. single supplement, family rates) are available on request. Ask us for a quote if you’d prefer to travel with a private driver. Rates valid for travel in 2021.

Package includes:

  • 5 nights at 4-star accommodation with breakfast
  • 3 nights at 3-star accommodation with breakfast
  • Private airport transfer on arrival
  • Rental car with basic insurance and tax
  • Driving directions
  • Emergency customer support
  • Restaurant recommendations

Package does not include:

  • International airfare
  • Travel insurance (highly recommended)
  • Entrance fees to attractions
  • International driver’s permit
  • Optional car rental extras (additional insurance, GPS)
  • Parking fees, tolls, fuel
  • Personal expenses

Payments

  • Deposit 35% of total – paid at booking
  • Trip balance – 60 days before travel date

Cancellation and Refund Policy

  • Cancellable and refundable up to 60 days before trip start date. Refunds are subject to 10% administrative fee.