Orkney & Scotland's Northern Coast
5 day tour

  • Dunrobin Castle
  • Glencoe
  • Skara Brae

Escape to Scotland’s extreme Northern Coast and Orkney on this magical tour from Edinburgh.

Tour map

Highlights

Unesco Heritage Sites
Ferry
Walks
Prehistoric Sites
Cathedrals
Lochs
Mountains

Places you'll explore


Orkney Isles - These beautiful islands are full of ancient history and wildlife.

Glencoe and Rannoch Moor - Be moved by the sheer beauty and tragic tales of one of Scotland’s most famous landscapes.

Loch Ness - Take a chance to spot the famous Loch Ness Monster.

Skara Brae and Ring of Brodgar - Learn how people used to live in ancient times at these prehistoric monuments.

Cairngorms National Park - Gaze in awe at Scotland’s most beautifully rounded peaks.


Your journey


The archipelago of Orkney hides many treasures: and on our five day tour, your experienced guide will ensure you find the best of them. You’ll unearth some of the most well-preserved prehistoric sites in Europe, examine a beautiful red sandstone coast, and discover the vibrant culture of remote island communities.

You’ll also have a chance to find the Loch Ness Monster, see Scotland’s beautiful north, and learn about the tragedy of Glencoe.

It’s an experience you’ll treasure for a lifetime.


Tour Details

Departs
08.30 - Gate J and Gate K, Edinburgh Bus Station, St Andrew Square, Edinburgh, EH1 3DQ
Returns
19.00
Discounts

Students, seniors over 60, and children between 5 and 15 (unfortunately, we don't carry children under 5 years old)

Important information
  • Pack your waterproof clothing and walking shoes
  • One 15 kilogram bag per person
Tour inclusions
  • Transport in a 16 seat Mercedes mini-coach
  • Air conditioning as standard
  • The stories and services of a Rabbie's driver-guide
Tour exclusions
  • Entry fees to visitor attractions
  • Tour accommodation

Itinerary

Day 1

  • Lap up the lovely Lochs as you venture north
  • Gasp as you listen to the tragic tale of Glencoe

Leave Edinburgh and head west past Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument. You pass Doune Castle before stopping in the small town of Callander for a refreshment. After crossing the fault line into the magnificent Highlands, you take in the splendour of Loch Luibnaig, Loch Earn, Glen Ogle, and Glen Dochart.

Glencoe offers spectacular views before you continue north up the Great Glen to the mysterious beauty of Loch Ness.

The loch is 23 miles long and you have plenty of time to try and spot the monster.

You arrive at Inverness, where you’re dropped off at your booked accommodation. The evening is free for you to explore the 'Capital of the Highlands'.

Day 2

  • Arrive in the Capital of Orkney, Kirkwall
  • Explore mainland Scotland’s most northern scenery

It’s an early start, leaving behind the 'Capital of the Highlands', crossing over the Black Isle, and past Andrew Carnegie's Skibo Castle.

From here, you drive through the northeast Highland coastline, travelling into some of Scotland's most dramatic scenery.

Onwards through Scotland's most northerly mainland village, John o' Groats, and then to Gills Bay, where you board the ferry, crossing the Pentland Firth into the Orkney Archipelago.

It’s a short drive to the famous Italian Chapel where we stop for a visit before continuing to the Viking stronghold of Kirkwall, Capital of Orkney. Here you can visit Kirkwall's magnificent Viking Cathedral and its historic winding streets.

Day 3

  • Go to a site as ancient as the pyramids, Skara Brae
  • See the wild ocean clash with redstone cliffs

Today is your chance to explore this archipelago’s fertile green pastures fringed by shores of golden sands washed by waters of the North Sea and Atlantic ocean.

You visit the 5,000 year old village of Skara Brae, the mystical prehistoric stone circle at Brodgar and the Druidic standing stones of Stenness.

You stop in Stromness, and then travel onto Maeshowe, where in the 12th century the Vikings left one of the largest collections of Norse runic inscriptions. Then it’s back to Kirkwall for your second night after what is sure to be a memorable day.

Day 4

  • Stroll around the beautiful harbour town of Ullapool
  • Take a look at the stunningly located ruins of Ardvreck Castle

After a relaxed start, you leave Orkney and sail the Viking waters back to the mainland. From here, you travel the old road right across the very top of Scotland, driving past the stunning Ben Loyal and Ben Hope mountains following the rocky cliffs and stunning golden sand beaches.

You then visit the far northwest Highlands and the wilderness of the mountains of Assynt before stopping to view the 15th century ruins of Ardvreck Castle.

From here, you travel to Ullapool, situated at the mouth of Loch Broom, a beautiful whitewashed fishing village where you spend your last night's stay on tour.

Day 5

  • See the ancient standing stones made famous by Outlander, Clava Cairns
  • Learn about one of the most brutal events in British history at Culloden

Leaving Ullapool behind, you take in the drama of the River Droma as it plunges 60m down into Corrieshalloch Gorge. You then take in the beautiful Loch Glascarnoch, on the way past the 'Capital of the Highlands', Inverness.

You can visit Culloden Moor, the site of The Battle of Culloden in 1746, one of the bloodiest events in our history and the last battle to have been fought on the British mainland. Next, you take a short drive to the ancient standing stones at Clava Cairns, made famous by Diana Gabaldon in the ‘Outlander’ books.

From here, you travel through the ancient Caledonian Pine Forest, hugging the Cairngorm mountain range. Lunch will be spent in these beautiful surroundings before travelling through big tree country of Perthshire, the Kingdom of Fife, and back to Edinburgh.

Customer Reviews

What a wonderful time with Rabbies

Dianne Davis Posted on 25/09/2017

I just returned from the 5 day Orkney and Scotlands Northern Coast tour and the 8 day England tour prior to that. Both David L. and Ambrose were wonderful guides, fun, funny, interesting and generally made our almost 3 weeks of touring a truly great experience. The landscapes are so beautiful in these two countries - unforgettable. Ive done quite a lot of traveling and never done a tour before. I learned so much . . . and visited far more places than I likely would have on my own. All in all - it was a really great time! Thanks David and Ambrose - you are both the best!

Great tour, thank you Steve!

Nicki D Posted on 20/05/2017

I loved this tour to reach the parts of Scotland that other tours dont reach. Steve taught us Scottish history in an entertaining way that teachers would be proud of I saw some amazing sights (being alone in Maes Howe was like stepping 6,500 years back into history), and met the most wonderful people. Thank you to Steve and to Rabbies!

Amazing tour with James and Steve

Reiner Posted on 15/05/2017

Early May I was on the wonderful 5 days Orkney tour. The tour was very good organised and we many great photo stops. The Orkney Islands are amazing. The North Coast to Ullapool is full of magic. A very big thanks to James and Steve! A tour full of helpful information and great humor. I enjoyed every minute of this tour!

Lyn Philip Brown Posted on 04/05/2017

We had a wonderful tour. Our guide George was fantastic, very knowledgeable, told great stories was very obliging. Great personality a good driver. He made us very welcome in Scotland.

My FAV

Ernylee Chamlee Posted on 28/12/2016

I took this tour in 2014. It was one of my favourites. Cannot say enough about the quality of the tour. Unbelievable.

Acknowledgement

Mary Eddleston Posted on 24/09/2016

My friend and I recently went on the 5 day Orkney tour, Sept. 14-18 and we had a wonderful time. I would especially like to acknowledge our driver, tour guide, and storyteller extraordinaire, Emily (sorry I did not get her last name). Her knowledge of Scotlands history, its people and especially its unique geology was astounding. It was clear she is proud of her country and loves her job. She made our trip truly the trip of a lifetime. Thank you Emily for being such a wonderful, fun and knowledgeable guide!!!

Review

Susan/Bill Hannon Posted on 18/10/2015

Thanks Rabbies for a great tour . The country was beautiful, Stevie was knowledgeable and soooo entertaining!! Thanks for a wonderful time.

Outstanding

Jane and Sanjay Posted on 07/10/2015

Recently returned from our 5-day tour taking us to Orkney and want to say a huge THANKS to Gail for making this such a memorable visit for us. Gail is by far the best guide we have had on any tour. She was passionate about Scotland, knows the history of places we visited and through her stories and knowledge gave them a depth that we would have otherwise missed. She was engaging and quite simply, fun to spend 5 days with. She made impromptu stops at fun things as well as the itinerary destinations. We enjoyed saying hello to hairy coos and shetland ponies which added to the pleasure of the tour. She provided the perfect blend of schedule and flexibility. We will return for other tours and will look for ones that shes on. A good guide makes the difference between a drive and an excursion. Gail was terrific.

Overview

Anthony Hercus Posted on 30/09/2015

This was my first guided bus tour and I couldnt have been happier . The route through the various different parts of Scotland has been well planned to show the changing landscapes . Our guide Emily was entertaining , witty and had an amazing depth of knowledge of history and geography . She was able to give a comprehensive explanation of how the social landscape changed over recorded history . Her personal anecdotes were very funny and showed the passion she brought to the narrative , which was tied in with local folk music and folk lore appropriate to the area we were travelling through . Will highly recommend this tour to my friends . Just a wee trip from Australia .

May Magic!

Ninsig Posted on 06/06/2015

Enjoyed a magic tour to Orkney and the north of Scotland in the end of May. Spent 5 days in company with wonderful people and a gem of a tourguide Duncan. He is a true marvel as a storyteller, truly amazing! He made the tour so special with his humour, his wit, his kindness and attention to everyone, his amazing way of putting life to characters in the stories he told etc. I would love to go back on the bus for another week with him and all the friends I made. It will be difficult to beat this tour, so I am so glad I decided to go! I loved the scenery of the highlands and the north of Scotland and I loved Orkney. The islands with so much history and interesting places had me in their grasp the minute I set foot on land and I want to go back one day. I have always wanted to see Skara Brae, and now I have. The Ring of Brodgar and the standing stones of Stenness were great too. We couldn’t visit Maeshowe so Duncan suggested we visit the Tomb of Eagles instead. That proved to be a great idea and it was quite interesting. And the visit to the tomb itself gave me a funny memory poor Duncan having to crawl into the tunnel to help me when I got the board totally stuck into the wall. Had me in fits of laughter for a long time after. The weather was mostly cold, wet and windy but we escaped the most of the heavy showers. Well, there was the surprise Duncan promised us if we walked to Smoo Cave… little did he know that we would be soaked through by the time we got back up to the bus. Apart from that, we didn’t get too wet from the rainshowers and on the Scottish mainland it wasn’t quite as windy as it was on Orkney. We experienced some amazing scenery on the north coast and on the way back to Edinburgh too and I was sad to leave the wonderful people I got to know on this tour. Think I suffer from some kind of post-tour blues, really.

Accommodation

Where does this tour stay overnight?

You stay two nights in Kirkwall, Orkney with a night in Inverness and Ullapool before and after.


How does the accommodation work?

Your tour excludes accommodation; but when you book, you can ask us to reserve local accommodation for you, or you can choose to reserve your own accommodation in the overnight locations.


I want Rabbie’s to book my accommodation, what happens now?

Once you've booked your tour, we'll reserve all your accommodation, and your driver will drop you off with your hosts. You’ll pay your accommodation directly. Most don’t accept credit cards, so be prepared to pay cash.


What if I want to change my accommodation booking with Rabbie’s?

Changes to accommodation cannot be guaranteed and are subject to availability. A minimum amendment charge of £5.00 will apply.


I booked my own accommodation is there anything I need to do?

You’ll need to contact us with your accommodation details. Please only reserve accommodation within the overnight towns that your tour stops in.


Your driver will drop you off at your chosen accommodation as long as it’s relatively central. You can find a selection of hotels at hotels.rabbies.com.


What if I cancel my tour at short notice?

If you cancel less than three days before departure, you may be liable for the cost of your first nights’ accommodation. And occasionally you may be liable for all your accommodation costs.


What are the accommodation types and what do they cost?

We try to reserve accommodation that’s no more than a 20-minute walk from the town centre.


We regularly check our accommodation suppliers to ensure they reach a certain standard. The prices below are for guidance only.


B&B (Bed and Breakfast) Standard

The toilet and showering facilities are shared with at least one other room in the house, and the price includes breakfast. The cost is between £30.00 - £35.00 per person per night. A single standard is between £35.00 - £60.00 per night.



B&B En/suite

The showering and toilet facilities are private, and breakfast is included in the price. The expected cost for a room, based on two people sharing, will be between £40.00 – £50.00 per person per night.

The expected cost for a single room will be between *£55.00 - £80.00 per night.


Hotels

Hotels have a bar or restaurant and provide evening meals. Breakfast is included in the price. The expected cost of Hotel 3* is between £65.00 - £85.00 per person per night. Hotel 4* is approximately £75.00 - £120.00 per person per night.


Hostels

A hostel consists of dormitory rooms with 4 to 16 bunk beds. The bathroom facilities are a short distance from the dorm room. Kitchen facilities are equipped so you can make your own meals. The cost is between £15.00- £25.00 per person per night.

Please note that SYHA hostels only offer same gender dorms. Some independent hostels will offer mixed rooms (males and females together).


I have more questions, who can help me?

If you have any more questions, you can read our FAQs, call us on +44(0)131 226 3133, or email rooms@rabbies.com.


FAQs

Do you offer hotel pickups in the departure cities?

The UK and Ireland's historic city centres are full of narrow streets and winding roads. So, to speed up your departure, we only pick up from our central meeting points. What's more is leaving the city using the most direct route also reduces the carbon footprint of our tours.

Is there parking close to the departure point?

We don't recommend bringing your car into the centre of our departure cities. It can be hard to find parking, and there are excellent public transportation services.

When should I get to the departure point?

Arrive 15 minutes before your departure time. Due to waiting restrictions, we can't wait for you if you're late.

What happens if I'm late or miss the tour?

If you're late for your tour, our cancellation policy applies.

What are your cancellation policies?

We have a cancellation period of three days for our one day tours, and 21 days for longer tours. If cancelled outside this period, we'll give you a full refund minus a 10% admin charge. If you cancel inside this period, refunds are at our discretion. Click here to view full terms and conditions.

What is a guaranteed departure?

It's simple: you book, you go. This means we'll never cancel your tour because of a minimum numbers policy.

Can I pre-book a specific seat?

Due to logistical reasons, we're unable to let you pre-book a seat on the bus. But our comfortable 16-seat mini-coaches have huge windows. So, you'll always get a good view.

Are there toilets on the bus?

Unfortunately, we have no on-board toilet facilities, but you'll have regular comfort breaks.

Do you take children on your tours?

We regret we don't carry children under the age of five on our scheduled tours.

You can ask us about the tours we recommend for younger children. And if your child is less than 1.35m tall, you should let us know, so we can provide them with a suitable booster seat.

How much time do I get off the bus?

We want you to enjoy Britain and Ireland. And we believe the best way to do this is to get you off the mini-coach and out exploring. So, we give you plenty of time to take photos, go walking, and explore ancient ruins.

Why do you exclude visitor attractions?

We exclude visitor attractions in your tour price because it lets you travel your way. It means you can pamper yourself with a luxury lunch or skip an attraction whenever you feel like it.

Do we need to bring our own lunch?

You don't need to. We stop in small towns, villages, and rural eateries where you can choose whatever meal pleases both your taste buds and your budget.

Should I tip the driver-guide?

Let's be honest, our driver-guides would never refuse a cheeky bonus. But it's up to you, and the amount is entirely at your discretion.

What about travel insurance?

We advise you take out travel insurance. You can click here for excellent rates.

I have more questions, who can help me?

If you have any more questions, call us on +44(0)131 226 3133, email tours@rabbies.com, or check out our full FAQs.

4 reasons to choose Rabbie's

Travel the local way on small group tours of 16 people or less

You'll have a guaranteed experience, or your money back

Guaranteed departures: you book, you go

Internationally recognised for our award winning experiences

Meet our guides

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Scottish Tourist Board 5 Stars Scottish Thistle Awards Winner 2015/2016 Green Tourism Award

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