Island Hopping Extravaganza
17 day tour

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Discover the majesty of Mull, Skye, Iona, Orkney & the Outer Hebrides on this tour from Edinburgh.

Tour map

Highlights

Ferry
Gaelic Culture
Lochs
Mountains
Prehistoric Sites
Distilleries
Beaches
Boat Cruises

Places you explore


Oban - This Victorian harbour town offers excellent seafood and a charming intimacy.

The Islay Single Malt Whiskies - On an island known locally as ‘The Queen of the Hebrides’, there is a regal quality to the distinctly peaty style of its single malt whiskies.

Loch Lomond National Park - Enjoy the dramatic splendour of one of Scotland’s most famous lochs and the beautiful national park that surrounds it.

Iona and Staffa - Visit the tiny Island of Iona, inhabited with just around 120 people.

Magical Mull - Feel the tranquillity of the unspoilt blonde beaches and explore the brightly coloured fishing village of Tobermory.

Isle of Skye - One of the world’s most stunning islands.

Eilean Donan Castle - An iconic and gorgeous 13th-century castle that once warded off Viking invasions.

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 go on an optional boat cruise or wander around this alluring and eerie loch.

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

Lewis and Harris - These two areas with distinct landscapes make up the biggest island in Scotland.

North Coast 500 - A rollercoaster road of ruined castles, pristine beaches, dramatic cliffs, and charming villages


Your journey


Explore the extremes of north-west Europe’s last great wilderness.

This 17-day tour is the ultimate way to discover Scottish gems.

You hop across seven unforgettable West Coast islands steeped in Gaelic culture before you admire the prehistoric heritage of Orkney. Then you contrast the island way of life with the mysterious lochs, dramatic mountains and ancient castles dotted across the Highlands. And you wash it all down with some bold whisky and fresh seafood as you chat to the locals in a cosy pub.

So, embark on this exciting journey and learn about all the shades of our stunning country.


Tour Details

Starts
Check-in closes at 08.15 (tour departs at 08:30) - Gate J and Gate K, Edinburgh Bus Station, St Andrew Square, Edinburgh, EH1 3DQ
Finishes (approx.)
19:00
Luggage
You’re restricted to 14kg (31lbs) of luggage per person. This should be one piece of luggage similar to an airline carry-on bag (approximately 55cm x 45cm x 25cm / 22in x 17in x 10in) and a small bag for onboard personal items.
Discounts

Students, and seniors over 60

Important information
  • This tour combines four of our trips. This means you swap your bus, guide, and a few of your friends during the journey.
  • Pack your waterproof clothing and walking shoes
  • Unfortunately we don't carry anyone under 18 years old on this tour
Tour inclusions
  • Transport in a 16 seat Mercedes mini-coach
  • Air conditioning as standard
  • The stories and services of an English-speaking driver-guide
  • All ferry fares except the optional trip to Staffa
Tour exclusions
  • Entry fees to visitor attractions
  • Tour accommodation

Itinerary

Day 1

  • Sample the sights and seafood of Oban
  • Venture through the legends and landmarks of the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park
  • Explore Scotland’s ancient past in Kilmartin Glen

You escape the city of Edinburgh and head straight for the Highlands. Your first stop of the day is in the Trossachs national park. Here, you can admire Scotland’s scenic beauty and enjoy some local delicacies.

Your driver-guide may regale you with tales from Scottish folklore as you travel through the mountainous landscapes of the Western Highlands to Oban.

This port town was once the strategic heartland of great feuding clans. But today, Oban is famous for seafood sourced fresh off the boats. It also boasts its own distillery where you can sample whisky that’s been perfected for 200 years. Here, you will have time to enjoy a dram and indulge in delicious local seafood for lunch.

You then venture through the Kilmartin Glen where you see standing stones and strongholds that are over 1,500 years old.

At Kennacraig, you catch the evening ferry to Islay. The sail is around two hours; and if you peek out to the ocean, you may see the Paps of Jura. These mountains mark the way to Islay, Queen of the Hebrides.

Once you’ve arrived on the island, you settle into your accommodation in Bowmore.

Day 2

  • Sample Scotland’s most heavily-peated whiskies
  • Admire Islay’s rugged coastline
  • Explore the town of Bowmore

We know whisky tasting can be hard work, so you begin the day with a little sleep in.

After you’ve had an ample amount of breakfast, you enjoy a tour of Bowmore, the oldest licenced distillery on the island.

Your driver-guide takes you to Ardnahoe Distillery for a tour and a lunch of local treats. This modern distillery is the passion project of the Laings, a family who have loved whisky for generations. Today, you can admire their vision, craftsmanship, and unique spirit.

Your next stop of the day is at Kilchoman Distillery. This is a proud and independent whisky-maker whose tastes are as bold as their environmental ethos. You have time for a tour and a whisky tasting here, and a walk down to the beautiful white beach that lies close by.

You head back to Bowmore where you can either stumble back to your room for the night or relax and explore the village.


Day 3

  • Discover the Island’s ancient religious past
  • Taste the most famous whiskies of the island

Today you explore the southern side of the island, home to a few of the most famous whiskies in all of Scotland: Laphroaig, Lagavulin, and Ardbeg.

After you’ve made it out of bed and eaten your breakfast, you visit Ardbeg*. You stay here for a tour, tasting, and lunch. The restaurant here is a beautiful place to relax and enjoy fine Scottish produce as you sip upon delightful drams.

You then visit Laphroaig. This 200-year-old whisky distiller is a favourite with the British royal family and bears the seal of the Prince of Wales to prove it.

Throughout the day, your driver-guide takes you to historical spots such as the ruins of Kildalton church and Dunyvaig Castle. And you can also stop at Lagavulin for some intensively flavoured, rich and smoky whisky.

You return to Bowmore for another night.


Day 4

  • Get a sense of the old history of Inveraray
  • Enjoy a free evening in Oban, the Gateway to the Isles

This morning, you take the ferry back to the mainland and replace the intoxicating fumes of whisky with the replenishing fresh air of Scotland’s West Highlands. You travel through coastal scenery to the beautiful village of Inveraray on the banks of Loch Fyne.

Here you join a new bus for the continuation of your tour to Oban. Your guides will help you transfer your luggage and introduce you to your new travelling companions.

Once you arrive in Oban, you'll have a free evening to enjoy this bustling Highland town. You can absorb the atmosphere and visit the local pubs. Or, if you prefer to explore the area, hike uphill and admire the views from the most photographed structure in the west, McCaig’s Tower. Built in 1897 on instruction by a local banker, it resembles the Colosseum in Rome and provides magnificent vistas over the distant Firth of Lorne.

You will stay in this glorious Highland town for two nights.

Day 5

  • Discover the history of Celtic Christianity
  • See one of Scotland’s most unique geological wonders at Fingal’s Cave

Today you have an early start, beginning the day crossing on the ferry to Mull for a chance to explore dramatic coastlines and wild beauty.

You take the small ferry to Iona, the birthplace of Celtic Christianity, and ancient burial ground of Scottish Kings. Here you can visit the historic abbey with its intricate carved crosses in the churchyard, or explore rocky headlands and sandy coves.

There’s an opportunity to take a small boat for an optional trip to the island of Staffa and view the dramatic basalt columns immortalised by Mendelssohn in his Hebridean Overture "Fingal's Cave".

You then return on the ferry to Oban for your second night.


Day 6

  • Arrive in the most ‘tropical’ town in Scotland, Plockton
  • Be awestruck by the majestic slopes of Glencoe

You ramble north along the west coast around Appin, passing the impregnable Castle Stalker. Next, you head to the gorgeous Glencoe, one of the most famous natural landmarks in all of Scotland. This beautiful area boasts steep slopes and photogenic peaks. Your driver-guide may reveal to you the tragic tale that’s haunted this valley for over 300 years.

You then venture through Fort William and under the shadow of Ben Nevis, which at 1,344 meters is the highest mountain in the British Isles.

We continue through the Great Glen, a natural fault in the earth’s crust that runs through Scotland. From here, you travel north to the picturesque fishing village of Plockton. You’re dropped off at your accommodation in the early evening.


*Please note that during busy periods, your tour may stay in Portree instead of Plockton.

Day 7

  • Traverse the legendary landscapes of Skye
  • Learn about the tales and battles that shaped the island's culture

Today is a very flexible day on Skye. There are many possibilities depending on the weather, and your driver-guide will use their local knowledge to decide on the best day out for the group.

You may ascend the Quiraing along Trotternish Ridge and be rewarded with spectacular views. Alternatively, you could drink in the scenery at Loch Corruisk or drive through the dramatic Red Cuillin to the little hamlet of Elgol.

We return you to your accommodation in Plockton in the late afternoon for a free evening to explore the village.


Day 8

  • Take an epic photo of the gorgeous Eilean Donan Castle
  • Try and spot the Loch Ness Monster

You’re collected from your accommodation for the short drive to the famous stronghold of Eilean Donan Castle.

Then, you travel east taking in the stunning views over Loch Duich and the Five Sisters of Kintail. You continue to Loch Ness for lunch and the possibility of spotting "Nessie’.

Half an hour south of Loch Ness you stop in the village of Spean Bridge and join a new bus for the continuation of your tour to Orkney. Your guides will help you transfer your luggage and introduce you to your new travelling companions.

With your new crew, you continue north following the Great Glen travelling the entire 23 miles of the famous loch. You arrive at Inverness, where you’re dropped off at your accommodation. The evening is free for you to explore the 'Capital of the Highlands'.

Day 9

  • 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 continuing past Dunrobin Castle.

From here, you drive along 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, and cross the Pentland Firth into the Orkney Archipelago.

It’s a short drive to the famous Italian Chapel where you 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 enjoy its historic winding streets in the evening.

Day 10

  • 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 and washed by waters of the North Sea and the 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 11

  • 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 two nights.

Once again you leave the group at this point and on day 13 join your new group, with whom you will stay for the rest of the tour.

Day 12

  • Discover the tranquil Highland way of life
  • Admire the beauty of the Summer Isles on a boat trip

You have a free day in Ullapool before you join your new driver-guide and companions. This picturesque fishing town is surrounded by stunning mountains and is a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts.

If you want to spot seals, dolphins, porpoises, numerous sea birds and eagles, you can go on a cruise around the Summer Isles.

Alternatively, you can head up Claypool hill for an easy two-hour walk offering wonderful views over Loch Broom.

Ullapool is also a great place to relax and enjoy the Highland pace of life. You can browse the small craft boutiques, try whisky in a pub, or savour top-quality seafood. And in the evening, enjoy some live music and mingle with the locals before your next leg of the journey.

Day 13

  • Travel by ferry through the Summer Isles
  • Explore a lighthouse and the rugged coastline of Lewis

Wake up, enjoy your breakfast, and look out over Loch Broom as it glistens under the morning sky. First on the agenda today is a ferry journey across the sea.

This two and a half-hour boat trip takes you through the Summer Isles to Stornoway, the main town of the Western Isles. But don’t spend your time snoozing and reading as you sail across the ocean; because if you look out to sea, you may spot dolphins and whales.

Once you’ve arrived on Lewis and Harris, you head to the North West coast. Your driver-guide will make the most of what weather you’ve been blessed with and take you through traditional crofting towns and seaside ports. You even get to see the Butt of Lewis; from the lighthouse here there’s nothing but fishes and water between you and America.

You spend the evening in Stornoway; a bustling port town and the home of Scotland’s most delicious black puddings.

Day 14

  • Step inside a traditional Scottish home at Arnol Blackhouse
  • Ponder over the mysteries of the Neolithic standing stones of Callanish

Today, you immerse yourself in the history and landscapes of this wild island.

You first head to Arnol Blackhouse. Here, you can experience what traditional farming life was like in these remote reaches without getting your hands too dirty.

A little down the road, you visit the stone fort of Dun Carloway. This structure was built before 100AD and has experienced more battles than you’ve had hot dinners. It’s a wonderful location to ponder over the vast swathes of history that have come before you.

You then travel through a landscape littered with crofting villages to one of the most famous sights of the island, the Callanish Stone Circle. This prehistoric site still mystifies archaeologists today.

The rest of your afternoon is spent in the beautiful beaches and mountains of the western side of Lewis.

You head back to Stornoway in the late afternoon.

Day 15

  • Admire the landscapes that inspired Harris Tweed
  • Cast your eyes upon the slender, blonde curves of Luskentyre beach

It’s time for something a little more dramatic. It’s time to enter the region of Harris.

Harris boasts the highest mountains in the Outer Hebrides and one of the most beautiful white-sandy beaches in Britain, Luskentyre.

The area is also famous for Harris Tweed and myths that are as strange as they are poignant.

After a morning of exploring the dramatic landscapes, you stop for lunch. Depending on the weather, we may even go for a picnic on the beach – so don’t forget to pack your sunglasses.

Your adventure continues on a ferry over the sea to Portree, the largest town in Skye and your base for the next two evenings.

Day 16

  • Set your sights on Scotland’s most dramatic landscapes on the Isle of Skye
  • Snap a famous photo of Portree’s colourful harbour front

Every horizon in Skye conceals something astoundingly beautiful.

So today, your driver-guide makes the most out of your time on this marvel-studded landscape.

You may travel to the Quiraing mountain pass and enjoy a spectacular walk, venture to Kilt Rock and see a gigantic waterfall, or take a boat trip to the lesser-known Loch Coruisk.

After you’ve enjoyed the sights of Skye, you have your final evening in Portree. There are plenty of fabulous seafood restaurants to celebrate a fine day of exploring.

Day 17

  • Learn how Eilean Donan Castle survived Viking invasions and 343 barrels of gunpowder
  • Discover how Glencoe earned its name, ‘the Weeping Glen’

Don’t be too sad that your trip is ending today, because there are a lot of amazing things to check out on the way back to Edinburgh.

Once you’ve crossed the Skye Bridge, you get a chance to see Eilean Donan Castle. This classic combination of a sturdy-stone fortification perched upon a loch is about as Scottish a view as you can get. Just ensure you’ve got some room left on your camera to take photos.

You then travel under Britain’s tallest mountain, Ben Nevis. The peak of this mountain is likely to be shrouded high in the clouds.

Your driver-guide may become a little emotional as you move through the valley of Glencoe. This marvellously mountainous area was the site of one of the most tragic massacres in Scottish history. The story is as unforgettable as the landscape.

The hilly views become flatter as you enter the Lowlands and travel to Edinburgh.

You arrive in the early evening.

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Accommodation

Where does this tour stay overnight?

You stay three nights in Islay*, two nights in Oban, two nights in Plockton**, one night in Inverness, two nights in Orkney, two nights in Ullapool, two nights in Stornoway, and two nights in Portree.


*On this part of the tour we reserve you rooms in the beautiful Bowmore Distillery Cottages.

The cottages have between three and six twin bedrooms. Due to the shared nature of the accommodation, individual bedrooms don't have lockable doors.

The kitchen and lounge facilities are shared with other passengers, and basic self-service breakfast ingredients are provided. Full Scottish breakfasts are available at the nearby hotels if you prefer, payable locally.

Prices are £47.50 per person per night twin/double share or £82 per night for a single. The rate of a family room (3 people) is £120 per night. For this option, please select 'B&B en-suite' as your first choice when booking the tour online. When these rooms are full, we book you into a nearby B&B. Rooms at the cottages are limited and are reserved on a first come first served basis. Local B&B charges are £50 per person per night.

There's also a limited number of 3* hotel rooms available on this tour. For this option, please select three star hotel as your first choice when booking.

We contact you afterwards to arrange payment for the accommodation.


**Please note that during busy periods, your tour may stay in Portree instead of Plockton.


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?

Plans can change, so we let you alter your accommodation choices for free within the first 48 hours of booking. After this time, amendments aren't guaranteed and carry a surcharge. Please contact rooms@rabbies.com if you have any questions.


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.


What if I cancel my tour at short notice?

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


What are the accommodation types?

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.

For the remaining part of the tour (two nights in Oban and two nights in Plockton) you've got the following options:


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 £35 - £40 per person per night based on shared accommodation. A single standard room is £40 - £60 per night.

B&B En suite

The showering and toilet facilities are private, and breakfast is included in the price. The cost is £45 - £60 per person per night based on shared accommodation. A single en suite is £60 - £80 per night.

Hotels

Hotels have a bar or restaurant and provide evening meals. Breakfast is included in the price. The cost is £70 - £85 per person per night based on shared accommodation. A single is £85 - £130 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 based on dorm beds is £19 - £27 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.

How do you cater for people with accessibility needs?

We aim to accommodate everyone. To read more information on how we do this, click here to go to our accessibility guide.

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.

What is ABTOT?

You're protected by ABTOT when you chose to let us reserve your accommodation on a multi-day tour. This means you can claim back anything you've paid us if we become bankrupt. Read our terms and conditions for more information.

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 fewer

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

Guaranteed departures: you book, you go

Our eco-friendly tours support local communities

BTA_2018.png Green Tourism Award Scottish Thistle Awards Winner 2015/2016 TC_2018_WHITE_LL_R-112x105.png queens-award.png Scottish Tourist Board 5 Stars
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