Scotland’s Highlights & Highlands
Including the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo
All things Scottish, from tartans and tweeds to bagpipes and whisky, are in demand. Discover the velvet moors, heather-flecked glens, towering sea cliffs, and centuries-old castles guarding misty lochs that make Scotland an alluring destination not to be missed.
A highlight of this classic tour of Scotland is sure to be attending the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, a festive gathering that showcases the talents of musicians and performers from all over the world. From your reserved seat, watch as the Massed Pipes and Drums, the Bands of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines, and the poignant refrain of the Lone Piper perform against the stunning backdrop of Edinburgh Castle. The word “Tattoo” was adopted by British Army officers during the 1740s and is derived from the Dutch phrase “tap toe,” used to order bar owners to turn off the taps of their beer kegs so that soldiers could return to their barracks. The Tattoo evolved into a ceremonial form of evening entertainment performed by military musicians, and in 1950 the first Edinburgh Military Tattoo was watched on the Castle Esplanade.
A passport is required to travel to this destination visit travel.state.gov for specific requirements
This itinerary includes activities where moderate walking, possibly on uneven terrain, is required. Some of the most unique sightseeing can be restrictive to motorcoaches, especially in historic areas.
Sun, Aug 14: Overnight flight from Indianapolis to Edinburgh, Scotland.
Mon, Aug 15: Arrive in Edinburgh, Scotland and transfer to nearby Glasgow. Set out on a city tour and see the main attractions, including red sandstone Victorian buildings, delightful parks, Glasgow Cathedral, and the River Clyde, once famous for shipbuilding. Visit one of Europe’s greatest art collections at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, originally opened in 1901. Check in to your hotel and enjoy a welcome drink with fellow travelers.
Tue, Aug 16: Depart Glasgow and drive north along the banks of Loch Lomond with views of Ben Lomond and other Highland peaks. Take a cruise to appreciate the beauty of this famous loch and admire panoramic views of the Highlands. Browse around the town of Inveraray before visiting Inveraray Castle, which was featured in the TV series Downton Abbey. This imposing Campbell family home with four conical spires was built between 1746 and 1789. A guided tour will reveal the history of the family and region as you view the magnificent Armory Hall and the castle’s many fine rooms with tapestries, porcelains, and portraits. Journey across mysterious Rannoch Moor and through Glen Coe, often considered one of Scotland’s most spectacular and beautiful places. Continue to Ballachulish, located on Loch Leven, and check in to your hotel for one night. (Meals: Breakfast, Dinner)
Wed, Aug 17: Take the “Road to the Isles” through some of Scotland’s loveliest scenery, stopping for photos at the Glenfinnan Monument. Travel to the Isle of Skye, known as the “Misty Isle” due to the hazy weather brought by the Atlantic breezes. See some of the island including a visit to the Clan Donald Centre at Armadale Castle. Returning to the mainland, stop for photos at the picturesque Eilean Donan Castle. Then drive along the beautiful shores of Loch Ness as you watch for “Nessie,” the Loch Ness Monster. Continue to your hotel in Inverness, for an overnight stay. (B,D)
Thu, Aug 18: At the Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre, learn about the battle where British Government forces defeated the army of Prince Charles Edward Stuart, popularly named “Bonnie Prince Charlie.” See monuments commemorating troops as you walk around the moorland while the Visitor Centre explains how events led to the conflict and subsequent Scottish emigration to North America. Continue through sweeping glens and shadowy mountain scenery to Leault Farm for a demonstration of trained dogs herding sheep and meet the collie pups. Drive south through the high peaks of the Grampian Mountains to your gracious manor-style hotel near Pitlochry, where you will check in for two nights. (B,D)
Fri, Aug 19: A short drive will bring you to Blair Castle, home of the Dukes and Earls of Atholl. Dating back to 1269, the castle has been transformed through the ages from a strong medieval fortress to a Victorian castle in the baronial style. These influences can still be seen today across the 30 rooms on full display. Learn about Mary, Queen of Scots, Bonnie Prince Charlie, and how Queen Victoria’s famous stay led to the creation of Europe’s only private army, the Atholl Highlanders. Go behind the scenes at Blair Athol Distillery to learn about the simple ingredients and many steps involved in whisky making. Tour the facilities and sample a “wee dram” at the end of the tour. Spend the afternoon at leisure exploring the gardens, hotel museum, and other facilities or browse around the town of Pitlochry, within easy walking distance. (B,D)
Sat, Aug 20: Travel through lush countryside to visit Glamis Castle, the legendary setting of Macbeth and the childhood home of the late Queen Mother. This is a majestic building filled with contrasting priceless artifacts and homey furnishings. Drive across the modern Tay Bridge to St Andrews, the “home of golf” and Scotland’s first university. See the famous Royal and Ancient Clubhouse and the Old Course on a panoramic tour and enjoy free time to browse in golf specialty stores or through the medieval town. Drive south into Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital, and enjoy a Scottish evening with dinner, haggis, bagpipes, kilts, and Highland dancing. (B,D)
Sun, Aug 21: This morning, explore Edinburgh on a sightseeing tour. Compare and contrast the wide streets and elegant mansions of the Georgian 200-year-old “New Town” with the narrow lanes and medieval townhouses along the Royal Mile, the oldest part of the city. Tour the imposing Edinburgh Castle, where you can see historic buildings and enjoy splendid views of Edinburgh. The rest of the day is free for independent exploring, shopping, and dining. This evening, take your reserved seat for the unforgettable Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo on the Castle Esplanade. (B)
Mon, Aug 22: Depart for the airport and fly home. (B)
Hilton Glasgow Grosvenor. Set in a historic building with a modern and stylish interior, Hilton Glasgow Grosvenor is located in the bustling West End of Glasgow, just minutes from many attractions and overlooking the Botanic Gardens. Highlights: in-room coffee/tea maker • complimentary WiFi in public areas (fees apply for in-room WiFi) • restaurant.
Isles of Glencoe Hotel, Ballachulish. Nestled on the side of a peninsula reaching into Loch Leven at the foot of Glencoe, this modern hotel offers spacious bedrooms with loch and mountain views in a relaxed atmosphere. Highlights: in-room coffee/tea maker • complimentary WiFi Internet access throughout the hotel • restaurant • pool, hydro seat, bio-sauna • exercise room.
Courtyard by Marriott Inverness Airport, Inverness. Convenient and comfortable, this hotel offers the perfect overnight after a drive along the shores of Loch Ness; a perfect place to unwind and refuel. Highlights: in-room coffee/tea maker • mini-fridge • complimentary WiFi Internet access throughout the hotel • restaurant • bar • fitness center.
Atholl Palace Hotel, Pitlochry. A luxury Scottish Baronial hotel built in 1871, the Atholl Palace Hotel retains many features of a traditional large country house, with relaxing public areas. The historic nature of the hotel means that every bedroom is unique, with quirky original features and outstanding views. Highlights: in-room coffee/tea maker • complimentary WiFi Internet access throughout the hotel • restaurant • heated indoor pool, hot tub, sauna and steam room • fitness center • spa.
Norton House Hotel & Spa, Edinburgh. Originally owned by the Ushers, the family behind Glenlivet Whiskey and Ushers Brewery, this 1840’s house turned hotel still holds the appearance of a private country residence. Highlights: in-room coffee/tea maker • complimentary WiFi Internet access • restaurant • bar • room service • indoor pool • hydrotherapy pool • fitness center • spa.
* Subject to change due to increase in exchange rate or fuel surcharge