10 Day Grand Scottish Islands (Outer Hebrides, Isle of Skye, Orkney and Shetland) Tour from Inverness

10 Day Grand Scottish Islands Private Tour

Outer Hebrides, Isle of Skye, Orkney and Shetland
10 Day Grand Scottish Islands (Outer Hebrides, Isle of Skye, Orkney and Shetland) Tour from Inverness

A Grand Scottish Islands private tour from Inverness through the Highlands to the Outer Hebrides, the Isle of Skye, Orkney and Shetland over ten days.

Day 1 – An early start from Inverness to the coastal village of Ullapool where we board the ferry for a 2¾ hour journey across the Minch to the Isle of Lewis (my native island) and its main town of Stornoway. From there we spend the afternoon exploring the magnificent Neolithic Calanais Standing Stones, the 2000 year old Dun Carloway Broch and a traditional Hebridean blackhouse. We finish the day at the beautiful beach at Dalbeg before our return to Stornoway for our overnight stay.

Day 2 – Departing from Stornoway we head south to the Isle of Harris. The drive along the Atlantic coastline of Harris includes the stunning beaches at Seilebost and Nisabost. We visit Rodel to explore the medieval St Clement’s church, home to one of Scotland's most remarkable 16th century tombs. The late afternoon takes us back to Tarbert before we return north to Stornoway for our overnight stay.

Day 3 – Departing from Stornoway we travel south to Tarbert where we take a 1¾ hour late morning ferry across the Little Minch to Uig on the Isle of Skye. The afternoon take us around the stunning Trotternish peninsula including the Museum of Island Life, the Old Man of Storr, Kilt Rock and the magnificent views from the Quiraing before our arrival in Portree for our overnight stay.

Day 4 – Leaving Portree we spend the morning at Dunvegan Castle, home of the clan Macleod, one of the Hebrides most powerful clans. After a visit to the old bridge at Sligachan with its great view of the peaks of the Black Cuillin, we cross the bridge to the mainland where we savour a distance view of Eilean Donan Castle before our return to Inverness.

Day 5 – Departing Inverness with a morning drive to the far North of Scotland and the ferry port of Scrabster near Thurso. The drive north covers wonderful coastal scenery and normally takes around 3-4 hours including photo stops and a brief visit to the historic town of Dornoch. Our 1½ hour ferry journey includes a great view of the Old Man of Hoy before our arrival in Orkney where we visit Skara Brae, a five thousand year old Neolithic village settlement – one of the highlights of the tour – before heading for our overnight stay in Kirkwall.

Day 6 – A full day on the Orkney mainland that includes a visit to Maeshowe Neolithic chambered tomb. We also explore the Neolithic standing stones of Stenness, the Ring of Brodgar and the 2000 year old Broch of Gurness. After visiting the Italian Chapel and the Churchill Barriers, the late afternoon is spent in Kirkwall at St Magnus Cathedral and the Earl’s Palace. After an evening meal, we catch the late ferry (11.45pm) for an overnight sailing to Lerwick in Shetland.

Day 7 – Arriving in Lerwick harbour in the early morning (7.30am), we enjoy breakfast on the ferry before exploring the south mainland of Shetland. Sumburgh Head is our first stop – a haven for seabirds (including puffins from mid-May to July). Next is Jarlshof Prehistoric and Norse settlement which spans over four thousand years. The afternoon takes us on a beautiful coastal drive to the breath-taking St Ninian's Isle where you can hike across the sands to the island before we return north to Lerwick for our overnight stay.

Day 8 – A day to explore the most northernly inhabited island in Scotland – Unst. Departing from Lerwick we drive north to catch the 20-minute ferry crossing to Yell. After a scenic drive through Yell we take the short 10-minute ferry crossing to Unst. We spend the late morning and early afternoon exploring the island, with visits to Muness Castle, Haroldswick, Burra Firth and Saxa Vord, before our return to Lerwick in the late afternoon for our overnight stay.

Day 9 – Departing from Lerwick we head towards the north Shetland mainland. Arriving at Eshaness we savour the dramatic cliffs and sea stacks of Shetland’s stunning coastal landscape. We then enjoy a scenic drive around Scalloway and Burra before returning to Lerwick. The afternoon includes a visit the Shetland Museum and some free time to meander through Lerwick town and harbour. In the late afternoon we board the ferry from Lerwick for an overnight sailing to Aberdeen on the Scottish mainland.

Day 10 – Arriving into Aberdeen harbour in the early morning (7am) we enjoy a leisurely breakfast on the ferry before heading east towards to Elgin to explore the stunning seven hundred year old ruins of Elgin Cathedral and the Pictish standing stones of the area. The afternoon takes us back to Inverness where we end the tour with a visit to the four thousand year old burial cairns and standing stones at Clava followed by a guided walk of Culloden Battlefield.

Private Tour Price (per tour)

May to September:    £7600

(Off-season tours in April and early October)

Tour Information

Depart Inverness 7.30am
Return Inverness
(10 Days)

This tour is available on Tuesday start days from Inverness.

Tours are exclusively for your private group only (up to 3 persons) and prices are per tour. We only offer private tours and do not combine individuals or separate groups – if your group size is less than 3 the advertised tour price still applies. Prices include all ferry tickets, all taxes and a driver/guide (John Alasdair Macdonald) but exclude your accommodation costs, overnight ferry cabin costs (details below), entrance fees and meals.

Accommodation Options
We recommend that you book accommodation in Stornoway (Day 1 and 2), Portree (Day 3), Inverness (Day 4), Kirkwall (Day 5) and Lerwick (Day 7 and 8) to make the most of your trip. Whilst we do not book accommodation for you we are happy to help with advice on where to stay and eat. The tour quote will include a list of accommodation recommendations and suggestions for overnight locations.

During this tour we will take two overnight ferry sailings where you can book overnight en-suite cabins. Prices depend on your cabin choice (for example, a twin outer cabin is between £131 and £167 per cabin depending on class). The tour quote will include full details of the cabin options and their current prices. More information about the cabin choices can be found on the Northlink Ferries Website.

Tour Itinerary
The tour itinerary is based on experience, previous clients feedback and timings. However, we have a little flexibility and the tour itinerary can be adapted (in advance) to suit specific requests if possible. Please let us know any requests through the 'Extra Information' section when completing a Tour Enquiry Form.

For those that have enjoyed the Shetland TV series, many of the sites we visit have been shown across the episodes, and along with plenty of time in Lerwick to explore familiar views, no trip to Shetland would be complete without a walk along the waterfront past DI Jimmy Perez's house!

Tour Notes
Day 6 is a longer tour day due to the late evening boarding for the overnight ferry (we are usually in our cabins by 11.45pm). We will start at 9am and tour around Orkney until 5.30pm. After a leisurely evening meal in Kirkwall, we take a final scenic drive (approx. 1 hour) before joining the ferry queue by 10pm. The ferry arrives in Shetland at 7.30am the following morning and we will leave the boat by 8.30am. To ensure a comfortable first day in Shetland, we tend to finish our touring by the mid-afternoon so that you can relax in Lerwick.

Ferry Sailings
Shetland is in the North Atlantic and the seas can be choppy during ferry sailings even in the summer months. Ferry sailings are generally reliable in the summer months, but delays can occasionally occur. While we cannot be responsible for any extra accommodation, food or other costs that clients may incur due to ferry delays and cancellations, we will make every effort to adapt the tour to minimise disruption. Please note that no refunds will be given for tour and itinerary changes due to ferry changes and cancellations.

The Scottish Highlands are renowned for changeable weather and even in the summer months we are likely to experience some wet and windy weather conditions on tours. The Scottish Islands, in particular though, are lands of 'four seasons in one day'! As such we always recommend a light waterproof jacket for all tours and decent footwear that you do not mind getting a little bit muddy or wet.

Tour Availability
As this tour requires ten consecutive days, early booking is essential to ensure the widest choice of tour dates. Please note there is no availability remaining for this tour in 2024, however, there is availability for summer 2025.