Discover Scotland's Highlands, the legacy of its clans, and the historic treasures of Glasgow and Edinburgh.
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This tour is specially designed for a small group of 16 to 24 Smithsonian travelers and offers outstanding travel value. Prices include airfare, airline taxes, fuel surcharges, and departure fees.
Discover Scotland’s enduring appeal as you enjoy the stunning natural beauty of the Highlands, learn about the legacy of its clans, and explore historic treasures of Glasgow and Edinburgh. View Glasgow’s unique 19th-and 20th-century architecture and take a private curator-led tour of Pollok House, ancestral home of the Maxwell clan. Then set off for the Scottish Highlands, stopping first at Loch Lomond, Scotland’s largest lake and part of Trossachs National Park. Visit historic Glencoe, a haven for both artists and adventurers, and enjoy a full-day excursion to the Isle of Skye, the largest of Scotland’s Inner Hebrides and known for its strong Gaelic influence.
Drive along Loch Ness on your way to the quaint Highland village of Brora and explore the evocative ruins of Urquhart Castle, historic Culloden Moor, and medieval St. Andrews. Conclude in the stately city of Edinburgh to enjoy tours of the 18th-century Georgian "New Town" and the medieval "Old Town," including Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace. If you join us on July 30, 2014 or August 1, 2015 you’ll also attend a performance of the famed Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
Days 1 & 2 — Depart the U.S. for Glasgow, Scotland
Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel and enjoy the afternoon at leisure. Late this afternoon gather for a briefing on the journey ahead. Then enjoy a welcome dinner at the National Piping Center or a well-appointed Corinthian Club. (D)
Day 3 — Glasgow
This morning’s city tour highlights “Glasgow Style,” the city’s distinct architecture of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Among the stand-out buildings are the Glasgow Central Station, the Royal Exchange, Glasgow City Chambers, and Glasgow School of Art by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Also visit Sir John W. Simpson’s immensely popular Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. Following the city tour visit Pollok House, ancestral home of the Maxwell clan and now a museum with superb Spanish art. Also take a private curator-guided tour of the Edwardian country house and enjoy lunch in the award-winning restaurant. Explore the new Zaha Hadid-designed Riverside Museum before returning to your hotel. (B,L)
Day 4 — Loch Lomond, Glencoe, Fort William
Leave Glasgow this morning bound for the scenic Highlands, Scotland’s sparsely populated historic northern region. Along the way visit delightful Geilston Garden, a historic and typical garden of a small country estate in the 18th and 19th centuries. Stop at the banks of Loch Lomond, Great Britain’s largest lake and part of Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. Sir Walter Scott’s description of The Trossachs still rings true today: “So wondrous wild, the whole might seem/the scenery of a fairy dream.” Enjoy a brief cruise on the island-dotted loch before continuing to Glencoe. With deep valleys flanked by steep-sided mountains, rushing rivers, and dramatic waterfalls, Glencoe attracts both artists and adventurers to admire and enjoy its natural beauty. It also offers a stark lesson in Highlands history as site of the Glencoe Massacre in 1692, when some 38 members of the Clan MacDonald of Glencoe were killed over questions about their loyalty to the Protestant king, William III. Then travel to Fort William, the Highlands’ second largest settlement, arriving late this afternoon. Dinner tonight is at the hotel. (B,D)
Day 5 — Isle of Skye
Embark on a full-day excursion to the Isle of Skye, the largest of Scotland’s Inner Hebrides known for its vivid history and stunning scenery. En route, visit Glenfinnan Monument honoring “Bonnie Prince Charlie” for his leadership in leading the Jacobite Rising in 1745. Board a ferry for Armadale on the southern tip of Isle of Skye, then set out on a scenic drive through the imposing Cuillin Hills (or “Black Cuillin”) to the fishing town of Portree. Enjoy lunch at a local pub then continue your tour of the island known for its strong Gaelic influence. Return to the mainland via the Skye Bridge. (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Loch Ness, Culloden Moor, Brora
Depart today for the Highlands, stopping en route at fabled Loch Ness. Drive the full 23-mile length of the lake best known for the other-worldly creature alleged to live in its deep waters, and visit the ruins of lakeside Urquhart Castle, one of Scotland’s most popular attractions. Dating to at least the 13th century, the castle sits surrounded by water on three sides, giving it a formidable advantage in battle. Then travel to Culloden Moor, site of the last battle of the Jacobite Rising in 1746. Learn about the battle, and its aftermath, on your private tour of the hallowed grounds. Early this evening arrive in Brora, a quaint Highlands village. (B,D)
Day 7 — Brora and Highlands
Encounter more of the Highlands today, as you travel along the Pictish Trail, sites connected with the late Iron Age/early Medieval Celtic people who once lived here. Learn about the ancient Picts at the acclaimed Tarbat Discovery Center, featuring excavated relics from the region. Then visit striking Dunrobin Castle & Gardens, where you see a falconry demonstration. Drive along the scenic coastal road flanked by small farms with sheep, cows, and Shetland ponies. Late afternoon return to your hotel, where you dine tonight. (B,D)
Day 8 — Inverness, Kincraig, Pitlochry, Dundee
Today’s first stop is Kincraig, where you watch a sheepdog demonstration with working Border Collies, known for their herding abilities. Travel on to the holiday town of Pitlochry in the heart of Scotland, where you enjoy some free time before this afternoon’s visit to a small local distillery where a unique single malt is handcrafted – just as it has been made for 150 years. (B,D)
Day 9 — Dundee, St. Andrews, Edinburgh
Enjoy a full day of touring and activities as you travel to Edinburgh, the Scottish capital. Continue on to St. Andrews, home of Scotland’s oldest university and renowned as the home of golf. Here embark on a tour of the charming seaside town followed by a traditional pub lunch. Enjoy some free time to explore the medieval town independently before resuming the journey to Edinburgh, arriving late this afternoon. Dinner tonight is on your own in this stylish European capital. (B,L)
Day 10 — Edinburgh
A morning tour of this stately city includes the 18th-century Georgian "New Town" and the medieval "Old Town," where you visit Edinburgh Castle, symbolic heart of the country. This afternoon is at leisure to discover Edinburgh as you wish; museums, galleries, and shops abound. Guests on the July 30 departure will enjoy an evening performance of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, the spectacular annual pageant set in the floodlit esplanade of Edinburgh Castle. (B)
Day 11 — Edinburgh
This morning explore the Royal Mile, the historic boulevard connecting Edinburgh Castle with the Palace of Holyrood House. Tour Holyrood and see where British royalty schemed and slept as you tour the State Apartments. The remainder of the day is free for independent exploration. Tonight celebrate your sojourn over a farewell dinner at a local restaurant. (B,D)
Day 12 — Depart for the U.S.
Transfer this morning to the airport for return flights to the U.S. (B)