Travel to the wild landscapes of the Scottish Highlands and western Ireland on a journey that showcases mystical mountains and geological wonders, castles and ancient ruins, and charming towns from Glencoe to Galway.

Request a Tailor-Made Itinerary Request Quote or Ask Us A Question or Call 855-215-8690
 The brooding landscape of Glencoe  The Jacobite steam train, traveling from Fort William to Mallaig  Driving towards the Trotternish Peninsula, Isle of Skye  Kilt Rock on the Trotternish Peninsula, Isle of Skye  Old Man of Storr, the Isle of Skye  Sharing the road on the Isle of Skye  Dunvegan Castle, on Scotland's Isle of Skye  Eilean Donan Castle, located at Kyle of Lochalsh, near Scotland's Isle of Skye  Landscape of the Cairngorms National Park  Traditional Scotch whisky  Ha'Penny Bridge, Dublin  The site of Glendalough  The Cliffs of Moher  The Polnabrone Domen, the Burren  Connemara landscape with sheep  Connemara's Kylemore Castle, once an abbey and school   Galway Bay  The lively streets of Galway  Lively music in a pub. Credit: Brian Morrison, Ireland Tourism

Fabled Landscapes of Scotland and Ireland: A Tailor-Made Journey

A Self Drive Journey

10 days from $5,145

Travel to the wild landscapes of the Scottish Highlands and western Ireland on a journey that showcases mystical mountains and geological wonders, castles and ancient ruins, and charming towns from Glencoe to Galway.

Request a Tailor-Made Itinerary

or call 855-215-8690

Overview

Smithsonian Archivist Circle membership. Benefits include:

  • Recognition in the Friends of the Smithsonian Honor Roll displayed electronically on the National Mall in the Membership Reception Center
  • Invitation to a special welcome tour for new members at a Smithsonian venue
  • A Smithsonian Institution annual engagement calendar with full color images of exceptional art and artifacts
  • A complimentary Smithsonian museum guidebook
  • Subscription to the award-winning magazine Smithsonian
  • 20% discount at Smithsonian Museum Stores, 10% discount at selected dining facilities, at SmithsonianStore.com, and Folkways Recordings
  • Special member rate for tickets to the Smithsonian's IMAX® theaters and Einstein Planetarium
  • Admission to Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York City
  • Weekday access to the Friends of the Smithsonian Reception Center

If you are already a member of the Archivist Circle or above, you will receive The Smithsonian's History of America in 101 Objects by Richard Kurin.

Sample Itinerary

Day 1 — Glasgow, Scotland / Glencoe

Upon arrival in Glasgow, pick up your rental car and set off on your journey north to Glencoe. Drive into the Scottish Highlands, passing through the heart of beautiful Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. The scenery only gets more magnificent as you approach the mystical valley of Glencoe. Perched on the shores of placid Loch Leven amid sweeping slopes and rocky peaks, Glencoe was the site of a massacre of members of the MacDonald clan in 1692, one of the most infamous events in Scottish history. Spend the day exploring the dramatic landscapes of the area—as well as its dramatic history. Ride a gondola into the Nevis Mountain Range for incredible views, and explore Loch Leven and Glencoe on a variety of hikes or walking trails.

Day 2 — Isle of Skye

Leave Glencoe this morning and travel to Mallaig to catch the ferry to the Isle of Skye. The drive to Mallaig is a gorgeous one that follows the shores of Loch Linnhe and the railway used as the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter films. After a short ferry ride, continue to your hotel to check in. You might visit Armadale Castle and its museum or head to the Cuillin Hills for a tour and tasting at the Talisker Distillery. Or take a scenic drive to the Trotternish Peninsula and spend the afternoon hiking amid its bizarre rock formations, including the Old Man of Storr, Kilt Rock, and the Quiraing.

Day 3 — Isle of Skye

Today, meet a local guide to explore the island on a walk or hike that suits your pace. Experience the island’s mystical natural beauty and gain insights into its history and geology along the way. In the afternoon, head to Dunvegan Castle, where the chiefs of the MacLeod clan have lived for more than 800 years. Join a guide for a private tour of the castle and its fabulous gardens, and hear the history and legends of the clan. Go on a boat outing to see the loch’s resident seal colony and take in views of the castle from the water. At the end of the tour, join the estate manager for a dram of whiskey in the Great Hall. Return to Skye’s east coast late this afternoon.

Day 4 — Plockton / Grantown-on-Spey

Return to the mainland this morning via Skye Bridge and stop at the seaside village of Plockton for a kayaking excursion along the picturesque coast. Continue your drive, passing right by Scotland's most photographed castle, Eilean Donan, before following the shores of Loch Ness. Your destination is Grantown-on-Spey, a historic resort town on the edge of Cairngorms National Park. Settle into your hotel in the center of town and enjoy a stroll through the elegant streets, lined with Georgian homes. If there’s time, you may want to tour one of the region’s whisky distilleries—both Glenfiddich and Glenlivet are about 40 minutes away.

Day 5 — Cairngorms National Park / Edinburgh Airport / Dublin, Ireland

This morning, set off on a rollicking adventure as you explore the Rothiemurchus Estate by Land Rover with a private ranger. Covering 10,000 hectares of lochs, glens, and ancient forests, this Highland estate has been in the same family for 18 generations. Venture through its wild landscapes and meet some of its residents—including red deer and Highland cattle—as your ranger regales you with local lore.

Drive on to the Edinburgh airport and return your rental car. Take a short flight to Dublin, where you’ll be met and transferred to your hotel near St. Stephen’s Green. This afternoon, take a walk or grab a taxi to one of Ireland's most popular attractions: the Guinness Storehouse. Your tickets include a self-guided tour and a complimentary pint of Ireland's flagship beer. Afterwards, stroll the narrow lanes of the surrounding Liberties neighborhood, packed with lively restaurants and pubs.

Day 6 — Glendalough / Dublin

Head south to County Wicklow on a full-day excursion to enchanting Glendalough in the Wicklow Mountains. In the company of a knowledgeable private guide, tour the ruins of the sixth-century monastery here and go on your choice of hikes in the glorious mountains that rise up around the site. Return to Dublin in the afternoon. Tonight, enjoy an evening of folklore and storytelling at one of Dublin's oldest pubs.

Day 7 — Ennis

Collect your rental car this morning and drive to Ennis. The journey crosses the heart of the country and takes just under three hours depending on traffic. This afternoon, travel just north of Ennis to Dysert O'Dea Castle and Archaeology Centre for a fascinating look at the region’s history. This 15th-century castle was largely destroyed by Cromwell’s army and only recently restored. It is surrounded by 25 archaeological and historic sites, including high crosses and early Christian churches that are accessed by a meandering trail.

Day 8 — County Clare / Galway

Head for the coast of County Clare and spend the day exploring some of its iconic sites. Hike atop the astonishing Cliffs of Moher, a five-mile stretch of coastal cliffs that drop some 700 feet to the sea. Continue to the Burren, a mystical moonscape paved with limestone karst slabs and sprouting with hardy wildflowers in the warmer months. Examine this unusual geology on walks and stop to visit some of the charming villages that dot the region. Make your way to Galway and check in to your hotel in the city center.

Day 9 — Connemara National Park / Galway

Journey into Connemara National Park, known for its spectacular rugged mountain scenery, patchworked by bogs and loughs, and speckled with native Connemara ponies. Today you’ll explore some of the highlights of the region according to your interests. Spend time in the lovely fishing village of Roundstone, admiring traditional boats in the harbor and visiting local craft workshops. Take in beautiful coastal views from the lesser-known Sky Road and travel through Inagh Valley for stunning mountain scenery. See the impressive Kylemore Abbey, and take a walk along Ireland’s only fjord at Killary Harbour. There are plenty of options for walks and hikes today—we’ll have recommendations for you. Back in Galway this evening, you may wish to find a pub that features live traditional music to toast your last night in Ireland.

Day 10 — Depart for home

Early this morning, leave Galway and drive to Shannon airport. Drop off your rental car and board your international flight home.

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)