John o' Groats
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Our most recommended John o' Groats Small group

Scotland: Orkney and Northern Coast 5-Day Tour

1. Scotland: Orkney and Northern Coast 5-Day Tour

Drive to the top of Scotland on a scenic 5-day tour, and learn the history of the Highlands at sites such as the battlefield of the Macdonald clan massacre, and Stirling Castle. Spend the day on the Orkney Isles, and travel the northenmost coast of mainland Scotland. The tour is by luxury 16-seat Mercedes minibus for a more intimate experience, while bed and breakfast accommodation is provided in Inverness, the lovely town of Kirkwall, and the whitewashed fishing village of Ullapool at the mouth of Loch Broom. Day 1: Depart Edinburgh, heading west towards Stirling. Pass Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument, and continue to Doune Castle, used for location shoots in Monty Python’s “Holy Grail.” Stop in the small town of Callander for refreshments. Then, marvel at the splendor of Loch Luibnaig, Loch Earn, Glen Ogle, and Glen Dochart on a scenic drive over the wild and remote Rannoch Moor. The views of the extinct volcano will take your breath away, and were also the scene of the infamous Clan Macdonald massacre of 1692. Continue north up the Great Glen to mysterious Loch Ness, with plenty of time to try and spot “Nessie” the Loch Ness Monster. The evening will be spent in Inverness, with free time to explore the “Capital of the Highlands.” Day 2: Depart Inverness early to cross over the Black Isle and past Andrew Carnegie’s Skibo Castle. From here, drive the northeast coastline, traveling into some of Scotland’s most dramatic scenery. Enjoy the views of some of Europe’s oldest landscapes, and the chance to spot wildlife such as golden eagle and red deer. Close to Scotland’s most northerly mainland village, John O’ Groats, board the ferry to cross the Pentland Firth to the Orkney archipelago. It is a short drive on arrival to the famous Italian Chapel, where you will stop for a quick visit before continuing to the Viking stronghold of Kirkwall, your home for the next 2 nights. Look inside Kirkwall’s magnificent Viking cathedral, and wander the winding streets of the historic town center. Day 3: Explore the ancient island of Orkney, and discover a land of contrasts, where fertile green pastures are fringed by shores of golden sands, and washed by the waters of the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean. Highlights include a visit to Skara Brae, the mystical prehistoric stone circle at Brodgar, the standing stones of Stenness, and Maeshowe, where Vikings left one of the largest collections of Norse runic inscriptions in the 12th century. Day 4: It’s time to leave Orkney and sail the Viking waters back to the mainland. From here, travel 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 of the northern coastline. Go to the far northwest of the Highlands, and admire the grandeur of the wild Assynt mountains. Stop to view the 15th-century ruins of Ardvreck Castle. Continue to Ullapool at the mouth of Loch Broom, a beautiful whitewashed fishing village where you will spend your last night. Day 5: Your morning includes visits to Corrieshalloch Gorge, and the ancient Clava Cairns, as well as exploring the more recent bloody history of the Culloden battlefield. Return south through the magnificent Cairngorm National Park, driving past the ancient Caledonian pine forests of Highland Perthshire, before your drop off in Edinburgh.

North Coast 500: 3-Day Small-Group Tour from Inverness

2. North Coast 500: 3-Day Small-Group Tour from Inverness

Day 1: Set off from Inverness and begin your journey on Scotland’s ‘Route 66’. It’s an epic drive with loads to squeeze in. Just make sure you have plenty of space on your camera. Heading for Ullapool, you will spend the first day weaving through the North Coast 500’s winding roads. Your driver-guide will take you to towering mountains, banks of shimmering lochs, and the shores of beautiful beaches. We reach the scenic port town of Ullapool in the late afternoon. Day 2: Today, the scenery gets progressively more beautiful, rocky, and mountainous. As you travel north, your driver-guide will take you to some of the most beautiful sights in Scotland. Your itinerary depends on the weather and your guide’s expert tips, but you may have a chance to venture into the deep Smoo Cave, wander the ruins of Ardvreck Castle, and gaze at gorgeous white beaches. You stop for lunch in a Highland village and spend the evening in the beautiful town of Thurso. Day 3: Today, get plenty of opportunities to explore cosy fishing villages, epic cliffs, and ancient Neolithic sights. In the morning you will have a chance to visit a fine Scottish Highland Whisky distillery. The road leads you further south, where you have a chance to stop for lunch. Continue on your epic North Coast 500 route southwards where you can enjoy the green valleys and sea views as you travel to Dunrobin Castle. You have time to explore the stately home, learn about the Dukes of Sutherland, and find out how it has been used as both a school and a hospital. Finally, you will arrive back in Inverness in the early evening to finish your tour.

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What people are saying about John o' Groats

Amazing tour of the Highlands and Orkney. Keith, our tour guide was professional and so knowledgeable, kept us entertained with great stories and music, attention to detail, we visited lots of beautiful and places, lochs, mountains, waterfalls and learnt tons of Scottish and British history. Thank you Keith for making this tour such an amazing experience. We will be back!

The trip was just great! We saw loads of stunning scenery and wonderful sights, particularly the Neolithic ones on Orkney, and our guide, Michael, could not have been more informative, helpful and friendly.

Excellent trip. Worth every penny. Got to see so much of the highlands we would never have found in our own. Highly recommend.

Willi was a great guide. we have seen many great places that we would never have found otherwise.