9 Day Outer Hebrides, Isle of Skye, Orkney, Shetland and Highlands Tour from Inverness

9 Day Outer Hebrides, Isle of Skye, Orkney, Shetland & Highlands Tour

from Inverness
9 Day Outer Hebrides, Isle of Skye, Orkney, Shetland and Highlands Tour from Inverness

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

Day 1 - An early start from Inverness to the coastal village of Ullapool where we board the ferry for a 2½ hour journey across the Minch to the Isle of Lewis and its main town of Stornoway (my native town). From there we spend the afternoon exploring the magnificent Neolithic Callanish Standing Stones, the 2000 year old Dun Carloway Broch and a traditional Hebridean blackhouse. We end the day at the Butt of Lewis, the most northerly point in the Outer Hebrides before our return to Stornoway for our overnight stay.

Day 2 - After time in Stornoway visiting the Lewis Chessmen, Museum nan Eilean and Lews Castle, we journey south to the Isle of Harris. The tour along the Atlantic coastline of Harris includes the stunning beaches at Luskentyre, Seilebost and Nisabost. We visit Rodel to explore the beautiful medieval St Clement’s church and Tarbert (home of Harris Tweed and Isle of Harris distillery) before returning 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 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 visit Dunvegan Castle, home of the Clan MacLeod, one of the Hebrides most powerful clans. Turning south we head towards the base of the dramatic Black Cuillin mountain ridge before taking a detour to the Sleat Peninsula where we stop at the beautiful Isleornsay to enjoy some Hebridean whisky tasting. After a visit to Armadale we cross the bridge to the Scottish mainland where we savour a distance view of Eilean Donan Castle (option to visit the castle instead of Sleat Peninsula) before our return to Inverness for our overnight stop.

Day 5 - Departing Inverness with a morning drive to the far North of Scotland and our 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. The late afternoon includes a visit Skara Brae, a 5000 year old Neolithic village settlement before we end the day in Kirkwall for our overnight stop.

Day 6 - A full day on the Orkney mainland that includes a visit to Maeshowe, the standing stones of Stenness, the stone circle at the Ring of Brodgar and the 2000 year old Broch of Gurness. After visiting the Italian Chapel, the Churchill Barriers and Scapa Flow, the late afternoon is spent in Kirkwall enjoying the stunning 12th century St Magnus Cathedral along with the ruins of the Earl’s palace. After an evening meal in Kirkwall we catch the late ferry (11pm) from Kirkwall for an overnight sailing to Lerwick in the Shetland Islands.

Day 7 - After a leisurely breakfast on the ferry we depart Lerwick to spend the day exploring the south mainland of Shetland. Sumburgh Head is our first stop - a stunning viewpoint and a haven for seabirds. 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. Returning north we end the day at the two thousand year old Clickimin Broch before our overnight stay in Lerwick.

Day 8 - Departing from Lerwick we head towards the north Shetland mainland. Arriving at Eshaness we take time to savour the dramatic cliffs and sea stacks that the fantastic coastal landscape of Shetland presents to us from this headland. The afternoon takes us to the ruins of Scalloway Castle before we return to Lerwick. Here we explore the Shetland Museum and Fort Charlotte before ending our time in Shetland with a 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 9 - Arriving into Aberdeen harbour in the early morning, we enjoy a leisurely breakfast on the ferry before heading south to explore the historic ruins of Dunnottar Castle. Next we drive east towards to Elgin to expore the stunning seven hundred year old ruins of Elgin Cathedral and the Pictish standing stones of the area. The late afternoon takes us back to Inverness, but not before we enjoy a tour and tasting at Benromach malt whisky distillery. Alternatively (instead of Benromach), we can end the day with a visit to the four thousand year old burial cairns and standing stones at Clava, along with a guided walk of Culloden Battlefield.

Private Tour Price (per tour)

May to September:     £5100

Tour Information

Depart Inverness
Return Inverness

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 taxes, a driver/guide (John Alasdair Macdonald) and standard ferry tickets 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) 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 £115 and £145 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. Please note that your overnight ferry cabin costs will be added to the tour price and booked by The Hebridean Explorer in advance when booking the ferry tickets.

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 or email directly to info@thehebrideanexplorer.com.

Tour Option - 8 Day Tour (Reduced visit to Orkney)
If you have previously visited Orkney, or wish to shorten the tour slightly, we can remove the overnght stay (and Day 6) in Orkney and board the 11pm ferry from Kirkwall to Shetland at the end of Day 5. This would give us the late afternoon to visit Skara Brae, the Ring of Brodgar and enjoy the early evening in Kirkwall. Please note that Day 5 would be an extended tour day from 8am to 11pm. Please request this option through the 'Extra Information' section when completing a Tour Enquiry Form for the standard tour. With this tour option the private tour price is reduced by £500 per tour.

Ferry Sailings
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.

Tours from October to April
Generally we only offer this tour between May and September when ferry sailings are least likely to be disrupted by weather. However, should you be interested in travel from October to April and have a flexible schedule that can adapt to possible ferry delays or cancellations and itinerary changes then please contact us and we can discuss tour options.

Advance Booking
As this tour requires nine consecutive tour days we recommend you book this tour as far in advance as possible to ensure the widest choice of tour availability. We accept bookings up to 36 months in advance for this tour.