Accommodations in centrally-located three-star or four-star hotels. Rooming on a triple basis. Double rooms: $280 per person.
Round-trip transportation on scheduled airline. Deluxe touring motorcoach.
All breakfasts. All dinners. Traditional Scottish Dinner and Show on Day 3.
Services of a specially-trained passports Tour Director throughout.
Entrances and activities as noted on itinerary.
passports provides and pays for a Post Departure Travel Protection Plan that includes coverage for Trip Interruption, Trip Delay, Baggage Loss or Delay, Medical Expense and Evacuation and more.
Ghost Walking Tour
Half-day city sightseeing: Local Guide, Visit to Edinburgh Castle
Visit to the Palace of Holyroodhouse
Optional Excursion to Roslin: Visit to Rosslyn Chapel
Traditional Scottish Dinner and Show
Visit to Stirling Castle, Golf mecca of St. Andrews
Visit to Blair Castle and Gardens, Visit to the battlefield of Culloden and its Visitor Centre, Cruise on Loch Ness
Excursion to the Isle of Skye: Eilean Donan Castle photo stop, Tour director-led walking tour in Portree
The Highland pass of Glencoe, Scenic ride through Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park
Half-day city sightseeing: Local Guide, Visit to the Glasgow Cathedral of St. Mungo, Visit to the St. Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art
When the night sky around you begins to lighten, peer down through the clouds from the windows of your transatlantic jet. Soon you'll see the silhouette of the mighty castle which stands guard over Edinburgh. Then the city itself comes into view, and your plane comes in to land.
Welcome to Scotland. There'll be time to start exploring Edinburgh, birthplace of Sir Walter Scott, Alexander Graham Bell, David Hume, James Boswell, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Scottish national poet Robert Burns, who called it home for several years.
Tonight, a guided ghost tour through Auld Reekie's atmospheric streets and wynds will send shivers down your spine.
Enjoy a coach tour along the ancient Royal Mile, through the narrow alleys of the city's medieval Old Town and into the 18th-century New Town. See the extinct volcano, Arthur's Seat, which looms over the city.
A half-day local guide, well-educated and specially-trained on the history and culture of Edinburgh, will accompany your group.
Visit the fortress which defines Edinburgh's skyline from its high-perched location on the granite core of an extinct volcano. This castle shelters the Scottish Crown and Regalia, and the Stone of Destiny, returned to Scotland in 1996 after a 700-year stay at Westminster Abbey. Within its walls stand several buildings, including the Palace where Mary, Queen of Scots, gave birth to King James I of England in 1566 and St. Margaret's Chapel, built in 1130 to honor the pious wife of King Malcolm III.
If H. M. Queen Elizabeth is not in residence, you will visit the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the monarch's official residence in Scotland.
As you tour the Royal Apartments, rebuilt in the 17th century, you will hear about Mary Queen of Scots, who resided in the palace in the 16th century, as did Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745.
If visiting the Palace between April and October, you may join a free guided tour of Holyrood Abbey, an Augustinian Abbey now in ruins which was founded in 1128 and named after a relic of the True Cross (Holy Cross) also called Holy Rood, or Black Rood.
Holyrood Palace and Abbey are located near Holyrood Park, the largest park in Edinburgh, which includes meadows, a lake and rocky crags, notably the ancient volcano known as Arthur's Seat.
The remainder of the day is free to plan as you wish.
Museums include the Royal Museum of Scotland and the National Gallery of Scotland.
Set out for the small town of Roslin, on the outskirts of Edinburgh, which has two claims to fame: its unique Chapel and the National Institute of Bioscience where the first cloned mammal, Dolly the sheep, was born in 1996.
Enter the enigmatic sanctuary that figures prominently in Dan Brown's 2003 best-seller, The Da Vinci Code, and the 2006 blockbuster film inspired by the novel. Officially called the Collegiate Church of St. Matthew, the chapel dates back to 1446 and is regarded as an outstanding example of stone carving. Mysteries and legends represented in its stones attract a large number of visitors since the site has been linked to the Holy Grail, the Holyrood relic, buried treasures, ley lines, earth energy, medieval Knights Templar, Freemasonry, and more!
Don your kilt and head out for a Scottish evening of haggis, 'neeps and tatties, with singing and dancing to the sound of the bagpipes.
Travel to the medieval town whose castle commanded the only land route across the Forth River. As a result, Stirling Castle overlooks seven battlefields! To the south lies Bannockburn, where Robert the Bruce engaged Edward II of England in 1314. To the north stands the Wallace Monument, a Victorian tower, 220 feet high, which was built where the Scottish patriot William Wallece stood while observing the English army before the 1297 Battle of Stirling Brig. Two victories for Scotland!
Visit the interior of one of Scotland's most important royal residences, an imposing fortress adorned with crow-stepped gables which overlooks Stirling. On a clear day, one can see thirty miles from its ramparts. Mary, Queen of Scots, spent her childhood in this castle before being sent to France.
Set out for the Royal Burgh of St. Andrews in Fife, a small town was very important as the ecclesiastical center of Scotland before the Protestant Reformation. It was also the site of the second-largest pilgrimage in medieval Europe after Santiago de Compostela, dedicated to the Apostle Andrew.
Nowadays, this scenic town is mainly known as the birthplace of golf and as the site of tBritain's third oldest university.
Continue to the picturesque town of Pitlochry, a gateway to the Highlands.
Onwards and upwards today, through awesome scenery and the very best of Scottish history and legend for a stop in nearby Blair Atholl.
Enjoy a visit to the elegant, turreted clan seat which dates back to 1269. Caught in the Jacobite uprising, Blair Castle now holds a collection of Jacobite relics in its refined rooms. The landscaped grounds include the Hercules Garden, restored to its original Georgian design, and other features, such as Diana's Grove with the Woodland Adventure Playground.
Proceed to the site of a crucial battle, Drummossie Moor, which overlooks Inverness.
Learn how Bonnie Prince Charlie's Jacobite army was routed by government troops, in the last battle of great significance ever fought on British soil: the date was April 16, 1746. The Battle of Culloden not only marked the end of the Stuarts' claim to the throne, but also the disappearance of a certain Highlands way of life that had endured for centuries.
Board your coach for the journey to the Great Glen, the geological split across northern Scotland filled near Inverness by Loch Ness, a lake twenty-four miles long, one mile wide and in places 900 feet deep.
Board a boat for a cruise on the loch. Underwater caves offer plausible hiding places for Nessie, whose first sighting was recorded in the 7th century! Even the most skeptical observers can't resist scanning the loch's enigmatic surface.
Along the shore, battlefields and castle ruins remain silent witnesses to the region's troubled past, when, to quote Dr. Johnson, "savage clans and raving barbarians" kept getting at each other's throats.
Continue to An Gearasdan (The Garrison), which is the Highlands' second largest settlement. Located amid splendid mountain and water scenery, Fort William grew at the foot of the snow-capped granite mass of the 4,006-foot-high Ben Nevis, Britain's highest summit.
Today's excursion takes you through the wild and glorious countryside along one of Scotland's great scenic drives. Ride along the westerly edge of the British mainland.
Proceed to Dornie, a small mainland town on the road to Skye, for a photo stop at Eilean Donan Castle, which has become a symbol of Scotland. Set in an idyllic site, it has been restored to look as it did in the 13th-century.
At Kyle of Lochalsh, take the bridge for the "crossing of the sea" to Skye, the largest of the Inner Hebrides Islands, which boasts castled blue hills and vistas beyond compare.
Skye's Cuillin Mountains, topping off at 3,000 feet, are Britain's most precipitous, while the coast, constantly broken by sea lochs, presents striking cliff scenery. You'll hear about the bravery of the locals, who struggled to preserve their culture and assisted the runaway prince Charles Edward Stuart, also called the Young Pretender or Bonnie Prince Charlie, who wandered through the Highlands for five months after his defeat at Culloden and before his lifelong exile. Arrive at the colorful harbor town of Portree.
Enjoy a walking tour led by your tour director. You'll have some free time for strolling around the harbor or browsing through the shops.
The drama continues today as you cross Glencoe, the best-known of the Highland passes, also known as the "Vale of Tears" due to the treacherous massacre of 1692 in which 38 members of the Clan MacDonald perished.
Continue into a national park known for the spectacular lochs (fjords) and heather-clad mountains that inspired Sir Walter Scott. This is the region where the Highlands and Lowlands meet in scenic splendor, the land of the 18th-century outlaw Rob Roy, and the turf of clans named Macfarlane, MacGregor, and Colquhoun.
Depart for Scotland's largest city.
See the Old town, the Victorian streets and squares of the New Town and the banks of the River Clyde in the heart of the city once dubbed "Shipbuilding capital of the world."
A local guide, well-educated and specially-trained on the history and culture of Glasgow, will accompany you today.
Visit the sanctuary of the Church of Scotland whose long history is reflected in its multiple names: High Kirk, Cathedral Church of St. Mungo, and Cathedral Church of St. Kentigern. Its architecture reflects a high point of Gothic cathedral building in Europe, although it was cleared of Catholic ornamentation during the Reformation.
On a visit to the museum on Cathedral Square. view exhibits devoted to all of the world's major faiths, including a Zen garden and sacred Islamic calligraphy. This makes the St. Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art exceptional since it's one of a handful of museums around the world that are focused on world religions.
The remainder of the day is free to plan as you wish.
Stroll through Glasgow's vibrant downtown shopping district, in particular around the pedestrianized areas of Buchanan Street, Argyll Street and Sauchiehall Street. Glasgow is the largest retail center in the U.K., outside of London.
Plan a visit to the Burrell Collection, located in Pollok Country Park. It holds one of the nation's finest private collections of European paintings. Afterwards, have a look at the park's Highland cows, wrapped in their long shaggy coats. They belong to a Scottish breed that nearly became extinct.
With the haunting melody of the bagpipes still ringing in your ears and wearing your new-found tartan with pride, you head to Glasgow or Edinburgh Airport to board your plane. It's time to rejoin the clan back home.
But you know you'll be back. For Auld Lang Syne.
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