Scotland's Castles and Highland Clans
A Self-Drive Itinerary
Starting at $2999 - 8 days/7 nights - Multiple 2013 Departure Dates
Includes roundtrip airfare from New York/JFK. All prices are per person based on two persons and weekday travel. A surcharge for weekend travel will apply.
Explore Scotland on this 8-day journey and visit its historic castles, traditional Highland games and beautiful lochs, and discover the setting of world-famous movies and the place for stylish shopping. Visit the seat of your family's clan or follow the Whiskey Trail - the choice is yours to enjoy at your own pace on this self-drive itinerary.
Scotland hosts a wide variety of festivals and activities throughout the summer and autumn. You may want to take in the Edinburgh Tattoo or any one of the many arts festivals in Edinburgh or Glasgow, check out the special activities at any of the Scottish castles or visit gardens in their summer glory!
2013 Dates and Prices:
Option 1: Depart on a weekday 4/8/13-4/22/13 - $2999*
Option 2: Depart on a weekday 3/1/13-3/24/13 - $3499*
Option 3: Depart on a weekday 3/25/13-4/7/13 - $4329*
Option 4: Depart on a weekday 4/23/13-5/20/13 - $3199*
Option 5: Depart on a weekday 5/21/13-6/17/13 - $3499*
Option 6: Depart on a weekday 6/18/13-8/31/13 - $4329*
Single Supplement - $695
*A surcharge may be required for travel within 14 days of booking due to availability of flights. Specific dates are subject to lodging and airfare availability.
Suggested Daily Itinerary:
NOTE: Order of hotels will depend on flight schedules and the Kingsmills Hotel may be visited first with Airth Castle second in the itinerary.
Depart JFK Airport for your overnight flight to Glasgow.
Arrive in Glasgow where you will collect your luggage and make your way to the on-site car rentals. Grab your car and maps and your journey begins!
Drive west to Airth Castle which will be your base to explore Sterling, Edinburgh, Falkirk and surrounding areas for the next three days. The itinerary below is just a suggestion - you are free to do as much or as little touring as you like!
Airth Castle Hotel is a 14th Century Castle and converted Stables nestled in 14 acres of wooded parkland and landscaped gardens, providing a world of relaxation at one of Scotland's most exclusive country retreats.
Overnight: Airth Castle Hotel
Your adventure begins with a visit to Stirling Castle**, one of Scotland's most iconic and historically important sites and today there is more than ever to see and do at the castle!
Knights, nobles and foreign ambassadors once flocked to Stirling Castle to revel in its grandeur with its superb sculptures and beautiful gardens. It was a favoured residence of the Stewart Kings and Queens who held grand celebrations from christenings to coronations.
Meet costumed characters in the roles of bodyguards, court officials, maids of honour and servants who will welcome you into 16th century life. Families can have fun in the palace vaults where children can try out activities such as dressing in period costume and playing medieval instruments. A new exhibition focuses on some of the fascinating archaeology discovered during the palace refurbishment including the Stirling skeletons. And don't miss a guided tour with of our knowledgeable guides who will bring the castle's infamous characters and history to life in great detail.
Other highlights include the Great Hall, Chapel Royal, Regimental Museum, the Great Kitchens and Tapestry Studio.
This afternoon you might want to visit Doune Castle**, made famous in the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Be sure to bring your coconuts!
Also seen in the film was Bracklinn Falls near Stirling. A circular walk takes you to the Falls and the spectacular wooden bridge and then the woodland and agricultural countryside surrounding Callander.
Enjoy dinner at any of the quaint pubs and restaurants along your journey or head back to Airth Castle to relax in the spa.
Overnight: Airth Castle Hotel
Travel east to Edinburgh and spend a full day in this spectacular city. You may want to visit Edinburgh Castle, or take in the film connections to Harry Potter including the Elephant House cafe where JK Rowling spent many hours penning her masterpiece, do a bit of family research at the Family History Centre, Scottish Genealogy Society, take in the Scottish Whiskey Experience Tour, take a Ghost Tour or just wander along the Royal Mile.
This most famous of Scottish castles, Edinburgh Castle**, has a complex building history. The oldest part, St Margaret's Chapel, dates from the 12th century; the Great Hall was erected by James IV around 1510; the Half Moon Battery by the Regent Morton in the late 16th century; and the Scottish National War Memorial after the First World War
The castle houses the Honours (Crown Jewels) of Scotland, the Stone of Destiny, the famous 15th century gun Mons Meg, the One O' Clock Gun and the National War Museum of Scotland.
Step back in time at Mary King's Close to discover an underground world which shows Edinburgh life hundreds of years ago. Find out if plague victims really were sealed in their homes, and if ghosts haunt these ancient streets.
On your return to Airth Castle, you may want to stop In Midlothian, where you can visit the gothic Rosslyn Chapel, made famous by Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code.
Overnight: Airth Castle Hotel
Take the morning to enjoy the grounds of Airth Castle before heading Northwest to the Highlands and Inverness. Along the way, stop in Perthshire where you can explore majestic glens, championship golf courses and ancient forests. Find all that and much more in Perthshire with its captivating history, magnificent wildlife and stunning array of events and festivals.
Lochleven Castle ** is a late 14th or early 15th century tower where Mary Queen of Scotts was imprisoned in 1567. Mary Queen of Scots spent a year at the castle as a prisoner and was forced to abdicate before dramatically escaping. Take a boat ride over to the castle and follow in the footsteps of Mary Queen of Scots and Robert the Bruce. See the tower, still largely complete, the 16th century Glassin Tower, a charming residential tower and enjoy the quiet island setting.
Scone Palace was the crowning place of Scottish kings where Macbeth, Robert the Bruce and Charles II were once crowned. Scone breathes history like nowhere else in Scotland. It is the family home of the Earls of Mansfield and the ancient crowning place of Scottish kings on the stone of Scone. See where the stone of Scone once stood and ponder on the tantalising mystery of where it might be today.
Blair Atholl is a small town in Perthshire, which is home to the impressive Blair Castle. On the edge of the Highlands lies the village of Blair Atholl. Its main attraction is stately Blair Castle and it is near the House of Bruar. The whitewashed, turreted 13th century castle is an impressive sight, as are the Atholl Highlanders, a select band retained by the Duke of Atholl as his private army. Highland cows and peacocks live in the castle grounds, in which you can walk amongst towering giant conifers and water gardens.
Arrive in Inverness at the Kingsmills Hotel for a 3-night stay.
Kingsmills Hotel is set within 4 acres of manicured grounds, the Collection will indulge your senses. 114 relaxing bedrooms, many with private balconies and patios, or views over the neighbouring golf course. Guests at the Kingsmills Hotel have full use of the leisure club including gym, spa and swimming pool. Also, due to its close proximity to the Inverness Golf Course the hotel is the perfect base for a golf break.
Overnight: Kingsmills Hotel
Day 6 & 7:
Take the next few days to explore the Highlands, a beautiful and inspiring region with a fascinating history, ancient landscapes and a long list of things to see and do. Explore famous lochs, breathtaking beaches and magnificent glens, witness battlefields and ancient monuments, admire local arts and crafts, try almost every outdoor activity you could think of and marvel at the beauty of a remarkable range of wildlife.
Visit the Culloden Battlefield, the last battle fought on British soil. The course of British, European and world history was changed here at Culloden on 16 April 1746. It was here that the Jacobite army fought to reclaim the throne of Britain from the Hanoverians for a Stuart king. The British army was equally determined to stop this happening. The ferocious European war had come to Scotland - dividing families and setting clan against clan.
Clava Cairns is the site of an exceptionally well preserved group of prehistoric burial cairns that were built about 4,000 years ago. The Bronze Age cemetery complex comprises of passage graves, ring cairns, kerb cairn, standing stones in a beautiful setting and the remains of a chapel of unknown date.
No holiday in Scotland is complete without a visit to Loch Ness. Over 20 miles long, a mile wide and 700 feet at its deepest, Loch Ness is the largest lake in Scotland by volume. The surrounding area is filled with historic attractions, natural wonders, and superb eateries. The Loch Ness Monster is just one of the many myths and legends to be discovered in this particularly beautiful part of Scotland.
Once one of Scotland's largest castles, Urquhart Castle's ** tower house commands splendid views of the famous Loch Ness and Great Glen. Urquhart witnessed considerable conflict throughout its 500 years as a medieval fortress.
Glencoe is a place of great significance in Scottish history. You can learn all about the infamous massacre of 1692 at the Glencoe Visitor Centre. The Glenfinnan Monument at the head of Loch Shiel is a tribute to the Jacobite clansmen and the history of the Jacobite Rebellion led by Bonnie Prince Charlie is told at the nearby visitor centre.
Fort William and the Glencoe area are also famous for the many scenes which were filmed here for the Harry Potter movies. Ride the vintage steam train, the Jacobite, which takes travelers on some of the same journey which students in the films enjoyed on their way to their magical school.
Overnight: Kingsmills Hotel
Return to Glasgow for your flight home stopping by Loch Lomond for lunch with an unbeatable view. The largest freshwater expanse in mainland Britain, mountains loom to the north of Loch Lomond, while a scattering of islands can be found at its south. Pretty villages line the loch's western shores.** Entrance included with the package
- Roundtrip airfare from New York/JFK
- 6-nights lodging in Castle Hotels and Mansions in standard double/twin rooms
- Airth Castle Hotel (3-nights)
- Kingsmills Hotel (3-nights)
- Upgrade rooms at both hotels available for additional fee
- Car rental for 7 days (manual transmission, automatic available for additional fee)
- Entrance to Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle, Doune Castle, St Andrews Castle and Cathedral, Kildrummy Castle, and many other historic locations
- Free use of the spa and leisure facilities including swimming pool, sauna, steam room, Jacuzzi or poolside terrace (treatments available at additional cost)
- Hotel taxes
- Air taxes
- Gratuities for service staff
- Any expenses of a personal nature like alcoholic beverages, mini bar in rooms, laundry and telephone bills etc. and anything not specifically mentioned as "includes"
- Meals where not included
- Beverages where not included
- Entrance fees and extras where not included
- Travel insurance
- Rental car insurance
- City Rental car taxes must be paid at pick-up (Approx. £4.5)