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AITO Tour Operator of The Year 2016 - Gold Award

Edinburgh & Highlands Explorer

A week-long trip showcasing the highlights and contrasts of Scotland, from major sights to hidden gems.

This week long touring holiday is designed to give visitors a perfect taste of the highlights of Scotland, while also experiencing some of our favourite hidden gems. It starts in Edinburgh, takes you to the heart of the Highlands, then on to a beautiful sea loch on the stunning west coast and finishes in a romantic glen. Once here, it won’t take you long to understand why this enchanting land inspired TV hit ‘Outlander’. You’ll be perfectly based to explore locations such as Culross – the fictional village of ‘Cranesmuir’ and Aberdour Castle – which doubles as Sainte Anne de Beaupré’s monastery plus many more…

At A Glance

Best Time To Go

Feb - Nov

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upgrade to a castle stay in the Scottish highlands?

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Day One & Two – Edinburgh

Begin your exploration in Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital, steeped in centuries of history, stories and legends. Everywhere you turn, you will be greeted by contrasts – from narrow medieval alleyways and the imposing castle to the chicest of Michelin-starred restaurants, from geological wonders and hills-to-hike to smart shops and cosy whisky bars. It’s a city we know and love. We’ll share plenty of local recommendations – that way, you’ll get to experience the real city beyond the tourist hotspots.

Your accommodation in Edinburgh

For visitors to the capital seeking both contemporary style and value for money, this unique aparthotel combines the comfort and service of a top-quality hotel with the additional space and facilities you would expect from good self-catering accommodation. The location is another bonus: just off Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, you can head up the hill to the castle, or down to Holyrood Palace and the new Scottish Parliament, less than five minutes’ walk.  Just beyond this is the extraordinary wilderness of Holyrood Park – where you can escape the city completely – and Arthur’s Seat, whose easily attained summit affords superb panoramic views of the cityscape.

Day Three – Journey to the Cairngorms

Today you head north over the Forth Road Bridge with views of the original Forth Bridge, the spectacular diamond-shaped rail-crossing. Perhaps take a short detour to visit the National Trust town of Culross, with its palace and beautifully-preserved seventeenth century gabled houses. No wonder it has featured in Outlander. You continue through Perthshire and across the Highlands to Speyside, famous for its whisky distilleries, castles, rivers and glens.  This memorable drive incorporates many other potential stopping off points, depending on your chosen route – such as fairytale Blair Castle or the royally-connected town of Ballater, just along the road from the summer residence at Balmoral.

Your Hotel in The Cairngorms

A recently refurbished Victorian shooting lodge, your luxury hotel in the Cairngorms National Park is one of our recent favourites. Family-owned, it boasts 13 beautifully appointed rooms, its own coffee-shop and outstanding restaurant serving the finest Scottish produce. The open-air two-tier terrace is the perfect place to spend warmer, star-filled summer evenings with a glass of something special from the extensively stocked bar.

Day Four – The Cairngorms

So much to see, so many choices! You could head for the whisky trail if the water of life is what drew you to Scotland. Speyside is the country’s distillery heartland, featuring both famous and lesser-known names. Let us know your favourite tipple in advance and we’ll help you book a visit – Glenfiddich, Macallan and Johnnie Walker all have their spiritual homes right here. For a more outdoors experience, head off into the hills and pine forests of the Cairngorm National Park. Alternatively, a drive of less than an hour will bring you to the Moray Coast, one of the suniest spots in Britain, with spectacular sandy beaches. Quaint fishing villages, where houses huddle close together for protection from winter storms, dot the shoreline.

Day Five – West Highlands

Today’s classic route will take you through the Highland capital, Inverness, and along the shores of Loch Ness.  En route you could visit Culloden Battlefield or explore the picturesque ruins of Urquhart Castle, before continuing down the Great Glen and past the sentinel Castle Stalker to the beautiful Argyll coast and your next destination.

Your Hotel in Argyll

Right by the water’s edge at the end of a dead-end single track road, this historic restaurant, with its adjacent modern residence, is a tranquil and romantic spot. Do book in for dinner – its reputation for the freshest local seafood and game is second to none.

You could choose to upgrade to stay in a Scottish castle on nights five and six – please ask us for details.

Day Six – Argyll

A day on or by the waters of the West Coast is our recommendation. Perhaps abandon the car and hop on board the morning ferry to the small island of Lismore – well worth a day’s exploration either on foot or bike (available for hire locally). Or take a short drive into Oban for a day-trip by ferry to the Isle of Mull or simply take a seal-spotting boat trip in the Bay. If you prefer dry land, head for magnificent Glencoe, with its brooding mountains and moving human history of the Macdonald massacre.

Day Seven – Southern Highlands

Today your scenic route passes Loch Etive and Loch Awe, featuring photogenic Kilchurn castle, before reaching your next base in the Trossachs, the Scottish Lakeland.

Your Hotel

Nestling in the heart of Rob Roy country amidst the beautiful lochs, forest and mountains of the Trossachs, this is primarily an award-winning restaurant, with the added benefit of overnight accommodation so that you can really enjoy the dining experience.

The hotel is well located for great drives throughout the Trossachs as well as along Loch Tay and around Ben Lawers, Scotland’s tenth highest mountain.  Besides boasting many scenic roads, this is great walking country, with chances to spot red squirrels and deer, with several starting from the hotel itself.  A little further afield, you can explore Stirling and its dramatic Castle and old centre, or take a boat trip on the beautiful Lake of Menteith (the only “lake” in Scotland!) and visit the island of Inchmahome Priory, once a hiding place for the young Mary Queen of Scots.

Day Eight

Return home – Edinburgh is within 90 minutes’ drive.


Map Edinburgh-&-Highlands

Start in Edinburgh then tours through the Highlands to the Cairngorms, then to the west coast and finally the Trossachs, Scotland’s lakeland.


£745 per person in February, March & November, £800 per person for April & October, £915 for May, June, July & September, and £985 per person for departures in August.

Prices for this self-drive holiday are based on two people sharing a room for seven nights, with five on a bed & breakfast basis and two in an aparthotel in Edinburgh where breakfast supplies are included.

We can also offer a Scottish castle as part of this tour – for day five and six – for a supplement of £75 per person – ask us for more details.

The holiday also includes a 7 day Historic Scotland Explorer pass, offering free entry to Scotland’s major historic attractions, including Edinburgh, Stirling and Urquhart castles.

Ask us for a quotation for car hire – with prices from £30 per day.

Would you prefer a private driver-guide?

We would be delighted to arrange your own driver-guide for this holiday – please ask us for a quotation when you enquire.

Before your departure, you will receive personalised holiday information including full directions, recommended routes, and suggestions on places to visit depending on your interests and our local knowledge to help you get the most from your holiday.

All itineraries and room types are presented subject to availability at specific hotels.

The McKinlay Kidd Guarantee

All our holiday prices include a service charge of £9 per person per night towards the costs we incur in researching, planning and designing your holiday.

We guarantee to refund this service charge if you believe that arranging your holiday through McKinlay Kidd has not met your expectations for value. All we ask is that you write to us within 7 days of your return and explain your reason for claiming the refund. This will ensure that we can improve the experience for all our future guests.


Check availability for Edinburgh & Highlands Explorer

This holiday is available from February to November.

To check the latest availability for this holiday complete the form below or call us. We will respond to your availability check within one working day if at all possible. Please bear with us on this - we work with a hand-picked selection of smaller hotels, guest houses, and other independent businesses, ensuring that you have the chance to explore off the beaten track and really get under the skin of the destination.

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