Discover Scotland Castles and Manors Self Drive Vacation

Book by September 30, 2018 for $200 off per couple!

Take advantage of your Scottish Heritage Pass to visit castles and distilleries while driving through Scotland.   Explore historic Edinburgh, the magnificent Scone Palace and Balmoral Castle, the holiday home of the Royal Family. Follow the Malt Whisky Trail through lush countryside and continue to the legendary Cawdor Castle in Nairn. Explore Inverness and drive along mysterious Loch Ness to picturesque Argyll. Continue through the stunning Strathyre Forest to Stirling Castle, the opulent residence of many a Scottish royal.

DISCOVERY DRIVE PROGRAM – Departs daily - 8-day/7-night package visiting Edinburgh, the Grampians, the Highlands & Argyll. Includes accommodation at manor house and castle hotels with breakfast daily, a compact manual rental car for 7 days, and a Scottish Heritage Pass (available only between April and October).

Includes

  • Taxes and service charges
  • Hotels mentioned in the itinerary or similar
  • Rental car
  • ASTA TOP Tour operator travel funds protection program
  • Continental or buffet breakfast

Excludes

  • Personal expenses
  • Rental car gas, parking and tolls
  • Entrance fees
  • Sightseeing tours
  • Transfers
  • Flights

Daily Itinerary

Day

1

Edinburgh – Arrival

Upon arrival at Edinburgh airport, pick up your car and drive to your hotel. Explore Edinburgh this afternoon. See the elegant Charlotte Square and the tree lined crescents of the 18th century Georgian New Town - both fine architectural examples of the period. Leave the car at the hotel and visit Princes Street, the city's main thoroughfare with its many shops and the peaceful gardens. Travel through the Old Town, steeped in history with its cobbled streets. The High Street was the center of all activity in centuries gone by. Pass St Giles Cathedral, the City Chambers, and John Knox House as you wander along the Royal Mile which extends from Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyrood House.

Overnight in the Edinburgh area at the MacDonald Hotel Houston House or the Channings Hotel or similar.

Manor Houses and Castle Hotels: MacDonald Houstoun House or similar hotels

Day

2

Edinburgh – Grampians

Leave Edinburgh and cross the Forth Estuary via the impressive suspension bridge on M90 to Perth. The City of Perth is the former capital of Scotland and is situated at the head of the River Tay - famous for its salmon. Near Perth is Scone Palace, the private home of the Earl and Countess of Mansfield. The Palace has been a private home for over 400 years. As the former crowning place of Scottish Kings, the Palace boasts a magnificent collection of antiques - in particular ivories, porcelain, and tapestries. Continue on the A93 north via Blairgowrie, the Devils Elbow, and Spittal of Glenshee to Braemar. See Crathie Church where the Royal Family attend Sunday service when holidaying at nearby Balmoral Castle. (B)

Overnight in the Royal Deeside area at the Norwood Hall Hotel or the Thainstone House Hotel or similar.

Manor Houses and Castle Hotels: Norwood Hall or similar hotels

Day

3

Grampians – Highlands

Travelling through the Cairngorm Mountains, you will leave the area on the A941 to Dufftown and the Spey Valley. Many of the famous malt whiskies are produced in this region - Cardhu, Glenlivet, Glenfiddich, and Tamdhu to name but a few. Later in the day, you will reach Elgin, an elegant city with the ruins of a magnificent medieval cathedral. Elgin is also well-known for its cashmere with its visitor center and restored old mills. Continuing along the Moray Firth, you will arrive in Nairn, an attractive family resort, well-known for its beautiful sandy beaches and golf courses. The A96 will take you to Inverness passing Cawdor Castle. A family home for over 600 years, Cawdor Castle is surrounded by beautiful gardens and worth a visit. Shakespeares Macbeth was thane of Cawdor and the castle is one for the traditional settings for Duncan's murder, however the castle itself was built many years after the events of the play. From here, drive to Nairn or further north, past Inverness to the hotel. (B)

Overnight in the wider Inverness area at the Mansfield Castle Hotel or the Knockomie House Hotel or similar.

Manor Houses and Castle Hotels: Mansfield Castle or similar hotels

Day

4

Inverness Highlands

Spend your day at leisure in the area. Do some sightseeing in the city of Inverness, the capital of the Highlands which combines some rich and romantic history with the present. Alternatively, you can travel further into the Highlands to Gairloch with its turquoise waters and sandy beaches along the west coast. Or along the east coast to the stunning Dunrobin Castle. (B)

Overnight in the wider Inverness area at the Mansfield Castle Hotel or the Knockomie House Hotel or similar.

Manor Houses and Castle Hotels: Mansfield Castle or similar hotels

Day

5

Highlands – Argyll

From Inverness, follow the A82 south along Loch Ness, the most famous of all Scottish lochs. It is around 800 feet deep and is famous for its monster Nessie. Loch Ness forms part of the Caledonian Canal which runs through the Great Glen. Continue via Invermoriston and to the next lochs in the canal – Loch Oich and Loch Lochy. You will arrive in Fort William situated at the foot of Ben Nevis, Britain's highest mountain at 4,400 feet. Continue the route along the coastal road A 828 into Argyll. (B)

Overnight at the Stonefield Castle Hotel or the Loch Melfort House Hotel or similar.

Manor Houses and Castle Hotels: Stonefield Castle or similar hotels

Day

6

Argyll

Today is free to discover this beautiful area. We recommend a visit to Campbeltown, set on a deep bay sheltered by Davaar Island and the surrounding hills. Enjoy a guided tour and find out the secrets of whisky making in Kintyre at the Springbank Distillery, founded in 1828 by the Mitchell family - and still in their hands today. It retains the old distilling methods to make Longrow whisky, and welcomes visitors, provided you call beforehand. Close by, Glenbarr Abbey is an 18th century Gothic mansion and visitor center, offering a fascinating glimpse of family life in years gone by. The Heritage Center is a treasure-trove of interesting information, artifacts and exhibits, with a comfortable tea room, too. At the mouth of Campbeltown Loch is Davaar Island, reached by foot at low tide, with its cave paintings depicting the crucifixion. Far from ancient, they were painted in 1887 by Archibald MacKinnon, inspired by a dream. (B)

Overnight at the Stonefield Castle Hotel or the Loch Melfort House Hotel or similar.

Manor Houses and Castle Hotels: Stonefield Castle or similar hotels

Day

7

Argyll – Edinburgh

You have the choice this morning to take the A85 or A83 towards Crianlarich. From here, you can take a small detour to Killin to see the Falls of Dochart, the dramatic waterfalls rushing through the center of the picturesque village. Drive along Loch Lubnaig through the beautiful Strathyre Forest towards the charming market town of Callander where you may wish to stop. The city of Stirling is also worth a visit. The historic Royal Burgh stands on a bend on the River Forth and is known as the Gateway to the Highlands due to its strategic position. The imposing castle towers above the town on a 250 foot rock overlooking the nearby battlefield of Bannockburn. Around the town are various monuments commemorating famous Scottish patriots such as Robert the Bruce and William Wallace. (B)

Overnight in the Edinburgh area at the Norton House Hotel or the MacDonald Hotel Houston House or similar.

Manor Houses and Castle Hotels: Norton House or similar hotels

Day

8

Edinburgh – Return

Drive to the Edinburgh airport and drop off your car before embarking on your return flight home. (B)