Call to book01904 521 936
Tour Search
#Favourites

Orkney and the Shetland Isles

Save
3.9 stars(55 reviews)
Gallery

Discover the Scottish islands' charms in the most romantic way

7 days From £1,595 per person

2023 Tour code: SOS23

About the tour

Uncover atmospheric castles, charming fishing ports, ancient archaeological sites and captivating wildlife in Orkney and Shetland. Our tour of the islands starts from the elegant city of Edinburgh with a ferry crossing from Aberdeen, and ends with a night in historic Inverness.

Highlights

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 - Edinburgh

We start our holiday in the handsome and historical city of Edinburgh where we spend the night in the heart of Edwardian Haymarket. There is free time to explore the city before dinner at our hotel.

Day 2 - Aberdeen

After breakfast, we take the train to Aberdeen where we enjoy a walking tour of the harbour, home to a charming selection of historic fishermen's cottages and the genteel district of Old Aberdeen. After free time for lunch, we'll see the 15th-century St Machar's Cathedral and the historic stone mansions that line leafy lanes. Later, we board a ferry for an overnight crossing to Shetland - Britain's northernmost outpost. Closer to Bergen, Norway, than Edinburgh, the landscapes here have a unique Norse influence.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 3 - Lerwick and Shetland Ponies

We arrive into Lerwick, the capital of the Shetlands Isles, where we meet our guide for the day. Our first visit is to Scalloway, the ancient capital of the Shetlands. Here, we discover the brooding ruins of Scalloway Castle, which date back to 1599. Next, we head to the coast for a unique encounter with Shetland's world-famous ponies, learning about their history and enjoying a meet and greet against a spectacular coastal backdrop. We continue by coach to the picturesque village of Brae for a fish and chip lunch at an award-winning local restaurant.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 4 - The wildlife of the Shetlands

We explore the pre-historic Norse settlement of Jarlshof today, seeing some of Europe's oldest signs of life, which date from around 2500 BC, before continuing to Sumburgh Head, a protected nature reserve notable for its steep cliffs, lighthouse and seabird population. It's possible to spot puffins, guillemots and even razorbills here. Next, we admire the dramatic landscapes surrounding the villages of Gulberwick and Cunningsburgh ahead of returning to Lerwick, where there's free time ahead of our ferry journey to the remote Orkney Islands. We check into our hotel on arrival.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 5 - Discovering the history of the Orkneys

Our day begins with a special talk from Nick Card, an expert on the Neolithic history of the Orkney Isles. Afterwards, we set out on a tour through the heart of Neolithic Orkney, visiting four different monuments; the Standing Stones of Stenness, the Ring of Brodgar, the chambered tomb of Maeshowe and Skara Brae - also known as the 'Scottish Pompeii'. Our final stop is the highly ornate Italian Chapel on Lamb Holm. After a day of exploration, we take the overnight ferry and travel back to mainland Scotland.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 6 – Castle of Mey and Inverness

Arriving in Scrabster early this morning, we transfer to the beautiful Castle and Gardens of Mey, previously a Royal Residence and the Queen Mother's home in Caithness. There's free time to explore the castle, its gardens and grounds - from where, on a fine day, there are views to the Orkney Islands. We continue from here to John O'Groats for a photo stop. We then transfer by coach to Thurso where we travel by rail to Inverness for the night. On our final night we enjoy a three-course dinner at our hotel.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 7 – Edinburgh

After breakfast this morning we return by train from Inverness to Edinburgh where your holiday ends.

Includes
  • Breakfast

Additional information

Departure times

Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular holiday with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.

Hotels

St Magnus Bay Hotel, Hillswick

St Magnus Bay Hotel, Hillswick

View hotel

Palace Hotel Inverness, Inverness

Palace Hotel Inverness, Inverness

View hotel

Standing Stones Hotel, Stromness

Standing Stones Hotel, Stromness

View hotel

Enhance your holiday

Upgrades

UK Rail Connections

Reviews

3.9 stars3.9 / 5 · 55 reviews

  1. 5 stars
    (17)
  2. 4 stars
    (23)
  3. 3 stars
    (9)
  4. 2 stars
    (5)
  5. 1 star
    (1)

Derek May

5 stars

Submitted 10/Oct

It was a very good trip but we had to live out of our suitcase as we were in a different bed every night. It would have been nicer to have had longer on both islands as there was so much to see.

Collected by Trustpilot

Mr Dave Hollis

4 stars

Submitted 9/Oct

Very compact but clean and comfortable. Staff friendly and helpful.

Collected by Trustpilot

Mrs Angeline Kiely

5 stars

Submitted 8/Oct

Lot's of traveling,would be nice to have at least two days in one place

Collected by Trustpilot

The Methodist Church Vale Of Stour Circuit

5 stars

Submitted 3/Oct

A very interesting and busy holiday. The local guides were excellent. Enjoyed it very much

Collected by Trustpilot

Colin Birch

4 stars

Submitted 3/Oct

The sleeper train was cramped and quite bumpy. Breakfast on the train was limited! This holiday is "full on". You sleep in a different space every night so the implications regarding luggage are obvious. Having said all this, it was a wonderful holiday. It was well organised, well guided, interesting, informative and very enjoyable.

Collected by Trustpilot

Graham Powell

4 stars

Submitted 27/Sep

Double sleeper compartment a bit cramped, ferries fine.

Collected by Trustpilot

Show 6 more reviews
UK by Rail 2023

UK by Rail 2023

Your guide to our 2023 UK rail holidays.

Download brochure

Tailor made for you

Customise this tour with Great Rail Journeys Independent

TailormadeEnquire
Orkney and the Shetland Isles

Discover the Scottish islands' charms in the most romantic way

Call

Enquire
Lynne Broadley
Lynne
Jo Jones
Jo