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Orkney, Shetland and The Caledonian Sleeper

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3.5 stars(32 reviews)
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Discover the Scottish islands' charms in the most romantic way

7 days From £1,475 per person

2022 Tour code: SOS22

About the tour

Uncover atmospheric castles, charming fishing ports, ancient archaeological sites and captivating wildlife in Orkney and Shetland. We journey to and from the Scottish islands on the Caledonian Sleeper Train, experiencing the timeless charm of overnight rail travel.

Highlights

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 - London and the Caledonian Sleeper Train

We meet at London Euston to board the Caledonian Sleeper Train for our overnight journey to Scotland. An experience which harks back to a bygone era of rail travel, we're treated to a magical journey, travelling through undulating countryside while enjoying the relaxed comfort of our bunk cabins.

Day 2 - Aberdeen

After breakfast on board, we disembark in Aberdeen for a walking tour of the harbour, home to a charming selection of historic fishermen's cottages and the genteel district of Old Aberdeen. Here we'll see the 15th-century St Machar's Cathedral and the historic stone mansions that line leafy lanes. Afterwards, 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 Hillswick

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. Afterwards, we travel north, taking in incredible views of the volcanic Cliffs of Eshaness.

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.

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 – Dunrobin Castle and Inverness

Arriving in Scrabster early this morning, we transfer to Dunrobin Castle, a fairytale stately home reminiscent of a French château with its white stone exterior, striking turrets and grounds inspired by the gardens of Versailles. There's free time to explore before we continue to Dornoch, a former royal burgh occupying a tranquil position on the coast. Here, you could visit the impressive cathedral, founded in 1224, or take a stroll along the golden sandy beach. Later, we transfer to Edinburgh via Inverness, where we board the Caledonian Sleeper Train to London Euston.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 7 – London

Disembarking in London after our overnight journey, our holiday draws to a close and you're free to make your way home.

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

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Standing Stones Hotel, Stromness

Standing Stones Hotel, Stromness

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Train

Caledonian Sleeper

Enhance your holiday

Upgrades

UK Rail Connections

Reviews

3.5 stars3.5 / 5 · 32 reviews

  1. 5 stars
    (4)
  2. 4 stars
    (14)
  3. 3 stars
    (9)
  4. 2 stars
    (4)
  5. 1 star
    (1)

Judy Hadley

3 stars

Submitted 11/Nov

Sleeper train travel is fun but pretty hard going. You need to be slim agile and willing to squeeze into small places. The same can be said for the coach travel each day. Ferries are fantastic for space and relative comfort but they do go up and down very frighteningly! You meet some great fellow travellers and the guides are hard working.

Collected by Trustpilot

Martin

5 stars

Submitted 7/Nov

Scenic, professionally organised, wild, remote and magical.

Collected by Trustpilot

Shirley Hendy

4 stars

Submitted 7/Nov

The cabins in the sleeper are very cramped, but clean. Orkney and Shetland are beautiful. The crossing from Shetland to Orkney is rough. The holiday is 'full on', not for those who want a restful time. Mike, our tour guide was amazing and couldn't do enough for us. We were well fed, and the sight seeing tours very informative. My husband called it an 'expedition'.

Collected by Trustpilot

K Wilson

4 stars

Submitted 26/Oct

Overall an interesting and enjoyable trip let down by the Caledonian Sleeper experience - journey changed a week before due to leave thereby cutting the outward journey short, breakfast poor (although Club car was not open on outward journey) so did not order return journey breakfast, no hot water for shower on return and water ran out for wash basin.

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Mrs Brown

4 stars

Submitted 16/Oct

This was an amazing tour, well-planned and covered such a lot in a short time. It would have been a definite 5, had it not been for the frustrations of the cancellation of the Caledonian Sleeper on the first night. Alternative journey arrangements were made, but we arrived in Aberdeen late and tired, and our tour there was necessarily curtailed. No fault of GRJ, and all credit to superb tour manager, who sorted everything!

Collected by Trustpilot

Kimz

2 stars

Submitted 14/Oct

The Caledonian Sleeper train was an awful experience. We were shunted around and it was a very uncomfortable journey. Club Class cabin had an en-suite but the whole cabin was extremely small, no room to move and getting on the top bunk was a feat. The accommodation in Shetland and Orkney was poor too. The local guides were good and overall we enjoyed the excursions. However, I would not recommend this trip in its current format, it is certainly not value for money.

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Orkney, Shetland and The Caledonian Sleeper

Discover the Scottish islands' charms in the most romantic way

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Luke Simpson
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Helen Laverack
Helen
Lynne Broadley
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