After your voyage, explore the mainland
Disembark National Geographic Explorer and transfer to the airport for a short flight to Edinburgh. Upon arrival in Edinburgh, meet your local guide and transfer to the Scotch Whisky Experience for lunch. After lunch, step aboard The Royal Yacht Britannia, Her Majesty The Queen’s former floating palace for over 40 years. Explore Britannia’s five decks - from the elegant State Apartments to the gleaming Engine Room and discover where kings and queens, world leaders and celebrities were wined and dined.
In the mid-afternoon, transfer to your hotel, Apex Waterloo or similar and enjoy little bit of free time in the afternoon. This evening, join us for dinner at Fingal, a luxury floating hotel in Edinburgh, to experience a six-course Scottish fine dining tasting menu. (B,L,D)
Start the day early with breakfast at the hotel, and then transfer to Edinburgh Castle with its superb views and dimly lit echoing corridors steeped in legends and history. The castle stands on an extinct volcanic rock overlooking and dominating the city’s skyline. Once inside, there will be opportunity to see the castle’s many different architectural styles, reflecting its importance throughout the history of Scotland, with the oldest section dating back to the 12th century.
Afterward, begin exploring Edinburgh’s Royal Mile on foot. Consisting of five streets linking the castle at the top and Holyrood Palace at the bottom, the Royal Mile is flanked by old timber buildings which were traditionally named after their respective landowners. The gaps between the buildings are known as “closes”. Continue on to St. Giles’s Cathedral and visit the famous chapel of the Order of the Thistle, the highest order of chivalry in Scotland whose chief knight is Her Majesty the Queen. Learn more about this historic order, the knighst and ladies personally appointed by the Queen and the chapel, a jewel of the Arts and Crafts movement.
From St. Giles’s Cathedral, take a short walk to the magnificent National Museum of Scotland. Here, enjoy time to explore the vast collections that cover the history of Scotland from neolithic to modern day. Choose to explore and have lunch at your leisure.After lunch, re-group with your guide and transfer to the other end of The Royal Mile to visit Holyrood House. Named after the “rood” or cross, which King David I is said to have seen between the antlers of a stag he was hunting here in 1128, Holyrood has been the scene of many a great historical drama including notorious murders, and power-hungry personalities. Most notably, the Palace was once the home of Mary Queen of Scots from 1561 to 1568 and was occupied by Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745. Now the official residence of the Queen in Scotland, the Palace’s Royal Apartments are used for investitures and banquets whenever the Queen is in residence. Regroup for dinner this evening and overnight at the Apex Waterloo Hotel.
Begin the day early and visit Rosslyn Chapel where you will learn of its fascinating history and legends. Rosslyn chapel was built in 1446 by Sir William St Clair, third and last St Clair Prince of Orkney (thought to be a Grand Master of the Knights Templar). Although the chapel’s construction was never completed, it remains a place of pilgrimage thanks to its strong links with the Knights Templar and, if speculation is to be believed, its musty, undisturbed vaults may contain fantastic holy relics, including early gospels, the Ark of the Covenant and the Stone of Destiny.
Continue on to The Kelpies – the largest equine sculptures in the world. The Kelpies represent the lineage of the heavy horse of Scottish industry and economy, pulling the wagons, barges and coal ships that shaped the geographical layout of Falkirk. Afterward, visit the Falkirk Wheel, the world’s only rotating boatlift, which is used to connect the Forth & Clyde and Union canals in central Scotland. Start your visit with a lunch and later experience the rotating boatlift for yourself.
This afternoon, take a scenic drive toward Stirling. From its spectacular setting, high on a volcanic rock above the River Forth, Stirling Castle has controlled one of the main routes between the Scottish Highlands and the lowlands for centuries, earning the title “key to the kingdom”. Earlier fortifications have given way to today's palatial and beautifully furnished 15th-century residence, the home of the Stuart kings and birthplace of James II. Explore the castle with your guide before departing for Pitlochry where you will check into the Atholl Palace Hotel (or similar) and enjoy dinner. (B,L,D)
Enjoy a more leisurely morning as we prepare to depart for Dalwhinnie Distillery, located in the Cairngorm National Park in the heart of the Scottish Highlands. Take a distillery tour and learn about the traditional art of malt whisky distilling. Journey north through the magnificent Cairngorm Mountains where Idyllic and evocative Scottish scenery abounds, as we continue to Cawdor Castle. One of the Highland’s most romantic stately homes, Cawdor boasts a fine collection of rare tapestries, portraits and outside its lovely gardens and grounds. Tour the castle at your leisure and enjoy lunch.
In the afternoon, visit Culloden. This is the site of the last battle to be fought on British soil: the bloody Battle of Culloden in 1746 between Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Duke of Cumberland. The desolate fields where the conflict took place have scarcely changed over the past 250 years. Visit the new Culloden Heritage Center and walk the historic battlefield before continuing to Inverness. Have a farewell dinner with your fellow travelers before overnighting at the Kingsmills Hotel (or similar). (B,L,D)
This morning, transfer to the airport for flights home or onward. (B)
Extension Cost Per Person
International airfare, personal items.
Join us for updates, insider reports & special offers.