Edinburgh city tour; Remote and unique Scottish Isles; Tracing the footsteps of the Norse and other early cultural groups; Faroe Islands


Dates & Prices

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Prices are in US Dollars (USD), before taxes (if applicable) - All pricing reflects per-person Land Only expenses, however, we can book flights from virtually every city. Please call us for an air quote.

Start DateEnd DatePriceMore Info
Wed 19 Jul 2017Sat 29 Jul 2017 $5178 USD

PLEASE NOTE: This tour requires a $1000 per person, non-refundable (unless we cancel the tour), non-transferable deposit. Once the tour becomes 'guaranteed,' we will require additional payment of $1500 per-person in order to purchase non-refundable internal air tickets. This is in variance with our regular terms governing most of our scheduled tours.

Optional Single Supplement: $1170 USD (number of singles limited).
This tour may require a mandatory single supplement charge of $583, if twin-sharing accommodation is unavailable.

Tour Overview

The Scottish island groups of Orkney and Shetland, collectively known as the Northern Isles, share a common Pictish and Norse history and were absorbed into the Kingdom of Scotland in the 15th century, to become part of the United Kingdom in the modern era. Both island groups feature distinctive prehistoric ruins and a Scandinavian influence that remains strong, especially in relation to local folklore and distinct local cultures. The islands are also visually stunning natural gems. Still farther flung are the Faroes, an archipelago and autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, situated between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean. The culture of the Faroe Islands has its roots in the Nordic culture, as the Faroes were long isolated from the main cultural phases and movements that swept across parts of Europe. This means that they have maintained a great part of their traditional culture; the language spoken is Faroese, one of three insular Scandinavian languages descended from the Old Norse language of Scandinavia. Our tour combines these remote and distinct locales into a fascinating exploration of some of the northern hemisphere's most rugged, isolated, and captivating landscapes and cultures.

Regions visited: Western Europe
Countries visited: Scotland and Faroe Islands

Full Itinerary

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Day 1 Arrival in Edinburgh
Today we arrive in Edinburgh, where the buzz of Scotland's capital city sits in perfect contrast to the peaceful tranquility of the surrounding Lothians region. Edinburgh has one of the most beautiful cityscapes in the world; with Scotland's most famous castle dominating the city skyline, there is plenty to see and do with the perfect balance between all things traditional and contemporary.

Overnight in Edinburgh.

Meal plan: Dinner

Day 2 Edinburgh: City Sightseeing & Whisky Heritage Centre
Today's activites will be somewhat "unstructured"; your Tour Leader will distribute hop-on / hop-off tour bus passes and Scottish Heritage Passes, which will grant you access to many sites, including Edinburgh Castle, for example, amongst other things. We will reconvene later this afternoon for a group visit and dinner at the Whisky Heritage Centre, a unique insight into the world of Scotch whisky. Discover the secrets of the "water of life" as the guided tour takes us through the differences between malt, grain and blended Scotch whisky.

Overnight in Edinburgh.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 3 Edinburgh - Kirkwall (Orkney)
This morning we fly to Kirkwall, Orkney, and have sightseeing in Kirkwall upon arrival.*

The name "Orkney" dates back to the 1st century BC or earlier, and the islands have been inhabited for at least 8,500 years. Originally occupied by Mesolithic and Neolithic tribes and then by the Picts, Orkney was invaded and forcibly annexed by Norway in 875 and settled by the Norse. Scandinavian Scotland refers to the period from the 8th to the 15th centuries during which Vikings and Norse settlers and their descendents colonised parts of what is now modern Scotland. Viking influence in the area commenced in the late 8th century, and hostility between the Scandinavian Earls of Orkney and the emerging thalassocracy of the Kingdom of the Isles, the rulers of Ireland, Dal Riata and Alba, and intervention by the crown of Norway were recurring themes. The negative view of Viking activities held in popular imagination notwithstanding, Norse expansion may have been a factor in the emergence of the Gaelic kingdom of Alba, the forerunner of modern Scotland, and the trading, political, cultural and religious achievements of the later periods of Norse rule were significant.

Starting our tour in Kirkwall, which was first recorded in The Orkneyinga Saga and is thought to date from at least the eleventh century. It was believed to be one of the most important towns of the Norse Western Empire. We take a short walk down the road to the Bishop's palace. built in the mid 12th century for Bishop William the Old, an old crusading companion and friend of Earl Rognvald Kolosson, the cathedral's founder.

Next we arrive at the cathedral, built in honour of St Magnus. It took three centuries to complete with construction beginning in 1137. Uniquely, St Magnus is renowned for being the only cathedral in Britain with a dungeon, known as Marwick's Hole. Also unique for Britain's cathedrals is the Norwegian bell ringing technique known as 'clocking' in which one person can peel the bells by hand and foot pedals.

We head next to the remains of the Round Kirk and Earls Bu, built in the late 11th or12th century and thought to have been built by Earl Hakon dedicated to St Nicholas. Beside the Round Kirk lie the remains of a great drinking hall, or Bu as it is known, used for drinking sessions periodically interrupted by trips to the Kirk for prayer.

* The order of Orkney & Shetland sightseeing may vary dpending on such variables as flight and ferry times, weather and other logistical considerations.

Overnight in Kirkwall.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 4 Orkney Tour
Perhaps surprisingly, the Orkneys have more prehistoric remains than anywhere else in Scotland. Due to building in stone on virtually treeless islands -- a practice dating to at least the early Neolithic Period -- Orkney (and Shetland) are extremely rich in physical remains of the prehistoric eras and there are over 8,000 archaeological sites all told!

Today we visit the "Heart of Neolithic Orkney," a group of Neolithic monuments found on the Mainland (as this, the largest of the islands, is called). The name was adopted by UNESCO when it proclaimed these sites as a World Heritage Site in 1999. We visit Maeshowe, a huge Stone Age burial mound considered to be the most outstanding in Britain (dating to around 2700 BC). We also visit the Ring of Brodgar, a dramatically located group of 36 standing stones dating to 1560 BC. At Skara Brae, a complete Stone Age town was perfectly preserved under sand dunes for 4,500 years until its discovery in 1850. Now excavated, this is one of the most important archaeological sites in Europe.

We will also experience the natural beauty and intrigue of this place as we move about today; the views, the atmosphere and big sky often provide an ever changing panoply from rapid shifts in patterns of light, sun and weather on these small islands where the Atlantic Ocean meets the North Sea. Today's tour is an ideal mix of archaeology and scenery and hilltop views.

Overnight in Kirkwall.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 5 Orkney - Shetland: Island Touring
Late morning we fly to the Shetlands, arriving around midday.

Situated half way between Britain and Norway, the Shetland Isles were part of the Kingdom of Norway from AD 875 until 1472. Many of the place names are Norse and Shetlanders still celebrate their Norse Heritage at the Festival of "Up-Helly-Aa" each year. With almost 24 hour summer days and rich seas, Shetland is a paradise for sea birds and marine life. Exploring these wild islands we find wonderful cliff scenery with long winding inlets called ‘voes'.

On our way out of Lerwick we explore Clickhimin Broch, an ancient dwelling tower and fort. Shetland ponies are always in evidence as we continue to the Shetland Croft Museum, where we learn about the life of the crofters. Our next stop is an extensive settlement called Jarlshof, occupied continuously from the Bronze Age, through the Viking era and into the mid 17th century.

Overnight in Unst.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 6 Shetland Touring - Overnight Ferry to Aberdeen
Today we make our way up to Sumburgh Head with its spectacular cliffs used by numerous species of sea birds as their nesting sites. At some point today we hope to visit the Shetland Museum in Lerwick. Set on the waterfront within a restored 19th century dock, this fascinating museum tells the story of Shetland's heritage and culture. The museum and archives chart the development of the archipelago from its earliest geological origins to the present day. We also stop at Herma Ness to view some puffins.

This evening we board the overnight ferry back to Scotland (Premium cabins, Northlink Ferry, including access to Magnus Lounge).

Overnight Ferry.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 7 Arrival in Aberdeen - Edinburgh, Scotland - Faroe Islands (Denmark)
Morning arrival in Aberdeen; Aberdeen city sightseeing, and then transfer back to Edinburgh Airport for our non-stop flight to the Faroe Islands. Time-permitting we may accomplish some sightseeing along the way to Edinburgh. Evening arrival in Faroes.

Welcome to the Faroe Islands! Situated in the heart of the Gulf Stream in the North Atlantic at 62°00'N, the Faroe Islands lie northwest of Scotland and halfway between Iceland and Norway. The archipelago is composed of 18 islands covering 1399 km2. Since 1948, the Faroe Islands have been a self governing region of the Kingdom of Denmark. It has its own parliament and its own flag. It is not, however, a member of the European Union and all trade is governed by special treaties. Multicoloured cottages and grass-roofed wooden churches add focus to the grandly stark, treeless moorlands. Timeless networks of cairn-marked footpaths crisscross craggy layer-cake mountains. But even the tiniest once-inaccessible hamlets are now linked by a remarkable series of road-tunnels.

Overnight in Tórshavn.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 8 Torshavn, Kirkjubøur & Nólsoy
We'll have some sightseeing in the capital where we get a good overview of the city and its history, its architecture, old town Reyni, the world's oldest parliament, Tinganes and Fort Skansin.

From Tórshavn we will drive to the historical cultural stronghold Kirkjubøur -- here we will visit the oldest wooden house Roykstovan with its 900 years, the Faroe oldest church from the year 1111, and the ruins of St. Magnus Cathedral.

After lunch we take the ferry to Nólsoy. Visiting the island is like visiting another world -- cars are rare, and you are very close to nature. In Nólsoy we will have a guided tour in the charming village where we will see the Gate of Honour, made out of a whale jaw in the mid-1970'es to welcome Queen Ingrid of Denmark. If time allows, we can walk some hundred meters north or south from the ferry port and enjoy the scenery.

Ferry back to Tórshavn.

Overnight in Tórshavn.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 9 Torshavn - Vestmanna Bird Cliffs - Klaksvik
Today we drive to the idyllic village of Gjógv, renown for its natural harbour. The village is charming and one of the most visited villages in the summer. From Gjógv we drive towards Eiði. On the way, we will pass the highest mountain on the Faroe Islands, Slættaratindur (882m) and have a view to the rock formations "the Giant and the Witch." We will drive from Eiði and cross the "Atlantic Bridge" to Tjørnavík.

From Tjørnuvík our tour goes to Vestmanna for a lunch break. After lunch ywe will go by boat to the most visited tourist attraction in the Faroe Islands. The Vestmanna bird cliffs. We sail into grottos, through narrow sounds, and close to the almost 2.000 feet high vertical cliffs, where birds such as puffins, guillemots, fulmars and kittiwakes nest each summer. The trip will last about 2 hours.

After our boat tour we will visit the new Saga Museum which, through 17 very life like figures placed in very realistic surrounding, will guide you through the history of the Faroe Islands from the very first settlers up to our times.

Overnight in Klaksvik.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 10 The Northern Islands
Today we will explore the northern islands. We will start out the day by visiting the Christianskirkjan, the church in Klaksvík. Said to be amongst the most beautiful churches on the islands. After Klaksvík we will drive north to the northern most village Viðareiði.

After a break for lunch, we will drive to Kunoy and have a walk in the very nice plantation. Back in Klaksvík, we will take the ferry to Kalsoy, known as the "flute islands" because it is very long, narrow and has many tunnels. Here we will experience nature and small remote villages. In Mikladalur we will see the brand new sculpture of the Seal Woman. In old Faroese legend and folklore, it was believed that on the "Twelfth Night" the seals came out of the sea, stripped their seal-skinds and became real humans. This one seal was not able to return to the sea since its skin was stolen.

This evening, we will have dinner at the local farm "Varmakeldugarðurin" where you will have a traditional three-course dinner.

Overnight in Klaksvik.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 11 Klaksvik, Faroes - Edinburgh, Scotland - Departure
Today we transfer to the airport for our flights out of Faroes (airport code FAE) back to Edinburgh (EDI) and homeward (likely a morning departure).

PLEASE NOTE: Those travellers booking their own air out of Edinburgh must take into account today's flights from Faroes to Edinburgh. Please do not book an onward journey from EDI any earlier than 12:00 noon.


Meal plan: Breakfast

Tour Map

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*The red tour trail on the map does not represent the actual travel path.

Hotel List

The following is a list of sample hotels at some locations included on this tour. The hotels shown here are meant to provide a general sense of the standard of hotel we usually aim for; they are not necessarily confirmed for your chosen departure.

Albert Hotel

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Kirkwall
Country: Scotland

The Albert Hotel in Kirkwall, Orkney Islands, UK is ideally situated in the centre of Kirkwall, offering modern, boutique style
... rooms with luxury furnishings and a contemporary design whether you are looking for a weekend leisure break or are staying for business.

Unwind in the relaxing atmosphere of the Cosy Bothy Bar, adorned with old memorabilia and photos where we serve a selection of traditional Orkney ales, whiskies and a selection of alcoholic drinks.

Read More.

Hotel Havn

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Torshavn
Country: Faroe Islands

Located in central Thorshavn, Hotel Havn offers free parking and modern rooms with free WiFi and a flat-screen TV. Thorshavn
... is a 4-minute walk away.
Read More.

Hotel Klaksvik

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Klaksvik
Country: Faroe Islands

Hotel Klaksvík is well located in Klaksvík, Faroe Island. With a beautiful view over the city, you can enjoy good
... and a pleasant visit.
Read More.

Trip Information

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►


Breakfast and dinner (local restaurants & hotels) daily. All transport (including internal flights), accommodation, sightseeing and entrance fees for sites noted as 'visited' in the detailed itinerary. Services of an Adventures Abroad Tour Leader. Gratuities for drivers, local guides, restaurant staff, porters (if available). Airport transfers for land & air customers, including early arrivals / late departing customers who have booked their extra nights through us.

PLEASE NOTE: This tour requires a $1000 per person, non-refundable (unless we cancel the tour), non-transferable deposit. Once the tour becomes 'guaranteed,' we will require additional payment of $1500 per-person in order to purchase non-refundable internal air tickets. This is in variance with our regular terms governing most of our scheduled tours.


Tour Leader gratuities, lunches, drinks, personal items (phone, laundry, etc), domestic and international air taxes (if applicable), any excursions referenced as 'optional'. Airport transfers for Land Only customers. Optional trip cancellation insurance. Our post-reservation trip notes offer further guidance on optional meal costs and shopping.

Seasonality and Weather

Summer is the most comfortable time in this part of the world, though conditions are notoriously changeable and can go from one extreme to the next in a hurry. One must be prepared for a wide range of conditions -- from windy and rainy and misty, to fine and warm, and everything in between!

Transport and Travel Conditions

Larger distances are covered by scheduled air carriers; locally our ground transport will range from taxis to mini-bus and full-size touring coach. Road journeys are not long and stops for sightseeing will be frequent.

This is a fairly easy-going tour in terms of sites visited -- walking tours are conducted at a leisurely pace and sites of interest are not large. As per the above, we rely on short flights; you must be prepared to manage with your own luggage at airports. You should also not rely on the services of baggage handlers at the small hotels we utilize at some locations.

PLEASE NOTE: This tour requires a $1000 per person, non-refundable (unless we cancel the tour), non-transferable deposit. Once the tour becomes 'guaranteed,' we will require additional payment of $1500 per-person in order to purchase non-refundable internal air tickets. This is in variance with our regular terms governing most of our scheduled tours.


Hotels in Edinburgh and Aberdeen will be typical city-style, international 3-star standard. Hotels on the islands will be smaller, character properties -- clean, well-located, comfortable and modern.

Staff and Support

Tour Leader throughout; local drivers and guides at several locations.

Group Size

10-18 plus Tour Leader




TOUR ENDEdinburgh