The Heart of Scotland
Journey through the heart of Scotland, taking in the awe-inspiring scenery from stately homes and imposing castles to manicured gardens and expansive countryside.
Discover Scotland’s distinctive artistic and architectural heritage, ranging from traditional village dwellings to grand mansions and remarkable Art Nouveau masterpieces. Explore impressive royal residences and aristocratic estates set against a backdrop of untamed landscapes, from the rugged Highlands to the rolling hills of the Lowlands and the windswept Orkney Islands.
Enjoy private guided tours to significant museums and galleries and marvel at the works of renowned international artists and designers.
This tour is part of the World Art Tours program organised by the Art Gallery Society of NSW in partnership with Renaissance Tours.
Arrive in Edinburgh on suggested flights and make your way to the hotel. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements, including travel insurance (a condition of travel), private hotel transfer, accommodation before or after the tour and a room category upgrade.
In the late-afternoon, join your tour leader Kenneth Park and fellow travellers for a welcome briefing followed by dinner.
After a morning talk by Kenneth, begin your exploration of Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital. Visit the National Monument of Scotland, dedicated to soldiers who died during the Napoleonic wars, as well as Greyfriars Church, one of the oldest surviving buildings in Edinburgh built in the seventeenth century.
Then, enjoy a guided tour of the National Gallery of Scotland housing works by Bernini, Botticelli, Cézanne, Monet and Gauguin, as well as art spanning the course of Scottish history up to the twentieth century.
This morning, explore Edinburgh Castle, which dominates the skyline of the city. Archaeologists have determined that the site on which the castle sits has been inhabited since the Iron Age and there has been a royal castle on the site since the thirteenth century. It was involved in many historical conflicts and is claimed to be the most besieged place in the British Isles. Today, the castle is the backdrop for the Edinburgh Military Tattoo during the annual Edinburgh Festival.
After lunch at a local restaurant, enjoy a private guided tour of the National Museum of Scotland. The museum houses Scottish artefacts dating from prehistory, through the medieval period and down to more recent history.
Following a talk by Kenneth, leisurely stroll down the Royal Mile to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Discover the history of Holyroodhouse and Abbey and explore the former residence of the Kings and Queens of Scots since the sixteenth century. Today Holyroodhouse is the official residence of the British Monarch in Scotland.
The afternoon is at leisure to further explore Edinburgh at your own pace.
In the evening, travel to the village of Roslin for a private visit to the fifteenth-century Rosslyn Chapel. The chapel was founded by the Scoto-Norman Sinclair family and restored in the nineteenth century by Queen Victoria. The chapel is steeped in myth and legend, said to be the final resting place of the treasure of the Knights Templar, Holy Grail and even hiding the Crown Jewels of Scotland.
This morning transfer to the Royal Yacht Britannia for a private red carpet tour of the vessel. The ship was the royal yacht of the British monarch from 1954 until 1997, the eighty-third such vessel in a long line of ships dating back to the reign of Charles II in 1660. Enjoy morning tea on board in the Royal Deck Tea Rooms.
Then, transfer to the Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre for a tour through the production process of one of Scotland’s leading exports and to admire the world’s largest collection of Scottish Whisky.
The remainder of the day is at leisure.
Travel to the town of Queensferry for a guided tour of the majestic Hopetoun House. The house was constructed between 1699 and 1701 and today is the family home of the fourth Marquis of Linlithgow.
Return to Edinburgh after lunch. The remainder of the day is at leisure.
In the morning enjoy a talk by Kenneth, then depart for St Andrews. The town is home to the University of St Andrews, the third oldest university in the English-speaking world, as well as the ruins of a twelfth-century castle. St Andrews is also known worldwide as the home of golf. The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, founded in 1754, exercised legislative authority over the game until 2004 in all countries except the United States and Mexico. Return to Edinburgh in the late-afternoon.
Transfer to Edinburgh Airport for a flight to Kirkwall, capital of the Orkney Islands (flight included in tour price). The Orkneys, an archipelago reaching out north-east from the tip of the Scottish mainland, have a distinct culture of their own, embracing their Norse heritage and the windswept beauty of their island home.
After some free time for lunch, explore the history of the islands at the Orkney Museum. Check into your hotel in the mid-afternoon.
In the morning, visit the ancient Standing Stones of Stenness, thought to be the oldest ‘henge’ in the British Isles. Then, travel to the 5,000-year-old Skara Brae, a prehistoric Neolithic settlement. Perfectly preserved under sand dunes, it was discovered in 1850 during a winter storm. Both ancient sites comprise a large part of the Neolithic Orkney UNESCO World Heritage site.
Continue to Stromness for a visit to the Pier Arts Centre, housing works donated by peace activist and philanthropist Margaret Gardiner.
Today, take a ferry across the Pentland Firth to Thurso Bay. Keep an eye out for gannets, seals, puffins, pods of porpoise and the occasional whale as you sail through the Churchill Barriers, which connect five islands to form the eastern boundary of Scapa Flow.
Upon arrival, travel to John O’Groats, the most northerly town in the British Isles. Explore the town with a guided tour including the Duncansby Head Lighthouse.
Continue to Inverness, enjoying a talk by Kenneth en route. Regarded as the capital of the Scottish Highlands, Inverness Castle was the former residence of the Gaelic king Mac Bethad mac Findláich, who was the inspiration for Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth.
This morning journey to Eilean Donan Castle for a guided tour. Located on a small island and connected to the mainland by a short bridge, the picturesque thirteenth-century castle was built to provide a strong defensive position against Norse expeditions and is one of the most iconic images of Scotland. Marvel at the impressive banqueting hall and the fascinating exhibits on display in the castle’s billeting room.
After some free time for lunch in Fort Augustus, return to Inverness along the shores of scenic Loch Ness.
Today, drive to Glasgow and enjoy a talk by Kenneth en route.
Stop in the city of Perth for lunch, then visit Antonine Wall at Rough Castle. A turf fortification built by the Romans, the Antonine Wall represented the northernmost frontier of the Roman Empire. The associated ‘Rough Castle’ was one of sixteen forts that lined the wall from between which troops would move, using the road known as the Military Way.
Arrive in Glasgow in the late afternoon.
Explore Glasgow this morning with a guided coach tour of the architectural legacy of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Begin the tour at the Hunterian Art Gallery, the oldest museum in Scotland, followed by the Glasgow School of Art and the once famous nineteenth-century Willow Tea Rooms. Then see the Scotland Street School Museum, the design of which Mackintosh based on Rowallan Castle. Enjoy a light lunch at leisure at the House for an Art Lover, whose design was inspired by the works of the great architect.
In the afternoon, enjoy a guided tour of the hilltop castle of Culzean. Built in the latter part of the eighteenth century, the castle incorporates a large drum tower with a circular saloon overlooking the sea, a grand oval staircase and a suite of well-appointed apartments.
This morning, visit the towering Wallace Monument, built to honour Scotland’s National hero, Sir William Wallace. Wallace was a Scottish knight who became one of the main leaders in the Scottish Wars of Independence, defeating the English in the battle of Stirling. Admire the views from the base of the tower – to the south Glasgow and to the north Stirling, whose fields hosted the famous battle.
Then, explore the Kelvingrove Art Gallery. Designed by Sir John W. Simpson and financed by the International Exhibition of 1888, it contains one of the finest collections of arms and armour in the world as well as works by the Old Masters and French Impressionists.
After lunch, enjoy a guided tour of the Gallery of Modern Art, located in a neoclassical building in St James Square which at one time housed the Royal Bank of Scotland and Royal exchange.
In the morning drive to the shores of Loch Fyne for a guided tour of the historic Inveraray Castle. Built in the late eighteenth century, it is one of the earliest examples of Gothic Revival architecture in Europe. The castle is the seat of the Dukes of Argyll, chiefs of the clan of Campbell. The family still resides in the private apartments on the top two floors.
Enjoy a special farewell lunch with Kenneth and fellow travellers at a local restaurant in Inveraray.
Then, continue to Helensburgh for a guided tour of Hill House, one of the most renowned works of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Having not only designed the house, Mackintosh also designed most of the interior, furniture and fittings.
Return to Glasgow in late afternoon.
Tour arrangements conclude after breakfast.
For those returning home today, make your way to Glasgow Airport for suggested flights to Australia or New Zealand. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements, including private airport transfers, additional nights’ accommodation either before or after the tour and travel insurance (a condition of travel).
Per person, twin-share
Deposit per person (at time of booking)
Final payment due
21 March 2024
Room category upgrade available on request; please enquire with us.
Tour price includes
- Accommodation in centrally-located 4-star hotels or best available, with breakfast daily (B)
- Meals as per itinerary (L=Lunch, M=Morning Tea, D=Dinner), including wines with dinners
- Comprehensive sightseeing, including local guides and entrance fees as per itinerary
- Transportation on comfortable air-conditioned coaches and ferries as per itinerary
- Economy class flight from Edinburgh to Kirkwall (baggage allowance 23kg)
- Lectures and talks by your tour leader, Kenneth Park
- Gratuities for local guides, drivers and wait staff
- Hotel porterage (one piece per person)
Tour price does not include
- International airfares (please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
- Airport porterage
- Airport/hotel transfers on arrival and departure
- Items of a personal nature (e.g. telephone, laundry, room service, mini-bar, taxis etc.)
- Travel insurance (a condition of travel; please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
Edinburgh – Radisson Blu Hotel, Edinburgh City Centre****
Kirkwall – The Albert Hotel***
Inverness – Kingsmills Hotel****
Glasgow – voco Grand Central Glasgow****
N.B. Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted.
Tour code: AG2407
Fitness level: Moderate
Please see Terms & Conditions for fitness level definitions here.
Suggested airline: Qatar Airways
Please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for current airfares and flight raeservations.
Australian and New Zealand passport holders do not require a visa to visit the United Kingdom.
Download booking form here.