Scottish Highlands tours

Our top 5 experiences in the spellbinding Scottish Highlands and Orkney Islands

Scottish Highlands
Natalie Baker for Back Roads Travel

Natalie Baker

Born in the United States but raised in South-West London: Natalie is a lover of all things travel, as well as a passionate writer. She enjoys getting out of the city and being in nature.

22nd May 2019

Visit the Scottish Highlands and Orkney Islands

The Scottish Highlands and Orkney Islands have an air of magic and melancholy that surround them. The verdant, mist-veiled peaks and troughs of the Highlands have inspired legends for centuries, whilst in the Orkneys dramatic red sandstone cliffs plunge vertically into the often tumultuous waters below. Lonely wrecks of warships are strewn around the islands and the eerie soundtrack is the chatter of vast sea-bird colonies.

But there are also sublime stretches of pristine sand lapped by clear waters, undulating hills dotted with sleepy villages and imposing, ancient ruins which tell of the region’s great history. The far North of Scotland is the embodiment of contrast.

We’ve narrowed down a list of some of our favourite things to see and do in these enigmatic parts.

Tours of theScottish Highlands

The Old Man of Hoy

The poster-child for the Orkney Islands, the affectionately named Old Man of Hoy is a towering sea stack stretching 137m vertically, making it one of the tallest stacks in Britain. The Old Man is a popular conquest for dare-devil climbers, although it’s just as impressive when admired from the shore!

The Old Man of Hoy - Orkney Islands tours

Old Pulteney Distillery in Wick

Once the most northerly distillery in mainland Scotland, this small, welcoming distillery offers tours and tastings to aficionados and enthusiastic novices. Breathe in the heady aroma of aged whiskey whilst knowledgeable guides delve into the history and heritage of the distillery, which becomes harder to concentrate on after a couple of drams…

Skara Brae

Pre-dating Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids of Egypt, this pre-historic village is one of Europe’s – or indeed the world’s – greatest archaeological treasures. Everything down to the stone beds and dressers of the residents of Skara Brae have survived untouched for 5000 years, just as they were when a community thrived here.

Tours of Skara Brae

St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall

Built from the very same red sandstone that makes up the cliffs of this region, Kirkwall’s stunning centrepiece is a triumph of the Viking Age. Dating back to the year 1137, this impressive cathedral is imbued with a powerful atmosphere and offers visitors the chance to discover the rich tapestry that is Scotland’s history.

No.1 Bistro at Mackay’s Hotel

For a refined, modern take on hearty Highland fayre in an elegant yet laid-back atmosphere, look no further than the award-winning No.1 Bistro at the popular Mackay’s Hotel. With everything from local lamb and game to sumptuous deserts on the menu, this buzzing restaurant is a hit with locals and visitors alike.

Located on the Shortest Street in the World – as officially recognised by the Guinness Book of Records – with a striking period exterior and beautifully appointed rooms, Mackay’s Hotel is one of Wick’s true highlights. What’s more is that the charming Mackay’s Hotel is the provided accommodation for two nights on our 4 day Orkney and the Highlands tour!

Mackays Hotel