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Highlights
  • Navigate to some of the most beautiful, isolated islands in the Atlantic including St. Kilda and the Faroe Islands.
  • Interact with the 60 or so residents of Fair Isle, the most remote inhabited island in the United Kingdom.
  • Discover Orkney’s remarkable prehistoric sites including two ceremonial stone circles and a well-preserved village.

This trip has been discontinued. Instead see

Hogmanay in Scotland

Journey to Ireland

Britain & Ireland



In prehistoric times, Celtic monks in search of the utmost solitude took to the sea, sailing from Great Britain to remote “stepping stone” islands: the Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands, Hebrides and Faroes. Embark on a voyage to these isolated isles and delve into their human history from ancient settlements to recent evacuations. Zodiac boats bring you close to dramatic coastlines. Look for whales and seals.

Travel Theme
Flights & Transport
  • Only ground transport

28
Road Scholar Travel Reviews & Ratings
93% Recommend

4.7 out of 5
Excellent 23 Great 3 Average 1 Disappointing 1 Terrible 0
Value
4.7 Guide
4.7 Activities
4.8 Lodging
4.5 Transportation
4.6 Meals
4.5
Stepping Stones in the Atlantic: The Hebrides, Faroes, Shetland & Orkney Islands

No reviews yet for this trip. Browse other reviews below for Road Scholar .

S

Does Not Recommend

A BIG DISAPPOINTMENT August 2017

3.0
  • Value 3.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 3.0
  • Lodging 4.0
  • Transportation 2.0
  • Meals 3.0
I would have enjoyed this trip much more if I felt I was being treated as an adult, the educated, enthusiastic traveler that I am.
Unfortunately, I took a fall and broke my arm near the end of the trip. I was shocked at the very insolent, uncaring attitude of Road Scholar. I received two calls from the insurance program my husband was encouraged to pay for for the trip (we usually use Travel Guard who is great). Both calls were very negative. Neither expressed concern about my condition and both apparently had called to state that ROAD SCHOLAR
WOULD NOT PAY FOR ANYTHING! WOW! A WAKEUP CALL FROM HELL. I WILL BE SHOUTING THIS FROM THE ROOFTOPS SO NO ONE ELSE
HAS THIS EXPERIENCE. DO NOT PURCHASE ROAD SCHOLAR INSURANCE -- IT IS A BOONDOGGLE!
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Operator Road Scholar

LG

Does Not Recommend

Don't go! March 2017

2.0
  • Guide 1.0
  • Activities 4.0
  • Lodging 1.0
  • Meals 1.0
  • Value 2.0
  • Transportation 2.0
I took a four day bridge class at Jekyll Island Club Hotel. The class was mediocre. And I came home with over 50 BED BUG BITES! Please beware.

Operator Road Scholar

TCtssvawmc

Recommends

Excellent coverage of major cities and Guizhou Province January 2017

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
Road Scholar (also known as Elderhostel) offers hundreds of tours worldwide, using local tour companies, sometimes universities. I have taken RS tours to Africa, China, and France and look forward to more. This was my first "tour" of China, but my 20th visit, with the rest on business. Our guide, Mei Mei, was one of the finest I've seen on tours. We started with Beijing and continued to Xian and then to Guizhou Province for a week in this fascinating area, which was new to me. We were able to meet the people in the villages, thanks to our guide, and enjoyed the chance to see and photograph such a variety of places in China. Hotels were excellent and appropriate to this type of tour (usually centrally located and very fine). Meals were family style and always good. Road Scholar makes its tours educational and doesn't push shopping as so many commercial ones do. Touring in China is very safe. You do have a lot of walking and RS tells you this in the tour, but it seems that a great deal of the walking is in those huge airports! I recommend Road Scholar and always turn to their catalogs to choose my next trip.
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Operator Road Scholar

WE

Recommends

A peaceful and green country with lots of history revealed by motor coach travel. January 2017

4.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 4.0
  • Activities 4.0
  • Lodging 3.0
  • Transportation 3.0
  • Meals 3.0
The trip was a good overview of the country. The Road Scholar guide was very knowledgeable. The motorcoach was very comfortable. The accommodations and meals were fine. Couldn't ask for a better overview of the place.
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Operator Road Scholar

S

Recommends

Old Cuba is fantastic and should be seen before it's spoiled by capitalism. January 2017

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 4.0
  • Lodging 4.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 3.0
This was my wife's and my first trip with Road Scholar. At the time (April, 2012), it was not possible for Americans to directly visit Cuba. You had to do it with a cultural/educational group, often associated with a university. Or, you could fly to Canada, Mexico, or Europe first and then get a flight to Cuba from there (while risking a ~$10,000 fine from the US Government). We opted for the legal route with Road Scholar.

It was a fantastic trip! We had a small-ish group of about 20 people and a wonderful guide, José Luis (who, like most Cubans, had never been off the island).
The trip began in Miami where we had an orientation and spent the night. Then we flew to Havana and stayed in the Hotel Nacional for four nights. It doesn't get more historic -- or fun -- than the Nacional:
https://vimeo.com/41612444

While in Havana, we enjoyed great history/culture lectures from experts, toured various parts of Havana (including Hemmingway's home in the hills nearby), and, on our own, had the opportunity to have dinner at a paladar -- a restaurant inside someone's home.

The Cuban people are friendly but the infrastructure of their country is in shambles. It's been a long time since Russia's deep pockets left the island (1991), and you see poverty everywhere. But not the begging-in-the-street kind. Cuba provides universal health care, education (including room and board all the way through grad/med school!), food staples, and a very modest income (~$30/month) to everyone. Most people add to that income by working on the side.

After Havana, we traveled to Cienfuegos. From there we saw the infamous Bay Of Pigs, but also the wonderful Benny Moré Art School where we learned of the fantastic support for the arts by the Cuban government. Children are identified in grade school as having artistic talent and then funneled into magnet schools like Benny Moré to study art for their entire scholastic career!

Don't go to Cuba for the food. It's edible (and won't make you sick) but rather boring. You mainly get the "three amigos": fish, pork, or chicken, along with rice and/or black beans. But the aged rum is superb and so are the cigars!

Probably my favorite thing on the island, though, was the music -- whether on the street or in a more formal setting:
https://vimeo.com/43273083

Cuba is fantastic. Go enjoy it!
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Operator Road Scholar

Itinerary

Day One: Flights Depart

Evening: Flights to Edinburgh, Scotland depart North America.

Day Two: Arrivals / Edinburgh, Scotland               

Meals: Dinner

Accommodation: Hilton Edinburgh Grosvenor (or similar)

Arrive To: Flights arrive in Edinburgh, Scotland. Transfer to the program hotel. Check-in time at the hotel is at 3:00. Although we will try to secure an early check-in for participants arriving before 3:00, we cannot guarantee that there will be availability. Luggage storage will be available.

Afternoon: Gather for a warm welcome and introductions, followed by an orientation to the program. Review the schedule and any changes; discuss responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures and contact numbers for key staff; and answer any questions you may have.

Dinner: Welcome dinner at the hotel

Day Three: Edinburgh, Scotland - The Royal Mile             

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Accommodation: Hilton Edinburgh Grosvenor (or similar)

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: Depart the hotel this morning for an exploration of Edinburgh. Start the morning at Edinburgh Castle, perched above the city on Castle Rock. Continue exploring the sites along the Royal Mile ending at the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

Lunch: Lunch on your own to explore the local fare.

Afternoon: After lunch you will have some free time to independently explore the shops, restaurants, and sites of interest along the Royal Mile.

Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.

Day Four: Edinburgh / Oban / Embark MV Sea Explorer

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: Sea Explorer

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: Transfer by coach from Edinburgh to Oban. The driving time is approximately 3 hours, but the views through the Scottish highlands will be well worth it. There will also be rest stops along the way. Upon arrival in Oban visit Oban Distillery, to learn how traditional Scotch whiskey is produced from one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland. Next, drive to the top of Battery Hill to McCraig's tower, with beautiful views of Oban Bay.

Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Arrive at the MV Sea Explorer. Embarkation begins at 4:00 PM.

Dinner: Dinner on board the ship.

Day Five: Migulay & Pabbay, Outer Hebrides    

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: Sea Explorer

Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship

Morning: Explore the remote islands at the tip of the South Uist including Mingulay and Pabbay. Zodiacs will be used to explore and we hope to make some beach landings. Despite there being a continuous population on Mingulay for at least two thousand years, evacuation began in 1907 and the island was completely abandoned by its residents in 1912 and has remained abandoned ever since. The islands are also a nature reserve with important breeding populations of razorbills, guillemots, black guillemots, puffins, fulmars and shags.

Lunch: Lunch on board the ship.

Afternoon: Continue exploring Migulay and Pabbay.

Dinner: Dinner on board the ship.

Day Six: St. Kilda, Outer Hebrides           

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: Sea Explorer

Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship

Morning: Arrive at first light in St. Kilda, a remarkable uninhabited archipelago some fifty miles beyond the Outer Hebrides. The largest island, Hirta, once supported a population of over 200, but the last islanders left in the 1930s. The Medieval village has been restored by the National Trust for Scotland and offers a marvellous link with the past.

Lunch: Lunch on board the ship.

Afternoon: Cruise past two of the largest gannetries in the world at Borecay and Stac Lee as you sail to North Rona.

Dinner: Dinner on board the ship.

Day Seven: North Rona, Outer Hebrides              

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: Sea Explorer

Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship

Morning: Spend the day around North Rona, an isolated island some fifty miles north of Cape Wrath. The last islanders left North Rona in 1844 and today it is home to thirteen species of breeding seabirds including large colonies of great black-backed gulls, great skuas and puffins. There is also a large population of grey seals which we hope to observe during a Zodiac cruise.

Lunch: Lunch on board the ship.

Afternoon: Continue exploring North Rona.

Dinner: Dinner on board the ship.

Day Eight: Torshavn, Faroe Islands          

Meals: Breakfast, Brunch, Dinner

Accommodation: Sea Explorer

Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship

Morning: Enjoy a morning at sea before we arrive in the Faroe Islands at lunch time.

Brunch: Lunch on board the ship

Afternoon: From the berth in Torshavn, join a guided exploration over the hills to Kirkjubour the islands oldest cultural center where you will see the ruins of the 13th century St Magnus Cathedral and the 11th century church, still in use. Also visit the 900-year old "Roykstovan", the old bishopric, considered to be the oldest wooden house in Europe.

Dinner: Dinner on board the ship

Day Nine: Mykines, Faroe Islands           

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: Sea Explorer

Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship

Morning: Today we will use the Zodacis to explore the westernmost islands of the Faroes. One of the loveliest of the archipelago, Mykines is wonderfully green and its single village with bright turf roofed houses and turf streets is a delight. One of the best walks in the Faroes can be found here at "Lundaland" (land of the puffin) on the islet of Mtkinesholmur, which is connected to Mykines by a small bridge.

Lunch: Lunch on board the ship.

Afternoon: This afternoon we hope to explore the huge caves of Vagar that have been created by the Atlantic Ocean as you sail back to Scotland.

Dinner: Dinner on board the ship

Day Ten: Papa Stour & Foula, Scotland 

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: Sea Explorer

Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship

Morning: This morning you will board Zodiacs to explore the stunning cliff scenery, sea stacks, arches, blowholes, and coastal cavers of Papa Stour.

Lunch: Lunch on board the ship as you sail to Foula, one of Britain's most remote inhabited islands.

Afternoon: Apart from a narrow coastal strip of more fertile croftland, Foula is an expanse of peat and moorland rising steeply to five dramatic peaks. In the long midsummer days, Foula's wildflowers provide a glorious burst of color. The world's largest colony of Great Skuas compete fiercely with many Parasitic Jaegers for breeding territories.

Dinner: Dinner on board the ship.

Day Eleven: Lerwick & Mousa, Shetland Islands               

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: Sea Explorer

Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship.

Morning: After breakfast discover the Shetland capital and begin your exploration of this historic port. Wander through the narrow stone lanes, and visit the excellent Shetland Museum, containing artifacts from shipwrecks and the whaling era.

Lunch: Lunch on board the ship.

Afternoon: Explore Mousa to see the forty-foot defensive tower built by the Picts more than 2000 years ago, and the tallest, best preserved example of an Iron Age broch (tower) in Britain.

Dinner: Dinner on board the ship.

Day Twelve: Fair Isle & North Ronaldsay, Orkney Islands             

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: Sea Explorer

Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship

Morning: This morning Sea Explorer will call at Fair Isle where you will be met with a warm welcome by the tiny population of sixty or so islanders. Enjoy a walk across the island, perhaps visiting the Bird Observatory, searching out the puffin slopes.

Lunch: Lunch on board the ship

Afternoon: North Ronaldsay supports a rich and diverse population of wild flowers, mammals and birds. It lies on the migration crossroads with birds heading north towards Iceland, Greenland and Scandinavia whilst common and grey seals are numerous. Join the naturalists for guided walks cross the island including the lighthouse.

Dinner: Dinner on board the ship.

Day Thirteen: Kirkwall, Orkney Islands 

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: Sea Explorer

Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship

Morning: This morning, head into the west of Mainland, Orkney's largest island. Pass through the gentle rolling landscape and into the Neolithic Heartland of Orkney; an area designated as a World Heritage Site due to its wealth of pre-historic archaeology. See the Standing Stones of Stenness, the Ring of Brodgar; a huge ceremonial circle of stones dating back almost 5000 years. Continue to the 5000-year-old village of Skara Brae and see the remarkable dwellings revealed from beneath the sand dunes by storms only 150 years ago.

Lunch: Lunch on board the ship.

Afternoon: Continue exploring Kirkwall.

Dinner: Dinner on board the ship.

Day Fourteen: Aberdeen, Scotland / Disembark              

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Accommodation: Hilton Garden Inn Aberdeen City Centre (or similar)

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: Disembark the ship this morning. Enjoy a morning exploration of Aberdeen

Lunch: Lunch on your own to explore the local fare.

Afternoon: Enjoy some free time to explore Aberdeen.

Dinner: Farewell dinner at the hotel.

Day Fifteen: Departures              

Meals: Breakfast

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: Transfer to the airport for flights returning to North America.

Dates & Pricing

Price From

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Price Per Day:

NA per person
 
Prices may vary due to local taxes and trip seasonality. Click "Request Info" to inquire directly with the tour operator for the final trip price.
Details
Trip Includes
  • 13 nights of accommodations
  • 36 meals: 13 breakfasts, 1 brunch, 9 lunches, 13 dinners
  • 11 Field trips
  • Free round-trip airfare from JFK is included in the program price
  • Learning led by expert instructors who are authorities in the field of study.
  • An experienced Group Leader attuned to the needs of Road Scholar participants.
  • Customary gratuities throughout the program that you would normally pay yourself.
  • The Road Scholar Travel Assistance Plan, which is purchased on behalf of every participant and provides 24-hour-a-day emergency assistance services coverage.
  • Taxes
  • State-of-the-art QUIETVOX listening devices
Trip Excludes
  • Passport charges
  • Any kind of insurance
  • Personal Expenses
Meals Included:

13 Breakfasts, 10 Lunches and 13 Dinners

Flights & Transport
Only ground transport
Group Size:
Standard Group
Accomodations

Hilton Edinburgh Grosvenor (or similar)

2 nights  Edinburgh

Located in the stylish West End of Edinburgh’s city center, the Hilton Edinburgh Grosvenor hotel combines a historical 1860s listed building with a chic and modern interior. Housed over two buildings – the main building and the Townhouse annex - the hotel boasts modern decor, yet retains stunning traditional features such as beautiful coving, ceilings and ornate staircases. Situated only 200 meters from Haymarket train station and a short walk from popular attractions including Edinburgh Castle, Princes Street and the Royal Mile, this unique Edinburgh hotel is the perfect base to explore Scotland’s capital.          

Sea Explorer

10 nights  Belgravia, London

The deluxe Sea Explorer is an all-suite yacht accommodating up to 114 guests. Built in 1992 and refurbished and redecorated in 2005, it has 57 suites. This small ship offers several advantages that mass cruiseliners cannot match. It can dock or anchor almost anywhere and are not limited to large commercial ports. The Sea Explorer can slip into small towns and tiny fishing villages. The ship's 70 officers and crew ensure personalized service.             

DoubleTree Hotel Aberdeen City Centre

1 night  Aberdeen

Start City
Edinburgh
End City
Aberdeen

Trip ID#: SteStoRoa

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