Call to book01904 521 936
Tour Search

Orkney, Shetland & The Caledonian Sleeper


Discover the Scottish islands' charms in the most romantic way

7 days From £1,390 per person

2020 Tour code: SOS20

About the tour

Atmospheric ruined castles, charming fishing ports, ancient archaeological sites, captivating wildlife, and a unique cultural heritage; Orkney and Shetland have inspired artists, writers and musicians for centuries. Discover the Scottish islands' charms in the most romantic way possible - with a nostalgic overnight journey on the Caledonian Sleeper train.

This escape is filled with unique experiences, including a stay at the Standing Stones Hotel. With our small group tours, you have all the advantages of travelling in a group as well as access to certain experiences and hotels not suitable for larger parties.


What’s included


Day 1 - Scotland aboard the Caledonian Sleeper

After meeting our group at London Euston, we board the Caledonian Sleeper train for an overnight journey to Scotland. An experience which harks back to a bygone era of rail travel, we are treated to a magical journey whilst travelling through undulating English countryside from the relaxed comfort of our classic and club cabins.

Caledonian Sleeper
Day 2 - Aberdeen

We wake up after a night on the rails to the iconic heather-clad scenery of Scotland. After breakfast, we disembark in the thriving port city of Aberdeen, where you can explore independently for the day. Perhaps visit the harbour, home to a charming selection of historic fishermen's cottages. The 15th-century St Machar's Cathedral and the genteel district of Old Aberdeen, where stone mansions line the leafy lanes, are also well worth a visit. Board a ferry this evening for the overnight crossing to Shetland - Britain's northernmost outpost. Located closer to Bergen, in Norway, than to Edinburgh, the dramatic beauty of the Shetland Isles blends with a unique Norse influence.

  • Breakfast, Dinner
St Machar's Cathedral, Aberdeen
Day 3 - Exploring the Shetlands

We sail into Lerwick, the capital of the Shetlands Isles, where we meet our guide for the day. Our first visit is to Scalloway, the ancient capital of the Shetlands. Here, we discover the brooding ruins of the impressive Scalloway Castle, which dates back to 1599. Next, we head to the coast for a unique encounter with Shetland's world-famous ponies learning about their history and enjoying a photo opportunity with these sweet animals against the spectacular coastal backdrop. We continue by coach to the picturesque village of Brae, for a fish and chip lunch at an award-winning local restaurant. Afterwards, we travel north, taking in incredible views of the volcanic Cliffs of Eshaness before transferring to our hotel, the 3-Star St Magnus Bay Hotel in Hillswick, which boasts wonderful views of the bay.

  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Shetland Ponies
Day 4 - The history and wildlife of the Shetlands

Today's tour immerses us further in the unique history of the Shetlands. First, we explore the Prehistoric and Norse settlement of Jarlshof, at the southern tip of the mainland.

Jarlshof is one of the most remarkable archaeological sites in Europe, with the oldest signs of life dating from around 2500BC. Our time here offers a wonderful insight into the evolution of life and living conditions throughout the Shetand's history. We continue south to Sumburgh Head, a protected nature reserve notable for its steep cliffs, iconic lighthouse and large seabird population. The rocky headland provides the perfect vantage point for spotting the beautiful seabirds which reside here, including puffins, guillemots and razorbills, in addition to whales and dolphins. Next, we pause at the rural coastal villages of Gulberwick and Cunningsburgh before travelling to Lerwick, where there's free time before boarding the ferry to the remote Orkney Islands. We arrive at the 3-Star Standing Stones Hotel, on Orkney's mainland late this evening. Perched on the edge of shimmering Stenness Loch, this unique hotel is located within walking distance of some of Orkney's most incredible Neolithic sites, including the Standing Stones of Stenness and The Ring of Brodgar.

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Sumburgh Head
Day 5 - Archaeological Orkney

After a relaxed morning, we meet our guide for full-day tour which takes in the 'Heart of Neolithic Orkney' - 4 famous archaeological sites which gained UNESCO World Heritage Status in 1999. These fascinating Neolithic monuments include the Standing Stones of Stennis, the 4 remaining stones of perhaps the oldest Neolithic henge in the British Isles; the Ring of Bordgar, an enigmatic ceremonial site made up of an enormous circle of stones; Maeshowe, a chambered tomb which is more than 5,000 years old; and Skara Brae, the 'Scottish Pompeii' - an excellently-preserved prehistoric village consisting of 8 ancient houses, which were occupied between 3000BC and 2500BC. We transfer to Stromness to board our ferry for the very early morning crossing to mainland Scotland.

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Ring of Brodgar
Days 6-7 - Dunrobin Castle, Dornoch, and homeward bound

We enjoy breakfast on board as our ferry sails into the port in Scrabster, Britain's most northern mainland port. We disembark and transfer to Dunrobin Castle, a fairy tale stately home, the earliest parts of which date back to the early 1300s. The style of the castle is reminiscent of that of a French château, with a pretty white stone exterior, striking turrets and beautifully landscaped grounds inspired by the formal gardens of the Palace of Versailles. We have time to explore the house and grounds before continuing Dornoch, a former royal burgh occupying a tranquil position on the coast. You have some time at leisure in this beautiful destination for unch and to explore at your own pace. Perhaps visit the impressive cathedral, which was first founded in 1224, or take some time to explore the miles of golden beaches.

Afterwards, we transfer to Inverness where you have free time ahead of boarding the Caledonian Sleeper train for our return journey to London, arriving on Day 7.

  • Day 6 - Breakfast
  • Day 7 - Breakfast
Dunrobin Castle

Additional information

Departure times

Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular holiday with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.


St Magnus Bay Hotel, Hillswick

St Magnus Bay Hotel, Hillswick

View hotel

Standing Stones Hotel, Stromness

Standing Stones Hotel, Stromness

View hotel


Caledonian Sleeper

Enhance your holiday


UK Rail Connections
Europe & UK by Rail 2020

Europe & UK by Rail 2020

The definitive guide to our 2020 summer & winter rail holidays to a wide range of destinations in Europe.

Order brochure

Tailor made for you

Customise this tour with Great Rail Journeys Independent

GRJ IndependentEnquire
Orkney, Shetland & The Caledonian Sleeper

Discover the Scottish islands' charms in the most romantic way


Luke Simpson
Lynne Broadley
Helen Laverack