Highlands and Islands Tour
Here’s a chance to travel the length and breadth of Scotland – quite literally!
We’ll go to four significant places that, astonishingly, few travelers think to visit – mainland Scotland’s southern, northern, western and eastern extremes (well, as close as we can get to them on public roads), plus adding extra quality time enjoying some of the beautiful sights and experiences “in the middle” too.
With post tour options to extend your experience further, this tour gives you a depth of immersion, and time in “real” Scotland that few other travelers enjoy.
This page tells you what you need to know about the tour in general, and we also have a detailed day by day itinerary so you can understand everything that you’ll get to see and do during your lovely Four Corners tour.
What is a Landcruise
Just like on a river cruise, you spend a full week without needing to change where you’re staying. You only need to unpack once, but into a first class hotel room rather than a small cruise ship cabin.
Like a traditional cruise, we visit towns around our region, traveling each day to selected destinations by luxury coach (of course with restroom on board).
Like a regular cruise, you’ve a dedicated “cruise director” to help you with anything and everything during your time on this tour.
Enjoy Flexibility and Convenience
Just like on a river cruise, your time can be filled with included activities at no extra cost, but you’re also free to take it easy, and do things at your own speed as you wish.
You never have to be back before the ship sails – the hotel isn’t going anywhere!
We include breakfasts and a couple of dinners, but the rest of the time you’re free to eat what you want, where and when you want. Enjoy local cuisines, snack at Christmas markets, treat yourself to haute cuisine, whatever you wish.
Start Date & Options
The tour starts on Saturday 4 July in Glasgow.
We will meet at the Glasgow Central Railway Station at 10am. You can take an overnight or early morning train from elsewhere in the country to get there by that time, or perhaps you might arrive the previous day, maybe even taking advantage of our optional Pre-tour experience.
Optional Pre-tour Extension
Firstly, we always recommend you should arrive at least a day early when joining tours internationally. This gives you a day to unwind after the flights, and also gives you an “emergency” day in case of problems with flights en route.
Secondly, if you’re coming over early, why not use your extra days to good purpose, and consider joining our pre-tour optional extension, spending Friday night in New Lanark, and optionally also Thursday night in a 700 year old castle. These options are detailed on the day-by-day itinerary page.
End Date & Options
The landcruise finishes on Monday 13 July, in either Edinburgh or Glasgow.
We will arrive into Edinburgh mid/late afternoon, and continue to Glasgow, getting in early evening.
You can take a train or plane onwards from either city, or consider staying overnight and adding our optional Post-tour experience.
Optional Post-tour Extension
We will be offering a post-tour extension in and around Edinburgh, the beautiful capital of Scotland, for two or three nights.
This includes a visit to the mysterious Rosslyn Chapel, made famous in the book “The Da Vinci Code”.
This optional extension is detailed on the day-by-day itinerary page.
Also of note is our English tour….
Look at Everything We Include
We’ve balanced the opposing concepts of including lots of activities and also allowing you free flexible time on this cruise/tour.
Perhaps the most distinctive thing about this experience is that because we always return back to Munich every evening, you can vary your own activities any way you like because you’ll never get left behind, as happens on a cruise or regular coach tour that travels between various different overnight stays.
Our Munich hotel is within walking distance of the train station, so you can even join the tour later in the day or stay longer at the destinations and take a train back independently each day.
We’re also reasonably flexible about adding to or varying the tour ‘real time’ as we are traveling. As long as the group as a whole agrees and the schedule allows, we’re happy to make changes to enhance the experience for all group members.
Accordingly, while including accommodation every night, breakfasts and two dinners, touring and sightseeing, we’ve left plenty of time open for you to choose exactly the experiences, meals, and other activities you personally wish.
Everything is optional, so if you want to spend a lazy day strolling around one of the lovely towns we stay in rather than an active day out and about sightseeing, that is of course totally possible. It is all up to you.
Some of what the tour includes comprises
On the Coach
Large luxury coach so there’s always an average of at least 1.5 seats per person, giving you best views and comfort while touring
Bottled water and other drinks available for purchase at modest price
On-board rest-room, reclinable seats, plenty of space for carry-ons and purchases
David Rowell (the ‘Travel Insider’ himself) as tour leader
Where we visit (see also the itinerary page)
Munich – Our central base for the tour, home to many excellent restaurants and one of the most popular Christmas markets in all of Germany. The capital of Bavaria, with a beautiful historic town center.
Oberammergau – Best known for its one a decade “Passion Plays” (next in 2020) this is a charming small town with many lovely frescoes.
Wieskirche– A stunningly beautiful rococo style oval church that deservedly is on the World Heritage list.
Neuschwanstein Castle– Instantly recognizable, one of the amazing series of castles built by King Ludwig II in the 19th century. If you’ve been before, you could instead visit the nearby Hohenschwangau Castle where Ludwig grew up.
Ingolstadt – We meet the Danube here, further up-river than typical river cruises go. Ingolstadt has a medieval center, but also modern areas for, eg, the Audi headquarters. It is where the Illuminati were founded, and featured in the novel “Frankenstein” as were Dr F created his monster.
Regensburg – Also on the Danube, this gorgeous medieval city and World Heritage site is also the home of David’s most favorite Christmas market of anywhere in the world. Yes, we will visit it.
Lindau– We meet the Rhine river here. Lindau is on the shores of Lake Constance (Switzerland is on the other side) with the Rhine flowing into it from the south and out again from the northwest.
Vaduz (Lichtenstein) – Dominated by its 12th century castle, Vaduz is the capital of Lichtenstein, a tiny doubly-landlocked country (one of only two in the world). This is a great way to add another country to your visited list.
Berchtesgaden – Close to the Austrian border in an area of outstanding natural beauty in the Bavarian alps is this beautiful town. Its wealth derives from nearby salt mines dating back over 500 years.
Salzburg – One of the most beautiful small cities of anywhere in Europe, Salzburg combines a stunning location with beautiful buildings, giving it a very positive ambience making it a much loved destination for visitors. It is deservedly a World Heritage site, and was the location for the ever-popular movie, The Sound of Music.
Pre-tour option to Vienna and Bratislava
Post-tour option to Cesky Krumlov and Prague
Plus a free day to go anywhere you wish – Stuttgart, Rothenburg, Nuremberg, Passau, etc
Food and Drink inclusions
Breakfasts every morning are included
Welcome cocktails the first night
A group welcome dinner on the second night in one of Munich’s best known beer halls to accelerate the getting to know each other process, with a drink or two also included
A souvenir mug (or more likely two!) of gluhwein and an archetypal bratwurst at one of the traditional Christmas markets
Group farewell dinner – a sad experience for sure, but we try to make it as convivial as possible, and, yes, of course there’ll again be a drink or two on offer
Of perhaps equal importance in understanding the distinctive and special nature of this tour is not just what the tour includes, but also what it omits.
What the tour proudly does NOT include!
NO Early starts
NO Crowded coaches (maximum group size 24 people)
NO Characterless hotels on the outskirts of cities
NO Checking in and out of multiple hotels
NO Series of long days of endless travel on a bus
NO Huge groups being rushed through tourist trap after tourist trap
NO ‘Shopping opportunities’ at over-priced trashy souvenir shops
NO Group meals, at fixed times, with limited fixed menus, in generic cafeterias
NO Regimented inflexible schedules and mandatory events
NO Obnoxious inexperienced ‘out of their depth’ first time travelers
NO Crowded schedules leaving no flexible free time
More Helpful Information
You will save money and gain flexible convenience if you arrange your own air travel. These days airlines seldom give discounts to groups, and sometimes even charge more, while also adding extra restrictions to the tickets.
You can choose whichever carrier has the best fare and the best schedules for you, and you can also choose your preferred carrier that you wish to earn miles with. You can even cash in miles and fly on frequent flier awards.
We’ll be pleased to answer any questions you might have about arranging your air transportation, of course.
Munich has a moderately sized airport, and is a major rail hub.
You could arrange your flights to and from Munich, or you could consider flying to a major hub and then taking a train. For example, it is just over 3 1/2 hours from Frankfurt airport to Munich, with regular service and no need to change trains on the way.
If you are doing the pre-tour in Vienna, and/or the post-tour in Prague, both cities have good airports and lots of flight choices.
Why Tour in Winter?
Ha – tricked you. Early December is not yet winter – it is still late fall. But, in any event, there are two good reasons to enjoy this experience at this off-season time of year.
The first reason is simply because it is the off-season. The crowds of people aren’t as crushingly overpowering as they are in the busy season. When we visit the famous sites in the region, we’ll not be squeezed and squashed in with the teeming groups of people who visit in the summer.
It will be easier to get straight in to attractions, to find tables in restaurants, and to relax and enjoy the towns with fewer foreigners and more locals, making for a much more pleasant ambience and realistic experience.
The second reason is to experience the Christmas markets. Because of the strong Christian tradition in the towns we visit, Christmas is viewed more seriously to start with, and the Christmas markets are a delightful celebration of our shared Judeo-Christian and European heritage.
Yes, the weather is cold, but nothing that several layers of warm clothes can’t combat, and our many previous Christmas Market tours at this time of year have generally been blessed with good weather (ie usually no rain, very little snow and not uncomfortably cold).
For the time we visit, Munich reports an average high of about 40° F and an average nightly low a little below 30°. Snow is rare, and it rains one day in four. So while the weather will be cool, it certainly shouldn’t be bitterly cold.
Weather has never interfered with our enjoyment of previous Christmas Markets tours.
We recommend you should consider travel insurance as prudent protection. Rather than attempt to sell you some policy ourselves that may or may not suit your needs, we recommend you go to this insurance shopping site, which offers comparisons between something like 100 different policies offered by 18 different insurers, giving you all the options you need.
For more information about travel insurance than you probably ever thought you’d want to know, please click the link to read our three part series on the subject.
If there’s something we’ve not answered on that page or this page, or if you’ve any other question and need more clarification, please go ahead and ask. Feel free to send us an email.
We offer this tour to you with a choice of three accommodation levels.
$2395 in regular rooms
Add $299 for one level of upgrade (ie $2794)
Add a further $449 for a second level of upgrade (ie $3243)
Rates are per person, share twin.
A single supplement of $479 is available (add $74 for one level of upgrades and a further $112 for the second level of upgrades).
We will also help to match together singles if you’d like to share with a compatible fellow single traveler.
No Hidden Extras
There are no extra charges for ‘port fees’.
While you are free to tip our coach driver as you might wish, there are no envelopes passed around at the end of the tour nor ‘recommended’ tips that you are asked/expected to pay.
Other Price Comments
All these prices reflect a 3% discount for cash/check.
A $500 per person non-refundable deposit is required to confirm your place on this tour.
Tour does not include the costs of travel to and from the tour start and end points, or anything not specified as included.
Why not bring a friend or two with you, for more shared fun and fellowship.
To encourage you to do this, and your friends to travel with you, we’ll offer a 1% discount for each extra person you bring with you (other than anyone you are sharing your room with to start with).
Bring another couple, and they get a 2% discount – and you get the same 2% discount too! Bring two couples and all of you get a 4% discount, and so on (up to a maximum of 10%).
Singles Save Too!
Typically cruises either force singles into tiny rooms on the lowest deck or charge up to twice the regular rate for singles in normal cabins.
Travel Insider tours always have a large number of singles – our groups are friendly, inclusive, and welcoming, making them ideal for singles as well as couples and larger groups.
We do our best to make our tours not only as friendly as possible, but also affordable and fair for singles, too. We’ll give you the same good room couples get, and have managed to talk down the single supplement to a mere 20% loading – $479.
Send in Your Request to Join
As soon as your application is accepted, you will be asked to send in your $500 deposit within seven days.
Tour Terms and Conditions
Our standard terms and conditions apply to this tour.
In addition, please note these extra terms :
1. Deposit is required within seven days of your participation being confirmed. Full payment is due on or before Monday, March 23, 2020.
2. US, Canadian, and many other citizens require a current passport that will not expire until three months after the date of their planned return from Europe in order to be admitted to the Europe, but do not require a visa. Citizens of other countries should check with the airline that will transport them to Europe to determine what passport and visa requirements may apply.
3. Tour price is based on a wholesale Pound/Dollar exchange rate in the range of 1.19 – 1.25 (as shown, eg, in Yahoo Finance/Money – on 31 July 2019 it is showing a rate of 1.22. If the exchange rate moves outside this range, and prior to full payment having been received by you, we will adjust the price up or down to reflect the change in underlying tour costs. We will advise you if the exchange rate is materially changing and you can always lock in the price by sending in early full payment.