© The Hebridean Explorer

Sailing into Shetland

6 Day Orkney, Shetland and Highlands Tour

A stunning six day private tour from Inverness through the Highlands to the Northern Isles of Orkney and Shetland.

Day 1 – Departing Inverness with a morning drive to the far North of Scotland and our ferry port of Scrabster, near Thurso. The drive north covers wonderful coastal scenery and normally takes around 3-4 hours including photo stops and a brief visit to the historic town of Dornoch. Our 1½ hour ferry journey includes a great view of the Old Man of Hoy before our arrival in Orkney where we visit Skara Brae, a 5000 year old Neolithic village settlement. This is one of the highlights of the tour before our arrival in Kirkwall for our overnight stop.

Day 2 – A full day on the Orkney mainland that includes a visit to Maeshowe Neolithic chambered tomb. We also explore the Neolithic standing stones of Stenness, the Ring of Brodgar and the 2000 year old Broch of Gurness. After visiting the Italian Chapel, the Churchill Barriers and Scapa Flow, the late afternoon is spent in Kirkwall at St Magnus Cathedral and Earl’s Palace. After an evening meal in Kirkwall we catch the late ferry (11.45pm) from Kirkwall for an overnight sailing to Lerwick in Shetland.

Day 3 – Arriving in Lerwick harbour in the early morning (7.30am), we enjoy breakfast on the ferry before exploring the south mainland of Shetland. Sumburgh Head is our first stop – a haven for seabirds (including puffins from May to July). Next is Jarlshof Prehistoric and Norse settlement which spans over four thousand years. The afternoon takes us on a beautiful coastal drive to the breath-taking St Ninian's Isle where you can hike across the sands to the island. Returning north we end the day at the Clickimin Broch before our overnight stay in Lerwick.

Day 4 – A day to explore the most northernly inhabited island in Scotland – Unst. Departing from Lerwick we drive north to catch the 20-minute ferry crossing to Yell. After a scenic drive through Yell we take the short 10-minute ferry crossing to Unst. We spend the late morning and early afternoon exploring the island, with visits to Muness Castle, Haroldswick, Burra Firth and Saxa Vord, before our return to Lerwick in the late afternoon.

Day 5 – Departing from Lerwick we head towards the north Shetland mainland. Arriving at Eshaness we savour the dramatic cliffs and sea stacks of Shetland’s stunning coastal landscape. We then enjoy a scenic drive around Scalloway and Burra before returning to Lerwick. The afternoon includes a visit the Shetland Museum and some free time to meander through Lerwick town and harbour. In the late afternoon we board the ferry from Lerwick for an overnight sailing to Aberdeen on the Scottish mainland.

Day 6 – Arriving into Aberdeen harbour in the early morning (7am) we enjoy a leisurely breakfast on the ferry before heading east towards to Elgin to explore the stunning seven hundred year old ruins of Elgin Cathedral and the Pictish standing stones of the area. The afternoon takes us back to Inverness where we end the tour with a visit to the four thousand-year-old burial cairns and standing stones at Clava followed by a guided walk of Culloden Battlefield.

Price on Request

Departure days

  • Monday
  • Tuesday
  • Wednesday
  • Thursday
  • Friday
  • Saturday
  • Sunday

April — October

Contact details

The Hebridean Explorer


Tour information


  • Inverness


6 Days


  • Driver guide


  • Bespoke
  • Private


  • English


  • Ancestry
  • Archaeology
  • Castles
  • History
  • Island Hopping
  • Landscapes
  • Wildlife

Tour Stops

The Hebridean Explorer

Tour company information

The Hebridean Explorer

The Hebridean Explorer (John Alasdair Macdonald) has been an independent private tour guide for over fifteen years specialising in private guided tours for small groups (up to 3) from Inverness covering the Scottish Highlands and Islands including the Outer Hebrides, Isle of Skye, Orkney and Shetland.

Opening times

April to October, Monday to Sunday 9am to 5pm

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