Self-Drive Holidays
8 Nights
  • Fully customisable itinerary
  • Prices from: £1385 per person
  • Best time to go: April - October
  • Transport: Rental car included (optional)


Ancient civilisation
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Discover some of the most important Neolithic sites in Europe and uncover the mysteries of a 5,000 year old civilisation at a UNESCO world heritage site.

Norse influence
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Experience a unique blend of Scandinavian and Scottish culture, as the Norse history and heritage still shapes these islands today.

Awe-inspiring archaeology
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Explore archaeological wonders such as Skara Brae, Jarlshof, the Ring of Brodgar, and the Standing Stones of Stenness.

Rare wildlife
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Spot dolphins and porpoises in the coastal waters, or breeding seabirds such as puffins and guillemots at Hermaness Nature Reserve.

Local craft
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Be inspired by local artisans – from jewellery-making to storytelling, the creative spirit on these islands has thrived for thousands of years.

Wild landscapes
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Travel to the spectacular Eshaness Cliffs or hike up to the top of Ronas Hill, Shetland’s highest peak, to experience breathtaking views of this dramatic scenery.

An Escape to Prehistoric Scotland

Experience the unique islands of Shetland and Orkney, with mysterious prehistoric sites, natural wonders and breathtaking scenery waiting around every corner. Where Scotland meets Scandinavia, this wild and remote corner of northern Britain is truly remarkable.

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These unassuming islands have a truly magical quality, and civilisation has thrived here for millennia. The thousands of prehistoric Neolithic sites which have survived to tell their tale at the ‘Heart of Neolithic Orkney’ UNESCO world heritage site are both spectacular and mysterious. The strong historical and cultural influence of Norway upon these islands is clear in their timber-framed and brightly coloured architecture. Dine on fresh seafood in cosmopolitan Kirkwall and Lerwick, and enjoy an extensive local craft culture.

It’s difficult not to be inspired by sweeping panoramic views as you stroll along deserted white sandy beaches or gaze up at dramatic sea cliffs created by fierce volcanic eruptions and the ravages of the North Sea. These cliffs are bursting with an extraordinary range of wildlife, such as seals, puffins, gannets and whales. 

The diversity of these islands is astounding, a distinctive mixture of Scandinavian history scattered across a rugged Scottish landscape, and a self-drive holiday of Shetland and Orkney guarantees memories to last a lifetime.

Suggested Itinerary

The holiday ideas on our website are just examples of the amazing trips we offer. Think of this itinerary as a starting point which can be tailored into something completely unique to you by our award-winning specialists.

We love the opportunity to use our first-hand knowledge and experience to design and deliver the perfect, bespoke holiday experience for you.

Day 1: Aberdeen to Shetland
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You will start your journey in the cosmopolitan city of Aberdeen where you will board the well-equipped Northlink Ferry and sail overnight in your modern and comfortable twin-berth cabin.
Overnight – Ferry

Day 2: Shetland Sightseeing
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Arrive into Lerwick, Shetland early this morning. Spend some time exploring this fascinating seaport where you could visit Shetland Museum to gain an invaluable introduction to the island’s history, or explore Fort Charlotte – originally built in 1665 to protect Shetland from Dutch warships.

Later you could take a 10 minute ferry journey to the Isle of Bressay to explore the rich natural heritage and incredible wildlife.
Overnight – Shetland

Day 3: Shetland Sightseeing
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The South Mainland awaits today – home to some of Shetland’s most jaw-drapping scenery and best archeological sites, including the Isle of Mousa where you will encounter the best preserved Broch anywhere in the world.

At the ancient settlement of Jarlshof you can explore 4,000 years of human history. Only a short distance away is Sumburgh Head Nature Reserve with its famous lighthouse overlooking the cliffs. The nature reserve is the perfect place to spot seabirds such as puffins, guillemots and kittiwakes.
Overnight – Shetland

Day 4: Shetland Sightseeing
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Travel to the wild and glorious peninsula of Northmavine. Almost but not quite a separate island, Northmavine is joined to the rest of the Shetland Mainland at Mavis Grind where the relentless Atlantic Ocean has nearly cut through to the North Sea. It is a wild and dramatic place.

Stop at Weisdale to see artists at work at Shetland Jewellery, before arriving at Northmavine where you could travel to the spectacular Eshaness Cliffs with their imposing lighthouse, or hike up to the top of Ronas Hill. At 1,475 feet (450m) this is Shetland’s highest peak. Topped by a prehistoric chambered burial cairn, the summit offers a breathtaking panorama across this ice-carved landscape.
Overnight – Shetland


Day 5: Shetland to Orkney
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Today is your final day in Shetland, but as the ferry does not leave until late afternoon you could take the opportunity to explore Shetland’s ancient capital – Scalloway. Only a 20 minute drive from Lerwick, you can discover the ruins of Scalloway Castle, visit Scalloway Museum, or enjoy a stroll through the picturesque harbour.

You’ll board your ferry to Orkney in the afternoon and arrive in Kirkwall, the historic capital of Orkney, later this evening.
Overnight – Orkney

Day 6: Orkney Sightseeing
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Welcome to the incredible archipelago of Orkney! With 70 magical islands it’s difficult to know where to begin. In Kirkwall you will find a bustling and friendly town with a great selection of restaurants, pubs, and local art shops, as well as the most northerly cathedral in Britain dating back to the 12th century.

Visit the Bishop’s and Earl’s Palaces where you can learn of a time when Orkney was part of the Norse-held kingdom of Nordreyjar.

If you fancy sampling the local ‘water of life,’ why not take a tour at the Highland Park Distillery – the most northerly whisky distillery in the entire world.
Overnight – Orkney

Day 7: Orkney Sightseeing
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Travel back in time to the Stone Age and discover an ancient civilisation at The Heart of Neolithic Orkney – a UNESCO World Heritage Site which includes the four awe-inspiring sites of the Ring of Brodgar, the Stones of Stenness, the Maeshowe tomb and Skara Brae.

Individually, the sites are masterpieces of Neolithic design and construction, and collectively they represent one of the richest surviving Neolithic landscapes in Western Europe, giving us an incredible insight into the society, skills and spiritual beliefs of the people who constructed them.
Overnight – Orkney

Day 8: Orkney Sightseeing
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Take the opportunity to visit one of Orkney’s smaller isles. At the Isle of Hoy you can visit Scapa Flow Visitor Centre and learn the fascinating story of this naval anchorage in the two world wars. Take in the breathtaking Old Man of Hoy – a 450 foot sea stack and perhaps Orkney’s most famous landmark.
Overnight – Orkney

Day 9: Orkney to Scrabster, Caithness and Depart
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Take the ferry from Stromness to Scrabster on the Scottish mainland, where your self-drive tour of Orkney and Shetland will come to an end.

What's Included?

Your holiday includes:

  • Carefully selected en-suite accommodation for 8 nights including traditional Scottish breakfast
  • Comprehensive information pack
  • Personalised itinerary with our recommendations for the best places to eat and drink and sightseeing suggestions
  • Map of Scotland with our recommended driving route
  • 9 days rental of an Economy car (other vehicle categories available) including comprehensive insurance
  • All ferry crossings (as per your itinerary)
  • 24-hour emergency contact number
  • Full financial protection

Your holiday doesn't include:

  • Travel insurance
  • Flights
  • Lunches and evening meals

Accommodation & Prices

Premium Premium
Premium Premium
Standard Standard
Standard Standard

We know that after a busy day of sightseeing an exceptional place to stay makes all the difference. That’s why all of the accommodation we select is hand-picked using our first-hand knowledge of the best places to stay.

Our discerning team has a wealth of experience, and we extensively research and regularly review all of the accommodation we select for our clients.

Please choose from one of our accommodation categories below. If you wish to combine these categories or perhaps upgrade for a special occasion let us know in your enquiry.

Accommodation type
Price per person
4* Guest Houses and 3* Hotels
From £1385

A collection of quality 4* Guest Houses and 3* Hotels often located in beautiful locations which provide an excellent standard of accommodation.

Tastefully decorated and furnished, these properties are generally owned and operated by locals who have a genuine passion for their region which they are keen to share with you. Their warm hospitality is sure to be a highlight of your Scottish experience.

Boutique Guest Houses and 4* Hotels
From £1590

Our Premium category includes a unique collection of luxurious and stylish boutique Guest Houses and small 4* Hotels. These are wonderfully charming and intimate and run with great flair by their owners.

It also comprises larger 4* Hotels selected for their high standard of accommodation, exceptional service, and great location. These range from traditional luxury to contemporary Hotels.

Car Hire

Our packages include car rental and comprehensive insurance for the duration of your holiday. Absolute Escapes has an excellent relationship with a number of car hire operators and we are able to offer quality vehicles and great value for money.

If you plan to bring your own vehicle, we are also able to offer this itinerary without a rental car.

All our packages include:

  • Collision Damage Waiver
  • Super Damage Excess Waiver
  • Third Party Insurance
  • Theft Waiver
  • Tax
Vauxhall Corsa or similar
  • Good for 2 people
  • Maximum of 4 passengers
  • 2 large suitcases
  • Manual or automatic transmission
Ford Focus or similar
  • Good for 2 – 4 people
  • Maximum of 5 passengers
  • 2 large suitcases
  • Manual or automatic transmission
Volkswagen Passat or similar
  • Good for up to 4 people
  • Maximum of 5 passengers
  • 3 large suitcases
  • Manual or automatic transmission
VW Sharan or similar
  • Good for 5 people
  • Maximum of 7 passengers
  • 3 – 4 large suitcases
  • Manual or automatic transmission

Make an enquiry

Shetland & Orkney: Escape to the Edge

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