2025 Standing Stones and Archaeoastronomy of Scotland

Scotland | September, 12-23, 2025

Starting in Edinburgh and culminating in the farthest flung reaches of the Orkney Islands, we will traverse Scotland in search of standing stones and explore historic sites along the route. Standing Stones evoke mystery and awe in the modern mind.  From the wind-swept site at Callanish, to the small community henges scattered across rural Scotland, the standing stones all have alignments and fascinating historical stories.  Travel with and learn first hand from our archaeoastronomer who specializes in the standing stones of the United Kingdom.  This tour has carefully selected luxury hotels and quaint boutique properties replete with all of the charm and history that Scotland has to offer.  We will also be tasting fine whiskey at some of Scotland’s independent distilleries.

Dates:

September 12-23, 2025

Duration:

12 days / 11 nights

Scientist to Passenger Ratio:

1:10 Maximum

Price:

$9,650 Double Occupancy

Trip Highlights

  • Edinburgh, Inverness, Oban, the Outer Hebrides, and Orkney
  • Visit stone sites across Scotland including: Kilmartin, Stennes, Brodgar, Callanish, and Clava Cairns
  • Explore Skara Brae, the best preserved Neolithic settlement in Northern Europe
  • Visits to Edinburgh, Urquhart, and Stirling Castles
  • 2 round-trip ferry transfers to Stornoway and Stromness
  • 1 domestic flight during the tour
  • High-end luxury accommodations when available
  • World renowned professor of archaeoastronomer with the tour at all times
  • Additional Sirius scientist guide(s)
  • Professional local guide
  • 1:10 guide to passenger ratio, maximum
  • Maximum tour size: 37 passengers
  • Complete guided explanations of all visited sites
  • Lectures/talks given by the scientists during the trip
  • Northern Lights viewing – conditions permitting
  • Daily Breakfast, High Tea, Lunches and Dinners as described in the itinerary.
  • Luxury coach

Pricing and Terms

Payment

  • $9,650 per traveler (11 and older) – based on double occupancy
  • Single supplement: $2,500
  • Lower age limit is 11 years old.
  • To secure a reservation, initial deposit ($2,000) with a completed reservation form is required.
  • Cancellations must be made in writing by email or mail to Sirius Travel.
  • 2nd payment ($3,500) due March 5, 2025
  • Final payment due June 5, 2025

Cancellations

  • Cancellations made prior to September 12, 2024 are fully refundable.
  • If cancellations are made:
    • 09/12/2024 – 05/15/2025 (364-120 days prior to travel):
      65% of your total tour cost is refunded.
    • 05/16 – 07/14/2025 (119-60 days prior to travel):
      35% of your total tour cost is refunded.
    • 07/15 – 08/13/2025 (59-30 days prior to travel):
      10% of your total tour cost is refunded
  • There are no refunds after August 14, 2025
Royalmile Edinburgh
58724 Mercat Tours Edinburgh Underground Vaults Tour
Edinburgh Hotel

Detailed Itinerary

* Subject to minor modifications

DAY 1: Edinburgh

Welcome to Edinburgh! Your tour begins at our hotel in the heart of Edinburgh, Scotland.

In the afternoon we will begin learning about Edinburgh’s layered history by heading into the underground network of the Old Town. Uncover secrets rooted in the city’s Georgian era and long kept buried and explore one of the largest systems of underground caverns in Europe. These vaults date back to the 18th century and remain very much unchanged.

Get acquainted with your guide and fellow travelers during our welcome dinner.

Accommodation: Edinburgh, Intercontinental George (or similar)
Meals: Dinner

Edinburgh Castle In Autumn Seen From Princes Street Gardens
Baron Maule's Close On The Royal Mile, Edinburgh
336555 The Balmoral Clocktower And Princes Street Viewed From Calton Hill

DAY 2: Edinburgh

Start your day with breakfast at the hotel. Meet with your tour guide and journey through the streets of Edinburgh beginning with the Scottish capital‘s most historic center, the Royal Mile. Your expert guide will take you down the wynds and closes of the Old Town, revealing its dark and interesting history. View the Witches Well, a fountain that marks the area where hundreds of accused witches were burned at the stake. Visit Edinburgh Castle, dominating the skyline of the city from castle rock which has been occupied by humans since the Iron Age.

We will break for everyone to explore independently, have lunch in a local pub, do some shopping, visit 21st Century Kilts, or rest. Later in the afternoon we will visit Calton Hill for the best photographic view of Edinburgh.

Accommodation: Intercontinental the George (or similar), Edinburgh
Meals: Breakfast

Stirlingshire
Screenshot
Oban
Perle Oban Hotel

DAY 3: Edinburgh to Oban

After breakfast, the group will make their way to Oban seeing Stirling Castle en route.

Sitting at the heart of Scotland, Stirling is where the Lowlands meet the Highlands. Owing to its strategic junction, it has been long said that “he who holds Stirling, holds Scotland”. This area has been the scene of some of Scotland’s most infamous battles during the Wars of independence and the Jacobite uprisings.

Dominating the skyline of Stirling, perched high atop a volcanic crag, Stirling Castle is one of Scotland’s finest and most famous castles. Like other Highland strongholds, the castle has seen its share of drama through the ages. Several kings and queens have been crowned here, including Mary, Queen of Scots, and the castle has withstood several sieges, notably during the Scottish Wars of Independence.

Following Stirling, we will travel through Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park established for wildlife and conservation purposes. We will continue on to Oban, a small resort town in the Argyll area of Scotland made famous by the extensive archeological finds from the Mesolithic, Neolithic, and Early Historic periods. The modern town of Oban grew up around the distillery, which was founded there in 1794.

Accommodation: Overnight Oban, Perle Oban Hotel or similar
Meals: Breakfast

Screenshot
Kilchurn Castle
284996 Highland Cows On Mull

Day 4: Oban / Kilmartin

After breakfast we will take a full-day guided tour of Kilmartin Glen, an area with one of the richest concentrations of prehistoric monuments and historical sites in Scotland.

Professor Ruggles, one of the world’s foremost experts on the archaeoastronomy of the area, will be with us to explain the astronomical alignments and significance of Kilmartin Glen. Points of interest at the site include:

  • Dunadd Fort
  • Baluchragi cup and ring markers
  • Nether Largie Standing Stones and Cairn
  • Temple Wood Stone Circle
  • Ri Cruin Cairn
  • the Glebe Cairn.

Accommodation: Overnight Oban, Perle Oban Hotel or similar
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Ullapool Harbour
Cabarfeidh Hotel

DAY 5: Oban to Isle of Lewis

TRAVEL DAY

After breakfast, we will make our way to the Scottish Highlands through one of the most spectacularly scenic drives in all of Scotland.

We will travel through Glencoe, a u-shaped valley of volcanic origin and the remains of an ancient super volcano, whose name originates from the river Coe running through it.  The river’s name may predate the Gaelic language as its meaning is unknown. We will also stop at Fort William, which lies at the western end of the Glencoe and which was constructed in stone around 1698.  Breaking for lunch, we will continue on to Ullapool and board the late afternoon ferry to Stromness in the Outer Hebrides. Upon arrival on the Isle of Lewis we will be transferred to the hotel for an evening at leisure.

Accommodation: Cabarfeidh Hotel or similar
Meals: Breakfast

Frost At The Stones Web
Gearrannan Blackhouse Village
The Iron Age Settlement Dun Carloway Broch, Isle Of Lewis
The Lewis Chessmen In Lews Castle Museum, Isle Of Lewis

DAY 6: Isle of Lewis / Callanish

In the morning we will leave for a full day guided tour of the island including visits of the Callanish Stone Circles, Dun Carloway Broch, and Gearrannan Blackhouse Village. We will also visit the Blackhouse Arnol and stop to see the Sheiling.

The Callanish Stone Circles were erected in the late Neolithic era and were a focus for ritual activity during the Bronze Age. They have clear astronomical alignments and again, Professor Ruggles will be on hand to give us a full explanation of the site.

A blackhouse is a traditional type of house which used to be common in the Scottish Highlands and were used as recently as the 20th century.  The buildings were generally built with dry-stone walls packed with earth, roofed with wooden rafters which were then covered with a thatch of turf with straw or reed. There was no chimney for the smoke to escape through, instead the smoke made its way through the roof leading to the soot blackening the interior.  This may have contributed to the adoption of the name “blackhouse”.

Accommodation: Cabarfeidh Hotel or similar
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Caledonian Macbrayne Ferry Berthed At Stornoway Port & Harbour, Isle Of Lewis
Clan Grave Marker At Culloden Battlefield And Visitor Centre
Clava Cairns
Inverness Hotel

DAY 7: Isle of Lewis to Inverness

TRAVEL DAY

Early in the morning we will take the ferry back to Ullapool and continue on to the Culloden battlefield near Inverness.  There, on 16 April 1746, one of the most influential battles in recent Scottish history took place.  Following Culloden we will have afternoon tea in Inverness before going to the Bronze Age site of Clava Cairns. A significant and exceptionally well preserved prehistoric site, Clava Cairns is a fantastic example of the distant history of Highland Scotland, dating back about 4,000 years.

After a day of exploring both recent and ancient history, we will settle in to our hotel for the night in Inverness.

Accomodation: Best Western Inverness Palace Spa and Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Afternoon Tea

Inverness Castle
76806 Urquhart Castle
56977 Urquhart Castle
Highland Dancers

DAY 8: Inverness

Regarded as the capital of the Highlands, Inverness is a city where the River Ness meets the Moray Firth—a strategic location throughout Scotland’s chequered history. Looming above the city, on a cliff overlooking the river, is the crenelated, lavish Inverness Castle. Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth was supposedly set in the 11th century version of this castle, which was destroyed and rebuilt repeatedly after a number of different sieges.

Following breakfast we will head to Drumnadrochit for a cruise of Loch Ness. This is where you will want keep your camera ready…just in case you get that lucky shot. Loch Ness is the second deepest body of water in Scotland and contains more fresh water than all the lakes of England and Wales combined.

After our cruise we will visit the ruins of Urquhart Castle. Sitting on a headland overlooking the western shoreline of Loch Ness, this haunting structure is among the most iconic images of the Scottish Highlands.

Following our tour we will transfer back to Inverness for the rest of the day at leisure.

Accomodation: Best Western Inverness Palace Spa and Hotel
Meals: Breakfast

Screenshot
Kirkwall Hotel

DAY 9: Inverness - Orkney

TRAVEL DAY

We will enjoy our morning at leisure in Inverness to shop or sightsee independently.  After a group lunch, we will visit a local distillery with a tour and tasting before traveling to Scrabster for the ferry to Stromness.

When we arrive we will be transferred to our hotel in Kirkwall, a vibrant and charming small town on Orkney. Just off Scotland’s north coast, the Orkney archipelago is an archaeological wonderland that has been inhabited for at least 8,500 years.

Accomodation: Kirkwall Inn or Standing Stones Hotel or similar
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

The Ring Of Brodgar In The Heart Of Neolithic Orkney
Screenshot
187479 Cowal Highland Gathering

DAY 10: Orkney

After breakfast we will start a full day tour around the island of Orkney, the jewel in the crown of our tour. Orkney is home to the UNESCO World Heritage site of The Standing Stones of Stenness which includes:

  • The Standing Stones of Stenness
  • The Ring of Brodgar
  • Maeshowe
  • Skara Brae

One of the most famous attractions on Orkney, the Stones of Stenness are an iconic henge monument that was put in place between 5,400 and 4,500 years ago, a period pre-dating Stonehenge. The Ring of Brodgar is a henge and stone circle with 27 stones still standing and dating from 5,000 years ago.

Maeshowe is a Neolithic chambered cairn and passage grave probably built around 2800 BC. The tomb was discovered and raided by Vikings who left their own marks in the form of runic graffiti.

The Skara Brae Village is a 5,000 year old Stone Age village, inhabited even before the Egyptian pyramids were built. Today, it’s considered to be the best preserved, most complete Neolithic village in northern Europe.

Accomodation: Kirkwall Inn or Standing Stones Hotel or similar
Meals: Breakfast

Dougie Mccance The Piper
Jet Airplane Landing At Sunset

DAY 11: Orkney to Edinburgh

TRAVEL DAY

After breakfast transfer to the airport for our flight to Edinburgh. Enjoy free time in Edinburgh to do some last minute shopping or to visit places you were curious about on our first time through the city. In the evening, enjoy a Farewell Dinner with the group in Edinburgh.

Accomodation: Intercontinental the George or similar
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Scotflag

DAY 12: Farewell to Scotland

Our tour concludes this morning after breakfast. Farewell and safe journeys!

Included

  • Sirius Scientist guides 
  • Professional Archeoastronomer with the tour
  • Professional local guide
  • 1:10 maximum passenger to guide ratio
  • All ground transportation
  • One domestic flight
  • Ferry passage to the islands during the tour
  • 5-star accommodations or best available
  • Meals (as described in itinerary)
  • Archeoastronomy/science talks 
  • Park entrance fees

Not Included

  • International flights
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Alchoholic beverages (unless specifically included)
  • Tips for drivers and guides
  • Meals not specified in the itinerary
  • Activities or services not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Travel insurance

Other Information

Trip cancellation, health, and accident insurance is recommended but not required. It can save you money if you are forced to cancel or alter your trip. We recommend TravelGuard trip insurance (www.travelguard.com) and we recommend that all travelers purchase their insurance within 7 days of their initial reservation to take advantage of any pre-existing condition clause.

Precautions should always be taken seriously and pre-trip education on what to eat or to avoid should be planned. Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC webpage for travel to Scotland.

It is every traveler’s responsibility to consider all appropriate medical advice regarding whether or not they are fit to take this trip prior to booking their reservation. We recommend that all interested travelers check with their healthcare provider before signing on.

Children 11 and older are welcome on this tour but must be accompanied by a parent or guardian if they are under 18. Please note that most countries have very strict entry/exit requirements for minors (under the age of 18 years old), especially minors traveling with only one parent.  Please review the requirements before choosing to travel with a minor.

If you are traveling alone, you may save quite a bit of money by opting to share a room. We will match solo travelers of the same gender so that they can share a double occupancy room with two beds. We will do our best to match travelers but if we cannot find a match for you then you will be required to pay the single occupancy price.

Historical weather prospects for Scotland in September: Chance of clear, mostly clear, or partly cloudy skies is approximately 45%.  The average precipitation is 2.1 in and the temperatures range from around 5-18°C (40-65°F).  The average temperature drops as you move north, dropping 2 degrees on average between Edinburgh and Inverness.

We recommend bringing warm clothes and be prepared for rain. Layers are the key as you want to be able to strip off clothes when it is warm and put them back on when it gets colder. Links here are the same as those on our “packing suggestions” page and are Amazon affiliate links.

  • Hiking boots – You will be traveling around the country and walking outside.  You need good waterproof hiking shoes that will keep you warm.
  • Base layer – Warm layers under the clothes might be the best thing you bring to Scotland. We recommend wearing long wool or thermal underwear, you can buy it in outdoor clothing stores in Iceland.
  • Fleece or wool – A wool sweater or fleece is a must. Scottish wool sweaters can be bought all over the country in local stores.
  • Water and windproof jacket – At minimum a water and windproof jacket over the wool/fleece sweater is essential.
  • Water and windproof pants – It is windy on the islands and it often rains so the pants can be very helpful.
  • Hats, gloves and warm socks – It will not be freezing but it is often cold and damp.
  • Swimsuit – Some of our hotels will have pools
  • Personal Medications – This is important to remember and carry with you in your carry on luggage.

Register below for the 2025 Standing Stones and Archaeoastronomy of Scotland Trip