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    Why we love the Scottish Islands

    Jaw-dropping landscapes, big open skies, friendly communities all wrapped in lashings of legend – the wilds of the Scottish Islands will stay with you forever. Whether its cycling miles of beauty, wild swimming its lakes, star gazing its dark nights, puffin-watching or munching on a local delicacy, the islands are packed with opportunities. From the rugged Outer Hebrides where you’ll find the ancient wonders to white sands and some of the oldest rocks to the Inner Hebrides including Skye with inky lochs and black volcanic hills to Islay for its perfect whiskey. Check out nearby Staffa for one of the greatest geolocial landmarks on earth. The Isle of Arran boasts knife-ridged scenery carved by ancient glaciers, while those looking for a far-flung adventure should head to the Orkneys, complete with a Neolithic town that predates Stonehenge.

    Things to do in the Scottish Islands

    Discover the incredible Iron Age village remains of the Broch of Gurness, Orkney, off the north coast of Scotland.

    Book tickets to the Broch of Gurness
    Broch of Gurness, Orkney
    Broch of Gurness

    From snorkelling and incredible marine life to a fleet of wrecked wartime ships, diving at Scapa Flow in Orkney should be on every diver’s bucket list.

    Find out more about diving at Scapa Flow
    Scuba diving at the WW1 wreck at Churchill Barrier no.3
    Scapa Flow Scuba Diving

    The island of Coll in Scotland’s Inner Hebrides is renowned for stargazing, celebrated at this annual festival.

    Find out more about the Hebridean Dark Skies Festival
    Awaiting image
    Hebridean Dark Skies Festival

    For whisky with a view, take a tour of the oldest-working distillery on the spectacular Isle of Skye, Scotland.

    Discover the Talisker Distiller
    Talisker Distillery 2
    Talisker Distillery

    Marvel at the mysterious Neolithic standing stone circle on the Isle of Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland.

    To find out more about the Calanais Standing Stones
    The Callanish Standing Stones on the Isle of Lewis
    Calanais Standing Stones

    Discover the incredible Iron Age village remains of the Broch of Gurness, Orkney, off the north coast of Scotland.

    Book tickets to the Broch of Gurness
    Broch of Gurness, Orkney
    Broch of Gurness

    From snorkelling and incredible marine life to a fleet of wrecked wartime ships, diving at Scapa Flow in Orkney should be on every diver’s bucket list.

    Find out more about diving at Scapa Flow
    Scuba diving at the WW1 wreck at Churchill Barrier no.3
    Scapa Flow Scuba Diving

    The island of Coll in Scotland’s Inner Hebrides is renowned for stargazing, celebrated at this annual festival.

    Find out more about the Hebridean Dark Skies Festival
    Awaiting image
    Hebridean Dark Skies Festival

    For whisky with a view, take a tour of the oldest-working distillery on the spectacular Isle of Skye, Scotland.

    Discover the Talisker Distiller
    Talisker Distillery 2
    Talisker Distillery

    Marvel at the mysterious Neolithic standing stone circle on the Isle of Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland.

    To find out more about the Calanais Standing Stones
    The Callanish Standing Stones on the Isle of Lewis
    Calanais Standing Stones

    Places to stay in the Scottish Islands

    With so many parts of rugged beauty, close communities and abandoned islands, wildlife havens of whales to eagles, windsurf to walking unspoilt beaches, see ancient monuments and some of the most dramatic landscapes you can image… So where on earth are you supposed to stay?

    Outer Hebrides

    Whether you wake to the ocean or stay in a secluded cottage or rent a huge designer house, you’ll find it here. From Lewis and Harris in the north to the southern islands of Barra and Uist.

    Inner Hebrides

    Includes Skye (the only island connected to the mainland by a bridge) and nearby relaxed neighbour Raasay (and others) - where you can stay at a distillery, and the largest of the islands, Mull where you can choose scenic Tobermory for special coastal views or the south if you want to get away from it all.

    The Isle of Arran

    A majority of the villages are on the east coast, near Brodick and Lamlash and these have the most amenities. In the south you’ll find Whiting Bay and fantastic seafood and Brodick Corrie is one of the prettiest of its villages with stone cottages and a harbour.

    Explore nearby

    Pushing the boundaries of art and culture and a heart that beats through its people.

    Two men looking at installation of suspended head sculptures

    From palaces to cobbled alleys, and a dormant volcano, this city is a real show-stopper.

    A young couple taking a selfie of view over historic town

    One epic road trip with hefty mountains, dazzling beaches and tranquil lochs.

    Peedie Sands, a hidden gem beach near the village of Dunnet in Caithness

    Explore pristine woods, climb mountains and paddle the waters of Scotland's wild landscape.

    A woman sitting and looking out across Loch Lomond

    Getting to the Scottish Islands

    There are daily flights to Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Aberdeen, and three ferry points of entry too travelling from the mainland. Several daily flights also run from Edinburgh and Glasgow to Shetland, as well as ferries between Aberdeen and the main town of Lerwick every day, year-round. You can also fly to Orkney from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, and Shetland.

    Ferries travel from the western mainland (around a three-hour drive from Edinburgh or Glasgow) out to the Argyll & The Isles on a frequent basis. Tow ferry services run to Arran from Ardrossan on the mainland to Brodick on the island. Ardrossan is a 45-minute drive from Glasgow.

    Getting around the Scottish Islands

    The North of Scotland

    Orkney and Shetland are connected to the mainland and each other by NorthLink Ferries. In Shetland, inter-island ferry travel is operated by the council, while Orkney Ferries connect the archipelago’s 13 island destinations.

    Scottish island hopping by plane

    In some instances, it’s possible to go by plane. Some islands have a local airport where chartered flights are operated from mainland Scotland and beyond. There’re also inter-island flights in:

    • Outer Hebrides - flights connect Benbecula with Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis.
    • Orkney - flights connect Kirkwall with North Ronaldsay and Papa Westray, and Eday, Stronsay, Sanday and Westray.
    • Shetland - from Shetland Mainland, flights go to Fair Isle, Foula, Papa Stour and Skerries.

    By bike

    There are some pretty awesome cycling routes that should be taken while visiting the islands.

    By foot

    Walking around the islands is one of the best ways to take in the big vistas and landscapes and see nature up close. Visit Scotland has a few suggestions.

    Want to know more?

    Check out Visit Scotland for top insider tips and travelling inspiration.