Scottish Islands: Which one to visit?
Scotland has over 790 offshore islands; that’s a lot of islands! Inhabited or uninhabited, these islands are beautiful places to visit if you’re exploring Scotland. From whisky to meditation to wildlife to walking, the Scottish islands have a pastime for every type of explorer. We’ve listed some of our favourite islands to explore down below.
Love whisky? So do we! If the water of life is one of your preferred tipples then you need to take a trip to The Queen of the Hebrides for a day or two! The island boasts 8 distilleries, including heavyweight favourites Ardbeg, Lagavulin, and Laphroaig, which make use of the local peat to produce full-flavoured whiskies with glass-filling smokiness. Trust us, you’ll want to devote a couple of days to distillery tours and soaking up the rich history of the island. As well as whisky, the island offers a range of activities from golf, to horse riding to walking. There’s also a strong arts and crafts scene for those who love finding one of a kind pieces. Definitely one at the top of our lists.
Iona holds a unique place in Scottish history and in the history of Christianity as the home of St Columba. This tiny island has been a place of holy pilgrimage, retreat and quiet for centuries and is one of our favourite islands to retreat to if we just want to hear ourselves think for a little while. Only 1.5 miles by 3 miles long, the island is perfect if you’re looking for somewhere for a day trip, you can literally walk around the island in a couple of hours! There’s plenty to see, including the Abbey, Nunnery, Graveyard, old Marble Quarry and Hill of Angels. Go to enjoy the history and the sense of peace and quiet.
To us, Skye is simply stunning. If pure beauty and awe in nature are what you want to experience, time spent in Skye will never be wasted. Visit the Fairy Pools, marvel at the grandeur of the Cullins, trace the footprints of the dinosaurs on the beach at Staffin, Hike the Old Man of Storr, stare at amazement at the Quiraing. Seriously, if the outdoors is your thing – Skye is the place to be. Plus, one of our favourite restaurants, The Three Chimneys, is on the island, and you need to try the tasting menu.
Barra is one of the few places in the world where you quite literally land on the beach. So if adventures are what you’re after, it’s a good place to start! The island is home to a number of significant archeological sites, including some beautiful standing stones and Kisimuil Castle. There are stretches of beautiful beaches to explore as well as some great kayaking, walking and golfing opportunities. Barra feels like a little world unto itself and is perfect for the ‘getting away from it all’ feeling.
Known as ‘Scotland in Miniature’ Arran, for us, encapsulates all the beauty of the lowlands with all the spectacular beauty of the Highlands – plus, it’s always hustling and bustling! We recommend Arran for families because of the sheer amount of activities on offer: horse riding, golf, cycling, diving and sailing being just a few. From the little to the big kids, Arran offers age appropriate fun for all the family. If you’re feeling pretty hardcore, we recommend doing the Arran Costal path, which will take you about 6 days and will showcase some of the island’s most spectacular sites.
So 5 out of 790 might not seem much, but trust us, there’s plenty here to keep you occupied for 2016!
For those looking for bases on the mainland from which to explore, check out our rates and dates here.