Geologically unique, rich in history, teeming with flora and fauna, wild, and remote, Scotland boasts some of the world’s most stunning islands. With breathtaking views, unspoilt beaches and whisky galore, a visit to the Scottish Isles will bring you moments of serendipity in abundance. Here, we take a look at 10 of the most beautiful Scottish islands to visit:
Considered one of the most picturesque and majestic islands in Scotland, Skye is world famous for its beautiful scenery and breathtaking landscapes. From the crystal clear waters of the famous ‘Fairy Pools’, to the peaks of the Cuillin Munros, Skye is an adventure enthusiast’s playground.
Part of Scotland’s Inner Hebrides, Tiree is only ten miles long and five miles wide. The perfect island retreat for those looking to escape modern day life. Secluded bays line the coast, each characterised by fine, white sand. And thanks to its location in the Gulf Stream, Tiree receives more hours of sunlight than any other Scottish isle. You might also be lucky enough to see one of the enormous basking sharks that frequent the waters to feed on the plankton in summer!
Over 100 islands comprise the Shetland Isles, of which only around 15 are inhabited. Britain’s most northerly point, the Shetland Isles are heavily influenced by both Scottish and Norse heritage. A great destination for wildlife spotters, Shetland is a mecca for rare birds, whales, dolphins and seals.
Jura, a small remote island, located off the West Coast of Scotland, is known for its rugged landscape, towering mountains, swirling whirlpool and flavourful whisky. With a population of just 200, the locals are hugely outnumbered by the 6,000 roaming deer. Author George Orwell came to Jura seeking peace and quiet to write his last and most famous book, 1984. Appreciating its remoteness, he described Jura as ‘the most un-get-atable place’.
The Orkney archipelago is made up of around 70 islands, of which only about 20 are inhabited. The largest island, simply known as Mainland Orkney, is a great base to island hop. With idyllic coastal paths, dramatic sea cliffs, Viking heritage sites, whisky distilleries and an abundance of wildlife watching opportunities, Orkney will certainly not disappoint.
Arran has something for everyone. Within easy reach of Glasgow, the island is home to golf courses, spas, a brewery, a whisky distillery and many walking routes, including the popular Goatfell. Dolphins and seals are also commonly spotted in the waters here and like to swim alongside the ferry as you approach the island.
Scotland’s fifth largest island and the most southerly of the Inner Hebrides, Islay is known for its whisky and gin production and has nine active distilleries. Not just a whisky-lovers dream, the island also offers tranquil beauty, amazing seafood, wildlife and dramatic coastal seascapes.
8. Lewis and Harris
The largest of the Outer Hebrides, Lewis and Harris are two parts of the same island. The wild mountains, white beaches and lunar landscapes will blow you away. A visit to the stunning sands of Luskentyre Beach is a must, where the turquoise sea contrasts the white sands — an instagrammers dream!
One of the most southerly inhabited islands in the Outer Hebrides, Barra and its sandy beaches could easily be mistaken for those of the Caribbean. Accessible by ferry or plane, flying to the beautiful Isle of Barra is an experience in itself. The airport here is the only one in the world where scheduled flights use a tidal beach as the runway!
A small, fertile crofting island boasting sandy beaches, excellent walking opportunities and a variety of wildlife. For centuries, Iona has held significance for Christianity. St Columbas arrived on the island in AD 563 and founded a monastery. After that, the Abbey became an influential centre for the spread of Christianity in Scotland.