Destination Guide to the Scottish Islands

Pure, clean air, complete peace and tranquillity, remote and untamed landscapes and thriving natural wildlife are all to be discovered on your escape to the Scottish Islands.

Scattered primarily off the west coast and far north of Scotland's mainland, there are nearly 800 Scottish Islands, 130 of which are currently inhabited. From Shetland, almost 100 miles from the mainland, and the Orkney Islands in the north, the Scottish Islands also include the Inner and Outer Hebrides (or Western Isles) in the West, from the renowned isles of Lewis, Harris, Skye and Mull to the lesser known Islay, Colonsay, Uists and Benbecula.

The Western Isles were named Havbredey by the Vikings, meaning literally, "Islands at the edge of the Earth". It's a fitting description for these wild and untamed landscapes whose remote geographical location leaves them sparsely populated and largely untouched by large-scale modern development. The vistas are glorious; single-track roads wind across wild and windswept moorlands, alongside glassy lochs and between towering mountains where roaming wild ponies, highland cows and horned sheep roam the desolate hillsides. The coastlines alternate between deserted, sweeping, golden beaches and dramatic cliff faces and craggy rock formations. Rare sea birds cluster the cliff-tops and off the coastlines seals, whales and dolphins can be spotted cruising lazily in the chilly waters. The fresh, clean air and rare tranquillity of the islands make them an ideal retreat from the hectic pace of everyday life and is sure to reinvigorate and refresh.

But when unwinding in the great outdoors becomes all too much, you can still soak up some culture and history. The closer islands provide Scotland with some of her more distinct single malts, such as Talisker, and are scattered with historic castles and baronial manors such as Dunvegan Castle on Skye and Torosay Castle on Mull. The more far-flung isles see ancient settlements and neolithic stone-circles punctuate the barren hillsides some of which predate the pyramids and Stonehenge; Not to be missed are the Callanish Standing Stones on the Isle of Lewis and UNESCO world heritage site at Skara Bay on Orkney.

The modern residents of the islands live mainly in small crofting and fishing communities of quaint squat cottages and bungalows. The population here speak with distinct accents, similar to Scandinavian in the north from the historic Viking influences, and a sing-song celtic in the Western Isles. The people are welcoming and the little towns provide a treasure trove of inns, family hotels and guest houses in which to stay.

Experience the ultimate escape to tranquillity, nature in its rawest forms and a truly enchanting history and culture – the Scottish Islands make for a unique holiday experience.

Relevant Tours

Coach Tours of Scotland

Enjoy this leisurely tour of Scotland which focusses on the spectacular history, culture and scenery of the Scottish Highlands and the Isle of Skye. Discover a host of iconic and lesser known Scottish castles, the seats of royalty and ancient clans, cruise on misty lochs and take a stunning highland rail journey. The leisurely pace offers stays of a minimum of two nights in each location.

Scotland Tours - Edinburgh at night

Enjoy the very best of Bonnie Scotland, from the country's urban and cultural hubs in Glasgow and Edinburgh to the remote wilderness and scenery of the Highlands and the Isle of Skye. Experience the glory of Edinburgh Castle, visit the home of golf in St Andrews, admire the history of Culloden Moor and top it all off with a dram o' whisky and a yard of your favourite tartan!

Coach Tours of Scotland

Enjoy this comprehensive tour of Scotland, a captivating land of contrasts which is both aesthetically beautiful and historically fascinating. From Edinburgh to the remote islands of Skye and Mull, enjoy dramatic coastlines, towering mountains, shimmering lochs and heather covered highlands all richly peppered with castles, abbeys and ancient sites which tell the tale of Scotland's intriguing and often turbulent history.

Tours of Scotland Inverness

Enjoy an enchanting journey through some of Europe's most dramatic natural landscapes on this tour of the awe-inspiring northern Highlands and remote Isle of Orkney. Steeped in Viking history, the region is scattered with prehistoric sites dating back more than 5000 years; experience the tomb of Maes Howe, the excavations at Skara Brae and the mystical standing stones at the Ring of Brodgar.

Scotlands Tours - Isle of Skye

Spend five days exploring four of Scotland's magical Inner Hebrides Islands including enchanting Mull, spiritual Iona, tiny Staffa and the romantic beauty of the Isle of Skye. Highlights also include the Loch Lomond National Park, Oban town and the West Coast, Eilean Donan Castle, the Glenfinnan Viaduct, the White sands of Morar, Glencoe and Loch Ness.

Scottish Islands Tour - Orkney

Journey through the untamed Northern Highlands and cross the chilly Waters of the North Sea to reach Orkney, home to a treasure trove of natural landscapes and heritage sites. Unearth some of the best-preserved historic and prehistoric sites in Europe, including the Viking village at Maeshowe, the Norman era St Magnus Cathedral, ancient stone-circles such as the Ring of Brodgar and Skara Brae, a village which pre-dates the pyramids of Egypt!

Scotlands Tours - Isle of Skye

Enjoy a three-day tour through Scotland's dramatic Highlands to the romantic Isle of Skye.  Explore this fascinating island from the towering Cuillin Mountains to the remote Trotternish Peninsula and the lush West Coast.  Other highlights include the island’s main town of Portree town as well as the Glencoe Valley, Loch Ness, Eilean Donan Castle and the five Sisters of Kintail which can be seen on route to and from this magical island.

Scotland Tours Loch Awe

Journey through majestic Highland scenery and explore Scotland's remote islands on this comprehensive tour of Scotland. Experience the tranquillity of the Isle of Skye, the undiscovered wilderness of the Isle of Arran, the dramatic landscapes of the Northern Highlands and the ancient pre-history of Orkney, not to mention the beautiful city of Edinburgh.

Scotland Tours Loch Awe

Five days exploring Scotland at its breath-taking best; touring the remote northern Highlands and the Isle of Skye you'll experience the mountain landscapes of Assynt and the Cuillins as well as the contrasting coastal scenery of the Highlands from dramatic cliffs to deserted white sandy bays.  Other highlights include the ancient pine forests of the Cairngorm National Park and Inverness capital of the Highlands.

Scottish Islands Tour

Escape to an enchanting wilderness as you explore the frontiers of the Scottish nation on her remote outer islands. With raw natural beauty and wildlife in abundance the islands and highlands are also home to a unique and a fascinating history and culture.

Scotland Tours Loch Awe

The ultimate tour of Scotland, the Scotland Explorer Tour let's you see this beautiful nation in all her glory. From the bustling historic cities of Glasgow, Edinburgh Aberdeen and Inverness to the enchanting landscapes of the remote highlands, the Great Glen, Loch Ness and the Isle of Skye.

Scotland Tours - Eilean Donan

Escape to Scotland's northern extremes on a tour to treasure for a lifetime. In five days you'll explore the remote and rugged landscapes and coasts of the northern Highlands and the magical beauty and prehistoric history of the Orkney islands. Other highlights include Loch Ness and the Caledonian forests of the Cairngorm National Park.

Scotland Tours - Ben Nevis

Explore beyond Scotland's tartan façade where there lies 8,000 years of history and a rich cultural heritage, while the drama and variety of her natural features never fail to impress. Explore the Northern Highlands and Isles of Orkney and Skye on the Country Roads of Scotland Tour which is well paced and offers two-night stays in both Edinburgh and Thurso.

Tours of Scotland

A chance to explore Scotland's glorious and remote countryside including the west coast, the stunning Isle of Skye, the Great Glen and the Capital of the Highlands in Inverness.  On route you'll discover some of the country's finest distilleries and most iconic castles.

Tours of Scotland - Ben Nevis

Get away from it all with this magnificent adventure to Scotland's remote and wild Outer Hebridean Islands of Lewis and Harris, home to untouched landscapes, abundant wildlife, pre-historic stone circles, Viking heritage and the famous white sandy beaches of Harris. Your tour will also include the dramatic Scottish Highlands and magical Isle of Skye.

Scotland Rail Tours Glenfinnan

Experience some of Britain's most spectacular and scenic rail journeys as you explore Scotland and the Highlands by train.  Cross the Glenfinnan viaduct on the famous West Highland way and visit famous destinations including the Isle of Skye, Inverness and the capital city of Edinburgh.

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