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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

Tours of Scotland

A Driving Tour to Skye – Our Skye and the Highlands tour does what it says on the tin offering an itinerary which takes you away from the bustling cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow to the remote wilderness of the Scottish Highlands. Experience the enigmatic scenery of Glencoe Valley, Scotland’s West Coast and the majestic isle of Skye. Then onwards along the Great Glen to the capital of the Highlands itself! Along the way you’ll see sparkling lochs and ancient castles, the perfect Highland escape.

Scotland Tours - Eilean Donan

Escape to Scotland’s northern extremes on a tour to treasure for a lifetime. Departing from Edinburgh, in five days you'll head North to explore the remote and rugged landscapes and coasts of the one of Europe’s last wildernesses in the northern Scottish Highlands. Your journey will take you along stretches of the famous, scenic NC500 driving route, will immerse you in magical, rugged landscapes and take you to the plentiful prehistoric sites and landmarks of the Orkney Islands. Other highlights include the majestic vistas of Glencoe, Rannoch Moor, Loch Ness and the Cairngorm National Park.

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.

Scotland Tours - Ben Nevis

A Scottish Highlands Coach Tour - 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.

Scotland Tours Loch Awe

Enjoy a Scottish Islands escorted tour as you 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 Bute, the dramatic landscapes of the Northern Highlands and the ancient pre-history of the Isle of Orkney, not to mention the beautiful city of Edinburgh.

  New for 2019  
Scotland Tours - Isle of Skye

A Scottish Isles Driving Tour – Take the road to the isles along Scotland’s stunning West Coast to explore the beautiful inner Hebridean islands of Skye and Mull.  On these secluded Scottish islands, you’ll enjoy spectacular natural beauty - pass dramatic mountain ranges, see sparkling lochs and experience an abundance of wildlife on land and in the coastal waters. Skye and Mull are also peppered with unique archaeological features and intriguing historic sites just waiting to be explored.

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.

Scotland Tours Loch Awe

One of our best Scotland Driving Tours – Scotland Explorer offers a comprehensive itinerary taking you on a journey to the corners of this beautiful nation; see Scotland from the bustling cultural and historic cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh to the expansive wilderness of the Scottish Highlands. From the rugged beauty of the West coast and Isle of Skye to the cultural sites of the East Coast and Aberdeenshire. Along the way see sparkling lochs, towering mountain ranges, ancient castle ruins, and whisky distilleries – a truly Scottish experience.

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.

Coach Tours of Scotland

Enjoy this Scottish Highlands escorted tour for a leisurely trip 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.

Tours of Scotland Inverness

Enjoy an enchanting journey through some of Europe's most dramatic natural landscapes on this Orkney small group 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

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.

Tours of Scotland - Ben Nevis

Get away from it all with this magnificent adventure to Scotland's remote and wild Outer Hebridean Islands. Travelling over the isles of Lewis and Harris you’ll experience magnificent natural beauty passing through the untouched landscapes, along craggy coasts and deserted white sandy beaches and amidst abundant wildlife of these famous isles. Ancient history pervades here with pre-historic stone circles, neolithic sites and Viking heritage all around. Your tour will also include the dramatic Scottish Highlands and the ever-popular Isle of Skye.

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.

Scottish Islands Tour - Orkney

A perfect tour to explore the remote archipelago of 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!

  New for 2019  
Scottish Islands Tour

A Scottish Islands Driving Tour - Escape to an enchanting wilderness as you explore the frontiers of the Scottish nation and her remote outer islands.  Experience the raw natural beauty of Glencoe, Scotland’s West Coast and the isles of Skye, Lewis and Harris on our Hebridean Highlights tour. The tranquillity of the Western Isles provides visitors with a peaceful retreat from modern life to a back-drop of dramatic natural landscapes. On your journey you’ll see sparkling lochs, barren moorlands, deserted golden beaches, fascinating historic sites and wildlife in abundance.

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