Outer Hebrides – 7 Beautiful Islands you need to visit

Callanish Standing Stones

Setting off on an ultimate Scottish island-hopping adventure, here are 7 beautiful Outer Hebridean islands you need to experience.

1. North Uist

North Uist

Connect to its neighbours via a series of causeways; North Uist is a beautiful, small island that offers stunning, relatively untouched beaches home to some fabulous wildlife found in the centre of the Western Isles archipelago.

Lochmaddy is the main town on the island, home 300 people North Uist inhabited by humans as far back as the 3rd century.

Key attractions include beautiful Loch Euport and Trinity Temple the ruins of which could possibly be the site of Europe’s oldest university.

Preserved where possible, the ruins offer the chance to observe grand ancient architecture in what is a crucial site on this remote island.

Also found on the island is the invaluable RSPB reserve at Balranald, providing a crucial safe haven.

Look out for some great birds including Lapwings and Corn Buntings with wildlife flourishing on the islands thanks to its unusual blend of bogs, beaches and stretches of Machair fields.

On the coast, keep an eye out for otters with one of the UK’s rarest bird species – the corncrake – often spotted around the island.

2. Eriskay

Eriskay

Found between Barra and South Uist and connected via a causeway, the island of Eriskay has strong Norse routes.

Eriskay actually translates in Norse to ‘Eric’s Island’. Beautiful and sparsely populated, like many of the islands making our list, Eriskay has a strong fishing heritage with nearby waters offering rewarding fishing territory.

Immortalised thanks to the classic feature ‘Whisky Galore’ (based on the novel of the same name), perhaps the island’s best claim to fame is the SS Politican incident.

In 1942, the SS Politican struck rocks to the north of the island. On route to America carrying thousands of cases of Whisky and Jamaican currency, islanders helped the crew to safety before saving some of the cargo.

Today, visitors can see one of the few remaining surviving bottles of whisky salvaged from the incident in Eriskay’s only pub.

During your time on Eriskay, we thoroughly recommend visiting Prince Charlie’s Bay.

Here Charles Edward Stuart or ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’ landed on the beach in the summer of 1745 just before the ‘Forty-Five Jacobite Rising’.

Alternative points of interest to consider include Beinn Sciathan, the highest point on the island, and St Michael’s Catholic Church.

The charming hill offers views of up to (depending on the weather) multiple nearby islands and is a true natural beauty spot.

3. Lewis and Harris

beach

One of the largest islands in the entire British Isles, Harris and Lewis can be an extremely rewarding visit, serving up a range of memorable and famous Scottish experiences.

Best known for the impressive Standing Stones of Callanish, alternative highlights to consider include the Norse Mill and Shawbost, Lews Castle and Museum and St Columba’s Church.

Standing Stones Callanish

Placed thousands of years ago, the Standing Stones of Callanish Stones have stood since the Bronze Age – over three thousand years!

Holding a crucial role in ancient rituals once performed at the site, the exact purpose of the stones are still shrouded in a degree of mystery to this day.

Norse Mill at Shawbost

Whisking you back in time to the Iron Age period, the Norse Mill at Shawbost is a faithfully recreated slice of island life practised thousands of years ago.

The site was originally chosen thanks to its close proximity to a stream with the original mill also housing a kiln used to dry out crops harvested from surrounding fields.

Lews Castle and Museum

Offering an immersive and interactive experience, visitors to Lews Castle and Museum will be taken on a journey starting in the prehistoric period travelling right up to the present day.

Charting the history of the Outer Hebrides, the museum has a number of key exhibits including six of the famous Lewis Chessmen and a number of Gaelic-led exhibitions.

Inside the recently restored castle, notable decorations include beautiful murals and intricately created plaster ceilings.

4. South Uist

South Uist

One of the biggest islands in the Scottish Western Isles, South Uist is the jewel in the Outer Hebrides crown.

Steeped in tradition, South Uist is a great place to learn about loal culture and the perfect island to experience some great natural sights.

South Uist’s population is relatively small, leaving vast portions of the land untouched and left to prosper under Mother Nature’s careful guidance.

Accessible via a number of causeways skirted by water, the island is an archaeological gold mine.

Be sure to make the most of your included visit to the Kildonan Museum. Here you will be able to learn more about the islands long past dating back to the Bronze Age, some 5000 years thanks to the museum’s insightful collection of archaeological exhibits.

Also on-site, take the time to admire a great recreation of a traditional crofter’s house mirroring homes once found across the island and carrying out a crucial role in island life.

5. Benbecula

Benbecula

‘The gateway to the Uists’, Benbecula is beautiful, lying between bigger neighbours with its own airport bringing supplies to the island.

A visit to Benbecula would not be complete without stopping by Gramsdale Standing Stones. Smaller than other ritual sites yet still a worthwhile stop, this Pictish landmark is one of the more mysterious in this remote part of Scotland.

6. Vatersay

Vatersay

At the bottom of the Outer Hebridean islands lies Vatersay, the filming location used during the production of the film ‘Whisky Galore’.

A wonderful natural habitat, be on the lookout for the island’s wide array of wildflowers that prosper on the island.

7. Barra

Kisimul Castle

Best known for its beautiful beaches that wouldn’t look out of place in the Caribbean, the island of Barra is the most southerly of the inhabited Outer Hebrides.

One of the most unusual sights in all of Scotland, Barra Airport uses beaches at Cockle Shand (during low tide) as a runway; such is the pristine condition of this stretch of coastline.

Once ruled by the Clan MacNeil, a visit to Barra would not be complete without exploring Kisimul Castle – the seat of the famous Scottish clan.

Often referred to as the ‘Castle in the Sea’, the castle rests out on a rock in Castle Bay. Climbing the battlements, visitors can look out across the bay and surrounding landscape.

Experience Scotland’s Outer Hebrides

Explore our range of Outer Hebrides holidays here.

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