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Can’t decide which of the best Scottish Islands should make it to your list?
We have narrowed down the choices for you, and we made sure that you have a bit of everything Scotland has to offer. From stunning cliffs, towering stones to intriguing castles, your itinerary is sure to be filled with a combination of history and nature. That’s a perfect match, if you ask us!
During my British Isles cruise, I get to see and witness the beauty of various Scottish Islands. We were blessed with a beautiful sunshine during our cruise hence we get to see the natural beauty of these Scottish gems.
Read More: Best Places to Visit in the UK
Isle of Arran
Arran, Scotland is fondly called Mini Scotland. It is a combination of highlands and lowlands which makes it a popular choice for those who would like to explore a little of everything that Scotland has to offer.
To get to the Isle of Arran, Scotland, take the ferry from Ardrossan to Brodick. Travel time for this route is 55 minutes. Caledonian Macbrayne offers regular ferry services to passengers and vehicles. One adult passenger amounts to £4 while a standard car costs £15.95 to transport.
One of the many things to see in Arran include the Lochranza Castle. Originally believed to have been built during the 16th century, this castle actually dates back to the 1200s where it served as a hall-house. It was later rebuilt as a tower house. The Lochranza Castle is free to visit but is closed from October to March.
Iona, Scotland is dubbed as the Cradle of Christianity in Scotland. Many visitors come to Iona because of this distinction.
To get to Iona, you can ride a ferry from Oban to Craignure. Travel time is 45 minutes. Caledonian Macbrayne travels this route. A ticket for one adult passenger costs £3.75 while a standard car costs £13.75 to transport.
Don’t miss the Dun I located in the north of Iona. Here you can find the ruins of the Iona Nunnery, Maclean’s Cross and John Smith’s grave. The view from the lowlands is captivating so make sure to drive by the hills before heading back to the road.
Isle of Mull
The Isle of Mull is known for its rich wildlife. Its beauty is best explored by walking, cycling or even pony trekking. The famous Duart Castle located in this island has been featured in films too numerous to count.
To get to Mull, Scotland, you have to take the same ferry ride as Iona’s as it serves as the gateway to this abbey. An alternative route will have you travelling from Lochaline on Morvern. There is no need to book ahead – simply show up at the port and buy a ticket from there.
Go on an easy hike to reach one of the top attractions in Mull, the Eas Fors Waterfall. Its three names come from the Gaelic, Nordic and English translation of a waterfall. It consists of three waterfalls in which the pathways leading to them are only bounded by nature. This makes it scenic yet dangerous to trek especially for children. The views, though, are worth the adventure.
Isle of Skye
Arguably the most famous of all Scottish islands, Isle of Skye is a hit to many tourists because of its accessibility. Summer is the season when the crowds go big as people clamor to see the
You can come directly by car and pass via Skye Bridge at Kyle of Lochalsh to reach this lovely destination. Alternatively, you can ride a ferry from Mallaig to Armadale. Caledonian Macbrayne travels this route, albeit less frequently. An adult ticket costs £3 while a regular vehicle requires a fee of £9.95 to transport.
They say you could never visit Skye, Scotland without having seen its most iconic destination, the Old Man of Storr. Travellers climb for two hours to conquer this part of the Trotternish Ridge. Many stories surround its pinnacle, one being the visual remains of a giant buried beneath the earth.
Isle of Tiree
If you like beaches, head to Isle of Tiree, Scotland. Unofficially regarded as the Sunshine Island, this place boasts of having the highest amount of sunshine in all of Britain.
To reach Tiree, you can ride the ferry coming from Oban or Coll. Caledonian Macbrayne serves both routes. An adult fare is priced at £10.90. If you are travelling with your car on the ferry, you have to pay a fee of £58.55.
For an interesting holiday, go on a Dark Sky Discovery in Tiree. Because there is not much light pollution surrounding the area, its skies have served as good windows to see the Milky Way and other constellations at night. Balevullin has been appointed as one of the Dark Sky Discovery Sites because its location is perfect for stargazing.
Isle of Barra
Visit Isle of Barra, Scotland if you wish to have a vacation in the simplest but perfect place to do so. The Isle of Barra may be little compared to the other Scottish islands, but it speaks of honest beauty and a friendly community – something we would readily trade with lavish experiences.
To arrive at Barra, you can fly and land at the small yet scenic Barra Airport. Your point of origin would have to be either Glasgow or Benbecula. Loganair flies daily from Glasgow to Barra for £45.59 one-way. It takes one hour and 15 minutes to fly to this destination via this route.
Alternatively, you can ride a ferry from Oban to Castlebay to reach the Isle of Barra. Caledonian Macbrayne has limited daily ferries that travel to this place. A one-way adult fare costs £15.15 while a regular vehicle, when boarded in the ferry, will require you to pay an extra £69.60.
Be sure to check out the Kisimul Castle in Castlebay. As the castle sits in the middle of the sea, a motorboat is needed to explore its vicinity. Walk inside the courtyard and explore the different rooms that comprise the small castle. As of this writing, part of the Kisimul Castle is under renovation therefore they dropped down the entrance fee to £4.80. In this temporary pricing scheme, guests 15 years old and below are free to enter
Isle of Lewis and Isle of Harris
Lewis and Harris, Scotland form one island. They are widely known for the historic sites and natural landscapes that are all worth visiting.
To get to either Lewis and Harris, you must take the ferry from Uig to Tarbert. Caledonian Macbrayne services this route daily. An adult ferry ride costs £6.50 while a regular vehicle entails a fee of £31.65 to transport. It takes one hour and 40 minutes to reach the islands.
The site of the Calanais Standing Stones is one of the things to see in this Scottish island. These stones are more than 5000 years of age and are considered as some of the most important megalithic complexes that can be found in Europe.
St. Kilda, Scotland is an isolated archipelago that is home to two World Heritage Sites. It is widely celebrated for its natural land and seascapes. It is famous for being regarded as the Islands at the End of the World. Since it was vacated in the 1930s, no one permanently lives in St. Kilda.
To get to St. Kilda, you must travel to Lewis and Harris where you can take a boat going there. It takes three to six hours to get here. The entry regulations are quite strict being that you are entering a protected site. No pets or animals are allowed to enter with you nor are you able to bring in seeds of any kind.
While in St. Kilda, you have to see its rich wildlife and unique species. Some of these include the Atlantic puffins, St. Kilda wrens and the soay sheep. If you intend to spend a night or two here, there is only one small campsite that offers basic accommodation to up to five guests. It is a good idea to do so if you would like to disconnect from the world because there will be no cellular sites nor guaranteed electricity in St. Kilda.
Mainland Orkney, Scotland is one of your go-to Scottish Islands destination if you are fond of exploring archaeological sites. It is home to the UNESCO World Heritage Neolithic Sites such as the Skara Brae where you can learn past lifestyles of people 5000 years back.
You can take the ferry to go to Mainland Orkney. The ferry departs from Scrabster and arrives at Stromness. The ride takes about one hour and 30 minutes to complete. The transport company Northlink Ferries travels this route. The fare ranges from £17.05 to £19.90. A regular car costs £54 to £60 to transport.
Visit the Yesnaby Castle and Cliffs while in Mainland Orkney. It is a scenic one hour and 30 minutes of blissful walking to reach the castle itself. Enjoy the seascape and the bird species that treat Orkney as their sanctuary.
Mainland Shetland, Scotland is rich in culture, history and geology. Its white sand beaches are almost empty, leaving you a pristine environment all to yourself.
To go to Mainland Shetland, you can ride a ferry from Aberdeen to Lerwick. Northlink serves this route. It costs £22.15 to £34 for one adult passenger. If you are bringing your car on the boat, a rate of £90 to £120 applies.
If you can, schedule your vacation to Shetland on the last Tuesday of January. A celebration called Up Helly Aa happens in Lerwick and is a fun way to get to know the island. It is a fire festival that signifies the end of the yuletide season.
I hope that inspires your to venture more of the different Scottish Islands in the beautiful Highlands in Scotland.
It will surely captivate your heart with its natural beauty.