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STICKY: All about the Islands of Scotland

This part of the community is all about the islands around Scotland's coast. So of course there will be questions and posts that we'll expect to see cropping up time and again, such as asking which island to visit, or how the ferries work, or where the best pub on Skye is. 

We'll be adding to this sticky thread with the best stuff from the Islands category as it gets posted. And of course you can ask any questions you have in here and we'll try to point you in the right direction.
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  • VisitScotlandVisitScotland Administrator
    Here's ten of our favourites to get you started!

    An island-hopping adventure is one of the best ways to discover Scotland. Whether you've only got a couple of days or a couple of weeks, be sure to check out some of these magnificent island destinations. 

    1. Isle of Arran
    Arran’s got everything you need for a memorable island escape, with an ever-changing coastline, a dramatic mountain peak, sheltered beaches and lots of tasty local produce. It’s easy to get to with two ferries serving the island: the regular Ardrossan to Brodick service and the summer service between Claonaig in Argyll to Lochranza in the north of the island. 

    2. Isle of Islay 
    This whisky-loving isle is home to eight working distilleries, each producing some of Scotland’s finest single malts. With beautiful coastal walks, wildlife and watersports, Islay will treat you to much more than just a peaty dram. You can catch the daily ferry from Kennacraig and once a week from Oban. 

    3. Isle of Jura
    Only five minutes away on the ferry from Islay, you’ll find Jura! Islay’s sister island, you can hop on a CalMac ferry to enjoy another dram at the Jura distillery. You might also find yourself admiring the Corryvreckan whirlpool, or watching some wild red deer. In fact, there are more deer on the island than people! 

    4. Isle of Skye 
    Characterised by dramatic scenery and rugged terrain, the largest of the Inner Hebridean islands is a mysterious and enchanting place. With everything from historic castles to Highland coos, the island is a must for adventurers, walkers and photographers. The CalMac ferry runs daily from the port of Mallaig in the west Highlands to Armadale in the south of Skye, or there is a community ferry from Glenelg to Skye. You can also drive over the Skye Bridge. 

    5. Isle of Mull 
    Complete with a brightly-coloured town, Tobermory, and the beautiful sands of Calgary Bay, Mull’s offerings are second to none. It is very accessible with three ferry connections: Oban to Craignure (which runs every couple of hours), Kilchoan on the Ardnamurchan Peninsula to Tobermory, and Lochaline on the Morvern Peninsula to Fishnish.

    6. Isle of Iona
    Once you’re on Mull, you’re only a short ferry ride to the peace and quiet of the neighbouring Isle of Iona. A historic place of significance for Christians, you can see where St Columba settled in 563AD to build Iona Abbey and spread Christianity to the Celts.

    7. Coll & Tiree 
    These two islands are the gems of the Inner Hebrides. Coll is famous for its dark starry skies and quiet beaches; Tiree for its epic surf, music festival and laidback attitude. You can catch the ferry from Oban to Coll, which takes about 2 hours and 30 minutes, or stay on board and disembark at Tiree, which is about another hour’s sail away.
    8. Harris & Lewis 
    Together, Lewis and Harris form the biggest island in Scotland, with ancient standing stones, geological treasures and several award-winning beaches framing the landscape. Stornoway is the largest settlement, and is a hub of Gaelic culture. Daily car ferries run from Ullapool to Stornoway. The port of Tarbert on Harris is also linked to Uig on the Isle of Skye by daily ferries.

    9. Orkney
    This magical archipelago comprising 70 islands lies just north of the Scottish mainland. With its Neolithic heritage, turquoise seas and 5,500 years of history, Orkney is bound to inspire. There are four ferry routes to choose from, with up to 12 sailings a day, depending on the season. Travel times vary from as little as 40 minutes on the seasonal passenger ferry from John o'Groats to Burwick, to six hours on the ferry between Aberdeen and Kirkwall.

    10. Shetland 
    With its rugged cliffs jutting out of the North Sea, wind-swept hillsides and endless stretches of empty beach, the distant but undeniably beautiful landscape of Shetland is closer than you think. It’s well connected by Northlink ferries from Aberdeen and Orkney and by regular flights to Sumburgh Airport. 

    There are many more islands to discover in Scotland - we’ve got hundreds of them! From far-flung gems to bustling settlements, there are plenty of island secrets still to be uncovered. Find out more about island-hopping in Scotland.  

    What are your favourite islands in Scotland? Share your thoughts and pictures in this thread.

  • Samantha_GrantSamantha_Grant VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭✭✭
    Great list - Mull is my absolute favourite place in Scotland. 

    I've yet to visit Coll, Tiree, Shetland and Orkney but they're on my list. 

    I loved the rugged beauty of Jura. It really is a special place. I'm a real sucker for wildlife so seeing so many stags in the wild was a special moment for me.  Portnahaven on Islay was another wildlife favourite for me. So many seals. I could have watched them for hours. 

    Gigha is another little gem. We spent a really enjoyable weekend there last September. Lots to see and do for such a small island. History, scenery and good food. A box ticker. 

    We're off to Raasay in September as I want to see Callum's road. That story really touched me. 


    I'm a Scottish travel blogger and freelance writer with an extensive knowledge of travelling in Scotland.  I'm always on the road exploring my wonderful country.  I love remote places, history and the great outdoors. 




  • I recently visited Mull, Staffa and Iona. Loved it but we'd love to go back and spend more time on each. The seas were just too rough to land on Staffa but we still got to spot some puffins fishing in the water!

    Check out the tinberry travels - sharing stories, adventures and travel related nonsense as I explore the world bit by bit

    Find me on twitter & instagram

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