A few weeks ago, my friend, Vicky Flip Flop, messaged me to ask if I fancied a trip island-hopping in the Outer Hebrides in Scotland.
After being stuck at home for months, I was 100% in. Before I knew it Vicky had booked our ferries and a few places to stay and we were on our way up to Scotland. The rest we would figure out as we went.
The Outer Hebrides, also known as the Western Isles, is a group of islands off the west coast of mainland Scotland. There are 15 inhabited islands and many more uninhabited ones. The main islands being Lewis & Harris, Uist, and Barra.
I’d never really thought about going to the Outer Hebrides, but having just returned, I’m now a huge fan! It was just what I needed – seclusion, nature, and adventure!
The Outer Hebrides are more beautiful than you can imagine, with a rare, tranquil, rugged sort of beauty that you don’t find very often. Just when you’ve seen the most stunning beach on the islands, you turn a corner and there’s another one.
At the moment, travelling in the Outer Hebrides is a bit different than normal. Like everywhere else in the world, Scotland is currently under restrictions due to the Coronavirus pandemic and a few places are still closed, but we still very much enjoyed exploring the islands all the same.
So I wanted to share our Outer Hebrides itinerary, plus some ideas of the best things to do and see along the way to help you plan a trip of your own. So even if you live outside the UK and can’t travel to Scotland right now, you can bookmark this post for later!
Oh, and for anyone wondering… Vicky and I did not coordinate our outfits!
For more information on how to travel to the Outer Hebrides safely and responsibly, please read the dedicated Visit Scotland Covid-19 page.
Island Hopping the Outer Hebrides in Scotland
Our Outer Hebrides Itinerary was as follows:
- Day 1: Home to Loch Lomond
- Day 2: Loch Lomond to Barra (via Oban)
- Day 3: Barra to Uist
- Day 4: Uist to Harris & Lewis
- Day 5: Exploring Lewis
- Day 6: Exploring Harris
- Day 7: Harris & Lewis to Glasgow (via the Isle of Skye -Inner Hebrides)
- Day 8: Glasgow to Home
I really enjoyed our trip and it felt like a real adventure. But knowing what I know now (and I reckon Vicky would say the same) if I did it again, I would do a couple of things differently.
I would probably spend an extra day in Barra. There isn’t a lot to do, but that’s half the point and the island is so beautiful it would have been nice to explore and relax a little more. I would have liked to do some kayaking here, had the weather been better (we did try).
I would also like to spend a night in Oban. It just looked like such a lovely place. If we’d had another night, we could have explored a bit more of Loch Lomond too.
And, although not the Outer Hebrides, I would have liked to have spent more time on the Isle of Skye. A few hours driving through is not enough. I think you need at least a day or two, to really make the most of it, so I’d add an extra night in Skye.
So basically, I would have liked 3 extra nights and my ideal itinerary would look something like this:
- Day 1: Home to Loch Lomond
- Day 2: Loch Lomond to Oban
- Day 3: Oban to Barra
- Day 4: Barra
- Day 5: Barra to Uist
- Day 6: Uist to Harris & Lewis
- Day 7: Exploring Lewis or Harris
- Day 8: Exploring Lewis or Harris
- Day 9: Harris & Lewis to the Isle of Skye (Inner Hebrides)
- Day 10: Isle of Skye to Loch Lomond or Glasgow
- Day 11: Home
You can of course do shorter trips and you don’t have to island-hop as we did. You can just fly into one island and stay there.
If you do decide to go island hopping, you can start pretty much anywhere, but it makes sense to either start and end in Barra or Lewis, as they are at the top and bottom of the chain.
Alternatively, if you have longer (like an extra week or even two), at the end of your trip I think it would be really cool to get the ferry from Stornoway (Isle of Lewis) to Ullapool (mainland) and then drive the famous North Coast 500 route. You could then detour to explore the Orkney or even the Shetland Islands!
Getting Around the Outer Hebrides
The easiest way to get around the Outer Hebrides is with your own transport, whether it be a car, campervan, or bike. There is some public transport, but you’ll have a bit less freedom than you would driving yourself.
If you don’t want to take your own car, you could fly to the Outer Hebrides, either to Barra or Harris and Lewis, hire a car or campervan, and then make your way through the islands. Carhire Hebrides allow you to pick up a car in one location and drop it off in another.
To get from island to island, the best way is to take the Cal Mac ferries that run pretty frequently. If you’re in a car/campervan, it’s definitely better to book in advance as there are limited spaces. Foot passengers have a lot more flexibility.
Another popular activity is cycling the Hebridean Way which goes from top to bottom of the islands and we met a few people doing this whilst we were there.
Where to Stay in the Outer Hebrides
There are lots of great places to rest your head in the Outer Hebrides, from campsites with facilities and wild camping, to beautiful hotels and glamping pods. Having your own campervan or tent definitely gives you an extra bit of flexibility. You can hire a campervan from Hebridean Campers or perhaps hire one on the mainland to bring over to the Hebrides.
If you do decide to go wild camping, make sure you are prepared with the right equipment. You will also need to follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. For some tips on how best to go about it, my partner in crime, Vicky, has written a great post about everything you need to know before wild camping in the Outer Hebrides. She also took the great drone shots and pictures of me, so thank you Vicky!
I’ve listed some of the best places to stay under each location below, but just note that many of these will book up in advance and some have a 2-night minimum, so plan accordingly. We also struggled to book into some places as we weren’t from the same household (due to Covid-19).
Cost of Travelling to the Outer Hebrides
You can make your trip to the Outer Hebrides as expensive or as cheap as you like.
I reckon Vicky and I spent around Â£450 each on our trip, including petrol, transport (ferries), food, and accommodation. That included a mix of camping and hotels. We spent nothing on activities (as some were closed and we also didn’t have tons of time).
However, you could easily spend a lot more than we did if you’re hiring cars and staying in fancier hotels. Or you could spend a lot less if you’re wild camping/camping and cooking for yourself the whole time.
When to Visit the Outer Hebrides
You can visit the Outer Hebrides all year. The weather in Scotland is never guaranteed, so even if you go in summer it can rain or be cold. The British summertime tends to be the busiest time of year when the schools are on holiday.
Just be prepared for all weather, and know that it rains a lot and is very windy due to the island’s position out on the Atlantic Ocean.
Getting to the Outer Hebrides
Vicky and I left my house in North West England early in the morning, today was mostly going to be a driving day as we headed towards Loch Lomond in Scotland.
Now, I have to give a special mention to Tebay Services on the M6, my favourite service station in the UK! I love Tebay, although every time I go (and that’s quite often as it’s less than an hour from my house) I end up spending a fortune on artisan biscuits or specialist cheese in their farm shop.
Vicky and I picked up some cheese, chutney, crackers, gin in a tin, and we were set.
Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park
On the way to our accommodation for the night, we stopped at the Loch Lomond Visitors Centre at Balloch. We had a little walk around and although it wasn’t a highlight of the trip for me, kids might enjoy the Sea Life Aquarium or the Loch Lomond Bird of Prey Centre.
We also visited the village of Luss, which is the cutest little village you can imagine. We had a walk around, bought ourselves some tartan face masks, and took a stroll down the dock on Loch Lomond where we saw a beautiful rainbow! Scotland always has so many rainbows!
Our last stop was the village of Ardlui and the Ardlui Hotel, where we grabbed a drink in the bar and Vicky had the chance to fly her drone over the loch before we made our way to our accommodation for the night.
Loch Lomond is on the West Highland Way, one of Scotland’s most-loved walking trails, so in the morning we took the chance to have a little walk along the path before we left for Oban.
Further on, we stopped at a parking spot and took a little walk down to the water of Lochawe. Now I can’t tell you exactly where this was, but I’m glad we stopped for a little explore as we came across a perfect mirror lake.
If you have some time, there are lots of great activities in Loch Lomond, including wonderful walks, boat trips, paddleboarding, and kayaking.
Where to Eat Around Loch Lomond:
- The Village Rest: This was our lunch stop in Luss and it was really nice!
- The Real Food Cafe: We stopped here for a bacon, egg, and cheese butty! Highly recommended by me and Vicky! Yum!
- TJ’s Diner: We didn’t eat here, but it gets good reviews and is right next door to The Real Food Cafe.
Where To Stay Around Loch Lomond:
- Pine Trees Leisure Park: We stayed at Pine Trees Leisure Park in one of their hiker huts. This was a great little place to stay. The hut was basic and you need to bring a sleeping bag and pillow, but the huts have heating, electricity points and a kettle so were super cosy. The bathrooms were a short walk away and the showers nice and hot! Just don’t confuse it with the one in Skegness.
- Strathfillan Wigwam Village: Nearby we saw signs for the Strathfillan WigWam Village which also looks pretty cool but Loch Lomond covers a big area, so there are plenty of great places to choose from.
- Lomond Woods Holiday Park: Down at the bottom of Loch Lomond, you’ll find the highly rated Lomond Woods Holiday Park.
- Bonnie Banks Lodge Ardlui: Gorgeous lodge, set right on the lake. Sleeps 6.
- Wild Camping: If you want to wild camp you will need to get a permit (unlike in the Outer Hebrides, you can’t just camp for free) and follow the rules of the park!
You can check out some other great options here.
We next headed to Oban where we would catch the CalMac ferry to Barra in the Outer Hebrides.
We had a few hours before we were due to board, so we parked up and had a little wander around town. I liked Oban immediately and wish that we had a bt more time there.
There were lots of souvenir shops, whiskey shops, the Highland Soap Co. (great for Christmas presents, and treating yourself) as well as a large number of outdoor shops – great if you need to buy supplies for your trip to the Outer Hebrides. There were also some nice pubs and restaurants, which included a lot of seafood places.
A popular activity is to take a tour of the Oban Whiskey Distillery which is often booked up in advance.
Where To Eat & Drink in Oban:
- Cuan Mor: This looked like a really nice, modern bar/restaurant.
- The Fisherman’s Kitchen: Oban’s No.1 rated restaurant.
- Etive Restaurant: For a treat, try the very highly rated Etive Restaurant.
- Food from Argyll at The Pier: This is Tripadvisor’s best pick in Oban for a quick bite to eat.
- Local Shellfish: Down by the ferry office, this place had big queues, which means it’s probably really good and it gets good ratings on Tripadvisor. They did a big platter which looked fab… if only I liked shellfish.
Where To Stay in Oban:
- Fisherman’s Kitchen: You can stay at The Fisherman’s Kitchen as an all-inclusive deal with dinner included.
- The Whiskey Vaults: Highly rated and in the centre of town, close to the action.
You can check out some other great options here.
Barra & Vatersay
Leaving Oban we travelled by ferry to Castlebay on the island of Barra, our first stop on our Outer Hebrides island-hopping adventure along with the tiny neighbouring island of Vatersay.
Barra is often nicknamed Barra-dise or Barra-bados and it was easy to see why people fall in love with the place. These were the quietest of the islands we visited and stunningly beautiful, with beaches that look like they came right from the Caribbean.
It would have been lovely to spend an extra day here and do some of the water-based activities. Unfortunately, it was too windy the day we were there, but you might have more luck.
Speaking of windy… if you missed my section on the weather above, if you are camping in the Outer Hebrides, make sure you are well prepared as we almost lost our tent a couple of times and didn’t get much sleep on the nights we were camping!
A friend of mine highly recommended, taking a trip with Clearwater Paddling. She had beautiful weather when she went a few years ago and paddled over to a seal colony and saw puffins. Am I jealous… yep, lil’ bit!
Isle of Barra Surf & Coastal Adventures
Isle of Barra Surf & Coastal Adventures also runs a few different activities including surfing, snorkelling with seals, coasteering, and kayaking.
Barra Bike Hire
If you don’t have your own wheels, or even if you do, hiring a bike from Barra Bike Hire would be a great way to see the Isle of Barra, especially as it’s quite small and the roads are quiet.
Barra is also the beginning of the great Hebridean Way, a famous walking and biking trail through the Outer Hebrides.
Hebridean Sea Tours
Hebridean Sea Tours run trips around Barra and to some of the islands in the surrounding area including the abandoned island of St Kilda.
Whilst I would usually consider myself much of a plane spotter, Vicky and I made our way up to Barra Airport to see one of the daily flights coming in.
Why? Because Barra is the only airport in the world where scheduled flights land on a beach. Pretty cool, hey? And it’s just been voted the 5th most scenic airport in the world! Plus, if you fly in, you’ll get the bird’s eye view of this paradise island!
My favourite thing that we did whilst staying on Barra was taking a trip to the island of Vatersay, the southern-most inhabited island in the Outer Hebrides.
To get to Vatersay, you take a short drive from Barra, and once there, just head off and explore. We spent most of our time on a beach called Traigh a Bhaigh where Vicky was able to set off the drone and get some stunning pictures.
The waters are crystal clear (perfect for swimming, if a little chilly), the sand clean and white, and there were cows just wandering down the beach. It was really idyllic.
From here you can walk away from the beach, over the road, and across the dunes to the other side where another gorgeous beach awaits.
The ancient seat of the Clan MacNeil, the ‘Castle in the Sea’ was closed when we were there due to Covid-19 restrictions, but usually, you can visit to learn about its history and climb up to the top for panoramic views over Castle Bay. You can find out more from the Isle of Barra Heritage Centre.
The Isle of Barra Distillers Co.
Whilst on the island you could pick up a bottle of locally made Barra Atlantic Gin. They usually offer tours from March to September on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
Barra & Vatersay – Useful Info
Travel Time: 5.5 hours
Where To Eat & Drink on Barra:
- Cafe Kismul: We enjoyed a really nice meal at this Indian/Italian restaurant. It’s in the centre of the main village, near to the post office and ATM. It’s only small so you may be best to make a reservation.
- Castlebay Bar: This seems to be the nightlife on the island.
- Hebridean Toffee Factory & the Deck Cafe: We only stopped here for a bacon butty (didn’t try the toffee), but it was pretty good and this is where we picked up the cool tourist map you see on the photos.
- BÃ¹th Bharraigh: A nice little visitor centre and shop selling food, souvenirs, and useful things like extra tent pegs. They also had a good selection of dairy and gluten-free items, something I always notice!
- Barra Airport Cafe: If you get peckish whilst waiting for the plane to come in, grab some food or a drink at the airport cafe.
- Co-Op: If you’re self-catering, there’s a Co-Op in town where you can stock up.
Where To Stay in Barra:
- Wavecrest Campsite: We stayed at this campsite, which was really nice and cheap at Â£10 and with an amazing view. Â£15 if you need access to power. There are showers, toilets, and a kettle, but not much else in the way of facilities.
- Dunard Hostel: A few of the other people we met on the ferry were staying here, which was right in the centre of town, close to the ferry. This seems to be the popular backpacker’s choice!
- Isle of Barra Beach Hotel: In case you don’t fancy camping or hostelling. They also hire out electric bikes.
- Vatersay Old School: A gorgeous self-catering option on Vatersay Island.
From the north of Barra, we took the ferry to Eriskay, part of Uist, a larger group of islands which consists of Eriskay, South Uist, Grimsay, Benbecula, Flodaigh, Grimsay, North Uist, Baleshare, and Berneray.
To be honest, we didn’t see much whilst we were here as we only had less than 24 hours, most of which was spent sleeping, eating, and driving, but if you have more time, there are lots of great things to do!
Culla (Cula) Bay Beach
We spent the night wild camping next to gorgeous Culla Bay Beach in Benbecula. Once again, the wind was howling, so our wild camping expedition wasn’t quite as successful as we’d hoped, but if you were better prepared it might be a great camping spot.
Visit St Kilda
Uist is a great jumping-off point to visit the uninhabited island of St Kilda. There are a few companies that run tours throughout the Outer Hebrides including Uist Sea Tours. Highlights of the tours include spotting bottlenose dolphins and puffins.
There are a few nice walks on Uist, including the stunning Udal Peninsula (approx. 3 hours), North Lee (approx. 4 – 5 hours), the Barpa Langass and the Stone Circle and Vallay Island (approx. 30 mins at low tide, but just be very careful to come back before high tide or you’ll be stranded).
Traigh Iar & the Beaches
Traigh Iar beach is a favourite in the area. Other great beaches include Clachan Sands, Hosta, Traigh Ear, and of course, Traigh Udal (Udal Peninsula).
Go Horse Riding
Uist is home to the Uist Community Riding School, and I can’t imagine few things feeling as good as riding a horse on one of these gorgeous, white sand beaches! Just look at the photos!
Go Otter Spotting
Otters might just be the cutest creatures in the world, and there are a number of places to spot them on Uist and in other parts of the Outer Hebrides. You can find a list of places here.
Balranald Nature Reserve
Bird lovers will enjoy a trip to the Balranald Nature Reserve in North Uist. Species found there include barnacle goose, corn bunting, corncrake, lapwing, and turnstone. Spring is a great time to visit. They offer guided walks during the summer months.
Uist – Useful Info
Getting There: We took the CalMac car ferry from Aird Mhor Barra Ferry Terminal on the Island of Barra to Eriskay, an island in the south of Uist. We then drove throughout the islands using our own car. There is also an airport at Benbecula.
Travel Time: 40 minutes.
Where To Eat & Drink on Uist:
- Charlie’s Bistro (Benbecula): We ate dinner at Chalie’s Bistro in Benbecula. The food was really nice and the owner Ian was super helpful and gave us lots of info! We also tasted some of the local Downpour Gin, made at the North Uist Distillery Co. As gin’s go, this was super tasty and had a really smooth, distinctive taste – definitely recommended.
- Namara Cafe (Grimsay): Delicious seafood restaurant.
- Westford Inn (North Uist): Pub food with a great craft beer and gin selection. Currently best rated on Tripadvisor.
- Hamersay House (North Uist): Brasserie style restaurant using the freshest local ingredients.
- Lochmaddy Hotel (North Uist): Great selection of food including all the usual favourites. Good selection for veggies and vegans.
- Taigh Chearsabhagh (North Uist): Great cafe located at the Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum & Arts Centre.
- Langass Lodge (North Uist): Well-rated restaurant with evening meals served from 6pm.
- The Dunes Cabin (North Uist): This food truck at the Balranald Hebridean Holidays site near to the Balranald Nature Reserve.
- Berneray Shop & Bistro (Berneray): We stopped here to buy some toastie making supplies but unfortunately didn’t get a chance to eat at the bistro as it was too early – opens at 12pm.
Where To Stay in Uist:
- Uist Storm Pods (South Uist): I love a good glamping holiday and these pods look like the perfect place to escape the elements, overlooking the loch towards South Lochboisdale.
- Uisinis Bothy (South Uist): Free bothy, however, you need to call ahead during the stag stalking season.
- Uist Forest Retreat (North Uist): Luxury treehouse accommodation. These look like the dream and where I would stay if I went back!
- Westford Inn (North Uist): Great little cottage/bothy. Also with the best-rated restaurant on the island.
- The Tractor Shed Camping Pods & Bunkhouse (North Uist): Lovely glamping pods, the site fits up to 24 guests.
- Lochmaddy Hotel (North Uist): Nice, well-appointed rooms with a great restaurant and views looking over to the bay to the Isle of Skye.
- Hamersay House (North Uist): Comfortable rooms overlooking Lochmaddy Harbour.
- Langass Lodge (North Uist): Traditional style lodge, with views across the loch to Eaval.
- Balranald Hebridean Holidays (North Uist): Campsite with electric hookups, as well as a glamping pod and a small cottage.
- John’s Bunkhouse (Berneray): A popular spot is the famous John’s Bunkhouse on Berneray. This is nice and close to the ferry port if you have an early start over to Lewis and Harris.
You can check out some other great options here.
Isle of Harris
From Berneray Island in the north of Uist we took the ferry to Leverburgh on the Isle of Harris, part of Lewis & Harris, the main island of the Outer Hebrides.
Harris is the southern third of the island and Lewis is the northern two-thirds of the island. You would say the ‘Isle of Lewis’ and the ‘Isle of Harris’ but they are attached and not two separate islands.
One thing to realise is that Lewis and Harris is much bigger than you think, so give yourself enough time to explore.
We spent 3 nights on Lewis and Harris. The first day was mostly spent driving to our accommodation which was in quite a remote location of Lewis.
We then dedicated a day to explore Lewis and a day to explore Harris. If I were to do it again, I probably would have given a little bit more time to Lewis, even an extra half a day as we were quite rushed.
Depending on where you are departing from (usually Stornoway for Ullapool or Tarbert for the isle of Skye), I would try to spend at least your final night close to the ferry to make it easier and then plan around that accordingly.
We stayed in both Lewis and Harris, with 2 nights in Lewis and 1 in Harris.
South of the ferry terminal is Rodel where you’ll find St Clements Church, built around 1520. A photograpers favourite.
The Golden Road
Landing in Leverburgh, we drove what is known as the ‘Golden Road’. This runs from Rodel in the far south up to Tarbert, a port town in the middle of Harris.
As the weather was bad this day, we decided to skip the beaches – luckily we had 3 nights on the island so we had this option.
However, if you do have nice weather, it might be a great time-saver to see these beaches as you are passing, rather than having to double back like we did. Or there are lots of nice accommodation options around here if you decide to stay.
Isle of Harris Sea Tours
Our plan had been to do a tour with Isle of Harris Sea Tours. But again, the weather wasn’t so great, so we decided to give it a miss this time. Trips depart from Tarbert to various locations around the islands.
They are also part of Kilda Cruises who offer tours to the abandoned, remote island of St Kilda.
Seilebost (said more like Shul-e-bost in Gaelic, or at least that’s how it sounded to me) Beach was one of the many gorgeous beaches we visited whilst in Lewis and Harris.
It was incredibly windy though! To get there, you park up, and then it’s a little walk over the dunes to get to the beach, this includes quite a steep drop down the sand dunes to get onto the beach so it wouldn’t be suitable for wheelchairs, at least not from this access point anyway.
Luskentyre was by far the busiest beach of the trip, probably because it’s gorgeous and it was a lot calmer than Seilebost, so perfect for swimming!
Just down the road (you’ll pass it on the way), there is a cute little hut that was working on an honesty box system. We bought coffee and chocolates and made ourselves a little beach picnic, which was great until the rains came in.
We tried to shelter under the picnic blanket but ended up abandoning the beach. And what do you know? It was sunny again by the time we got back to the car. Scottish weather is bonkers!
Have a Round of Golf
I’m not a golfer, but my husband is and the golf course at Scarista (Isle of Harris Golf Club) is likely to be one of the most beautiful you’ll ever come across – let’s just hope the weather holds out!
Eilean Glas Lighthouse, Scalpay
On the other side of Tarbert, on the island of Scalpay (driveable), you’ll come to the Eilean Glas Lighthouse.
You can’t drive all the way there, so you’ll need to park, and then it’s a little bit of a hike (around 20 – 30 minutes) to the lighthouse. There are also a number of longer walks around the peninsular too.
We spent our last night on the islands in Tarbert which is where the ferry departs to the Isle of Skye.
In Tarbert, you can visit the Harris Distillery & Shop. They usually do tours, but they weren’t running at the time of our visit.
You can also stock up on some of the famous Harris Tweed in the Harris Tweed Shop which is across the road.
Isle of Harris – Useful Info
Getting There: We took the CalMac car ferry from Berneray in Uist to Leverburgh on the Isle of Harris. Lewis and Harris are one island split into two halves.
Travel Time: 1 hour
Where To Eat & Drink on the Isle of Harris:
- Harris Hotel (Tarbert): We had a lovely meal here. I had the Cullen Skink and Fish & Chips, both were excellent (ps. I’ve never eaten so much fish & chips in my life as I did on this trip, it was fab).
- Taste n’ Sea food Truck (Loch Seaforth): Overlooking Loch Seaforth, this was a fantastic find. Both Vicky and I had the fish and chips (again), with homemade tartar sauce and she had a bowl of Cullen Skink too – which I didn’t try this time, but she assures me was very good.
- Sam’s Seafood Shack (Rodel): Food truck in Rodel with amazing reviews.
- Butty Bus (Leverburgh): Great for a quick bite, near to the Leverburgh ferry port.
- An Traigh (Seilebost): Great place for lunch and afternoon tea. Amazing views.
- Scarista House (Scarista): Beautiful hotel and restaurant, great for a romantic night.
Where To Stay on the Isle of Harris:
- Harris Hotel (Tarbert): We stayed here on our last night as we’d heard a storm was brewing. It was cosy and they had a nice restaurant. A great place to relax.
- Hotel Hebrides (Tarbert): This is a more modern hotel, situated right next to the ferry in Tarbert.
- Kirklea Island Suites (Tarbert): Gorgeous apartments right near the ferry.
- Sandy Bay Croft Wigwams (Scarista): We drove past these and they looked incredible with great views over the beaches.
- West Harris Trust (Various Locations): The West Harris Trust have a number of great camping spots on the island, close to Seilebost and Luskentyre beaches.
- Fir Chlis (Seilebost Beach): Gorgeous self-catering home, overlooking Seilebost Beach. One of the top picks on the Isle of Harris.
- Borve Lodge Estate (Borve): If you really want to treat yourself, stay at one of the gorgeous lodges on the Borve Lodge Estate.
- Horgabost Campsite (Borve): On the beach, opposite the island of Taransay.
- Scaladale Centre (Loch Seaforth): Hostel & activity centre, offering things like mountain biking, rock climbing, sea kayaking, and coasteering.
- Lickisto Blackhouse Camping (Lickisto): Stay in your own tent, campervan or one of their gorgeous glamping yurts.
You can check out some other great options here.
Isle of Lewis
We departed from our base in Cromore early in the morning. This was probably our biggest sightseeing day and might have been better split over a couple of days or a day and a half!
We didn’t visit Mangersta Beach, but if you have more time, it does look amazing. With a number of sea stacks out in the water it’s a good place for photography.
Uig (Lewis) Chessmen & Uig Bay
We went to see the 12th Century Uig Chessmen, a chess set, calved from walrus ivory, found in Uig Bay in 1831.
What we didn’t realise is that the real chess pieces are on display in British Museum in London, and the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. What you see in Lewis is a replica statue, but it’s still pretty cool.
Uig Bay is an incredibly beautiful place to visit, with a huge sandy beach. There’s also the Uig Community Shop and Petrol Station if you need to stock up.
Seatrek also run boat tours departing from here, however, they aren’t running currently.
Reef Beech & the Circular Scenic Route
We took the Circular Scenic Route on the way to Reef Beach. This is a really nice, relatively short drive and Reef Beach is one of the prettiest around.
Bosta Beach, Great Bernera
My uncle’s parents came from the island of Great Bernera off the coast of Lewis, so I wanted to make a special trip out there to see the lovely Bosta Beach.
Again we found another amazing white sand and turquoise waters beach – they just kept getting better and better!
The Callanish Stones
The Callanish Stones are ancient, 5000-year-old stones from the Neolithic era that were erected as a place of ritual and worship during the Bronze Age.
If you can work it into your itinerary (and you get the weather), it might be nice to be at the Callanish Stones around sunrise or sunset, as the illuminated sky will really make your photos look incredible!
Gearrannan Blackhouse Village
Sadly this was closed when we were in the area, but we drive past for a look anyway!
This is a traditional Hebridean village, located right on the coast, where you can stay or visit to learn about life in the Outer Hebrides.
Dalmore Beach (Traigh Dhail Mhor)
If you haven’t had enough of the beaches yet (and you probably never will), make your way to Dalmore Beach for more gorgeous views.
Stac a’ Phris Sea Arch
A little further around the coast, you’ll come to the Stac a’Phris Sea Arch on the West Side Coastal Path. Being on the west side, this is a popular place for sunset photography, so would make a nice final stop before heading back to Stornoway for dinner.
We got to Stornoway in the early evening. Stornoway is the capital of the Hebrides and where you’ll find most of the action.
We first had a walk around the harbour, followed by a drink at McNeill’s pub, ending with dinner in the Harbour Kitchen. Even though they were booked up, they fitted us in for an early dinner.
Vicky had the biggest pot of mussels I’ve ever seen (I think she counted 70+) and I had fish & chips (again). Both were fantastic and I’d highly recommend going here. Just make sure you book ahead as it’s very popular!
Isle of Lewis – Useful Info
Getting There: We drove from Harris, having taken the ferry from Uist to Harris. However you can also get the car ferry from Ullapool to Stornoway to do this trip in reverse. There’s also an airport in Stornoway.
Where To Eat & Drink on the Isle of Lewis:
- Harbour Kitchen (Stornoway): We had dinner here and I’d highly recommend the food and the friendly service.
- Harris & Lewis Smokehouse (Stornoway): We were set on eating here to sample their smoked salmon, but it was closed when we were there.
- Boatshed Restaurant (Stornoway): Stylish restaurant at the Royal Stornoway Hotel.
- Uig Sands Restaurant (Uig): Lovely restaurant overlooking Uig Sands, famous for their smoked salmon.
Where To Stay on the Isle of Lewis:
- Broad Bay House (Stornoway): Gorgeous b&b just outside of Stornoway.
- Airbnb (Cromore): We stayed in this lovely Airbnb, in Cromore. It was a little bit out of the way, but really comfortable and the hosts were lovely.
- Otter Bunkhouse & Bothy (Uig): Bunkhouse sleeping 8 people. Bothy sleeps 2 people.
- Otter Bay Pod (Stornoway): Small and cosy pod near to Stornoway. Sleeps 2 adults and 2 kids, or 3 adults.
- Stornoway B&B (Stornoway): Cosy b&b in the centre of Stornoway.
- The Hatchery (Tolstachaolais): Gorgeous house, sleeps 4. Would be an amazing house to have over Christmas and New Year!
- Mangersta Croft Holidays (Mangersta): Lovely glamping pods near Mangersta Beach.
- Gearrannan Blackhouse Village: Unique accommodation, great for groups.
- Eilean Fraoich Campsite (Shawbost): Up in the north of Lewis, near to Gearrannan Blackhouse Village.
You can check out some other great options here.
Leaving the Outer Hebrides
From the Outer Hebrides, you have a few different choices.
If you hired a car in the Hebrides, you can fly back to the mainland from Stornoway, Barra, or Benbecula. Or you can get the ferry from Tarbert (Isle of Harris) to Uig on the Isle of Skye and travel onwards from there. Skye joins onto the mainland, so you can easily make your way to Glasgow, Edinburgh, or Inverness.
Another option is to get the ferry from Stornoway to Ullapool, which is a great place to begin exploring the Highlands, including the fabulous North Coast 500 drive.
I hope this helps you plan your itinerary and I hope you enjoy your trip to the Outer Hebrides! I loved my trip and can’t wait to go back again.
Have you been to the Outer Hebrides? Anything else you’d add to the list?
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Plan Your Trip to the Outer Hebrides
Getting There: You can fly into Barra, Benbecula, or Stornoway with local airline Loganair. Or you can get one of the CalMac ferries from the mainland, either from Oban, Ullapool, Mallaig, or the Isle of Skye.
Tours: Don’t want to go it alone? Rabbies has a 6-day tour to the Outer Hebrides and the Isle of Skye.
Resources: I recommend getting the Bradt Guide to the Outer Hebrides: The Western Isles of Scotland from Lewis to Barra. Bradt guides are incredibly detailed and I use them to plan many of my trips.
See all Scotland posts here.
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