The Hebrides

Isle of Skye Old man of Storr

The Hebrides

The Hebrides, a vast archipelago off the west coast of mainland Scotland, is a captivating destination for any sightseer. Comprising the Inner and Outer Hebrides, the region is home to an array of islands that each possess their own distinct charm and attractions, from the whisky of Islay to the windswept grasslands of Lewis.

Geographically, the Hebrides lie in the North Atlantic Ocean where they’re divided into the Inner Hebrides, closer to the mainland, and the Outer Hebrides which lie further west. The Inner Hebrides include Skye (Scotland’s single largest island), Mull, Islay, and Jura, among others, while the Outer Hebrides consist of a chain of islands stretching over 130 miles that includes Lewis and Harris at its northernmost point, moving south to North Uist, Benbecula, South Uist, and Barra.

The landscape of the Hebrides is a mesmerising blend of remote mountain peaks, rolling peatlands, flower-covered machair (a rare coastal grassland), and pristine white sand beaches that contrast dramatically with the azure waters of the Atlantic, especially in the Outer Hebrides which boasts beaches like Luskentyre – frequently voted one of the world’s most scenic places.

Many of the Hebrides’ towns and villages are steeped in history and tradition. Portree, the largest town on Skye, boasts a picturesque harbour that’s equally used by fishing and tour boats while Tobermory on Mull, with its colourful waterfront buildings, is famed for its boutique shops and fresh seafood.

Isle of Mull

Stornoway, by far the largest town in the entire Hebrides, offers a blend of Gaelic culture and history as well as a pretty harbour and attractions like Lews Castle. It’s the home of Stornoway black pudding – an award-winning savoury sausage that can be used in a variety of dishes.

When it comes to tourist attractions, the Hebrides doesn’t disappoint. On Skye, the Old Man of Storr, the Quiraing, and the Fairy Pools offer breathtaking hikes, while the historic Dunvegan Castle provides a glimpse into the island’s past.

On Islay, whisky enthusiasts can taste some of Scotland’s finest spirits on a number of tasting tours before heading to beautiful locations like the Oa peninsula, the 5-mile Strand beach, and the gobsmacking Loch Gruinart (visit when the tide’s out for the best views).

Meanwhile, the Outer Hebrides are home to the prehistoric Callanish Standing Stones on Lewis, mile after mile of golden beaches on South Uist, and unique places like Traigh Mhor on Barra, which is the world’s only beach airfield.

The Hebrides also boast a wealth of cultural attractions including traditional music festivals, crofting museums, and opportunities to learn about Gaelic language and culture. The islands are also renowned for their local produce with seafood, lamb, venison, and, of course, whisky, being highlights.

Luskentyre beach

Subcategories


Find places to visit and things to do in the Hebrides with these visitor guides.

  • A Guide to Scotland’s Most Beautiful Islands

    A Guide to Scotland’s Most Beautiful Islands

    Tourists looking for a dreamy island escape need look no further than Scotland. From the wild and remote Outer Hebrides to the peaceful and picturesque Inner Hebrides, visitors are spoilt for choice when it comes to breathtaking islands. In this article, you’ll discover a collection of island destinations that are all worth considering for your…

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  • A Guide to Whisky Distillery Tours on the Isle of Islay

    A Guide to Whisky Distillery Tours on the Isle of Islay

    Islay is one of Scotland’s most popular whisky-producing regions thanks to distilleries that include; Laphroaig, Ardbeg, Bowmore, Bruichladdich, Bunnahabhain, Caol Ila, Kilchoman, Lagavulin and Ardnahoe. Discover everything you need to know about Islay whisky distilleries in this ultimate guide which includes information about each distillery tour as well as lots of useful visiting advice.

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  • Armadale Castle

    Armadale Castle

    Armadale Castle on the Isle of Skye is one of the island’s most-visited tourist attractions. Visitors can explore extensive grounds that feature an arboretum, landscaped gardens, woodland walks and a children’s play park, as well as the castle ruins and a fascinating museum.

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  • Arnol Blackhouse

    Arnol Blackhouse

    The Arnol Blackhouse on the Isle of Lewis is a fine example of one of the traditional thatched stone-walled houses that served as home to both people and animals on Scotland’s west coast islands for hundreds of years. The restored building at Arnol – number 42 – sits in an idyllic setting on Lewis, surrounded…

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  • Beinn Mhartainn

    Beinn Mhartainn

    There are many walking trails on Barra, but one of the best takes visitors around Beinn Mhartainn hill on the west side of the island, past the villages of Craigston and Allasdale and through windswept stretches of moorland that are home to golden eagles. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a casual walker, this walking…

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  • Ben More

    Ben More

    With a peak of 966 metres (3,169 feet), Ben More is the highest mountain on the Isle of Mull. The mountain is located on the shores of Loch na Keal and Loch Beg where it offers spectacular views from two very different approaches on the north and south sides. Discover everything you need to know…

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  • Boreraig

    Boreraig

    The remains of long-abandoned villages can be seen all over the Isle of Skye, but Boreraig – situated 4 1/2 miles south of Broadford – is perhaps the most hauntingly beautiful. Visiting Boreraig takes walkers on a 9-mile circular trail from Broadford to the shore of Loch Eishort, across heather-covered moorland on a rough path…

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  • Butt of Lewis

    Butt of Lewis

    The Butt of Lewis is an area on the far-northern tip of the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. In addition to being one of the windiest places in Britain, the ‘butt’ is home to a lighthouse built in 1862 that’s unusual because it’s unpainted rather than having the standard red and white colour…

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  • Callanish Standing Stones

    Callanish Standing Stones

    The Callanish Standing Stones are located on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. These huge granite stones (the largest is 16 feet tall) were erected 5,000 years ago in the late Neolithic era, possibly for ritual use. The site comprises a cross shape of monoliths around a central circle of 13…

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  • Carsaig Arches

    Carsaig Arches

    The Carsaig Arches are located on the south side of the Isle of Mull. From Carsaig Pier it takes around 6 hours to walk the 8-mile return route which is very difficult due to the boulder-strewn coastline that has no obvious path. Walking the coastline is worth every bit of the effort involved though, not…

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  • Castlebay

    Castlebay

    Castlebay is the main settlement on the Isle of Barra in the Outer Hebrides. The village is a popular tourist destination, but it is perhaps best known for the ferry terminal which provides links to Oban on the mainland and the isles of Tiree and South Uist. Castlebay is a good base to explore Barra…

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  • Duart Bay

    Duart Bay

    Duart Bay is a picturesque spot on the Isle of Mull, one of the largest islands in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. The bay is a serene location, offering breathtaking views of the Sound of Mull and nearby islands, and it’s a great place for wildlife spotting as you can often see a variety of…

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  • Duart Castle

    Duart Castle

    For 700 years Duart Castle has dominated the Sound of Mull on the Isle of Mull, where its mighty curtain walls have defended the seat of Clan Maclean. The castle is located on a peninsula on the southeast of the island where it welcomes visitors with facilities including knowledgeable tour guides, nature walks, a café,…

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  • Fairy Glen

    Fairy Glen

    The Fairy Glen is an ethereal, bizarre-looking landscape located on the west side of Trotternish on the Isle of Skye. This geological wonder comprises a number of conical hills that look man made but are, in fact, remnants of an ancient landslip similar to the equally captivating Quiraing.

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  • Fairy Pools

    Fairy Pools

    The Fairy Pools are located at the foot of the Black Cuillin mountains on the Isle of Skye. These crystal-clear pools of water are one of the most-visited attractions on the island and many visitors wild swim in them, while others use them as a starting point for hikes into the surrounding mountains. Discover the…

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  • Fascinating Facts About the Isle of Skye

    Fascinating Facts About the Isle of Skye

    The Isle of Skye is one of Scotland’s most popular tourist destinations thanks to its breathtaking landscapes, pretty coastal villages, incredible wildlife, and near-limitless opportunities for enjoying the great outdoors. In this article, you’ll discover 20 amazing facts about the Isle of Skye that will hopefully surprise you and maybe even encourage you to book…

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  • Finlaggan

    Finlaggan

    Finlaggan is the former home of Scotland’s ‘Lord of the Isles’ which is located a few miles southwest of Port Askaig on the Isle of Islay. Access to Finlaggan is via a wooden walkway that leads from the visitor centre to a small island where tourists will discover a number of standing stones, graves, and…

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  • Gearrannan Blackhouse Village

    Gearrannan Blackhouse Village

    Gearrannan Blackhouse Village lies on the southwest edge of the Isle of Lewis, set within a deep cove that offers protection against the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean. The village comprises a number of restored blackhouses – traditional thatched stone-walled dwellings that served as home to both animals and people for hundreds of years.

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  • Gott Bay

    Gott Bay

    One of the most stunning beaches in all of Scotland is Gott Bay which can be found on the Inner Hebrides island of Tiree. With its beautiful turquoise sea and powder white beach it’s no surprise that this bay attracts thousands of visitors each year, and in fact, it’s often cited as one of the…

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  • Heaval

    Heaval

    Standing at 383 metres, Heaval’s summit offers panoramic views like no other. But this breathtaking spectacle isn’t the only thing that makes Heaval a must-visit spot on Barra. The climb up Heaval offers photo opportunities galore, and as it’s so close to the village of Castlebay it’s easy to combine a visit to both tourist…

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  • How to Tour Scotland’s Islands in Summer

    How to Tour Scotland’s Islands in Summer

    With the recent increase in staycations, many Britons are now flocking to Scotland’s west coast islands for their summer holidays. Many of these islands are pretty much untouched by tourists yet boast some of the country’s most spectacular scenery and its most abundant wildlife. In this article, you’ll find a selection of stunning Scottish islands…

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  • Hushinish Beach

    Hushinish Beach

    Hushinish is a remote region of the Isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. It is accessed via a twisting 12-mile single-track road on the southwest of the island which presents stunning views of South Harris and the island of Taransay. Once at Hushinish, visitors can enjoy a white sand beach surrounded by…

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  • Iona Abbey

    Iona Abbey

    Iona Abbey – located on the Isle of Iona on the far south-west corner of Mull – was founded by St. Columba in AD 563. The abbey is one of Europe’s oldest sites of worship and was an important burial site for Scottish royalty after the Scottish Reformation. Today, Iona is a popular tourist destination…

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  • Isle of Barra

    Isle of Barra

    The Isle of Barra is located on the southernmost point of the Outer Hebrides where it joins the Isle of Vatersay on its southern edge and faces the island of South Uist on its northern side. At only 23 square miles in total area, Barra isn’t exactly the largest island in the Hebrides but it’s…

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