The votes for the TripAdvisor 2014 Travellers’ Choice Islands Awards have been counted… *drum roll*… and we are ecstatic but not at all surprised to reveal that Scotland has managed to pull several awards out of the bag. Lewis and Harris, the northernmost island in the Outer Hebrides, has been crowned the number one island in Europe, followed by Mainland Orkney which comes in at fourth place, and the Isle of Mull in ninth!
If that wasn’t enough, Lewis and Harris has also secured a place in the Travellers’ Choice global top ten and won fifth place.
Holding their own against balmy, continental climates and far-flung-tropical beaches, the fantastic performance of these Scottish islands is proof that you don’t have to travel far to find that perfect island escape. In fact, it could be right on your doorstep.
Scotland dominates in TripAdvisor’s Top 10 Islands in the UK with a total of six located north of the border. The Isle of Skye, the Isle of Arran and Islay take fifth, sixth and eighth places respectively in the list of UK winners.
To top it all, a total of six Scottish beaches have been named among the top 25 beaches in the UK at the TripAdvisor 2014 Travellers’ Choice Beaches Awards.
So what is it exactly about Scotland’s islands that makes them so irresistible to travellers? Or rather, what is it about them – according to this recent survey – that keeps visitors coming back for more? Let’s take a closer look…
Together Lewis and Harris make up Scotland’s largest island but they remain distinct in both scenery and character. Lewis with its undulating moorland, endless stretches of beach and monumental sea cliffs offers a landscape seemingly made for mystery and adventure. Marvel at the Calanais Standing Stones, ancient monoliths said to be older that the Pyramids of Giza, get your pulse racing with world-class surfing and abseiling, spot whales and enjoy the best in traditional Scottish music at the Hebridean Celtic Festival.
Best-known as the home of Harris Tweed, Harris has a wild and contrasting landscape of white shell beaches, turquoise waters, imposing hills and jagged peaks. Fantastic fishing, never-ending beaches and the stunning 9-hole golf course at Scarista are just some of the reasons visitors return to this remarkable island time and again. Don’t miss the Harris Tweed Hebrides Tattoo in August!
A vibrant capital, fascinating historic attractions, wonderful wildlife and gorgeous scenery, the Orkney Mainland really does have it all. Home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site containing incredible Neolithic remains, RSPB reserves where you can observe birdlife at close range, pristine beaches, and a flourishing local arts and crafts scene, Orkney has fantastic discoveries waiting around every corner.
Discover a haven on magical Mull, where you can wander along the waterfront of brightly coloured towns such as Tobermory, climb to the summit of Ben More and bag a Munro, and take a guided walk through Glen Seilisdeir to the rare white-tailed sea eagle, the largest bird of prey in Britain.
The moment you set foot on Skye you’ll be blown away by its staggering natural beauty. Discover a walker and climber’s wonderland in the Cuillin mountains, explore crumbling brochs and the ruined clan stronghold of Armadale Castle, and see the legendary Fairy Flag at Dunvegan Castle. Travel further back in time to the island’s Jurassic past and marvel at the remarkable rock formations of the Trotternish peninsula, and enjoy a dram at the Talisker Distillery.
Fancy an island adventure? Look no further than Arran. Jump on the ferry from Ardrossan to Brodick and in less than an hour you can choose from an astonishing array of outdoor activities on land, in the water and in the air. Try mountain biking, archery, paragliding, sea kayaking, canyoning and more. Perfect your swing on seven golf courses or cycle around the island to discover a place teeming with wildlife and marine life.
Sometimes referred to as ‘The Queen of the Hebrides’, visitors find themselves unable to resist the charms of this enchanting island. A perfect place to relax and unwind, this little gem has plenty of things to see and do with eight malt whisky distilleries, Machrie Golf Links - a sure contender for one of the most beautiful golf courses in the world – pony trekking and other activities.
If all this hasn’t convinced you to book an island hopping break in Scotland, take a look at Amy’s round-up of what’s on in Scotland’s islands this year for some more inspiration, or check out Sophie’s recommendations for great coastal getaways in the Outer Hebrides and the Highlands.
Start planning your island escape today and find out more about travel and accommodation. And don’t forget to make us jealous with your snaps by sharing them as #brilliantmoments on your preferred social media platform.
Here are this year’s winners listed in full:
1. Lewis and Harris, Scotland
2. Naxos, Greece
3. Island of Gozo, Malta
4. Mainland, Orkney Islands, Scotland
5. Milos, Greece
6. Cephalonia, Greece
7. Santorini, Greece
8. Island of Capri, Italy
9. Isle of Mull, Scotland
10. Paros, Greece
1. Ambergris Caye, Belize
2. Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
3. Bora Bora, French Polynesia
4. Marco Island, Florida
5. Lewis and Harris, Scotland
6. Naxos, Greece
7. Aitutaki, Cook Islands
8. Nosy Be, Madagascar
9. Easter Island, Chile
10. Ko Tao, Thailand
1. Lewis and Harris, Scotland
2. Mainland, Orkney Islands, Scotland
3. Isle of Mull, Scotland
4. Jersey, Great Britain
5. Isle of Skye, Scotland
6. Isle of Arran, Scotland
7. Isle of Man, Great Britain
8. Islay, Scotland
9. St Mary’s, Isle of Scilly
10. Island of Anglesey, Wales