About the Outer Hebrides

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With its gorgeous white sand beaches, turquoise seas, rugged moors and jagged peaks, the Outer Hebrides is the ideal retreat from modern, urban life. Whether you’re planning walking, cycling, golfing or fishing on your holiday, or are simply looking to just soak up the culture and history, the Outer Hebrides is where your perfect break awaits.

Spectacularly located on the outer north western edge of mainland Scotland, this beautiful chain of 200 inter-linked islands in a 130 mile archipelago has a population of just over 26,000 people residing in 15 interlinked islands.

Inhabited for over 6,000 years, the islands offer plenty unique archaeology to discover, each reflecting the islands' diverse culture and speaking of the intriguing past. From the magnificent Calanais Standing Stones on Lewis to Bosta Iron Age House on Great Bernera, or the Barpa Langass on North Uist, explore the places that captivate the senses and the imagination.

Boasting 55 Sites of Special Scientific Interest and three National Nature Reserves, this unspoilt wilderness with breathtaking scenery is an incredible natural playground for outdoor lovers. The contrasting terrain of low lying Lewis and mountainous Harris offer great adventures from cycling, walking and climbing to fishing and watersports. Whatever you’re looking for, the islands have something for everyone.

Protected and recognised internationally for their environmental importance, the islands are teeming with wildlife. Visit St Kilda, one of only 29 dual UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world, for some amazing birdwatching.  With more than 100 species of birds breeding here, including the UK's largest gannet colony, this natural draw attracts many visitors every year.

The region is also famous for the quality and distinctive taste of Hebridean food. From specialist local products such as Stornoway black pudding to unique whisky and abundant seafood, you’ll be delighted for the choice and the list of places to enjoy or buy fresh, local produce.

The ancient Gaelic language is still widely spoken here. As a heartland of the Gaelic culture, Hebrideans proudly and widely celebrate their roots, especially in the form of music. Why not soak up the region's rich history by attending the Hebridean Celtic Festival in Stornoway? This enduring outdoor event is a great way to learn about the local culture and heritage.

Travelling to the Outer Hebrides is relatively easy too. There are plenty of daily flights and ferries from different points on the mainland and the regular inter-island ferries make getting around straightforward.

To best experience the beauty of these islands, why not go island hopping? The distances are modest, the rewards remarkable. Explore the striking landscapes with sparkling seas to experience a real sense of belonging and freedom and soak up the warm Hebridean hospitality.

  • Kisimul Castle, Barra
    Kisimul Castle, Barra
  • Traigh Sheileboist at Seilebost, Isle of Harris
    Traigh Sheileboist at Seilebost, Isle of Harris
  • Looking over the machair to the sand dunes of Traigh Iar beach, North Uist
    Looking over the machair to the sand dunes of Traigh Iar beach, North Uist
  • Fresh seafood platter, Orisay Inn, South Uist
    Fresh seafood platter, Orisay Inn, South Uist
  • Harris Tweed spread out on a beach in the Outer Hebrides
    Harris Tweed spread out on a beach in the Outer Hebrides
The Blackhouse at Arnol

History

The Outer Hebrides have been inhabited for 6,000 years and many historical sites and standing stones tell of an intriguing past.

Tangasdale beach

Nature and geography

Experience the beautiful nature and geography of the Outer Hebrides, with its gorgeous white sand beaches and rugged moors.

Looking over the machair to the sand dunes of Traigh Iar beach, North Uist

Wildlife

Find information and discover the fascinating wildlife inhabiting the beautiful landscapes of the Outer Hebrides.

Lobster caught in the waters around the island of Grimsay, Outer Hebrides

Food and drink

Sample delicious food and drink in the Outer Hebrides and discover local flavours and the best places to eat and drink.

A campervan passing Traigh Iar beach near Horgabost, Harris, Outer Hebrides

Hebridean hopping

You can explore the Outer Hebrides easily by boat, so why not discover what all the islands have to offer?

The Vatersay Boys, a ceilidh band, performing on the Isle of Berneray

Arts and culture

The Outer Hebrides is a source of inspiration for artists whose work can be viewed in town shops, galleries and studios.

Beach near Bornish, South Uist

Area overview

Find out all about the islands in the Outer Hebrides with information on the towns, villages, attractions and activities.

A man wildlife watching at Rubha Ardvule, South Uist

Itineraries

Follow our itineraries in the Outer Hebrides and enjoy a great day out at attractions across the islands.

View of Isle of Barra from window of airplane flying between the Isle of Barra and the Isle of Benbecula, Outer Hebrides

Travel

Come and check for yourself how easy it is to travel to Outer Hebrides with plenty of daily flights and ferries from different points on the mainland and explore the region by island hopping using the regular inter-islands ferries and causeways.

A detail of a Gaelic/English stone sign welcoming visitors to Stornoway, Outer Hebrides

Gaelic

The Outer Hebrides is the heartland of Gaelic culture and the language is still spoken by many islanders today. You can take part in many events which feature the language and music.

Uno sguardo sul traghetto CalMac presso il molo Tarbert, South Harris

Literature

Several poets and writers have literary connections to the Outer Hebrides. Visit the towns and islands where these writers used to live and see the scenery that inspired them.