Attractions itinerary in Outer Hebrides

Take in the Outer Hebrides' fascinating nature and history following this two day itinerary and uncover the great array of attractions from arts and culture to the unique archeological sites and activities. Learn more about the region's past on the history timeline of the Outer Hebrides.

  • Gearrannan Blackhouse Village
    Gearrannan Blackhouse Village
  • Lews Castle
    Lews Castle
  • Shawbost Museum, Lewis
    Shawbost Museum, Lewis

Begin your journey in Stornoway, the main town on the Isle of Lewis. The town has a bustling harbour, with plenty of attractions to keep the whole family entertained. Start off your day with a visit to Museum Nan Eilean. The museum holds collections of objects, photographs, prints and paintings and archives illustrating the archaeology, social, domestic and economic history of the islands. The Island Lives exhibition traces the story of the island’s communities from the first human settlers and is a fascinating place to begin your discovery of the Outer Hebrides.

Explore the creative side of Stornoway with a visit to the An Lanntair Arts Centre, the home of art, music, cinema and entertainment in the Outer Hebrides.  With a wide variety of live events, exhibitions and displays, there is a fascinating selection of Hebridean talent to discover.  The main gallery hosts up to six local and international exhibitions each year and the workshop area is open to all skill levels and ages.

Next, pay a visit to the heart of the Harris Tweed industry, the Lewis Loom Centre and discover the traditional techniques used to create this famous textile. The Lewis Loom Centre offers a guided tour and lecture on the making of Harris Tweed and visitors can enjoy demonstrations of spinning wheels, warding, dyeing, the hand loom and weaving the tweed.

Enjoy lunch in one of Stornoway’s many restaurants and cafes. Sample local products such as Stornoway kippers, peat smoked salmon, succulent Hebridean beef and lamb and of course, Stornoway black pudding.  There are plenty of dining options in the town centre from artisan restaurants and tea rooms, to cafes and fish and chip shops.

A short walk away is the Blackhouse Museum at Arnol, a traditional Lewis thatched house, fully furnished and complete with an attached barn, byre and stackyard. Built in around 1880, the Blackhouse gives a special insight into island life. Once the residence of a Hebridean crofting family and their animals, today it is preserved almost as the family left it. Enjoy a visit to the visitor centre and exhibition area where you can learn more about the life of Hebridean crofters.

Finish your visit to Stornoway with a stroll around the gardens of Lews Castle. A splendid Victorian manor house, Lews Castle has a wealth of activities for the family to enjoy. With a waterwheel, woodland centre, monuments and lochs there are plenty of places to explore in the gardens. Visitors can enjoy cycle trails, wildlife walks or a round of golf at the Stornoway Golf Club located in the grounds.

Leave your base in Stornoway and head on a circular drive around the Isle of Lewis. The first stop is the Trussel Stone in Upper Barvas. At six metres high, the stone is the largest single standing stone in Scotland. This area was also the site of the last battle between the Macaulays and the Morrisons in 1654.

Head back to the circular driving route and join the A858 to Shawbost. Situated next to Loch Roinavat is a pair of thatched buildings known as the Shawbost Norse Mill and Kiln. Following the Scandinavian invasion, the style of the buildings in the Outer Hebrides began to change from being rounded to rectangular.  Shawbost’s renovated Mill and Kiln are the finest remaining examples on the island and give a very rare glimpse into the Scandinavian past of Lewis. The mill was powered by water from the stream from the nearby Loch Roinavat.

Continue down the A858 to reach Leathad Ard Gardens in Carloway. Enjoy a stroll around the beautiful, scenic gardens with stunning views over East Loch Roag. Continue into the village of Carloway and pay a visit to the magnificent Dun Carloway Broch. The broch at Dun Carloway, overlooking Loch Roag on the west coast, is the finest remaining example of a Hebridean Broch. Amazingly well preserved and set in a beautiful spot, it is well worth a visit.  The visitor centre, built largely underground, includes an exhibition giving a sense of what life in the broch might have been like in the Iron Age.

Follow the signposts for a short drive to the Gearrannan Blackhouse Village.  The settlement in Gearrannan has been traced back well over 300 years. Throughout that time, life in the village changed very slowly and little to no modern technology reached the village. Visitors can gain an insight into island life in the mid 1900s through a visit to the museum in the centre of the village, which is home to a traditional living room and bedroom one end and Harris Tweed weaving demonstrations at the other.

Your final stop on the Isle of Lewis is at the Calanais Standing Stones. Erected around 3000 BC, these magnificent stones are undoubtedly the most famous prehistoric site in the Outer Hebrides. The overall layout of the monuments forms the shape of a distorted Celtic cross with 13 primary stones forming a circle in the middle.   The most widely held opinion is that this alignment of the stones was used to mark significant points in the lunar cycle, suggesting the stones formed some sort of calendar system. The visitor centre houses an interesting ‘Story of the Stones’ exhibition as well as a gift shop and a coffee shop.

From here, continue the circular drive back to Stornoway and enjoy dinner in one of the fantastic local restaurants.