It's possible to take a car to Barra, Harris, Lewis, North Uist and South Uist from the mainland by ferry. The ferries are operated by Caledonian MacBrayne, who also offer detailed information about getting to and from the ports by car.
Driving around the islands is a great way to explore off the beaten track and enjoy the wild Outer Hebridean scenery. The roads on the islands vary between smooth, standard double tracks on the main routes to narrow, single tracks in more rural areas. Make sure that you read about driving in Scotland, and are aware of how to use passing places on single track roads and watch out for livestock on the roads in rural areas.
Travelling between the islands by car is becoming easier and easier with bridges, including a crossing to Scalpay and causeways to Berneray and Eriskay, ferry terminals at Stornoway and Leverburgh, and car ferries on the routes between Harris and the Uists and from the mainland to Barra and Stornoway.
If you plan on travelling by bicycle, take a look at our information on cycling in Scotland
The Traffic Scotland
site is a great source of up-to-date traffic information and Transport Direct
is useful when planning your route.
When travelling by bus, train or ferry the best place to check for information and timetables is with Traveline by downloading the mobile app or calling them on 0871 200 22 33.
You can travel by coach to the main ferry ports of Oban, Maillaig and Ullapool which serve the Outer Hebrides, as well as taking a bus across the Isle of Skye to the port at Uig.
There is also great network of local bus services for getting around the islands and to the main ferry ports, some of which arrive to coincide with ferry arrival and departure times. Some Postbuses also operate on the islands, offering minbus transport in remote regions.
Travel by rail to Oban, where you can catch a CalMac ferry to several destinations in the Outer Hebrides. Alternatively, take the train to Kyle of Lochalsh then travel by bus to Uig on Skye where you can cross by ferry to Tarbet and Lochmaddy.
If you are planning to explore this region, The Freedom of Scotland Travelpass allows unlimited travel on scheduled rail services in Scotland, Caledonian MacBrayne ferries and certain Scottish Citylink bus routes, including those connecting with ferries to the Hebrides. Another option is a Rail and Sail pass which specifically covers trains and ferries to the Outer Hebrides.
For all train times to Scotland and fares across the UK network, visit National Rail Enquiries.
The main operater is Caledonian MacBrayne who run a modern fleet of car and passenger ferries to five ports in the Outer Hebrides: Stornoway (from Ullapool), Tarbert (from Uig on Skye), Lochmaddy (also from Uig), Lochboisdale (from Oban) and Castlebay (also from Oban).
They also operate an excellent inter-island service in the Outer Hebrides with ferries running between Leverburgh and Berneray, and between Eriskay and Barra.
You can make substantial savings by purchasing one of CalMac’s special flexible ferry tickets. The Island Rover allows you to explore the islands at your leisure with the choice of an 8 or 15 day ticket, while Island Hopscotch tickets are valid for one month and let you plan your own adventure by choosing from a selection of pre-planned routes.
There are several options for flying to the Outer Hebrides, the best way to find the most competitive fares for flying around Scotland is to search on comparison sites such as SkyScanner, Travel Supermarket and Cheapflights.
Loganair operate flights with Flybe and fly to Stornoway (from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Inverness), Benbecula (from Glasgow and Inverness) and Barra (from Glasgow). Arriving at Barra Airport is stunning, as the landing strip is on a beautiful golden beach! Flights from Stornoway to Aberdeen are run by Eastern Airways which flies between Stornoway and Aberdeen .
Connecting flights are available from London to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness, and from other cities around the UK and Europe.
Find out more about travelling to and around Scotland.