As well as being great exercise, cycling is also one of the best ways to absorb the stunning beauty of Scotland’s islands. Think sparkling lochs, rolling hills, hidden glens, rare wildlife and mile upon mile of paradise beaches and winding coastline – a real treasure trove of natural wonders.
Cycling is also a relatively low cost option for island exploring. Foot passage on ferries is significantly cheaper than taking your car on board and most ferry companies will let you take your bike on board free of charge too.
You can also hire a bike on most of the larger islands and some bike hire companies will even be happy to deliver the bikes to your chosen location. Here are five great cycling routes on Scotland’s islands to get you started. Happy pedalling!
1. Cumbrae Circular, Isle of Cumbrae
Known as the island of 1,000 bicycles, the beautiful island of Great Cumbrae is the perfect place to explore on two wheels. Cycle around the 10.25 mile circumference of the island and absorb the stunning sea views. Make sure to look out for the resident colony of seals too!
- Departure/end point: Millport
- Distance: 10.25 miles
- Approximate time to cycle: 1 hour
- Nearby bike hire: three cycle shops in Millport
Find out more about cycling on Millport.
2. Burray to Kirkwall, Orkney
Travel through the charming islands of South Ronaldsay, Burray, Glimps Holm, Lang Holm and onto the Orkney Mainland using the famous Churchill Barriers. Speed along the road on these flat causeways before pausing to take in the scenery on each island.
- Departure point: Burray
- Finish: Kirkwall
- Distance: 12 miles
- Approximate time to cycle: 1 hour 15 minutes
- Nearby bike hire: Orkney Cycle Hire, Stromness and Cycle Orkney, Kirkwall
Find out more about the Burray to Kirkwall route.
3. Hebridean Way Cycling Route – Vatersay to Barra, Outer Hebrides
This epic, long-distance route spans the length of the enchanting Outer Hebrides island chain (185 miles!). Why not tackle a shorter section, such as the Isle of Vatersay to Isle of Barra route (day 1 on our Hebridean Way cycling itinerary)? The route passes some of Scotland’s most stunning beaches, famous for their white sands and Caribbean-like azure blue seas.
- Departure point: Vatersay
- Finish: Ardmhor
- Distance: 13.6 miles (21.89 km)
- Approximate time to cycle: 1 hours 30 minutes
- Nearby bike hire: Barra Bike Hire, Castlebay
Find out more about the Hebridean Way Cycle Route.
4. Scalloway to Walls, Shetland
Sweeping around the south east coastline of Shetland Mainland, this enchanting route passes glittering lochs, quiet glens and huge expanses of coastline. There are plenty of stunning viewpoints and attractions to stop off en route too, such as Lea Gardens and the Neolithic Stanydale Temple.
- Departure point: Scalloway
- Finish: Walls
- Distance: 23 miles (37 km)
- Approximate time to cycle: 2 hours 30 minutes – 3 hours
- Nearby bike hire: various cycle shops on Shetland
Find out more about the Scalloway to Walls route.
5. Mull, Craignure, Dervaig Circular, Isle of Mull
Discover Mull’s spellbinding landscapes as you cycle around the island. Take in stunning views out to the isles of Ulva and Eorsa before finishing your tour in Salen, where you can enjoy a well-earned meal. You can also extend or alter the route by adding a detour to Mull’s principle town, Tobermory, or beautiful Calgary Bay.
- Departure point: Craignure ferry port
- Finish: Salen
- Distance: 45 miles (72.42 km)
- Approximate time to cycle: 6 hours
- Nearby bike hire: Cycle Mull, Tobermory
Find out more about the Mull, Craignure, Dervaig circular.