From unforgettable wildlife encounters and outdoor adventures to stunning beaches, quirky trails and island walks that you might well have all to yourself, we’ll help you get off the beaten path and find your new favourite places in the Outer Hebrides.
To visit these 11 hidden gems, start at the top of the Isle of Lewis and travel down through the islands (by road and boat) to the beautiful island of Barra. As well as the Outer Hebrides’ most famous attractions, make sure to check out these quirky places for an unforgettable island hopping holiday:
1. Lewis – See amazing skies, wild seas and Northern Lights at the Butt of Lewis
Visit the northernmost point in the Outer Hebrides, the Butt of Lewis, to see the tall lighthouse and sweeping views out across the North Atlantic. Take a stroll along the coastal path and feel the raw power of the seas below.
Sunrises and sunsets are spectacular here and you might even be lucky enough to see the colourful Northern Lights in the autumn and winter months.
2. Lewis – Explore the Uig wilderness, Lewis’ wild side
You’ll find plenty of unspoiled, quiet spots amongst the hills, rugged coastline and sandy beaches around Uig. Climb hills such as Mealisval or Griomabhal for beautiful views or explore the spectacular coastline at places such as Mangersta. Close to Mangersta, pop into Abhainn Dearg Distillery for a tour and a taste of whisky.
3. Harris – Spot wild golden eagles at the North Harris Eagle Observatory
The Outer Hebrides are a safe haven for many birds of prey species, who live and thrive on the islands.
Stop off at the North Harris Eagle Observatory (part of the Outer Hebrides Bird of Prey Trail) and wait quietly as you scan the skies with the hope of spotting an impressive golden eagle. If you’re really lucky, rare sea eagles can sometimes be spotted too!
4. Scalpay – Walk through machair and moorland to Eilean Glas Lighthouse
Drive over the bridge from Harris to explore the enchanting small island of Scalpay. Get some fresh air on the three hour circular walk around the island and look out for the red and white striped Eilean Glas lighthouse on the island’s eastern cliffs.
Afterwards, stop off at Scalpay’s North Harbour Bistro for a tasty meal and browse the beautiful Harris Tweed products at the Pink Sheep Studio, just across the bridge on Harris.
5. Berneray – Stroll along 3 miles of golden-white sand
If you’re travelling to the Uist islands from Harris by boat you’ll dock at Berneray, but before jumping in your car and heading over the causeway to North Uist, it’s worth stopping to explore the beautiful landscapes around you.
Stretch your legs on the circular Berneray explorer walking route which takes up to 4.5 hours to complete and takes in the island’s stunning West Beach – renowned for its turquoise water and 3-mile long stretch of white sand.
Other stunning beaches to look out for nearby include North Uist’s Tràigh Hornais, Clachan Sands and the beaches of the Udal Peninsula, a rich archaeological area. On South Uist, check out the beautiful beaches on the west coast.
6. North Uist – Soak up island culture at Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum and Arts Centre
The brilliant Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum and Arts Centre on North Uist’s east coast features a café, shop and outdoor sculpture trail alongside its fascinating museum and arts centre – plus there are lots of events going on for you to join.
Pop into the centre to find out more about the history of North Uist and what life would have been like in times gone by and ponder the art and photography exhibits.
Afterwards, tuck into a tasty lunch in the café (dine al fresco for the views above!), browse the shop for books, jewellery, candles and more, and head out to soak up the beauty of the landscapes around you on the Uist Sculpture Trail, which features seven works of art.
7. North Uist – Visit Hercules the Bear sculpture in Langass Woodland
Just a short drive from Taigh Chearsabhagh at Lochmaddy, Langass Woodland is the perfect spot for stretching your legs on a refreshing short walk. There are lots of beautiful birds, wild plants and seven different species of tree to see.
You’ll also come across the impressive Hercules the Bear sculpture which was created to commemorate this famous grizzly bear’s final resting place. In 1980, whilst filming an advert on Benbecula, Hercules went missing in the Outer Hebrides for three weeks!
8. Grimsay – Pick up beautiful, locally-crafted woollen gifts
Linked to North Uist and Benbecula by a causeway, the pretty tidal island of Grimsay is a great place to stop for a break on your drive south.
Visit the Wool Centre at Uist Wool to learn about the fleece to yarn process and browse beautiful woollen products. Look down from the viewing panel to the mill’s production floor, where you’ll see wool being spun and woven on the heritage machinery.
For a quick bite to eat, stop at the Kallin Canteen and pop into the Kallin Shellfish shop to pick up freshly-caught, local seafood.
9. South Uist – Meet the friendly wild ponies of Loch Skipport
For a wildlife experience with a difference, head to South Uist to seek out the island’s resident wild ponies. They can usually be seen on the road to Loch Skipport and around nearby Loch Druidibeag.
A rewarding (though difficult) walk from Loch Skipport is the one up nearby Hecla mountain – the second highest mountain on South Uist at a height of 1988 ft (606 m). You’ll be rewarded with impressive views of the entire island chain from the top. There is also a managed bothy on the other side which makes for a night of quirky accommodation sleeping with the sound of wildlife around you. Please follow the Mountain Bothy Code when visiting.
10. Eriskay – See where Bonnie Prince Charlie first landed in Scotland
Drive over the causeway to Eriskay from South Uist for a day out exploring this beautiful small island.
The white sands of Prince’s Beach, or Coilleag a’ Phrionnsa in Gaelic (The Prince’s Cockle Strand), was where Bonnie Prince Charlie first arrived in Scotland in July 1745, ahead of his attempt to reclaim the British throne. You can find more places associated with the Prince on the Bonnie Prince Charlie Trail.
As you explore Eriskay look out for Eriskay ponies, the island’s native pony breed, and stop for a bite to eat and a drink at the Am Politician. This cosy pub is named after the SS Politician, the cargo ship which sank off the coast of Eriskay in 1941 with thousands of bottles of whisky on board – the inspiration for the Whisky Galore! film and novel.
11. Barra – Watch a plane landing on Traigh Mhor beach
Although the beautiful island of Barra has plenty of stunning beaches, hills and machair to explore during your visit, the island is perhaps most famous around the world for the highly unusual runway at Barra Airport – Traigh Mhor beach!
It’s the only beach runway in the world to be used for scheduled flights. Book your tickets for the flight of a lifetime or park up in a safe place to watch a plane arriving.
Ready to start planning your island adventure holiday? Find more things to see and do in the Outer Hebrides and take a look at this video for a snapshot of what’s waiting for you on your authentic holiday in the Outer Hebrides:
Find more quirky holiday inspiration at www.visitouterhebrides.co.uk.