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21 Scenic Scottish Islands to See in 2021

© ShutterstockOld Man of Hoy
Old Man of Hoy, Orkney.

Giving readers plenty to ‘Mull’ over, join us on a scenic island-hopping adventure!

1. Skye

Skye © Shutterstock
Skye, Scotland.

Icons aplenty are found across the Isle of Skye, one of the few Scottish islands you can reach via car from the mainland.

On the journey to Skye, you will more than likely pass the iconic Eilean Donan Castle, a symbol of Scotland, standing on its own tidal island.

Making for an impressive list of sights, both prehistoric Storr landslip and Quiraing can be experienced on Skye, a Scottish Isle teeming with wonderful photo opportunities.

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2. Mull

Tobermory © Shutterstock
Tobermory, Mull.

One of the great Inner Hebridean gems, the Isle of Mull is a popular port of call for island-hopping tours and many a cruise itinerary.

The second-largest of the Inner Hebrides, Mull is also one of Scotland’s biggest islands, bettered only by Lewis and Harris, Skye and the Shetland Mainland.

Encompassing many of the wonderful ingredients Scotland is known for, visitors to Mull can expect dramatic peaks, stretches of untamed wilderness and excellent views.

Setting off from the colourful capital, Tobermory, island highlights include the ancient home of the Clan Maclean, Duart Castle, nearby Iona and the wildlife across the Treshnish Isles.

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3. Iona

Car-free, the small yet charming island of Iona is easily explored on foot.

Whether following the coastline or paying a visit to the landmark Iona Abbey, Iona is a must-include on any serious island-hopper’s bucket list.

One of Scotland’s key religious sites, the well-preserved Abbey has certainly stood the test of time (a few daring Viking raids centuries ago!).

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4. Islay

Soldier's Rock © Shutterstock
Soldier’s Rock, Islay,

Once home to the ruling ‘Lord of the Isles’ centuries ago, Islay is best known for its whisky, ragged coastline and lovely beaches.

Famous for its single malts, different distilleries on Islay send whisky around the world.

Intriguing points of interest on the island include solitary Soldier’s Rock (pictured) and the prehistoric ruins at secluded Finlaggan.

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5. Arran

Machrie Moor © Shutterstock
Machrie Moor Standing Stones, Arran.

‘Scotland in Miniature’, the Isle of Arran is tucked away on the Firth of Clyde.

On Arran, Scotland’s best features are distilled down with spectacular results.

The island is home to castles, highland scenery, beautiful glens and mountain scenery.

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6. Barra

Kisimul Castle © Shutterstock
Kisimul Castle, Barra.

Connected to neighbouring Vatersay via a short causeway, Barra is one of the most celebrated of the Outer Hebrides.

Famous for it’s stunning beaches, Barra is a walker’s paradise.

Notable sights on the island include the tidal runway at Cockleshell beach and the ‘Castle on the Sea’ Kisimul Castle.

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7. Lewis & Harris

Callanish Standing Stones © Shutterstock
Callanish Standing Stones, Lewis.

The largest of the Outer Hebrides, separated into two, Lewis & Harris have their fair share of Scottish treasures.

Must-visits include the 5000 year-old Standing Stones of Callanish and Gearrannan Blackhouse Village.

A stretch of coastline that wouldn’t look out of place in the Caribbean, Luskentyre Beach is one of the UK’s finest sandy stretches.

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8. Tiree

Tiree © Shutterstock

One of the sunniest spots in the UK, the most westerly of the Inner Hebrides serves up a lovely collection of beaches to enjoy.

Exploration is must, letting visitors take in peaceful scenery with much of Tiree left untouched.

Standing 10 miles out at sea, learn about Scotland’s tallest lighthouse during time spent on the island.

The Story of Skerryvore Lighthouse exhibition charts the history of the lighthouse, designed by the Uncle of celebrated Scots Novelist, Robert Louis Stevenson of ‘Treasure Island’ fame.

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9. Jura

Paps of Jura © Shutterstock
‘Paps of Jura, Jura.

Famous for its brooding ‘Paps of Jura’, Jura was once the home of the acclaimed author George Orwell.

Now best known for its whisky exports, Jura has been inhabited for over 5000 years!

One of the southernmost of the Inner Hebrides, Jura highlights include the main settlement, Craighouse, and the island’s distillery.

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10. North Uist

North Uist © Shutterstock
North Uist.

One of the Outer Hebrides, North Uist sits close to Benbecula and Harris.

A must-visit for wildlife lovers, famous island inhabitants include corncrakes and grey seals.

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11. Colonsay

Colonsay © Shutterstock

Close to both Islay and Jura, the island of Colonsay is one of the last land masses before reaching Canada.

Looking out across the Atlantic Ocean, Colonsay is home to roughly just over 130 islanders!

Celebrated for its natural beauty, Colonsay House and Gardens is perhaps the most historic man-made landmark on the entire island.

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12. Lunga

Thanks to tidal currents and warm waters fed by the Gulf Stream, the area around Mull is one of the most important natural habitats in Europe.

Just off the coast, Lunga, the largest of the Treshnish Isles, is a must for wildlife lovers.

Huge numbers of birds call the island home. Alongside puffins, kittiwakes and fulmars, the surrounding coastal waters attract seals and dolphins!

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13. Staffa

Staffa © Shutterstock

A striking basalt column pillar island, Staffa, off the coast of Mull, can be reached via a short boat ride.

Notable visitors to the uninhabited island include Queen Victoria and Robert Louis Stevenson.

Championed for its natural acoustics, the intriguing Fingal’s Cave is a key point of interest on Staffa, only accessible via boat.

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14. South Uist

South Uist © Shutterstock
South Uist.

The second largest of Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, also known as the Western Isles, South Uist is connected to its neighbours via causeways.

Mountainous to the east, the other side of the island has some rather lovely beaches worth looking out for.

Alongside Otter spotting, the island’s RSPB Reserve at Balranald is known for its corncrakes.

Believed to be Scotland’s oldest university, the ruins of Trinity Temple are another key island attraction.

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15. Orkney

Ring of Brodgar © Shutterstock
Ring of Brodgar, Orkney.

The Orkney Archipelago is a quintessential Scottish destination.

Across Orkney, different important points of interest include the mythical Ring of Brodgar, Maeshowe, the first chambered tomb in Western Europe, and St Magnus Cathedral.

Standing in Kirkwall, St Magnus is the UK’s most northerly cathedral, built before Orkney became a part of Scotland!

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16. Handa

Handa © Shutterstock

The more remote the better!

Handa, off the west coast of Sutherland, is an important refuge for seabirds.

Close 100,000 birds are believed to breed on the island each year!

The impressive bird activity accompanied by wonderful coastal views looking out into the deep blue are key reasons why many opt to take the short boat ride across to the island.

Depending on the timing of your visit, different birds to look out for include Oyster Catcher (easily recognised thanks to their carrot-like beaks), puffin and bright-white Arctic Tern.

Away from the wildlife, alternative points of interest include the remains of an old village, left abandoned since 1847, and Handa’s towering mountain peaks.

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17. Shetland

Scenery aplenty, Shetland is perhaps best known for its iconic Up Helly Aa Winter Festival.

Alongside bonnie beaches including Skaw, the Sands of Breckon, St. Ninian’s Ayre, readers can take in the impressive Eshaness Cliffs.

Stepping back in time, the carefully excavated ruins at Jarlshof date back thousands of years.

A bird haven, the nature reserve at Noss is famous for its seasonal inhabitants including Atlantic Puffin and Guillemots.

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18. Eriskay

Eriskay © Shutterstock

Forever associated with the 1940s film ‘Whisky Galore!’ Eriskay and its pristine white sandy beaches sits within the Outer Hebrides archipelago.

The film, based on true events that saw a whisky-laden ship strike rocks to the north of the island, has inspired many a journey to Eriskay.

As well as rescuing the crew, islanders were reportedly able to salvage some of the precious cargo with the tales of the ship inked into local folklore.

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19. Unst

Unst © Shutterstock

The feat of visiting the UK’s most northerly inhabited island is on many an island-hopper’s bucket list.

This is Unst, a small yet characterful member of Shetland’s Outer Isles.

Have you seen the dramatic cliffs, sea stacks and ruins of Muness Castle on Unst first-hand?

If not, we thoroughly recommend pondering a little trip to Unst next year!

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20. Mousa

Broch of Mousa © Shutterstock
Broch of Mousa, Mousa.

Mousa is something of a bird haven with the island today a RSPB Nature Reserve.

Easily reached via short boat ride from the Shetland mainland, the key point of interest on Mousa is it’s Iron Age Broch.

Believed to be over 2,000 years old, the Broch is one of the best preserved on the entire British Isles.

Once serving as a crucial lookout point guarding Mousa Sound, the Broch is actually one of a pair once used to protect this stretch of water.

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21. Gigha

Gigha © Shutterstock

Gigha, off the coast of Kintyre, is one of the smallest islands on our island-hopping list.

Reached via short ferry ride, Achamore Gardens is an undoubted island highlight.

First carefully planted in the mid-1940s, the gardens are famous for their collections of Rhododendron and Camellia.

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Feeling inspired?

Explore our collection of Scottish holidays today.

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