Outer Hebrides On a BudgetThe Outer Hebrides are a chain of over 100 islands off the west coast of Scotland, offering dazzling skylines and unique experiences on each island. Within the 15 inhabited islands, you'll discover different histories and traditions that provide each of the islands with their own distinct personality. May through October are some of the best times to visit as temperatures are in the high 50's and 60's Fahrenheit and rain is minimal. June to August offers some of the warmest weather and warmest sea temperatures, making these the best months for visiting the dozens of beaches.
SightsDue to the Outer Hebrides being so remote, their incredible ancient history has been well preserved over the centuries, making it one of the best places to explore Scotland's history. Start the exploration on South Uist, home to the Cladh Hallan Roundhouses where prehistoric mummies were found. From here, head to the Trinity Temple on North Uist, a historic ruin which is thought to be Scotland's oldest University. The Isle of Lewis offers a large number of historical ruins and sites to explore, including the Standing Stones near Callanish, the Carloway Broch, and Lews Castle. If you're around in the summer, take a jetty out to Kisimul Castle located on a rocky island just off of of the Isle of Barra. Here, you'll have beautiful views of Barra and get to explore the 1,000-year-old castle.
Islands and CitiesIslands and Cities
With over 100 islands comprising the Outer Hebrides, there are countless places to explore. With that in mind, there are a few key islands that offer the majority of food, accommodation, and attraction options:
Isles of Lewis and Harris: These Isles are actually connected and make up the two islands where you'll find the majority of accommodation and food options. Both of the islands offer incredible archeological sites to be explored along with diverse landscapes to wander through.
North Uist: Located in the center of the Outer Hebrides, the north part of Uist offers miles of sandy beaches and great landscapes to explore on long walks or cycling adventures.
South Uist: the southern part of Uist includes breathtaking scenery from the Beinn Mhor mountans and the white sand beaches.
Benbecula: Situated between North and South Uist, it is one of the most populated islands in the area as it is home to the local schools, the hospital, and the community center.
Barra: Considered to be the "jewel of the Outer Hebrides", the island offers beautiful landscapes and traditional Gaelic culture.
ActivitiesThe Outer Hebrides offer great opportunities for adventure enthusiasts, including cycling, canoeing, kayaking, kitesurfing, and windsurfing. At the Harris Outdoor Centre on the Isle of Harris, you can book kayaking, canoeing, and cycling tours that include all the gear you'll need. Enjoy a scenic boat ride with Lewis Boat Trip located on the Isle of Lewis where you'll get the chance to fish for your dinner or just watch the dolphins and whales pass by. The Outer Hebrides are known for their beautiful beaches, especially on the Isle of Harris and Vatersay Island, who feature shell sand beaches. On the Isle of Lewis, spend a day at Garry Beach where you can relax in the sand then explore the many sea caves and sea stacks throughout the beach.
Food and DiningAs the Islands are fairly remote, they rely heavily on locally produced food, especially for their meat and produce. Lamb and seafood are incorporated in many dishes and this area is one of the best places to try classic fish and chips. The majority of restaurants are located on the Isles of Harris and Lewis where you'll find everything from a distillery with pub food to great seafood restaurants. Aside from Lewis and Harris, the best places to find food are in hotel restaurants dotted around the island.
TransportationThe Outer Hebrides has two primary domestic airports, the Stornoway Airport and the Barra Airport. From the airport, you can take one of the coaches, buses, or a private car hire to your desired destination. You can also take a ferry from mainland Scotland to one of the islands. When getting around the islands, you can use the public buses which run from Monday-Saturday, or rent a car to drive around. The Western Isles Ferry Group offers ferries throughout the islands, making it extremely easy to beach hop.
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