The long and dramatic coast of Scotland is dotted with beautiful islands, especially on the western and northern fringes. From Arran, known as Scotland in Miniature, to the whisky isles of Islay and Jura, to historically fascinating Orkney and the surfing paradise of Tiree, the isles boast something for every motorhome or campervanning holidaymaker.

But it’s not easy to choose, is it? If you have a week or more, an island hopping ferry ticket (see CalMac) is a great idea. Alternatively, you could base yourself on one of the larger islands, such as Skye, Mull or the string of islands known as the Outer Hebrides, and really get to know the place.

20 gems on the Scottish isles

Luskentyre beach, Harris. Pic credit: Virtual Heb

Luskentyre beach, Harris. Pic credit: Virtual Heb

1 Sit and watch the sunset over the stunning white sandy beach of Luskentyre on the Isle of Harris.

2 Meet wild mountain goats and see golden eagles high above while hiking on the Island of Rum, in the Inner Hebrides.

3 Drive up North Glen Sannox on the Isle of Arran at dusk and park somewhere quiet with the hope of seeing Red Deer as they come off the hills.

wp0518484c_0a4 Donna the Piper is an unusual welcome to the tiny Isle of Eigg. In the summer months she plays visitors on and off the island.

5 Visit the Isle of Mull for wildlife watching.

6 Walk the Paps of Jura, on the Isle of Jura. The three peaks dominate any skyline in the area and the paps offer an epic day of hiking.

7 Go MacPhee bagging on the islands of Colonsay and neighbouring Oransay. The MacPhees are the 22 hills with a summit of more than 300ft.

8 Visit beautiful Coral Beach past Dunvegan on the Island of Skye.

9 The Old Man of Hoy is a 449ft sea stack on one of Orkney’s many islands, Hoy, that can be admired from the ground or scaled by experienced climbers. What’s your choice?

10 Take a stroll to the Glenashdale Falls at Whiting Bay on the Isle of Arran.

Quiraing on Skye. Pic credit Sandy Sieczkarek Flickr

Quiraing on Skye. Pic credit Sandy Sieczkarek Flickr

11 Take in the bizarre landscape of the Quiraing on Skye.

12 From the Stone Age Orcadians to the Vikings, every corner of the Orkney islands – there are 70 of which 16 are inhabited – has ancient monuments to visit and admire. Orkney also boasts the tallest land-based light in Britain at North Ronaldsay Lighthouse.

13 Cumbrae’s only town Millport is home to Britain’s smallest cathedral.

14 Look in wonder at Fair Isle’s landscape of high red-sandstone cliffs that descend dramatically to a low coastline in the south. The island is also acclaimed for its unique geometric Fair Isle knitting.

15 Green and fertile Gigha, also known as God’s or Good island, is now owned by its community. Ardminish is the only village and also the site of Achamore House set in 50-acre gardens planted by Sir James Horlick.

16 Seeing is believing on the tiny Isle of Muck, where fertile lands are filled with wild flowers and rimmed by white sand beaches.

17 Climb the highest point of the island of Mull, the Munro Ben More.

18 Islay’s peat and water offers the perfect combination for Scotland’s famous spirit, whisky. Visit the island for the taste of dozens of different whiskies.

19. Crossed by the Highland Boundary Fault, the islands of Bute has amazingly contrasting landscapes from the rounded and craggy uplands of the north to the undulating and fertile south.


Unst, Shetland. PIc credit CaptainOates on Flickr

Unst, Shetland. PIc credit CaptainOates on Flickr

20 Just sit and watch the world go by on Unst, Shetland!