Scotland’s numerous islands hold an attraction which is unlike any other place on Earth. For a relaxing luxury self-catering break, they rank very high: if you enjoy wild, unspoilt landscapes, rich culture and heritage and a wide variety of native wildlife, the isles of Scotland may well be your dream getaway.
Inspiring Inner Hebrides
Scotland’s Inner Hebrides can be reached from Oban on the mainland, aptly named “the Gateway to the Isles.” Just south of larger Skye are Eigg, Rum, Muck and Canna. On these small islands you will find an unspoilt wilderness, quiet and isolated sandy beaches, and exceptionally friendly locals. The island of Mull is a beautiful place to visit if you’re looking for a relaxing break, and is also fantastic for a luxury walking holiday – climbing Ben More gives you unbelievable views over the Sound of Mull. Mull’s major port Tobermory is also famed for its colourful houses along the waterfront; you may recognise Tobermory as the setting for the popular children’s TV series ‘Balamory.’
Staffa’s Artistic Roots
The Hebrides are a haven for artists; if you’re interested in art, you will find plenty of small galleries dotted across these islands, and Turner fans will love visiting Staffa, where you will witness the real-life inspiration for his famous painting Fingal’s Cave.
Tranquil Beach Breaks with Fascinating History
Some of the finest isolated, white-sand beaches can be found on Tiree and Coll. Tiree has also been named Scotland’s surfing capital, and this area boasts a vast array of watersports to be enjoyed if you’re looking for adventure during your special break to the Scottish Islands. If it’s history you’re interested in, consider a trip to tranquil Iona, where you will find a vast number of historic sites and evidence of Pictish inhabitancy, such as fascinating carvings.
A Remote Retreat in the Western Isles
The Western Isles (Outer Hebrides) are remoter still; a rural getaway here will offer you peace and tranquillity like you’ve never experienced before. The beautiful islands of Lewis and Harris are the most populated, and also the most visited. They have a range of amenities, but still offer a tranquil and secluded experience, with a preserved traditional way of life and a rich Gaelic culture of crofting, caeilidhs and of course producing the world-famous Harris Tweed.
Beautiful Wildlife and Spectacular Seafood
Across the Western Isles there are incomparable fishing opportunities, and the seafood is particularly spectacular. Don’t miss the Hebridean Scallops, or head into Lewis’ main town Stornoway where you will find traditional fish smokers offering up delicious smoked kippers and salmon. The vast array of fish and other sealife also support a huge amount of birds: the Outer Hebrides are a great place for spotting puffins off the coast - you may even see a Golden Eagle.
Active Family Holidays in the Orkney and Shetland Isles
The Orkney and Shetland islands are a fantastic choice if you’re interested in taking an active luxury holiday. Orkney has great opportunities for divers, with a large number of shipwrecks to explore including the fascinating German Naval Fleet which sunk in 1919 at Scapa Flow. Orkney is a rich land of green fields and lochs, but also offers challenging climbs and a huge variety of sea sports. Orkney is also home to an incredible amount of Neolithic monuments, including Skara Brae and the Standing Stones of Stenness.
Shetland is an isolated paradise; 138 sandy beaches line the coast and this is a great area for relaxed walks and historical visits to a number of Castles and Viking remains.
Best recommended attractions for the Scottish Islands:
• Take a boat trip from Jura out to the Corryvreckan Whirlpool, the world’s 3rd largest whirlpool.
• Visit the 8 distilleries of Islay to learn (and sample, of course) some of the finest whiskys Scotland has to offer.
• The unmissable Skara Brae, a fascinating stone-built Neolithic settlement on Mainland Island in Orkney. Skara Brae is a group of 8 houses believed to date back as far as 3180 BC.
• Think about a trip out to St. Kilda, the remotest part of the British Isles. It takes a lot of planning, but this small island is really unbelievably fascinating – now uninhabited, but with the ruins of a people who were born and lived there for hundreds of years until increased contact with the outside world threatened their community and led to their eventual evacuation in 1930.
When planning a self-catering holiday to the Scottish Islands, you can expect to stay in luxurious spa cottages or high quality lodge-style cabins.