Presented by National Geographic Traveller (UK).
Explore the wild beauty of the Outer Hebrides, located off the west coast of Scotland, which although scarcely populated, carry a profound human history from ancient stone circles to traditional Gaelic customs. The unique lifestyle in this interlinked chain of islands extends beyond the renowned Harris Tweed and whisky distilleries, visible in the everyday life of isolated fishing communities. Spanning over 150 miles, these islands are interconnected through causeways, bridges, roads, and boats, providing travellers with diverse options — be it car, bicycle, bus or ferry — to fully experience this exceptional destination.
- Barra, Castlebay
Barra boasts beaches that rival those in Thailand, albeit with a more Greenland-esque feel. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the enchanting 16th-century Kisimul Castle, enjoy a scallop pakora at the Kisimul Indian restaurant, and witness light aircraft landing on the sand at the local airport.
Eriskay may not ring many bells, but it was near this coast in 1941 where the SS Politician foundered, laden with a significant haul of whisky and cash. This event inspired the 1949 film Whisky Galore! Now, the Politician Bar commemorates this fascinating historical event.
- North Uist
Among the three Uist islands, North Uist offers a unique experience at the Hebridean Smokehouse. Visitors can take home a souvenir, delve into the history of peat-smoking, and even meet an earl. Fergus Granville, the owner of the smokehouse and a talented artist, also happens to be the late Queen Elizabeth II’s godson.
A visit to Luskentyre allows you to witness one of Europe’s most stunning beaches and explore a traditional Harris tweed shop. The shop’s owner and weaver, Donald John Mackay, is adept at explaining the significance of the tweed’s trademark, convincing you of why it deserves a spot in your shopping bag.
Die-hard travellers will want to venture to the Butt of Lewis, the Hebrides’ northernmost point. An exciting 30-mile drive north from Stornoway leads you to this storm-beaten, dramatic location featuring a worn lighthouse, thriving colonies of northern fulmars, and dedicated surfers braving the cold waves.
This article was originally published in the UK & Ireland supplement, included with the Jul/Aug 2023 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK).
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Outer Hebrides travel guide
What are the top five destinations in the Outer Hebrides according to this article?
The top five destinations in the Outer Hebrides, as suggested by this article, are Barra, Castlebay; Eriskay; North Uist; Harris; and Lewis.
What are some key activities or attractions at these locations?
In Barra, Castlebay, you can visit the 16th-century Kisimul Castle and enjoy local cuisine at the Kisimul Indian restaurant. Eriskay is known for its Politician Bar, which references a significant historical event. North Uist offers the Hebridean Smokehouse where you can learn about peat-smoking. In Harris, you can visit one of Europe’s most stunning beaches, Luskentyre, and explore a traditional Harris tweed shop. Lewis features the Butt of Lewis, the Hebrides’ northernmost point, with its storm-beaten lighthouse and surfing opportunities.
Who is the owner of the Hebridean Smokehouse in North Uist?
The owner of the Hebridean Smokehouse in North Uist is Fergus Granville. He is also a talented artist and was the late Queen Elizabeth II’s godson.
How can one explore the Outer Hebrides?
The Outer Hebrides can be explored by various means of transportation such as cars, bicycles, buses, or ferries. The islands are interconnected through causeways, bridges, roads, and boats.
How can I subscribe to the National Geographic Traveller (UK) magazine?
You can subscribe to the National Geographic Traveller (UK) magazine by clicking on the provided link in the article. Please note that this is available in selected countries only.