Outer Hebrides


Traigh Eais, Isle of Barra, Outer Hebrides  (  Paul TomkinsVisitScotland)

Traigh Eais, Isle of Barra, Outer Hebrides (Paul TomkinsVisitScotland)

Looking for some Great British adventure inspiration? You're in the right place. Here you'll get an independent, ad-free lowdown on Britain's top 50 adventure locations - the online yin to the paper yang of our Joyously Busy Great British Adventure Map.

Why Go To The Outer Hebrides?

The Outer Hebrides are brilliant. They're among Britain's most beautiful places and best off-track adventure locations. Just some of things you can do in the Outer Hebrides that you can't do anywhere else...

  • Experience a uniquely stunning, windswept landscape that includes some of the world's very best beaches
  • Arrive (or leave) in style - take the world's only scheduled flight using a beach for its runway
  • Go on one of Britain's great journeys - drive, hike or bike the entire length of the islands on the Hebridean Way
  • Get to magical, remote St. Kilda - a double World Heritage site
  • Enjoy the fact you won't have mobile signal half the time - disconnect, slow down and feel a long way from the hustle and bustle on these relaxed, Gaelic-speaking islands

Want to find out more? Read on for great photos, articles, videos, top tips and other content to fire up your adventure appetite. Got a question? Ask away.

Tell Me More

The Outer Hebrides are a chain of utterly alluring islands at Britain's far north-west edge. Joined by causeways and ferries, they are small and low-lying in the south, becoming more mountainous in the north, and are home to some of the world's finest beaches. So much so that a photo of one of them (Berneray) was mistakenly used in a Thai tourism ad campaign. Oops! Other ludicrously sandy beaches include Scarista, Luskentyre, Hosta and those on the southernmost islands of Vatersay and Barra. Barra is also home to the world's only scheduled flight where the runway is the beach, putting it firmly on the shortlist of world's best flights.

You may see more signs about otters than actual otters  (Humphrey Butler/Marvellous Maps)

You may see more signs about otters than actual otters (Humphrey Butler/Marvellous Maps)

The hills, and excellent cycling roads, of Harris  (Richard Pape)

The hills, and excellent cycling roads, of Harris (Richard Pape)

The essential journey in the Outer Hebrides is the 150-mile walk / cycle / drive between Barra and, at the far north, the Butt of Lewis.  Chortle. The Hebridean Way, as it's known, is one of Britain's great journeys and features both walking and cycling routes.

The one nicely showing off the Hebridean Way, with world-conquering cyclist, Mark Beaumont.

There are good detours, too: the Golden Road on southern Harris, some of the smaller islands dotted around, and the concentration of mountains on northern Harris, the highest of which is Clisham (799m). Not too shabby a view...


On the water, get kayaking, surfing or sailing. 40 miles to the west of the main islands is the spectacular double World Heritage site of St. Kilda, a small group of islands and sea stacks with huge cliffs and some unique, yet endangered, wildlife. See the video further below for more.

Getting To The Outer hebrides, Maps & Guides

Getting there: Take a CalMac ferry from Oban, Ullapool, Uig (Skye) or fly to Barra (from Glasgow) or Stornoway (from all over). Glasgow flights take around an hour. Getting to remote St. Kilda, 40 miles west of the main islands, is another matter entirely, but here's a start.

Travel times from where you are: See the Outer Hebrides on Google maps.

Maps: Find the right Ordnance Survey maps and / or get a month's free subscription to their excellent OS Maps app.

Guidebooks: Bradt or Charles Tait.

Walking route guidance: WalkingHighlands.

Tourist board:  Visit Outer Hebrides.

Even More Outer Hebrides Adventure Inspiration

Luskentyre, Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides  (VisitScotland / Paul Tomkins, all rights reserved)

Luskentyre, Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides (VisitScotland / Paul Tomkins, all rights reserved)

Read about sea kayaking in the Outer Hebrides (Sidetracked), cycling the Outer Hebrides (Guardian), or a family holiday in the Outer Hebrides (Telegraph). The Stories My Suitcase Could Tell blog has a great round-up of articles and insights into real life on the islands, and here are a few Outer Hebrides hidden gems from adventurer Sophie Radcliffe.

For a longer (fictional) read, how about Peter May's Lewis Trilogy? Convivial Sunday afternoon viewing and essential pre-trip cultural prep comes in the form of Whisky Galore!, the 1949 classic. Below are some hand-selected short films showing off the delights of the Outer Hebrides, and if all else fails... this Instagram account will subject your eyeballs to more stunning Hebridean beach photos than they can possibly handle.

The nice-looking official tourism one with slick drone footage and some of those sincere, folksy guitars

There are few more beautiful places on Earth
— Lonely Planet

The one where they go surfing. Rooooaaad triiiip!

The one with a serious message (and some stunning footage) from the National Trust for Scotland

Chortle  (Humphrey Butler/Marvellous Maps)   

Chortle (Humphrey Butler/Marvellous Maps)

What Next?

Click here to see 49 other Great British adventure locations and tell us about your adventures, plans and suggestions for these pages.

Britain's Best Outdoorsy Bits... Mapped!

Liking what you see, but fancy keeping it old school with an actual paper map? Our Joyously Busy Great British Adventure Map features all of Britain's best outdoorsy bits (including the Top 50), plus some enjoyably random and vaguely useful stuff too. Available either as a 2-sided fold-out map or a framed wall map (office furniture and fake plants not included).