Scotland’s Hebrides Islands Travel Guide: NEED TO KNOW Tips
This must-read travel guide for the Hebrides Islands in Scotland covers how to get there, which islands to visit, things to do, where to stay and more!
Did you know there is more to Scotland than the Isle of Skye and Edinburgh?
Before I started planning my trip to Scotland, I knew I wanted to explore Scotland’s off-the-beaten-path locations, but I couldn’t find much in the way of information online. With just one week to explore, I settled on the Inner and Outer Hebrides, using Oban as my ferry port and flying in and out of Glasgow.
Travel Tips for Visiting the Hebrides in Scotland
How to Get to The Hebrides
My trip started with an overnight layover in London’s Heathrow airport — a common hub for those traveling from the West Coast of the United States — so I scoured the internet for an inexpensive hotel with easy transportation to and from Terminal 5.
I booked a stay with Premier Inn on Bath Road after reading dozens of reviews and learning about the free local bus which stops right in front of the hotel.
I paid £51 for one night, plus £3 unlimited wifi — the best deal I could find. The rooms were immaculate and the dinner was one of the best meals I had during my entire stay in Europe. This hotel made my layover not only bearable, but it actually may have changed my negative attitude toward London.
The flight from Heathrow to Glasgow the next morning was short and sweet, after which I hopped on the Glasgow Airport Shuttle Bus #500 (only £6 and included free wifi!) to the Queen Street Rail Station.
Trains from the Queen Street Rail Station run frequently to Oban, where you can catch ferries to the Inner and Outer Hebrides. The train ride takes a little over three hours and shouldn’t cost more than £23 for a one-way ticket with ScotRail. Make sure to ask an employee about which end of the train goes to Oban; the train splits at a station before Oban, so you don’t want to be left behind!
It is also possible to fly from Glasgow to the Isle of Lewis, Benbecula and Barra with Flybe airlines. At the end of my trip, I flew from Barra’s Traigh Mhor Beach Airport to Glasgow to get the one-of-a-kind experience of taking off on a runway of sand.
Isle of Mull – Inner Hebrides
The train station is right next to the ferry port in Oban, so it’s extremely easy to catch a connecting ferry ride to the islands. A round-trip ferry ticket from Oban to Craignure, Isle of Mull was less than £10 — which was surprisingly cheap!
To get prices on other ferry trips, see CalMac’s website.
On Mull, I highly recommend renting your own transportation and staying in the picturesque town of Tobermory. I rented a small car with Mull Self Drive and I’m so thankful I decided against public transportation on this island. The owner met me at the ferry port in Craignure, answered my questions about the area and eased my concerns about driving on the one-lane roads of Mull.
Honestly, after driving for two days on the island, I would prefer it over driving in my home town of San Diego. It was actually relaxing because the roads are practically deserted and the other drivers are uncommonly gracious. The locals and tourists will wave when they pass you on the road, without fail.
Read more: How To Find Cheap Flights To Anywhere (Insider Tips & Tricks)
The town of Tobermory is straight out of a fairy tale. It’s small, cozy and colorful — as you can see in the photo above.
I booked a room at Glengorm Castle and instantly felt at home. There is also a hostel in Tobermory (Tobermory Youth Hostel) for those travelers looking to save a few bucks on accommodation.
You cannot visit Tobermory without eating at the Tobermory Fish and Chip Van. It’s cheap, and probably the best fish and chips you will have in Scotland. I only wish I had eaten there every meal because all the fish and chips I ordered during the rest of my trip didn’t even compare to this place.
During the two days I spent driving around Mull, I found myself in awe at every turn. There is no shortage of cute animals and jaw-droppingly gorgeous landscapes on this island.
Staffa and the Treshnish Isles – Inner Hebrides
From Mull, you can easily visit the neighboring uninhabited islands of Staffa and Lunga. For more information about these islands, visit our post about where to see Puffins in Scotland.
I’m disappointed that I didn’t get to spend more time in Oban. I took the ferry back to Oban from the Isle of Mull and spent one night at the Oban Bay Hotel & Spa, before my early morning ferry departure to the island of Barra.
Barra – Outer Hebrides
The first word that comes to mind when I think of Barra, is peaceful. The stillness of this island can be shocking. I walked around my first day and the only noises I heard were the occasional “baaa” from a nearby sheep.
Read more: Escape The Crowds: 10 Best Places To Visit In Europe This Summer
There are only a few hotels on the island, so be sure to book in advance during the high season. I stayed two nights at the Castlebay Hotel, which overlooks Kisimul Castle, the harbor, and the gorgeous island of Vatersay.
Barra and Vatersay are the westernmost permanently inhabited islands in Scotland. On a sunny day, the beaches look like they belong in the Caribbean, with crystal-clear, calm water.
There are obviously more islands to visit in the Hebrides and I plan to make another trip to visit the ones I missed. I hope this post shows that it’s entirely possible to see the Scottish Islands, even if you only have one week of vacation — and it won’t blow your budget to add an island or two to your itinerary.
For tips on what to pack, see my guide on what to pack for a trip to Scotland and my women’s packing list for Europe.
Plan Your Trip to The Hebrides in Scotland
After traveling consistently for over 10 years, we’ve come to trust and rely on a few websites to help us find the best deals on flights and accommodation.
Flights: Scott’s Cheap Flights is the first place we check when searching for cheap flights. If you sign up for their email alerts, you’ll receive flight deals at up to 90% off. I have traveled all over the world using their flight deals.
Accommodation: Booking.com offers savings on hotels, apartments, and villas in 80,000 destinations worldwide. You can browse hotel reviews and find the guaranteed best price on hotels for all budgets.
Travel Insurance: We never travel without a travel insurance policy because it’s not worth the risk! We use and trust World Nomads, which we’ve used for the past 8 years.
Thank you for the post, we want to go further than Oban and mull on our next visit and won’t have much time so it was good to get your thoughts..
Great descriptions and beautiful pictures!
We have been to Scotland twice but never to the Islands(did go to Oban for a day)
We hope to do the Islands on our next trip there. Would probably go for 10+ days…no problem with driving as did last trip. Do you stay over night on some of the islands?
I’m just in the beginning stages of making a travel plan to get to as many of the places (islands) that we can…thank you!
Thank you very, very much.
I´ve visited Scotland for three times and I want to return over and over again. Now I intend to visit the island.
You site helped very much.
So happy to hear! You will love the islands!
I’m considering visiting the outer Hebrides. Do you think if it is wise to bring a touring caravan??
Hi Joanne. I think bringing a car would limit which islands you can visit (see http://www.visitscotland.com/en-us/travel/around-scotland/outer-hebrides to find out which islands offer car ferries). I personally wouldn’t want to drive a big car on some of the islands with narrow roads, such as Mull, but you may not have an issue with it. I hope that helps!
Such a beautiful place! I was in Kyle of Lochalsch for a week in 2012, and I’ll be going on a backpacking trip around the Isle of Skye in September. Would love to spot some puffins and otters this time!
That sounds like fun! June might be a little late for Puffins, but you might get lucky! 🙂
Sorry, I meant to say September!
I have read so many beautiful articles about Scotland this week, that I need to rewrite my travel destination for this year. Thank you for your recommendations!
You will love Scotland! We have lots of information regarding the islands, so feel free to take a look around our site.
Gorgeous doesn’t begin to describe the stunning locales that you have so beautifully documented! I love the solitary serenity of these images and couldn’t help getting caught up in the whimsical fairytale quality of the region. I wonder if you might have crossed paths with a selkie on your travels! 😉
I am really like this all images of scotland hebridean islands. People like to stay in this type of places with family or friends. Here I get very useful details about trip to scotland hebrides.
Never been, but I would LOVE to go to Scotland!
I’ve traveled scotland & ireland many times and I think having a Smartphone
will really make your life easier. You can get public transit
directions, look up restaurants, and get other info on the fly. You
also won’t look like a tourist with your big map, if that is your
concern. Make sure you have an unlocked phone and get a local SIM
card. There are many providers like PrePaymania, Worldsim, 0044 which
provides Sim Card anywhere in the world. They only charge for
shipping.These would help to cut down the roaming charge .Cheers !!
My husband and I will be traveling there for the first time in October. We have no plans as of yet, what would you recommend, we are open to adventure!
I highly recommend visiting the Isle of Mull! There are other islands near Mull that you could explore if you don’t want to go all the way to Barra. I don’t know much about the mainland, since I just explored the islands. Have fun!
Looks gorgeous and the animals look really cool. Reminds me of the movie Local Hero, which takes place in a remote area of Scotland.
There is a new series about the Hebrides (it’s called “Islands on the Edge,” but so far you can only watch it in the UK. I’m so fascinated with this area.
We visited Scotland for the first time last year, and left with a thirst for more! We can’t wait to return, and you post is further inspiration. Great photos too!
Thank you! It’s been one of those dream destinations for me — I still can’t believe I went! I wish I had a month to spend there.