There are 790 Scottish islands, from the 600 square miles of the Isle of Skye to little more than rocks jutting out of the Atlantic Ocean.
Here are our picks on the best – either because they are the most scenic or because of some claim to fame…
The Best Islands In Scotland
The Queen of the Hebrides.
Famed for its many smoky, peaty whiskeys (it has eight distilleries with Laphroig being the most famous) Islay is heaven for lovers of this most Scottish of drinks. Even if you’re not a fan of a ‘wee dram’ this is an island of stunning, if hostile, beauty.
Probably the most famous of the Scottish islands , Skye is home to so many great things that it could justify a holiday in itself.
Highlights include the The Old Man of Storr, the Cuillins Ridge and Dunvegan Castle.
The largest of the Inner Hebrides, the highlight is the capital Tobermory with its brightly colored waterfront houses contrasting with the dour surroundings.
A nice stopping off place on the way to Iona.
Iona is a deeply spiritual place. It’s where St Columba brought Christianity to Scotland and is the resting place for over 60 Scottish, Irish and Norwegian Kings.
Deeply moving even if you aren’t religious yourself.
Arran, an island a short hop away from Glasgow, is like a minuture Scotland.
Its north is dominated by Highland-like mountains; its South is a Lowlands of pretty streams and low lying hills.
Given its location sheltered from the worst of the Atlantic it is a less harsh environment than some of the other islands on this list.
6. St Kilda
Probably the wildest part of the United Kingdom, this island is 40 miles outside the even the Outer Hebrides.
It has a haunted air: the island was abandoned in 1838 leaving its main village empty.
Harris is home of the world famous Harris Tweed, a woollen cloth made on the island and protected by the Harris Tweed Act 1993, governing the conditions in which it can be made.
The island itself is as spectacular, if bleak, as you would expect from one of the Outer Hebrides.
Jura, just off Islay, probably wouldn’t make it on this list except for the presence in the 1940s of a certain Eric Blair.
Lent a cottage (Barnhill – pictured) by a friend this writer – better known by his pen name of George Orwell – just happened to write one of the masterpieces of English Literature, 1984, here.
This small island off the west coast of Mull is famous as the home of Fingal’s cave.
This cave has strange acoustic properties and was the inspiration for the Fingal’s Cave Overture composed by Felix Mendelson in 1829.
10. Fair Isle
Britain’s most remote inhabited island.
It’s famous for its knitted sweaters (made from local sheep wool) – useful for guarding against the wind here. It’s also one of the worlds best birdwatching centres as migrating birds are blown onshore during Spring and Autumn.