Scotland is home to more than 900 offshore islands, each of which offers its own unique landscape. With just under 100 of them being inhabited, it's easy to be overwhelmed by the possibilities when choosing just one - or several - to visit. When it comes to Scotland's most beautiful islands, the choice is even more difficult, as they're all incredibly scenic.
However, there are some that are more beautiful than others and have a reputation with past visitors, such as these.
10 Isle Of Skye
Known simply as just 'Skye,' this island is well-known not only for its landscape but also for its lore. Legend tells of faeries that dot its rolling green mountains, only for the tales to be supported by its famed 'Fairy Pools.' The island, rural as it might be, is home to rocky mountains such as Cuillin Munros, and manageable waterfalls that cascade into crystalline waters below.
9 Harris & Lewis
While Harris & Lewis was originally believed to be two separate islands, it was revealed in time that they are actually part of the same piece of land. Regardless of their geography, there's no denying this landscape is beautiful, featuring white-sand beaches that often look out of place compared to the otherwise rocky shores of Scotland. With the mountains to the back of its beaches and aquamarine water lapping at its sandy shores, this island lends a more of a tropical vibe than a Scottish one!
The story of Mingulay makes it a place of interest to locals and tourists, but its remote - yet stunning - landscape also precedes it. While the island was once inhabited, it now lays abandoned by the civilization except for the National Trust of Scotland warden. The island itself features dramatic cliffs with sheer drops overlooking the bay below and abandoned homes that have since been taken over by the sand that fills its shores. The beauty of this island is in its forgotten past and the nature that has since taken it over.
The Shetland Isles make this more of an island within an island, with more than 100 islands that comprise them as a whole. With that being said, only a fraction of those is inhabited by native Shetlanders. The Shetland Isles are a haven for wildlife and will appeal to those seeking a quieter, calmer, remote, and marine life-heavy vacation. Additionally, the Shetland Isles are full of rich Nordic and Scottish history, all of which can be learned during a visit.
Jumping to Scotland's west coast, Jura, interestingly enough, is inhabited by far more wild deer than actual people. Despite this, the island itself is stunning in its maritime history, it's also a remote and rugged landscape. It's no easy feat to get to Jura but it is worth the journey for those who wish to experience its natural, practically untouched, beauty. This island is a beautiful option for adventure seekers - especially those who don't mind a long journey and rough terrain.
Mainland Orkney is by far one of the most beautiful Scottish islands, and it's also a great starting point for anyone looking to island-hop to any of its additional 70 landmasses. Orkney is also home to a wealth of Viking history, which only entices people further to its cliff-lined shores. With scenic ocean trails and even a few whiskey distilleries, there's nothing visitors won't love about these islands.
Islay Island is less remote than many others but still offers a flawless glimpse into Scotland's natural beauty. Its hiking trails offer seaside views while the Islay's main town has plenty for explorers to do, see, and experience. This island might be known for its whiskey, but visitors stay for its stunning coastal scenery.
While there are plenty of adventures to be had on the Isle of Arran, many visitors are captivated by its Medieval history which only adds to its beautiful landscape. Ruined castles are set against the lush green hillsides of this island, which are surrounded by forest hiking trails and mountain views.
One of Scotland's smallest islands, the Isle of Iona, is home to breathtaking coastal beauty. Its architecture alone goes back centuries, which only makes this small island even more appealing. This island is home to arguably some of the best hiking of all the Scottish Isles, with seaside views that are unparalleled. Those who are keen on wildlife-watching won't be disappointed, either - there's plenty to see if one doesn't mind being patient.
The unique thing about Staffa is that it's usually included on island tours, so visitors might have the chance to see this unique island up-close completely unintentionally. Staffa is easily recognized due to its basalt columns, which have become a haven for seabirds and puffins. While the island is uninhabited, it is quite striking and features rock formations that are unlike any other in the Scottish islands. Along the way, visitors might even have the chance to see whales or dolphins, depending on the time of the year.