Scenic Scottish Tours
Between us here on the Brightwater Holidays team, we have visited a total of 35 Scottish islands and our holidays can take you to a whopping 33 of them. From cruises and steam train holidays to island-hopping tours and wildlife-spotting breaks, why not browse our Scottish island and mainland holidays and let us take you on an adventure to remember in this remarkable part of the world.
From wild and remote landscapes to amazing whisky distilleries, and from 5,000-year-old standing stones to remarkable beaches, Scotland is a holiday destination that has it all. A country that defies simple definition, Scotland offers the curious visitor many unforgettable experiences as well as awe-inspiring encounters with nature. Spot endemic birds at coastal reserves, go on the trail of monarchs at its grand historic homes and uncover its Viking heritage at unique archaeological sites. What could be better than an all-encompassing Scottish island holiday created by a team of people who know this country inside and out?
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What to expect
An island in the Outer Hebrides, Barra is home to a unique airport runway along with some truly stunning scenery. It is just 8 x 5 miles at its widest point and boasts the picturesque island castle of Kisimul in addition to beaches that will leave you breathless. We visit Barra on our best-selling Grand Tour of the Outer Hebrides holiday along with our Grand Tour of the Western and Northern Isles holiday.
A tiny island that is only 1.5 miles wide by 3 miles long, Iona is located off the coast of Mull in the glorious Inner Hebrides. This destination is known for its famous abbey, one of Western Europe's oldest Christian religious centres, and many people visit it as part of a pilgrimage trip. Visit Iona as part of our dedicated Mull, Staffa & Iona itinerary or our Grand Tour of the Inner Hebrides holiday.
If you want to get away from it all, Shetland is the place to be. As close to Norway as it is to Scotland, Shetland is rugged and remote, with a raw natural beauty, a unique culture and wonderful wildlife. There are over a hundred islands here, only 16 of which are inhabited, each with its own individual character. View our full range of Shetland tours here.
Orkney is an archipelago of 70 islands, each with their own distinctive charm, history and natural beauty. Green and fertile, this island is home to an array of amazing historic and archaeological sites, which include the Italian Chapel, the Tomb of the Eagles, Maeshowe with its chambered tomb, Skara Brae and Skaill House. In 1999, Orkney's Neolithic monuments were recognised by UNESCO and every year they attract curious visitors, eager to learn more. We have a selection of Orkney holidays on offer and you’ll find them all here.
The Isle of Arran is often described as "Scotland in Miniature" with its blend of Highland and Island scenery, consisting of granite peaks and deep glens to the north of the island that contrast with its rolling and lush farmlands to the south. Only 56 miles around its coastline, the small villages are compared to ‘jewels on a necklace’ strung out like pearls around the island. Visit Arran on our Arran, Scotland in Miniature tour or our Autumn Tints of Arran holiday.
An idyllic isle, Lunga is the largest of the Treshnish Isles. Surrounded by wildflowers and stunning scenery, the main attraction that can be seen close up here is the large puffin colony nesting in burrows in the grassy hillside. These comical birds are incredibly inquisitive and will come within a few metres of you. Lunga is also a popular habitat to an ever increasing number of Guillemot, Razorbill, Kittiwake, Fulmar, Shag, Great Skua and a Seal colony. Visit Lunga on our Grand Tour of the Inner Hebrides, our Mull Wildlife tour or our Mull, Staffa & Iona holiday.
The little island of Staffa is home to Fingal's Cave, a stunning cave that was formed by volcanic eruptions over 50 million years ago and whose natural cathedral of basalt columns is one of the true wonders of the west coast. It's so spectacular that Felix Mendelssohn wrote an overture about it! Our Mull, Staffa & Iona, Grand Tour of the Outer Hebrides and Mull Wildlife tours all visit the isle of Staffa.
Lewis & Harris
Despite its name, Lewis and Harris is a single Scottish island in the magnificent Outer Hebrides. In Harris, you'll discover beaches that wouldn't look out of place on a tropical island – with clear blue waters and pristine white sands. Around the northern coastline of Lewis, you will find sheer cliffs. The landscapes are diverse, wild and breathtaking. Elsewhere, there are captivating historical and archaeological sites, which include the 5,000-year-old Standing Stones of Callanish and the Gearrannan Blackhouse Village. Visit Lewis and Harris on our Stornoway, Skye & the Summer Isles, our Grand Tour of the Western and Northern Isles and our Outer Hebrides tours.
A wildlife reserve in Scotland's north, the uninhabited isle of Handa sees almost 100,000 seabirds breed here each summer. There is a 6km circular path, which offers a chance to look out for seabirds such as guillemots, razorbills, great and arctic skuas to name but a few. In addition to the birdlife, there are also the archaeological remains of an old village which was inhabited until 1847 and a profusion of interesting wildflowers. Visit as part of our Scotland’s Northern Edge or Stornoway, Skye & the Summer Isles itineraries.
Perhaps one of Scotland's most popular islands, Skye is the Inner Hebrides' largest and it is also incredibly beautiful. Home to mountain ranges, enchanting fairy pools and the famous Old Man of Storr - a pinnacle of rock that juts high into the air. Discover the isle of Skye on our Stornoway, Skye & the Summer Isles tour or our Highland Explorer: Skye & the Far North holiday.
With its diverse landscape of mountains, sea lochs, moorland and peatbog, the Isle of Mull is home to a wide range of mammals and birds and has established itself as one of the UK’s top wildlife destinations. Mull is a paradise for birdwatchers and one of the best places in the country to see big raptors such as the Golden Eagle and White-Tailed Sea Eagle. It is also home to the historic Duart Castle. Explore Mull on our Mull Wildlife, Mull, Staffa & Iona or Grand Tour of the Inner Hebrides itineraries.
Situated on the whisky coast of Scotland, Islay (pronounced eye-lah) is home to a phenomenal nine working distilleries! So, if you're a fan of warming, golden drams – this is the place to be. Once the ancient home of the Lord of the Isles, who ruled the Hebrides from two islets on Loch Finlaggan, it has always been popular with archaeologists and historians. The island is also known for its sandy beaches and its diverse birdlife. Our dedicated Islay & Jura tour visits the isle, as does our Grand Tour of the Inner Hebrides.
To the north-east of Islay is its neighbour, Jura. This is an untamed and rather mysterious island with just 200 human inhabitants, dominated by the “Paps of Jura”. The northern end of the island was once home to George Orwell, where he wrote his masterpiece 1984. During a visit to the island, you could also pay a warming visit to the fabulous Jura Distillery, which produces smoky yet subtle malts. Our best-selling Grand Tour of the Inner Hebrides and Islay & Jura holidays visit this Scottish island.
If you’re looking for a particularly scenic way to experience all that Scotland has to offer, why not consider a cruise? We have two cruises that travel aboard the MV Lord of the Glens, which visit the likes of Eilean Donan Castle, the colourful town of Tobermory and Loch Ness. One is our Heart of the Highlands itinerary and the other explores the Highlands and Islands. Additionally, there are two exciting new itineraries that travel aboard sister ship, the Lord of the Highlands, namely our Heart of the Highlands cruise and our Highlands and Islands holiday.