Welcome to Stornoway, Scotland!
The idyllic chain of islands of the Scottish Western Isles provide breathtaking views of untouched nature. From expansive rocky hills to stretches of picturesque coastlines, the Outer Hebrides is the perfect off-the-beaten-path destination. While exploring the vast natural beauty of the island, you’ll think that it might be the final frontier of humanity. You can visit the largest town and see a vibrant community that is proud of their heritage, taste a lot of Stornoway whiskey (and decide for yourself which is the best pub in Stornoway!) This laid-back, charming town has kept its culture and tradition while incorporating a modern twist. Let this worldwide local guide get you close to the best of what Stornoway has to offer.
Start with a Step into History
Just on the outskirts of Stornoway is the remnants of a chapel steeped with history and tranquil ambiance. The St Columba’s Chapel dates back to the early middle ages. Originally built with stones, this church has been partially restored for visitors to wander through. You can hear the crashing of the waves as you walk through the chapel grounds scattered with century-old headstones and even an effigy of a knight--it’s one of the most fascinating churches in Stornoway. Locals warn of the roaming graveyard keeper who pounces on visitors--the resident cat!
Worldwide Local Tip: The Western Isles has breathtaking and unspoiled nature to be discovered, and the best way to see the scenery is on two wheels. Head to Alex Dan’s Cycle Centre to see a range of bikes available to rent and get expert advice on scenic routes, including one that takes you through Tolsta.
Visit “The Beacon”
Step into Stornoway’s modern cultural side and make your way to An Lanntair. Translating to ‘The Beacon’ in Gaelic, the center is a thriving hub for contemporary art and is purpose-built to hold multiple types of attractions, such as an art gallery and a theater. Stop by their cafe for a drink or the restaurant for a bite to eat and mingle with the locals, learning about the ever-changing cultural landscape of the island. Be sure to check their websites to see upcoming events in advance.
Worldwide Local Tip: Grab some traditional clothing and head to the Harris Tweed Hebrides, featuring the iconic tweed clothing from suits and skirts to bags. Leave the island owning a piece of classy tailored Hebridean fashion, straight from the source.
Visit a Scottish Castle
Built in the mid-19th-century, the ornate Lews Castle overlooks the gorgeous Stornoway harbor and provides a wonderful insight into the history and life on the island. Stroll through the opulent rooms and majestic hallways filled with Victorian-era decorations. Take a walk with the locals around the alluring Stornoway castle ground trails and along the River Creed, or hop on a segway tour to save your legs.
Worldwide Local Tip: Head to the Iolaire Memorial for a moving experience dedicated to the fallen crew of the His Majesty’s Yacht Iolaire. The viewpoint has magnificent views of the bay, where you can see a memorial obelisk in the water and gorgeous vistas of rolling green hills.
Enjoy Your Visit!
A tranquil setting and the rugged landscape makes a trip to the Outer Hebrides a journey to remember. As a gateway to the rest of the island, Stornoway is looked over just as a starting point, but worldwide locals can discover much more to this quaint town. From a rich history dating back to the Viking era to a modern scene that is shaping the future of the Western Isles, Stornoway is worthy of its own itinerary.