Unspoiled and uncrowded, Scotland’s 790+ islands are steeped in tradition, with many containing remnants of ancient cultures and civilizations. Thanks to the country’s compact size, it’s possible to reach more than one archipelago from Inverness. Here are the top Scottish islands tour options from Inverness.
Guided day trips from Inverness tend to go to one of two destinations: the Isle of Skye, an island in the the Inner Hebrides off Scotland’s west coast, or the Orkney Islands, off Scotland’s north coast. The drive from Inverness to Skye is a scenic one, passing through the heartland of the verdant Scottish Highlands. Day tours often make stops at Loch Ness and Eilean Donan Castle before touring Skye’s top destinations, such as Portree, Kilt Rock, the Old Man of Storr, and the Quiraing.
Full-day tours to the Orkney Islands start with a bus ride to John O’Groats; from there it’s a 40-minute ferry ride across the Pentland Firth to South Ronaldsay. Once on the archipelago, island-hop around the five main islands, which are connected by the Churchill Barriers causeway network. While here, visit the island’s biggest town, Kirkwall, and the Neolithic site of Skara Brae, part of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney UNESCO World Heritage Site. For a more intimate experience, opt for a small-group tour.
Multi-day tours from Inverness allow participants to cover even more ground. During 3-day tours to the Orkney Islands, travelers get to more thoroughly explore the archipelago’s Neolithic sights, including the Maeshowe chambered cairn and the Ring of Brodgar stone circle, as well as the Italian Chapel in Lamb Holm, which was built by prisoners of war during World War II, and a local whisky distillery.
Multi-day tours from Inverness to the Hebrides go to the lesser-explored Outer Hebrides Islands of Lewis and Harris, where you can see breathtaking waterfalls and scenic lochs as well as the prehistoric Callanish Standing Stones and Carloway Broch sites.
Things to Know
Guided day trips typically take between 10 and 14 hours.
Be sure to bring a rainproof jacket and sturdy shoes, as most tours involve some walking in Scotland’s you-never-know climate.
Multi-day tours usually include breakfast, with lunch and dinner at your own expense. Day tours usually include free time for lunch (own expense).