Spring is here, and although the weather isn’t exactly balmy I’m still excited about getting outdoors. Some of my favorite places to travel in Britain are islands, not least because of their stunning scenery and ample opportunities for al fresco exploration. If you’re feeling the same way, here are 7 of the best islands in the UK.
Best Islands in the UK
From England to Scotland, Cornwall to the Highlands, there are a lot of islands along the coast of Great Britain. While some are well-known travel destinations, others are waiting to be discovered.
Isle of Arran
The enchanting Isle of Arran is often referred to as Scotland in Miniature. Everything Scotland has to offer can be found there, from beautiful coastline to historic castles and a whisky distillery.
There are waterfalls hidden down quiet crevasses, ancient stone circles shrouded in lore, and enough sheep to keep the cuteness factor high at all times.
My Glaswegian grandmother spent her summers on the Isle of Arran as a child, and when I went for a visit I could see why she kept going back. There’s something truly magical about this place.
Isle of Skye
One of the best islands in the UK is also one of the most famous. Scotland’s Isle of Skye is not only a popular stop on many tours of the Scottish Highlands, but also a great place to experience the beauty of the coast and colors of the towns.
Highlights of Skye range from stunning cliffs with sheer drops to excellent food at some of the best restaurants in Scotland. But my favorite thing about visiting is walking along the waterfront and taking in the colorful houses behind me and the stunning views across the sea.
Tresco, Isles of Scilly
The Isles of Scilly are a tiny archipelago of paradise off the Cornish coast in southern England.
With Caribbean blue water and beautiful beaches, their coastline could be mistaken for somewhere in the tropics. But turn inland and there are plenty of signs of Britishness, from the fields full of sheep to the picture pretty cottages.
Tresco is one of the loveliest of the Scilly Isles, not least because of its great coastal trails, excellent seafood, and famous Tresco Abbey Gardens.
I couldn’t stop exploring the ruins of the gardens when I visited, and I could go back again and again to see more.
Bryher, Isles of Scilly
A two-minute boat ride from Tresco, Bryher is another of the best islands in the UK. More remote and less inhabited than some of the neighboring islands, it makes up in charm what it lacks in industry.
Walking trails cover the island, offering great views of the coast from the hilltops, and cozy pubs are the perfect places to stop for fish and chips.
But perhaps my favorite thing about visiting Bryher is the lone red phone box and its attendant golden goat. It makes me wonder why every red phone box doesn’t have a golden goat.
Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight off England’s southern coast is famous for its festivals, royal residence, and coastal charm. There’s plenty to do and see there, and lots of lovely coastline to explore.
My favorite time to travel to the Isle of Wight is during the annual Cowes Week sailing regatta in the summer. With up to 40 daily races for around 1,000 boats, its a great time to experience life by the sea on one of the best islands in the UK.
Also known as Lindisfarne, Holy Island is only an island when the tide is out. Just off the coast of Northumberland in the north of England, the island is home to a romantic castle, the ruins of a historic priory, and lots of beautiful scenery.
On a recent trip I was impressed by the range of things to do and see in such a small area, from waterfront walks to colorful boats converted into sheds along the shore.
But my favorite thing about Holy Island is Gertrude Jekyll’s walled garden at Lindisfarne Castle. The colors are spectacular, and the views of the castle on the hill are unparalleled.
Okay, so I’m cheating a little bit by including one of the Channel Islands in my list. But even though they’re technically not part of the UK, they’re kind of not not part of it. It’s all very confusing.
To simplify things, today I’m declaring Sark part of the UK for the purposes of my blog post (it won’t mind, right?). Because it’s truly one of the most magical places I’ve ever visited. From aquamarine water off the cliffs to wildflowers on the hillsides leading down to secluded sandy coves, the island is overwhelmingly enchanting. And that’s to say nothing of the lobster. Or the gardens. Or the fact that there are no cars and everyone goes around by bike. This is truly a spectacular place.
What do you think are the best islands in the UK?