From the rich wild flower meadows (machair) of the west coast to the rocky east coast bays of Harris, the scenery is always a picture whatever the weather. These colours have inspired Harris Tweed weavers for many years with native flora being used to dye the wool. Today you can visit Tweed producers, craft shops and galleries of local artists who find their inspiration in the land and sea of the Hebrides. You may also be able to hear Gaelic songs and music at local events.
In South Harris, Saint Clement's Church dates from around 1500 and was built by the Macleods of Dunvegan and Harris. It has some fine examples of carved tombs.
You can learn about the history and heritage of the Hebrides at Seallam! Visitor Centre in Northton where you can also trace your family history.
The Isle of Harris golf course at Scarista is set overlooking golden sands and must be one of the most spectacular settings for golf in Scotland.
The west coast of Harris is well known for its sandy beaches, particularly Luskentyre, Seilebost and Nisabost which overlook the tiny island of Taransay. In contrast, the Bays area of the east coast has a barren rocky landscape with scattered houses all linked by the so-called Golden Road. The views are dramatic across the lochans and inlets, and on a clear day you can see over to Skye. There are numerous places to buy local artwork and Harris Tweed.
The village of Tarbert is the main settlement on Harris. Here you will find places to eat and drink, tourist information and the ferry terminal. There are also grocery shops, petrol, post office, bank and a sports centre with swimming pool, as well craft shops and the new Isle of Harris distillery which is currently producing gin.
Heading north out of Tarbert towards Scaladale, you will pass through Ardhasaig which also has petrol and groceries.
Lewis is the most populated island of the Hebrides but still retains a traditional Gaelic feel. Although flatter than its neighbour, Lewis has a rugged coastline with plenty of sandy beaches to explore. The area is ideal for fishing, cycling, walking and bird watching. In the summer you are likely to see peat cutting and stacks by the roadside.
Rich in archaeological history, there are many monuments to discover with the most famous attraction being the Callanish (Calanais) standing stones. There is a visitor centre near the main circle, but there are other smaller sites in the area.
Stornoway is the capital of the Outer Hebrides and is a busy town with shops, hotels, pubs, ferry terminal and airport. Lews Castle has been refurbished and in the grounds you can now visit the new museum and archive centre (Museum nan Eilean). It's here that you can see some of the famous Lewis Chessmen on loan from the British Museum. Entry to the museum is free.
Boat trips are available from Harris and Lewis to other island groups such as St Kilda and the Shiants. You are likely to see a variety of sea birds, and there is always a chance of spotting dolphins, porpoise, basking sharks and whales as they feed in the rich waters around the Hebrides. During the breeding season between April and August, it's possible to see puffins.