A destination that far exceeds expectations, the Scottish Isles are perfection when it comes to small-ship cruising. With 790 offshore islands, don’t expect to visit all of them in one go - focus your efforts on one of the groups, which include the Shetland and Orkney islands, as well as the Hebrides, which can be further broken down into the Inner and Outer Hebrides. 

What Can You Expect to See When Sailing the Scottish Islands?

Among the many highlights of your Scottish Islands cruise are the unique opportunities for landings, bird and wildlife spotting, especially in St. Kilda and the Treshnish Isles, the chance to taste authentic Scottish whiskies from barrels in Islay, and the overall diversity and magnificence of the region. 

You’ll likely visit: 

Lerwick, Shetland Islands

Serving as the main port of the Shetlands, Lerwick is a 17th-century fishing village-turned-cosmopolitan port. You’ll see visiting yachts moored next to working fishing boats in the bustling harbor. Check out the archaeological sites in the area, including two Iron Age villages. 

Fair Isle, Shetland Islands

Tiny Fair Isle is famous for its migrating birds, genuine Fair Isle knit items and ancient shipwrecks. If you’re a golfer, check out the Lighthouse Keepers golf course. 

Orkney Islands

Visit Kirkwall, the archipelago’s largest town and capital. You can’t miss the famous St. Magnus Cathedral, which presides over the well-preserved small town. 

Isle of Lewis & Harris, Outer Hebrides

Explore Stornoway, originally a Viking settlement and today the capital of the Isle of Lewis & Harris. The bustling waterfront is awash with museums and art galleries. Harris Tweeds are woven in the mills and cottages here. Visit Lews Castle, the world-famous Callanish Standing Stone and the Carloway Broch fort. 

Hirta Island, St. Kilda Archipelago 

You may expect Vikings to come charging over the horizon at any moment when you step foot on Hirta Island. Wild and remote, with breathtaking sea cliffs, the island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and in the National Trust for Scotland. Look for minke whales, staggering sea stacks and the remains of a volcanic crater. 

Loch Scavaig & The Isle of Canna 

Known as the Garden of the Hebrides, Canna is home to puffin colonies, beautiful flowers and fluttering butterflies. Visit, too, Loch Coruisk, a gorgeous freshwater lake with great hiking and kayaking opportunities. 

Isle of Iona and Treshnish Isles 

These volcanic islands are home to nesting puffins, kittiwakes, razorbills, guillemots and Atlantic grey seals. The island of Staffa is full of caves, including Fingal’s Cave of Mendelssohn’s “Hebrides Overture.” The basalt columns you see here are the northern extension of the Giant’s Causeway. 


On “Whisky Island,” land of peaty single malt whiskies and distilleries, you can taste to your heart’s content. Visit the interesting round church, the well-known golf course, the charming town of Bowmore and plenty of great bird observation areas. 

Isle of Man 

Explore the pretty port town of Peel, the 14th-century sea of the King of Mann. Check out Peel Castle, which dates to the 11th century, and learn about the island’s high-speed racing scene at the museums devoted to vintage bikes and cars. 

A variety of small-ship voyages in the Scottish Islands are available, depending on your available time and personal interests. Let’s find the best one for you!