The Isle of Harris and Lewis situated on the north west coast of Scotland is said to have been a part of the Norse kingdom of Suoreyjar. Now you can see the many monuments and relics such as the finest example of standing stones “Callanish” dating back to 2900 BC.
Harris is well known for its white sandy beaches with turquoise blue waters that you just want to jump into! However, there is quite a few other places that are well worth a visit too! Here are some of the best things to do on Lewis and Harris.
Things to Do on Lewis and Harris Isles
See the Callanish standing stones
A visit to Lewis could not go by without visiting the Callanish standing stones. The site is easily reached by car in just over an hour from Tarbert. Upon arrival the site has a good sized car park and visitor centre with café. I was surprised that the site was so easily accessible! You do not need to purchase tickets, in fact you can enter at anytime during the day or night.
Having only heard of Stonehenge outside Bath and Callanish standing stones I was surprised to learn that in fact there are hundreds of standing stone circles and many of them can be found on Lewis! Not far from the Callanish main site you can visit the smaller Callanish site 2 and another further up the road numbered as Callanish 3. These are much smaller in scale but well worth a visit as you can see how they all line up.
There is lots of history on the Outer Islands and much of this can be seen through the ancient dwellings of Brochs and Blackhouses.
Dun Carloway Broch
Dun Carloway Broch stands on the west coast of Lewis one of the finest preserved brochs in Scotland. One part of the Dun Carloway broch still stands at 9 metres high! It is thought to have been built between 43 – 400AD during the Roman period, one of the 500 that still exists in and around northern Scotland.
Shawbost Norse Mill and Kiln
Shawbost Norse Mill and Kiln can easily be missed! Watch out for the brown tourist sign just off the main road. Walk through the country gate, then onto the newly created path for around 20 minutes. The Shawbost Norse Mill and Kiln is located down in the small valley by the burn that once drove the power, to grain the wheat. It is a well preserved piece of architecture that almost disappears into its surrounding countryside landscape. Well worth a visit!
Gearrannan Blackhouse Village
Step back in time with a visit to Gearrannan Blackhouse Village, located on the Atlantic Sea. Now a holiday home village providing cosy accommodation in the traditional Blackhouse’s. One of which is located in the oldest part of the village dating back to between 1824 – 1900. If visiting for the day you can see the traditional making of Harris Tweed, enjoy home made wares in the cafeteria and pick up mementos from the village shop.
Replica Lewis Chessman
Just off the B8011 to Ardroil is Uig Sands, here you can see the wooden replica Lewis Chessman. The chess pieces carved out of ivory were named after the location in which they were discovered in 1831. Out of the 78 pieces most are now owned and displayed by the British Museum in London and the remaining pieces can be seen at The National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.
After having visited the Isle of Harris and Lewis for our first visit, we cannot wait to return!
Please keep in mind when visiting the islands that most amenities are closed on Sundays. However we were still able to see and enjoy all of the above free of charge on a Sunday, although the demonstration of Tweed, cafeteria and shop were closed.
The best way to explore the islands is by car rental. The roads on Harris and Lewis are well laid, easy to drive with clear signs. Some of the signs are in Gaelic, pick up a Go Explore magazine on-board the Calmac ferry which has maps inside.
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