30 things to do in Stornoway Scotland - our complete guide (2023)

Stornoway, Scotland is a pretty, bustling town in the wilds of Scotland's Outer Hebrides that welcomes weary travelers to its corner of the world with great food, beautiful scenery and Harris Tweed.

This rugged city is the capital of all the Western Isles and unites the Outer Hebrides of Harry and Lewis.

Most importantly, it's packed with incredible attractions that proudly showcase Stornoway's vibrant culture and history, with places that evoke its past like Lews Castle, empowering artists like An Lanntair and imbue the culture of the Outer Hebrides like the Festival HebCelt.

That said, Stornoway is packed with so many exciting activities, events and stories that it's hard to plan what you should do in Stornoway..

We've put together this guide to things to do in Stornoway so that your vacation is filled with attractions and events to suit your specific interests in this amazing city.

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Museum and Archive of the Islands

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If you want an in-depth look at the history of Stornoway, the Outer Hebrides and mainland Scotland, there's no better place to do it than the Museum nan Eilean.

Funded in part by the Western Isles Council (Comhairle nan Eilean Siar) and home to the Stornoway Historical Society, this museum opened as part of Lews Castle and is now the best place to witness and engage with the history that Stornoway offers as the Lewis Chess.

The museum houses a wide variety of artifacts, clothing, maps and papers that take you from Stornoway's beginnings to the present day.

To fully appreciate the town of Stornoway and understand how far it has come, book an hour or two at Museum nan Eilean.

Harris Tweed Story Room

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There is no tweed as well known and talked about as Harris tweed, and its origins go back to Stornoway and the Outer Hebrides.

The Harris Tweed Story Room and Harris Tweed Hebrides are a brilliant way to engage with a crucial part of Stornoway's growth and notoriety, with authentic tweed machines, garments and samples that weave the narrative of material from past to present.

Lews Castle Grounds

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In the heart of the town of Stornoway is the beautiful Lews Castle, decorated in classic Scottish baronial architecture and is a building, once owned by Sir James Matheson, which has been part of Stornoway and Lewis since 1847.

Sometimes known as Stornoway Castle and restored by the Western Isles Council, the castle's surrounding grounds are now home to cozy accommodation and many vibrant shops. A stroll through the gardens is the perfect way to observe the hustle and bustle of Stornoway town center while having a picnic with the family.

The Stornoway Trust has also built a series of woodland walkways around the grounds for visitors to enjoy whilst admiring the manicured grounds.

With free access, you don't even have to worry about paying entrance fees!

Coffee Warehouse

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Whether you're craving a bite to eat while exploring the city or waking up from your accommodation at a place like the Caladh Inn, there's no better place to sit down in the Outer Hebrides than the Storehouse Cafe in the grounds of Stornoway Castle.

The cafe offers excellent coffees and cakes and has some amazing local flavors on offer for lunch right in the heart of Lews Castle.

The Café is perfectly located on the ground floor of Lews Castle and allows you to dine while enjoying the opulence that surrounds you.

The Lantern Arts Center

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Whether it's the sounds of music, an art gallery museum or a thrilling performance, you can be sure it will happen at the An Lanntair Arts Centre, right next to the harbour.

An Lanntair is one of the most visited sites in Stornoway and has won many awards for its contemporary art venue, theatre, cinema and concert hall.

The Arts Center is an absolute hub of year-round culture and activity and the perfect place to experience the wide range of creativity that Stornoway offers.

Whatever your tastes and preferences, An Lanntair has something for you to enjoy.

HebCelta Festival

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With how remote the Isle of Lewis from the Outer Hebrides seems to be compared to the rest of the world, you'd think there wouldn't be any music festivals to enjoy. You are mistaken.

The HebCelt Festival is a celebration of Outer Hebridean music and life that will undoubtedly get your feet moving with the locals.

The Festival takes place between July 13th and 16th and features many local and international music celebrities taking the stage and displaying their talents. The Festival also raises money for the HCF Trust each year, so your money will go to support local artists.

Buy your tickets now and don't miss out on this incredible opportunity to experience the HebCelt Music Festival.

Stornoway Old Town Hall

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Close to historic Lews Castle and the town center is Stornoway Town Council, where many of the crucial administrative center decisions that shaped Stornoway were taken.

Today, Stornoway Town Hall is immaculate and intimidating with the Scottish baronial tower architecture that features in many of the more established buildings in Stornoway.

Located close to the Cabarfeidh Hotel and Caladh Inn, Stornoway Town Hall is on the west side of town and can be seen towering over the surrounding buildings.

Stornoway Town Hall holds an amazing piece of history to behold and you will only give it up if you visit the Old Town Hall.

Bethesda charity shop

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Budget visitors to the Isle of Lewis will be doing themselves a disservice by not visiting the Bethesda Charity Shop near the Cabarfeidh Hotel & Caladh Inn.

All of the pre-loved items you can find here go to a great cause, so you won't feel bad about picking up a whole new wardrobe while you're here.

You won't find better bargains on high-quality budget clothing than at the Bethesda Charity Shop. Who knows, you might even find some Harris Tweed.

Isle of Lewis Sports Center

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If you're looking to stay healthy and fit while on vacation or want a way to spend some quality time with your family, there's no better place than this sports centre.

Right in the heart of the town of Stornoway, this activity and adventure hub is easy to get into and has something for everyone.

With many amenities such as a swimming pool, fitness room and climbing wall, this sports center is perfect for any type of exercise you want to do, as long as you are active!

Stornoway golf club

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Why wouldn't you want to improve your disability while visiting Stornoway? And at Stornoway Golf Club, it's hard to resist the urge to play.

This golf club has 18 amazing and unique courses to line up your swing on and is a great way to enjoy a relaxing morning or afternoon golf session while in Stornoway.

After your golf session, feel free to sit back and admire the Club's beautifully manicured greens in the café and bar overlooking the full range of courses.

If the full 18 holes don't fit your schedule or you want something more family-friendly, Bayhead Playpark is a great alternative to crazy golf.

Hebrides Segway

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Stornoway is a great town to explore and it's easy to forget how tiring walking can be when you're lost in the fantastic sights it offers.

Segway Hebrides is the best way to tour places like the grounds of Lews Castle and fit more into your day than you ever could walking around the city.

Glide through the Stornoway Castle Grounds with guided segway tours and experience the city like never before while being informed about local trivia and history every step of the way.

Forestry Center

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Food is best enjoyed in good company and in amazing surroundings, and the Woodlands Center can deliver both, with nature at the heart of the dining experience.

The Center also has outdoor seating and serves as an excellent pet-friendly eating place, a crucial bonus for nature retreats like this one.

The excellent dining experience offers great meals such as soups, sandwiches, amazing coffees and cakes and an abundance of festive specialties.

Stornoway Balck Pudding is especially a local Outer Hebridean delicacy well worth trying at the Woodlands Center and its fantastic selection of brunch items and local coffee and teas.

Arnish Point Lighthouse

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Built in 1852, Arnish Point Lighthouse has acted as guardian of Stornoway and the Outer Hebrides ever since and now stands proudly on the south beach, between the Isle of Lewis and the ocean.

Just a short drive from Stornoway, Arnish Point is a beautiful highlight as you continue the road along the east coast of the Isle of Lewis.

The highlight of a visit is walking around Arnish Point and witnessing the incredible views of the Inner Hebrides and the beautiful south beach.

port of stornoway

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The heart of Stornoway is Stornoway Harbour, an amazing place to sit and witness the trade flowing in and out of the Outer Hebrides whilst eating in one of the many restaurants on Cromwell Street.

The brave should also join one of the many guided boat trips available from Stornoway Harbour, which allow you to explore the Outer Hebrides, Steering Bay and the Isle of Lewis from the water.

As the lifeblood of Stornoway, missing a visit to Stornoway Harbor is like missing Stornoway itself.

Aventuras Hebridas

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Hebridean Adventures is your guide to seeing the wildlife hidden beneath Stornoway's waves.

Your cruises guide you through the waters of the Outer Hebrides and reveal Scottish whales, dolphins and even more splendid ocean creatures.

Cruises depart Stornoway Harbor across Steering Bay and the waters beyond, so make sure you book a trip so you don't miss your next departure!

  1. Columba's Church

Angelic choruses echo through Stornoway as mass takes place at St Columba's church, named after the Irish abbot who spread Christianity across Scotland and the Outer Hebrides.

It sits in Stornoway as the preferred temple for Isle of Lewis residents, with much of Stornoway and Lewis closing on Sunday for rest.

Whether your visit is for religious reasons or you want to see the beautiful colors and atmosphere that São Columba offers, it's worth researching the site to appreciate this stunning church.

Tiumpan Head Lighthouse

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Watching over the Outer Hebrides, its powerful light rhythmically flashing over the Western Isles in the distance, is the spectacular Tiumpan Lighthouse.

This feat of engineering is a beautiful working lighthouse complex that is just a short walk across grassy pastures. It offers viewers incredible views of not only this majestic white and gold lighthouse, but also the beautiful ocean beyond.

The Tiumpan Head Lighthouse is a great way to appreciate the true isolation of the Point on the Isle of Lewis.

Walk the Path of the Hebrides

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There's no better way to fully experience the wondrous Outer Hebrides than to hike the 252 kilometers of the Hebridean Path.

This daunting task is not for the faint of heart, but it will provide an adventure like none you've experienced before.

The Camino starts in Vatersay and ends in Stornoway, the perfect place to end the incredible journey around the island. It certainly beats landing a plane at Stornoway Airport.

Isle of Lewis World War I Memorial

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Rising from the highest point in Stornoway, this magnificent World War Memorial presents the lives lost in the First World War with the utmost respect.

More castle than memorial, its architecture honors the historic heritage of the Isle of Lewis and provides a place for those who have lost family members to mourn their loss.

The World War Memorial is too close to the main town of Stornoway to be missed and is well worth a visit as you explore Lewis.

Cameron's fishmonger

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There's nothing quite like a fish and chip shop in a harbor town, and Cameron's Fish Shop is one of the best fish shops on the Isle of Lewis. He can be found on Point Street in the center of Stornoway, close to the harbor.

Enjoy the traditional delights of a fish 'n chippy with favorites like fish & chips, scampi, chip butty and pickled onions.

It's definitely worth going out of your way when you're craving the wonderful flavors this main port city offers.

Restaurante Boatshed

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Perfectly situated at the Royal Hotel, Stornoway's Boatshed Restaurant will serve a delicious dinner of local specialties and hand-caught seafood that rivals many of the best dishes you'll ever taste.

Enjoy an array of incredible dinner dishes such as hand-dived local scallops, mussels and crayfish caught in sustainable baskets, these being just a few of the dishes prepared by the experienced kitchen team.

The Boatshed Restaurant is a refined dining experience for those who enjoy finely crafted and expertly prepared meals with the confidence to experience local flavors like Stornoway Black Pudding.

stornoway airport

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The best way to visit Lewis is via Stornoway Airport, with several daily flights in and out of mainland Scotland.

Stornoway Airport is the gateway between the Isle of Lewis. It's a lovely airport to travel to when you consider it's the only airport on the island, so take an afternoon to look at unique and interesting model planes coming in and out of the airport.

The next time you travel to the largest settlement on the Isle of Lewis, take a trip through Stornoway Airport.

Rua Cromwell

Cromwell Street is one of the bustling streets leading out of the sheltered harbor of Stornoway, with Gaelic street signs, plentiful shops, petrol stations and excellent accommodation all in one place.

Book yourself into luxurious Scottish comfort at accommodations such as the Crown Inn, Cabarfeidh Hotel and Caladh Inn.

The street also runs parallel to Point Street, another street lined with bustling shops and activities for you to pursue as you venture into the largest city on the Isle of Lewis.

The Good Food Boutique

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If you're hungry but not sure what you want to eat, this boutique has you covered!

As the name suggests, the boutique offers an incredible range of high-quality, artisanal food products that will make your inner foodie scream.

The boutique, run by local foodie Emma, ​​is a cozy and charming visit for those who have a craving they can't satisfy anywhere else.

Hebridean tea shop

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The Hebridean Tea Store is one of the only stores on the Isle of Lewis. You can get a wide range of high quality teas from local Scottish and international brands, herbal and fruit blends and many other soothing remedies.

The exclusivity of the Hebridean Tea Store is reason enough to visit, but sampling the incredible selection of teas is one of the best ways to spend an afternoon while enjoying this island port and its traditional businesses.

Stornoway lighthouse

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The Isle of Lewis has spectacular coastlines and views that can only be truly appreciated from the water.

Stornoway Seafari offers excellent and informative tours of the island and the wildlife in its waters. The staff will be happy to customize your tour to the specifics you want to learn about the island.

Experience the Isle of Lewis from the water and admire jaw-dropping views, with easy bookings at Stornoway Harbour.

Balsa de Stornoway

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The ferry terminal at Stornoway travels across the Outer Hebrides and Inner Hebrides, allowing for smooth and easy travel on your island journey.

Enjoy the boat ride as you make your magical journey towards the Isle of Lewis from the Scottish mainland, filled with imaginations of what your Stornoway holiday will entail.

The Stornoway ferry terminal is also the best way to travel to the Isle of Lewis and Stornoway, offering an adventurous way to reach the port and start your Stornoway journey with energy.

island darkroom

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On the outskirts of Stornoway is the Island Darkroom, a traditional darkroom in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.

Here you can treat yourself to beautiful photographs of the Isle of Lewis and the Outer Hebrides processed with the traditional use of a Scottish darkroom.

Whether you're leaving Stornoway for your next destination or just taking a quick look around the harbor area, the Island Darkroom is a must on your bucket list.

Try the Stornoway Black Pudding

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Black pudding is one of the local delicacies that you can try in one of the many shops in town, and there is some competition to see who has the best.

The black pudding is delicious, made from pork or beef blood and mixed with oatmeal in the form of a sausage.

Top contenders for the best black pudding on the Isle of Lewis are Charlie Barley's, Willie John, and MacLeod & MacLeod, but it's definitely worth trying them all to see what your palate prefers.

Gress beach

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Beautiful Gress Beach is on the outskirts of Stornoway, with sublime white sands and beautiful blue waters, perfect for a day at the beach with the family and a relaxing afternoon filled with sunbathing and building sandcastles.

If you can muster up the courage to wade into the colder seas of the Hebrides like the locals, this beach is a peaceful place to take a dip and enjoy the refreshing sea air and water.

Want a second away from the hustle and bustle of Stornoway? Gress beach is the perfect place for this.

Aladdin's cave

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Alladin's Cave is a lovely novelty shop found in Stornoway Harbour. It's a family business that sells a wide range of toys, gifts, fabrics and local materials, but is mainly known for its yarn and knitting needles.

As you stroll through the city streets, it's hard not to be taken aback by the colorful shop and the many intriguing items on display.

They cater to the many arts and crafts domains with paints, maps, pins, posters and tapestries to hang in your office or on the wall in your home.

Whether you're just interested in new things or want to take home a souvenir for your friends and family, Aladdin's Cave is the ideal place to spend your time exploring.

Other things to do in the Scottish Isles

  • Things to do in Arran
  • Things to do in Brodick
  • Things to do in Harris
  • Things to do on Islay
  • Things to do in Isle of Lewis
  • Things to do on the Isle of Mull
  • Things to do on the Isle of Skye
  • Things to do in Kirkwall
  • Things to do in Orkney
  • Things to do in Portree
  • Things to do in Shetland

Thinking of booking a trip? Check out our top accommodation picks in Stornoway


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