Lewis forms one part of an island in the Outer Hebrides. Harris forms the southern third of the same island. In former times (up to 1970s) Lewis and Harris were in separate counties, which may explain the dual names.
Ness is in the north part of the island, the west coast is known as the West side. Uig is in the far west bordering Harris and Lochs is in the South. Point is the peninsula to the east of Stornoway and Back is directly to the north of Stornoway on the east coast.
- Stornoway is the only town.
Great Bernera is a small island on the west coast connected to Lewis by a bridge.
Religion plays an important part in many people’s lives. In Lewis and Harris this is often in the form of Protestant Free Presbyterian Churches. As a result the Sabbath (Sunday) is respected, so you are unlikely to find shops open on a Sunday. Activities happening on a Sunday often are opposed locally.
The Gaelic language and culture is appealing. At a practical level this means that place names on road signs are in Gaelic, but the bus timetables use the English names! Gaelic is widely spoken, but locals are happy to change to English if a visitor joins the conversation.
Caledonian MacBrayne. The national ferry service. Citylink coaches generally connect with the ferries on the mainland. Details below are for Summer 2011:
- Ullapool to Stornoway Mon-Sat 2 per day, 1 on Sunday ( extra sailings after special events ), 3 sailings on Wednesdays and Fridays June - August, taking 2 hours 45 minutes.
- Uig on Skye to Tarbert on Harris Mon-Sat 1 or 2 per day taking 1 hour 40 minutes.
- Stornoway Airport (IATA: SYY) has flights connecting the town with Aberdeen, Benbecula, Edinburgh, Inverness and Glasgow. The airport is located about 3km from the town near the village of Melbost.
There are good bus services during the day Mon - Sat, but little in the evening and no buses on a Sunday. Western Isles bus timetables .
There are no national car hire companies on the islands. There are a number of small local operators, see the Car hire section of Outer Hebrides article for details.
- Butt of Lewis Lighthouse (About as far north as you can go on Lewis. About 1 mile from the bus stop at Eoropie.). Red brick lighthouse built by David Stevenson in 1862. The lighthouse was automated in 1998. It is in the windiest spot in the United Kingdom, according to the "Guinness Book of Records". The nearby cliff are also worth seeing. From the road up to the lighthouse, the ground can be seen to have ridges from the old system of "Lazy Beds".
There are many fine sandy beaches, mainly on the Western side.
- Historic Scotland Properties:
- Callinish Standing Stones. An impressive stone circle, which is said to be comparable to Stonehenge.
- Carloway Broch. A pre-historic round castle.
- Black House Museum at Arnol.. A restoration of an old thatched black house, as was the main housing on the island around 100 years ago. Recently a restored "White House" has been added, showing the sort of house people moved to from the black house.
- Garenin Historic village. A village of black houses. The individual houses are not as accurate as Arnol, but you get the village effect better. Some of the houses are let as holiday homes.
- An Lanntair Art Centre, Kenneth Street Stornoway HS1 2DS, ☎ . . New arts centre offering exhibitions, concerts and films.
Kite surfing and buggying at Uig Bay
Scotland is becoming increasingly popular as a surfing destination. Despite the lower temperatures compared to traditional surf spots, Lewis offers clean, beautiful and empty beaches and arguably the best breaks in Europe. Lewis offers both west and east coast surf spots, giving a good choice of locations for a variety of wind directions.
See Stornoway for accommodation there. More rural places are listed here.
- Kershader Community Hostel, Ravenspoint, Kershader, South Lochs, Isle of Lewis, HS2 9QA, ☎ . Modern hostel affiliated to the SYHA, run by a local group. As it is small and sometimes used by groups, advance booking is recommended.
Bed and Breakfasts
Some can be found on the tourist board website , but many are no longer listed due to the charges and "hassle".
- Broad Bay House , 10 minutes north of Stornoway, is the island's only 5* serviced accommodation, and has a superb beachside location and dining.
Renting a house for a week or more is a popular option. Such places are generally let from Saturday to Saturday. Some of these can be found on the tourist board website .