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.
Lewis has a large number of fairly small villages, so here they are grouped together
- Ness at the very north of the island, including Port of Ness, Lionel, Eoropie and Cross.
- Arnol on the west coast including Barvas and Borve.
- Carloway on the West coast, including Callanish, Breasclete and Shawbost.
- Valtos (Bhaltos) at the southwest including Uig (Lewis), and Timsgarry.
- Back on the east coast, north of Stornoway, including Coll and Tolsta.
- Balallan on the east coast, south of Stornoway, including North and South Lochs.
- Point on the east coast, to the east of Stornoway, including Bayble, Melbost, Garrabost and Shulishader.
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 (SYY IATA) 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.
- 1 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.
- 2 Tolsta Beach (Traigh Mor Tholastaidh) (on the east coast, north of Stornoway). Sandy beach
- 3 Traigh na Beirigh (Valtos Beach) (near Valtos, Uig). Long sandy on the west coast. There are also several smaller beaches nearby.
- 4 Mealista Beach. A beach with both rocks and sand near the former township of Mealista, which was cleared in 1838.
- 5 Uig Sands (Traigh Uige / Ardroil Beach). A large sandy beach, about 2 miles long and over a quarter of a mile wide at low tide. The Lewis chessmen were found nearby in 1831.
- 8 Black House Museum at Arnol., 42 Arnol. Apr - Sep Mon - Sat: 9:30 - 17:30, Oct - Mar Mon, Tue, Thu - Sat 10:00 - 16:00. A restoration of an old thatched black house, as was the main housing on the island around 100 years ago. The peat fire inside the black house really brings the place alive, Recently a restored "White House" has been added, showing the sort of house people moved to from the black house. £5.
- 10 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.
- 11 Norse Mill and Kiln (near Shawbost). A restored flour mill built over a mill lade. This type of mill used to be common in the highlands and islands.
- 12 Cress Raider's Memorial, Cress. Memorial to several land raids against Lord Leverhulme (the landlord) between 1919 and 1921. Leverhulme wanted to convert the surrounding crofts into three big farms. The memorial is in the form of a croft split in three.
- 13 Ness Historical Society, Comunn Eachdraidh Nis, Cross School, Ness, ☎ . Mon - Fri 10:00 - 16:00, cafe opens at 11:30. Museum and Cafe
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.
All the major shops are in Stornoway, which has two supermarkets. It is also the only place on Lewis that you will find any chain stores. However there are several small shops around the island, which often manage to pack a varied stock into a small building. Note that shops are all closed on a Sunday (except one petrol station in Stornoway).
- 1 Uig Community Shop, ☎ . Mon - Sat 9:00 - 17:00, (-18:00 on Thu, Fri). shop, post office, laundrette and ATM. Petrol and diesel with out of hours payment terminal.
- 2 Shawbost Shop and Cafe, Raebhat House, HS2 9BD, ☎ .
- 3 Cross Stores, 7 Cross Skigersta Road, Ness, HS2 0TD, ☎ . Licensed grocer and hardware store. The on-site butcher makes his own black, white and fruit puddings.
- 4 Swainbost Shop And Filling Station, 28 Swainbost, Ness, HS2 0TA.
- Cross Post Office, Cross, Ness, HS2 0SN. Post Office And Shop
- Buth Tholastaidh Limited, North Tolsta, HS2 0NL. Shop And Post Office
- 5 Borve Mini Market, Fivepenny, Borve, HS2 0RX. Shop And Filling Station
- 6 Back Pharmacy, Back, HS2 0JS.
- 7 Welcome Inn Filling Station, Barvas, HS2 0RA. Shop and filling station
There are several small shops for buying self-catering supplies, but you will have to go to Stornoway if you want a supermarket.
In many places the best place to eat in the evening may be a hotel - see Sleep for listings.
- 1 Cafe Sonas, Port of Ness, ☎ . seafood restaurant and coffee shop.
- 2 Loch Croistean Coffee Shop & Restaurant, ☎ . Jun - Sep Mon - Sat 12.00 - 20.00, Oct - May Wed - Sat 12.00 - 20.00 Uhr.
- 3 Old School Tearoom, Balallan, HS2 9PN, ☎ . summer only. Tearoom run by the historical society. Also coin operated laundrette.
- 4 Uig Cafe, Uig Community Centre, Timsgarry, HS2 9JT. Apr - Sep Mon - Sat, 12noon-5pm. Cafe and small museum in the community centre.
- 5 The Edge Cafe, Aird Uig.
- 6 The Verandah, 40 North Bragar, HS2 9DA, ☎ . Tue - Sat 12:00 - 16:00, 18:00 -21:00. Also have the Croft Kitchen takeaway (Tue-Sat 12:00 - 19:00) offering pizza, pasta, curries and salads. mains from £15.
You won't find standalone bars except in Stornoway, but most hotel bars are open to non-residents.
If you see a local ceilidh advertised it is worth going along. These dances are typically held in village halls and are Scottish Country Dances, usually to a live band. Ceilidhs often don't have a bar, but instead you can bring your own drink. On Lewis Saturday night events will finish very promptly at midnight, but Friday night events may continue well past midnight.
There is one brewery and one distillery on Lewis.
- 1 Abhainn Dearg Distillery, Carnish, HS2 9EX, ☎ . Tours Mon - Sat 11:00 - 13:00, 14:00 - 1600 (closed Sat in winter). A whisky distillery founded in 2007. They keep production totally on the island by using locally grown grain. tour £5.
- Hebridean Brewing Company. A brewery producing six different ales, which are widely available in bottles on Lewis. The brewery (in Sornoway) is not open for visits.
See Stornoway for accommodation there. More rural places are listed here. Bed and breakfasts and self catering can be found on the tourist board website. Renting a house for a week or more is a popular option. Such places are generally let from Saturday to Saturday.
- 1 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. Ravenspoint cafe is on the same site.
- 2 Otter Bunkhouse, Uig, HS2 9ER, ☎ . 8 bed hostel bed £20.
- Gearrannan Hostel, Carloway, HS2 9AL, ☎ . 10 bed hostel in a restored village of traditional blackhouses. If you have a bigger budget, the blackhouses are now luxury holiday cottages. No arrivals on a Sunday. bed £15.
- 3 Eilean Fraoich Camp Site, North Shawbost, ☎ . tent and caravan site with kitchen, showers and WiFi 1 man tent £6 - caravan £20.
- 4 Traigh Na Beirigh Campsite (Reef Beach), 13 Kneep, Uig, HS2 9HS, ☎ . Basic site with showers but no power. It is right next a great sandy beach. Arrive early in the day to get a good pitch. £10.
B&B and Guesthouses
- 5 Leumadair Guesthouse, 7a Callanish, ☎ . from £40 per person.
- 6 Loch Roag Guesthouse, 22a Breasclete, ☎ . from £50.
- 7 Clearview B&B, 44 Balallan, ☎ . 3 room B&B from £40 per person.
- 8 Baile-na-Cille, Timsgarry, Uig, HS2 9JD, ☎ . 6 rooms £65 per person, dinner £30.
- 9 Auberge Carnish, Uig, ☎ . 4 room hotel and holiday cottage. 20 seat restaurant for which booking is essential (2 course dinner £30.50). £130 per room.
- 10 Borve House Hotel, Borve, ☎ . 9 room country house hotel with bar and restaurant.
- 11 Doune Braes Hotel, Carloway, HS2 9AA., ☎ . 16 room hotel with restaurant and bar. from £60.
- 12 Loch Erisort Inn, Sheildinish, HS2 9RA (near Balallan, on the road to Kershader), ☎ . 5 room hotel and restaurant from £38 per person.