Stornoway is the town on Lewis.
With a population of around 5,600, Stornoway ( Steòrnabhagh ) is the largest town in the Outer Hebrides and also its administrative centre. Almost 30% of the total population of the Western Isles, some 8,000 people, live within Stornoway or the immediately vicinity encompassing Laxdale (Lacasdal) and Sandwick (Sanndabhaig).
The church has a significant influence on Stornoway life. Almost everything is closed on Sunday, but things have eased in recent years: there are now flights and ferries on Sundays, a petrol station and a few bars and restaurants are now open.
- 1 Stornoway Airport (SYY IATA) (The airport is located about 3 km (1.9 mi) from the town near the village of Melbost). has flights connecting the town with Aberdeen, Benbecula, Edinburgh, Inverness and Glasgow.
Calmac car ferries sail to Stornoway from Ullapool on the mainland, taking about 2 hours 45 min. They sail year-round, with two sailings M-Sat, one on Sunday Nov-Mar and two Apr-Oct. Single fare is about £50 per car and £10 per passenger including driver.
Stornoway has a reasonable bus service from other parts of Lewis and Harris, including bus connections with the Berneray - Leverburgh ferry. Buses only run Monday to Saturday, and the last bus to Stornoway is in the middle of the afternoon in many cases. The timetables can be a little complicated and it is worth taking the time to read them thoroughly so that you are not waiting for a schooldays only bus in July. Some bus services need to be booked by phone a few hours in advance.
There are bus services available to almost all areas of Lewis from Stornoway. There are also some bus services around the town. See the Council travel site for information on timetables and routes. Note that there are no Sunday services and evening services are very limited.
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.
Taxi companies are listed on the Stornoway airport website.
- 1 An Lanntair Art Centre, Kenneth Street, HS1 2DS, ☎ . New arts centre offering exhibitions, concerts and films.
- 2 Lews Castle. A building which for many years was sadly neglected, set in fine grounds which are open as a park. The castle was built in the 1850s for Sir James Matheson who made his fortune in the far eastern opium trade. Museum nan Eilean opened in the castle in summer 2016.
- 3 Old Gun Battery (At the main entrance to the power station.). Two Royal Naval Reserve 6 inch guns, which were taken out of use in 1919. The power station next the guns overwhelms the impression, and somewhat spoils the setting.
- 4 Stornoway Historical Society, Old Town Hall, 2 Cromwell Street. Summer: M W & F 11:00 -16:00. One room changing exhibition on Stornoway History donation requested.
- 1 Hebcelt Music Festival. W-Sa one weekend in mid-July. Visit Stornoway in July around the Hebridean Celtic Festival and you will find the place transformed. This annual event attracts over 16,000 over its four day run and is a focus for friends and extended family to visit each summer. The main venue is in tents in front of Lews Castle, supplemented by other venues in the town and around the island.
- Lews Castle Grounds Mountain Bike Trails. About 30 km of mountain bike tracks in the woodland around the castle. The paths are graded by difficulty and require a rugged mountain bike. There are also 24 km of surfaced or gravel tracks which are suitable for road bikes or walking.
Stornoway is the only place in the Outer Hebrides where you will find a selection of shops like in a mainland town. There are both multiples and several independent stores including bakers, butchers and a bookshop. The local delicacy is Stornoway Black Pudding, a blood and oatmeal savoury sausage product. There are several shops selling Harris Tweed, either by the metre or made into clothes and bags.
A dwindling fishing fleet provides fresh fish and shellfish which can be bought fresh from the local fish shops.
- Stornoway Fish Smokers, Shell Street, ☎ . A good, traditional smokery cures the local fish
All shops are closed on Sunday except for Engebret's petrol station.
- 1 Co-op, 8 MacAulay Road, HS1 2HU. M-Sa 08:00 - 22:00. The largest supermarket in the Outer Hebrides. Also a smaller store in the centre of town in Cromwell Street.
- 2 Tesco, Ferry Road, HS1 2QY. M-F 06:00-00:00, Sa 06:00-22:00.
- 3 Engebret Filling station, Sandwick Road, HS1 2SL, ☎ . M-Sa 06:00-23:00, Su 10:00-16:00. Filling station & convenience store.
- 4 Iceland, 63 Cromwell St.. M-Sa 08:00 - 20:00. Branch of the frozen food chain.
Most places to eat in Stornoway serve until 9pm with the exception of the Stornoway Balti House which serves until after 10pm. Scanned takeaway menus from a selection of the locals takeaways
- 1 Digby Chick, 5 Bank Street, HS1 2XG, ☎ .
- 2 Fusion, Perceval Rd S (Manor roundabout), ☎ . open Sunday. Chinese Malaysian takeaway.
- 3 Peking Cuisine, 30 Church St, ☎ . open Sunday. Chinese take away.
- 4 Stornoway Balti House, 24 South Beach, ☎ . open Sunday. Sit in and takeaway.
- 5 The Thai Cafe, 27 Church St, ☎ . Sit in and takeaway.
- 6 Woodlands Centre, Castle grounds, ☎ . M - Sa 10:00-17:00.
- 7 HS-1 Cafe Bar (The Royal Hotel), Cromwell St, ☎ . Daily 12:00-16:00, 17:00-21:00.
- Eleven (In the Caladh Inn, see sleep listing). Traditional restaurant, with a buffet and carvery. The buffet is also available as a takeaway (from £8.50). mains from £10, buffet £14.
Stornoway has a high density of pubs which reflect the absence of them around the rest of the island. Around half of them open on Sunday and the licensing hours are generally till 23:00 on weeknights and up until 01:45 on Fridays and 01:00 on Saturdays.
There is one local whisky Abhainn Dearg, which released its first whisky in October 2011.
- 1 The Carlton Lounge (formerly known as the Whalers Rest), 19 Francis Street, ☎ . Open Sunday, serves food. Usually offers 2 cask ales, the only bar in Lewis to do so.
- 2 Hebridean Brewing Company, 10 Shell St., ☎ . Local brewery in Stornoway which offers 3 types of bottled ale which can be found in some of the bars around Stornoway.
- 3 The Star Inn, 13 South Beach, ☎ . open Sunday. Live music every Thursday.
- The Jâger Room, 13 South Beach. The only purpose-built music venue in the Western Isles and serves cocktails and draft beers (live music every Friday and Saturday).
- 4 MacNeills, 11 Cromwell Street, ☎ . Live music 22:00 Thursdays.
- 5 The Criterion, 32 Point Street, ☎ .
- 6 The Lewis, 8-10 North Beach (Castle Street), ☎ . Open Sunday.
Advance booking is strongly recommended, especially for June/July/August. There are no national chain hotels in Stornoway. Arriving without an accommodation booking during Celtic Festival week (check website for dates) is highly inadvisable. Wild camping is mostly safe and permissible.
- 1 Laxdale Holiday Park, 6 Laxdale Ln, Laxdale, ☎ . On the outskirts of Stornoway, it has pitches for tents and caravans, and caravans and bunkhouse for hire.
Bed and Breakfasts
If possible, always choose somewhere that is assessed and graded by Visit Scotland for Quality - there is a good listing on the Visit Hebrides website. There are other places to stay in and around Stornoway, but they are not members of the Visit Scotland Quality scheme for a reason. Don't be seduced by the blurb on a fancy website!
- 3 Broad Bay House, Back (just 10 minutes (by car) to the north of Stornoway), ☎ . The islands' first 5-star serviced accommodation, it has a superb beachside location and Eat Scotland award winning dining.
- 4 Braighe House, 20 Braighe Rd, Branahuie (just on the outskirts of Stornoway and within minutes of the airport.), ☎ . One of the most popular but not the cheapest. 4-star.
- 5 Jannel B&B, 5 Stewart Dr (Close to the Western Isles Hospital and golf course), ☎ . 4-star VisitScotland.
- Lews Castle. Luxury self-catering rooms and apartments upstairs in Lews Castle. The castle has coffee shop open during the day, and a bar open in the evening, but evening meals are only available occasionally. The ground floor rooms are used for functions, but may be open for viewing in the daytime. from £110 per night.
The Caladh Inn, Royal Hotel and Cabarfeidh Hotel are all run by the local Cala Hotels chain.
- 6 Crown Hotel (The Crown Inn), Castle St, HS1 2BD (Point St entrance), ☎ . M-Sa. It has a public bar, and offers a restaurant upstairs.
- 7 Caladh Inn, James Street, HS1 2QN, ☎ . Handy for the ferry and the bus station.
- 8 Royal Hotel, Cromwell St, HS1 2DG, ☎ .
- 9 Cabarfeidh Hotel, Manor Park, HS1 2EU, ☎ . The furthest from the ferry.
- 10 The County Hotel, 12-14 Francis Street, HS1 2XB, ☎ . The most central of all the hotels.
Stornoway has plenty to see and do for the visitor on foot, but travels further afield require bus or car transport. There are no railway lines on the island.
The Callanish Stones are located around 30 minutes' drive from Stornoway and are the island's most popular outdoor tourist attraction.