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Stornoway

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Stornoway Inner Harbour

Stornoway is the town on Lewis.

Understand[edit]

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.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Stornoway Airport

By boat[edit]

Ferry service from Ullapool on the mainland - a journey of 2 hours 40 minutes. The Ferry Service operates 7 days a week (Mon - Sun, with a restricted service on Sundays). The commencement of a regular, scheduled Sunday service in July 2009 has been a matter of enormous controversy on and around the islands as it runs against the islands' Sabbatarian tradition.

There is also a ferry from Skye to {{Tarbet (Harris)]], which is a shorter sea crossing.

By bus[edit]

Sornoway 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.

Get around[edit]

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.

See[edit]

An Lanntair
  • 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.

Do[edit]

  • Hebcelt Music Festival. Wed - Sat 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.

Buy[edit]

Stornoway Black Pudding

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, a bookshop and an ironmongers. The local delicacy is Stornoway Black Pudding, a blood and oatmeal savoury sausage product.

A dwindling fishing fleet provides fresh fish and shellfish which can be bought fresh from the local fish shops.

All shops are closed on Sunday except for Engebret's petrol station.

  • 1 Co-op8 MacAulay Road, HS1 2HU. Mon-Sat 8:00 - 22:00. The largest supermarket in the Outer Hebrides. Also a smaller store in the centre of town in Cromwell Street.
  • 2 TescoFerry Road, HS1 2QY. Mon-Fri 6:00 - 00:00, Sat 6:00 - 22:00. Tesco
  • 3 Engebret Filling stationSandwick Road, HS1 2SL +44 1851 702303. Mon - Sat: 6am - 11pm, Sun: 10am - 4pm. Filling Station & Convenience Store

Eat[edit]

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 Chick5 Bank Street, HS1 2XG +44 1851 700026.
  • 2 FusionPerceval Rd S (Manor roundabout),  +44 1851 706373. open Sunday. Chinese Malaysian takeaway
  • 3 Peking Cuisine30 Church St +44 1851 705548. open Sunday. Chinese take away
  • 4 Stornoway Balti House24 South Beach +44 1851 706116. open Sunday. sit in and takeaway
  • 5 The Thai Cafe27 Church St +44 1851 701811. sit in and takeaway
  • 6 Woodlands CentreCastle grounds +44 1851 706916. 10am-5pm.
  • 7 HS-1 Cafe Bar (The Royal Hotel), Cromwell St +44 1851 702109. 12-4pm, 5pm-9pm.

Drink[edit]

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 11pm on week nights and up until 1:45am on Fridays and 1am 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 +44 1851 701265. open Sunday, serves food. usually offers 2 cask ales, the only bar in Lewis to do so.
  • 2 Hebridean Brewing Company10 Shell St. +44 1851 700123. local brewery in Stornoway which offers 3 different types of bottled ale which can be found in some of the bars around Stornoway.
  • 3 The Star Inn13 South Beach +44 1851 702289. open Sunday. live music every Thursday
    • The Jâger Room13 South Beach. is the only purpose built music venue in the Western Isles and serves cocktails as well as draft beers.(live music every Friday and Saturday)
  • 4 MacNeills11 Cromwell Street +44 1851 703330. live music 10pm Thursdays
  • 5 The Criterion32 Point Street +44 1851 701990.
  • 6 The Lewis8-10 North Beach (Castle Street),  +44 1851 704567. open Sunday.

Sleep[edit]

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.

Camping[edit]

  • 1 Laxdale Holiday Park6 Laxdale Ln, Laxdale +44 1851 706966. Located on the outskirts of Stornoway, has pitches for tents and caravans, and caravans and bunkhouse for hire.

Hostels[edit]

Bed and Breakfasts[edit]

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 HouseBack (just 10 minutes (by car) to the north of Stornoway),  +44 1851 820990. is the islands first 5* serviced accommodation, and has a superb beach side location and Eat Scotland award winning dining.
  • 4 Braighe House20 Braighe Rd, Branahuie (just on the outskirts of Stornoway and within minutes of the airport.),  +44 1851 705287. One of the most popular but not the cheapest is 4 star
  • 5 Jannel B&B5 Stewart Dr (Close to the Western Isles Hospital and golf course),  +44 1851 705324. 4 star VisitScotland

Self Catering[edit]

  • Reidhbhat Cottage. Hebridean Self Catering Cottage located in Newvalley on the edge of Stornoway ( approx 2 miles from the centre ). Run by the same people as the Heb Hostel.

Hotels[edit]

The Caladh Inn, Royal Hotel and Cabarfeidh Hotel are all run by the local Cala Hotels chain.

Go next[edit]

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.


This city travel guide to Stornoway is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.