17 Best Islands in the UK to Visit
It’s easy sometimes to forget that the UK is an island nation with over 6,000 isles off its wonderful coastline. Just under 200 of the UK’s islands are large enough to be inhabited, and you’ll notice many in this list are ideal for a day trip or stop-off rather than a long stay. From the magical Hebrides in Scotland to the sandy beaches of the Isle of Wight off the south coast, this is the ultimate list of inspiration for those wishing to explore more of the islands around Great Britain.
One of the largest of the Scottish Isles, Skye is naturally beautiful. Portree, with it’s harbourside pubs and wonderful shops is a great base for exploring the island which you can get to in one of two ways. The ferry to Skye from Mallaig takes around 30 minutes but you can also drive across the Sky Bridge which connects the island to the mainland. You’ll find our Skye Club Site right on the shores of Loch Greshornish, where you can enjoy hilly views beyond the water.
The mountainous inland of Skye is hard to miss, with the spectacular Cuillins mountain range dominating views across the isle. The large rock formation called the Old Man of Storr is one of Scotland’s most photographed landscapes and was even used as a filming location in Ridley Scott’s Prometheus.
As well as the undeniably glorious landscapes to explore, Skye offers plenty for those wanting to spend some time taking in its attractions. Dunvegan Castle is a good visit for those wanting to learn the island’s history, as is the Skye Museum of Island Life. No visit to Skye can miss out a trip to see the magical Fairy Pools, unsurprisingly one of the island’s main tourist attractions.
Also known as Holy Island, just off the Northumberland coast, the tidal island of Lindisfarne can be reached by car at low tide. Lindisfarne was a place of pilgrimage, so you can also walk the three-mile route across to the island, but you’ll need careful planning to match the tides.
Ideal as a day trip from our Beadnell Bay Club Site, after crossing the causeway, there’s plenty to discover on the moody island. Photographers visiting Holy Island will struggle to tear themselves away from the ancient ruins of Lindisfarne Abbey. The medieval ruins are one of the most popular reasons to visit. Wildlife lovers will be in their element. The Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve was founded to help protect the birds visiting the mudflats, dunes and saltmarshes of Holy Island. Wintering wildfowl from the Arctic, seals and livestock can all be spotted around the island.
Isle of Wight
Picture-perfect coastal views are what will come to mind for many when thinking about the Isle of Wight. Home to our Adgestone Club Site, the Isle of Wight (IOW) is a popular UK holiday hot spot with charming towns, sandy beaches and lots of family-friendly attractions.
Walkers will thrive here with the Isle of Wight Coastal Path offering plenty to see along its six sections. The Needles are one of the most famous natural attractions in the UK and are a must visit. For families, the Isle of Wight is a brilliant holiday destination. Monkey Haven, Dinosaur Isle Museum, the Isle of Wight Zoo and much more await. The Garlic Farm, The Shipwreck Centre and Carisbrooke Castle are just some of the other attractions you can visit, all just a short drive from our campsite.
White sandy beaches, secluded bays and brilliant outdoor adventures can be found on the basalt island of Muck, around a two-hour ferry ride from the Scottish town of Mallaig. Part of the Inner Hebrides, the isle of Muck is brilliant for families and those wanting to spend time exploring the rolling landscapes. One of the biggest pulls to people visiting Muck is the sheer sense of isolation it can offer. Muck is just about as far removed from the modern world as you can get. You’ll find no post office, no pub and not even a church on the unspoilt island.
Wildlife lovers are in for a treat, with seals, otters, whales, and basking sharks being just a few of the species to look out for on your travels.
Mersea Island, Essex
Around a one-hour drive from our Kelvedon Hatch Club Site is Mersea Island, accessible by causeway most of the time and only cut off occasionally by high tides. The charming island has a traditional fishing village feel, with beautiful views across the water.
Mersea Museum should be your first stop to explore the historical and cultural past of the Island. With wonderful countryside, beaches and coastal views, Mersea is brilliant for long blustery walks to take in this hidden Essex gem. Fossil hunting, beach activities and even a skate park are great ways to entertain kids on the island. Mersea Island Vineyard is worth visiting if you’re looking for a romantic day for two.
Isle of Rum, Scotland
Rum is one of the most popular islands in the Inner Hebrides, and it’s easy to see why. Beautiful beaches, a varied landscape offering brilliant walks and amazing wildlife to watch out for are just a few highlights, all accessible by ferry from Mallaig.
Whether you’re looking for adventure or time to gently explore at your own pace, Rum is ideal. Kinloch Village is the only settlement on the island and where you’ll find craft shops and a café to enjoy. For adventure the most obvious choice is the Rum Cuillin which offers some of the best hillwalking in Scotland. Red deer, hundreds of which live here, have been studied on the island since the 1950’s. Keep an eye out for them during your visit.
Bardsey Island, Wales
A few miles off the coast of Gwynedd in Wales, Bardsey Island can be accessed by boat from Aberdaron, around a 40-minute drive from our Llanystumdwy Club Site. The 20-minute boat ride is notorious for being cancelled in bad weather, so a visit to Bardsey Island must be well-planned.
At two miles long and less than a mile across, Bardsey Island is tiny, with very few residents. It’s the remoteness, lack of phones and lack of crowds that appeals to visitors. You can explore the island in just a few hours, but the sense of tranquillity is unmatched.
Hayling Island, Hampshire
The traditional seaside resort of Hayling Island is under a 15-minute drive from our Chichester Club Site. With three miles of sandy beaches, the island is popular with families in the summer. With one access road, it can get congested in good weather, which is worth bearing in mind.
Hayling Island is great for relaxing, with three main beaches offering brilliant amenities. For a more active visit, the Hayling Billy Coastal Path offers stunning views along the four-mile route, which you can walk or cycle. Windsurfing, sailing, kitesurfing and even golf are just a selection of the sports popular on the island.
If you’re looking for things to do alongside a trip to the beach, the Hayling Seaside Railway and the amusement park, Funland, are both enjoyable attractions.
Burgh Island, Devon
The iconic Burgh Island is around a 30-minute drive from our California Cross Club Site off the coast of Bigbury-on-Sea. The island has been featured in many TV shows, including Miss Marple and Poirot, so is easily recognised by many. To access Burgh Island, you can either walk across the sand in low tide or take the Sea Tractor (the only one in the world) in high tide.
It’ll only take 20 minutes to walk around the small island but there’s plenty to look out for. Seabirds, insects and a wide variety of fauna and flora can be found on the island. See if you can find the ruins of the small chapel on the island. The hotel itself is beautiful, and if you book an afternoon tea, you’re free to use the facilities.
Shetland Islands, Scotland
Shetland sits between Scotland and mainland Norway and is made up of around 100 different islands. Some of the most incredible landscapes in the UK can be found here. Aside from exploring on foot and taking incredible photographs, there’s plenty to do during a visit.
From wildlife watching to catching a glimpse of the Northern Lights, the outdoors is at it’s best on Shetland. Shetland ponies, seals, otters and even orcas can be seen around the islands depending on the season. Birdwatchers will be in their element with puffins, red-throated divers, snipe and many more species breeding here.
With the North Sea on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other, weather is unpredictably wonderful on the Shetland Islands. You can get the ferry or fly to Shetland to enjoy all of this and more.
No matter where you are in Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands, you’ll be no more than 10-minutes from the sea. With plenty of coastal delights, history to unearth and attractions to visit, Jersey makes a great destination.
You can fly or get the ferry to Jersey. If you’re hoping to take your car to explore the island our Chichester Club Site is around a 20-minute drive from the ferry port in Portsmouth.
St. Helier is the capital and where you’ll find the Jersey Museum, Art Gallery & Victorian House. Around the island you’ll find plenty to do, but some of the most popular attractions include Jersey Zoo, Jersey Lavender Farm, Durrell Wildlife Park, Jump Jersey, and the Jersey War Tunnels.
Isle of Portland, Dorset
Joined to the mainland by Chesil Beach, the Isle of Portland is on the southernmost point of the Jurassic Coast. Chesil Beach, which you’ll drive along to reach Portland is around a 35-minute drive from our Moreton Club Site.
Being on the Jurassic Coast, you can expect endless seaside views and photo opportunities. Lots of the island’s attractions have brilliant views from the top, including Portland Castle and Portland Bill Lighthouse. Other places to visit include Portland Museum to learn about the islands fascinating past, Pulpit Rock for the views and the D-Day Centre to delve into Portland’s wartime past.
St Martin's, Scilly Isles
Off the Cornish coast lies the Isles of Scilly, the northernmost inhabited of these is St Martin’s. The island can be reached by boat from neighbouring islands, and of course, Cornish campsites are a great stop-off along the way.
St Martin’s is loved for its white sandy coves and crystal-clear waters that you’ll find all around the island, which is easily explored by foot. On your travels, you might see the iconic red and white striped Day Mark which stands tall on the island as a navigation marker. Foodies will enjoy a visit to the winery and sampling the local food, including artisan breads. For wildlife lovers, snorkelling with the local grey seals should be on your list of things to do.
The Isle of Anglesey is the largest island off the Welsh coast, with plenty of history to unpack and things to do and see. Use SiteSeeker to see our member-exclusive campsites on Anglesey, which can be reached by car via a suspension bridge.
The Anglesey Coast Path goes all the way around the island, offering walkers plenty to see and do along the way. Some of the top attractions on Anglesey include South Stack Lighthouse, Beaumaris Castle, and the Copper Kingdom which was once the largest copper mine in the world.
Isle of Man
Just like with Jersey, the Isle of Man isn’t part of the United Kingdom but is easily reached and well worth a visit. The island, which is the only entire nation to be recognised as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in the world, can be reached by plane or by ferry.
Whether you’re after a challenging walking holiday or a trip away with family, the Isle of Man has it all. If you’re looking to explore the entire island, having a car is a must. The quaint streets and shoreline of Douglas, the capital, are worth exploring to get a feel for life on the island. You’ll find the Manx Museum in Douglas, which is a must to discover the island’s history. Port Erin, Castletown, Ramey and Peel are some of the other towns to make a note of.
With over 5,000 years of history, the islands of Orkney, 20 miles off the north coast of Scotland are a delight to visit. Whether it’s views of the Atlantic coast, a glimpse into Neolithic times or fresh, local food you’re after, Orkney won’t disappoint.
The village of Skara Brae, the ancient stone circles at the Ring of Brodgar, and the Standing Stones of Stenness are all part of the island’s World Heritage Site. These all give great insight into Orkney’s past. Wildlife lovers will be in their element with a variety of species living on the land and in the waters surrounding the island. The rich birdlife can be observed in any of the nature reserves on the island.
Brownsea Island, Dorset
Owned by the National Trust, this small island in Poole Harbour provides a haven for wintering birds and is a great visit for wildlife lovers. You can visit the island from March – October by ferry from Poole Quay.Find more camping inspiration below or view all of our UK campsites.