Two west-coast islands near Glasgow named amongst the ‘world’s best hidden gems’

The two islands are home to some of Scotland’s most stunning scenery - and are easy to get to from Glasgow!

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Two west-coast islands near Glasgow have been named amongst ‘world’s best hidden gems’.

Research conducted by the holiday rental marketplace HomeToGo said searches for high season island stays have soared in recent years - after the west-coast islands saw a lull in tourism due to the pandemic.

Both the Isle of Bute and the Isle of Barra were listed in the ‘top ten worldwide destinations for travellers to visit in 2023.’

Demand for stays on the UK’s Isle of Scilly and Isle of Wight have more than tripled it found - and while tourism is rising in the Scottish west-coast islands, they’re still very much hidden gems compared to the more popular English islands.

Popular Greek island Paxos and Spanish island Mallorca have seen year-on-year increases in search of +180% and +237% respectively.

The list hopes to support tourists to find the best hidden gem destinations around the world, away from the droves of travellers in typical tourist destinations like London, Edinburgh, and Stirling.

The Scottish islands appeared alongside destinations in the Bahamas, Philippines, French Polynesia, Portugal, Australia, France, US, Netherlands, Canada and Italy.

This is one of Scotland’s most remote beaches as it’s secluded at the narrow north end of the Isle of Barra, located at the tip of the Outer Hebrides. The white shell sands and turquoise water, coupled with exhilarating huge Atlantic waves during stormier seasons, make this an unmissable destination.This is one of Scotland’s most remote beaches as it’s secluded at the narrow north end of the Isle of Barra, located at the tip of the Outer Hebrides. The white shell sands and turquoise water, coupled with exhilarating huge Atlantic waves during stormier seasons, make this an unmissable destination.
This is one of Scotland’s most remote beaches as it’s secluded at the narrow north end of the Isle of Barra, located at the tip of the Outer Hebrides. The white shell sands and turquoise water, coupled with exhilarating huge Atlantic waves during stormier seasons, make this an unmissable destination.

The Isle of Barra is known for its stunning beaches and natural beauty - a tiny island, it has an airport with no runway, but an open stretch of beach called Cockle Strand in which only small carrier planes can land, so don’t expect any Ryanair flights landing their boeings on Barra.

For us Glaswegians, it’s an easy as getting a 3 hour and 20 minute train to Oban (or a 2 hour and 20 minutes drive) and then jumping on a 5 hour ferry from Oban to Barra. It takes a while, but it’s well worth it for a weekend away on the island.

The Isle of Bute is much closer to Glasgow, and features incredible natural beauty. The landscape is divided into both highland and lowland areas - a microcosm of Scotland’s stunning nature.

The Isle of Bute is home to the Royal Burgh of Rothesay - a stunning small town with plenty to do - from Italian restaurants to the putting greens, there’s plenty to do and admire in the small sea-side port town.The Isle of Bute is home to the Royal Burgh of Rothesay - a stunning small town with plenty to do - from Italian restaurants to the putting greens, there’s plenty to do and admire in the small sea-side port town.
The Isle of Bute is home to the Royal Burgh of Rothesay - a stunning small town with plenty to do - from Italian restaurants to the putting greens, there’s plenty to do and admire in the small sea-side port town.

Bute is incredibly popular with walkers, cyclists, and fishers - but what’s often overlooked is the culture and history of the Isle. The main town of Bute is Rothesay, a Royal Burgh with it’s own castle and other ancient buildings.

You can get to Bute by taking a train from Glasgow Central to Wemyss Bay (52 minutes), while you’re there you can admire the UK’s best loved train station, and then a ferry from Wemyss Bay to Bute (36 minutes).