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Vacations to the Isle of Lewis

Apr 3, 2008
What is your dream vacation? The majority of us will quickly answer, a couple of weeks taking in the sun on a sandy beach. However increasing numbers of us are choosing to go on cultural vacations. Rather than spend time relaxing in the sun more of us are finding enjoyment in experiencing different cultures and societies. The Isle of Lewis, in the Western Isles of Scotland has benefited greatly from this attitude with a marked increase in tourism to the island over the last few decades.

The Isle of Lewis is the largest, and most northerly, island of a group of islands (or archipelago) which is known collectively as the Outer Hebrides, or Western Isles, of Scotland in the United Kingdom. Towards the north west of the island is where you will see the most dramatic coastline where the waters of the North Atlantic ocean have pounded away at the rocks to create the most wonderfully dramatic scenery.

In sharp contrast the south western coast of Lewis is much more gentle and features a number of noteworthy shell sand beaches that rival the best in the United Kingdom. While most agree this is the better looking part of the island the inland ground, which is mainly flat peat bog, is often quoted as being barren and even boring. However this ground is unique and offers the perfect habitat for a number of extremely interest breeds of birds and other creatures.

One of the things the Isle of Lewis is most widely known for is the incredibly important, and numerous, historical sites. The most important site is a group of standing stones found near the village of Calanais. Unusually the circle also has four avenues to form the shape of a crucifix which makes it unique. Many more stone circles and standing stones can be seen around the area and across the islands in general.

To get to the Outer Hebrides/Western Isles you basically have two options. The first is to fly to the airport just outside Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis. The other way is to travel by road to either Uig, Ullapool or Oban where you can catch a car ferry across to the islands.

One of the things that sets Lewis apart from the rest of the U.K. is the strong religious nature of the community. The majority of the island follow rather strict observance of the Sunday Sabbath which means that most places are closed on Sundays. Although travel to and from the islands is available it is severely restricted. With most places being closed it is important that you do sufficient shopping on the Friday or Saturday as running out of something be extremely annoying.

Of incredible importance is the fact that if you happen to be staying on the Isle of Lewis on a Sunday that you try, to the best of your ability, to respect the Hebridean traditions and avoid doing anything that may offend the locals. Washing your car or hanging out your washing on a Sunday can be considered offensive in some parts of the islands.

Life in the Hebrides is generally relaxed and from the minute you arrive on the Isle of Lewis you will notice how much cleaner the air is. This, coupled with the fact that you are always relatively close to the sea, seems to create an atmosphere that almost instantaneously calms and relaxes you. Another thing that you will notice is the incredible friendliness of the Hebridean people and their superb hospitality. We have little doubt that you will be so impressed that you will be visiting the Hebrides again one day.
About the Author
If you are planning a vacation to the Outer Hebrides please take a look at Isle of Lewis Bed and Breakfast
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