While we wait for the pandemic to pass, we can't help but think of all the wonderful places we'll be ready to visit when things are back to normal, but one of our first stops won't be somewhere far-flung in Asia or the Caribbean.
The coronavirus crisis has given us a new appreciation for the beauty found on our doorstep and, once it's safe to travel, our first destination will be Scotland's paradise Hebrides islands. Here's why...
Located off the west coast of Scotland and with more than 50 inhabited islands to discover, the Hebrides prove that you don't have to head for Greece or Croatia if you're after an island hopping experience.
They're gorgeous. Think clear Caribbean-like waters and sands so soft you'll want to sink your toes. They're where you'll find some of Europe's most beautiful beaches, whether you've landed on the isle of Barra (via the beach, naturally, and probably the coolest airport landing in the world), or you're taking in the impossibly pretty Luskentyre Sands on Harris.
Divided into two groups – the Inner and Outer Hebrides – they're also known as the Western Isles of Scotland and offer some of the wildest landscapes you'll find in all of Britain.
You would have heard of some of the islands, like Islay, Mull and Skye in the Inner Hebrides, and Harris, Lewis and Eriskay in the Outer Hebrides, but there are dozens of little-known isles too.
A place where you can immerse yourself in Britain's natural beauty, discover wildlife that's really had a chance to thrive and get active with hiking and kayaking, the Hebrides are one of the most breathtaking spots on the planet.
And there's more. Like whisky? Islay is the place to drink it, where the spirit's identity is even protected by law. There's also the Hebridean Whisky Trail, which takes you to discover the distilleries of Skye, Raasay and Harris.
With lockdown making us crave outside spaces, you'll be pleased to know that the Hebrides are all about the outdoors. There are, of course, the glorious beaches but you'll want to go on wildlife walks to spot eagles and deer too, as well as boat rides to islands like St Kilda to witness its unspoiled views. At night, you won't want to miss making the most of the dark skies for stargazing.
And because you can't travel to Scotland without visiting an enchanting castle, you'll want to take in the majestic beauty of the likes of Duart Castle on Mull, Kinloch Castle on Rum and Dunvegan Castle on Skye.
Country Living Holidays has a cruise around both the Inner and Outer Hebrides in May 2021, which will visit Arran, Islay, Iona, Eigg and more over 11 days, from £2,265 per person. Like all of our holidays, it's financially protected so your money is safe. Find out more about this and our other exclusive escapes to Scotland. SEE MORE
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