The UK is the largest island in Europe so it’s easy to forget that it’s also orbited by lots of smaller islands, all of which are well worth a visit.
What better time to explore these overlooked gems than during the summer months when they’re in full bloom and you want something a little more far-flung than Britain’s popular beach resorts?
Isle of Man
Low tide at Isle of Man
Despite its location (between Northern Ireland and the mainland Britain), the Isle of Man is not technically part of the UK. This self-governing island is known for its rugged coastline and its picturesque Victorian seaside resort of Douglas.
Spend a few sunny days paddling in the clear shallows on the beach, eating your weight in fish and chips, and hiking the coastline via The Way of the Gull trail. For the best views of Douglas Bay, book a room at the Englewood Lodge, or take a boat over to the Calf of Man, a nearby island bird sanctuary.
Lindisfarne Priory in Northumberland
The Holy Island of Lindisfarne is a study in contradictions. For a start it’s only an island most of the time, as low tide makes it possible to walk across a causeway to the mainland. Despite being based off the north-east coast of England, this stark epitome of Northumberland countryside is technically part of a Scottish constituency.
While the island was originally home to the monks of Lindisfarne Priory, recent years have seen Lindisfarne become a popular retreat for new age thinkers and mindfulness workshops. Visitors planning to enjoy the views and recreate the low-tide walk across to the island are recommended to stay at the Lindisfarne Inn.
Beaumaris Castle in Anglesey
Anglesey is Wales’ largest island, based off the nation’s northwestern coast and intended to be the location of one of the grandest castles ever built. The small town of Beaumaris was to be the home of Beaumaris Castle, but it was never completed, with the impressive ruins forming a pleasant setting for a daytripper’s picnic.
Once you’ve finished exploring Beaumaris, pay a visit to Puffin Island for a chance to see the puffin and seal colonies, and warm up afterwards with a cup of hot chocolate (or something stronger) at the Castle Court.
Isle of Arran
The Isle of Arran coastline
The seventh largest island in Scotland, the Isle of Arran sits off the southwestern coastline, near Glasgow, and thanks to its mountainous north and gently landscaped south it’s often called ‘Scotland in Miniature’. This varied terrain gives visitors the choice between lots of different kinds of activities, without having to travel great distances.
Blackwaterfoot is the island’s largest village but it’s worth making the trip to Brodick, home to Brodick Castle and the luxurious Hunters Guest House. Claimed by many to have the best breakfast on Arran.
Great Island in Cork Harbour
Great Island is based in Northern Ireland’s Cork Harbour, at the mouth of the River Lee, and despite being an island, it’s possible to travel there by rail. A causeway connects mainland Cork to Fota Island, which is connected via a bridge to the biggest town on the island, Cobh.
This small seaside port has the rather grim distinction of being the last port that the Titanic docked at in 1912. The owners of the WatersEdge Hotel are happy to point visitors in the right direction for uncovering this side of the town’s history, and Barryscourt Castle is only a 5 mile drive away.
The island Guernsey
One of the Channel Islands, Guernsey has both natural beauty and an intriguing history, as one of the only parts of Britain occupied by Germany during the Second World War. Guernsey is best seen on foot, either with a picnic to hand or with frequent stops at the local pubs.
Thanks to the island’s easy-to-navigate terrain it’s possible to eat breakfast while watching the sunrise on the east of Guernsey, and then wander across the island during the day, finishing with an evening sunset dinner on the west side of the island. The Auberge Du Val Hotel is one of Guernsey west’s most popular places to stay and the restaurant menu is full of fresh, locally-sourced, ingredients.
Isle of Dogs
The skyscrapers at Canary Wharf
The UK has so many islands that you can even visit one without having to leave landlocked London. The Isle of Dogs is part of the Canary Wharf development and it offers an interesting mix of high rise office buildings, and adorable baby animals...
The baby animals are to be found at the Mudchute city park and Isle of Dogs also offers fantastic views across the Thames to Greenwich and the Cutty Sark. If you want to enjoy the area and enjoy the London cityscape check into the very very tall Canary Wharf Apartments.