An essential element of our Wild Scotland tour, a Hebridean cruise has plenty to offer for history fanatics and wildlife watchers.
Of all the sights to see on a cruise around Scotland, few can match the history and dramatic landscapes of the Hebridean Islands. Rugged coastlines, majestic stone carvings and some of the region's best marine and birdlife abounds, making a Hebridean cruise a must for travellers passing through the region.
Few sights can match the history and dramatic landscapes of the Hebridean Islands.
As part of Aurora Expeditions' 11-day Wild Scotland cruise, we dedicate two days to visiting the inner and outer Hebrides, with a handful of stops along the way showcasing the best the islands have to offer.
Let's take a closer look at some of our favourite attractions along the way.
Considered the birthplace of Christianity in Scotland, the BBC notes that Iona was once considered one of Europe's greatest bastions of learning. With the first monastery established on the island in 563 AD, almost 1,500 years of history has given Iona a unique character steeped in religious and spiritual lore.
While that original place of worship and study is lost to the ages, Iona is now home to a spectacular mediaeval abbey and burial ground of early Scottish rulers, both must-see destinations for anyone on a Hebridean cruise
One of the most iconic natural cave formations – not only in Europe but across the globe – Fingal's Cave has long inspired geologists, historians and artists for centuries. With walls lined by bizarre hexagonal basalt columns, the location was known as 'The Cave of Melody' by the Celts, and features in a number of early legends of the region.
Since its rediscovery by naturalist Sir Joseph Banks in 1772, Fingal's Cave has been a subject of wonder and inspiration for many. German composer Felix Mendelssohn famously referenced the cave in his Hebrides Overture, while more contemporary artists including rock band Pink Floyd have paid tribute to the site in various works.
The ruins of Rubh' an Dunain
Beyond Fingal's Cave, our Hebridean cruise embarks for Rubh' an Dunain in the Cullin Hills. Boasting some of the region's most dramatic walking tracks, Rubh' an Dunain is home to some grand ruins, including an ancient Iron Age fort as well as a stone-lined canal and loch, which historians theorise may have been built by Viking residents.
The history of Rubh' an Dunain stretches even further, however. One of the highlights visitors have the chance to experience is a 5,000-year-old neolithic burial cairn, which The Skye Guide says held the remains of six prehistoric adults upon excavation in the 1930s.
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Bountiful wildlife at Canna
To complement the vast human history of the Hebridean Islands, a visit to Canna is essential for birdwatchers and other wildlife enthusiasts. Designated as a bird sanctuary since 1938, Canna is home to thousands of seabirds according to the National Trust for Scotland, including majestic golden and sea eagles.
It's not just in the skies that eagle-eyed visitors can get close to nature, however. Canna is also home to large numbers of marine species – guests on a Hebridean cruise can expect to observe mike whales, basking sharks, dolphins, grey seals and puffins on and around the island's coastline.
Seeing the best of Scotland with Aurora Expeditions
There's so much to see on our Wild Scotland cruise, but visiting the Hebridean Islands is amongst the most exciting. Onboard our Polar Pioneer, guests enjoy 11 days of comfort and expert guidance in one of the most beautiful locations the UK has to offer.
Whether you're a history buff or a keen wildlife spotter, a Hebridean cruise has plenty to offer. Speak to the helpful team at Aurora Expeditions for booking, or read our handy online brochures for more information.