St Kilda, Scotland – How to get there and what to see

Paul Honeywell

Paul Honeywell

Published on 01 Apr 2024

St Kilda, Scotland

From some places on the west coast of Harris, on a clear day you can see the St Kilda archipelago looming out of the sea in the distance. Even from 40 miles away, the sheer scale of the cliffs of these remarkable islands gives a glimpse of what it could be like to visit them.

The islands seem to rise abruptly from the ocean, their towering sea stacks and precipitous cliffs providing a glimpse of the raw power of nature.

St Kilda Island in Scotland
Beach at St Kilda in Scotland

How to get to St Kilda

There are two fast boat operators running trips to St Kilda from Harris – Sea Harris and Kilda Cruises. The crossing takes nearly 3 hours, but it is absolutely worth it. Prices for the day trip are around £250 to £300 per adult, and booking is typically done with a two-day window to allow for weather and sea conditions. Typically you will have 4 hours on Hirta.

As you embark on the journey, the views of the West coast of Harris are marvellous, with the brooding hills framed by pure white beaches and turquoise seas.

As Harris recedes behind the boat, the St Kilda archipelago begins to reveal itself more clearly. The islands and stacks rise out of the sea, their jagged peaks and sheer cliffs towering above the crashing waves. The air is filled with the cries of countless gannets, their colonies clinging precariously to the rocky ledges.

How to get to St Kilda in Scotland
St Kilda Trip Scotland 41
St Kilda Trip Scotland 40

‘Things to do on Hirta, St Kilda

Upon reaching St Kilda, visitors are greeted by a true unspoiled wilderness. The main island of Hirta was once home to a hardy community whose main diet was eggs and young gannets collected from the cliffs. The last 36 inhabitants left on the Harebell on 29 August 1930.  It is is now a dual UNESCO World Heritage Site for its natural and cultural qualities, its rugged beauty preserved for future generations. Hiking trails wind through the landscape away from the Main Street, offering breathtaking vistas of the islands and the opportunity to spot wildlife such as puffins, fulmars, and even the occasional whale or dolphin.

Fulmar on St Kilda Scotland
Gannets on St Kilda Scotland
St Kilda World Unesco Site Village
St Kilda World Unesco Site Village
Fulmar on St Kilda Scotland
Soay Sheep St Kilda Scotland

St Kilda – Sea stacks

The true highlight of a visit to St Kilda, however, is the boat trip around the staggering cliffs that dominate the islands. Towering over 1,000 feet high, these sheer rock faces are among the highest in the United Kingdom, and provide nesting grounds for millions of seabirds. It is as if the hills were sliced by a giant knife, as the rising land suddenly stops, high above the sea.

St Kilda Sea Stacks Scotland
St Kilda Sea Stacks Scotland
St Kilda Sea Stacks Scotland
St Kilda Sea Stacks Scotland

As the boat returns to Harris, visitors can reflect on the incredible experience of visiting one of the most remote and untamed corners of the British Isles. St Kilda is a place that truly captures the imagination, a rugged and wild paradise that will leave a lasting impression on all who make the journey.

I have been to St Kilda twice, and highly recommend the adventure!