Tiny Scottish island just 1.5 miles wide named as UK's top tourist 'hidden gem'

A tiny Scottish island just 1.5 miles wide has been voted Britain’s most popular tourist “hidden gem”.

Iona Island in the Inner Hebrides topped a list of the 20 lesser-known beauty spots, which included the Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye and Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel.

The survey of 2,000 adults found that Stone Age sites on Orkney’s Rousay Island, the Cotswold Canals and Malham in the Yorkshire Dales are also among the top 20 best kept secrets.

Talisker Bay on the Isle of Skye, Flamborough Head in Yorkshire and Ilfracombe in Devon were also on show.

And other underrated attractions were Cheddar Gorge in Somerset, York Minster and Kew Gardens in London.

Graham Donoghue, General Manager of Sykes Holiday Cottages, who commissioned the survey, said, “It’s really exciting to see places that are not so well known and that have a sense of secrecy.

“There are so many of these hidden gems within easy reach in the UK that many may not even have heard of, let alone visited.”

The study found that 40 percent “make the effort” to visit the less popular places and nearly nine in ten (89 percent) “proud” them.

Half of the respondents like to talk about their newly discovered places – but a third prefer to keep it to themselves so that the places remain less popular.

For 62 percent, the main reason they chose these secret locations was because of the lack of crowds to be able to relax more.

And more than half (53 percent) of Britons say visiting lesser-known places makes them feel like they are getting the best out of the UK.

Plus, people seem to trust other people’s recommendations, with six in ten going to a place they’ve never heard of if recommended by a friend.

It also found that nearly half are planning a stay this year – with the average person planning at least three trips.

The Fairy Pools on the Scottish Isle of Skye followed closely behind

A group of avid staycationers (15 percent of respondents) plan to take six or more breaks in the UK in 2022.

Many may want to make up for lost time as 42 percent say they have visited fewer attractions in the UK since the pandemic started.

People cite exploring the local area (52 percent) and spending time with friends and family (47 percent) as the most memorable things to do on a UK vacation.

According to the OnePoll study, 46 percent believe it is possible to walk at your own pace.

The same percentage of people admit that it is easier to relax during a stay than a vacation abroad because the travel time is shorter (43 percent) and the stress of current Covid restrictions (40 percent) is removed.

Almost half (47 percent) like the fact that they don’t have to worry about navigating the airport.

Scotland topped the list as Talisker Bay on the Isle of Skye was also one of the top ten most beautiful spots

Cost is also an important consideration, with a third choosing to travel within the UK over international travel because it is cheaper.

And almost four in ten believe they could vacation the rest of their lives in the UK but still not see all it has to offer.

Sykes’s Graham Donoghue added, “Britain has so much to offer that much is little known.

“But hopefully this research has enlightened the people of these places and inspired them for their next break.

“International travel may be in the air right now, but we are very fortunate to have such beautiful places on our doorstep which means we don’t have to travel abroad to enjoy a truly memorable vacation.”

A guide to the UK’s top hidden gem locations can be found here here.


  1. Iona Island, Inner Hebrides
  2. The Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye, Scotland
  3. Lundy Island, Devon
  4. Stone Age Sites, Rousay Island, Orkney Islands
  5. Cotswold Canals, the Cotswolds
  6. Malham, Yorkshire Dales
  7. Ilfracombe, Devon
  8. Talisker Bay, Isle of Skye, Scotland
  9. Flamborough Head, Yorkshire
  10. Hawes, Yorkshire Dales
  11. Post, Cornwall
  12. Blackgang Beach, Isle of Wight
  13. Skipton Castle, North Yorkshire
  14. Devil’s Pulpit, Stirlingshire, Scotland
  15. Bodnant Gardens, near Colwyn Bay, Conwy, North Wales
  16. Ladybower Reservoir, Peak District
  17. The Bays, Harris, Outer Hebrides
  18. Heights of Abraham, Derbyshire
  19. South West Coastal 300, Dumfries and Galloway and South Ayrshire
  20. Castle Combe, Wiltshire


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