Welcome to Stornoway Airport

A History of Stornoway

The main airlink to the Isle of Lewis, famous for original Stornoway black pudding, dramatic scenery, white sand beaches and rich history.

Stornoway is the main town on Stornoway (Steòrnabhagh in Gaelic (Gaidhlig) and is a burgh on the Isle of Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.  The population is just over 6,000 and this represents about a third of the islands population. The economy is a mix of traditional businesses like fishing, Harris Tweed and crofting combined with more recent influences like tourism, and the oil industry.

The airport is sited very close to the town of Stornoway and is only a ten minute drive into the centre once you have landed. Local public transport and taxis can be accessed outside theterminal on arrival and car hire can be booked in advance if desired.

Stornoway was originally a Viking settlement and developed around its well sheltered natural harbour. Reflecting this, the name Stornoway itself is derived from “Stornavagr” an Old Norse word for “steering bay”. Medieval development of the town was spurred by the construction of the original castle in the High Middle Ages by the Nicolson (or MacNicol) family, themselves of Viking descent.

The castle was destroyed by Oliver Cromwell’s forces in the aftermath of his Scottish campaign in the mid 17th century and the ownership of Stornoway – and by extension, Lewis – passed from the MacKenzies of Kintail through the Seaforth family and Sir James Matheson (and his descendants) to William Lever, 1st Viscount Leverhulme. Lord Leverhulme finally gifted the town’s parish to the Stornoway Trust, in whose ownership this remains.  The famous Lews Castle has now been beautifully restored.


Today, the harbour hosts a small fishing fleet somewhat reduced from its heyday, a marina, moorings for pleasure craft, a small shipyard and slipway, three larger piers for commercial traffic and Stornoway Lifeboat Station. This is run by the RNLI and home to a Severn class lifeboat, Tom Sanderson.

A lighthouse is situated on Arnish Point at the mouth of the harbour and visually dominates the approaches. On 1st January 1919, the lolaire sank at the entrance of the harbour, one of the worst maritime disasters in Scottish or UK waters, with a death toll of 200 men.

The annual Hebridean Celtic Festival is a 4 day community led festival which attracts over 10,000 visitors during July of each year. The Royal National Mod has been held in Stornoway on a number of occasions.

Stornoway is a sister of Pendleton, in Anderson County, S. Carolina, United States. One of the most famous exports from Stornoway is the Stornoway black pudding, which is regarded as one of the top gourmet black puddings in the United Kingdom.

The town also has a golf course, astro-turf pitch, go-karting and even a paintball action area. Cruises around the area by boat are available during the summer months, embarking from the pontoons behind the Lifeboat Station. Cultural facilities are well catered for with a good museum, art gallery and library. A brand new arts complex – An Lannatair was opened in 2005.

The Hebridean Brewing Company produces cask ale and filtered beer in bottles and is the only legal alcohol producer in the Western Isles.

For information on Stornoway’s local attractions, please click here, and for some fascinating facts about Stornoway, please click here.


The island has an abundance of wildlife including dolphins, seals, whales, sharks, seabirds, eagles, buzzards, geese and waders as well as the largest colony of fulmars in the world. There are three National nature reserves and eleven special areas of conservation within the islands. For those seeking adventure sports or just a chance to cycle some amazing scenic roads, the Outer Hebrides offers it in abundance, and golf lovers can play the 18 hole course at Stornoway or can try the Isle of Harris Golf Course on South Harris.

Not everywhere is open on Sundays on the islands – please check with local information for what is available for planning your journey.

For the latest information on the area and local events, please visit