The Isles of Scilly are something of a hidden gem themselves. But there are gems within gems here – this is a collection of our favourite things to see when you visit.
You’ll find this uninhabited island off the coast of Bryher. Once home to a few families of fishermen and farmers, birds and wildlife are now the island’s only occupants. You’ll need a boat to get here (you can hire your own, or take a trip) and once you’ve braved the gangplank to disembark you’ll be free to explore the romantic ruins and beautiful sandy beaches of this beautiful lost world.
Hidden inside an unassuming building on Church Street, St Mary’s, the Isles of Scilly Museum gets rave reviews from visitors. The interior holds a wealth of fascinating displays, and gives a real flavour of island life in the past. The lower floor is dedicated to the birds and animals of the Isles, while upstairs you can discover Scilly’s maritime history.
This is the closest you can get to a Caribbean island without leaving the UK. Whatever the weather, you’re in luck - there’ll be deep blue water and shining white sands on a ‘good’ day, or incredible stormy skies and ever-changing colours on the water on a ‘bad’ day. Rushy Bay is beautiful, no matter when you visit.
This set of art gallery and workshops welcoming visitors on the small Porthmellon industrial estate, St. Mary’s, may be tucked out of the way, but it really is a hidden gem worth a look. You’ll find a variety of crafts people working here, from glass artists to jewellery and scart makers. If the artist is working, they’ll happily chat to you about their work, and if they are away, you’ll find an honesty box in case you’d like to take home a souvenir.
You might not expect the remains of an iron age village and a bronze age burial mound to have the ‘wow factor’ but this place really does. You’ll be stunned by the incredible scenery, and overpowered by the sense of history here. The remains are incredibly well preserved, allowing you to really imagine what life might have been like on these islands centuries ago.
The Abbey Gardens is a must for plant lovers. This is home to species from 80 countries and even in midwinter there will be around 300 of them in flower. Augustus Smith, the garden’s creator used windbreaks and different planting levels to mimic conditions in tropical countries allowing his beloved collection of tropical plants to flourish.
Standing on a rocky outcrop above New Grimsby harbour, Cromwell’s Castle, built in 1651, can only be reached on foot. It was partially built using stones from the ruined King Charles Castle - which can be found further up the hill - to guard the deep water entry to the heart of the Isles of Scilly.
This beautiful garden, brimming with subtropical plants is entirely run and maintained by volunteers. You can sit and enjoy the tranquil surroundings, or ask at the Four Seasons guest house for some hand tools, and do a bit of weeding while you visit.