The Isles of Scilly (Cornish: Ynysek Syllan) is a small archipelago of islands in the Atlantic Ocean, off the Cornish coast in the South West part of the United Kingdom. The Isles of Scilly were designated an official Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1975.


Note: Local people do not use - and do not like - the expression "The Scillies". Local usage is to refer to "Scilly".

Getting there

No transport is available to or from the islands on Sundays. This also means that Sunday papers arrive on Monday.

By boat

Passenger ferry (the Scillonian III ) from Penzance - 2h40m, runs from March - October. Leaves Penzance in the morning and returns late afternoon/evening. It's possible to take a day trip (with 4 hours onshore, longer on some days when there is a double sailing). Open returns £95. Day trips from £25 (in off peak check for vouchers in the Cornishman newspaper).

By plane

Fixed wing planes operated by Skybus fly from Land's End, Newquay, Exeter, Bristol and Southampton fly to St. Mary's Airport. Flights to/from Newquay normally connect with the Ryanair and Airsouthwest services to/from London Stansted/Gatwick

By helicopter

Helicopter from Penzance to St. Mary's (10 flights daily in summer, 3 in winter) or Tresco (5 flights daily in summer, 1 in winter). The air route between Penzance and St Mary's has been serviced by helicopter since 1964 and is the world's longest running scheduled helicopter service. The Tresco service was subsequently inaugurated in 1983. The 20 min flight operates 6 days a week with regular flights throughout the day.

Open-return flights cost around £170, but cheaper tickets are available if you travel mid-week.


Traveling around

Transport between islands: by boat

Each island is serviced by an network of inter-island launches that run 7 days a week from 1 April through to the end of October each year. Apart from direct trips between the islands, circular sightseeing tours are also offered giving the opportunity to look at the extensive wildlife in and around the islands, particularly the large colonies of Atlantic seal and hundreds of sea bird species. One of the most popular trips is to see the puffins who arrive to nest in late April, leaving the Isles in early August. The boat service in the winter is governed more by wind and tide, but daily, direct trips still take place with the occasional circular journey when the weather is sufficiently benign.

Transport on St Mary's

  • A bus service operates between Hugh Town and the airport.

  • A few taxis also operate.

  • Hire a bike

  • Walk - Scilly is made for walking, and the relative lack of cars and other motorized transportation creates an atmosphere that is a luxury few of us can enjoy in our home towns.

Transport on the off islands

There is no public transport available for day visitors, however transport is normally provided to and from the quay or heliport (on Tresco) to accommodation. This ranges from old land rovers to golf carts. On Tresco there are tractors with trailers - it's often said you won't ever find as many millionaires riding on the back of a tractor as you do on Tresco!

  • Bike hire is available on all the islands


  • Visit the Isles of Scilly Museum in Hugh Town on the island of St. Mary's.

  • On Tresco are the famous Abbey gardens.

Things to do

  • Boat trips: large number of boat trips - from wildlife watching to island circular tours. On St. Mary's look out for the notice boards on the quay. On the off-islands check with the island boat company (Bryher Boats on Tresco & Bryher)

  • Fishing, diving, walking, swimming, snorkeling, sailing, cycling, birdwatching, chilling out.

  • World Pilot Gig Championships are held every year in May. Over 100 crews of traditional Cornish wooden rowing boats compete. The last night party is legendary.



  • Picnic on the beach - The Co-operative on St. Mary's or Tresco Stores on Tresco are the best food shops.


  • Good pub food available on all the islands. Be sure to try a pasty at the Turk's Head on St. Agnes.

Cream tea is also not to be missed.


  • St Martin's on the Isle on St. Martins

  • The Island Hotel on Tresco

  • Hell Bay Hotel on Bryher


Each of the islands has its own pub, though St. Mary's manages to support five, The Oldtown Inn. Porthcressa Inn, Bishop and Wolf, Atlantic Inn and The Mermaid.

On the 'Off Islands' (as the other islands are refered to) you have the Sevenstones on St. Martin's, New Inn on Tresco, Fraggle Rock on Bryher and The Turks Head on St. Agnes.



  • Camp sites on St. Mary's, Bryher, St. Agnes and St. Martin's


  • Various B&Bs and pubs on St. Mary's £60-100

  • The New Inn on Tresco, rooms for around £100.


  • The Island Hotel Tresco, £200-500.

  • Tregarthen, St. Mary's, £150-200

  • St Martin's on the Isle Hotel, £200-500

  • Hell Bay Hotel on Bryher, £150-400

  • Holiday cottage rental on Tresco, £800-3000 per week

  • Timeshare cottage on Tresco, range from £20k for a week off-season to £50k+ in August or during school holidays (you get "your" week every year for 25 years).

Most accommodation is on the largest and most populated island, St Mary's, which has plenty of accommodation of all kinds. The other islands have more limited accommodation: Tresco is a private estate which runs an upmarket timeshare resort, and has a hotel and a pub, but no campsite. St Martin's and Bryher each have one hotel, a campsite and some self-catering cottages. St Agnes is the only inhabited island without a hotel, and is therefore the quietest, with just a few B&Bs and holiday cottages, and a campsite. The islands are a very popular holiday destination; demand for accommodation exceeds supply, so prices are quite high and early booking is advisable.


Lots of locally produced food and gifts are available. Scilly is famous for its flowers, and a wide variety of bulbs are available. St Agnes wildflower honey, St Agnes ice Cream, St Agnes eggs, Scillonian soap, island beef, locally caught fish and shellfish, and the list goes on.


Near Crime-free. Biggest danger is probably from bike theft. Don't leave your bike unlocked outside a pub on a Friday or Saturday night! If it does go missing you'll probably find it returned the next morning.


There are 5 inhabited islands

  • St Mary's

  • Tresco

  • Bryher

  • St Martin's

  • St Agnes

St. Mary's is the largest island with a population of around 3000, the other inhabited islands, known as the off islands range from 30-150 people.

There are a number of smaller islands and islets (including the Western Rocks, the Norrad Rocks, Samson, Tean, St Helen's and the Eastern Isles).

Get out

You won't want to leave! Only way out by public transport is back to Cornwall on the mainland. It'll feel strange when you return.

Contact & location

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This travel guide also includes text from Wikitravel articles, all available at WikitravelView full credits

Vidimian, D. Guillaime, David, Stacy Hall, Ben, Thomas Hine, Crisp and Jim Logan, Morph, Jake73, Dhmellor, Pjamescowie and Huttite

This travel guide also includes text from Wikipedia articles, all available at WikipediaView full credits

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