Scotland’s Lewis and Harris named best island in Europe – and comes in at number five in the world

The Outer Hebridean island saw off competition from Thailand and Madagascar to come in the world's top 10 (scroll down for gallery of winners)

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The Independent Travel

The Scottish island of Lewis and Harris has been named as the best in Europe, beating contenders from Greece, Italy and Malta.

Lewis and Harris also came out above islands in Thailand, Chile and Madagascar to claim a spot in the top five in the world, according to the findings of international travel website TripAdvisor.

Scotland dominated the UK top 10 taking six places, with only Jersey (4th), the Isle of Man (7th), St Mary’s, Scilly (9th) and Anglesey (10th) providing any competition.

Lewis and Harris is the largest of the islands in the Outer Hebrides, and the biggest single land mass in the UK after Great Britain and Ireland. It is home to the town of Stornoway and the historic Callanish stone circle.

Mike Cantlay, the chairman of VisitScotland, said: “With hundreds of islands, each with their own unique character, diverse landscape and rich wildlife, it’s no surprise that these islands have been recognised in the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Islands awards.

“It’s always great to get this kind of recognition and I’m sure it will help encourage even more people to visit these incredible islands in 2014.”

Alongside Lewis and Harris, the Orkney Islands mainland and the Isle of Mull were also named among Europe’s top 10.

In the worldwide rankings, the top spot was taken for a second year running by Ambergris Caye, in Belize. TripAdvisor said it is the country’s largest island, and boasts winding waterfalls, tropical rainforest and hundreds of limestone caves over the second-largest coral reef system in the world.

James Kay, a spokesperson for TripAdvisor, said: “An island holiday usually conjures images of faraway palm-lined beaches, white sand and crystal clear water but the results of this year’s awards reveal that the ideal island getaway might be closer to home than you think.”