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Recommendations for Islay

Planning a visit to Islay. Please advise best time to visit in terms of weather and less tourists. Also, most comfortable B&B’s at a moderate rate. Would like to drive from Glasgow to experience the scenery along the way. Thanks for any advice!

Posted by
940 posts

Hi, slainteu2,

You can't drive to Islay. It's an island off the Southwest coast. You can drive to Kennacraig on the Kintyre peninsula, and then take a ferry from there. Or you can fly direct from Glasgow. The ferry will take you to either Port Askaig or Port Ellen. Most of the B&Bs are located in those two villages, or in Bowmore. Best thing to do would be to get a listing of the B&Bs, then check out their reviews on TripAdvisor.

The lodging prices on Islay are a bit higher than on the mainland, as it costs more for the B&B owners to obtain supplies, and they have a captive audience. Islay is one of the best islands, weatherwise, to visit. Mid to late spring would be the best time to visit in order to avoid tourists.

If you do decide that you want to drive to Kennacraig and take the ferry, the best way would be to take the A82 (Great Western Road) out of Glasgow. Follow the A82 along the west shore of Loch Lomond to the village of Tarbet. From Tarbet take the A83 through Inverary, Lochgilphead, and the other Tarbet, to Kennacraig. There are anywhere between four and six ferries daily to Islay, but you have to decide whether you want to go to Port Ellen or Port Askaig. They are about 20 miles apart by road.

Hope that helps.

Mike (Auchterless)

Posted by
8 posts

My husband and I visited Islay for 10 days in late June/early July this past summer, which is probably a more busy time of year, but we didn't feel as if it was too crowded. I can't imagine Islay actually feeling crowded. In regard to traveling there, Mike already gave the options, either by ferry or plane. We took the ferry to Islay after traveling by bus from Glasgow. It does take some planning to make it all work perfectly. We were staying in Port Ellen, but took a ferry that only stopped at Port Askaig. We didn't realize how tricky it would be to get transport from one side of the island to another on this busy Saturday evening. We were lucky that another traveler allowed us to get in their pre-booked cab. We also planned to depart via plane, but it was cancelled twice due to cloud cover. We ended up having to rebook our trans-Atlantic flight and take a ferry out early the next day. I thoroughly enjoyed staying in Port Ellen as there is a co-op, some restaurants and easy access to the distillery path from there. We ended up renting a car on Islay because it was much bigger than we had envisioned and we were thankful one was available.