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Whisky itinerary guidance & suggestions

Hoping to put together a short surprise birthday trip to Scotland for my partner in April. I have had a couple of trips to Scotland but its been almost 10 years, he has not visited. We will have 8 nights and I was looking at Islay, Oban and possibly Arran, Iona. Is this possible? Maybe only the last day before our flight to spend In Edinburgh. Flights are from Edinburgh and plans are to rent a car. Interests are great scenery, some cycling and hikes, whisky tasting and great food. I've tried to look at ferry schedules to Islay but they don't seem to be available until Feb. What is the best route? Would welcome suggestions for b&b's and would prefer to not book on large travel sites. My other option was Northern Ireland -logistics seemed a bit easier. Thanks for all suggestions.

Posted by
6488 posts

I think this is a very tight itinerary. But let's try to sketch something out-
Day 1- Edinburgh jet lag day. NIGHT 1
Day 2-Pick up car at Edinburgh 'Airport' (generically)- drive to Ardrossan for Arran, arrive mid afternoon. NIGHTS 2 and 3 on Arran
Day 3- Explore Arran
Day 4- Drive Arran to Islay using the Lochranza to Claonaig short cut, lunchtime ferry from Kennacraig, arrive mid afternoon- NIGHTS 4 and 5 on Islay
Day 5- Explore Islay
Day 6- (IF it is a day for the Islay to Oban direct ferry take that) or ferry Islay-Kennacraig- drive A816 to Oban, should be possible to connect through to Iona on the late boat but assume Oban Stay NIGHT 6 Oban
Day 7- Iona Day Tour from Oban (possibly the bus tour, possibly in the car) NIGHT 7 Oban.
Day 8- Drive Oban to EDI, off rent car, last night (8) in EDI, maybe at Apt depending on flight time next day.

While the fine detail is needed, we fundamentally know that the ferries will run (bar the hypothetical day 6 Islay to Oban) to make this work. Use the winter (current) Islay schedule as a guide. The port may switch from Port Ellen to Port Askaig and times vary slightly, but it is a good guide.

A faster pace than I would personally like for you but eminently possible. While waiting for the Islay ferry times you could book the car, the other ferries, and the hotels.

Posted by
6842 posts

Just a thought - if you visit Arran, I would try to time the visit so it's during the week, rather than the weekend. Arran is a very popular spot for Glaswegians to visit on the weekend, so your chances of finding lodging would probably be higher during the week. I stayed at the Lagg Hotel when I was there, but it is at the southern end of the island, so was a bit out of the way. That might be to your liking - it was beautiful down there, with ancient cairns, lovely beaches a few minutes away and the Lagg Distillery nearby - but if you want something a bit more central, Brodick is a good choice (this is where the ferry will port coming from Ardrossan).

I think you will love Arran; I know I did. Make sure you visit Lochranza in the north to see the Lochranza Castle ruins, and gorgeous scenery. The drive up there is just lovely. If you like hiking, there is the Arran Coastal Way, which is a 65 mile loop that goes all the way around the island. You can also find walks at Walk Highland website. And stop at The Sandwich Shop, which is right across from the Lochranza ferry terminal. Delicious sandwiches!

I also loved my trip to Iona, although I went there as a day trip while staying on Mull. Lots to see and do there, including the very historic ruins, quaint shops and several cafes. Plus there are lots of hikes available (visit Walk Highland - Iona).

I did not make it to Islay, but that is on a future list, so I will look forward to hearing about your trip!

Posted by
98 posts

Thanks for the helpful suggestions, due to schedule change we cant get away in April so we will have to wait for our trip to Scotland.

Posted by
6488 posts

Sorry for you, but thanks for letting us know.