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Argyll and the Isles Travel Guide

  • Photo: Jeff Banke / Shutterstock
  • Photo: Jaime Pharr / Shutterstock
  • Photo: trotalo / Shutterstock

Plan Your Argyll and the Isles Vacation

Argyll's rocky seaboard looks out onto islands that were once part of a single prehistoric landmass. Here narrow roads wind around natural obstacles, slowing travel but forcing you to see and admire the lochs, the woods, and the ruins that hint at the region's dramatic past. Highlights include everything from grand houses such as Brodick Castle and gardens such as Crarae to the excellent

walks on the small western isles. This is whisky country, too: the distilleries on Islay should not be missed. Distances are relatively small, as the area is within three hours of Glasgow.

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Updated 1/20/2014

Top Reasons To Go

  1. Whisky, whisky, whisky Whisky is everywhere, though it changes subtly in taste and character from distillery to distillery. The unmistakable peaty smell of the whiskies of Islay yields to the lighter whiskies of Arran and Oban. Each distillery is unique, and guards its recipes jealously.
  2. Iona and its abbey Maybe it's the remoteness—especially if you explore beyond the abbey—that adds to the almost mystical sense of history here. This was an early center of Scottish Christianity from the 6th century onward, sending evangelists throughout Europe. This was also the burial place of Scottish kings, including Macbeth.
  3. The great outdoors Salmon and trout fill the lochs and rivers, and more adventurous anglers also head out to sea for even bigger trophy fish. If it’s golf you prefer, there are two dozen golf courses, including fine coastal links like Machrihanish near Campbeltown. For the cyclist there's every kind of terrain, making this a great region for leisurely rides or grueling mountain biking.
  4. Cool castles Often dramatically located on cliffs overlooking the sea, the region’s castles tell their own stories of occupations, sieges, and conflicts between warring clan chiefs and nobles over eight centuries. Vikings, Scots, and the English fought for their possession. Many of them were turned into grand houses by the landed gentry.
  5. Glorious gardens Plants flourish in the mild Gulf Stream that brushes against this broken, western coastline. For vivid flowers, trees, birds, and butterflies, visit Crarae Garden, southwest of Inveraray. The Achamore House Gardens on the Isle of Gigha are another colorful extravaganza.

When To Go

When to Go

This part of the mainland is close enough to Glasgow to make it accessible year-round. Oban is just over two hours from the city by car (three ho...

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