Top Reasons to Go

Whisky, whisky, whisky: With 14 distilleries–-9 on Islay, 1 each on Jura and Mull, and just 3 on the mainland–-the region has been nicknamed Scotland's whisky coast. The unmistakable peaty smell of the whiskies of Islay contrasts with the lighter whiskies of Arran and Oban.

Iona and its abbey: Maybe it's the remoteness that creates the almost mystical sense of history on Iona. From this early center of Scottish Christianity, evangelists traveled throughout Europe from the 6th century onward. It was also the burial place of Scottish kings, including Macbeth.

The great outdoors: Salmon and trout fill the lochs and rivers, while even bigger trophy fish await farther out to sea. Golfers have more than two dozen courses to choose from, and cyclists and walkers will find every kind of terrain at hand.

Cool castles: Often poised on cliffs overlooking the sea, the region’s castles tell the story of eight centuries of occupations, sieges, and conflicts between warring clan chiefs and nobles. Vikings, Scots, and the English fought for their possession.

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.

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