Argyll and the Isles

We’ve compiled the best of the best in Argyll and the Isles - browse our top choices for the top things to see or do during your stay.

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  • 1. Auchindrain Township

    Step a few centuries back in time at this open-air museum, a rare surviving example of an 18th-century communal-tenancy farm. About 250 years ago, there...

    Step a few centuries back in time at this open-air museum, a rare surviving example of an 18th-century communal-tenancy farm. About 250 years ago, there were several thousand working communities like Auchindrain, but this was the last of them, with its final tenant leaving in 1963. Today the bracken-thatch and iron-roof buildings, about 20 in all, give you a feel for early farming life in the Highland communities. Several houses are furnished and tell the story of their occupants. A tearoom is open morning to afternoon.

    Inveraray, Argyll and Bute, PA32 8WD, Scotland
    01499-500235

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: £12 (£3 in winter), Closed weekends Nov.–Mar.
  • 2. Bonawe Iron Furnace

    Seemingly out of place in this near-wilderness setting, Bonawe is a fascinating relic from the dawn of Britain's Industrial Revolution. In the mid-18th century, Argyll's...

    Seemingly out of place in this near-wilderness setting, Bonawe is a fascinating relic from the dawn of Britain's Industrial Revolution. In the mid-18th century, Argyll's virgin forests attracted ironmasters from England, where such valuable fuel sources were harder to find. Business boomed when wars with France boosted demand for pig iron and cannonballs, and in its heyday Bonawe employed up to 600 unskilled local wood gatherers and skilled southern foundrymen.

    Off B845, Bonawe, Argyll and Bute, PA35 1JQ, Scotland
    01866-822432

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: £6, Closed Sat.–Tues. and Oct.–Mar.
  • 3. Bowmore Distillery

    Bowmore is the grand old lady of Islay's distilleries, and a tour is a must for any visitor. In business since 1779, the distillery, like...

    Bowmore is the grand old lady of Islay's distilleries, and a tour is a must for any visitor. In business since 1779, the distillery, like all Islay whisky makers, stands by the sea. Standard tours include a walk around the malting areas and the stills, and connoisseurs can opt for in-depth tours that include tutored tastings.

    School St., Bowmore, Argyll and Bute, PA43 7JS, Scotland
    01496-810441

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: From £18, Closed Sun. and Mon.
  • 4. Bunnahabhain Distillery

    Established in 1881, the Bunnahabhain (pronounced Boon-a-ha-bin) Distillery sits on the shore, with dramatic views across to the Paps of Jura. This is one of...

    Established in 1881, the Bunnahabhain (pronounced Boon-a-ha-bin) Distillery sits on the shore, with dramatic views across to the Paps of Jura. This is one of Scotland's most picturesque and evocative malt whisky distilleries, redolent of a preindustrialized era.

    Off A846, Port Askaig, Argyll and Bute, PA46 7RP, Scotland
    01496-840557

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Tours and tastings from £35
  • 5. Duart Castle

    The 13th-century Duart Castle stands dramatically atop a cliff overlooking the Sound of Mull. The ancient seat of the Macleans, it was ruined by the...

    The 13th-century Duart Castle stands dramatically atop a cliff overlooking the Sound of Mull. The ancient seat of the Macleans, it was ruined by the Campbells, their archenemies, in 1691 but restored by Sir Fitzroy Maclean in 1911. Inside you can visit the dungeons and state rooms, then climb the keep for a view of the waterfront. Nearby stands the Millennium Wood, planted in 2000 with indigenous trees. To reach Duart by car, take the A849 and turn left around the shore of Duart Bay. From Craignure's ferry port, it's a three-mile walk to the castle.

    Off A849, Craignure, Argyll and Bute, PA64 6AP, Scotland
    01680-812309

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: £8.50, Closed mid-Oct.–Mar.
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  • 6. Iona Abbey

    Overseen by St. Columba, who traveled here from Ireland, Iona was the birthplace of Christianity in Scotland in the 6th century. It survived repeated Norse...

    Overseen by St. Columba, who traveled here from Ireland, Iona was the birthplace of Christianity in Scotland in the 6th century. It survived repeated Norse sackings before falling into disuse around the time of the Reformation. Restoration work began at the beginning of the 20th century. Today the restored buildings serve as a spiritual center under the jurisdiction of the Church of Scotland. Guided tours by the Iona Community, an ecumenical religious group, begin every half hour in summer and on demand in winter.

    Iona, Argyll and Bute, PA76 6SQ, Scotland
    01681-700512

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: £9.50
  • 7. Isle of Arran Lochranza Distillery

    The open aspect and closeness to the sea explain the taste of Arran's well-respected single malt, light and airy and with the scent of sea...

    The open aspect and closeness to the sea explain the taste of Arran's well-respected single malt, light and airy and with the scent of sea and fields. The round white building housing the distillery sits comfortably among fields and hills in the northernmost part of the island. The CASKS café-restaurant is a comfortable place for a long lunch. Tours and tastings are offered.

    A841, Lochranza, North Ayrshire, KA27 8HJ, Scotland
    01770-830264

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Tastings and tours from £20
  • 8. Lochranza Castle

    Perched above the bay, Lochranza is Arran's most picturesque ruin and occupies a special place in Scotland's history. It was here that Robert the Bruce,...

    Perched above the bay, Lochranza is Arran's most picturesque ruin and occupies a special place in Scotland's history. It was here that Robert the Bruce, after years of dithering, returned from exile to commit himself to the war for Scotland's independence.

    Off A841, Lochranza, North Ayrshire, KA27 8HL, Scotland
    0131-668–8800

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Oct.--Mar.
  • 9. Tobermory Distillery

    Tobermory's cute little distillery has been making distinctive malts (the peaty Ledaig and the unpeated, lighter-tasting Tobermory) since 1798, though there have been intervening decades...

    Tobermory's cute little distillery has been making distinctive malts (the peaty Ledaig and the unpeated, lighter-tasting Tobermory) since 1798, though there have been intervening decades when it was "silent" and produced no whisky. It was relaunched in 1993, and a tour here is a more personal experience than is offered by some bigger, better-known distilleries. Visitors can also sample the distillery's newest product: its own artisan gin.

    Ledaig, Tobermory, Argyll and Bute, PA75 6NR, Scotland
    01688-302647

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Tours and tastings from £25
  • 10. Achamore House Gardens

    Visit Achamore House Gardens in late spring to see its azaleas and its prize collection of rhododendrons ablaze with color. The island's mellow microclimate fosters...

    Visit Achamore House Gardens in late spring to see its azaleas and its prize collection of rhododendrons ablaze with color. The island's mellow microclimate fosters these lush shrubberies.

    Isle of Gigha, Argyll and Bute, PA41 7AA, Scotland
    01583-505390

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, donations welcome
  • 11. Ardkinglas Woodland Garden

    Rambling over 12,000 acres, one of Britain's finest collections of conifers is set off by rhododendron blossoms in early summer. You can find the garden...

    Rambling over 12,000 acres, one of Britain's finest collections of conifers is set off by rhododendron blossoms in early summer. You can find the garden around the head of Loch Fyne, about 10 miles east of Inveraray. There's a wild woodland walk beyond the garden; both are open all year. The house, regarded as architect Sir Robert Lorimer's masterpiece, is open to visitors only on Fridays between April and October.

    Cairndow, Argyll and Bute, PA26 8BG, Scotland
    01499-600261

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: £5
  • 12. Arran Heritage Museum

    A typical Arran cottage, a re-created 1940s schoolroom, and farm buildings filled with antiquated implements that were in use within living memory make this lively...

    A typical Arran cottage, a re-created 1940s schoolroom, and farm buildings filled with antiquated implements that were in use within living memory make this lively little museum a must-see for anyone interested in the island's social history.

    A841, Brodick, North Ayrshire, KA27 8DP, Scotland
    01770-302636

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: £5, Closed Nov.--mid-Mar.
  • 13. Brodick Castle and Country Park

    On the north side of Brodick Bay, this red-sandstone mansion with typical Scottish-baronial features was built in the 16th century and was the seat of...

    On the north side of Brodick Bay, this red-sandstone mansion with typical Scottish-baronial features was built in the 16th century and was the seat of the dukes of Hamilton, who added to it extensively throughout the 19th century. It reopened in 2019 after a £1.5 million renovation, and now features an adventure park and an exciting visitor experience where costumed performers bring the past to life. In summer the expansive gardens are ablaze with azalea and rhododendron blossoms. The country park that surrounds the castle embraces Arran's most striking scenery, rising to the 2,867-foot summit of Goatfell, the island's highest peak. The beautiful upland landscape is more challenging to explore than it seems, so it's important to go prepared with sturdy footwear and waterproof clothing. From the summit there is a stunning panoramic view of the Firth, Kintyre, and the Ayrshire coast, and on a clear day you can just see Ireland.

    Off A841, Brodick, North Ayrshire, KA27 8HY, Scotland
    01770-302202

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Castle closed Nov. and Dec., £14.50
  • 14. Carnasserie Castle

    The tower house of Carnasserie Castle is all that remains of this Renaissance structure. It has the distinction of having belonged to the writer of...

    The tower house of Carnasserie Castle is all that remains of this Renaissance structure. It has the distinction of having belonged to the writer of the first book printed in Gaelic. John Carswell, Bishop of the Isles, translated a text by the Scottish reformer John Knox into Gaelic and published it in 1567.

    Off A816, Crinan, Argyll and Bute, PA31 8RQ, Scotland

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 15. Castle Sween

    The oldest stone castle on the Scottish mainland, this 12th-century structure sits on a rocky bit of coast about 12 miles south of Crinan. From...

    The oldest stone castle on the Scottish mainland, this 12th-century structure sits on a rocky bit of coast about 12 miles south of Crinan. From the northwest tower, known as the Latrine Tower, you can enjoy the dramatic views of the Paps of Jura.

    PA31 8PT, Scotland
  • 16. Coll

    Unlike their neighbors in nearby Tiree, Coll's residents were not forced to leave the island in the 19th century. Today half of the island's sparse...

    Unlike their neighbors in nearby Tiree, Coll's residents were not forced to leave the island in the 19th century. Today half of the island's sparse population lives in its only village, Arinagour. Its coasts offer extraordinarily rich birdlife, particularly along the beautiful sandy beaches of its southwest. Coll is even lower lying than Tiree but also rockier and less fertile. There are prehistoric standing stones at Totronald, a cairn at Annagour, and scant remains of several Iron Age forts around the island, though it takes some imagination to visualize what they must have looked like many centuries ago.

    Scotland
  • 17. Colonsay

    The beautiful beach at Kiloran Bay on Colonsay is an utterly peaceful place even at the height of summer. The standing stones at Kilchattan Farm...

    The beautiful beach at Kiloran Bay on Colonsay is an utterly peaceful place even at the height of summer. The standing stones at Kilchattan Farm are known as Fingal's Limpet Hammers. Fingal, or Finn, MacCool (Fionn mac Cumhaill) is a warrior of massive size and strength in Celtic mythology. Standing before the stones, you can imagine Fingal wielding them like hammers to cull equally large limpets from Scotland's rocky coast. The island's social life revolves around the bar at the 19th-century Colonsay Hotel, 100 yards from the ferry pier. The adjacent island of Oronsay with its ruined cloister can be reached at low tide via a 1½-mile wade across a sandy sound.

    Argyll and Bute, Scotland
  • 18. Crarae Garden

    Exotic Himalayan plants flourish in the gentle microclimate of this 100-acre garden, where the Crarae Burn, a small stream, cascades through a rocky gorge. Rhododendrons,...

    Exotic Himalayan plants flourish in the gentle microclimate of this 100-acre garden, where the Crarae Burn, a small stream, cascades through a rocky gorge. Rhododendrons, azaleas, and magnolias lend color, and native flowers and trees attract birds and butterflies.

    A83, Inveraray, Argyll and Bute, PA32 8YA, Scotland
    01546-886614

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: £8
  • 19. Crinan Canal

    This canal opened in 1801 to let fishing vessels reach Hebridean fishing grounds without making the long haul south around the Kintyre Peninsula. At its...

    This canal opened in 1801 to let fishing vessels reach Hebridean fishing grounds without making the long haul south around the Kintyre Peninsula. At its western end the canal drops to the sea in a series of locks, the last of which is beside the Crinan Hotel. Today it's popular with pleasure boats traveling to the west coast.

    Crinan, Argyll and Bute, Scotland
  • 20. Cruachan

    Like the lair of a classic James Bond villain, this triumph of 20th-century British technology lurks deep within a vast man-made cavern. Hidden 3,000 feet...

    Like the lair of a classic James Bond villain, this triumph of 20th-century British technology lurks deep within a vast man-made cavern. Hidden 3,000 feet beneath the slopes of Ben Cruachan, the colossal water-driven turbines of this subterranean power station, completed in 1965, supply clean energy to much of Scotland. The ½-mile bus ride from the surface to the generating hall is a surreal experience, made all the more so by the subtropical plants that thrive under artificial light in the warm, humid atmosphere.

    A85, Dalmally, Argyll and Bute, PA33 1AN, Scotland
    01866-962630

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: £7.50, Closed weekends and mid-Dec.--Jan.

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