Journey through the Inner Hebrides

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Tobermory, Isle of Mull
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A man admires the clear sea view as he sits on a rock ledge above a beach where he has left his kayak, Island of Inch Kenneth
Argyll & The Isles ››

Experience Argyll & The Isles and explore charming towns and villages, enjoy clear waters and stroll along empty beaches.

Looking over purple heather to a self-catering cottage at Elgol by Loch Scavaig with the Cuillin mountains behind, Isle of Skye
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Good integration of bus, train and ferry services means it can be straightforward to sample many of the Inner Hebridean islands. Even if time is limited, there are plenty of day cruising options where you can get a glimpse of island life and spot seabirds, seals and whales. Follow this itinerary to see some of the highlights of the area using public transport, or pick and choose your favourite parts for a shorter break.

  • Bowmore jetty, looking across to the distillery, Islay
    Bowmore jetty, looking across to the distillery, Islay
  • A Caledonian MacBrayne ferry arriving in Oban bay from the Isle of Mull
    Caledonian MacBrayne ferry arriving in Oban bay
  • A CalMac ferry sailing past Duart Castle, Mull
    A CalMac ferry sailing past Duart Castle, Mull
  • A dolphin leaps out of the sea
    A breaching dolphin
  • McCaig's Tower, Oban
    McCaig's Tower, Oban

Begin your journey in Glasgow, where a good bus service links the central belt of Scotland with the Kintyre Peninsula and Kennacraig, the ferry terminal for Islay. Head across to Islay and explore this famous whisky distilling island.

With a choice of eight distilleries to visit and fantastic local tours, it’s worth taking some time to explore this spectacular island. Begin in the village of Bowmore, where a local bus service connects it with the ferry port. Here you will find a lovely range of self-catering, B&B and hotel options to spend the night.

Spend your morning exploring Bowmore and the many great attractions there. Visit Bowmore Distillery, the oldest legal distillery in Scotland, set up by John Simpson in 1779. Marvel at the beautiful Italian influenced Bowmore Round Church situated at the end of the main street, opposite the harbour. Building started in 1767 and it is the oldest church building on Islay.

Whisky lovers may wish to take a short bus to the south end of the island to Port Ellen where the more peaty flavoured whiskies are distilled, such as Ardbeg. Wildlife enthusiasts can take an organised tour around the island, taking in some of the best wildlife spotting and birdwatching spots. Head back to Bowmore for the night.

Leave Islay and take the seasonal ferry from Port Askaig to the island of Colonsay. Spend some time on this beautiful little island, which also has direct links with Oban on the mainland. There are lots of things to discover on Colonsay including the stunning woodland gardens of Colonsay House or the spectacular Colonsay Golf Course - boasting some of the best views from any course in the world.

Explore the natural splendour of Colonsay on a guided walking or mini bus tour around the island. Explore the history of the area and cross the tidal sands to the ancient Oronsay Priory, which dates back to 1353.

Take the ferry crossing to Oban, where you will find plenty of accommodation and restaurant options for the evening.

Spend the day exploring the busy ferry port of Oban with its pleasant harbour and promenade, excellent shopping and local seafood restaurants.

Why not explore Dunollie Castle, the ancient seat of Clan MacDougall, or the historic hiding place of the Stone of Destiny at Dunstaffnage Castle? Both castles are easily reachable by bus from the centre of Oban.

Enjoy spectacular views from McCaig's Tower on Battery Hill, overlooking Oban and the islands of Mull, Lismore and Kerrera. With spectacular sunset views over the water, McCaig's Tower and public garden is the perfect place to end the day in Oban.

Depart by ferry for Craignure on the Isle of Mull, and from here there is an option to catch a coach to the spectacular Duart Castle. Perched on the sea-edge, the castle is the ancient seat of Clan Maclean and enjoys one of the most spectacular and unique positions on the west coast of Scotland.

Take a connecting bus to Tobermory, the picturesque main town and fishing port of Mull. With brightly painted buildings and surrounded by woodland-fringed hills, Tobermory is a wonderful place to enjoy an afternoon. The town has a good variety of shops, hotels, and other accommodation and the harbour is always busy with fishing boats, yachts and the ferry to and from Kilchoan.

From the harbour there are plenty of opportunities to join wildlife excursions, including cruising options with the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Conversation Trust. With year-round resident bottlenose dolphins, grey seals and harbour porpoises, there is always something exciting to see. Seasonally there are even sightings of minke whales and basking sharks.

For those who wish to stay on dry land, pay a visit to the Mull Eagle Watch, organised by the RSPB and the only place where white-tailed eagles can be viewed from an organised hide in the UK. It is essential to book in advance to avoid disappointment and to allow the rangers to locate the best viewing point for the movable hide.

There are plenty of ranger-led walking tours and wildlife spotting bus tours around the island, departing from Tobermory. Again, it is advised that you book in advance.

Spend this day relaxing as you travel back to Oban on the mainland, taking in the spectacular scenery of the Inner Hebrides. Once you've arrived in Oban, catch the ferry to the nearby island of Lismore on Loch Linnhe. This fertile, low-lying island was once a major centre of Celtic Christianity, with a monastery founded by Saint Moluag and the seat of the Bishop of Argyll.

Explore the island of Lismore and make the most of the stunning sea views. There are bikes available to hire and can be delivered anywhere on the island, alternatively there are plenty of walking routes to enjoy. Visit some of the best attractions, including Achadun Castle and the highest hill on the mainland, Barry Mor.

Visit the local heritage centre and museum which tells the long and fascinating story of this community, its development and people. The centre has a café for refreshments with delicious local produce on offer.

Take the passenger-only ferry from the north end of the island for Port Appin on the mainland where you can spend the evening.

Take a 30 minute walk to the main road (or alternatively a local low-cost taxi) to the A828, where you can get the bus to Fort William. If time permits, explore this important town, home to the highest mountain in Britain, Ben Nevis. From Fort William, catch a train to Arisaig or Mallaig where you can head out on an unmissible trip to the Small Isles of Rum, Eigg, Canna and Muck. During the summer season, catch the Jacobite Steam Train over the Glenfinnan Viaduct to Mallaig - made famous as the Hogwarts Express Journey in Harry Potter.

Spend the day exploring the spectacular scenery, varied wildlife and clear waters of the Small Isles, a small archipelago of islands in the Inner Hebrides. Both the Arisaig and Mallaig links allow a combination of islands to be visited, depending on departure days. Enjoy wildlife in abundance, clear water and tranquility before heading back to the mainland. From here there are frequent train and bus links to return you to Glasgow.