Islay | Eithne Nutt

About

'The Queen of the Hebrides' is known the world over for its whisky but visitors also head to the island to explore rare wildlife, rich history, beautiful beaches and fabulous food. Being on the Gulf Stream means the island has a surprisingly mild climate all year round in which to enjoy walking, watersports, diving, cycling and sailing. Inhabited since Mesolithic times (just after the last Ice Age around 8,000 BC) Islay boasts many ancient and modern historical sites from standing stones to WWII memorials.

Famous For

  • With no fewer than nine distilleries it is clear why Islay is known as the 'Whisky Isle'. The island is known world over from its uisge beatha (water of life) especially for its peaty, smoky tasting drams.

  • The island is one of the top birdwatching locations in the country, most famous for the tens of thousands of mainly barnacle and white-fronted geese, which migrate from their Greenland breeding grounds to spend the winter here.

  • Finlaggan on Islay was the headquarters of the Lords of the Isles between the 12th and 15th centuries. From here they ruled over the Isle of Man, Argyll and the Scottish islands.

Ask an Islander

  • It’s not all about the whisky. We also do great gin. Check out Nerabus and The Botanist - both made on the island.

  • Everyone will have their favourite spot for a walk ending up with a picnic and maybe a swim. Try Port An Eas (pronounced Port Aneesh) not far out of Port Ellen. You can walk to and from it from the cemetery at Kilnaughton in under 2 hours at a very leisurely pace or kayak round the coast from the square Carraig Fhada lighthouse in about 15 minutes.

  • Cycling is the very best way to see the island and all its wildlife - from the seal colonies at Portnahaven to the otters on the rocks; golden eagles on the cliffs and choughs out at Machir.

Accommodation

Check out the following accommodation listings to book your stay.

Visit Scotland accommodation

Explore Islay & Jura - Islay accommodation

Islay accommodation directory

More Information

You can find some additional information about Islay at the links below

Explore Islay and Jura

COVID-19

Please check the latest rules on travelling to and around the Scottish islands on the Scottish Government website, including guidance on testing before you travel. Please note that advice may vary depending on the specific island you are visiting.

Getting here

Covid-19

Please check the latest rules on travelling to and around the Scottish islands on the Scottish Government website, including guidance on testing before you travel. Please note that advice may vary depending on the specific island you are visiting.


CalMac Ferries operate several daily sailings between Kennacraig on the mainland and either Port Ellen in the south of Islay or Port Askaig in the northeast of the island. Seasonal ferries also run between Port Askaig and Oban on the mainland, via Colonsay.

Argyll and Bute Council operates a ferry between Port Askaig on Islay and Jura which is connected to the mainland by a seasonal passenger ferry. Find out more about getting to Jura.

Loganair operate daily flights between Islay and Glasgow.

Hebridean Air operates scheduled flights between Oban on the mainland and Islay. Some flights go via Colonsay.

Get Your Passport

You can find lots more information about things to see and do on the island, see some amazing island photography and collect your island stamp by downloading our app.

Download the app

App in phone

Download the Scottish Island Passport app to collect your island stamps! The app also provides lots more information on each island including recommendations from locals about things to see and do, info on how to get around, more stunning photos and useful offline maps.

  • Unlock Stamps - Collect them all! Stamp your passport when you visit each island - with an individual stamp designed to represent a unique aspect of island heritage.
  • Experiences - Discover the best experiences each island has to offer – from local boat trips to exciting traditional festivals, there is something for everyone.
  • Maps - Navigate the islands with useful offline maps, handy for areas where internet connectivity is weak.
  • Travel Jounals - Create an in-location travel journal with pictures from your island adventures, to look back on your trip.
  • Favourites - keep track of your most loved islands with the favourites feature. Available to access from your account on both the app and web.