So, you're thinking of coming to Islay? Or perhaps you've been before? Or maybe you are one of our visitors that come back again and again? Islay is like that. It has a magic all of its own. All the Scottish Islands have their own special characteristics. Each one is different and everyone has a favourite. The only way to find out if Islay is your place is to visit. You can look anywhere and see a whole load of information, blogs and websites about Islay. This page isn't meant to be a text book – just an overview from someone who admits that Islay is the best.
Maybe I'm biased, but which of the other islands has 8 whisky distilleries, an airport, miles of quiet beaches, a fantastic road network, a championship golf course, whitewashed picturesque villages, and people who are charming and welcoming? Other islands may have some of those attractions, but I don't know of another island that has all of them.
I don't know of anyone who has only been to Islay once. Don't delay any longer.
The island is approximately 28 miles by 14 miles. Travelling around by car is easy because of the road network. From Portnahaven in the north to Port Ellen in the south, the roads are in good condition and signposts make it difficult to get lost on Islay. On the other hand, there are enough smaller routes and roads to make you feel as if you are far, far away. Driving, walking, cycling – it doesn't matter. It's safe and scenic.
There is always a beach nearby. Islay has beautiful beaches of all types. Safe sandy bays, open Atlantic strands, sheltered coves, and every mixture of beach characteristic you can name. And here's the best bit. Even on a perfect sunny day in the middle of summer you will still find plenty of space and privacy. You certainly won't have to arrive early to park your sun lounger.
Whether you're a whisky lover or not, whisky will play an important part in your visit. It's impossible to travel around and not notice the8 distilleries. Those oriental cooling chimneys are very distinctive and the distillery buildings are a key part of many village skylines. You might just be tempted for a distillery tour – have a look at our blog. Otherwise, try the whisky. You may like it!
Food and Drink
Gone are the days of hotels being the sole providers of food and drink. Each year new restaurants or coffee shops appear all over the island. The Islay Info website has a comprehensive listing. Lunch, coffee, dinner or snacks – there is somewhere to suit.
Getting to Islay
All flightights to Islay leave from Glasgow with FlyBe. Depending on the day and time of the year there are 2 or 3 flights a day. The flight is approximately 25 minutes.
Calmac operate the ferries to the Island. Kennacraig is around 2.5 hours from Glasgow. It's an amazingly scenic drive so leave time to stop off in Inverary, Lochgilphead and Tarbert Loch Fyne. You will pass Loch Lomond 25 minutes out of Glasgow, head through the mountains just after Loch Long, and then follow Loch Fyne for the rest of the journey.
Islay Swimming Pool
Islay may be perfect, but it still rains sometimes. Right in the heart of Bowmore is the 25m pool. It's never too busy and, if you time it right, you'll have the place to yourself. There is a timetable of activities in the house or take a look at the MacTaggart Leisure Centre website.