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Recommedations for Islay

TheChaoticScotTheChaoticScot VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭✭
edited May 2016 in Scotland's Islands
Hi all,

I'm finally getting myself over to Islay for the first time at the end of September. We're flying from Glasgow and will be there for two or three nights. 

I'm looking for suggestions on where to stay - nothing remote, as we won't have a car. I've read that Bowmore is a good choice, and it's home to my favourite Islay whisky :) My Dad would like breakfast, and would prefer somewhere that isn't too 'Auntie Beanie' (such a diva!).

We're also hoping to take a day tour around the island, rather than just relying on public transport to explore. Does anyone know of anything like this? I've seen that the local taxi companies do bespoke tours, but haven't found much else.

Aside from the obvious whisky-inspired sightseeing, any other must-sees that I should add to my list are most welcome. 

Thanks,

Kay 
Follow my adventures on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram 

Have a wee nosey at my blog  

Former tour guide and current blether. Edinburgh girl whose <3 is in the Scottish Islands. Talk to me about scenic walks, photography, places to eat, public transport, exciting adventures and history  :)

Comments

  • Samantha_GrantSamantha_Grant VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭✭✭
    The ferry to Jura's not to be missed. Jura is a spectacular rugged wilderness. 

    The medieval Cross at Kildalton Chapel ruins. Beautiful medieval grave stones there too. There was an honesty box with homemade cake, tea and coffee when we went. Perfect. 

    Mull of Oa is beautiful. The American Monument is there and lots of photogenic heilan' coos.

    The beaches are fab, in particular Machir Bay.  

    Portnahaven Harbour for seal spotting. Never seen so many. 

    For great food and hospitality I can't recommend the Bridgend Hotel in Bridgend more highly. One of my favourite hotels ever.

    We adored Islay. Not a whisky fan but The Botanist gin by Bruichladdie is wonderful.

    There's also a fabulous soap maker in Bowmore well worth paying a visit to. 

    Looking forward to your photos and blog.
    I'm a Scottish travel blogger and freelance writer with an extensive knowledge of travelling in Scotland.  I'm always on the road exploring my wonderful country.  I love remote places, history and the great outdoors. 




  • TheChaoticScotTheChaoticScot VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭✭
    Thanks so much
    @Samantha_Grant ; :) We ended up booking into a wee B&B in Bowmore which looks lovely - it was so hard to find availability, and it's for late Sept! 

    I've noted all of your other recommendations, cheers! We've booked taxi/private tours by locals around both Islay and Jura so will be sure to request stops at the places you've suggested. Really looking forward to it! 
    Follow my adventures on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram 

    Have a wee nosey at my blog  

    Former tour guide and current blether. Edinburgh girl whose <3 is in the Scottish Islands. Talk to me about scenic walks, photography, places to eat, public transport, exciting adventures and history  :)
  • travelswithakilttravelswithakilt VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭
    It's not such a well known one Kay but Bunnahabhain is a wee belter of a dram. Industrial looking distillery that was oddly loveable as well. Worth a foray when you're over!
    Scotland travel blogger and writer with a wee bit of photography and video thrown in. Love nothing more than exploring my home country and have a particular leaning towards the outdoors, history and our national drink.

    You can also find me on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Tumblr.
  • TheChaoticScotTheChaoticScot VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭✭
    I do know, but have never got round to trying it Neil
    @travelswithakilt so I best be remedying that. Will check out the distillery too, if I have time, and can still walk...
    :smile:
    Follow my adventures on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram 

    Have a wee nosey at my blog  

    Former tour guide and current blether. Edinburgh girl whose <3 is in the Scottish Islands. Talk to me about scenic walks, photography, places to eat, public transport, exciting adventures and history  :)
  • JSCJSC Member ✭✭
    The round church in Bowmore is cool.  I believe there's only a few of this design which was down to ensuring the "Deil" had nowhere to hide!!
  • TheChaoticScotTheChaoticScot VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭✭
    Thanks @JSC - I've added this to my list too  :)
    Follow my adventures on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram 

    Have a wee nosey at my blog  

    Former tour guide and current blether. Edinburgh girl whose <3 is in the Scottish Islands. Talk to me about scenic walks, photography, places to eat, public transport, exciting adventures and history  :)
  • gordyboy75gordyboy75 Member
    Just back from a great 4 nights on Islay - stayed at the Islay Storm Pods at Lagavulin Bay. Could walk to Ardbeg, Lagavulin and Laphroig! Port Ellen also 3 miles away. Enjoyed the whisky - Happy 200 years Lagavulin!, views/walks (Mull of Oa) and food (scallops in the Port Charlotte Hotel). Very friendly island.  
  • AnnieCAnnieC Member
    Not sure if anyone has said this already, but a few years ago we stayed in An Taigh Osda which is (handily) near the distillery in Bruichladdich. Ee absolutely loved it. The rooms were immaculate, the views fantastic, the food delicious and the service excellent. And I second the comments to go to Jura too! We went on the ferry and did such a long walk to the north of the island that we were pretty tired back on Islay. We set off to walk to Port Charlotte for our meal/drinks and some kind islanders offered us a lift! It's one of the friendliest, most beautiful places in Scotland. Enjoy every minute
  • Kirst1709Kirst1709 Member ✭✭
    If you're aiming to go at the end of September, may be worth going the last weekend when the Jura music festival!
  • eilidh__cameroneilidh__cameron VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭✭
    I'm in Islay at the moment, Saligo bay is definitely my favourite part of the island especially at sunset! If you're up for an adventure is highly recommend soldiers rock it's a bit of a trek but so worth it! 
  • RuMacdonaldRuMacdonald VisitScotland Contributor
    If either of you golf the famous Machrie Golf Course is worth visiting. 
    RU MACDONALD
    Scottish Golf Travel Expert
    Instagram @scottishgolfpodcast
  • margaretamargareta Member ✭✭
    Hi, Im going to Islay in May 2017 and love photography, tell me all must see places.
  • Bruce_BoogieBruce_Boogie Member ✭✭
    Islay is GREAT
    Fit at least one distillery visit in
    Have a drink in Portnahaven and watch for seals
    Visit the little bar at Port Ellen ~ The Ardview Inn and walk around the harbour 
    Catch the ferry to Jura and look out for deer ~ visit the Jura distillery
    Finlaggan ~ soak up the atmosphere 
    Check to see if Loch Gruinart oysters are available from the farm ~ some great photo ops and the best oysters ever
    Birdwatch at Gruinart Nature Reserve
    Visit the Outback Gallery, Sanaigmore ~ remote and lovely (Great coffee!!)
    Take any of the little roads to see where they lead ~ like Lossit Point
    Kildalton Cross & chapel ~ lovely for photos
    Put a bit lens on when driving the lanes and go slowly (let people past) and watch the field for wildlife ~ hares, birds, all sorts 
    Watch the ridge between Bruichladdich and Bridgend for eagles ~ be patient

    Port Ellen


    Portnahaven



    Watch Out !!



    Above all have a wonderful time (we've been back many time)

    And for a change Harris & Lewis ~ even better!!
    Bruce Boogie
    www.boogiebopboys.co.uk
    Playing the music that created teenagers
  • margaretamargareta Member ✭✭
    How to get around on Jura? Is it far to walk to the destilley from the ferry or other sights? Bus, bike or car?
  • VisitScotlandEstherVisitScotlandEsther Administrator, Moderator, VisitScotland Staff
    edited May 26
    Hi @margareta

    I'm just back from a trip to Islay and Jura...  I'd recommend taking a car or bikes to Jura, as it's quite a distance to the distillery from the ferry. Here's the beach just by the ferry terminal.



    We also met this guy on Jura, basking in the sun... Adders are really shy, and despite growing up in Argyll, this is the first one I've ever seen.



    The distillery is closed on Sundays, so we popped into the Jura hotel for a coffee instead.



    Back on Islay, the church at Bowmore is lovely.



    ...and we did a tour of Bowmore distillery too, which is the oldest on Islay.





    I'd also recommend taking a walk to the American Monument at the Mull of Oa, which you can access from the road just north of Port Ellen.

    The monument is dedicated to the crew of two American ships that sank off the coast of Islay during the first world war. It's perched right on the cliffs, and the walk is a very gentle incline, with a fantastic walkway across the bog, through fields of lovely coos.






    We had beautiful weather, and I left the island feeling inspired to draw and paint. We're so lucky to live in such a gorgeous place. <3

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