Things to see and do - Islay Guide

The information on this page gives access to a range of things to see and do on the island and acts as your Islay Guide. Besides the activities and tips for a day out, which you find below, there are also annual events, see this page and other shorter one day events and activities which are organised throughout the year such as Ceilidhs, walks, concerts etc. Check these out here please

Islay WalkingWalking on Islay
With so much stunning nature available walking is one of the best activities to fully discover Islay's splendour. Our Walks Pages offer almost twenty beautiful walks for walking enthusiasts as well as for families with young children. Each walk has a clear description, grading, tips and a map.

Islay WalkingDriving Tours on Islay
Have a look at five different driving routes on Islay covering most of the island's roads. Each route has some insider tips and highlights to make the most of your tour over the island.

The museum of Islay life, Port CharlotteThe museum of Islay life, Port Charlotte
The Museum of Islay Life occupies a former church in the village of Port Charlotte. It is open every day from April to the end of October. A small entrance charge is made, with concessions for pensioners, students and families.

Distillery VisitWhisky Distillery Tour
Eight of some of the best known single malt whisky distilleries in the world offer guided and expert tours and tastings. Visitors can meet the people who distill your dram, visit the grounds of the distillery, get to know the ins and outs of your favourite distillery and enjoy a dram afterwards.

Finlaggan, the centre of the Lordship of the IslesFinlaggan, the centre of the Lordship of the Isles
A few miles to the south-west of Port Askaig on the island of Islay lies Loch Finlaggan, a place of great importance in Scottish history, In the loch are three islands, two of which lie close to the north shore. These are Eilean Mor (large island) and Eilean na Comhairle (council isle) which contain fragmentary remains of buildings.

Beaches on IslayThe Beaches on Islay
Islay has over 130 miles of coastline and many beaches to discover, both on the Atlantic west coast and on other more sheltered parts of islay's coastline. And the great thing about the beaches on Islay is that you are likely to be the only visitors apart from the always present wildlife.

Islay Sea AdventuresIslay Sea Adventures
Whether you're an avid bird watcher or just enjoy a bit of nice scenery, Islay Sea Adventure's wildlife trips can offer the chance to see some rare sights. From Port Ellen they'll take you on a tour along the coastline of Islay. You'll get to see seals, maybe an otter, a basking shark, or perhaps the rare white tailed sea eagles.

Kildalton Cross and ChapelKildalton Cross and Chapel
Kildalton Cross is one of the finest early Christian crosses in Scotland, the High Cross of Kildalton, is closely related to three major crosses in Iona. Kildalton Cross and Chapel can be found eight miles from Port Ellen on the road beyond Ardbeg.

Islay Natural History Trust, Port CharlotteIslay Natural History Trust, Port Charlotte
The Trust runs the Wildlife Information Centre in Port Charlotte where displays illustrate the island's wildlife riches, from its underlying geology to its birds, butterflies, wild flowers and mammals. The Trust publishes an annual report on the birds and other wildlife as well as checklists of birds, butterflies and dragonflies, mammals and reptiles, and wild flowers.

Bowmore round churchBowmore Round Church
Bowmore round church is built in 1767. Folklore says that the round shape is made so there are no corners for the Devil to hide in. The Round Church was built for Daniel Campbell to serve the population of the Parish of Kilarrow. In 1830 a gallery was added to increase the capacity to 500. The church is open to visitors all year.

Tormisdale Croft CraftsTormisdale Croft Crafts
Tormisdale Croft Crafts lies on the wild and beautiful west coast of Islay between Portnahaven and Port Charlotte on the road to Kilchiaran, not far from the Cultoon Stone Circle. Tormisdale Croft Crafts is open all year round and the shop sells a large variety of articles made at the croft from natural resources.

Loch Gruinart Nature ReserveLoch Gruinart Nature Reserve
Loch Gruinart is famous for the large numbers of barnacle and white-fronted geese that spend the winter on Islay. The reserve can be seen easily from the road. In the visitor centre, a live video camera lets you get even closer views of the grazing geese.

Wild Islay BirdingWild Islay Birding
Gary Turnbull runs Wild Islay Birding offering full, half day and bespoke wildlife and birding tours on Islay. Their tours operate 7 days a week and ALL year round. They have a comfortable minibus, which seats up to 8. It has large windows, and being higher allows better views to enhance each guests overall experience.

Islay OutdoorsIslay Outdoors
Donald James (DJ) spent forty years as a Gamekeeper on Dunlossit Estate, Islay, the last twenty of those as its Head Keeper. Through Islay Outdoors he is now putting this knowledge to work on behalf of his clients, ensuring that no matter how brief their stay on Islay, they have an unforgettable outdoor experience.

Kayak Wild IslayKayak Wild Islay
Kayak Wild Islay specialise in providing quality trips around the coastline of Islay. Kayak Wild Islay is based in Port Ellen and offer a range of guided trips and taster sessions for all the family. You can experience the Islay coastline from a different angle and discover the many wildlife while doing so.

The Isle of JuraThe Isle of Jura
Jura: 180 people, 5000 deer and one whisky distillery. The perfect conditions for a very special and magical place. Jura is part of the southern Hebrides and is only accessible by the ferry from Port Askaig on Islay to Feolin over the sound of Islay. Ferry services are regular (every 15 minutes) untill 5 in the afternoon.

American monument on the Oa peninsulaAmerican Monument on the Oa peninsula
The American Monument High on the Oa at Upper Killeyan and overlooking the sea in which 266 Americans died when the HMS Tuscania was torpedoed on February 5 1918. The monument is shaped like a lighthouse and was built by the Government of The United States on the 400ft cliffs, seven miles from where the ship went down.

Kilnave Chapel and CrossKilnave Chapel and Cross
Kilnave Cross and ruined chapel are located on the Ardnave road on the west side of Loch Guinart, a mile up the road from the RSPB nature reserve. The chapel played an important role in the Battle of Gruinart in 1598 between the MacDonalds of Islay and the MacLeans on Mull. The graveyard has a beautiful cross and offers stunning views over the loch.

Kilchoman Cross and Military CemeteryKilchoman Cross and Military Cemetery
Kilchoman Cross is a very detailed high cross which dates back to the 1300s. It can be found in the graveyard of the now ruined Kilchoman Church. Half a mile from the church to the west is the Kilchoman Military Cemetery with graves of soldiers who died in the Otranto tragedy.

Islay Sea Safari, Port AskaigIslay Sea Safari, Port Askaig
The best way to visit Islay's seven Distilleries and Craighouse on Jura, from the sea. Operating a state of the art Redbay Stormforce 11 Rigid Inflatable, Islay Sea Safari is based on the Isle of Islay, Scotland and available for corporate or private charter anywhere around the isles of Islay, Jura, Gigha, Northern Ireland and as far north as Tiree.

Mactaggart Leisure Centre, BowmoreMacTaggart Leisure Centre
The Mactaggart Leisure Centre is a community owned and run business which has won four nationally recognised awards. It comprises a 25 metre swimming pool, fitness studio, sauna, tancab, launderette, multi purpose activity room and sports kiosk. The swimming pool is also home for the Islay Masters Swimming Club

Birdwatching on IslayBirdwatching on Islay
Islay boasts a wide variety of wonderful scenery and habitats, including wild open moorland and hills, unspoilt beaches and cliffs, mixed woodland and mudflats, all of which offer amazing birding with over 100 species being present on the island all year round.

Islay FishingFishing on Islay
Trout and Salmon Fishing is possible on several rivers and lochs depending on season and day of the week. Fishing is however restricted in most parts of Islay and permits and/or approval should be obtained at the serveral estate offices on Islay. The newsagent in Port Ellen sells permits for Loch Kinnabus and Glen Astil and can be contacted at tel: (01496) 302 264.

Islay cyclingIslay Cycling and Bike Hire
Cycling on Islay is great, the island is relatively flat and the distances between villages are not to far. There are several places to rent a bike or you can of course take your own. Check out the Islay Bike Hire Page for Bike Hires and contact Info. They are located in Port Charlotte and Port Ellen.

Islay Golf at the MachrieGolfing on Islay
There are many reasons why you have to come and play the Machrie Golf Links, not least to discover why so many golfers find it a bewitching and exalting experience. This should explain enough about the possibilities of playing golf and the pleasure it can provide. Check out the Machrie website for more information about golf on Islay. And Islay has its own Golf Club with competitions etc. You will find more info here

Cruises in the HebridesCruise the Hebrides [external link]
If you want to see more of the Hebrides before or after your Islay Holiday you might want to consider taking a cruise around the many islands in the West of Scotland. Several cruise companies offer multi-day cruises and some, such as St Hilda Sea Adventures, also include Islay in their itinerary. It's a fantastic way to discover the magnificent scenery and wildlife.

Tourist Information Office | Complete Overview | Birdwatching | RSPB Loch Gruinart | Finlaggan-Eilean Mor | Islay Museum | MacTaggart Bowmore | Wildlife Centre | Islay Events | Walking | Cycling Info&Tour | Fishing | Playing Fields | Islay Canoe Club | Machrie Golf Links


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Norman Newton - Islay guide
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