Located in the Firth of Clyde, just 1 hour from Glasgow and 2 hours from Edinburgh with a fast 55-minute CalMac ferry trip from Ardrossan to Brodick, the Isle of Arran is one of Scotland’s most accessible islands – which makes it perfect for a weekend away! If you are thinking of visiting this lovely island, I have put together a wee guide and map of all the things to do on Arran.
We visited in winter, where the weather can be rather unpredictable – even though the clouds were low and winter was working hard to suck the colour out of Scotland, Arran has a palette all of its own. I loved the red bracken, grey rock & constantly changing blue seas.
Things to do on Arran
Arran is the 7th largest island of Scotland, and whilst it might be a marketing cliche, the Isle of Arran truly is ‘Scotland in Miniature’. With rugged highland mountains in the north, windswept beaches and ruined castles, and, of course, Arran whisky. Despite the whole island being only 55 miles around, there is a lot to fit in!
At the northern tip of the Island is Loch Ranza, on which sits the mysterious Lochranza Castle. Was it built by Dougall MacSween owner of Scotland’s oldest standing castle – Castle Sween? Why did he convert an older Hall House to this impressive tower? Lochranza Castle is only open in the summer, but it is well worth a trip. Visit Lochranza Castle.
Above Whiting Bay lay the remains of two Neolithic tombs oddly called the Giant’s graves. I guess you should resist doing an Outlander here, you need to visit the Machrie Moor stone circles for this! Climb the steep winding path for fantastic views of Arran and the Holy Isle and then descend via the forest to see the spectacular Glenashdale Falls. Visit the Giants Graves.
Machrie Moor Standing Stones
With six stone circles, Machrie Moor is the place to go on Arran if you wish to indulge in a little Outlander obsession! The circles date from around 2000 BC and can be reached on foot in an about an hour. Visit Machrie Moor.
Whether or not they once sheltered Robert the Bruce, the King’s Cave on Arran’s west coast still make for an impressive site. There are impressive views of the Kintyre Penisula and Drumadoon Point. The walk takes between 1-2 hours and starts at a signposted car park near Machrie. Visit King’s Cave.
Located in Lochranza. Did you know the first bottling of the Arran 10-year old is responsible for my decade long love of uisge beatha? Tours everyday, from £7.50. Visit Arran Distillery.
Brodick Castle & Gardens
A quintessential Victorian ‘Highland’ estate and Scotland’s only Country Park on an island! The castle is 800 years old and the grounds have waterfalls and bathing pools! The grounds are open all year round although the Castle is closed in winter. Entry to the Castle is £12.50 for adults. Visit Brodick Castle.
Take a walk through the Arran brewery and sample their famous ales. My favourite is the Arran Blonde. Tours everyday at 2pm, £5 for adults. Visit Arran Brewery.
I’ve put all these things to do on Arran on the map below with a few other places you might like – if you have any recommendations to add to it, then let me know. If you click on the markers more detail and website links will pop up. It is rather fancy.
Where to stay & what to eat on Arran
We stayed at the lovely and very stylish Glenisle Hotel in the village of Lamlash, where our top floor suite had a roll top bath, a huge bed and views out over the bay and Holy Island.
Check out that bath!
The best bit? All that walking meant that we could pig ourselves silly! From great sandwiches after our long walk in the Glenisle Hotel bar to a romantic candle lit dinner in their restaurant on the first night, with salmon & steak and then drinks by the fire, we were thoroughly happy.
On the second night, we ate at the fantastic Drift Inn, where their selection of 80+ gins, freshly caught scallops (they were the best I’d ever eaten) Lamlash lamb cutlets and beef bourguignon served with potato dauphinoise made for very happy tummies.
Arran we will be back!
Love From, Scotland