With rugged highland mountains in the north, windswept beaches and ruined castles, and, of course, Arran whisky. The Isle of Arran truly is ‘Scotland in Miniature’. Despite the whole island being only 55 miles around, there is a lot to fit in! Here are the best things to do on Arran.
Sail across to Holy Isle
Located in Lamlash Bay is Holy Isle, once the home of a 6th-century monk called St Molaise and now owned by the Samyé Ling Buddhist Community who run a center for world peace and health on the island. Day visitors are welcome to visit the island between April and October. A small ferry runs from Lamlash 3 times a day.
Visit Lochranza Castle
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
Climb up to the Giant’s Graves
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
Hike to 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
Explore the King’s Caves
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
Have a dram at Arran Distillery
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 every day, from £7.50. Visit Arran Distillery
Visit 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 itself is closed in winter. Entry to the Castle is £12.50 for adults. Visit Brodick Castle
Sup up at Arran Brewery
Take a walk through the Arran brewery and sample their famous ales. My favourite is the Arran Blonde. Tours every day at 2pm, £5 for adults. Visit Arran Brewery
Map of things to do on Arran
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 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 candlelit dinner in their restaurant on the first night, with salmon & steak and then drinks by the fire, we were thoroughly happy.
We also 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.
How to get to the Isle of Arran
Arran is 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!
We visited Arran 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. Arran we will be back!
Love From, Scotland x