One of the largest regions of Scotland – and one of our hidden gems – Argyll and Bute covers much of Scotland’s beautiful west coast. Make your base on the Mull of Kintyre, visit the bustling seaside town of Oban, discover the lovely Cowal Peninsula, visit the Isle of Bute, stay at Inveraray on Loch Fyne or island hop from Oban to the Hebridean Islands of Mull, and to Coll, Tiree and Islay and Jura. Here is where to stay, what to do, where to eat and drink, and how to explore Argyll and Bute.
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My 10 favourite things to do in Argyll and Bute
- Puck’s Glen – dare you to enter the dark and spooky Puck’s Glen, home to a mischievous sprite? Go on – the stroll through Puck’s Glen is one of the best wee walks in Scotland following a path laid down by the Victorians in the 1800s (they loved a gothic walk!) through a waterfall-filled spectacularly-deep gorge filled with tropical plants and an otherworldly atmosphere. Visit Puck’s Glen.
- The Arrochar Alps – To the north west of Argyll and Bute are the Arrochar Alps – The Cobbler is famous for its distinctive shape and rocky crags – and the challenge of ‘threading the needle’, or tackle Beinn Narnain and Ben Ime – Beinn Narnain is a tough little hill and Ben Ime is a boggy slog, but boy are the views of the surrounding hills, including the Cobbler are worth it.
- Climb Dùn na Cuaiche, Inveraray – a 248m-high hill which towers over Inverary, climbing Dun na Cuaiche might be steep, but is well worth the climb for an incredible view over the town. Visit Inveraray.
- Visit Kilmartin Glen – With over 300 ancient sites to visit including standing stones, chambered cairns and cup and ring marked rocks, history buffs and Outlander fans will love to explore with this walk around Kilmartin Glen.
- Head to Arduaine Gardens – managed by the National Trust for Scotland. Arduaine Point has had a botanical garden since 1898 and it now is home to an international rhododendron collection, beautiful woodlands and ponds; truly living up to the area’s name as the ‘green point’. Visit Arduaine Gardens.
- Spend a week on Mull or Islay – two of my favourite islands in Scotland, Mull (and Iona) and Islay (and Jura) are fantastic islands to spend a week (or longer) – visit one of Islay’s 9 whisky distilleries or why not climb Ben More on Mull.
- Visit the Argyll Forest Park – to the west of Loch Lomond and stretching to the Firth of Clyde is the huge Argyll Forest, Britain’s oldest Forest Park established in 1935. The park contains the fabulous Benmore Botanic Garden with the Benmore Botanic Garden Cafe. Read more: Argyll Forest Park Guide.
- Discover Crinan – with a pretty harbour, iconic sailing waters and some of the best views in Scotland across the Inner Hebrides, Crinan in Argyll and Bute is one of Scotland’s most beautiful villages.
- Walk the Kyles of Bute from Tighnabruaich – A lovely settlement on the Kyles of Bute, follow the coastal path from the hamlet along the edge of the pretty Kyles of Bute (sea channels) to Caladh Lighthouse and Eilean Dubh (the black island). After your visit, don’t miss Ostel Bay with its views of Arran. More things to do on Cowal.
- Visit the Isle of Bute – a short ferry ride across the Firth of Clyde, Bute is one of the most easily accessible islands in Scotland. Visit the capital Rothesay, the gothic-revival Mount Stuart, hike or cycle the 30 mile West Island Way, and discover Scalpsie Bay.
Things to do in Argyll and Bute Map
You can view all the things to do in Argyll and Bute on my Argyll and Bute Map which you can also save as layer in Google Maps on your smart phone.
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How to explore Argyll – where is Argyll and Bute?
One of the largest regions in Scotland, Argyll and Bute stretches from Loch Lomond in the east, Helensburgh and Dunoon along the Clyde, the Mull of Kintyre to the south and the Inner Hebrides to the west. The region is best broken down into four areas:
- Loch Lomond to the River Clyde including Helensburgh and Luss
- The Isle of Bute and the Cowal Peninsula including Inveraray
- Mid Argyll and Bute and Kintrye including Islay and Jura
- Oban and Lorn and the Inner Hebridean Islands
Places to visit in Argyll and Bute – towns and villages
Luss, Loch Lomond
Visit the pretty village of Luss is home to the iconic ‘Take the High Road’ cottages, take a boat trip out onto the loch or If you are feeling a little more energetic climb Beinn Dubh, for a fabulous view of Loch Lomond. Further north are the Falls of Falloch, a great spot for a wander or a picnic.
A popular seaside town, with multiple seafood restaurants and a bustling harbour. From Oban take a ferry to Isle of Mull, and the Inner Hebrides. Climb up to Mccaig’s Tower above the town for a fantastic view of the islands. On the way to Oban visit the pretty Slate Islands and the Bridge Over the Atlantic at Seil.
Eat: Try Cuan Mor, EE-USK, Etive Restaurant and the Oban Seafood Hut (the green one next to the ferry terminal)
Kilmartin and The Kintyre Peninsula
Kilmartin is rich in history and offers numerous historical sites. For archaeology buffs (and Outlander/standing stone fans) Kilmartin Museum and Glen is filled to the brim with cairns, monuments, and standing stones, and a great little museum.
On the banks of beautiful Loch Fyne sits Inveraray. climb up Dun na Cuaiche above Inveraray for an incredible view of the town, visit Inveraray Castle, the ancestral home of the Dukes of Argyll and Bute and explore the Inveraray estate on a lovely woodland walk to find pretty follies.
Read more: my guide to Inveraray
Situated on the Firth of Clyde, Helensburgh is a Victorian seaside resort. Take a stroll along the promenade and pier – the start of the John Muir Way, visit Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s The Hill House and discover the Clyde Loch Sea Trail.
With a pretty harbour, iconic sailing waters and some of the best views in Scotland across the Inner Hebrides, Crinan in Argyll and Bute is one of Scotland’s most beautiful villages. Stroll along the Crinan Canal, nicknamed ‘Scotland’s most beautiful shortcut’ which stretches from Ardrishaig on Loch Fyne to Crinan on the Sound of Jura. Stop for a while to watch the boats traversing up the locks over coffee and cake from the Crinan Coffee Shop. Read more and visit Crinan.
Famous both for Scottish whisky (it is the the smallest whisky-producing region in Scotland) and its role in the fishing industry, Campbeltown sits on the Kintyre Peninsula. Visit one of the three working distilleries including Glengyle/Kilkerran, Glen Scotia, and Springbank before heading down to the famous Mull of Kintyre and its Lighthouse.
With a pretty and colourful harbour, Tarbert acts as the gateway to the Kintyre Peninsula and is home to a busy working fishing fleet. Climb up to Robert the Bruce’s 14th century castle above the town for a great view.
The main hub of the Cowal Peninsula, Dunoon is easily accessed from Glasgow on a Western Ferry. Or why not take a trip on the paddle steamer, the PS Waverley that runs between Glasgow and Dunoon. Nearby to Dunoon is Benmore Botanic Gardens, Pucks Glen, and the Argyle Forest Park.
A lovely settlement on the Kyles of Bute, follow the coastal path from the hamlet of Tighnabruaich along the edge of the pretty Kyles of Bute (sea channels) to Caladh Lighthouse and Eilean Dubh (the black island) sitting at the mouth of Loch Riddon returning by the same route. The walk will take about 2 hours, but you can walk as far as you’d like – you are following the Loch Lomond and Cowal Way. Head to The Oystercatcher, Otter Ferry or Inver Restaurant for lunch.
The ‘capital’ of Argyll, Lochgilphead is one of the main settlements in Argyll and Bute. This makes it a great spot from which to explore the area.
The Islands of Argyll and Bute
- The Isle of Bute – a short ferry ride across the Firth of Clyde, Bute is one of the most easily accessible islands in Scotland. Visit the capital Rothesay, the gothic-revival Mount Stuart, hike or cycle the 30 mile West Island Way, and discover Scalpsie Bay.
- Mull and Iona – the Isle of Mull is one of Scotland’s most popular islands. Located in the Inner Hebrides, just a short ferry ride from Oban or from Ardnamurchan, the isle of Mull is perfect for an Island holiday in Scotland. From climbing a Munro, staying in the pretty town of Tobermory, to one of Scotland’s best beaches, here are my favourite things to do on the Isle of Mull, Scotland.
- Islay and Jura – with beautifully wild landscapes, incredibly friendly locals, or the cask strength whisky, there is something about Islay that grabs your heart and holds on. Here is how to visit the Isle of Islay.
Other islands to visit include Coll and Tiree, Colonsay, Gigha, Kerrara and the Kerrera Tea Garden & Bunkhouse, Lismore and the Slate Islands.
Where to stay in Argyll and Bute
Loch Lomond to the Clyde
- Loch Lomond Waterfront has eight five-star luxury lodges and three lochside grass-roofed chalets.
- Inn on Loch Lomond* at Inverbeg is really well located for exploring the park with rooms as little as £50 a night.
- the Lodge on the Loch Lomond by the village of Luss. This beautiful American / Scottish lodge-style hotel offers up comfortable and stylish rooms, some have their own saunas and pine balconies right on the loch.
- Loch Lomond Oval – a couples (and your dog) retreat with outdoor bath near Loch Lomond
The Isle of Bute and the Cowal Peninsula
Portavadie Marina and Spa – opened in 2010, Portavadie offers up a hotel and apartment complex all set around a 260-berth yachting marina. Choose from luxury townhouses complete with saunas, lodge-style hotel rooms, cute family cottages or two couples retreats. With two restaurants and a cafe on site, Portavadie also has a £10m spa and leisure complex with utterly incredible views.
Mid Argyll and Kintrye (Including Islay and Jura)
- Winterton Guest House – a foodie delight with roll top baths
- The Steading at Barmore – self catering with lovely gardens
- Kirnan House – B&B in sits in 500 acres of woodland
- Taychreggan Hotel – a lovely classic hotel on Loch Awe
- Loch Melfort – for Coos and views
- The Loch Fyne Hotel – a dog-friendly spa hotel on the lochside with a pool, restaurant and bar.
- The Inverary Inn – opened in 1755, this is a traditional scottish inn, in the heart of town
- King’s Reach B&B in Kilmartin Glen! I could not ask for more!
- Brambles of Inverary – traditional rooms alongside a popular bistro and bakery
- Machrie Hotel & Golf Links – luxury golf hotel on Islay
- Glenegedale House – fabulous B&B on Islay
Oban and Lorn and the Islands
- Inverlonan Bothies – off grid, luxury bothies near Oban
- The Isle of Eriska Hotel – a luxury hotel and spa on its own private island
- Tigh an Truish Inn – a lovely inn with rooms on the Isle of Seil overlooking the Bridge over the Atlantic.
- The Loch Melfort Hotel – lovely boutique hotel south of Oban with great food and dog friendly rooms
- Kirnan House – B&B in sits in 500 acres of woodland
- Lochside Log Cabin on Loch Awe has an outdoor hot tub right on the water and accepts dogs
Things to do in Argyll and Bute
The best walks in Argyll and Bute – low level and short
Pucks Glen – the stroll through Puck’s Glen is one of the best wee walks in Scotland following a path through a waterfall-filled spectacularly-deep gorge filled with tropical plants and an otherworldly atmosphere. There is free parking at Puck’s Glen car park and read my guide to exploring Puck’s Glen.
The Kyles of Bute – follow the coastal path from Tighnabruaich along the edge of the pretty Kyles of Bute (sea channels) to Caladh Lighthouse and Eilean Dubh (the black island) sitting at the mouth of Loch Riddon returning by the same route..
Crinan and the Crinan Canal – explore the Castle Dounie circuit high up above the village by climbing to the viewpoint for views across to the Isle of Jura and beyond.
Ardkinglas Gardens – walk the Gruffalo Trail to explore the Ardkinglas Woodland Garden to find the wee mouse – great for kids
Kilmartin Glen – With over 300 sites to visit including standing stones, chambered cairns and cup and ring marked rocks, explore with this walk around Kilmartin Glen.
Dùn na Cuaiche, Inveraray – a 248m-high hill which towers over Inverary, climbing Dun na Cuaiche might be steep, but is well worth the climb for an incredible view over the town. Download the map of the Dun na Cuaich walk and the Inveraray Estate.
Mull of Oa and the American Monument, Islay – Visit the remote Mull of Oa where you can walk to the American Monument along the Oa cliffs.
Argyll Forest Park – to the west of Loch Lomond and stretching to the Firth of Clyde is the huge Argyll Forest, Britain’s oldest Forest Park established in 1935. The park contains the fabulous Benmore Botanic Garden. Read more: Argyll Forest Park Guide.
Argyll and Bute Munros and other mountains to climb
My pick of my favourite munros and other mountains in Argyll and Bute:
Famous for its distinctive shape and rocky crags, at the top of The Cobbler is a famous pinnacle on which you can ‘thread the needle’ by jumping across, climbing through the hole in the pinnacle and then scrambling up to stand on the rocky peak which is actually the very top of the hill. It looks hard – but you really just need a good head for heights – and an Instagram account to show off that you’ve done it. How to climb The Cobbler.
The Arrochar Alps
Did you know Scotland has its own set of ‘Alps’? Between the banks of Loch Lomond and Loch Long in Argyll and bute are the rocky peaks of the Arrochar Alps, some of Scotland’s most popular and dramatic mountains. With four Munros to climb – Ben Vane, Ben Ime, Ben Narnain and Ben Vorlich – you will get a fabulous view back over to Loch Long and across to Ben Lomond across Argyll and Bute.
One of Scotland’s Munros (mountains over 3000ft) Ben Cruachan towers over Argyll and Bute – it is the highest point in the region. The hill is a very steep climb and scrambly (1126m) and is usually climbed with its neighbour Stob Daimh over an 8 hour walk. Underneath the hill hides a huge underground hydro-electric power station. Tours of the power station are available, if you don’t fancy climbing the hill!
Ben More & Stob Binnein
Ben More is one of Scotland’s toughest hills – and the biggest hill in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. From the roadside (and from every other hill around) Ben More is a huge cone rising above Crianlarich. The climb up the front of the Munro is relentlessly steep, but from the top there is an incredible view. Stob Binnein is Ben More’s shapely neighbour. To climb Ben More and Stob Binnein parking on A82 by Ben More Farm.
Things to do Argyll and Bute – visit the lochs
- Loch Lomond – Arguably Scotland’s most famous loch, Loch Lomond is a walkers paradise and has plenty of things to do for families along its banks. Here is how to visit Loch Lomond and the Trossachs.
- Loch Awe – the longest loch in Scotland, Loch Awe is 41km long and home to the instagram famous Kilchurn castle with its herd of Highland Coos. Explore Loch Awe on the Tall Trees Trail at Dalavich, visit St Conan’s Church, or head down into the Hollow Mountain – the power station under Ben Cruachan.
- Lock Eck – on the Cowal Peninsula is lovely Loch Eck – head to Jubillee Point for a great view of the loch.
- Loch Fyne – on Scotland’s west coast, the spectacular Loch Fyne stretches from the pretty town of Inveraray to the stunning Ostel Bay – and right out to sea.
Like this? More Scotland regions to explore
Love, from Scotland x
I’m Kate – a travel writer and photographer living in Scotland. Love, From Scotland is the Scotland travel guide that shows you where to stay and how to get outside in Scotland.