With rugged highland mountains in the north, windswept beaches and ruined castles, and, of course, its own 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 is my guide to the best things to do on the Isle of Arran, as well as where to stay and how to catch the Arran ferry!
Isle of Arran Map
I’ve put all my recommended 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 Map of Arran markers more detail and website links will pop up.
Things to do on the Isle of Arran
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.
Arran Whisky 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 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.
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.
Bring home a treat from Arran Aromatics and Arran Cheese
From soaps to shower gels, Arran Aromatics graces the bathroom of many a posh hotel. At their outlet on Arran you can bring some home for your own home. Next door is the Arran Cheese Shop – the Island Cheese Co – my favourite is the Arran Mustard.
Sail across to the Holy Isle, Arran
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 centre 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.
My favourite walks on the Isle of Arran
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.
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.
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.
Climb Goatfell, Arran
Arran’s highest mountain and a famed corbett rises up over Brodick rather like a volcano. The walk up the mountain will take you around 5 hours and is a 6.5 mile walk from the town. There is a good path on the way up and incredible views from the summit.
Where to stay on Arran – Arran Hotels
- The very stylish Glenisle Hotel is located in the village of Lamlash, the top floor suite had a roll top bath, a huge bed and views out over the bay and Holy Island.
- With modern rooms and a well regarded dining room the Douglas Hotel is located in Brodick over looks the ferry terminal and Goat Fell.
- If you are looking for a spa hotel then look no further than the Auchrannie Resort. With a pool and beauty treatments on site, Auchrannie offers up a completely different way of staying on the Isle of Arran.
How to get to the Isle of Arran – the Arran Ferry
Arran is located in the Firth of Clyde, just 1 hour from Glasgow and 2 hours from Edinburgh. To get to the Isle of Arran you need to take the fast 55-minute CalMac ferry from Ardrossan to Brodick. With a train connection from Glasgow, the Isle of Arran is one of Scotland’s most accessible islands – which makes it perfect for a weekend away!
Get the ferry to Arran with Calmac
…and finally, what about the Arran weather?
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