The Isle of Arran is an island off the coast of Scotland. It is the 7th largest of Scotland’s islands and only about an hour drive to the ferry port in Ardrossan from Glasgow. The Isle of Arran has often referred to as a miniature Scotland because it is divided into highland and lowland areas. On Arran, you will find neolithic sites, castles, hiking trails, whisky distilleries, lochs, and beaches. Exploring the Isle of Arran will truly allow you to see Scotland in miniature over the course of a few days.
Getting to the Isle of Arran
Exploring the Isle of Arran is a great way to continue a road trip since the car ferry is quick and easy from Ardrossan. However, the weather can change at a moments notice in Scotland so be prepared for ferry delays and cancellations. Our return ferry was canceled and we had to catch a later ferry on our departure day. Keep that in mind when you planning your trip. The ferry takes around an hour from Ardrossan to Arran and way to start of your adventure exploring the Isle of Arran.
Isle of Arran Distillery Tour and Tasting
You can’t visit Scotland without learning a little about whisky. Arran is home to the Isle of Arran Disterlly which has been in operation since 1995. Tours and tasting are available year-round. What makes Arran whisky great?
The area is home to the purest water in all of Scotland – water that’s been cleansed by granite and softened by peat as it slowly meanders from the mountaintops into nearby Loch na Davie.
In the 1800s there were many small stills around the island but today only this one stands as the popularity of whisky gas grown once again. The whisky tradition is strong on the Isle of Arran and that is exactly why I brought a bottle back home with me to explore the Isle of Arran through its whisky.
Driving Around the Island in One Day
The Isle is Arran is incredibly picturesque and the scenery changes around every turn. Your drive will take you from the lowlands to the highlands, by castles, and along the coastline. There is one road around the entire island that will take you a few hours if you take your time and plan some stops. The road through the middle of the island is nice if you have time for it as well. We drove the ring road around the island over the course of two days to allow for extra time at each of our destinations but there is no right way to drive around the Isle of Arran.
Must-Sees on the Drive:
- Lochranza Castle
- Isle of Arran Distillery & Visitor Centre
- King’s Cave
- Giants’ Graves, Arran
- Machrie Moor Standing Stones
Hiking the Isle of Arran
There are plenty of nice walks around the Isle of Arran but the most impressive hike is Goatfell. This hike will take you to Arran’s highest point of 874m and 10.5km (6.5 miles). The total hiking time is anywhere from 4.5 to 6 hours depending on your level of experience and the conditions. The summit offers stunning views on a clear day after a challenging hike. Due to weather conditions during our time on Arran we were not able to make this hike but enjoy this summit photo and information from Love Exploring Scotland.
Golfing on the Isle of Arran
Scotland is the home of golf so of course, the Isle of Arran has plenty of golf courses. There are seven courses on Arran of varying difficulty and length. The best part is there is a golf pass that gets you to access to all of the courses on Arran. The Isle of Arran golf pass is £110 for seven rounds of golf and access to the driving range. The golf pass is valid for 12 months if you can’t finish seven rounds during your time on the island. Touring the golf courses is a great way to explore the Isle of Arran.
Exploring the Isle of Arran
The Isle of Arran is easiest enough to visit for the day or enjoy for a week. The ferry is simple and a car is recommended for getting around. You can’t get lost on the island with only one road and there is always something worth stopping for. The Isle of Arran will give you a full flavor of Scotland without ever needing to visit the mainland.