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Isle of Islay
Isle of Islay

Isle of Islay

Free admission

The Basics

Multi-day trips to Islay are offered from Edinburgh and include distillery tours and visits to the island’s historic monuments and coastal villages. Tours and tastings are available at all the island’s distilleries and other popular sights include the island’s beaches, Celtic crosses, and old churches. Sea kayaking, horseback riding, bird watching, and coastal hiking are other ways to explore the island and the island hosts many whisky, music, and books festivals during the summer months.

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Things to Know Before You Go

  • A must-visit for bird-watchers and whisky lovers.
  • Midges, Scotland’s notorious biting flies, are plentiful in July and August, so don’t forget bug spray and long sleeves and pants.
  • Some Islay whisky tours are wheelchair accessible; it is best to inquire in advance.
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How to Get There

Located off the west coast of Scotland, Islay is the southernmost of the Inner Hebrides islands. You can fly to Islay from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Oban, or the neighboring island of Colonsay. Daily ferry service from Kennacraig connects Islay to mainland Scotland and occasional ferry service is available from Oban.

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When to Get There

Whisky tours are offered year-round on Islay, although tour times and ferry services may be less frequent during the winter months. The Islay Festival of Music and Malt is held annually at the end of May and celebrates traditional Gaelic culture and holds several whisky tastings. There are only a handful of accommodations available on Islay so it’s a good idea to book well in advance regardless of the time of year you visit.

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Wildcard

Islay Whisky Distilleries Bowmore was Islay’s first distillery and is thought to be one of the oldest in Scotland and one of the few left that creates its own flour malted barley. Laphoraig, Lagavulin, and Ardbeg are known to be the smokiest, thanks to the island’s plentiful peat that is used to create the malt giving the whisky its characteristic peaty flavor. Ardnahoe is Islay’s newest distillery and has created a fruitier and creamier spirit.

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