8 Reasons to Visit the Isle of Arran

The Isle of Arran is a beautiful island set off the west coast of Scotland. Awaiting you are beautiful sandy beaches, rugged mountains, an abundance of outdoor activities, ancient castles and relaxing spas that will make you fall in love with this wonderful island.

Arran's circular coastal road is around 56 miles (90 km), making it easy to explore the highlights of the island over a couple of days. 

Whether you’re interested in delving into fresh local produce, exploring historic sites or spotting wildlife, Arran has something for everyone to enjoy! The island is Scotland's seventh largest and can be reached from the mainland via a short ferry journey from Ardrossan - only an hour's drive from Glasgow. 

Calmac ferry departing the Isle of Arran

Here's a quick introduction to some of my favourite sites on the island ... 

1 - Brodick Castle & Gardens

Located just outside of Brodick sits Brodick Castle and Gardens, a grand baronial castle surrounded by mountains and teeming with history. The castle is renowned for its impressive collection of treasures, including paintings, silverware, and period furniture.

Brodick Castle

Alongside the perfect quintessential island castle you can enjoy a leisurely walk around the surrounding woodland and beautifully designed gardens with views across Brodick Bay. A trip to the castle and gardens is a lovely day out in itself.

Dawn at Brodick Castle Gardens

2 - Climb Goat Fell

If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, from the castle you can make your way up Goat Fell - Arran’s highest mountain at 874 metres (2867 ft.). The return journey to the summit should take between 4.5 - 6 hours, although magnificent views over the island await those who make it to the top, so it is definitely worth the climb!

Goat Fell, Arran

3 - A Taste of Arran

The island is well-known for its impressive range of food and drink and has recently become a 'foodie' destination. You definitely won’t go hungry on this island and you won’t be disappointed at what Arran has to offer. The island is home to a chocolatier, brewery and smokehouse, as well as dairy farms which are used to make Arran’s award-winning ice cream.

My favourite is the Island Cheese Company - a small creamery which for 13 years has sat within Brodick Castle’s former Home Farm. The wide range of delicious cheeses made in the creamery can be purchased from the adjoining shop. Here you can also watch the cheese makers work their magic, and sample their tasty creations. To go alongside your cheeses, you can also purchase Wooleys of Arran Oatcakes and some delicious Arran chutneys to finish off your feast!

If you're still craving a taste of Arran once you've returned home from the island (or would like to try before visiting!), Arran Gift Box send out luxury hampers which include Arran's famous cheese, oatcakes, mustards and more (currently only available to customers in the UK and Northern Ireland). 

A taste of Arran

11 of the food producers on the island work together to produce and export their local natural produce, known as A Taste of Arran, and many of these businesses are family-run. They are all passionate about utilising the natural ingredients produced on the island.

Gourmet burgers on Arran

4 - Isle of Arran Distillery

In the north of the island you'll find the Isle of Arran Distillery and visitor centre. A range of different tours are available where you can taste Arran’s very own malt whiskies. If you aren’t a big whisky drinker, many of the locals would recommend a sample of Arran Gold, a malt whisky cream liqueur which tastes like no other!

Arran Distillery in Lochranza

5 - Lochranza Castle

The island doesn’t only have food and drink to offer but also wonderful historic sites. Located close to the distillery are the remains of Lochranza Castle, sitting in a picturesque spot within Lochranza Bay.

Lochranza Bay on the Isle of Arran

The castle has been developed from a medieval hall-house originally built around the 1200s, which is believed to have been converted to a tower house in the late 1500s. You can now step inside and see what remains of the castle.

Dawn at Lochranza Castle

6 - Machrie Moor Standing Stones

Heading to the west of the island you will come across Machrie Moor, a sacred landscape filled with millenia of ceremonial and religious activities. There are 6 stone circles that lie on the moor today but the most visually striking is Circle 2, where three large and uniquely shaped sandstones sit with Machrie Glen as the backdrop.

Dawn at Machrie Moor

7 - King’s Caves

To the south west of Arran are the historic King’s Caves, located near the village of Blackwaterfoot in which Robert the Bruce is said to have had his famous encounter with a spider. Visiting the caves can be included in a lovely coastal walk from Blackwaterfoot, where you can enjoy wonderful views of the coastline and sandstone cliffs. 

King's Caves on the Isle of Arran

8 - Lamlash Bay & Holy Isle

Lamlash is a beautiful village on the south east coast of Arran, just three miles from Brodick. Lamlash is one of the larger villages on the island and has many cafes and restaurants for you to enjoy.

The village of Lamlash on Arran

Lamlash sits in a beautiful bay looking out to Holy Isle, a small island owned by the Samye Ling Buddhist Community.

The island is only around 2 miles (3 km) long and ½ mile (1 km) wide, and located here is the Centre for World Peace and Health - an environmentally designed centre for retreats and a range of different courses. Regular ferries depart from Lamlash for Holy Isle where you can explore the spiritual island for yourself. You can also enjoy a wildlife or sightseeing boat trip from Lamlash Bay.

Looking across to Holy Isle

Heading north from Lamlash, you will return back to Brodick where your tour around this magical island will come to an end. Although, once you have had a taste of Arran you will want to do it all over again!

Dawn Spence
P.S. If you're inspired to experience Arran for yourself, the island is included in our Discover Ayrshire & Arran and Island Odyssey self-drive itineraries. If you're looking for something a bit more active, lace up your walking boots and hike the Arran Coastal Way - a 63 mile walk around Arran's stunning coastline. 

Coastal scenery on Arran

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