Zoe Kirkbride July 1 2024

At Absolute Escapes, we’re often asked, ‘where are the best places to visit on the west coast of Scotland?’

We’ve dedicated two decades to crafting unforgettable self-drive holidays across Scotland, and the west coast will always hold a special place in our hearts. This stunning region, with its rugged landscapes, charming coastal villages, and rich history, never fails to take our breath away.

In this photo blog, journey through sparkling lochs, dramatic glens, historic castles, and pristine beaches that make this stretch of coastline truly unforgettable. Our Scotland’s West Coast Road Trip allows you to experience all of the wonderful places featured.

Whether you’re dreaming of your next Scottish getaway or simply indulging in some armchair travel, let’s explore the wonders of Scotland’s west coast.


Inveraray Castle

Begin your road trip in style with a visit to the magnificent Inveraray Castle. This 18th-century Gothic Revival masterpiece, nestled on the shores of Loch Fyne, offers a glimpse into Scottish aristocratic life amidst picturesque surroundings.

Exterior view of Inveraray Castle from gardens


Cowal Peninsula

Why not take a slight detour and hop over to the Cowal Peninsula? Accessible either via the A83 past Inveraray, or by taking a ferry from Tarbert to Portavadie, the Cowal Peninsula has many highlights.

Located north of Tighnabruaich, Loch Ruel Viewpoint offers spectacular views of Loch Riddon and the Kyles of Bute.

Loch Ruel Viewpoint in the Cowal Peninsula

Don’t miss exploring Puck’s Glen, an enchanting woodland gorge in the heart of the peninsula. Moss-covered rocks and cascading waterfalls create a magical atmosphere.

Woodland gorge at Puck's Glen


Tarbert, Loch Fyne

The charming harbour village of Tarbert serves as the gateway to Kintyre, a 30-mile peninsula perfect for escaping the hustle of everyday life.

Perched above the village, Tarbert Castle offers a glimpse into Scotland’s turbulent past. This royal stronghold, with roots stretching back to the 13th century, played a crucial role in medieval Scottish history and provides stunning views over Loch Fyne and beyond.

Tarbert Harbour in sunset  Man standing outside Tarbert Castle with bluebells

Tarbert Castle by Loch Fyne, Kintyre


Carradale Bay

On Kintyre’s east coast, overlooking the Isle of Arran, lies the peaceful fishing village of Carradale. Carradale Bay offers a vast expanse of sand for relaxation, while a hike up Deer Hill (Cnoc nan Gabhar) rewards you with striking panoramas of the coast, Arran’s mountains, and distant Ailsa Craig.

Grey skies over Carradale Bay in Kintyre, Scotland


Davaar Island

A visit to Davaar Island is a unique experience, as it is only accessible via a tidal causeway. Once you arrive on the distinctive mound, you can explore a number of sea caves (tides permitting), including one featuring a life-sized painting of the crucifixion.

Above ground, Davaar Lighthouse stands proudly on the most northern part of the island, providing a beacon for maritime traffic passing in and out of bustling Campbeltown.

Lighthouse on the northerly tip of Davaar Island



Lined with grassy dunes and stretching over three miles along the west coast of Kintyre, Machrihanish Beach provides unrivalled views of the iconic Paps of Jura, three distinctive mountains that adorn the horizon above the crashing waves. This makes for the perfect sunset spot!

Sunset at Machrihanish Beach


Crinan Canal

Further north, the pretty village of Crinan marks the western end of the Crinan Canal, aptly nicknamed ‘Britain’s most beautiful shortcut’. This hidden gem offers sublime seafood and scenic coastal trails.

Boat at Crinan Canal


Kilmartin Glen

History enthusiasts will marvel at Kilmartin Glen, home to over 350 ancient monuments within a 6-mile radius. Standing stones, burial cairns, and rock carvings offer fascinating insights into Scotland’s prehistoric past, complemented by exhibits at the excellent Kilmartin Museum.

Man at Kilmartin Glen standing stones in Scotland  Bluebells at Kilmartin Glen, Nether Largie South Cairn


Arduaine Garden

For a tranquil respite, visit Arduaine Garden on Loch Melfort. Meander through exotic flora and seek out the secret path leading to a spectacular coastal viewpoint.

Arduaine Garden in summer  Arduaine Garden in summer


Clachan Bridge

Twelve miles south of Oban, the remarkable Clachan Bridge connects the mainland to the Isle of Seil. Dating back to 1793, this single-arched, hump-backed stone bridge spans the Clachan Sound and is affectionately known as the ‘Bridge over the Atlantic’ because of its unique position over a tidal sea channel.


Phuilladobhrain, Isle of Seil

A picturesque trail from the bridge leads to Phuilladobhrain anchorage, whose Gaelic name poetically translates to ‘pool of the otters’.

This tranquil cove offers a delightful setting for exploration and wildlife observation. Here, you can watch graceful herons fishing in the shallows and, if you’re very lucky, catch a glimpse of the playful otters that gave this spot its evocative name.

Sunken ship at Puilladobhrain on the Isle of Seil


Ellenabeich, Isle of Seil

Venturing south through the Isle of Seil, you’ll discover the charming village of Ellenabeich. The rows of white-harled workers’ cottages create a striking contrast against the rugged landscape.

The area’s geology and slate quarries make it ideal for stone skimming. Just offshore from Ellenabeich is Easdale Island, which hosts the World Stone Skimming Championships!

Reflections in the water at Ellenabeich



This popular seaside town is renowned as the ‘Gateway to the Isles’ because of its ferry connections to many of Scotland’s islands. There are superb sightseeing opportunities in and around Oban, from the imposing McCaig’s Tower and the bustling harbour, to Oban Distillery where you can sample local whisky.

Aerial view of McCaig's Tower in Oban  Calmac ferry from the Manor House, Oban


Connel Bridge

Continuing north, you’ll reach Connel Bridge – a distinctive steel cantilever bridge offering impressive views (and epic sunsets) over Loch Etive.

A strange phenomenon occurs here – a ‘tidal race’ known as the Falls of Lora, consisting of crashing white water rapids, makes this a popular spot for kayakers and photographers. This only occurs when the Firth of Lorn is lower than the water level in Loch Etive.

Sunset at Connel Bridge


Castle Stalker

Dating back to the 14th-century, Castle Stalker sits proudly on a small island with a magnificent mountainous backdrop. The views are especially impressive from the Jubilee Bridge (which is a 10-minute walk from the parking area) at high tide.

View of Castle Stalker from the mainland


Ballachulish Bridge

As you approach the famous valley of Glencoe, the Ballachulish Bridge marks the meeting point of Loch Leven and Loch Linnhe. Here you can enjoy awe-inspiring views of shadowy mountains lining the horizon and unique local wildlife.

Golden light across Loch Level from Ballachulish  Great cormorant at Loch Leven in Scotland


Eilean Donan Castle

No Scottish road trip is complete without visiting Eilean Donan Castle. This iconic 13th-century fortress sits at the meeting point of three great sea lochs, attracting visitors from around the world.

Golden light at Eilean Donan Castle, Dornie



Known as the ‘Jewel of the Highlands,’ the coastal village of Plockton surprises visitors with its palm trees thriving in the mild Gulf Stream microclimate. Enjoy cycling, walking, and various watersports in this magnificent setting.

Palm tree at Plockton, Scotland


Escape to Scotland’s West Coast

From the grandeur of Inveraray Castle to the palm-fringed shores of Plockton, Scotland’s west coast is brimming with natural beauty, rich history, and hidden gems.

Ready to embark on your own west coast escape? Our Scotland’s West Coast Road Trip encompasses all these stunning locations and more. Alternatively, for an off-the-beaten-track experience including the magical Cowal Peninsula, look no further than our Secret Corners of Scotland’s West Coast.

Get in touch with our knowledgeable travel specialists to book your tailor-made Scottish adventure. We’d love to help you discover our wild and wonderful west coast.

Zoe Kirkbride

Back to top