Islay (pronounced eye-la), "Queen of the Hebrides", is around 20 miles by 20 miles. With its eight distilleries - Bunnahabhain, Bruichladdich, Bowmore, Caol Ila, Ardbeg, Laphroaig, Lagavulin and newly opened Kilchoman - it is easy to see why Islay is probably most famous for its whisky. Port Ellen closed its doors in 1983. In 2004, Islay's first ale brewery opened.

Port Charlotte Pier


There are only about 3,500 people living on the island.

Due to the influence of the Gulf Stream, the climate is mild compared to mainland Scotland with an average high of 11.6°C and an average low of 6.6°C. Wind speeds are around 19-28km per hour on average, with winter gales of up to 185km per hour. Disruption of ferry and air travel must be expected.

Get in

By boat

Islay has two ferry ports   Port Ellen and   Port Askaig, the ferry journey is a 2 hour 20 mins trip from the mainland, it leaves from Kennacraig, near Tarbert (Loch Fyne) on the Mull of Kintyre, which is about 2 and half hours from Glasgow by car. Caledonian MacBrayne operate the ferries and Citylink coaches connect with some ferries at Kennacraig. There are two or more trips per day, with more ferries going to Port Ellen than Port Askaig. Occasional sailings go on to Colonsay.

By plane

  Islay Airport (IATA: ILY) is a small airport on the island. Flybe offers two return flights per day from Glasgow International Airport in Glasgow (flights are operated by Loganair; British Airways also offers these flights under a codeshare agreement). There are also occasional services from Oban, operated by Hebridean Air Services.

The public bus (see Get around section) stops at the airport.

Get around

Remember to wave to other road users, whether it be vehicle drivers, cyclists, or pedestrians.

By bus

Islay Coaches are operated by B. Mundell (+44 1496 840273) on behalf of the Argyll & Bute Council. The two buses no. 450 and 451 serve the main towns and villages. There is no Sunday service.

By car

Two companies on the island offer car hire:

By bicycle

By thumb

Hitchhiking is easy and relatively safe on Islay.


Whisky distilleries

Casks at Ardbeg

Take a distillery tour. Even if you don't like whisky it's really interesting to learn about the distilling process and see how the distilleries have shaped island life. If you do like whisky you generally get a free taster. Most distilleries now offer advanced tours where you can taste different bottlings. All distilleries on the island offer tours, and Ardbeg and Kilchoman also have cafés. Remember to book tours in advance.

The three distilleries Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg are connected by a footpath with each other and to the nearby Port Ellen (6km one-way to Ardbeg, which is furthest away). The other distilleries are spread around the whole island.

Other sights


Annual events



The following hotels and pubs also offer food:


The following hotels also offer drinks:



Stay safe

Islay is a pretty safe place and any crime here is likely to be big news.

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, February 13, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.