Isle of Arran: The Best Things to Do

The Isle of Arran

Isle of Arran

Situated off the west coast, the Isle of Arran, often referred to as ‘Scotland in Miniature’, offers tourists the best of what Scotland has to offer in a compact and accessible area.

With a geography that varies from the mountainous terrain of the north to the rolling, pastoral landscapes of the south, the island is a haven for both outdoor enthusiasts and those seeking a quiet retreat.

Positioned in the Firth of Clyde, Arran is the seventh-largest Scottish island at 43,210 hectares and it’s split in the middle by the Highland Boundary Fault which is the reason why the north and south sides are so different.

While the south is home to lowland forests the north is home to a magnificent mountain range, the high point (no pun intended) being Goatfell at 2,867 feet (874 metres).


Arran’s coastline, meanwhile, is a dramatic contrast of rocky cliffs and secluded bays, interspersed with golden sand beaches which provide plenty of opportunities for coastal walks and wildlife spotting.

With a mild climate influenced by the Gulf Stream, Arran enjoys warmer weather than most parts of Scotland which makes it perfect for exploring year-round – as can be seen in the gardens of Brodick Castle which manage to grow tropical plants that could not exist elsewhere in the country.

The island is also dotted with picturesque villages, each with its own unique charm.

Most tourists begin their exploration of the island in Brodick, its biggest settlement, which is the location of the main ferry terminal.

Whiting Bay, with its gorgeous beach, and Lochranza, noted for its castle and whisky distillery, are both well worth a visit too, as is Lamlash, the island’s second-largest settlement which provides breathtaking views across the bay to Holy Isle.

From a tourism perspective, the Isle of Arran offers an abundance of attractions. History enthusiasts can explore the island’s rich past at Brodick Castle or visit the mysterious Machrie Moor stone circle.

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For whisky connoisseurs, a trip to the Lochranza Distillery is a must as visitors can tour the facility and sample a selection of single malts afterwards.

Nature lovers, meanwhile, will be in their element on Arran. The island is home to an array of wildlife including red deer, golden eagles, seals, red squirrels and otters.

For those who love getting away from it all in the great outdoors, the Arran Coastal Way is a popular choice as it offers a 65-mile circular route around the island’s beautiful coastline.

Arran is also famous for its local produce and no visit can be considered complete without popping into the island’s cheese shop, brewery, and Arran Aromatics which sells handmade soaps and body treatments.

Whether your interests lie in hiking, wildlife watching, exploring historical sites or simply relaxing in picturesque surroundings, the Isle of Arran has something for everyone. It truly is a jewel in Scotland’s island crown.

Find places to visit and things to do on the Isle of Arran with these visitor guides.

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