Visit Scotland's Islands

(Above image is a capture of the Arran ferry arriving at Brodick.)

This section covers Scotland's principal islands which can be divided into two groups:(a) islands off the west coast and (b) the northern islands of Orkney and Shetland.

West Coast

The west coast islands are serviced by ferry company, Caledonian MacBrayne ("CalMac") whose website is

Tip: Book well in advance, especially during peak season of July-early September. Crossings can be cancelled due to adverse weather, particularly wind, plus occasional breakdown.

Isle of Arran

Principal route is via Ardrossan on the mainland (about 33 miles S.W. of Glasgow) to Brodick on Arran. There is a rail link between Glasgow and Ardrossan. The ferry transfer takes about one hour. Alternatively, a smaller ferry vessel plies between Lochranza on the north of Arran to Claonaig on the eastern side of the Kintyre Peninsula.

Lochranza Ferry

Ferry at Ardrossan

 Isle of Bute

A ferry operates between Wemyss Bay on the mainland and Rothesay on Bute. Journey time is approximately 35 minutes. There is a rail link between Wemyss Bay and central Glasgow.

Ferry at Wemyss Bay


A ferry operates between Kennacraig (Kintyre) on the mainland and Port Ellen and Port Askaig on Islay. Journey times are 2 hours 10 minutes and about 2 hours 5 minutes respectively. Islay has a small commercial airport with direct link with Glasgow Airport.

Ferry at Kennacraig


Accessed by ferry from Port Askaig on Islay to Feolin on Jura with journey time of about 10 minutes.

Jura Ferry

 Isle of Mull

Ferry from Oban on the mainland to Craignure on Mull with journey time of about 50 minutes. There is a rail link between Glasgow Queen Street and Oban.

Mull ferry at Oban.


Frequent crossings taking about 10 minutes between Fionnphort on Mull and Iona. NB: Iona is a tiny island and motor cars of visitors are not usually allowed on the ferry.

Ferry at Fionnphort, Mull

 Outer Hebrides

(Barra, South Uist, Benbecula, North Uist, Harris and Lewis)

An interesting and rewarding tour entails arriving Barra (south) and then travelling up the chain of islands using a mix of inter-island ferries and causeways finishing on Lewis from where depart Stornoway for Ullapool on the coast of the N.W. Highlands.

The ferry service from Oban to Castlebay, Barra takes about 4 hours 50 mins. There is a rail link between Glasgow and Oban.

Ferry at Castlebay, Barra.

The ferry service from Stornoway on Lewis to Ullapool on the mainland takes about 2 hours 30 minutes.

Ferry at Stornoway
The ferry service from Uig on Isle of Skye to Tarbert on Harris takes about 1 hour 40 mins.

Ferry at Uig

Commercial flights are available to/from Barra and Stornoway.

Landing strip on Barra

Isle of Skye

A ferry service operates between Mallaig on the mainland and Armadale on Skye with journey time of about 45 minutes. There is a rail service between Glasgow and Mallaig.

Loading ferry at Mallaig

Alternatively, visitors can reach Skye via the Sky Bridge which links Kyle of Lochalsh on the mainland and Kyleakin on Skye. There is a rail station at Kyle of Lochalsh.

Skye Bridge

Northern Isles

Orkney and Shetland are serviced by ferry company, NorthLink whose website is

Tip: Booking ahead is recommended.


Transfer between Scrabster on the mainland and Stromness on Orkney takes about 1 hour 30 minutes.

Commercial flights are available to/from Kirkwall Airport.

NorthLink Ferry at Scrabster


The service between Aberdeen on the mainland and Lerwick on Shetland operates up to seven times each week with journey time of about 12 hours 30 minutes.

Sumburgh Airport is the principal flight connection between Shetland and mainland Scotland.

© Nigel P Cole/Catswhiskerstours Limited


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