Island hopping in Scotland is one of the most enjoyable ways to travel as each island has its own unique charms.
This itinerary gives you local knowledge to help you explore the islands of Arran, Mull, Iona, Staffa & Ulva.
It also has the option of a stopover in Oban, which you can use as a base for day trip visits to the Isle of Seil, Easdale, Kerrera and Lismore.
Allow a minimum of 6 days to drive this tour route.
The guide contains extra day trip suggestions for extending the tour to 10+ days
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Guide Updated - 4 January 2023
Approximately 445 miles / 720 Km
6 to 10 Days
Discover Edinburgh -
Edinburgh is a compact city and easy to explore on foot. We provide directions for 3 walking routes that show you different sides of the Capital city; a walk down the historical Royal Mile, a leafy riverside path to the Botanic Gardens that escapes the hustle & bustle of city life and a more energetic hike to Arthur’s Seat with the option to continue to an old Inn with lots of history.
Edinburgh boasts a great range of atmospheric old pubs and we steer you to a selection of our favourites.
The guide also includes some options for day trips around the surrounding area by car or bus / train.
We supply directions for two day trips from Edinburgh by car that cover:
Stopover in Edinburgh (but the tour plan can also be adpated for a start from Glasgow)
Edinburgh / Glasgow to Arran -
To maximise your time on Arran, we provide directions for a fast main road route to the Arran Ferry. The directions take you through Glasgow, so you could start the tour from this city too.
The ferry ride to Arran takes less than an hour, but when you arrive you will immediately sense the change of pace as you slip into “island mode”.
Driving Distance: ~86 miles from Edinburgh / ~40 miles from Glasgow
Stopover on Isle of Arran
Discover Arran -
Arran is often described as “Scotland in miniature” and it provides you with a great taste of all that Scotland has to offer.
The north of the island is defined by mountains with craggy peaks where eagles soar, whilst the scenery of the south is more rolling and fertile. Within a short distance you can experience the grand Brodick castle with palatial rooms, or the atmospheric ruins of Lochranza castle, a medieval stronghold that dates back to the times of King Robert the Bruce. The island has a wealth of Neolithic sites and we can guide you to standing stones in a timeless wild landscape.
The island also has two whisky distilleries, a brewery, a cheese factory, a thriving perfumery and lots of golf courses.
Driving Distance: ~56 miles
Stopover on Isle of Arran
Arran to Oban / Mull -
Sail from Arran to the Kintyre Peninsula and start the drive north to Oban. This is a road that we rate as one of the best scenic drives in Scotland. A highlight of this tour is Kilmartin Glen where you find a cluster of standing stones and mysterious burial chambers. We guide you to an Iron Age hill fort where you can relive the crowning ceremony of the Kings of Dalriada by standing in the “Footprint of Fealty”.
The route also takes you past a lovely botanic garden and we include the option of a detour to an easily accessed island where you can explore some very pretty villages of whitewashed cottages.
In Oban you will find a great choice of seafood restaurants and we would recommend that you spend the night here, but you could aim to take a late ferry to Mull.
The guide also gives information for taking a half day trip from Oban to the Isle of Kerrera where you can enjoy an easy walk to the hauntingly moody Gylen Castle.
Driving Distance: ~50 miles (plus a 30 min ferry crossing)
Stopover in Oban Area (OR take a late ferry to the Isle of Mull)
Discover Mull, Iona, Staffa & Ulva -
You need to stay a minimum of 2 nights on Mull as there is so much to be seen and you can’t rush around Mull as a lot of the roads are single track.
The highlights of a visit to Mull are the pretty village of Tobermory with its brightly painted houses, Duart castle which guards the Sound of Mull, the historical Iona Abbey and the “must see” Island of Staffa which inspired Mendelssohn to write a symphony. In addition to these famous attractions, we will guide you to the less known places where you can connect with the spirit of island life and enjoy the freedom of escaping the crowds.
Stopover on Isle of Mull
Mull to Glasgow / Edinburgh -
We provide 2 ferry route options for the return to the cities.
If returning to Edinburgh, you have the opportunity to visit Stirling Castle.
And if heading to Glasgow, you can explore the shores of Loch Lomond where you might wish to stop for a short cruise on its waters.
Stopover in Edinburgh or Glasgow
To help you book the best places to stay, we offer a guide to Recommended Accommodation along the route of this tour.
We personally visit all the accommodation featured in the guides and only select places where we would wish to stay ourselves. Read More...
When you "Checkout", you will have the option to buy the Accommodation Guide.
When you buy a Secret Scotland Tour Itinerary you will receive a Discount Code that gets you a 10% reduction on the cost of Car Hire from Arnold Clark Rental.
Simply use the Secret Scotland code when you book via the Arnold Clark website and your car hire discount will automatically apply.
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