For a breathtaking and unique holiday experience, consider visiting the Isle of Arran off Scotland’s West Coast. This Scottish Island, just off the mainland, boasts a wealth of natural beauty and adventure.
With four days off from work, you’ll have the perfect amount of time to explore and experience all the island has to offer.
From scenic hikes to quaint villages and stunning beaches, we have put together an itinerary that has got you covered.
Therefore, get ready to embark on a journey and prepare your bags and camera, as I guide you through our four-day trip to the striking Isle of Arran!
Jamie from Love Arran has created this unique Isle of Arran itinerary, showing you how to best spend an extended weekend on the island.
Love Arran is a free online guide to the ‘Gem of the Clyde’, ‘Scotland in Miniature’, and arguably the most beautiful island in Europe, the Isle of Arran.
Drive the circuit around Arran
Once you roll off the ferry and arrive in Brodick, your adventure on the island truly begins. To begin your Arran adventure, I recommend taking a leisurely trip up the East Coast to North Arran.
The scenic drive up the east coast takes you past Glen Rosa and the majestic Brodick Castle, which sits on a hilltop surrounded by lush greenery.
As you continue the drive you pass through Corrie and then Sannox Bay. We stopped here for a picnic and a walk along the sandy beach.
As you continue along the east coast road it winds up and over to the hamlet of Lochranza which is surrounded by rugged hills and glistening water.
In the centre of Lochranza is the iconic castle ruin. It’s a great spot to pause and take in the glorious surroundings.
Take your time making your way around the island; there is a lot to see and do. Allow at least 5 hours for this activity, however, you can easily make this activity last a full day!
Walk with the animals at Arran Alpacas
Begin your day with a visit to Balmichael Farm and one of the Island’s most recent attractions, Arran Alpacas.
Arran Alpacas offer trekking and farm experiences, where you to get up close and personal with these gentle creatures.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by one of the friendly staff and learnt about the history and care of the alpacas. We then got introduced to each alpaca personally.
We were assigned an alpaca, and participated in a truly unique experience: walking the alpacas through the lush Arran countryside.
The Alpacas are well-behaved and docile, making the walk a relaxed and peaceful experience (apart from a few grass-eating diversions).
As we strolled along I was amazed at the bond you build with these fascinating creatures and by the end, I felt like I had made a lifelong friend.
The visit to Arran Alpacas was an unforgettable experience for my kids and is the perfect activity for animal lovers.
Read more: A Dog-Friendly Guide To The Isle of Arran
Lochranza Distillery Tour
For our afternoon activity, we headed to the Lochranza Distillery for a whisky distillery tour.
Before we got started we enjoyed a delicious lunch at the café, featuring local and seasonal ingredients. Delicious!
After lunch, we embarked on a tour of the distillery, learning about the production process and the history of whisky making in Scotland.
We saw the copper stills, the malt barn, and the ageing warehouses- where the whisky is matured to perfection.
A tour of this distillery is essential for anyone interested in learning about the production of whiskey and the local culture.
For more information on booking a distillery tour, visit the Isle of Arran Distillery website.
Make time to relax
After a busy day of exploring, there’s nothing like returning to your accommodation to relax.
An important aspect of visiting Scotland’s islands is making time to slow down and just be. We took a relaxing stroll along the rocky beach and enjoyed the exquisite views over the Sound of Kilbrannan.
This peaceful stroll was a great way to wind down after a busy day and appreciate the beauty of the Isle of Arran.
Later in the evening, we decided to treat ourselves to a delicious meal at the Lighthouse Restaurant in Pirnmill.
With its charming atmosphere and mouth-watering menu, the Lighthouse Restaurant is a great place to enjoy a delicious meal of the finest Scottish fare. This restaurant is family-run and it’s also BYO.
After the meal, we returned to the cottage and finished off the night with a dram of whisky in front of the open fire.
For details and ideas of other places to eat on the island check out these recommended restaurants on Arran.
Arran Brewery Tour
For the afternoon, I signed up for the award-winning Isle of Arran Brewery Tour.
For this element of the trip, I had to leave my wife and kids exploring the grounds of the castle as the tour is strictly for over 18s only.
The tour takes you behind the scenes of the island’s most popular brewery, where you’ll learn all about the brewing process, the history of the brewery, and the secrets behind the signature flavours of their beers.
During the tour, I got to see the brewery’s equipment up close and learnt about the different ingredients and techniques used to make each beer. The tour is led by a knowledgeable guide who is passionate about beer and the brewing process and he was able to answer all my questions.
Should you wish, you can also sample a selection of their beers, so you can taste the difference between the various styles and see what you like best.
Lunch at Little Rock Café Brodick
The Little Rock Cafe in Brodick is an Arran staple. Located close to the shore with views of the coast and north Arran mountain range, this cafe is worth stopping by for lunch.
Little Rock Cafe offer a variety of delectable dishes made from fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Whether you’re craving a hearty meal, a fresh salad, or a warm bowl of soup, there is something for everyone’s palate.
We opted for a takeaway and found a peaceful bench with a view of the bay, Brodick Castle, and Goatfell. This serene setting, surrounded by nature and the sound of the waves, was the perfect spot to enjoy our meal.
Glenashdale Falls Walk
There are many lovely walks and hikes on Arran to enjoy. One I recommend is the walk to Glenashdale Falls in Whiting Bay.
This walking trail is surrounded by towering trees in places and leads you through the lush forests of Arran. The well-defined path makes it a suitable hike for individuals of all ages and abilities.
As we got closer to the falls, the sound of rushing water became more pronounced, and upon arrival, we were greeted with a stunning sight. The Glenashdale Falls is a series of cascading waterfalls that flow into a clear and rocky pool. The mist from the falls creates an enchanting atmosphere and the sound of the water is incredibly peaceful.
We recommend a visit and take a moment to savour the view. Don’t forget to capture it with your camera, as this is a moment worth cherishing forever.
Kilmory, Fairy Trail Walk
After a leisurely breakfast and packing up the car we took a trip to Kilmory in South Arran to find the Kilmory Fairy Trail. This was a charming but short trail through the magical fairy woods of Kilmory.
This walk is great for families with children, as they can search for hidden fairy features and let their imaginations run wild.
We extended the walk to the Torrylin Cairn and the local beach, where we strolled alongside the waves and took a moment to reflect on all of the amazing experiences we had during our visit to the Isle of Arran.
Brodick Castle and Gardens
Brodick Castle was re-built sometime during the 16th-century and further extended in 1843 to form the castle as we see it now. There was a fortress onsite centuries prior to the 16th-century.
You can take a tour of the castle to learn about its fascinating past and see the many antique furnishings and works of art. The castle also has a wonderful collection of paintings and tapestries, as well as a beautiful Victorian garden.
We took a stroll through the gardens, where you’ll see a huge variety of flowers, trees and shrubs that bloom throughout the year. Several walking trails take you through the gardens, offering stunning angles of the castle and the surrounding countryside.
My kids loved the huge adventure playground, where they let their imaginations run wild. We enjoyed our lunch at the picnic area in the centre of the play area and enjoyed a cup of coffee whilst the kids ran off and explored the giant wooden fort.
This trip to Brodick Castle and Gardens will leave you feeling inspired, refreshed, and ready to continue your adventures on the Isle of Arran.
For details and ideas of activities to do on the island check out these activities on Arran.
How To Get To The Isle of Arran
To get to the Isle of Arran, you must catch the ferry. The ferry operator is Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac for short) and you can purchase your tickets online. You can take a car across on the ferry, and dogs can travel on the ferry too! It’s advisable to purchase your tickets in advance, particularly if you are taking a car, because they can sell out.
There are two routes that you can take to get to Arran:
- Ardrossan to Brodick (55 minutes)
- Claonaig to Lochranza (30 minutes)
Ardrossan to Brodick is traditionally the more popular route. It takes approximately 2 hours to get to the Ardrossan ferry terminal from Edinburgh, and 45 minutes from Glasgow.
If you are travelling by public transport, there are excellent links to reach the Ardrossan ferry terminal by bus and train. CalMac has public transport information on their website.
The ferry is equipped with all the necessary amenities to make the journey comfortable and enjoyable. Grab a bacon roll at the café and enjoy the views as you sail towards Arran!
Accommodation on Arran
For this trip, we stayed in a self-catering cottage in the small village of Pirnmill, located on the northwest side of the island. The views from the property were spectacular with the rocky Pirnmill beach and the Kintyre Peninsula across the water in the distance.
There are some great self-catering options on Arran, as well as hotels, bed and breakfasts, and glamping.
If you go with a self-catering option, there is a Scotmid (supermarket) in Brodick where you can get your food supplies. You can also eat like a local and pick up some ingredients from the Arran Cheese Shop.
For even more information on the Isle of Arran and to plan your next visit, be sure to check out Love Arran.