Are you heading to the Scottish isles soon and wondering what are the best things to do on the Isle of Arran? We are here to help!
Arran is a beautiful island located off the west coast of Scotland, near Glasgow.
It’s one of the easiest and quickest islands to get to. You can drive there and take the ferry but also book a train+ferry package which is particularly handy.
There are plenty of things to do on Arran, from hiking and biking to fishing and golfing. So pack your bags and get ready for an adventure!
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Calling all the hikers for this one! Goatfell is the highest point on the Isle of Arran and provides stunning views over the island and beyond.
It is the most popular hike on the island as well as one of the most scenic in Scotland.
It’s a moderate hike taking between 4.5 and 6 hours to complete but definitely worth it for the views!
You can start the walk from the Cladash Visitor Centre. This is a very handy location since it’s only 5 minutes drive from Brodick, you can leave your vehicle in the car park and get a drink at the local pub once you are back.
The views from Goatfell are absolutely stunning. This is where the beauty of Arran truly reveals itself however, this hike has over 800 metres of elevation so you will need to be ready for that. It’s not the hardest of hikes either but it can be a bit hard on your knees.
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Glen Rosa is another most popular walking trail on Arran and no matter what you do, you can not miss it!
It’s an easy hike that takes you through some of the most scenic parts of the island.
The Glen Rosa Circuit is an 8.5 km walk that starts at Cladash Visitor Centre. You will start by taking the Goatfell path but will take the first one left. This will then bring you through the forest and into the moorlands.
Glen Rosa is one of the most beautiful glens in Scotland. The river itself is absolutely stunning but the thing that truly makes it magical is that the rocks create loads of little waterfalls and rock pools. You will also get to see Goatfell in the background.
Although the hike is a bit long, it is definitely one of the easiest hikes on Arran and the scenery is incredible. If you have to choose only one hike, this is the one!
PRO TIP: Start your walk in the morning (around 10 AM) so you get to the best part of the Glen around lunchtime and can enjoy a picnic while looking at the views.
Machrie Moor Stone Circles
Machrie Moor is one of the most popular historical sites on Arran.
The stone circles date back to the Bronze Age and are some of the best-preserved in Scotland.
There are 6 different stone circles and standing stones.
You can find them all by following the walking path from the Machrie Moor Stone Circles carpark (located around 3 miles from Blackwaterfoot).
From the carpark, it’s an easy 2-mile walk to the stones. You will find several circles with smaller stones along the way as well as explanations of what they were.
These stone circles were sometimes the place of burial of a powerful person, sometimes here to indicate the presence of a house. Each sign will tell you exactly what the purpose of the circle was.
The walk is pretty easy. There is a bit of a hill at some point but it only takes a couple of minutes to climb it. Rather than that, it’s pretty flat and easy.
The surrounding landscapes are also beautiful, which makes the walk even nicer.
Once you get to the actual standing stones, don’t forget to walk a bit behind them as there are another couple of small stone circles.
Brodick Castle and Country Gardens
Brodick Castle is one of the most popular tourist attractions on Arran and the perfect place to visit if you don’t want to go on a hike and love history.
The castle itself is a stunning Victorian building that was once the home of the Dukes of Hamilton.
Nowadays, it’s open to the public and you can explore the castle grounds, gardens and exhibitions.
The family of the Duke of Hamilton left it to the National Trust of Scotland in the 50s and it was very well preserved since.
The castle is particularly surprising. It feels very ‘homey’ and as you walk around, you can definitely tell people were living here.
You will find National Trust employees and volunteers in almost every room. They love sharing their knowledge about the castle so don’t hesitate to ask them for more information.
The most impressive feature of the castle is the entertainment room.
But that’s not all! Brodick Castle also boasts amazing gardens (including the walled gardens and the Rhododendron gardens), beautiful sea views and a large country park where you can go for walks.
HOW TO VISIT: This is a National Trust Property. If you are a member of the NT of Scotland, this will be free for you. If you are a member of the National Trust of England and Wales, your card will work as well! Otherwise, you will need to pay the entrance fee of $14.50 (castle + gardens) or £8.50 (gardens + country park).
Calling all whisky lovers for this one! Who says Scotland says Whisky and Arran is no exception.
While whisky was made for a long time on Arran, none of the distilleries was legal until the 90s.
It was only in 1993 that the search for pure water and good barley started. This resulted in the first legal Arran whisky to be made in 1995. This was at the Lochranza distillery.
Lochranza is a small village located on the north of Arran.
It’s one of the most picturesque villages on the island with its turquoise waters and a beautiful castle.
The village is also home to Lochranza Distillery, one of only 2 distilleries on Arran.
They offer different types of tours including the actual tour of the distillery and whisky tastings.
The tour of the Lochranza Distillery is very informative and you will learn everything there is to know about whisky making, from the barley to the bottling as well as the history of the distillery and what makes Arran such a good place for whisky-making.
You will also get to see all the different steps of the process and even get to try a bit of whisky at the end! The tasting includes a bit of 10-year old Arran whisky and the gold one (basically the equivalent of Bailey’s)
The tour lasts around 1 hour and costs £12 per person. There are 3 tours per day and it’s better to book by phone or via email.
Arran Coastal Way
If you are looking for a scenic walk (or even planning a walking holiday on Arran), the Arran Coastal Way will be the perfect walk for you.
This is a circular walk that goes around the island and covers a distance of 65 miles. It is one of ‘Scotland’s Great Trails’ and definitely a bucket list item!
The views are incredible and you will see a different side of Arran that you wouldn’t have seen if you had stayed in one of the villages.
The best time to do the walk is probably spring or autumn as the weather is not too hot and not too cold.
But if you are feeling up for it, you can definitely do it in summer! Just make sure to take some repellent for the midges.
It takes about one week to complete if you are doing the entire lap but you can also opt for shorter segments.
There is a bus service that goes all around the island and can drop you (or pick you up) at the chosen spots.
Here are some of the stages you can consider doing:
- Brodick to Sannox via Goatfell (15.5 km – 6 to 8 hours)
- Sannox to Lochranza (15.75 km – 5 to 6 hours)
- Blackwaterfoot to Lagg (12.25 km – 4 to 5 hours)
- Whiting Bay to Brodick (19.25 km – 6 to 7 hours)
The Holy Isle is a small island located off the coast of Arran.
It is home to a Buddhist Centre and it is possible to stay overnight in one of the guesthouses.
But even if you are not interested in this, the island is definitely worth a visit for its tranquillity and beauty. You can easily visit for the day and discover the rugged landscapes as well as the views over Arran and Scotland mainland.
You can take the ferry from Lamlash to Holy Isle. It’s pretty short but make sure to book in advance on their website or through the visitor centre.
Once you get there, you can take the Holy Island walk which will take you all around the island. It’s 4.25-mile long and takes about 3 to 4 hours to complete.
PRO TIP: There aren’t any facilities on Holy Isle so make sure to pack water and food for the day.
If you are looking for some good spots to go kayaking in Scotland, Arran will be the perfect place.
With its sheltered waters and stunning scenery, it’s a true paradise for kayakers.
Whether you are a beginner or an experienced kayaker, there are plenty of options to choose from.
You can explore the coastline with a kayak as well as the area near Holy Isle.
The Arran Outdoor Centre offers different types of kayaking tours including introductory sessions and Duke of Edinburgh sea kayak expeditions.
You will be provided with a wet suit and all the necessary equipment.
Located in the village of Lochranza, the Lochranza Castle is a ruined fortified tower house.
The castle was built in the 13th century and used to belong to the MacSweens.
It is completely different compared to Brodick Castle however, it’s a very good photo spot. The castle is located by the stunning Loch Ranza, where loads of boats are docked.
This is a great example of a Scottish L-Plan tower house.
As you drive along the road, you will find a couple of spots where you can stop and leave your car. From there, you can either walk to the Castle or enjoy the views from the benches.
Lochranza Castle is also situated near the Sandwich Station, a great place to grab some food.
Cycling on Arran is a very popular activity and with so many biking trails on the island, it would be a shame not to give it a go!
The Arran Circular is particularly famous since it’s a 55-mile loop that go all around the island.
But you will also find biking trails everywhere around the island. These tracks are suitable for beginners and experienced mountain bikers.
If you have your own equipment, feel free to hit the trails and have fun.
Alternatively, you can opt for a half-day or full-day mountain biking session with the Arran Outdoor Centre.
The instructor will bring you to the trail the most appropriate for your group’s level and you will discover so much!
Isle of Arran Brewery
If the whisky tour wasn’t for you and you are more of a beer drinker, then the isle of Arran Brewery will be an excellent place for you.
Located by the Cladach visitor centre, the Isle of Arran Brewery is the only brewery on Arran and it’s definitely worth a visit!
You can go for a tour of the facilities and learn all about the brewing process. At the end of the tour, you will get to try different types of beer.
There are two types of tours. The classic one is the brewery tour and this will allow you to learn more about the beer-making process.
The second one is a tasting. It doesn’t include a tour of the brewery itself but you will get to try more beers.
If you are interested, make sure to give them a call beforehand to check if they have any tours available.
The brewery also has a shop where you can buy beers as souvenirs.
Alternatively, you can go to the Wineport pub next door (pink pub) and order a pint at the bar.
King’s Cave is a series of seafront caves located on the east coast of Arran, near the village of Blackwaterfoot.
The caves have been around for thousands of centuries and were used for church meetings in the 18th century.
According to the legend, this is also where Robert Bruce hid after his first year as King of Scots and saw the spider attempting to weave the web over and over again.
This is what inspired him to continue his campaign against the English.
To go to the cave, you can leave your car at the designated carpark. From there, you will start a 4.5 km walk. This takes you in the forest and boasts stunning views of the coastline.
You will then go down to the beach and can see the caves. The actual King’s Cave is easily recognisable because there is a large metal gate at the front.
You can walk in but as for any historical site, make sure not to damage anything.
Then, keep going on the path and you will go back up to complete the loop back to the carpark.
The walk takes a couple of hours to complete.
Glenashdale Falls and the Giants’ Grave
If you want to discover beautiful waterfalls on Arran, the Glenashdale Falls and the Giants’ Grave walk near Whiting Bay will be perfect for you.
It’s one of the most scenic walks on the island, and yet, a lot of people overlook it.
You can park your car by the bus stop after Whiting Bay and start the circular walk up to Glenashdale Falls.
It’s a 5km walk that takes about 2 hours to complete.
At the beginning of the walk, you will go through the woodlands up to the waterfalls.
It’s a double waterfall and you can admire it from not one but 2 viewing platforms!
Once you are done with the falls, keep going towards the Giant’s Grave.
This part of the walk is flatter and at the top of a plateau. It boasts fantastic views of the bay as well as Holy Island.
After 30 minutes, you will get to the Giant’s Grave, which are two stunning stone Neolithic chambered cairns.
Isle of Arran Heritage Museum
If you would like to discover more about the Isle of Arran, its history and its geological features, the Isle of Arran Heritage Museum will be the perfect place for you.
It’s located in Brodick, only 5 minutes drive from the ferry terminal and is open every day from 10:30 AM to 4:30 PM.
The museum is set in an old school and has several exhibitions.
The admission fee is £5 per adult.
You will also find a café (café Rosaburn) here, making it the perfect day for a rainy day on Arran.
If you are looking for an easy walk with dramatic views, Glen Sannox will be perfect for you.
Located between Brodick and Lochranza, Glen Sannox is nestled between the mountains and features some of the most beautiful landscapes on the isle of Arran.
Arran is nicknamed ‘miniature Scotland’ and once you get to Glen Sannox, you’ll understand why. It actually looks like Glencoe in some sort of way.
This walk is only 1.5 miles long and takes less than 1 hour to complete. It’s a pretty easy walk which means it’s accessible to most people, including children.
The walk starts by the bus stop in Sannox. From there, cross the road and take the path up to Glen Sannox.
You will walk along the Glen until you reach a crossing with big stones. You can then make your way back on the other side and cross the wooden bridge to go back onto the original path.
Silver Sands of Kildonan Beach
Silver Sands in Kildonan is one of the most beautiful beaches on Arran.
It’s located in the south of the island and can be reached by car or bus.
You will find a carpark at the top of the stairs where you can leave your vehicle.
From there, take the stairs down to the beach. You will discover beautiful views of Pladda Island and its lighthouse as well as Scotland’s mainland.
The sand is thin and white and the waters incredibly blue. On a nice and sunny day, you may just think you’ve been transported to the Maldives.
Silver Sands is by far one of the best beaches in Scotland and it’s such a great place for a walk, picnics or even swimming if you’re brave enough!
Eas Mor Falls
If you are looking for more things to do in the southern part of the island, the Eas Mor Falls walk will be a great option.
It’s a 5 km walk that takes 2 hours to complete.
The walk starts at the carpark located on the side of the main road, near Kildonan.
It takes you through the woods up to the waterfalls.
You will find several viewing platforms where you can admire the falls from different angles.
PRO TIP: Make sure to walk all the way to the last platform. That’s the one that boasts the best views.
Coire Fhionn Lochan
Coire Fhionn Lochan is one of the most picturesque spots on the isle of Arran.
It’s a beautiful loch nestled in the mountains, near the sea.
To get there, you will need to put your hiking shoes on and be prepared for a 2-hour walk.
The walk itself starts in Thunderguy. You will find places to park on the side of the road.
It’s a 5.5 km walk that is a bit steep. While it’s categorised as a moderate walk, it’s important to note that it’s quite a way up so if you have walking sticks, you should take them.
As you go up, you will discover beautiful views of the coast and the beaches.
You will also walk along a little river which makes the surroundings even more picturesque.
Once you get to the top, that’s where you will discover the stunning loch and mountains.
The water is very clear and if you don’t mind the fact that it’s a bit cold, you should definitely go in for a dip!
Gorge walking is a great activity for thrill-seekers and adventure lovers.
If you are looking for something different to do on Arran, this is definitely it.
It’s a great way to explore the island’s landscapes and have an adrenaline rush.
You will be walking through the waterfalls, sliding down the glens and more.
If you are interested in going gorge walking, you can book it through the Arran Outdoor Centre. Tours start in Lamlash.
Whiting Bay Beach
Located a 20-minute drive from Brodick, Whiting Bay Beach is another beautiful beach on Arran.
It’s located in the village of the same name and is across the main road, making it very easily accessible.
The beach is great for walks, swimming, kayaking and paddling.
It’s one mile long and the water is pretty shallow which makes it a great place to go for a swim (though you might want to wear a wetsuit).
There are also several restaurants, cafes and ice cream shops in the village so you can refuel after a day at the beach.
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