Islay Whisky Trails

6 Days & 5 Nights 5 Read 1 reviews
  • Whisky! Visit distilleries such as Laphroaig, Ardbeg, Lagavulin, and Bruichladdich
  • Sample the finest single malt in Scotland and learn about Islay’s whisky-producing past
  • Look out for the local wildlife; curious seals and soaring eagles
  • Stroll along Islay’s white sand beaches and flower-strewn machair
  • Combine relaxed walks with distillery visits of your choice for a unique Islay experience
Explore the diverse landscapes of Islay; visit distillery water sources, and walk the coastlines and white sand beaches that lend their flavour to the island’s iconic single malts; Bowmore, Laphroaig, Ardbeg, Lagavulin, Caol Ila, Bruichladdich, Bunnahabhain, and Kilchoman. With time in the itinerary for visiting 6 out of 8 distilleries, this trip is perfect for both whisky-tasting amateurs and connoisseurs. The Isle of Islay is renowned for being the home of Scotland’s finest single malt whisky—production has been established since 1779. Distillery tours with the knowledgeable locals are a highlight, but for the authentic island experience make sure to combine distillery visits with our suggested walks. Readjust to the relaxed pace of island life—the hospitality of the locals will have you feeling instantly at ease.

What To Expect

A relaxed self-guided walking holiday ideal for those wishing to sample Scotland’s world renowned liquid gold—whisky—while taking in the best Islay has to offer. The walks are optional, and allow plenty of time each day for distillery visits and whisky tastings. Ranging from 7-17 km the routes follow quiet country roads, tracks, and paths. Explore Islay’s lush south, the rugged coastline of Loch Indaal and the remote beaches of the west before returning to your friendly accommodation.

Tour Style:

Self Guided | Go at your own pace on an independent active trip.

Activity:

Inn to Inn Walking | A classic point to point walking trip, staying in a different location each night

This trip is suitable for:

Solo Travelers, First Timers

Ideal if you have an interest in:

  • Wine, Whiskey & More...
  • Wildlife
  • Coastal & Island

Inspiration:

  • New

Activity Level & Terrain

This route is largely not waymarked and much of it is on quiet country roads along with tracks and paths. The walks are graded easy to moderate as they are not strenuous and although there may be some uphill and steeper sections, these are not particularly challenging.

Navigation

This route is largely not waymarked and much of it is on quiet country roads along with tracks and paths so some previous walking and mapping reading experience is desirable. However, with our route notes and GPX tracks provided on the Macs Adventure smartphone app, you should have no problem following the route each day.

Accommodations

We specifically choose our accommodations to ensure that you enjoy every minute of your stay. All offer a warm welcome to walkers, great hospitality and delicious local food.

During the high season, you might be booked into alternative accommodations which are not listed in the description. Any alternative accommodation will be of the same or better standard as those described.

Solo Walkers & Single Rooms

This independent walking holiday is available to solo walkers. If you require single rooms in your party we will of course try to accommodate your request, subject to availability. Please note that singles may not be of the same standard or size as twins/doubles.

Meals

A hearty breakfast is included each morning. Lunch and dinner are not included so you are free to choose from the available options. Most of your accommodations will more than happy to provide a packed lunch on request and this can be booked on arrival. Alternatively, your route notes include details of local shops and convenient lunch stops on the way. Dinner is available either at your accommodation or nearby pubs and restaurants.

Included
  • 5 Nights in hand-picked accommodation (B&B's, hotels and guest houses)
  • Breakfasts
  • Detailed trip documents, GPS tracks, maps and route notes on the Macs Adventure smartphone app
  • Taxi and baggage transfer (as per itinerary)
  • 24/7 Emergency telephone support from our office
Excluded
  • Travel insurance (required)
  • Transport to the start or from the finish of the walk
  • Taxi transfers or public ferry and bus transport
  • Distillery tours
  • Lunches, dinners, snacks & drinks
  • Personal equipment
Extras
  • Additional nights before or after the trip
  • Return Calmac ferry from Kennacraig to Islay

When To Go

This walking holiday is best enjoyed between early April and mid October. Islay is very popular during the summer months, and the last week in May during the annual Whisky Festival, so we advise you book as far in advance as you can. Due to public transport restrictions on the islands at the weekend it’s best to begin your trip from Monday—Thursday. However, if this isn’t possible just call the office and speak to our Destination & Adventure Specialists who can help by arranging taxi transfers.


Getting to the Start

To arrive by ferry make your way to Kennacraig on Scotland’s mainland, there are daily Citylink buses from Buchanan Bus Station, Glasgow (3hr 20 mins) that will take you from Glasgow to Kennacraig—on the 926 bus headed onto Campbeltown.  From Kennacraig take the Calmac ferry to either Port Askaig or Port Ellen on Islay.  The Kennacraig ferry terminal has public toilets, a ticket office and waiting room. 

If you’re coming from further afield you might prefer to fly to Islay directly from Glasgow airport with Loganair. The airport is just a 10 minute bus ride from Port Ellen or 35 minutes by bus to Port Askaig. 

It’s s also possible to make this trip a drive & hike by using your own car if you are coming from the UK. Most of the distilleries are able to give the designated driver their drams in miniature bottles to go. Please speak to a Destination & Adventure Specialist to find out more.

Getting from the End

Please follow the above directions in reverse for your journey home.

Luggage Transfer

Bag transfer on this trip is available as per your itinerary but on a few occasions you will take your luggage with you when you travel with public transport between your accommodations. You won’t need to carry more than a day bag on your walks. We ask you to limit your luggage to one bag of up to 15 kg per person.

General Information

The distances and ascent/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example, proper rain gear (jacket and pants), sun hat, and sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer, and a day pack.

Excursions & Distillery Tours

The trip is designed to help you make the most of your time on Islay and your proximity to it’s world-renowned distilleries. As such all the walks are optional and most should take around half a day, ensuring you have plenty of time to visit the distilleries. Please note that the distilleries all have varying opening hours, and some only run tours on specific days and at pre-arranged times. Most of these tours should be pre-booked either online or by phone directly with the distilleries. We provide information on the tours offered and when they run in the pre-departure information pack. Additionally, you can find live tour availability on many of the distillery websites.

There are so many whisky tour and tasting options to choose from that we have excluded these so you are free to choose your preferred tour and tasting options at each distillery. The cost for a basic distillery tour and sample dram or two tends to be around £10 per person. If you would like to try something special we recommend the Laphroiag Water to Whisky premium tour. This includes a tour of the distillery, picnic at the water source, along with a chance to try peat cutting for yourself on Laphroaig’s nearby peat source, followed by a cask tasting and bottling all accompanied by your knowledgeable Laphroaig guide. The tour operates 7 days a week from noon lasting 4.5 hours with 7 people maximum per tour. Alternatively, try the premium tour and tasting at Islay’s only farm distillery at Kilchoman. Distinct from the other distilleries on the island Kilchoman is a smaller operation that grows and malts all of their barley onsite. The tour operates 7 days a week from 11am for 2 hours with 12 people maximum per tour.

Please note distillery tour dates may vary outside of the summer months. A basic distillery tour normally takes 1 hour so make sure to plan your distillery visits around any walks you plan on doing to allow yourself plenty of time. Check distillery websites and book well in advance for tours to avoid disappointment on the day.

Travel Insurance

It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity and emergency evacuation and hospital care.
How fit do I need to be?
How far in advance do I need to book?
What personal equipment do I need?
When is the best time of year?
What are the midges like?
Am I able to take my dog?
What happens if I can’t walk a stage?
Do you move the bags from place to place or do we?

Itinerary

Day 1 Arrive Port Ellen and optional walk 6 miles / 9 km Day 2 Three Distilleries walk (optional Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg distillery visits) 7 miles / 12 km Day 3 Bus to Bowmore and Laggan Point loop walk (optional Bowmore visit) 9 miles / 14 km Day 4 Transfer to a choice of walks (optional Kilchoman distillery visit) 11 miles / 17 km Day 5 Bus to Portnahaven and loop walk (optional Bruichladdich distillery visit) 5 miles / 7.5 km Day 6 Onward travel

The Macs Way

  • Custom-made Adventures Custom-made Adventures
  • Freedom Freedom
  • Book with Confidence Book with Confidence
  • Expertise Expertise
  • Positive Impact Positive Impact
Build your perfect adventure your way
  • Flexible itineraries built around you
  • Knowledgeable and helpful specialist trip planners
  • Customize your trip to suit your interests
  • Start on any date that suits you
  • Choose your ideal trip length and difficulty
  • Range of accommodation comfort levels
  • Choice of trip styles
Authentic adventure travel experiences on your own terms
  • Choose your own travel companions
  • Walk, cycle and explore at your own pace
  • Make your own decisions
  • Choose your own path
  • Indulge your passions
Feel secure in making the right choice for your precious adventure time
  • 14,000+ unbiased trip & service reviews
  • Feefo Gold Award 2019
  • 25,000+ travelers trust us each year
  • As featured in the Guardian, Times, Nat Geo Traveler
  • Founder owned & operated since 2003
  • 100+ passionate team members across the US, UK & Europe
You can be confident that every detail of your journey has been expertly planned
  • Carefully planned adventures
  • Quality, hand-picked accommodations
  • Seamless and reliable arrangements
  • Comprehensive trip information & insider tips
  • Detailed maps, route notes and mobile GPS app
  • Helpful 24/7 support should you need it
Travel the right way and make a positive impact
  • Travel responsibly
  • Explore off the beaten track
  • Support locally owned businesses
  • Engage with local communities
  • Minimize your impact
  • Maximize the benefit of your travel
  • Challenge yourself & grow