Embracing Winter Magic on the Isle of Islay
Thinking of visiting a Scottish island this winter? Picture cosy fireside moments, brisk beach walks, wildlife spotting and perhaps a dip in the sea if you’re brave enough!
If this appeals to you, then Islay, the southernmost island of the Inner Hebrides, is the perfect destination. While Islay is famous for its whisky distilleries and stunning landscapes, winter offers a unique and serene experience.
Islay in the winter is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. Its charm lies in its tranquility and the opportunity to experience the island’s natural beauty and rich traditions without the crowds. So, pack your warmest clothing, embrace the winter wonderland, and create lasting memories on the Isle of Islay.
Here are the top six things to do on Islay in the winter:
1. Whisky Tastings: Islay is renowned for its peaty and smoky Scotch whiskies. In the winter, the warmth of a dram of whisky by a crackling fireplace is a truly special experience. Visit world-famous distilleries like Ardbeg, Laphroaig, and Lagavulin to sample their unique flavours and learn about the whisky-making process.
2. Golf on the Links: The Machrie is our stunning links course and is now ranked 75th best course in the world in Golf World’s Top 100. It offers our guests and members a challenging round of links golf with breathtaking views. Don’t be deterred by the colder weather; the crisp, fresh air and empty fairways make it an ideal time to play.
3. Bird Watching and Wildlife: Winter is an excellent time for birdwatching on Islay. The island is home to a variety of birds, including geese, chough and golden eagles. The RSPB reserve at Loch Gruinart is a prime location to spot these feathered visitors. Additionally, Islay’s coasts are often frequented by seals, and you might even catch a glimpse of a pod of dolphins and an otter or two. The Machrie has partnered with RSPB Scotland on a Wildlife on Islay package perfect for wildlife enthusiasts!
4. Explore Historic Sites: Islay is steeped in history, with ancient ruins, chapels, and castles waiting to be explored. Dunyvaig Castle, Kilchoman Church, and Kildalton Cross are some of the island’s historical gems. The winter atmosphere adds a layer of mystique to these already captivating sites.
5. Coastal Walks and Scenic Drives: Winter walks along Islay’s rugged coastlines are both invigorating and awe-inspiring. The beaches take on a different beauty, with the crashing waves and dramatic skies. You can also take scenic drives around the island, stopping at viewpoints to soak in the serene landscapes. Why not hire some e-bikes and explore the island on wheels! Or book our Classic Islay package for a chauffeur-driven experience in a classic car!
6. Visit the Woollen Mill: Did you know that the Islay Woollen Mill’s designs featured in Braveheart, Warhorse and Forrest Gump? A visit to Islay’s traditional woollen mill is a must during the winter months. Here, you can witness the age-old craft of wool milling. It’s a unique and authentic experience, allowing you to appreciate the island’s artisanal heritage.
How to get to Islay? The island is accessible by air and sea:
**By Air**: You can fly to Islay from Glasgow International Airport with Loganair. The flight takes around 25 minutes and offers stunning aerial views of the Scottish west coast and islands.
**By Ferry**: Alternatively, you can take a ferry from Kennacraig on the mainland to Port Ellen or Port Askaig on Islay. The journey is stunning (around 2.5hrs) and allows you to bring your car, making it convenient for exploring the island.