Affectionately known as “The Queen of the Hebrides”, this stunning, undiscovered island is located off of Scotland’s west coast. Explore Islay’s sweeping beaches and rugged coastline, pausing to enjoy a dram of smoky whisky at one of the famous distilleries. You won’t find many other places that are filled with such undisturbed beauty. Fly from March 2019!
Islay (pronounced ‘eye-luh’) is an undiscovered gem. The island is filled with tranquil beaches and uninterrupted sweeps of greenery. You’re more likely to find large flocks of wild geese than people on Islay, and retail stores are non-existent. Instead, you can purchase handmade pottery, woollen scarves, and artisan crafts sold at local farms. Every year, bird enthusiasts flock from all over the world to Islay to observe the elusive chough and chestnut corncrakes that nest on the island; when the sun sets over Saligo Bay, you can hear the birds singing to one another.
But Islay isn’t completely undeveloped. The island is home to eight whisky distilleries, including the celebrated Laphroaig and Kilchoman. Organize a few tours of the distilleries and compare the whiskies for yourself; Lagavulin offers a particularly good chocolate and whisky flight, so you can sample local confectionery alongside your dram. If you’re visiting Islay in May, make sure to attend the Islay Festival of Music and Malt, where you can sip your whisky while participating in traditional music, ceilidhs, and Gaelic poetry.
If it’s history that you’re after, then you’re in luck; Islay was once the seat of power in the west of Scotland. Visit Finlaggan Castle, a thirteenth-century stronghold where the Lords of the Isles held court. From there, drive to Dunyvaig, where you can admire stone ruins that tower over a sweep of serene blue water. From there, it is only a short drive to Kildalton – home to one of the oldest Christian crosses in Scotland. Whether it’s nature, whisky, or history that you’re after, Islay has something to make your visit special.
* prices based on cheapest quotes made in Skyscanner.net throughout 2018