The Guide to Scotland's Islands

The Guide to Scotland's Islands on the West Coast

Guide to Scotland's Islands

Our guides to the islands of the west coast of Scotland offer a glimpse into the landscapes, lives, culture, activities and natural life of a unique and much-loved corner of the world. Providing an insight into some of the area’s special characteristics and distinctive identity, it’s designed to be an informative, inspiring and attractive read, tying together the practicalities of getting to the islands by road, rail and ferry with features capturing a taste of the diverse magic of locations from Arran in the south to Lewis in the north. Independently compiled in partnership with CalMac, we hope this guide helps enrich your experience of the west coast and, above all, helps you to enjoy the journey.

CalMac’s ferries are the gateway to the islands of Scotland’s west coast, connecting to, from and between Arran and the Kintyre peninsula in the south to Skye and the Outer Hebrides in the north. The fleet carries passengers, bikes, cars and commercial traffic right through the year as part of Scotland’s public transport network integrated with ports on the mainland. Journeys can be planned and tickets booked online at or you can find a handy journey planner at:

2021 Edition

Our latest guide sees us look under the hood of campervan travel and the various food specialties that have helped the islands make their mark on the culinary world. Elsewhere look down the viewfinder on capturing the majesty of the island through photography, and ask professional island photographer Rachel Keenan for some of her top tips. We also give some recommendations on travelling the region with wee ones, and the various sights to take in as you travel to your ferry port to start your west coast adventure.

2020 Edition

We recommend some of the best ways to make the most of your time in the various port towns on the west coast while you wait for your ferry, and shine a light on some of the best places to spot the aurora borealis and enjoy incredible dark skies. Raise a dram to the whisky distillers who are bottling up the distinctive flavours of the islands, and lace up your boots to explore some of the excellent hikes to be had along the Firth of Clyde.

2019 Edition

Our inaugural edition takes a look at all the ways you can enjoy the splendid waterways around the islands, from boat tours to stand-up paddleboarding, as well as popular island-hopping routes and the beautiful beaches to explore along the west coast. We also survey the various coastal festivals happening on the west coast and sit down with Howlin’ Fling organiser Johnny Lynch to discuss his love for the Isle of Eigg.

CalMac Ferry Routes

CalMac Ferry Route Map