Things to do on the Isle of Arran
The largest island in the Firth of Clyde has plenty to see and do – it’s not known as ‘Scotland in miniature’ for nothing. With rolling Highland scenery and the unique personality of island living, even the pickiest of travellers would struggle to be anything but charmed by the beauty of Arran. And for those planning their itineraries already, these are some of the top things to do when you visit.
Isle of Arran Heritage Museum
As the island opened up to tourism, this heritage museum was built to remember its storied history. Discover carefully restored features of the island on the site of a former schoolhouse, including a traditional bothy, farmhouse, coach house and many more features of 18th-century island living.
The highlight of this charming village on Arran’s eastern coast, Sannox Beach is a crescent-shaped beach that’s much quieter than some of the others nearby. Accessed through the village, the beach offers beautiful views out towards the Isle of Bute on a clear day.
The Library in the Woods
Take a walk through Eas Mor and discover a hidden secret within the trees. Housed in a charming log cabin is a small, community library where visitors can come to view an incredible installation of flying pages as well as plenty of books to browse. The walk can be challenging – but it’s well worth it.
Eas Mor Waterfall
If you can handle a tricky hike towards this gorgeous natural waterfall – it’s well worth it. The Eas Mor Waterfall runs in a single-line plume down rocky terrain in the Auchenhew Wood and has plenty of scenic spots to stop and take in the view as you tackle the path towards the falls.
One of Arran’s award-winning independent whisky distilleries, Lochranza is one of just two still operating on the island. First opened in 1995, the distillery now offers a variety of experiences for visitors, including guided tours of the factory floor, guided tastings and pairings of whiskies with chocolates and much more.
The largest of the caves at Blackwaterfoot, guarded by a beautiful gate, Kings Cave was formed tens of thousands of years ago. It gets its distinctive name from Robert the Bruce, who allegedly took refuge in the cave and was inspired by the sight of a resilient spider’s attempt to build a web to reconfigure his fight for independence.
The name given to all Scottish geological sites where two types of rock formation meet, Huttons Unconformity was named after its discoverer, James Hutton. It was on Arran, near the town of Lochranza, that he found the very first example of the theory, which is now specially marked as part of the Arran Geopark.
Sitting between the Goatfell mountain range, Glen Rosa is a popular hiking and camping spot in the hills of Arran. Many visit for the chance to see the island’s beautiful scenery, whilst others go exclusively for the Blue Pool, the perfect place to cool off after a long hike.
Brodick Harbour and Bay
Accessible by a ferry ride, the beautiful Brodick Harbour and Bay is surrounded by lush forest. Found on Arran’s east coast, the beach is overlooked by the Goatfell mountain range as well as the historic Brodick Castle and is within walking distance of a number of boutiques and restaurants.
Blue Pool Glen Rosa
One of the most visited parts of Glen Rosa, the Blue Pool gets its name from the distinctive colour the water turns thanks to the rocks beneath. A popular spot for wild swimming, the glen provides a surprisingly calm space to swim and soak, with the Glenfell Mountains nearby to provide a gorgeous backdrop.
Where the headline comes to a point on the Doon Cliff is Drumadoon Point, one of the very edges of Arran. With its dramatic coastal views and beautiful surrounding scenery, the site was once believed to house an Iron Age Fort, though little of it remains now. A perfect scenic spot for hikers.
Standing at more than 2,800 feet high, Goat Fell is the highest point on the island. Cared for by the National Trust for Scotland, alongside the neighbouring Brodick Castle, it takes its name from the Norse meaning ‘goat mountain’ and is one of just four corbetts on the island.
Covering 25,000 acres of land, the Dougarie Estate is a unique, sustainable space home to a golf course, holiday homes and a myriad of businesses. Its large white house at the centre was originally built in the 18th century for the Duke of Hamilton and remains a popular sport for outdoor sports and hunting.
An excellent mountain to tackle for beginner climbers, Cir Mhor sits at the very head of the Glen Rosa valley. On a clear day, those who reach the summit will be promised clear views out towards the Northern Ireland coast and a panorama surrounding the southern coast of Scotland and Arran’s neighbouring islands.
A charming coastal village just south of the Goat Fell, Corrie was once – and remains – a haven for artists, including Margot Sandeman and Jessie M King. Taking its name from the Gaelic meaning ‘great garden’, it’s also home to Corrie Golf Club, where you can practice your links with panoramic views over the Firth of Clyde.
Coast Discovery Center
Built on Scotland’s first designated Marine Protection Area, the centre is the culmination of three decades of work aiming to preserve and care for the marine life of Arran. Covering around 300 square km of coastline, the centre offers exhibitions, equipment hire and interactive activities for kids and big kids.
Though only the ruins remain of Kildonan Castle, it remains an important landmark for its namesake village. Used for centuries by the Kings of Scotland as a hunting lodge, the original structure overlooking the Firth of Clyde is believed to date back to the 13th century.
Isle of Arran Coffee Company
100 per cent independent and roasted on the island, the Isle of Arran Coffee Company produces small-batch roasted beans. Made with 100% Arabica beans, everything is Fairtrade and sourced ethically – so you can be sure your Arran coffee is made with love and equity.
Making fresh, organic bread every day, the Blackwater Bakehouse has been serving delicious baked goods for more than five years. Found just behind the Kinloch Hotel, they work with other local businesses and farmers to source their ingredients, so their bakery is full of 100% local goodies.
Cafe Thyme Arran
Mara Fish Bar and Deli
Taking its name from the Scots Gaelic meaning ‘the sea’, Mara sources only the best and freshest fish to serve and sell at their homestead. Helping to promote sustainable fishing on the island, there are plenty of dishes to try and exciting products carefully selected by the Mara team.
A quaint pizzeria and ice cream parlour, the Parlour is the island’s premiere spot for hand-thrown, stone-fired pizzas and delicious ice cream made right in Arran. First opened in 2018, it’s the most authentic pizza you’ll find for miles – and their coffee is just as delicious.
Creating incredible food using the best of seasonal produce, the ever-changing menus at Crofters are just one of the reasons to make multiple trips here. A family-run bar and bistro, their menu specialises in contemporary Scottish cuisine that makes the most of the local larder.
The French Fox