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Islay and Jura - 5 day tour
Islay and Jura
5 day/4 night
The contrasting Hebridean islands of Islay and Jura are the focus of this leisurely tour. First, explore Islay, famous for farming and whisky production. We’ll also find deserted beaches where seals laze, pre-historic sites and picturesque whitewashed villages. Across the water lies the island wilderness of Jura, whose scenery is dominated by the mountain peaks, known as the Paps of Jura. If you’d like to island-hop a bit more, take the optional excursion to Colonsay, famous for its varied plant and birdlife.
Port Askaig - enjoy a relaxing stay in this picturesque harbour village which boasts stunning views of Jura
Bowmore Distillery - learn the time-honoured traditions of whisky-making at Islay’s oldest distillery
Loch Gruinart - explore this fantastic bird reserve home to snipe, lapwings, redshanks, curlews and, if you’re travelling in autumn, barnacle geese
Isle of Jura - discover the remarkable scenery that inspired George Orwell to write his most famous work, “1984”
Colonsay - experience the ultimate island escape on an optional visit to this tranquil island famed for its abundant wildlife and birdlife.
Movie locations - The Maggie, My Name is Joe and Downton Abbey
Hotel accommodation included
Full Tour Itinerary
Day 1 - Edinburgh/Glasgow - Kennacraig - Isle of Islay
From Edinburgh and Glasgow, we travel through the beauty of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park to reach the scenic Western Highlands. From Inveraray, a drive along the banks of Loch Fyne brings us to Adrishaig and delightful Tarbert.
At Kennacraig, the afternoon ferry awaits to transport us across the Sound of Jura to the Isle of Islay. The sailing will take around 2 hours and on-board there is a restaurant and bar where you can purchase refreshments.
We will arrive in the little port of Port Askaig, which will be our home for the next four nights. After time to freshen up and relax, dinner will be served in our hotel.
Overnight: Port Askaig Hotel, Port Askaig, Isle of Islay (or similar) (4 nights)
Day 2 - Exploring the Isle of Islay
Enjoy a tasty breakfast before boarding the coach for today’s tour of Islay. Our first visit is to nearby Loch Finlaggan. This was the headquarters of the Lord of the Isles, descendants of the Clan Donald, who had liberated Islay from Viking rule. Their power grew until they controlled the Western Highlands and Islands. There is a visitor centre that tells the fascinating story of this powerful clan.
Islay has the nickname of "Whisky Island" due to the number of working distilleries here. So next, we move on to visit Bowmore Distillery, which was established in 1779, making it the oldest on the island. We’ll join an expert guide for a tour to discover how whisky is produced here using traditional methods. Later there is a wee taste of the end product as part of a tutored tasting.
Our lunch stop is in the charming village of Port Charlotte, where there are a variety of restaurants offering food for purchase. After free time to relax, we’ll make a visit to the fascinating Museum of Islay Life which tells the story of life on the island including the once-popular trade in illicit whisky distilling.
Our last visit is to the RSPB Nature Reserve at Loch Gruinart, where a ranger will provide an introduction to the varied birdlife that call here while migrating. The mudflats and fields provide a rich source of food for the geese that arrive here from Greenland. It’s thought some 110 species of bird come to Islay to breed including birds of prey and chough, a rare type of crow.
Day 3 - Free time or optional tour to Colonsay
You can choose to relax in Port Askaig today or join the optional excursion to the remote and tranquil island of Colonsay. The ferry departs from Port Askaig and will take 75 minutes to reach Scalasaig, the main settlement on the island.
With a population of around 100 residents, this sparsely populated island is a haven for birdlife (around150 species can be seen here). On arrival, we’ll head for Colonsay House, which dates from 1772 and was the home of Lord Strathcona, who founded the Canadian Pacific Railway.
The focus of our visit will be the beautiful gardens and woods which are full of colourful rhododendrons, giant palms and exotic shrubs.
Later we will tour through the island to visit magnificent Kiloran Bay, which is said to be the finest in the Hebrides. The mile-long sands are washed by Atlantic breakers and are backed by grass-covered dunes. It makes a breathtaking sight.
After some free time, we head to the ferry for our return sailing to Port Askaig. After time to relax, dinner will be served in our hotel.
Day 4 - Excursion to the Isle of Jura
Today we explore the neighbouring island of Jura, which is a mere 5-minute sailing away. As we disembark from the ferry, you’ll discover that Jura is a world away from Islay, as it’s considered to be the wildest of Britain’s inhabited islands.
The island is famous for the red deer population which outnumber human residents 33:1, they are so ubiquitous that the Vikings called the island “Deer Island”, from which Jura is derived. You might even spot wild goats too. They like nothing better than grazing on the seaweed that can be found by the shore.
The three peaks that dominate the island are known as the “Paps of Jura”. The tallest is Beinn an Oir, the Mountain of Gold. In their shadow sits the delightful village of Craighouse, the island’s main community.
After a scenic island tour, we’ll spend some free time here. As well as a shop and tearoom, this is the location of the famous Jura whisky distillery.
Later, we catch the ferry back to Islay and reach our hotel in time for dinner.
Day 5 - Isle of Islay - Inveraray - Glasgow/Edinburgh
After breakfast, it’s time to bid goodbye to Islay. We board the ferry at Port Ellen for our crossing to Kennacraig on Kintyre. The picturesque journey will take us along the banks of Loch Fyne to Inveraray, where we will make a stop.
This photogenic town is an excellent example of 18th Century architecture, having been built by the third Duke of Argyll. We’ll catch a glimpse of his magnificent castle, the seat of the Clan Campbell, as we leave the town.
Our journey continues through Glen Kinglas then through the dramatic “Rest and be Thankful” pass to reach Loch Long and the attractive village of Arrochar. Soon we’ll reach Loch Lomond where there are lovely views over the “bonnie, bonnie banks” to the towering peak of Ben Lomond.
The last part of our journey brings us to central Glasgow then onwards to Edinburgh.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I expect on this Escorted Tour?
If you enjoy the art of first-class travel whilst enjoying amazing value then an Escorted Tour is just for you. These tours are carefully researched and combine quality hotels, luxury travel, informative visits and leisure time. You’ll find our Escorted Tours to be memorable - for all the right reasons!
You will travel aboard a state of the art motorcoach with air-conditioning, reclining seats, oversized windows and emergency washroom. Many coaches are equipped with WiFi too.
An experienced tour manager will lead the tour and your coach will be expertly driven by a professional driver. In certain locations you’ll may be joined by a local guide who will provide local insight and show you the highlights.
These tours are inclusive of superior tourist class accommodation, transportation, selected admission fees and many meals.
On many tours you’ll have the chance to personalise your touring experience by participating in some carefully planned optional excursions. These are at additional expense and, if available, details will be provided with your tour documentation.
What type of room should I choose?
Selecting the right sleeping arrangements can be a little bit confusing, so here is a description of what you can expect from the hotel accommodation offered as part of your tour:
Single room - this is a room for one person sleeping in a single bed.
Twin room - this is a room for two people sleeping in two separate beds.
Double room - this is a room for two people sharing one large bed.
Family room - this is a room for three people sleeping in one large bed (2 people) and one single bed (1 person).
Please note that a family room is normally a standard double or twin room with either a sofa bed or a rollaway bed.
All room types, other than twin rooms, are subject to availability.
Tell me what the visit to a whisky distillery will be like?
A visit to a traditional whisky distillery is a feast for all the senses. After a warm welcome you’ll normally have a short audio/visual presentation on the the history of the distillery and the traditional methods used in the distilling process.
Next is a tour of the distillery where you you will experience all stages of the whisky making process from mashing and fermenting to distilling and maturation.
Your tour will end with a tutored tasting of a malt whisky and the opportunity to buy a souvenir of your visit in the distillery shop.
How many people will be on the tour?
The number of people travelling on an Escorted Tour will not normally be more than 50 passengers. On a Premium Escorted Tour you will travel with around 38 fellow passengers.
We’re two people booking independently. How do we make sure that we are travelling together?
We ask that each party sends us a brief email to firstname.lastname@example.org. prior to making your bookings. Tell us the name of the tour you are going to book, date of travel and the name of the second traveller.
Once you’ve done this please go ahead and make your reservations.
We’ll do our very best to have you seated together and, if you are travelling on a multi-day tour, accommodated in the same lodgings.
- 4 nights hotel accommodation
- Location: Port Askaig, Isle of Islay (4)
- Cooked/Continental breakfast (4)
- Table d’hote dinners (4)
Visits, Admissions and Experiences
- Admission to Museum of Islay Life and Loch Gruinart RSPB Nature Reserve
- Tour and tasting at Bowmore Distillery
- Touring by luxury air-conditioned coach with reclining seats
- All ferry fares and reservations
- All baggage handling and hotel tips are included
- Services throughout the tour of a professional Tour Director
- Service charges and taxes
North Hanover Street Bus Stance, Glasgow, G1 2BP
Check-in: 07:45 hrs
Tour Departs: 08:00 hrs
Tour Returns: 17:00 hrs
Outside Reception at the Delta Hotels by Marriott Edinburgh
111 Glasgow Road
Edinburgh EH12 8NF
Check-in: 06:30 hrs
Tour Departs: 06:45 hrs
Tour Returns: 18:15 hrs
Please contact us for information on child prices.
The price of this tour includes hotel accommodation with en-suite bathroom.
Please note that rooms for single occupancy are not available on this tour.
Departure and Return Times
The departure and return times are given for guidance only and are subject to change.
Final timings and pick-up points will be confirmed with your joining instructions approximately 10 days before departure.
An optional full-day tour to Colonsay is available. The cost is £55 per person which includes transport and admission to Colonsay House.
Please see the FAQ section for more information on this tour.