Booking a trip to Islay and Jura means saying yes to an adventure-filled holiday, writes our guest blogger Roanne Joseph.
You can explore castle ruins and stunning beaches, play golf, and go foraging in the wild. You can even leverage Explore Islay and Jura’s partner Geotourist’s apps to have a lively audio guide that tells of the bloody battles and hauntings that make up the islands’ rich history. As Explore Islay and Jura’s co-chair Emma Clark has often said: “[Visitors] often come for the whisky but stay, and return, for so much more.”
Before you can enjoy your stay, however, you first have to get here. Don’t be intimidated by the fact of having an ocean to traverse, especially if you’re coming from one of the other Hebridean Isles—you have many travel options, and your destination is a worthy reward. Here’s an overview of how you can get to Islay and Jura.
Most travel routes will have you go to Islay first, which is the home of Port Askaig and Port Ellen. Generally, the ports are interchangeable for getting to Islay and Jura, as they are only 19 miles apart. However, only Port Askaig has a ferry service to Jura, so ensure that you head there if you want to explore that isle first.
The ferry coming into Port Ellen
How to get to Islay and Jura from the Inner Hebrides
One of the most popular forms of transportation between the Hebrides is via ferry. This applies to Mull. Here, you can take advantage of the stellar services offered by CalMac Ferries. They’re bookable online and offer options whether you’re travelling by foot, car, or bike. CalMac also works with the National Autistic Society to implement disability-friendly measures onboard their vessels, like training staff to support neurodiverse individuals and providing sensory toys and ear defenders to passengers vulnerable to sensory overload.
You can start your journey at the Craignure Mull Ferry Terminal, sail to the Oban Ferry Terminal, then travel to Port Askaig from Oban on Wednesdays or Saturdays in the summer (Colonsay: Oban-Colonsay-Port Askaig | CalMac Ferries) or you can then journey by car, bike or bus via Lochgilphead to Kennacraig.
Transportation from Colonsay varies depending on the ferry schedule. From March to late October, you can start your journey any day of the week at the Colonsay Ferry Terminal and, depending on the timetable, either pause at Oban Ferry Terminal and make your way by road down to Kennacraig or head straight to Port Askaig on Wednesdays or Saturdays. There is a more limited service in winter. (Colonsay: Oban-Colonsay-Port Askaig | CalMac Ferries)
How to get to Islay and Jura from the Outer Hebrides
Lewis and Harris
The trip from Lewis and Harris requires travelling long distances through land and sea. You’ll start at Stornaway Ferry Terminal with the destination of Ullapool Ferry Terminal. Then, you’ll use your car or a coach operator like Scottish Citylink to travel to Oban Ferry Terminal.
Alternatively, you can turn the annoyance of an extensive trip into a deliberately longer and more thrilling journey via cruise. Explora Cruises allows you to take a basic itinerary and customise it to your liking. If you take their Caledonian tour, you’ll start at Southampton and eventually end up in Lewis and Harris, where you’ll enjoy the historic Standing Stones and gorgeous beaches. From here, you can easily tailor your experiences according to your needs through an extended journey package, wherein you can use the company’s discounts to save money and book your ferry or flight to Islay and Jura.
Travelling from Barra is very straightforward. Start at Castlebay Barra Ferry Terminal and sail to Oban Ferry Terminal. There, you can take a CalMac ferry to Port Askaig on certain days in the summer, or travel down to Kennacraig to take the ferry to Port Askaig or Port Ellen.
How to get to Islay and Jura from the mainland
You can get to Islay and Jura from the mainland from the ferry terminals at either Oban (on certain days of the week in summer) or several times daily from Kennacraig. Another way to get to Islay and Jura by boat: the Jura Passenger Ferry, a seasonal transportation service between the charming fishing village Tayvallich and Craighouse, the main settlement of Jura. The government subsidises the ferry.
Flying over Glenegedale on Islay, with the runway – and the beach – below
Lastly, you travel from Glasgow by flying with Loganair, a mainstay airline that which marked its unrivalled milestone of a 60th anniversary in 2022. You’ll start at Glasgow International Airport and arrive at Islay Airport within approximately 45 minutes.
To get to Islay and Jura, you’ll have to cross oceans—but it will be worth it. Use the above guide to find the best way to the islands.
For more articles on the best Islay and Jura have to offer, take a look around our website Explore Islay & Jura.
Article written by Roanne Joseph