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Things to do in Argyll and Bute

Argyll and Bute is situated on the west coast of Scotland. It's long been a popular holiday destination with over 3,000 miles of coastline, lochs and rivers, glens and mountains.

It also hosts part of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park - found in eastern Argyll and Bute.

Ferry sailing between Oban and the Isle of Mull
Ferry sailing between Oban and the Isle of Mull

There are castles, historic towns and villages and many islands to explore. Most of the county's main towns have tourist information centres to help you plan a visit.

A visit to Argyll and Bute often begins on the mainland around Loch Lomond, the largest freshwater loch (lake) in Britain, renowned for fishing, water sports, boating and golf.

Aerial image of Helensburgh on the banks of the River Clyde.
Aerial image of Helensburgh on the banks of the River Clyde.

Helensburgh is a busy town with good shopping.

There's also a yacht and sailing club, tennis courts and bowling greens.

The town has good transport links to many destinations in the County.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Helensburgh is home of Hill House, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh for the Glasgow publisher Walter Blackie. A short distance south at Cardross is the delightful Geilston Garden.

The picturesque town of Arrochar is situated near the head of Loch Long, separated from Loch Lomond by the Gareloch and Rosneath peninsula. The area includes the mountains known as the Arrochar Alps and the Argyll forest.

Loch Long in evening light
Loch Long in evening light

There are lots of water sports and sailing at Gareloch - boats can be hired at Roseneath Castle Park and classes are available throughout the summer.

At the south west of Roseneath peninsula at Cove Bay is Linn Botanic Gardens - due to the mild climate, many exotic species thrive here.


Inveraray is situated on the shore of Loch Fyne - famous for its excellent seafood and kippers.

Inverary Castle
Inverary Castle

The tourist information centre on Front Street has full information on the area.

Inveraray is famous for its fine architecture and for being home of Inveraray Castle - seat of the Dukes of Argyll.

From the castle grounds a five-mile walk winds up Glen Shira leading to the Falls of Aray and to ruins of the home of Rob Roy.

Other attractions in Inveraray include the Maritime Museum, Inveraray Jail and the Argyll Wildlife Park.

Loch Fyne, Inverary
Loch Fyne, Inverary

Six miles south of Inveraray is Auchindrain Township Museum - the original buildings are furnished and a visit is an entertaining day out for everyone.

Four miles to the south is Crarae Gardens, containing one of the best Rhododendron collections in Scotland.

Reflection of Kilchurn Castle in Loch Awe
Reflection of Kilchurn Castle in Loch Awe

In the north of the county in a picturesque setting at the head of Loch Awe, is the ruined 16th century Kilchurn Castle, which incorporates the first purpose built barracks in Scotland.

Aerial view of Ardchattam and Bonawe seen from Loch Etive
Aerial view of Ardchattam and Bonawe seen from Loch Etive

The road through the Pass of Brander takes you to Taynult and nearby Bonawe Iron Furnace, the most complete charcoal-fuelled ironworks in Britain.


Dunoon is in the south of the Cowal peninsula. It was built around two bays and was planned for the 5th Duke of Argyll by James Craig, who designed the 'new town' in Edinburgh.

Dunoon Castle
Dunoon Castle

On Castle Hill, below the remains of Dunoon Castle, is a statue of 'Bonny Mary O' Argyll' (Mary Campbell), sweetheart of Robert Burns.

Aerial view of Loch Riddon on the Cowal Peninsula
Aerial view of Loch Riddon on the Cowal Peninsula

Dunoon is host to the Cowal Highland Games held on the last Friday and Saturday in August annually, one of the largest Highland gatherings in Scotland.

Benmore Botanic Garden
Benmore Botanic Garden

A few miles north of the town is Benmore Botanic Garden, famous for its collection of flowering trees and shrubs.

North of Oban on the A828 at Barcaldine, on the shore of Loch Creran is the Scottish Sea Life Sanctuary, which cares for many species of injured and orphaned marine creatures. It's an interesting place for family visits.


In the north of Argyll the busy town of Oban has all the facilities of a larger town that you might need.

View over Oban
View over Oban

Notable features are the ruins of 13th century Dunollie Cast, and McCaig's folly. Built on a hill overlooking the town, this is an unfinished replica of the Colosseum in Rome.

Sunset over Oban Harbour
Sunset over Oban Harbour

Approximately twenty miles south of Oban, overlooking the Sound of Jura, is the delightful Arduaine Garden.

Lochgilphead is the chief town of Mid Argyll. North of the town in Kilmartin Glen is an important collection of ancient monuments, many of which are prehistoric. A visit to Kilmartin Museum and visitor centre is well worth while.

Tarbert lies at the gateway to the Kintyre peninsula. It is an old fishing town, and today a popular port for yachtsmen sailing the west coast of Scotland. It lies on the tiny isthmus linking Knapdale and Kintyre.

Campbeltown, is the main town centre of the long peninsula of Kintyre. Further south is Machrihanish, the site of a classic golf course.

The Off Shore Islands of Argyll and Bute

The Isle of Bute

Rothesay is the main town on the Isle of Bute, an island in the lower Firth of Clyde. Bute lies at the foot of the Cowal Peninsula and is separated from it by the stretch of water known as the Kyles of Bute, one of the most popular holiday destinations on the west coast of Scotland.

Mount Stuart
Mount Stuart

The island is only 15 miles long and 5 miles wide.

The Highland Boundary Fault line runs through the island creating a contrast, with three hills above 800 feet lying to its north. These are Windy Hill 911 feet, Kames Hill 875 feet and Kilbride Hill 836 feet. Unsurprisingly, all providing magnificent views.

Rothesay Castle
Rothesay Castle

South of the fault line is undulating countryside, five delightful bays, quiet villages and the resort Rothesay.

Rothesay is a pretty town with interesting attractions such as Rothesay Castle, with its unusual circular plan; Mount Stuart, the family home of the Stuarts of Bute, a spectacular house with a delightful garden, well worth visiting.

Other places of interest are Bute Museum and south of Rothesay is Ascog Hall Victorian Fernery and Gardens.

The Isle of Mull

The Isle of Mull is one of the islands in the Inner Hebrides. Tobermory, at the north of Mull is the largest village on the Island. Tobermory was planned in the late 1700s to provide housing for fishermen's families.

Today the town caters for tourism and has a golf club, yacht club, folk museum and interesting shops.

Tobermory Panorama
Tobermory Panorama

The town's many brightly painted houses feature in the BBC's series for children 'Balamory'. It also lent its name to one of the Wombles of Wimbledon Common!
Ascog Sunrise
Ascog Sunrise

Mull is a beautiful Island with many clean sandy beaches and bays. Inland is moorland, forest and mountains, the highest of which is Ben More at 3,000 feet.

Ben More on Mull
Ben More on Mull

Wildlife such as golden eagles, otters, dolphins and even whales can be spotted in and around the island.

The wild scenery of Mull was the background of Robert Louis Stevenson's novel 'Kidnapped'.

Craignure is an attractive town with a pier.
Sunset over Craignure, Isle of Mull
Sunset over Craignure, Isle of Mull

Just south of Craignure is Duart Castle - the family home of the Clan Maclean.
Duart Castle
Duart Castle

Iona and other Islands

South west of Mull is Iona, where in AD563 Columba landed from Ireland to extend the gospel in Scotland.

Iona Abbey
Iona Abbey

The island is a centre for Christian pilgrimage and one of the most sacred sites in Britain.

A group of small islands lying southwest of Oban are known as the Slate Islands. The island of Easdale is home to the Easdale Island Folk Museum, providing a fascinating insight of the time when these islands were the centre of the Scottish slate industry.

Wild swimming in the disused slate quarries of Easdale Island
Wild swimming in the disused slate quarries of Easdale Island

Jura in the Inner Hebrides is rugged and mountainous, the highest point is the triple peaks, 'The Paps of Jura'.

Panoramic view of the Paps of Jura from the Sound of Islay
Panoramic view of the Paps of Jura from the Sound of Islay

Along the west coast are beaches and caves, the island is almost divided in two by Loch Tarbert.

The main village is Craighouse, where the local distillery makes Isle of Jura whisky.

Islay is the most southerly of the Inner Hebridean islands. Famous for the production of malt whisky, the island is home to several distilleries.

Islay is widely held to be one of the most beautiful of the islands, with fine beaches and bays. Many birds inhabit the island and birdwatchers come to see species such as Cormorant, Oystercatcher, Chough and in February Barnacle Geese. Several Celtic crosses are to be found in Islay, the best example being Kildalton Cross.

Kildalton Cross
Kildalton Cross

A visit to the Museum of Islay Life, is a fascinating experience for all ages.

Days out in Argyll and Bute

  • Arduaine Garden
    Discover the quiet charm of Arduaine Garden at any time of year! Take a relaxing stroll among the spectacular rhododendrons, azaleas and magnolias, where vibrant colours and delicate fragrances tantalise the senses
    Arduaine Garden
  • Auchindrain
    There's nowhere like it in Scotland. Auchindrain gives visitors a fascinating and authentic insight into how people lived,worked and played in the old Highlands, from the first record of Auchindrain in 1533 to when the last residents moved away in
  • Ben Lomond
    The mountain, and over 5000 acres around it, are owned and managed by the National Trust for Scotland.
    Ben Lomond
  • Benmore Botanic Garden
    Come and marvel at nature's giants. Set in the dramatic Cowal Peninsula, Argyll, the Garden is world famous for its collections of flowering trees and shrubs.
    Benmore Botanic Garden
  • Bonawe Historic Iron Furnace
    Founded in 1753 by a Lake District partnership, Bonawe is the most complete charcoal-fuelled ironworks in Britain.
    Bonawe Historic Iron Furnace
  • Brodick Castle
    This is a castle you will never forget! The tall, stately building beckons you with the glow of its warm red sandstone. The setting is superb - fronted by a magnificent bay, surrounded by gardens and overlooked by the majestic mountain of Goatfell.
    Brodick Castle
  • Burg
    The exposed location of Burg, open to the full force of the Atlantic weather, together with its colloquial name 'The Wilderness', give an indication of the wild terrain of this property
  • Calanais Standing Stones
    This is a cross shaped setting of standing stones, unique in Scotland, and outstanding in Great Britain.
    Calanais Standing Stones
  • Crarae Gardens
    The main garden at Crarae is set on a hillside down which tumbles the Crarae Burn, the scene is reminiscent of a Himalayan gorge. The surrounding tree and shrub collections are rich and diverse, planted for artistic and naturalistic effect.
    Crarae Gardens
  • Duart Castle
    Duart has been the home of the Macleans since Lachlan Lubanach Maclean, the 5th chief married Margaret, the daughter of the Lord of the Isles in 1360. Duart and the surrounding lands were her dowry.
    Duart Castle
  • Easdale Island Folk Museum
    The Easdale Folk Museum aims to show a snapshot of life on Easdale Island as it was in the 19th Century, when the Island was the centre of the Scottish slate industry.
    Easdale Island Folk Museum
  • Glencoe & Dalness
    The breathtaking peaks and spectacular waterfalls of Glencoe bear silent witness to the origin, history and wildlife of this atmospheric glen. The steep-sided mountains are popular for climbing and walking.
    Glencoe & Dalness
  • Glencoe and North Lorn Folk Museum
    The Museum is situated in a 19th Century thatched croft house in the main street of Glencoe Village. The museum contains a large variety of artefacts, the majority of which were collected locally.
    Glencoe and North Lorn Folk Museum
  • Goatfell
    Goatfell, or Goat Fell, is the highest point on the Isle of Arran, which lies in the Firth of Clyde. In Scottish Gaelic the mountain is called Gaoda Bheinn.
  • Iona
    Iona is a small, fertile crofting island, currently inhabited by around 130 people. For many centuries it has been an island of special significance for all Christians.
  • Kilchurn Castle
    A square tower, built by Colin Campbell of Glenorchy c1550, Kilchurn Castle was much enlarged in 1693, incorporating the first purpose built barracks in Scotland.
    Kilchurn Castle
  • Kildalton Cross
    Kildalton Cross is the finest intact High Cross in Scotland carved in the late eighth century.
    Kildalton Cross
  • Lochranza Castle
    Lochranza Castle is the ruined remains of a tower house, built on the north of the Isle of Arran off the west coast of Scotland.
    Lochranza Castle
  • Mount Stuart
    Mount Stuart, a spectacular Victorian Gothic house, is the magnificent architectural fantasy of the 3rd Marquess of Bute (1847-1900) and the Scottish architect Robert Rowland Anderson.
    Mount Stuart
  • Museum of Islay Life
    This delightful Museum is situated in Port Charlotte in a former church. There are over 1600 items in the collection dating from 8000 BC to the 1950s.
    Museum of Islay Life
  • Rothesay Castle
    Rothesay Castle is a remarkable 13th century castle of enclosure, circular in plan, with a 16th century fore-work.
    Rothesay Castle
  • Scottish Sea Life Sanctuary
    Scottish Sea Life Sanctuary is Scotland's leading animal rescue centre caring for dozens of sick, injured and orphaned seal pups every year.
    Scottish Sea Life Sanctuary
  • Staffa
    This uninhabited island, only half a mile long by a quarter of a mile wide, is famous for its basaltic formations, distinctive stepped columns created when the lava of volcanic eruptions cooled many millions of years ago.
  • Torosay Castle & Gardens
    A beautiful and welcoming Victorian family home surrounded by 12 acres of spectacular gardens.
    Torosay Castle & Gardens
  • Toy Museum, Glendale
    Amazing collection of toys, dolls, games, teddy bears and miniatures.
    Toy Museum, Glendale

Places to Visit in Argyll and Bute

  • Ardentinny
    Ardentinny is a quiet village surrounded by the loch and hillside, ideal for walkers and nature lovers as there is always the chance to see wildlife on every turn of the many paths through the woods or along the shore.
  • Arrochar
    Arrochar is a remote Scottish village situated on the west coast of Scotland in Argyll and Bute.
  • Ballimore
    We have just received a description of Ballimore from one of our readers. This description is currently being prepared for publication and will appear on this page within the next few days.
  • Benmore
    We have just received a description of Benmore from one of our readers. This description is currently being prepared for publication and will appear on this page within the next few days.
  • Bunessan
    Only a mile from Roan Cottage is Bunessan, the largest village on the Ross of Mull and by far the largest place between Craignure and Fionnphort. The village is situated mainly around the head of Loch Na Lathaid and receives extra shelter f
  • Campbeltown
    The Royal Burgh of Campbeltown has been occupied continuously for over 8000 years. Once home to a big fishing fleet, the Herring fishery declined after the 1920's, and now fine quality shellfish is landed here.
  • Carradale
    Carradale is a popular holiday village and busy fishing harbour. Carradale lies at the centre of a network of forest and coastal walks with varied wildlife including many species of birds, several types of deer, and the poisonous but timid adder.
  • Clachan
    Clachan, the ancient seat of the Church in North Kintyre, houses the old church, surrounded by the carved stones of the Chiefs of the Clan Alasdair.
  • Drumlemble
    Drumlemble Village is a small, peaceful village located about four miles west of Campbletown between Campbeltown and the ocean front town of Machrahanish.
  • Dunoon
    The resort town of Dunoon is situated on the Cowal Peninsula in scenic Argyll and Bute. It is five miles south of Holy Loch and connected by ferry to Gourock across the Firth of Clyde.
  • Glenbarr
    The sleepy hamlets of Bellochantuy, Glenbarr and Muasdale stretch up the West Road, alongside which are several lengths of fine sandy beaches, with convenient lay-byes for access, from where the islands of Gigha, Islay and Jura can be photographed.
  • Helensburgh
    Helensburgh is an attractive town in Argyll and Bute, best known as being the birthplace of John Logie Baird, the father of television.
  • Inveraray
    Inveraray, one of the most typical Scottish town. Coming in from Glasgow, you will discover the "white town" from the opposite bank of Loch Fynne. Before to drive into town you will have to cross over a wee one lane stone bridge.
  • Kerrycroy
    Kerrycroy is a peaceful village on the Isle of Bute, with a fine sandy bay and a stone pier, directly south of Rothesay at the end of the shore road.
  • Kilcreggan
    Kilcreggan is a lovely little village just 2 miles from Rosneath on the Rosneath Peninsula.
  • Kilmartin
    We have just received a description of Kilmartin from one of our readers. This description is currently being prepared for publication and will appear on this page within the next few days.
  • Kingarth
    Kingarth is the centre of the farming community in the south of the island. The village is at a crossroads, not only of routes but also of history.
  • Lochgilphead
    The small town of Lochgilphead is, as its name suggests, at the head of Loch Gilp, part of Loch Fyne. Although it has just over 3,000 residents, it is the Argyll and Bute administrative centre covering a huge area of western Scotland.
  • Lochgoilhead
    Scenic Lochgoilhead is a small village of around 400 residents in the southern Scottish Highlands of Argyll. As its name suggests, the village sits at the head of Loch Goil.
  • Machrihanish
    Once linked by a narrow-gauge railway to Campbeltown (closed in the 1930s), the village is the site for a classic links Golf course, which Tom Morris helped to design. Its 1st hole is rated by Jack Nicklaus as the World's greatest opening hole.
  • Oban
    Oban, which in Gaelic means Little Bay, is a resort town in Argyll and Bute. It is known for its beautiful setting on a horseshoe-shaped bay on the Firth of Lorn backed by the scenic mountains of Ardgour and Morvern.
  • Otter Ferry
    The small community of Otter Ferry is in Argyll and Bute and, as its name suggests, it was founded around the former ferry which ran across broad Loch Fyne to Port Anne in Knapdale.
    Otter Ferry
  • Port Bannatyne
    Port Bannatyne is in Kames Bay, a mile or so beyond the outskirts of Rothesay on the Isle of Bute.
    Port Bannatyne
  • Ronachan
    Meaning 'Place of the Seals', Ronachan point is a convenient stopping place and viewpoint, where frequently you will see seals basking on the rocks just off shore.
  • Rothesay
    Rothesay - Declared a Royal Burgh by King Robert III in 1400, home of wealthy Victorian industrialists and popular tourist resort - Rothesay has played many roles over the centuries, and each is reflected in the town's architecture.
  • Saddell
    Saddell, the idyllic setting for a Cistercian Abbey, which stands next to the 'Allt nan Manach' (Stream of the Monks). The Abbey was founded by the great warrior King, Somerled in 1160, and completed by his son Reginald.
  • Skipness
    Skipness is accessible from Tarbert via a very pleasant walk, rich with flora and fauna, or by road via Claonaig, where lies the ferry terminal for Arran.
  • Southend
    Here at Southend, close by the ruined Chapel and carved slabs on the ancient churchyard of Keil, are the footprints, which signify the spot where St. Columba first preached in Scotland. Nearer Campbeltown is St. Kiaran's Cave.
  • Tarbert
    Tarbert is Scotland's greatest natural Harbour, guarded by Robert the Bruce's Castle, scene today of the spectacular annual yacht series.

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