About the Isle of Islay

Islay is the Southern-most isle of the Inner Hebrides and has about 3,000 inhabitants. It’s 25 miles long and 20 wide and has 130 miles of coastline – that’s a lot of beaches! Islay is chiefly known for its distinctive strong flavoured peaty whiskies – such as Laphroaig, Ardbeg and Lagavulin. There are 8 distilleries on Islay, and a visit to at least one for a tour and a dram is a must!


  • Islay Slate – lovely cheese boards, placemats, wine racks etc at the Harbour Inn in Bowmore.
  • The Islay Woolen Mill – a huge range of wonderful weaves – whether you are looking for a scarf, coat, kilt or curtains (see the curtains at Callumkill).
  • The Friday Market at Dunlossit – Friday from 11 to 4 there is a food market with Catriona’s baked goods and Francois’ meat pies (you HAVE to try these!) and Islay meat, veg and eggs.
  • Islay House Square, just past Bridgend on the road to Ballygrant – this has a lovely group of shops
  • Mark Unsworth’s photographs chocolates, local Ales, Batik’s and stain glass designs.

    Restaurants and Cafe’s

  • Ardbeg Cafe and Shop
  • The Islay – Port Ellen
  • Minimart Bruichladdich
  • Harbour Inn, Bowmore
  • Bridgend Hotel
  • Port Charlotte Hotel

    Port Ellen (closest town to Callumkill)
    The Ferry arrives here. For food it has the Coop, Lauries (deli and paper shop) and Torries (everything including flower arranging), Campbell’s Butchers and an Indian take away. It also has a fish and chip van at lunch time on the Pier and 2 Pubs – the Ardmore and the White Hart.

    The largest town on Islay, dominated by its round church at the top of the hill. It has restaurants (the Harbour Inn), food shops (the Coop and a butcher), a chemist, petrol station, tourist information office, banks, a swimming pool and several handy shops that seem to sell everything (the Islay Shop and Christies). CE Roy is good for the finer stuff and a good book collection. The vet’s has wellies in case you forgot to bring your own!

    Bruichladdich’s key place to visit (other than the distillery) is Debbie’s MiniMart. Here you can sit and have the best coffee on Islay, cake, good cheeses, and wines. It is also the beginning point of Islay’s yearly cycling race aptly called “the ride of the falling rain”

    Port Charlotte has the Museum of Islay Life – a wonderful dip into how it was on Islay not so very long ago.

    Places to visit (selection only)

  • Kildalton Cross - Ionan school Celtic cross from @800AD
  • Dunyvaig Castle – a ruin with wonderful views and evoking images of clan feuds!
  • Finlaggan – seat of the Lord of the Isles.
  • Museum of Islay Life –
  • Golf -– one of the best golf courses in the world!
  • Birdwatching – Loch Gruinart RSPB reserve
  • Pony Trekking at Ballivicar Farm
  • Cycling – bikes can be rented in Port Ellen, Port Charlotte and Bowmore