Scottish Island Hopping
Island-hopping is an essential part of the Scottish experience and good ferry links give plenty of tour permutations.
Argyll & Bute
Bute in the Clyde estuary has the air of a traditional resort at least in Rothesay, though Mount Stuart is a spectacular attraction here. Beyond Kintyre, Islay and Jura have a truer Hebridean feel: Islay busy with whisky distilling, Jura remote, rugged and empty. Time the ferries right and you can take in Islay along with Colonsay, a perfect Hebridean gem. Coll and Tiree are further out, with their machair and beaches, white crofts and perhaps surprisingly impressive sunshine records! Caledonian MacBrayne
Orkney & Shetland
Whichever island you choose, getting there is straightforward, thanks to fast, modern roll-on, roll-off ferry services. Seven islands are also linked by air and include the world's shortest scheduled air service - two minutes - between Westray and Papa Westray. Visit Hoy for spectacular cliffs and naval history at Lyness. Choose Eday, at the heart of the island grouping, for abundant birdlife; Flotta for wartime relics or North Ronaldsay for a sense of old traditions. Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre have wildlife in plenty. Sanday has spectacular beaches, while Shapinsay and Stronsay are also well worth a visit. Orkney Ferries
Shetland Island Council own and run their own ferry fleet, serving 9 islands with roll on / roll off services; and limited passenger & freight services depending on the islands. See a map of the services available on their website, as well as further information.
For information on Ferries to the Orkney & Shetland Islands see the Ferry Information page
The Western Isles (Outer Hebrides)
Caledonian MacBrayne operates the services to and between the Western Isles from a number of ports. From Ullapool, in the north west, sailings are to Stornoway. From Uig, on Skye, sailings are to Tarbert, on Harris, and Lochmaddy, on North Uist. From Oban, in Argyll, sailings go to Castlebay, on Barra, and Lochboisdale, on South Uist. See the Caledonian MacBrayne website for further details of their routes, timetables and special offers.
The Inner Hebrides & Southwest Scotland
Visiting Mull & the Holy Island of Iona where St. Columba landed when he came from Ireland is an easy day trip from Oban. You couldÂ spend a day on Islay sailing from Kennacraig or crossÂ over to Clanoaig and take the ferry to Arran. Most permutations of possible trips and ferry crossings are covered on the Caledonian MacBrayne website.
While Caledoninan MacBrayne, again, provides the bulk of ferry services between the mainland and the islands off the western and southwestern coasts, and also the services between the islands, there are some other providers as well, whose links you'll find on the Ferry information page