Get off the beaten path with this nine-day Scottish adventure that unlocks a handful of lesser-known islands. Grab the keys to a rental car and set off to explore the beauty of the Isle of Arran, then return to the mainland for a whisky-tasting and traditional Scottish ceilidh in Oban. Bounce over to the Isle of Mull for three days of exploration, then drive to Loch Lomond to cruise across the water in a private yacht. End in Glasgow with an evening of traditional folk music.


  • Take the ferry to the Scottish islands of Arran, Mull, and Iona
  • Taste local whisky when you tour a historic distillery in Oban
  • Get swept up in the music and dance of a traditional Scottish ceilidh
  • Charter a private yacht across beautiful Loch Lomond
  • Experience the best of Scotland with a traditional folk music evening in Glasgow

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Glasgow, Ferry to Arran, Visit Arran's Nature Arran
Day 2 Return Ferry, Drive to Oban, Oban Distillery Tour Oban
Day 3 Highland Oban Games, Traditional Scottish Ceilidh Experience Oban
Day 4 Ferry to Isle of Mull, Explore Tobermory Isle of Mull
Day 5 Full-Day Guided Mull & Iona Tour Isle of Mull
Day 6 Spot Sea Eagles on a Wildlife Cruise Isle of Mull
Day 7 Return Ferry, Drive to Loch Lomond, Private Yacht Cruise Alexandria
Day 8 Drive to Glasgow, Scottish Trad Trail Tour & Folk Music Glasgow
Day 9 Visit Glasgow Cathedral, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Glasgow, Ferry to Arran, Explore Arran's Nature

Enjoy the beauty of Arran on one of the island's nature trails or beaches

Welcome to Scotland! You've landed in Glasgow, Scotland's largest and most buzzing city. On arrival, collect a rental car and drive one-hour southwest of Glasgow to Ardrossan. Here you'll board a 55-minute ferry to Arran, a small island with a mild climate where, thanks to the Gulf Stream, palm trees grow! The 20-mile-wide (32 km) island is cut in two by the Highland Boundary Fault, a geological division that makes the north rugged and hilly and the south smoother and lower-lying.

Arran is often called "Scotland in miniature" due to its range and wealth of scenery. Here you'll find castles, ancient monuments, a whisky distillery, wildlife, and unspoiled nature. Use the afternoon to explore the width and breadth of Arran, from the ruins of Locharanza Castle, a rare hall-house from the late 1200s, to the prehistoric Machrie Moor Stones, where people have existed for up to 8,000 years. Visit the grand Brodick Castle and estate, stepping inside to admire its fabulous collection of valuable artifacts.

Day 2: Return Ferry, Drive to Oban, Oban Distillery Tour

Oban, West coast of Scotland
Life in the small fishing village of Oban changed in 1794 when the Oban Distillery opened

After breakfast, drive to Lochranza to catch a ferry back to the mainland, docking at Claonaig. From here, it's a scenic 90-minute drive north through the West Highlands to Oban. Enjoy coastal views of the Firth of Clyde, then pass through charming villages, rolling hills, and pristine lochs on your journey. Oban is the main gateway to many of the Hebrides islands, and the waterfront town is set on a delightful bay with sweeping views of Kerrera and Mull. It's peaceful in winter, but in summer, the town center is busy with holidaymakers and travelers headed for the archipelago.

Once in Oban, check into your accommodation, drop the car, and make your way to the Oban Distillery. When brothers Hugh and John Stevenson arrived at the frontier of the Hebrides in 1793, they found little more than a natural harbor and a wind-swept view. They opened the Oban Brewing Company, starting with beer and moving to whisky a year later. Gain an insight into the historic distillery's whisky-making process while enjoying a dram of exquisite single malt. Afterward, seek out Scotland's top-quality fish and shellfish at a waterfront restaurant as the sun sets.

Day 3: Highland Oban Games, Traditional Scottish Ceilidh Experience

Highland Games Oban
Consider aligning your trip to fall during the Oban Games

The Highland Games are a unique series of events that take place in different areas of Scotland each summer. If you're lucky, time your visit to align with the Argyllshire Gathering's Oban Games. Here hammers are thrown, cabers are tossed, the sound of pipes fills the air, and clan colors are on full parade. The first Argyllshire Gathering fell in 1871, bringing together families and rivals for a peaceful clash with fierce competition. Now it's a celebration of Highland heritage and tradition with dances, music, and athletic events. 

Have you heard of a ceilidh? Continue the Scottish cultural immersion this evening with this traditional Scottish social gathering. Pronounced "kay-lee," it involves live music, folk dancing, and an energetic atmosphere. Get swept up in the fun with a special experience involving bagpipes, accordion, singing, and dancing. Over two hours, you'll learn to "Strip the Willow" and other common ceilidh dances, like the "Dashing White Sergeant." Ceilidhs are a significant part of Scottish culture and are often held at weddings, festivals, and other social events as a way to celebrate and have fun.

Plan your trip to Scotland
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 4: Ferry to Isle of Mull, Explore Tobermory

Uncover the lovely Tobermory
Uncover the lovely Tobermory and be charmed by its colorful harbor

This morning you'll take a 50-minute ferry from Oban across to the Isle of Mull, docking at Craignure. This island is a favorite of nature lovers and photographers who seek the beauty of Mull's diverse landscapes, from rugged coastlines to verdant hills and serene lochs, and the rare wildlife found here. Here you can hike up Ben More, Mull's highest peak, visit historical sites like ancient stone circles, or drop by colorful harbor towns like Tobermory.

This afternoon you'll explore the charming 18th-century fishing port and Mull's main town, Tobermory. This postcard-perfect town has brightly painted buildings lining the main street to the pier, which are filled with quaint shops, hotels, and restaurants. Explore the center, then venture down to the harbor to watch fishing boats and yachts go about their business. After, visit the Mull Museum to learn about the island, the Mull Aquarium to discover local marine life, or take a short drive to Glengorm Castle and drop by Sgriob-ruadh Farm to buy the award-winning Isle of Mull Cheese.

Day 5: Full-Day Guided Mull & Iona Tour

Some consider Iona the birthplace of Christianity in Scotland
Some consider Iona the birthplace of Christianity in Scotland

Beyond the beautiful nature and wild landscapes, Mull is an isle full of ancient traditions and numerous folk tales. Today your private guide will regale you with stories of headless horsemen, fire-breathing dragons, and heroic deeds as you explore across the island. A remote farm at Ardlanish will welcome you in to tour the weaving mill and explore traditionally woven goods. You'll explore the 14th-century Duart Castle, home to the seat of Clan MacLean. Then together with your guide, you'll cross over to the island of Iona on a short passenger ferry.

You'll be following in the footsteps of pilgrims who have ventured here for nearly 1,500 years as they made their way to the world-famous Iona Abbey, founded by Saint Columba in 563. Pilgrims continue to visit here today to pray at the 13th-century abbey, which stands on the site of the original wooden church. Your tour today includes lunch with local produce and fresh Scottish seafood. After, take a relaxing scenic journey back to Mull.

Day 6: Spot Sea Eagles on a Wildlife Cruise

The Amazing Sea Eagle Adventure
Watch as white-tailed eagles snatch fish from the sea close to the boat

Join a wildlife cruise in Oban that blends breathtaking scenery, rich history, and local animals. Board a boat destined for the remarkable Isle of Mull, which is home to one of the rarest birds of prey in the United Kingdom—the white-tailed sea eagle. With a wingspan exceeding 6.5 feet (2 m) and distinctive white head and tail feathers, the once-endangered sea eagles are a sight to behold. Keep a keen eye on the Firth of Lorn, where they often hunt for fish and seabirds. You might also see great northern divers, black guillemots, common guillemots, and Manx shearwaters.

While out on the water, your guides will be looking for marine wildlife as well, such as playful dolphins and porpoises, who frolic alongside the boat, and even perhaps a minke whale. You might also see a local seal colony and perhaps Scotland's elusive otters, along with historical landmarks. Among the highlights are three Scottish castles—Gylen, Duart, and Dunollie. Gylen Castle, built by the MacDougall clan in the 1500s, graces the shores of the Isle of Kerrera. You'll also see the iconic Stevenson Lighthouse on Lismore Island before returning to Oban once more.

Day 7: Return Ferry, Drive to Loch Lomond, Private Yacht Cruise

The Yacht
Cruise across picturesque Loch Lomond in a yacht today

The largest freshwater loch in Scotland, Loch Lomond, is an area of natural splendor where you can go boating, kayaking, and paddleboarding on the clear waters or explore the surrounding Trossachs National Park by horse, bike, or foot. Today, after breakfast, take a return ferry to Oban and then make the scenic 90-minute drive to Loch Lomond. Find somewhere quaint for a loch-side lunch, then meet your captain.

This afternoon you'll set sail on the glassy waters in a private yacht. As you cruise across the calm and peaceful loch, admire nature's finest work and keep your eyes peeled for wildlife. Here you might spot red deer, ospreys, black grouse, and red squirrels by the water's edge, plus the lochs and rivers here are known for otters! After the two-hour cruise, return to shore and check into your accommodation for the evening.

Day 8: Drive to Glasgow, Scottish Trad Trail Tour & Folk Music

Driving through Loch Lomond
When you trek up Conic Hill, you'll enjoy lovely views over Loch Lomond

After breakfast, make the most of your morning and embark on a moderate hike up Conic Hill. Park the car and set off on this short 2.5-mile (4 km) walk for brilliant panoramic views over the loch. Soak up your final lakeside moments at lunch, then continue on the road to Glasgow, a one-hour drive away.

This evening you'll experience the best of Scottish culture and food, a great way to spend your final night. Start with an hourlong folk music-themed walking tour of the gritty city's oldest and most interesting streets. After, pile into a classic Scottish restaurant for a hearty, home-cooked meal. Then you'll experience the best contemporary and traditional folk music from a rotating lineup of Glasgow's up-and-coming talent. Sláinte Mhath!

Day 9: Visit Glasgow Cathedral, Depart

Glasgow Cathedral is the oldest building in in the city
Glasgow Cathedral is the oldest building in the city

It's your final day in Scotland, so if you have time before your flight, explore the famous Glasgow Cathedral, which took 350 years to finish. The first stone of this Gothic cathedral was laid in the presence of King David I in 1136! It's been added to over the centuries and today has one of the finest postwar collections of stained glass windows in Britain.

Afterward, the end of your Scottish road trip has arrived. Hop in the car one last time and make the drive to the airport with enough time to drop off your rental car ahead of your flight home or onward. Safe travels!

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Map of Island Hopping in Scotland - 9 Days
Map of Island Hopping in Scotland - 9 Days