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There is much to see and do on Islay and we have listed here, in no particular order, some of the sites worth seeing and activities worth doing.

The Round Church, Bowmore

Situated at the top of Main Street in Bowmore, this is one of only two round churches in Scotland. Said to be designed this way so that the devil wouldn’t be able to hide in the corners. Open most days with souvenir items on sale to help the church funds.


The Ancient Seat of the Lords of the Isles, Finlaggan consists of two islands in Loch Finlaggan which is situated a mile or two past Ballygrant village on the road to Port Askaig. There is a vistor centre at the head of the loch and visitors may reach the main island by means of a walkway. The ruins are augmented by visitor information boards.

The Kildalton Cross

Situated a few miles past Ardbeg Distillery in the grounds of Kildalton Chapel ruin, this is believed to be the finest example of a High Cross still in situ. Carved by a craftsman monk from Iona, the Cross still stands as a monument both to the Christian beliefs and the skill of carving.

Sun Sea & Sand

Being an island, Islay is blessed with many beaches, the nearest being the Big Strand reached by farm track about two miles outside Bowmore (signposted). This stretch of beach reaches all the way to Kintra near Port Ellen. There are lovely sandy beaches on Islay’s west coast, though due to the strong currents on this Atlantic coast, these are NOT recommended for bathing.

The Mactaggart Leisure Centre, Bowmore

Situated next to Bowmore Distillery from where the swimming pool receives a portion of its heat, this community owned and run venture consists of a large, heated swimming pool, a fitness room, sauna and sunbed facilities. It is open daily from Tuesday to Sunday but closed on Mondays.

The Museum of Islay Life, Port Charlotte

Placed on the right side of the road as you enter Port Charlotte from the north, this award winning musum is housed in an old church and contains much devoted to Islay’s past, from recent to distant. Opening times can be obtained from reception.

Islay Woollen Mill, Bridgend

This working mill, which has produced fabrics for both Mel Gibson’s ‘Braveheart’ movie and Tom Hanks’ ‘Forrest Gump’ is situated just off the Bridgend – Ballygrant road and open every day. Owner Gordon Covell will be happy to show you the mill and there is an excellent Mill Shop selling articles produced at the Mill as well as Islay souvenirs

Islay Natural History Trust

Occupying the lower floor of the Islay Youth Hostel, this building is devoted to displaying and explaining Islay’s rich natural history and wildlife. The building belonged to the former Port Chrlotte Distillery. Opening times can be gained from reception.


The main reason many people visit Islay and Jura is the large concentration of malt whisky distilleries in a very small area. There are distilleries at Ardbeg, Lagavulin, Laphroaig, Bowmore, Bruichladdich, Kilchoman, Caol Ila, and Bunnahabhain as well as Jura Distillery in Craighouse.

We hope you’ll choose to stay with us soon and that you enjoy your visit.

  • “We were more than pleased with the menu, always varied, always top quality and the service excellent.”... More
  • “It is certainly one of Islay's Jewels. So thanks to you all and it will be our pleasure to return next time we visit.”... More
  • “What a find ... from the outside this hotel looks uninteresting, but what a revelation when you walk over the door... wonderful!”... More
  • “The reception from Peter, the owner, is friendly, warm and welcoming as are the rest of the staff who served us.”... More
  • “The food was quite superb... fish and chicken goujons were both superb and the presentation was a work of edible art and tasted second-to-non.”... More
  • “Bowmore Hotel is one of the best hotels on the Hebridean island of Islay. The staff could not be more friendly and are very knowledgeable.”... More
  • “I very much recommend the Bowmore for a restful holiday and whiskey tasting.”... More
  • “The rooms are of good quality. the bar is great. and the staff and food are second to none.”... More
  • “The Bowmore Hotel is such a friendly place with great food and a fine selection of the local Islay single malt whiskies!”... More
  • “Every request and question was met with genuine interest and a desire to satisfy. Every member of staff was a credit to the team at the hotel.”... More
  • “My overall summary is that 'the staff' display an authentic interest in their guests and go out of their way to make you feel welcome.”... More

The Jewel of Islay

The Bowmore Hotel is more than just a hotel. It’s a hospitality experience. A guest at Bowmore can expect a unique experience; where you can relax in good company, enjoy good food & drink, see live music in comfortable surroundings or explore the island and discover unrivaled beauty.