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Summer Holidays in Scotland - West is Best

Woman walking bare footed on sand on Colonsay


Choose Your Own Adventure

The best part about a summer holiday in Scotland? There's more than one Scotland... Don't believe us? Get out there and choose your own adventure. Your Scotland, your unique mix of characteristics and interests, is out there just waiting to be discovered. An island-hopping itinerary full of kayaking, mountain climbing and horse riding? That Scotland exists. A basking on a beautiful beach followed by a gourmet tasting menu? That Scotland exists too. Secluded cabins. Distillery tours. Bird watching. Munro bagging. Castle hunting. Your Scotland exists and CalMac is here to take you there.

Our robust network of routes link up the islands and the mainland leaving you to create your own trip around the magical west coast. 

Beautiful Beaches

Scotland's island beaches are one of the country's hidden assets. Remote, untouched, pristine. These are borders of immaculate beauty on the edge of clear waters stretching uninterrupted into the horizon. And thankfully, we have loads to choose from. From accessible Bute to  Colonsay's dramatic bays and South Uist's continuous shore - there are no shortage of dazzling west coast beaches for you to explore. Each one with its own unique character, its own unique identity. Little pockets of wonder demanding to be discovered.

If you're looking to see a beach of true pedigree then check out West beach on Berneray, which was awarded the title of the 3rd most stunning beach in all of Europe by Lonely Planet who called it a 'ravishing three-mile expanse of white sand, sliding gently into a turquoise sea.' Who are we to argue?

Kiloran Bay Colonsay

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Outdoor Pursuits

Skye is one of Scotland's most iconic locations for numerous reasons - ravishing landscapes and copious supplies of whisky among them - but did you know that it's also a hub for outdoor adventures? Home to no fewer than 12 munros, Skye is the ideal location to hike amongst natural wonders. Adventurous explorers can test their mettle against hills big and small with the famous 'Inaccessible Pinnacle' being a notoriously exhilarating climb for those in search of a thrill. Elsewhere on the island the Old Man of Storr is a dramatic rock formation and popular walk suitable for inexperienced visitors boasting dramatic views from its summit.

If you'd rather get in the water then consider a visit to Barra, a paradise for sea-based activities. Surf in the strong waves off the near-deserted beaches, kayak out of sheltered lagoons and even snorkel amongst the seals off the island's coast.

Surfer on Barra

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Family Adventure

For an unforgettable family break in 2024, why not try Tiree. As its nickname - the sunshine isle - suggests, it's renowned for clocking up the most hours of sunshine in the UK. The island is framed by mile upon mile of white sand and glistening aquamarine waters - it's a bucket list destination. The beaches are beautiful and plentiful for an island of its size. You can enjoy views as far as Barra on the Outer Hebrides. Delve into the fascinating story of Skerryvore Lighthouse, built on one of the most dangerous rocks in the country.

Or pack your bags for an adventure on the Isle of Lewis. It's a fantastic place to introduce the youngsters in the family to Gaelic and Hebridean culture and history. The experience of seeing the Calanais Standing Stones is spellbinding. 5,000 years of history stand before your eyes. The Gearrannan Blackhouse Village in Carloway brings the history and the old way of life on the islands to life. As you will undoubtedly have heard it's also home to some of the UK's most beautiful beaches. They are as interesting as they are stunning - with features like the Gneiss Stacks visible from Garry beach.

kids playing on beach on Colonsay

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Classic Locations

There is a strong tradition of holidaying locally in Scotland. Long before the days of accessible foreign travel the resident population knew that there was a great wealth of beauty (and fun) to be had on our luxurious doorstep. The establishment of these Victorian pleasure towns saw families flock from all over the country to enjoy the natural charm of these areas as well as the infrastructure that popped up around it. Nowadays these towns still welcome visitors by the boatload and boast that same raw beauty, bolstered by the opportunity to witness the original Victorian architecture that first welcomed tourists 'doon the water.'

Rothesay on Bute is a perfect example of this type of destination. Awash with buildings that hark back to the golden age of the Scottish seaside (even the public toilets are noted for their lavish design) and full of fantastic cafes, bars and restaurants - it's a step back in time but also a glimpse into the future of these fantastic seaside haunts. Millport on Cumbrae is equally iconic, a charming coastal town replete with beautiful beach and an assortment of great places to unwind. Rent a bike if you want to see the other, wilder, side of the island. And of course, who can forget Dunoon, it's stunning buildings crafted onto its rugged hillside, looking out onto the Clyde. A perfect location to spend a few days enjoying the gentle hum of the traditional coastal getaway.

Victorian Pier Dunoon


Foodie Heaven

From homemade to Michelin star, Scotland's food scene is a rapidly expanding draw for food lovers from around the world. The excellence of our local produce from our vast natural larder alongside a new generation of innovative chefs has put Scottish cuisine on the map. But where are the best destinations for the food buff in your life this spring and summer?

Skye is a must-visit on any foodie pilgrimage to Scotland. Famous gourmet restaurants can be located around the island, often accompanied by breathtaking views to go with the incredible meals. Expect traditional Scottish fare with a modern twist, fresh local ingredients and an attention to detail that brings the whole thing together with aplomb.

On Mull it's all about the seafood, whether it's seaside shacks selling fresh catch direct from the boat or award winning destination restaurants - you'll be spoiled for choice when enjoying the fruits of the sea. More off the beaten track, the tiny island of Gigha is famous for the Gigha Halibut, a smoked island delicacy that draws visitors from miles around. Take the short hop from Tayinloan on the Kintyre peninsula and sample the acclaimed fish for yourself.

The Boathouse  - isle of Gigha

Make summer 2024 one to remember, book your voyage with CalMac.

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