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West Coast Winter Wonderland

Arran family fun

Looking for the perfect winter break or short trip? Here are our top ideas for a winter getaway to Scotland's west coast winter wonderland.

Islay and Jura

Tens of thousands of visitors flock to Islay at this time of year - most of them feathered since it's a world-famous host for winter-migrating birds. Just like humans, they stay a short time to rest, enjoy the peace and great food and once recharged continue their journey. Their visit is quite a spectacle and make this beautiful island even more of a draw.

bird watching

Top tip
Check out Islay Birds Blog ( - written by friendly, self-confessed enthusiasts, and crammed full of the latest bird sightings, facts and news.



There's a real romance to Mull in autumn and winter. The colours of the landscape at this time of year, the brightly coloured houses of Tobermory without the summer bustle and the way Duart Castle stands sentinel to snow-capped mountains above the Caledonian MacBrayne terminal at Craignure. Beautiful.

Colourful Houses in Tobermory, Mull

Top Tip
Don't miss the Fish and chips at Tobermory - serving the best seafood supplied daily.



When a name translates as 'God's island', it's bound to be somewhere special. Islanders say 'GMT' stands for Gigha Mean Time. Stay a couple of days and you'll have met them all. The peace and quiet is good for the soul, as are the beautiful white sand beaches around the coastline.

man eating and drinking on Gigha looking out to water and ferry

Top Tip
Be sure to taste Gigha Halibut - it's outstanding. Sums up this wee bit of paradise in culinary terms. 



Don't be fooled: Bute may be 33 miles from Glasgow and the easiest island to reach from central Scotland, yet it still offers the historic buildings, gardens, wildlife and tranquillity of its more remote cousins.

Mount Stuart family

Top Tip
Take in the scenery of the island in the saddle. Bring your bike and take advantage of the quieter roads. For those looking for a challenge - the island has some spectacular hill climbs for cyclists.



How do they manage to pack so much into one island? Thanks to its unique geology it's called Scotland in miniature; you can truly see all different types of Scottish scenery here. You'll be spoiled for choice in how to relax too - from luxury spas to bothies nestled in the glorious and tranquil scenery.

man and his dog on Goatfell overlooking Arran

Top Tip
The island has a wonderful sense of community too - year-round you'll find something going on.



Begin or end your island visit with a night in Oban. A night sailing in winter is amazing. Leave the lights of Oban and the depth of the darkness will astound you. Arrive and they dazzle like a big city - check out McCaig's Tower in all its illuminated glory.

ferry coming into Oban

Top Tips
If you appreciate live music, check Oban's live music trail for all the best local spots - cosy pubs, a dram and good tunes. The perfect winter's evening.



For the ferry to berth in Castlebay it has to sail by the castle in the bay, Kisimul Castle, power base of the Macneil's. Forget House of the Dragon and Game of Thrones - this is the real deal. The Dubrovnik of the Western Isles.

Kisimul Castle

Top Tip
Pack your outdoor gear (maybe even one of our cosy new island inspired hoodies too) - the island is famous for its beautiful beaches, hills and moors. Don your boots and get out on foot, the best way to enjoy this gem of an island.



If you've been to the cinema, it might feel like you've already been to Skye. Highlander, Wicker Man, Prometheus, Breaking the Waves, Stardust, Flash Gordon and Macbeth. Skye looks so good that many directors include shots of the scenery, just to add 'Scottishness' to their work. But there's nothing quite like visiting this otherworldly island for yourself. Like Barra above, pack your outdoor gear and enjoy the scenery - it has it all, from dramatic backdrops to rolling green vistas.

Couple hillwalking in Skye

Top tip
Come prepared to shop: talented makers, artists and foodies offer wonderful opportunities to treat yourself.


Lewis and Harris

The wildlife spotting opportunities are bountiful at this time of year. From deer to sea birds, and maybe seals too - depending on the timing. Get outdoors and enjoy the landscapes with the likes of Harris's Luskentyre beach to Lewis's Garry Beach, Tolsta. It might be windy, but it can also be bright, beautiful, and exhilarating.

luskentyre family

Top Tip
After a time outside, cosy up with some food from the natural larder around these shores, washed down with a glass of local gin.


Enjoy our winter warmers this season

Get winter 2023/24 off to the best start with some nourishing, winter warmers from the Caledonian MacBrayne menu. The food we serve is designed to showcase the very best of Scottish produce. Our passion for quality and provenance of the ingredients is tangible. You'll be able to see, taste - and enjoy it. Keep an eye on our channels for our seasonal specials throughout winter. 

with a rich peppercorn sauce

Venture west this winter - you won't be disappointed. Begin planning your trip today.

It's time to discover Scotland's islands view our winter timetables here.

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