The Isle of Arran off the west coast of Scotland is an ideal weekend getaway from Glasgow. Home to. the mountain of Goatfell, beautiful glens like Glen Rosa and lots of beautiful Arran beaches, this island is most definitely picturesque and it also has a certain quietness to it.
Oh, and there are so many awesome things to do on Arran too making it a great place to visit Scotland.
On a recent trip to visit friends living in Glasgow, we headed out to the Isle of Arran for hiking and adventure. Then, while we were living in Scotland as part of our year in travel we returned to Arran with (thankfully) nicer weather, to explore further.
The Isle of Arran is the largest island in the Firth of Clyde. It’s often referred to as “Scotland in Miniature” since so many of the beautiful Scottish landscapes you can see can also be found on the Isle of Arran itself.
With an ever-changing coastline, rugged mountains, and a great local food scene, what more could you ask for?
If you’re looking for things to do on Arran and things to do on Arran without a car, then check out this travel guide to the Isle of Arran.
Table of Contents
Map of what to do on Arran Scotland
Below you’ll find a map of all my favorite things to do Arran has to offer. From castles to beaches, hikes, and more, you’ll find it all on the map below.
Simply click on the image (or here) and it’ll load up into a Google Map which you can use on your phone or laptop. as you’re planning your trip.
Best things to do on Arran
When it comes to what to do in Arran the best things are outdoors while enjoying the beautiful surroundings on this island. However, there are also some great historical sites on Arran and food.
Below is the complete list of my recommendations for the best things to do on Isle of Arran.
1. Hike Goatfell on Arran
We hiked Goatfell on our trip to Arran with friends and came back down through Glen Rosa (see more below) for the full Arran experience.
Goatfell is the highest peak on Arran at 874 m high. The most common way to walk up Goatfell on Arran is to start from Brodick Castle and the round trip can take about 6 hours since there’s a fair bit of elevation and it’s quite a long way.
You can read more about hiking Goatfell Arran here – I think it’s definitely one of the best things to do on the Isle of Arran!
2. Visit the standing stones, Arran
The Machrie Moor Standing Stones on Arran are six stone circles in amongst the moorland which are said to hold the secrets of the past. Dating back to 3500 – 1500 BC, the tallest standing stone reaches 5 m high!
The original stone circles were made of timber but have since been replaced with these stone slabs that stand upright.
While we can never be 100% certain of how these circles got here and why they were erected, it’s known that they have been used for religious rituals and burials.
The walk to Machrie Moor Standing Stones takes about 25 minutes each way and entrance is free. The car park for the standing stones on Arran is north of Blackwaterfoot on the western coast of Arran. You can also get the bus here from the ferry terminal and that takes about an hour.
3. Lochranza Castle
Lochranza Castle is in a truly beautiful area that’s a skinny peninsula on the northern part of Arran which is particularly mountainous.
The castle was once used as a royal hunting lodge and dates back to the 13th Century. In the 1500s it was converted into an L-shaped tower house and then abandoned in the 18th Century. Now it’s owned by Historic Environment Scotland.
- Entrance fees: Free
- Opening hours: 9.30 am to 5:30 pm, 1 April to 30 September
4. Brodick Castle and Country Park
There’s another great castle on Arran and Brodick Castle is perhaps even more impressive than Lochranza Castle in part due to its backdrop of Goatfell.
Brodick Castle is one of the most popular tourist attractions on Arran and it’s easy to spend most of your day on Arran here.
Brodick as you see it today was constructed in 1844 and there’s plenty to explore during your trip to Arran.
There’s an opulent interior full of Victorian artefacts as well as beautiful gardens and even an adventure playground if you’re visiting Arran with kids.
Make sure you visit the Summer House which has a ceiling made of pine cones!
- Entrance fees: Adult: £14.50, Child: £8.50, Family: £38.50,
- Opening hours: 10 am – 5 pm, daily
- Top tip: This is a National Trust Property and if you’re a member of the National Trust (in England, Scotland or Wales) entrance is free!
5. Isle of Arran Heritage Museum
Learn about the history, geology, and the island’s way of life at the Isle of Arran Heritage Museum.
The museum building itself used to be a croft and a smiddy, and now there are various displays about the island, personal items from history, and even a model Viking galley.
If you have family history from the Isle of Arran you can even trace your ancestry in the Genealogy section.
- Entrance fees: Adults £5, children £3.
- Opening hours: 10:30 am – 4:30 pm from 15th March to the end of October. Closed over winter.
Explore more hikes on Arran
While Goatfell is the tallest mountain on Arran, there are plenty of other hikes and walks on Arran to explore.
The walking trails are generally well-marked and easy to follow (even easier with one of these hiking apps!) and there are mountain peaks, beaches, beautiful pools, and moors to discover.
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AllTrails is my go-to hiking app for finding, planning, and navigating while I’m out on the trails. With offline maps on AllTrails+ you can be confident you’re still on the right track, even without mobile signal.
6. Glen Sannox Walk
Glenn Sannox will have you mesmerized by the mountains surrounding it.
The walk through the glen is about 5 km miles long and takes an hour or less to do. It’s pretty easy without any big elevation gain and so it’s great for a family walk on Arran.
The Glen Sannox walk starts from the bus stop in Sannox from where you’ll cross the road and follow the trail until you reach a crossing with large stones. Have fun crossing the stones and then head back to the trailhead.
7. Giants’ Grave and Glenashadale Falls (Eas a’ Chrannaig)
On the southern tip of the island is Eas Mor Falls (or Glenashdale Falls or Eas a’ Chrannaig Falls) which is a great walk with some impressive waterfalls to see too! The waterfalls are 45 m high making them one of the highest waterfalls in the UK!
Visiting these waterfalls is one of the best things to do in Arran on a sunny day and you can take a circular walk of about 5 km or 1 – 2 hours.
Along the way, you’ll walk through the woods and come across several viewing platforms from which you can view the waterfalls from various different angles. The last one has the best views!
You can also combine the falls with a circular walk to the Giant’s Graves. The Giants’ Graves are what’s left of two Neolithic chambered tombs. Local legend says the giants buried the bodies of their victims here!
There’s a bit of a climb on this 5 km hike and you get views of both Glenashadale Falls and Holy Isle (see below).
Start at Whiting Bay and park at Ashdale Bridge and make your way uphill through woodland towards a viewpoint of the falls. To continue up to the Giants Graves site from the falls, make a left at the waterfall viewpoint.
8. Coire Fhionn Lochan
Coire Fhionn Lochan is one of the most picturesque spots on the isle of Arran and is a beautiful loch nestled in the mountains yet near the sea.
The walk to Coire Fhionn Lochan starts in Thunderguy and it’s quite steep in places but the views are beautiful and well worth the effort.
The water in the loch is very clear and perfect for a refreshing dip!
9. Discover beaches on Arran
There are so many beautiful beaches on Arran and they’re one of the main reasons people visit Arran, especially in the summer.
All the beaches on Arran are different and some have mountain backdrops which (in my view) make them even more impressive.
Some of the best beaches on Arran are:
- Sannox Bay: Amazing pink(ish) sand.
- Blackwaterfoot Beach
- Whiting Bay
- Catacol: translucent water and smooth pebbles which are great for skimming and cute fishermen cottages known as The Twelves Apostles.
- Imachar: Unusual rock formations and beautiful blue water
- Brodick Bay: Great for spotting seals and views of Goatfell and one of the best things to do in Brodick.
- Lamlash Beach
- Kildonan Beach: right at the southern tip with pale sands and a lighthouse!
10. Visit Holy Isle near Arran
Holy Isle is a unique place. It’s said St Molaise lived on the island near the end of the 6th century and the island holds a rich, spiritual heritage.
Today the island is home to The Centre which is a ‘centre for world peace and health’.
The Centre is a project led by a Tibetan Buddhist meditation master which holds workshops and retreats throughout the year.
You can also stay here independently but there are no shops on the Holy Island so you’ll need to take everything you need for your stay with you.
One of the best things to do on the Holy Isle is to walk to the summit of Mullach Mor. You might see Eriskay ponies, sheep and goats along the way! You can also walk the Holy Island walk which goes all the way around the island and it’s just under 7 km long.
The ferry to Holy Isle goes from Lamlash and should be booked in advance.
11. Try SUP or kayaking on Arran
The water around Arran is pretty tempting since it’s so clear! If you’re visiting Arran during the summer then I’d definitely recommend getting out onto the water!
You could even kayak over to Holy Isle (above)!
12. Shop at Arran Sense of Scotland
Arran Sense of Scotland is a great shop on the Isle of Arran that sells goods that make perfect souvenirs.
Arran Aromatics has cruelty-free bath and body lotions and home fragrances. Getting a scented good from Arran Sense of Scotland is the ideal way to remember your getaway to Arran!
13. Go wild swimming on Arran
If you’re looking for the best wild swimming spots in the UK, then check out the Blue Pool in Glen Rosa!
Glen Rosa is absolutely beautiful (we saw some rutting stags there in September) and this swimming spot is gorgeous.
To get there is pretty easy and you’ll be surrounded by stunning mountains all around.
Enjoy taking a dip in this natural plunge pool which is definitely refreshing!
14. Visit the King’s Caves
One of the more unusual things to do on Arran is to visit the King’s Caves. I mean, where else are you going to find this as an activity?!
You can take an easy 2-hour walk out to the seafront King’s Caves on Arran near Blackwaterfoot.
You’ll start by going down through the forest and navigating some steep sections before coming out at a series of caves in the sandstone cliffs.
The “King’s cave” has a huge iron gate there which was put there to protect the pre-Christian carvings found but it’s now open to explore.
15. Wander through Glen Rosa
Mentioned earlier as both a return loop from Goatfell and a place to go wild swimming, Glen Rosa is well worth visiting on Arran.
It’s an easy hike that can be done as an 8.5 km walk that starts at the Cladash Visitor Centre. You’ll start on the Goatfell path, then walk through a forest before coming out into the moorlands of Glen Rosa.
The whole loop can take 3-4 hours to complete so make sure you pack snacks and/or lunch, and a towel if you’re planning on wild swimming in the Blue Pool!
16. Walk the Coastal Way on Arran
The Arran Coastal Way is an epic walking route of 105 km that follows the beautiful coastline the whole way around Arran.
You can take on the Coastal Way over the course of a week, or just do sections of it each time you visit Arran.
There is a bus service that goes around the island and can drop you (or pick you up) at the chosen spots for hiking in sections. Some of the recommended shorter options are:
- Brodick to Sannox via Goatfell (15.5 km – 6 to 8 hours)
- Sannox to Lochranza (15.75 km – 5 to 6 hours)
- Whiting Bay to Brodick (19.25 km – 6 to 7 hours)
- Blackwaterfoot to Lagg (12.25 km – 4 to 5 hours)
17. Mountain biking on Arran
Besides road cycling in Arran, mountain biking on Arran is becoming more and more popular.
There are so many trails to explore on two wheels and it can be an exhilarating way to explore.
If you have your own mountain bike, don’t forget to bring it with you on the ferry to Arran. Otherwise, you can take a half-day or full-day mountain biking session with Arran Outdoor Centre. This saves you from having to figure out which trail is best for you since your guide will take your skills into account to plan something fun for you.
18. Arran Art Gallery
Take home a piece of Arran to hang on your wall after your visit to the Arran Art Gallery.
Inside the gallery, you can find pieces from many of the artists who live on the island.
You can find glasswork, sculptures, and jewellery amongst other mediums at the art gallery too.
It’s a great option for what to do on Isle of Arran in the rain as there’s a cute cafe there too.
- Opening hours: 10 am – 5 pm (Thurs-Mon only over winter)
19. Kingcross Viking Fort
Another cool thing to do on Arran is to visit the Kingcross Viking Fort viewpoint.
From the Viking Fort, you’ll get great views of Holy Isle and Lamlash and be able to imagine you’re a Viking yourself looking out for invaders.
The viewpoint is marked by a burial cairn (stack of stones) and there are also burial mounds here as well as informational signs to learn more.
20. Go pony trekking on Arran
North Sannox pony trekking is a family-run horse trekking center on the northeast of the Isle of Arran.
If you’re not much of a hiker but still want to explore the outdoors (or just like ponies!) then going pony trekking on Arran is a fun way to see the trails on the island.
You can go on 30-minute treks to 1 and 2-hour treks through the countryside surrounding the farm and the views are beautiful!
21. Visit The Library on Arran at the Forest of Falls
This was one of the most unique places to visit in Isle of Arran that we came across and also one of the coolest.
The Forest of Falls has some great walking trails where you’ll go through a beautiful forested area, see some tall waterfalls and come across The Library.
This isn’t just any library, it’s a hut in the woods where the walls are covered in drawings, notes, and poems from people who’ve visited before. Add your own or just spend some time reading others’.
Where to drink and eat on Arran
Arran is known for its local produce and there are plenty of local businesses on Arran that showcase the island’s ingredients in the form of tasty food.
Some of these places are listed below as the best places to eat on Arran.
22. Arran Ice Cream
Arran Ice Cream can be found in eateries across the island.
The milk for the ice cream comes from the dairy in Brodick so it’s super local. The flavours are unique and include Scottish Tablet, Arran Gold Blent with the local distillery’s cream liqueur, and all the classics too.
I’m not a fan of whisky usually, but it was really good in ice cream!
The Parlour in Brodick has the full range on display!
23. Isle of Arran Distillery
The Isle of Arran is also home to a single malt distillery using water from the island. Lochranza distillery was founded in 1995 and there’s not a second distillery on the Isle of Arran at Lagg in the south.
It’s an award-winning brand and is one of the few independently owned distilleries in Scotland.
You can head into the distillery to buy a bottle or enjoy a whisky tasting at both their locations. Tastings must be booked in advance.
- Cost of tasting: £20 per person
- Times: 11.00 and 13.00 Tuesday to Sunday
- Duration: 1 hour 15
24. The Sandwich Station, Lochranza
The Sandwich Station in Lochranza is another Arran must-do.
At this sandwich shop, you get a choice of bread from George Grassie of Blackwater Bakehouse where the bread is handmade then choose your filling!
Fillings include 5-spice pork shoulder, smoked mackerel, goat’s cheese and more.
The cafe is only open in the summer months and it makes the perfect picnic for a hike in the hills!
25. Mara Fish Bar & Deli, Corrie
The Mara Fish Bar in Corrie sources sustainable fish all from the Isle of Arran or elsewhere in Scotland.
They do both hot and cold dishes and you can get them in takeaway boxes to enjoy by the sea. You can get mac and cheese with Skipness smoked whiting, mussels, Thai fish curry, tacos and more.
26. The Old Pier Tearoom, Lamlash
If you need a warm drink and some lunch or a scone after a walk, head to The Old Pier Tearoom in Lamlash. They do some of the best cinnamon buns which we’re a big fan of after a hike after several months spent in Norway!
27. Arran Brewery
At the foot of Goatfell is the Arran brewery that has been brewing since 2000 and won many awards in that time. You can get a bottle to take home from the shop, take a tour or learn more about their beers in the visitor’s centre.
If you take a tour you get to try some of their beers too. It’s best to book the tours in advance here.
28. Cafe Thyme, Machrie
Perhaps unexpectedly, you can find some delicious Turkish food on the Isle of Arran. Cafe Thyme in Machrie is one of the best restaurants on Arran and they serve a mix of both Scottish and Turkish food.
You can get traditional Turkish pide (a boat-shaped pizza) with a variety of toppings, including haggis. The salads and herbs available are all homegrown too!
29. The Drift Inn, Lamlash
The Drift Inn is another great place for lunch. Their ethos is ‘eat local. eat fresh. eat responsibly, and there are chalkboards above the bar that detail where on the island their ingredients come from. It’s a great business to support!
30. Visit Arran cheese shop
The Isle of Arran cheese shop at Home Farm in Brodick is a must-visit for cheese lovers.
You can watch the fresh cheese packaged and have the chance to try free samples too.
They make flavoured cheeses including smoked garlic and chive. There’s also blue cheese and they sell Wooley’s of Arran oatcakes and chutneys and relishes made on the island; all of which are the perfect accompaniment to the cheese.
A visit to the Arran cheese shop is one of the best things to do in Isle of Arran.
31. Blackwater Bakehouse
The Blackwater Bakehouse is one of the best places on the island for pastries and bread products.
However, you have to go early as they sell out.
This isn’t a cafe or restaurant, but a proper bakery where everything is made fresh. it’s then kept in a self-service style box outside where you can go and pick up what you want from that day’s selection.
You’ll find bread, focaccias, and some sweet treats but you’ll never quite know what’s on offer in advance.
How to get to the Isle of Arran
To get to the Isle of Arran you’ll need to take the ferry. There are two ferries to Arran, one between Ardrossan and Brodick and another between Claonaig and Lochranza.
Both ferries take vehicles and it’s best to pre-book, especially if you’re traveling in summer.
Alternatively, you can go on the ferry as a foot passenger which is cheaper and there’s a decent bus service on Arran for you to get around the island.
I’ve included links to the ferry times from Ardrossan to Arran and Claonig to Lochranza below too.
The ferries actually serve pretty good meals, so if you’ve had an early start or are traveling over dinner, then check out the food.
Top tip: Travel by train and get a rail and sail ticket for £24.50 from Glasgow to Brodick! Just put Brodick as the destination.
Ferries to Arrain: Ardrossan to Brodick
The main ferry to Isle of Arran, one of the CalMac ferries, travels between Ardrossan and Brodick.
This Ardrossan to Arran ferry is the one we took as foot passengers. It takes just under an hour to go from Ardrossan to Brodick on Arran.
On the ferry from Ardrossan to Arran, car spaces pretty much always sell out during peak times such as during summer and at weekends.
If you’re a foot passenger you don’t need to pre-book.
Getting to Ardrossan from central Glasgow is pretty easy and so you can do the whole trip from Glasgow to Arran car-free! The journey from Glasgow Central Station to Ardrossan takes about 40 minutes and costs around £9. You can get it for even less if you book in advance or have a rail card!
Ferry timetables to Arran from Ardrossan can be viewed here.
Ferry to Arran: Claonaig to Lochranza
The Claonaig to Lochranza ferry is smaller than the Ardrossan ferry and takes only 30 minutes. There’s no pre-booking and it works on a first-come, first-served basis so if you’re traveling over summer or weekends you should arrive early or be prepared to wait.
Claonaig is further away from Glasgow and not accessible by public transport so you’ll need a car for this one!
You can see ferry times to Arran here.
Getting around Arran
There’s a good bus service that goes around Arran to the main sites and is near enough to the main trailheads. This means that most people don’t need to take their car on the ferry which is great since you’ll save money as a car passenger!
You can get an Arran Three-Day Rover Ticket, or Arran Megarider for one week of travel if you’re staying on Arran for a while and plan to travel by bus.
There are just three main bus routes here are three main routes: 324, 323, and 322. Most of the routes coincide with ferry times from Brodick.
Bus timetables in Arran are available on the website.
Best accommodation on Arran
If you’re planning on staying on Arran for a night or longer, here are some of the best options for accommodation in Arran.
Camping in Isle of Arran
Thanks to Scotland’s rule of ‘Right to Roam’ you can camp anywhere on Arran as long as you act responsibly. It’s actually one of my suggestions for what to do on the Isle of Arran too!
If wild camping isn’t your thing, here are some other places to camp on Arran.
Scotland’s Right to Roam – Scottish Outdoor Access Code.
In Scotland, you can go on to most land to enjoy the outdoors – as long as you behave responsibly, care for the environment and respect the interests of others. You can learn more about the Scotland Outdoor Access Code, and what it means for your activities here.
If wild camping isn’t quite your thing, you can also camp amongst the deer at Lochranza campsite.
The Lochranza campsite is just across from the distillery on Arran and offers glamping from £35 a night, plus £2 a night per car. You get a wooden camping pod with electricity, lighting and heating but you still need to bring your sleeping gear.
You can also park your campervan here from £18 a night, or camp here in a tent from £10 a night with an additional £2 per car.
Hotels on Arran
Kinloch Hotel on Arran: The Kinloch Hotel has a pool, restaurant, and leisure centre and offers a great breakfast for all overnight guests.
Auchrannie Resort: For a luxurious stay on Arran, stay at the Auchrannie Resort which has hotel rooms and luxury lodges as well as three restaurants and a spa.
The Douglas Hotel: The Douglas Hotel, Arran is in Brodick Bay has stunning sea views from many rooms. There’s an on-site restaurant and bar and you’re just a short walk from the ferry so it’s perfect if you’re visiting Arran car-free!
FAQs about the best things to do on Arran
Where is the Isle of Arran?
The Isle of Arran is an island in the Firth of Clyde just off the West Coast of Scotland. It’s about 2.5 hours from the centre of Glasgow which means a day trip to Arran is a great idea and it’s also ideal as a weekend getaway.
When is the best time to visit Arran?
The best time to visit Arran is from April to the end of September. This is when the weather is usually better (though it is Scotland!) and businesses and Arran attractions are open. Many of the businesses including restaurants and cafes, are shut from October to April so for the full experience it’s best to go outside of those months. If you’re just visiting for a hike or to enjoy a cosy weekend then any time is a good time to visScottishn!
Best things to do in Arran when it rains?
Do as a true Scot does and put your waterproof gear on and get outside still! If that doesn’t sound good, then pay a visit to the Arran distillery and the shops in Broddick.
Final thoughts on these Isle of Arran things to do
If you’re wondering what to do on Arran Scotland then hopefully this list has given you plenty of inspiration.
From beautiful Arran beaches to delicious local produce such as cheese, seafood, and whisky, there are loads of great things to do on the beautiful Scottish Island.
Last Updated on August 21, 2023 by Hannah
Hannah started That Adventurer after graduating back in 2013 and has documented all of her adventures since then. From backpacking South America to city breaks in Europe, a 3 month road trip across the USA in a self-converted van and 6 years living in Canada, you’ll find posts on all of this.
Hannah specialises in active travel and on That Adventurer you’ll find hiking, walking, biking, skiing and all sorts of active travel guides to allow you to see a destination in an adventurous way.