Cut off for centuries from the rest of Scotland by the mountains and sea lochs that characterize the region, Argyll remains remote and sparsely populated, its scatter of offshore islands forming part of the Inner Hebridean archipelago. Geographically and culturally, this is a transitional area between Highland and Lowland, boasting a rich variety of scenery from subtropical gardens warmed by the Gulf Stream to flat, treeless islands on the edge of the Atlantic. It’s in the folds and twists of the countryside, the interplay of land and water and the views out to the islands that the strengths and beauties of mainland Argyll lie – the one area of man-made sights you shouldn’t miss, however, is the cluster of Celtic and prehistoric sites near Kilmartin.

The eastern duo of Bute and Arran are the most popular of Scotland’s more southerly islands, the latter – now, strictly, part of Ayrshire – justifiably so, with spectacular scenery ranging from the granite peaks of the north to the Lowland pasture of the south. Of the Hebridean islands covered in this chapter, mountainous Mull is the most visited, and is large enough to absorb the crowds, many of whom are only passing through en route to the tiny isle of Iona, a place of spiritual pilgrimage for centuries. Islay, best known for its malt whiskies, is fairly quiet even in the height of summer, as is neighbouring Jura, which offers excellent walking. And, for those seeking further solitude, there are the more remote islands of Tiree and Coll, which, although swept with fierce winds, have more sunny days than anywhere else in Scotland.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Scotland features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

20 picturesque Christmas destinations

20 picturesque Christmas destinations

Dreaming of a trip this Christmas? We're here to help. From glittering cities to a few snowy escapes, here are 20 classic destinations for a festive break. …

12 Dec 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
8 alternative UK winter breaks

8 alternative UK winter breaks

The UK gets pretty grim during the winter, with its dark, early nights and splutteringly cold weather. But if you can’t wait until spring to start having fun …

06 Nov 2017 • Greg Dickinson insert_drive_file Article
Sipping Speyside: on the whisky trail in Scotland

Sipping Speyside: on the whisky trail in Scotland

Whisky is much more than Scotland’s national drink – it’s blended deep into the country’s history and culture. Donna Dailey learns more and discovers th…

18 Oct 2017 • Donna Dailey local_activity Special feature
View more featureschevron_right