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.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Scotland features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

24 breaks for bookworms

24 breaks for bookworms

1. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas In 1971, fuelled by a cornucopia of drugs, Hunter S. Thompson set off for Las Vegas on his “savage journey to the heart of …

02 Mar 2017 • Eleanor Aldridge camera_alt Gallery
7 must-visit places in Scotland you've probably never heard of

7 must-visit places in Scotland you've probably never heard of

Scotland sports such a strong selection of tourist attractions – from castles and cabers to kilts and whisky – it’s easy to forget that there is much mor…

01 Mar 2017 • Robin McKelvie insert_drive_file Article
8 great alternative UK city breaks

8 great alternative UK city breaks

London, Edinburgh, Cardiff… These are the usual suspects when visitors are thinking about UK city breaks. But there are actually 66 other cities to be explore…

22 Feb 2017 • Greg Dickinson insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month