Top day trips from Argyll's Secret Coast

Argyll’s Secret Coast is ideally located for exploring the west coast of Scotland, with historic towns, world-class visitor attractions and Hebridean islands within striking distance. So why not take a day trip? Ferry connections take you to the Isle of Bute, Kintyre and the Isle of Arran and you’re only an hour’s drive from Inveraray and two hours’ drive from Oban, the seafood capital of Scotland. Here are our top day trips from Argyll’s Secret Coast.

Travel time: A 30-minute drive to Colintraive and a 5-minute ferry ride.

Bute is a gem of an island and just a short ferry crossing from Colintraive on Argyll’s Secret Coast to Rhubodach. The Victorians left their mark with splendid architecture and glorious gardens. It’s a fabulous place to cycle (bikes go free on the ferry) and there are some lovely walks. Highlights include Mount Stuart, a spectacular neo-gothic palace set amid acres of lush woodland, Rothesay Castle and the Victorian toilets in Rothesay, a masterpiece of marble, ceramics and brass. There are also some wonderful beaches on Bute. Take a walk on Ettrick Bay, Bute’s finest and most accessible beach and watch the seal colony at Scalpsie Bay.

Dunoon and Benmore Botanic Garden
Travel time: A 40-minute drive.

Dunoon, Cowal’s only major town, is a lively place, with shops, restaurants, pubs and coffee shops a plenty. It’s a top spot for a rainy day, with plenty of indoor activities to keep all the family amused including indoor soft play and a swimming pool at Hunters Quay. Discover the story of Dunoon from the Neolithic to the present day at Castle House Museum, set in gardens opposite the historic Dunoon Pier. Dunoon is surrounded by large tracts of forest which offer great mountain biking, walking and horseriding. Puck’s Glen is a magical woodland world and a great place for a family walk. Benmore Botanic Garden is not to be missed, with a magnificent mountainside setting and world-famous collection of flowering trees and shrubs including over 300 species of rhododendron. Check out Quadmania, which provides fantastic quad-biking treks.

Travel: Just over an hour’s drive.

Inveraray is a classic example of an eighteenth-century planned town with a stunning setting on Loch Fyne. You’ll find independent shops selling all sorts of Scottish products, historic buildings and glorious gardens. Start with visits to two word-class visitor attractions, Inveraray Castle, the ancestral home of the Duke of Argyll, Chief of the Clan Campbell, and Inveraray Jail. If you’re feeling active, take a walk up Dun na Cuaiche or head to Argyll Adventures for rock climbing, horse-riding, paintballing and more. If you have time visit Auchindrain, a fascinating example of a Highland settlement. On your way home, you could stop off at the world-famous Loch Fyne Oyster Bar.

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Tarbert & Skipness
Travel: a 30-minute ferry journey and a 30-minute drive to Skipness.

Hop on the ferry from Portavadie and cross the water to Kintyre to explore the bustling fishing village of Tarbert and discover Skipness. In Tarbert, art galleries, shops and cafés surround the natural harbor. Tarbert’s fishing fleet lands some of the best seafood in the world, and the pubs and restaurants are great places to sample this super-fresh fish and shellfish. You can also pick up a seafood box from Prentice Seafoods, located at the ferry terminal. Head up the Tarbert Castle for wonderful views and way-marked walks. Skipness is a beautiful spot on Kintyre’s east coast over looking Arran, with a castle, chapel and wonderful Seafood Cabin.

Kilmartin & Crinan
Travel: a 30-minute ferry journey and a 30-minute drive.

Take a day trip to the Heart of Argyll and explore the wonders of Kilmartin Glen and Crinan Canal. The beautiful glen is one of Scotland’s richest prehistoric landscapes. Within six miles of Kilmartin village there are over 350 ancient monuments, including cairns, standing stones and stones circles. Don’t miss the rocky outcrop of Dunadd, the capital of the Ancient Kingdom of Dalriada. The Crinan Canal, which links Ardrishaig on Loch Fyne with Crinan on the west coast, is known as “Britain's most beautiful shortcut” and makes for a fabulous walk, cycle or kayak.

Travel: two half-hour ferry journeys and a 30-minute drive.

Go on a Hebridean island adventure! The beautiful island of Gigha sits three miles off the west coast of Kintyre. Just seven miles long by a mile and a half wide, it’s easily explored by bike or on foot. It makes for a great way day trip from Argyll’s Secret Coast. You can hire bikes and kayaks at the Gigha Boats Activity Centre. Highlights include the island’s many stunning white beaches, the wonderful Achamore Gardens and lunch at the Gigha Boathouse Restaurant.

The great outdoors!
If you fancy bagging one of Scotland’s iconic hills, then the Arrochar Alps is only one-hour’s drive from Argyll’s Secret Coast. This rugged mountain range offers some of the best walking and climbing in Argyll and includes the famous Cobbler. For world-class mountain biking head for the forests of Bishop’s Glen, Glenbranter, Ardgarten and Glenmassan or cross the loch to Lochgiphead to try out the famous Firetower Trails.