Visiting Islay in the winter

Are you coming to visit us on Islay this winter? Avoiding the busy summer season has lots of advantages. You get to wrap up warm and explore our beautiful island and its breathtaking winter landscapes, at a quieter time of year, away from the crowds. So read on for a few winter travel tips from us.

Winter ferries and flights

Islay is a beautiful island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland, accessible from the Scottish mainland by ferry or plane.

The ferry from Kennacraig to Islay operates on winter timetables, usually from around October to March. You can view the winter timetables here on the Calmac website.

Flights operate year-round from Glasgow to Islay. If you’re planning to fly over during the winter, check the latest flights to Islay here with Skyscanner.

Calmac ferry approaching the Isle of Islay
Calmac Ferries run a winter timetable between the Isle of Islay and Kennacraig on the mainland.

Islay winter weather

Scotland is famous for its changeable weather. Here on Islay in the winter months, average temperatures range from around 8ยฐC to 3ยฐC. We get sun, rain, wind and snow. So come prepared for all weathers, with good sturdy footwear, layers of clothing and waterproofs. As long as you have the right clothing, you should easily be able to get out and explore. And at times when it’s just too cold and windy, there are plenty of warm and welcoming pubs and restaurants on the island. So, keep an eye on the forecast and plan your activities around the weather.

A magical winter wonderland

Islay sparkles at this time of year, with magnificent snow-capped mountains, crystal clear waters and crisp fresh air. You can enjoy lots of lovely wintery walks around the island when conditions are good. There’s plenty of winter wildlife to look out for, such as deer, otters, seals, geese and eagles. Take a visit to the RSPB Loch Gruinart Reserve, where you might spot birds of prey hunting, wading birds in shallow waters and barnacle geese flocking to the grasslands.

A barnacle goose in flight
Islay provides habitats for thousands of barnacle geese, which migrate from Greenland every winter.

Seasonal opening times

Most of Islay’s whisky distilleries remain open during the winter months. They provide the perfect warming environment on a cold day. But do bear in mind that some attractions close from around October to March, or have different winter opening times. During the Christmas and New Year holidays, most attractions close for a few days. So be sure to check opening days and times in advance before making a special visit.

If you are coming to see us at Peatzeria, we are open throughout December and early January. Please check our opening times for specific dates and times, including any seasonal changes or closures. Be sure to call in for lunch or dinner during your winter break, and we’ll cook up a feast to keep you warm and cosy.