Islay - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to Islay


Known as the 'Queen of the Hebrides', Islay is the southernmost of the Inner Hebridean Islands and is world famous for its single malt whiskies, breathtaking scenery, fascinating wildlife and friendly locals. With a rich and fascinating history, Islay was inhabited by early settlers who came here after the last Ice Age in around 7,500BC as fishermen and hunters. Many tourists come to Islay to sample its exceptional whiskies. Islay boasts a whopping eight distilleries on the island, and is home to single malt labels such as Laphroaig, Lagavulin, Caol Ila and Ardbeg, which all have the strong peaty character considered to be characteristic of the Islay malts, while Bunnahabhain and Bruichladdich are lighter and Bowman and Kilchoman more medium-bodied. Whiskies aside, Islay features some notable attractions: the archaeological sites are captivating, including the Cultoon stone circle, which dates back to the Neolithic and early Bronze Age era; and the Kildalton High Cross, Scotland's last unbroken ringed Celtic cross which dates back to around the year 800. More active visitors can enjoy a round of golf at the Machrie Hotel's links, a leisurely cycle along the quaint island roads, world-class fly fishing in Loch Gorm for brown trout, horse-riding on the deserted beaches, and even hill walking to discover the island's interior. Walk along the eastern shore and take in a beautiful sunrise where seabirds and gulls swoop above in the crisp morning air and admire the views across to the Jura, which, not surprisingly, boasts its own brand of world-class single malt whisky.

Islay also offers a variety of wildlife such as grey seals, otters, shags, red deer, peregrine, golden eagle, wildcats and adders. Bird watching is another main tourist attraction because of the large flocks of wild geese which visit Islay each winter (October to May), as well as the variety of rare birds that can be spotted there, like the corncrake and the chough.

Information & Facts


Islay experiences a much milder climate to that of mainland Scotland due to the warming influence of the Gulf Stream. Snow and frosts are rare, though during the winter months, gales sweep in off the cold North Atlantic causing travel disruptions with frequent ferry and air link delays. The best time of year to visit Islay is during the summer months when the temperature is warm, mild and pleasant from May to September. The driest, most pleasant weather is often from May to July.

English is the official language, though visitors will be astonished by the variety of regional accents.

The currency is the pound (GBP), which is divided into 100 pence. ATMs are available in all towns and Visa, MasterCard and American Express are widely accepted; visitors with other cards should check with their credit card companies in advance. Foreign currency can be exchanged at bureaux de change and large hotels, however better exchange rates are likely to be found at banks. Travellers cheques are accepted in all areas frequented by tourists; they are best taken in Pounds Sterling to avoid additional charges.

Local time in the United Kingdom is GMT (GMT +1 from last Sunday in March to Saturday before last Sunday in October).
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