Often known as a 'mainland island' due to its remoteness, the Kintyre peninsula is a unique and incredible - yet still relatively accessible - place to explore and get away from it all. The place that inspired Sir Paul McCartney to write 'Mull of Kintyre' is still truly one of Scotland's best-kept secrets, and the newly-marketed Kintyre 66 route is undoubtedly one of the loveliest road-trips in Scotland.
Whisky, gin, seafood galore, island views to die for and some of Scotland's most incredible beaches await you in Kintyre.
Kintyre is one of Scotland's best-kept secrets, and its beaches rival any elsewhere in the country, not to mention the rest of the world. Long stretches of sand, excellent surf (particularly on the western side of the peninsula) and almost no-one around - perfect!
With its 6-mile sandy stretch at West Port beach and a backdrop of impressive dunes, Machrihanish is perhaps the best-known of Kintyre's beach destinations. It's also a world-class location for surfing - Atlantic breakers pound the honey-coloured sand and draw quite a crowd when conditions are right.
Don't miss Kintyre's other beautiful beaches, including the somewhat more sheltered bays at Skipness, Carradale, Torrisdale and Saddell on the eastern side of the peninsula. There are plenty of others, too - beaches almost everywhere you look!
Golf with a View
Kintyre has some fabulous and widely-renowned golf courses.
We think the absolute best views of all are from the award-winning Machrihanish Dunes course on the western side of the peninsula, which offers a spectacular vantage point to look across West Port beach and out to sea. The courses at Carradale and Dunaverty on the eastern side are also wonderful, with 360-degree panoramic views while you play.
Places to Eat
Kintyre's remote location and low population numbers mean its eateries are few and far between, but they're well worth the wait when you reach them.
Our personal favourites for an excellent lunch are the Tin Roof Diner at Campbeltown Airport, which serves hearty portions with efficient service and caters well for a range of dietary requirements, and the beautiful home-made fare served with love from the friendly and welcoming cafe at Glenbarr Stores.
Whisky & Gin
Scotland is known for its whisky, and if there's a particular 'whisky hub' to be visited above all others, then it might well be Campbeltown, nestled in the southeastern corner of the Kintyre peninsula. Back in the 1800s there were over 30 distilleries in the town!
Nowadays there are three whisky distilleries you can visit in Campbeltown - Glengyle (home of Kilkerran single malt), Springbank (the only distillery in Scotland to complete every single step of the whisky-making process on-site) and Glen Scotia, which retains many of its original features dating back to the 1830s.
Whisky isn't the only thing happening on the spirit scene in Kintyre, however. We recommend that you also pay a visit to our friends at Beinn an Tuirc Distillers, makers of Kintyre gin. As well as visiting the distillery and getting hold of some award-winning gin from their beautifully-designed shop, you can book yourself in for an afternoon of gin school, learning how to blend different flavours to get the perfect gin to suit your taste, or enjoy coffee and a cake in their brand new cafe.
Whilst Scotland has been known for its whisky for centuries, and Scottish gin has recently exploded in popularity, the next Scottish spirit to keep an eye on is rum, where some of the best whisky and/or gin producers are currently innovating and increasing the quality and range of their output at quite a rate - you heard it here first!
Newly launched in 2021, the Kintyre 66 is a beautiful 66-mile circular route on the A83 and B842 around the Kintyre peninsula. There's a whole lot of value packed into this relatively short distance, with some of the remotest areas, most glorious views and best beaches in the whole of Scotland (and indeed the world)!
As well as the loop itself, there are six optional 'spurs' which visitors can choose to explore areas even further off the beaten track, and there is information and guidance on the businesses and attractions that can be seen along the way.
You can find out more from Wild About Argyll and be among the first to discover this very special new route.
Kintyre has a lot to offer hikers and those wishing to explore on foot - the Kintyre Way walking route is an excellent way to explore this wonderful area at a slower pace, and can be completed in 7-10 days depending on fitness and objectives.
West Coast Motors buses depart several times daily from Glasgow Buchanan station and take approximately three hours to the starting point at Tarbert.
From Tarbert at the north end of the peninsula, the 100-mile route zig-zags its way down the peninsula to reach Machrihanish in the south, where the West Coast Motors bus can be taken back to Glasgow. The route offers a variety of terrain, spectacular views throughout, is well-signposted and has regular distance markers. Aside from one more challenging section, it is relatively flat and easygoing underfoot, although it's always best to check local conditions before setting off and as you embark upon each stage, as some stretches are exposed and can be affected by poor weather.
Local buses connect the main towns and villages on the Kintyre peninsula, so if your plans change or you want to skip a stage, you'll still be able to get to where you need to be.
Island Views & Access
One of the reasons for the spectacular views from pretty much anywhere on the Kintyre peninsula is the islands that surround it.
From anywhere on the eastern side of the peninsula, the beautiful Isle of Arran is visible, and direct ferries run between Arran and Kintyre during the summer months, meaning its possible to combine the two as part of a longer trip, or to take a day's hop over to Arran as part of your Kintyre itinerary.
From the western side, you can see the Isle of Gigha - which also makes a lovely day trip from Kintyre - and behind it the stunning Isle of Islay and remote and rugged Isle of Jura. Ferries connecting Kintyre with Islay and Jura make it possible to island-hop from Kintyre back to the north of Argyll, which is an excellent way to pack your itinerary full of some of the best destinations in Scotland.
Scottish castles are everywhere, and Kintyre has two of its very own to shout about, both on the eastern side of the peninsula.
In the north, the rugged ruins of medieval Tarbert Castle sit on the edge of Loch Fyne. The castle was rebuilt in its entirety by Robert the Bruce in 1325, and is now under the care of the community and set within a wider Heritage Park with woodland walks, a wildlife pond, sculptures and an orchard.
Further south you'll find Skipness Castle, which dates back to the 1200s and is free to visit, along with its impressive chapel.