With large Islands such as Sicily, Ireland, and Great Britain all located in Europe, you could be forgiven for not knowing much about Europe’s small islands. The truth, however, is that the continent is home to lots of smaller yet breathtaking islands, which should be on every traveller’s radar. From Santorini, Ibiza, Isle of Man, and the Azores to Aland Islands, Gotland, Islay, and many more, Europe has dozens of this category of islands, and it is one of the continents with the highest number of such islands. And with each of these islands offering much to write about, I would rather give a comprehensive writeup of one and reserve the rest for another day. It is Islay’s turn.
Things to Do on Islay
In its smallness, Islay deserves to be glorified thanks to what this Scottish island offers. While many islands in Scotland are difficult to access, reaching Islay is pretty easy, and that is why it experiences an influx of visitors every year. While here, you will be spoiled for choice when it comes to what to do and see. Let’s look at the activities here one by one.
Go beach hopping
Islay plays host to a good number of beautiful beaches, with Claggain Bay and Machir Bay forming some of the most notable names. One thing struck me on my visit to Claggain Bay: the water here did not look like the UK’s; rather, it appeared as though it was Caribbean. While people argue that it is not safe to swim in most of the beaches in Islay, that should not be something of a concern at all, since the weather tends to be cold most of the time. Now, swimming is not the best thing to do unless the conditions are warm. Simply relax on the beach and enjoy the scenery, and that could be enough. You’re not greedy, I guess.
Go on a distillery tour
Like whisky? Your tour on Islay will not be complete if you don’t take a whisky distillery tour. There are at least 8 distilleries here, and you can visit all of them as long as you have time (but one or two would still be very okay). The good thing about taking distillery tours here is that the tastings are usually generous, and everything seems to be relaxed. After visiting a couple of these distilleries, the following emerged as my top picks, and they still are.
Visit the Museum of Islay Life
If museums are your thing, then Islay has got you covered. At the Museum of Islay Life, you will learn lots of things about the island, including its rich history, stretching as far back as the Mesolithic period, as the artifacts would reveal.
Visit the Isle of Jura
You don’t have to confine yourself to Islay, given that the Island has a neighbour as stunning as the Isle of Jura. Spend a few pounds on a ferry between the Islands and you won’t regret it. Jura is wowing, I tell you. If you haven’t been at a place where animals outnumber people, then you will be amazed at the sheer number of deer here.