How to get to Islay
If you are intending to bring your own vehicle across it is always advisable to book your ferry at the same time as you are booking your accommodation as they get booked up very quickly, especially in peak periods. The staff are usually very helpful and friendly but Islay sadly has a bit of a limited ferry service for the amount of people it attracts. It’s normally a fairly smooth crossing taking between 1hr 50 to 2hr 20 minutes although in bad weather it will usually divert to/from Port Askaig (calmer waters between Jura & Islay) and can also be cancelled at short notice. Make sure you sign up for their free Text or Email alerts.
If you are a foot passenger there is usually no need to book as the ferries can take lots of foot passengers and tickets can be purchased at the Booking Office either at Kennacraig or at the two Islay Ports of Port Ellen or Port Askaig. Hence, in very busy times when vehicle slots on the ferry are full it’s worth considering coming over as a foot passenger and hiring a car on Islay or even a cycle or use Taxis and Buses whilst here.
Bus 926 - Citylink - Glasgow to Kennacraig Ferry Terminal
This must surely be one of the most scenic bus journeys in the country if not the world as a large part of the journey is going alongside lochs and over mountains in the Loch Lomond National Park. A particular highlight of the journey is the 5-10 minute ‘Comfort Break’ at Inverary which is a stunning lochside town, but don’t wander too far as the bus won’t wait!
The buses usually go from the City Centre at Buchanan Street Bus Station starting at 6.15am and running roughly every 2-3 hours until 5pm with the journey taking approximately 3hrs 20 minutes. Fares for an adult are roughly £20 for a single, £34 for a return but you may be able to buy an Advance Return online for a bargain £23.60.
If you are flying into Glasgow Airport there is also a very handy direct service at 2.40pm, arriving in Kennacraig at 17.37pm in time for the 6pm ferry.
Although they tie up roughly with the ferry service, if it is running late it is worth letting the bus driver know you are trying to catch the ferry as they often call ahead and if there are enough passengers and only a short delay the ferry might wait. Likewise on the return let the ‘Info Desk’ on the Ferry know you are hoping to catch the bus and they will do their best too to tie up the two services and not leave you stranded at the Ferry Terminal at Kennacraig (which is in the middle of nowhere!)
We would recommend buying your tickets online in advance using the Citylink website as it is a popular service used by lots of locals too to get to the many villages and town between Glasgow and Campbeltown on the Kintyre Peninsula.