Water journeys are one of the most popular ways to travel around Scotland. In fact, passengers on Scottish inter-island routes increased by 64% from 3.8 million in 2020 to 6.3 million in 2021, according to statistics from Transport Scotland. This isn’t surprising considering that Scotland has over 790 offshore islands, and each area has a unique appeal for locals and tourists alike.
If you hope to see the beauty of Scotland from its waterways, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we take a closer look at the different water journeys available in the land of the Scots.
Take multiple small ferries
A great way to tour Scotland is to take advantage of the various ferry services that serve as a vital lifeline for island residents. This allows you to visit multiple Scottish islands in a day without needing to actually spend the night out at sea.
For example, one of the most popular day tours is the island of Cumbrae. Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) runs regular 10-minute ferry crossings between Largs and Cumbrae. In 2020, the team had to call in extra staff to accommodate the growing number of tourists. The other ferries run by CalMac serve the west coast and the myriad islands to the north and west of the country.
You can take another short ferry trip across the Firth of Clyde to arrive in Rothesay on beautiful Bute or opt to ride a 45-minute sailing onboard the Anstruther Pleasure Cruises to the Isle of May. Don’t be afraid to ride the smaller local ferries linking the islands of the Inner Hebrides to the mainland. These often have cheaper rates, and the friendly locals can point you towards the unique charms of each location.
Take a long cruise
For committed travellers who do not fear the water, a long cruise is a guaranteed way to tour Scotland in style. The 10-day journey from Explora Luxury Cruises takes passengers through the Scottish Lochs and Irish Isles to reach the enchanting Scottish capital, Edinburgh, by day three and the artistically vibrant city, Glasgow, by day 10. The itinerary is skillfully planned by experienced tour guides and long-time locals to give tourists time to get to know each location while maximising the number of destinations visited.
If you plan your trip right, you may also get to go on the 6-day Great Glen Cruise, which is only available once a year. This is offered by Caledonian Discovery who, with their barges Fingal and Ros Crana, ply the length of the Caledonian Canal with a maximum of 12 passengers on board. For £1,115pp, including activities, the trip is a bargain to look out for on their website.
Focus on one destination
Instead of visiting multiple destinations onboard different ferries or one long cruise, focusing on one destination allows tourists to immerse themselves more deeply in the culture of Scotland. Cruising Loch Ness, for example, is a must-see when visiting Scotland. Staying on a boat for 60 minutes up to 7 hours on the Loch Ness waters allows you to enjoy the loch’s famous waters. You can look out the window or go out onto the deck and take lots of pictures of the beautiful areas around Loch Ness, such as Fort Augustus and Urquhart Castle. You may even try to locate the fabled Loch Ness monster, Nessie, beneath the waters.
There is a suitable way to tour Scotland by water journey for every traveller. To learn more about Scotland, check out our other blogs on Edinburgh Castle. Planning your itinerary in advance is the best way to ensure smooth sailing adventures in Scotland.