Autumn is one of the best times to visit Islay. The stunning sunsets aren't late at night, the westerly winds create the most beautiful warming light, and it's the perfect time to visit those distilleries who are a little quieter, meaning you have the time to savour the best the island has to offer.

Here's the Ballitarsin Top 10 rated things to do on Islay in Autumn!

The leaves in Bridgend Woods

In September and October the woods are a riot of colours and it's a fantastic place for a stroll. Take a pick from number of routes and find yourself at the Woollen Mill, or at the Bridgend Hotel for something warming!
Leaves at Bridgend woods photo
The autumnal colours in Bridgend
Light over the High Road

The autumn light

The westerly clouds scudding across the sky make for a spectacular 'rainbow season' on Islay. The frequently changing light marks the time of the year, and turns the land a multitude of colours. A photographers dream, and a wonder to behold, whether you're inside or out!

Time at the distilleries

With the busier crowds of the Festival and summer months gone, you can afford to take your time around the island. There's a little more time for distillery staff to share their knowledge, and for you to savour what they have to offer!

Booking a warehouse experience or tasting is highly recommended, there's nothing quite like whisky straight from the cask!
Whisky casks at Ardbeg, Islay
Heading to Jura on the Ferry.
Air glow and Northern Lights on Islay
Northern Lights, and some air glow, looking north above Saligo Bay

Northern lights

Into late autumn and the darkening skies increase your chance of seeing the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, above Islay. Looking north from Bunnahabhain, Saligo Bay and Sanaigmore offer you the best chances - though check on Aurora alert apps before you go!

The blooming heather

The heather's distinctive purple bloom comes to life in late summer and early autumn, across the island, often matched with the rich, golden brown of the brackens and grasses as the season progresses.

Whether you're around to see the heather or not, you can always sample the heather infused Isle of Islay gin at any time of the year from their shop in Islay House Square!
Isle of Islay Heather Gin
Isle of Islay Gin amongst the Islay heather.
Fire at the Machrie
The fire at the Stag Lounge in the Machrie Hotel.

A dram by the fire

There are many great locations on Islay to sit and sample a log fire and soak up the atmosphere. We think there’s nowhere better than the Port Charlotte or Bridgend Hotels for a warm welcome, roaring fire and great company. Or head to the Stag Lounge at the Machrie to overlook the 18th green and the Big Strand waves.

You can always take your adventure further and keep warm with an outdoor dram on a beach fire you built yourself! Islay whisky has never tasted so good!
Just make sure you clear up after yourself and leave everything safe.

The arriving geese

Autumn is a great time for wildlife on Islay, and the geese are a spectacular sight on Lochindaal and at the RSPB reserve at Loch Gruinart. Take a walk down to the hides on Loch Gruinart and see what you can see!

With eagles, otters, deer and more too, Islay is a great place for spotting wildlife!
The geese arriving at Lochindaal
These are not midgies...

No midgies!

With the drop in temperature, any chance of the midges making an appearance disappears! Islay isn't too bad for midges anyway, but once September comes, even the stillest of days doesn't result in the kind of clouds you don't want to see!


With earlier sunsets, it's easier to head to a good view of the sun as it sets in the west! Saligo Bay, Machir Bay, the Big Strand are some of the best places to watch the sun disappear over the Atlantic.
Islay Sunset over Lochindaal
Sunset over Lochindaal
Harvest moon over Bowmore Islay
The Harvest moon rises over Bowmore

The quieter island

As autumn falls across the island, the rhythm of life slows down a little. Barley harvests are done, the nights draw in and the famed 'Islay Time' kicks back a notch further.

This is the perfect time to explore the island and unwind, and at Ballitarsin, you've got a perfect spot to view it all - autumn light moving across the landscape; the geese and wildlife passing by; the glorious sunsets, and the dram in your hand!

We hope to welcome you soon.
Did we miss anything?
Yes, there were a few things that we couldn’t fit in! Pottery at Persabus, Cullen Skink and cake at Kilchoman – there is so much to do. If we missed your favourite – pop back on to social media and let us know what your favourites are!
Come sail to Islay!



All images courtesy Ben Shakespeare Photography

Beautiful self-catering accommodation in the heart of the Isle of Islay.

Website design copyright © 2024 Ben Shakespeare Photography.