An hour by train from Glasgow Central and a 35 minute connecting ferry ride will bring you into the centre of Rothesay, the main town on the Isle of Bute.
A perfect day trip from Glasgow, this little Scottish island has plenty to offer and provides a pretty and peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. It may not have the mountains of Skye or the brightly painted houses of Mull but Bute has a charm all of it's own
Although a day won't be enough to take in all the history, wildlife and activities on offer it will certainly give you a flavour and a reason to return.
Bute is the little island oasis I currently call home and knowing all that it has to offer has made it difficult to narrow down a list of places you can visit in a day. I could easily have provided a week long itinerary but I feel that coming to an island should be about relaxation and I think my suggested things to do find a balance between visiting some interesting attractions and taking it at an easy pace. Hopefully you will leave feeling not only chilled out but with a little bit of knowledge about this historical Scottish island and a yearning to come back.
First stop should be The Discovery Centre in Rothesay, here you will find tourist information and a great free multi-media exhibition telling you a bit more about The Isle of Bute. It is only a few minutes walk from the ferry terminal and a fantastic introduction to the island.
Then take a stroll along the promenade and admire the beautiful flower displays, if the weather is nice why not enjoy a shot on the putting green and take a seat by the fountain. Admire the boats in the harbour and the views over the Firth of Clyde to the mainland.
The town centre is compact and you can easily take a walk along the shops before passing Rothesay Castle. Stop to take some photos but I would give visiting a miss unless you have more time and instead head to Bute Museum across the road from the rear of the Castle. It is a small museum but has some fascinating displays and important artifacts found on the island and helps tell the story of Bute's long history from Neolithic to the present day. It is a little hidden gem and I highly recommend a visit here.
Next to the Castle you will find a few good places for lunch almost next door to each other. Musicker Cafe, The Coffee Stop and Harry Haw's are all good choices and if you are lucky enough to get a seat at the window you can admire a Castle view.
The biggest and most popular tourist attraction on Bute is Mount Stuart, a Gothic style mansion with impressive grounds. Hop on a bus from Rothesay and a 10 minute journey will take you out of the town and past some grand Victorian villas and pretty scenery before dropping you at the entrance. You need a ticket to enter and I recommend taking a group tour of the house, you really have to see it to believe it!
When you are ready get the bus back to Rothesay and either catch an early evening boat back to the mainland or pop into one of the pubs for a quick drink with the locals. The Black Bull opposite the ferry terminal is my personal favourite and has a good mix of locals, tourists and friendly banter. It is the perfect way to end the day and get a feel for real island life before the short stroll across the road back to the ferry.
If the sun is shining and you would rather stay outdoors than visit another attraction then you should get the bus from Rothesay to Ettrick Bay instead. Approximately a mile of golden sand and a tearoom for refreshments makes it the ideal place to relax, just remember your bucket and spade!
If you are looking for a day trip from Glasgow then a visit to one of Scotland's most beautiful and accessible islands makes for a unique day out. Hopefully my recommendations help you get the most out of a short visit but be warned that as the ferry leaves for the mainland and you leave the palm trees and beaches behind you may be wishing you stayed for longer!
The CalMac website lists train and ferry times and ticket prices. They run a summer and winter timetable so check the dates are correct for your own travelling arrangements. You can click on this link to check the summer timetable which runs from 4/4/14 until 26/10/14.
You can purchase a return ticket from Glasgow Central Station which covers both your train and ferry journey, just ask for a return day ticket to Rothesay.
The VisitBute website gives you lots more info about the island with other options on things to see and do.
To read more of my tips for the Isle of Bute you can read my interview with Embrace Scotland.
This month I have written an article for Made in Scotland Magazine with more of my recommendations for visiting the island. Look out for their July edition which features the Isle of Bute as their summer destination.
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