The only town on the island is Rothesay, and it is here that the majority of visitors arrive, on the ferry from Wemyss Bay. Rothesay is located mid-way along the east coast of the island.
Other villages on the island include: Ascog, Ardbeg, Kerrycroy, Kilchattan Bay, Kingarth, Port Bannatyne, Straad and Rhubodach.
There are 2 ferry routes to Bute from the Scottish mainland.
In summer the paddle steamer Waverley calls at Rothesay on excursions.
Wemyss Bay is just a few miles from the western end of the M8 motorway, via the A8 and A78, and so is easily accessible from the UK motorway network. Both of the ferry routes carry vehicles.
- Wemyss Bay is within easy reach of both Glasgow International and Glasgow Prestwick airports. Those arriving at Glasgow International Airport can take the shuttle bus to Paisley Station (10 minutes) and take the hourly train to Wemyss Bay. Arrivals at Glasgow Prestwick Airport can take the Glasgow-bound train and change at Paisley for the Wemyss Bay train.
- Bute Airfield can be used by private light aircraft.
West Coast Motors run bus services on the island. Tel: +44 1586 552319.
Cycling is the perfect way to explore the island. Cycle hire is available from The Bike Shed located just a short distance along the shoreline from the ferry terminal in Rothesay. Tel: +44 1700 505515.
- 1 Kyles of Bute. the narrow straits that separate the northern end of the island from the Cowal Pensinsula, are a designated National Scenic Area.
- 2 Mount Stuart House, Kerrycroy, Isle of Bute (south on the coast road from the ferry some 6 miles), ☎ . Su-F 11:00-17:00, Sa 10:00-14:30. Daily at Easter weekend, then from 1st May to 30th Sept.. Britain's most spectacular Victorian Gothic House set in parkland of 200 acres, planted with species brought from all over the world. There is a shuttle bus from the ferry port at Rothesay, and service buses to Kerrycroy and Kilchattan Bay.
- 3 Rothesay Castle, Rothesay (In the heart of Rothesay), ☎ . Open all year. Oct to Mar closed Thurs pm and Fridays.. A compound castle adding to a very early fortification and increased in structure by the Vikings. To the rear of the castle is the Bute Museum. £4.50.
- 4 Bute Museum, Rothesay, Isle of Bute (outside the castle walls to the west, ie furthest away from the ferry), ☎ . Open Apr-Sept: Mon to Sat 10:30-15:30, Sun 13:30-15:30; Oct, Nov, Feb, Mar: Tu-Th,Sa 13:30-15:30. £3.00.
- 1 Port Bannatyne Petanque Club, Recreation Ground, Port Bannatyne (North along the coastroad 3 miles from the ferry). Boules and measures may be hired from the Post Office, or the Anchor Tavern.
- 2 Loch Fad Fishing, Loch Fad, (West from the ferry along High Street skirting the castle, after a mile there is a track to the right of the road), ☎ . The deep loch is stocked with trout. Pike, perch and roach may be fished. Rowing boats and rods may be hired £16 day permit.
- 3 Port Bannatyne Golf Club, Mains Road, Port Bannatyne, ☎ . 13 holes, club house, fantastic views, friendly club, kit for hire.
- 4 Ascog Hall Fernery, Ascog Hall, Ascog, Bute (South along the coast road 4 miles), ☎ . Mid April until Mid October 10 to 5. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays. A veritable tropical jungle in a Victorian glasshouse. Bus to Mount Stuart stops off here.
- 5 Rothesay Victorian Lavatories, Ferry terminal, Rothesay, ☎ . Open all year. A shrine to Victorian ablutions...you simply have to do it here! 20 pence!.
- 6 Port Bannatyne Marina and Boatyard, Port Bannatyne (north along the coast road from Rothesay 3 miles), ☎ . A fine new marina wholly in keeping with the beauty of the islands and highlands. Overnight stay facilities, permanent berthing and boatyard repairs and storing for all craft.
- 7 West Island Way, http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/argyll/west-island-way.shtml. A 32 mile waymarked footpath that starts at Kilchattan Bay and finishes in Port Bannatyne. A range of excellent scenery and wildlife can be seen on the way, ranging from porpoises jumping under the dramatic mountain landscape of Arran, to birds of prey swooping above the rolling fields of central Bute, and deer in the rolling moorland of the north end. And of course, you don't have to walk it all in one day - for the most part accommodation and food can be found en-route.
- 8 Ettrick Bay Beach (Straight across from ferry, up hill past swimming pool and follow signs, or head through to Port Bannatyne and turn left after boatyard). Bute's own Hebridean beach, with stunning views across to Arran and the Mull of Kintyre.
- 9 Rothesay Leisure Centre, High Street, Rothesay. For those rainy days. Pool, gym and sauna open daily.
- 10 Go Cycling. Compared to the surrounding mainland, Bute is relatively flat, with quiet roads and amazing views. Bikes can be hired from the Bike Shed, East Princes Street, Rothesay.
- The Russian Tavern at The Port Royal Hotel (Port Bannatyne, Rothesay), 37 Marine Road (North along the coast road from Rothesay some 3 miles. Right on the seafront), ☎ . 12.00-23.00. Not a theme-bar but an authentic Russian Restaurant serving excellent cuisine. Chris Evans on his BBC Radio Two programme recommended this little spot for free-ranged highland cattle beef that had a special flavour from eating the seaweed. Fishing boats land their catch just outside, so the seafood is not just fresh, but live! The langoustines (crayfish) are a delight, and a large platter served with freshly baked bread and home mayonaisse costs only £12! Certainly a place to try when visiting Bute. Medium Price.
- 1 Macqueen's of Rothesay (Scottish Island Quality Meats), 1-3 Bishop Street, Rothesay (from the ferry terminal cross at the pedestrian crossing, turn left and continue to the round about, turn right onto Bishop Street the shop is on the left hand side), ☎ . 9AM - 6PM M-Sa (half day Wednesday). Gourmet sausages, haggis and black pudding all made by hand daily, using traditional skills and hand mixed spices.
- 2 Zavaronis Cafe, 20 Argyle St., Rothesay, ☎ . The Zavaroni family run two cafes and a fish and chip shop on the island. They're not really possible to miss. The chip shop is next to the Co-Op on East Princes Street, the other two cafes, serving made on site ice cream, drinks, snacks and light meals, are on the seafront.
- 1 The Port Royal Hotel, Port Bannatyne, Isle of Bute (North along coast road from the ferry 3 miles), ☎ . Check-in: 12 midday, check-out: 12 miday. Seashore village inn offering budget B&B in four rooms, and in The Russian Tavern serving all day freshly landed seafood and a la carte Russian dishes. Real ales are served direct from the barrel and there is a wide selection of Russian beers, wines and vodkas. £64 double.
- 2 Cannon House Hotel, 5 Battery Place, Rothesay (From the ferry turn left, following the coast road for approx 500 metres), ☎ . Check-in: 2pm, check-out: 11pm. A Georgian property on the sea front. Relax and enjoy magnificent sea views in a peaceful location. Two superior suites, four doubles and one twin. A delicious a la carte menu is available each evening. Residents lounge and small bar.
The Waverley runs day trips in the summer to Cumbrae, Tighnabruaich, Tarbert (Loch Fyne), Isle of Arran and beyond. Unless you can arrange a helicopter or plane flight, the only way off the island is a ferry.