If you have the time you can hire a car.It's a very nice drive to the ferry at Kennacraig via Inveraray.
Otherwise there is a good bus service from Glasgow to Kennacraig.
Or there are flights from Glasgow.
Normally the easiest way to do it is to hire a car in Edinburgh, and time your drive to reach the CalMac ferry that suits. http://www.calmac.co.uk/ Allow at least four hours for the drive to Kennacraig - the mainland port.
While ferry services go to either Port Askaig on Port Ellen on Islay on any given sailing, don't let that confuse you - it is only a 30 minute drive between the two ports. The actual split is around 70:30 in Port Ellen's favour, so you ought to get lucky anyway, and arrive directly at your destination on the island.
Alternatively, you could go by public transport. To do this first get to Glasgow either by coach or train from Edinburgh. You depart from Buchanan St Bus Station in Glasgow, which is a five minute walk from Queen St Station, where the trains from Edinburgh arrive.
You need to take the bus to Campbeltown - there are five services each day from Glasgow to Campbeltown. The terminal for the Islay ferry is at Kennacraig. citylink.co.uk/timetables/…204pp.pdf
Note - you must book the coach service in advance. You cannot just turn up and get on.
Unless you hire a car, the best way is by Citylink coach and Calmac ferry, as described above. The most convenient time would probably be the 14.00 coach from Glasgow, which connects with the 18.00 ferry from Kennacraig to Islay. This ferry goes to Port Ellen every day except Monday and Friday, when it goes to Port Askaig.
By the way, this: 'Note - you must book the coach service in advance. You cannot just turn up and get on.' - is not true. But it's best to reserve in advance, mainly because the tickets may be cheaper, but also because they do very occasionally get fully booked.
They are *very regularly* fully booked on this service. That's one of the reasons there are more daily services now than there were this time last year. Our family members use this service frequently, and would never consider arriving without having booked a ticket in advance.
And some drivers do insist that they cannot sell tickets - sending passengers to the ticket desk to buy... I've even seen the driver at Buchanan St depart while the passenger was queuing inside getting a ticket!!!
For any visitor to have the security and certainly of knowing they will reach their destination, I would say you must buy in advance. Besides, its easier than the hassle of queuing for a ticket on the day, when you have luggage...
Well I can only speak from my own experience, and I have travelled between Glasgow and Kennacraig more times than I can possibly remember! Mostly the coach is less than half full when it leaves Glasgow. On the few occasions it has been full, Citylink have simply put on an extra coach. So you really don't need to worry - but it's still best to book in advance if you know exactly when you want to travel.
I assume you are going for Feis Ile? If so, book everything, especially accommodation quickly as it gets full quickly inc the bus.
Good point GEJP - in fact, you may already be a bit late to find accommodation during the Feis, unless you are prepared to camp.
One thing I omitted to explain about the Citylink bus, btw, is that the reason they always put on an additional coach if it's full is that between Balloch and Campbeltown it operates as an ordinary bus, stopping by the roadside for anyone who flags it down. West Coach Motors are subsidised by Argyll and Bute Council to do this, so they have to have spaces available for these local passengers who don't book in advance.
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