What to do in Mallaig On a weekend

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Mallaig is a small seaside village on the west coast of Scotland. There is so much to do in and around Mallaig that you could easily spend a week and not run out of things to do. Therefore, you will have to pick and choose what you want to see during a single weekend.

Mallaig main street.
Mallaig main street

The village has a museum and you can get boat tours where you might be lucky enough to see seals, whales or puffins. Fairly close to Mallaig is the Glenfinnan Viaduct which is featured in the Harry Potter films. You can also climb Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the UK, or take the ferry to Skye to visit Armadale castle.

What to do in Mallaig during a weekend

Mallaig itself is small and there are no must-see sights. However, the surrounding area is full of interesting places to visit. Given the good roads and transportation links you can easily do a day trip to one of the areas further away during a weekend in Mallaig.

Below are some of the best options of what to see both in Mallaig and close by.

1. Boat Tours

View of Mallaig Harbour.
Mallaig Harbour

From Mallaig harbour boats visit the nearby islands towards Knoydart. Seal sightings are nearly guaranteed and with luck you might also see dolphins and whales. If you are staying in Mallaig try to avoid the times when the Jacobite steam train is waiting at the station because Mallaig always gets very busy with train passengers.

In season (end of April to early August) Western Isles Cruises also offer half day trips departing at 10 am to see puffins on Canna, one of the islands making up the Small Isles.

2. Haggard Alley

Down a small side alley is a shop dedicated to Harry Potter.
Haggard Alley

Down a small side alley is a shop dedicated to Harry Potter. The link between Mallaig and Harry Potter is the Glenfinnan Viaduct. The viaduct is the backdrop for the Hogwarts Express’ journey to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the film adaptations of JK Rowling’s books.

You can take the Jacobite steam train featured in the films between Fort William and Mallaig. However, trips can only be taken starting in Fort William. It is also possible to go to Glenfinnan to watch the steam train cross the viaduct.

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3. Hire a Bike

For a more active day out hire a bike from Mallaig Pool and Leisure Centre.

There are two good options for where to cycle. The first is out to the end of the road at Mallaigvaig. The second is in the other direction towards Morar. Here you can climb up to the Morar cross or visit one of the many beaches in the area.
The leisure centre rents multi-terrain bikes and you can also borrow child seats or tag-along bikes. All bike hires include locks, helmets, lights and a puncture repair kit. They will also give you a map of the area and the staff are great sources of information on the local area. Rental packages are available from an hour to several days. Contact the leisure centre to arrange your bike hire.

4. Mallaig Heritage Centre

The heritage centre is a museum right next to the railway station. It is free to enter.

The museum details how Mallaig has changed from a small fishing village to the port town of today. Mallaig has a large harbour for fishing vessels and ferries depart for Uist in the Outer Hebrides, Skye and the Small Isles. Mallaig’s connection to the sea is as strong today as it was in the past.

Nomatic

Museum exhibits also outline the construction of the West Highland Railway line, which is the railway line running to Fort William and Glasgow. This railway line has been very important for the local community since it has transformed Mallaig into an important transportation hub.

The museum is only open during the summer months. Opening hours are from 11am to 4pm or 5 pm depending on the month.

5. Coastal Walks

Beach in Mallaig.
Walk on a beach

Stroll along E Bay road which runs along the coast. On leaving the town you can look back on the harbour and all the fishing vessels.

For a longer walk do the circular walk which is just under 3 km and will take you about 1 hour. The circular walk trailhead is marked on Google maps. It takes you up the hill behind Mallaig for panoramic views out over the village and over to Skye.

6. Take the Ferry to the Isle of Skye

A 30 minute ferry ride takes you from Mallaig to Armadale on the Isle of Skye. In Armadale visit Armadale castle.

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If you have a car drive down to the Aird of Sleat peninsula and walk out to Rhuba Shleite. It is one of the prettiest beaches on Skye and you might be lucky enough to have it all to yourself.

7. Climb Ben Nevis

Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the UK. At 1,345 metres it might not sound like a hard climb – but don’t be fooled. It is a long and tiring hike that will take you all day. The most popular route is called the Mountain Track. It is the shortest and easiest route to the top and it is the path most people would be advised to take.

From Mallaig to the starting point of the hike is 1 hour by car. Public transport options are taking the bus or train to Fort William. Regular buses run from Fort William to the starting point of the hike during the summer. However, it is much more convenient and quicker to take a taxi from Fort William to the starting point.

If travelling by car, try to arrive before 9 am in July and August since the car park fills up early.

When to visit

Mallaig has the best weather from April to early October. School summer holidays in the UK and Europe are in July and August and this is the period when most people visit. Summer has the warmest weather, but spring and autumn are also fantastic seasons to visit. There are fewer people and no midges.

During the winter months many places are closed so it is best to visit between April and early October.

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How to get to Mallaig

It is not often that small Scottish villages have good transportation links, but Mallaig is an exception.

It has a train station with direct trains to Glasgow and Fort William as well as a ferry link to Skye. The road from Fort William to Mallaig is of good quality the whole way and this is not something to be taken for granted in these parts of Scotland.

If travelling by bus you have to change in Fort William. There are no direct buses to Mallaig from any destination further away. Fort William is easy to get to from the larger towns and cities in Scotland.

Where to stay

The best places to stay in Mallaig are B&Bs but you have to book well in advance to get a room. Many have a two night minimum stay and open for bookings about a year in advance. Try to book close to when bookings open if travelling in July and August. All of the B&Bs sell out during the high season.

Some of the best B&Bs to stay at are:

Final Thoughts

Mallaig is a cute seaside town with a great location. What really makes this a stand out place is all the things to do in the surrounding area, rather than things to do in Mallaig itself.

During a weekend you should do at least one day trip to Ben Nevis, Skye, the beaches in the area or the Glenfinnan viaduct.

Bio: Kristin of Scotland Less Explored

Kristin from Scotland Less Explored.
Kristin from Scotland Less Explored

Written by Kristin from Scotland Less Explored. Kristin visits Scotland regularly and her site has all the information you need to plan an amazing holiday to the more remote parts of Scotland. If you are looking to venture off the beaten path and discover the Scottish Highlands and islands visit Scotland Less Explored. Follow Kristin from Scotland Less Explored on Facebook and Instagram.

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