While Scotland’s Isle of Skye gets a lot of attention, and rightfully so, we’d like to share with you another stunning island just off the west coast of Scotland that deserves some recognition as well! Encompassing 338 square miles (875 sq km), Isle of Mull is the second largest island of the Inner Hebrides, after Skye, and is the fourth largest Scottish Island. Tobermory is its capital town, which is where most of the island’s population lives. It is also where Mull’s only single malt Scotch whiskey distillery can be found, along with a handmade chocolate shop. Isle of Mull is a place where you can take it easy, explore at your own pace, and enjoy the abundant breathtaking landscapes. It’s really not a hard sell, as it’s easy for us to share with you…
3 Reasons Why YOU Should Visit Isle of Mull in Scotland
Isle of Mull Is Easy To Get To
The island can be accessed by ferry from 3 different points on mainland Scotland: Oban, Lochaline and Kilchoan. Booking is not required on the ferries coming from Lochaline and Kilchoan, but you will need to book in advance if you’re planning to come by ferry from Oban, especially in the summer months. The journey from Oban to Craignure is 45 minutes; Kilchoan to Tobermory is 35 minutes; and the journey from Lochaline to Fishnish is only 15 minutes. All three ferries allow passengers to bring their vehicles on board for an additional fee. (If you have rented a car, be sure to check with the company you rented from to see if they allow their vehicles to go on a ferry.) For ferry times and ticket prices, visit the Calendonian MacBrayne website.
We found it most helpful to have our own vehicle for exploring the island, though there are buses to help you get around if you’re not quite comfortable driving on the left on single track roads. There is also a minibus service that operates seasonally from Craignure to Duart Castle. This 13th-century fortress is one of Scotland’s oldest inhabited castles, as it has been home to the Maclean Clan for the past 800 years. (You may also recognize it for its role in the 1999 Sean Connery film, Entrapment.) Ferry passengers arriving from Oban will have an incredible view of the castle prominently perched on rocky cliffs near the coast. Visitors can tour the inside of the castle from April to October for a small fee. Note: It is only open Sunday-Thursday during the month of April.
Isle of Mull Provides Easy Access to Isle of Iona
The tiny Isle of Iona is just a 10 minute ferry ride from Fionnport on Mull. There’s no need to pre-purchase ferry tickets to Iona as you simply show up at the port, purchase your round-trip ticket, and hop on the next available sailing. Getting from the port at Craignure to Fionnport will take just over an hour by car, but don’t worry, there’s plenty of beautiful scenery along the way. We recommend you make a little detour to Carsaig Bay. The views will NOT disappoint, though the road to get there may be considered harrowing by some!
Very few vehicles are allowed on Isle of Iona, unless you have a permit, so most visitors will explore Iona by foot. The island is only about a mile across (and 3 miles long), so it’s fairly easy to get around by foot! Just over 100 people call the island home and it is mostly residents who are able to bring their car to and from the island.
Its beautifully restored abbey is Iona’s biggest attraction. Once you disembark from the ferry, follow the Pilgrims’ Street of the Dead to the abbey.
The Benedictine monastery was founded in AD 563 by St Columba where it has remained a hub for religious activity for over 1,500 years.
At the center of the abbey is the church, where much of the medieval architecture can still be seen. The church is still used as a place of worship to this day.
To celebrate the 1,450th anniversary of the arrival of St Columba to Iona, Historic Scotland updated the abbey’s museum with a fascinating exhibit taking visitors on a chronological journey through Iona’s history. The exhibit includes high crosses and head stones, along with a facsimile of the Book of Kells. The book was created on Iona around 800 A.D. and is widely acknowledged as being the finest illustrated manuscript of the four Gospels. The original book can be seen on display at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland.
A cemetery just outside the abbey is reputed to be the final resting place of 48 kings of Scotland, including Macbeth.
Just a short distance from the abbey is the Iona Nunnery, an Augustinian convent established in 1203.
Isle of Mull is Easy on the Eyes
Besides being easy to get to, and providing easy access to the nearby Isle of Iona, the number one reason to visit Isle of Mull is… it’s GORGEOUS!!
For this reason alone, we’d argue that having your own vehicle is the absolute best way to see the island! You will drive past some pretty incredible scenery and you’ll want to stop, admire, and take a few photos. If you are simply visiting Mull on a day trip, we recommend that you arrive on the first ferry of the day and depart on the last! It was an early wake up call for us to be at the Oban port no later than 7 am, but it was totally worth it, as we had 10 full hours to explore the island!
Be sure to visit the northwestern part of the island for some incredible views, such as Loch na Keal and Calgary Beach.
We visited Isle of Mull in July during what was considered peak season, though there were times where we felt like we had the entire island and its unspoiled landscape all to ourselves!
Another thing to keep your eyes peeled for on the island is a wide variety of animals. We came upon sheep and baby lambs, along with cows and those adorable famous-to-Scotland Highlands cows. Also, Isle of Mull is known as being one of the best places in Europe to spot white-tailed sea eagles. Because of the success of their re-introduction program on the island, there are currently 15 pairs of sea eagles which nest high up in the conifers in the forests.
So, have we convinced you to visit Isle of Mull in Scotland? It’s easy to see why Isle of Mull is so hard to resist, isn’t it?!