9 Hidden Gems & Things To Do On the Isles of Mull & Iona

Sarah Henderson ·July 05, 2024Reading time: 6 minutes

Iona and Mull are islands in the Inner Hebrides, a short ferry journey from Oban. They’re a great place to escape from the everyday and unwind - packed full of character, friendly locals, fresh produce and restorative landscapes. Plan your adventure to these Scottish islands with our list of hidden gems and authentic experiences to uncover the real heart of Mull & Iona. 

  1. Discover Aros Park Near Tobermory

    Aros Park on the Isle of Mull

    Head off the beaten path with a walking trail past the southern end of Tobermory Harbour, up through the Scots pine trees and into Aros Park. The park and gardens are full of meandering walking trails through the woodland, with attractive views out over the Sound of Mull, Calve Island and the Ardnamurchan Peninsula. Take the time to slow down and breathe in the fresh air; it’s a magical place to lose yourself in. With hidden waterfalls, emerald ferns and glittering lochans, there’s plenty to discover.  

  2. Learn about crofting at The Fauld Farm Near Tobermory

    Fauld Farm just outside Tobermory

    © Fauld Farm

    The Fauld is a true hidden gem within walking distance of the main town of Tobermory. You can join one of their Hebridean Farm Hikes to traverse the wild beauty of the farm, which has stunning views out across the sea. Each walk is unique, changing with the seasons and Scottish weather, from cosy adventures in the misty rain to admiring the meadow flowers in the summer sun. Learn more about what it’s like to be a Hebridean hill crofter by delving into local culture, traditions, language and history. Tours can be tailored to your interests, but make sure you say hello to the resident sheep and purebred Highland ponies you’ll encounter on your walk! You can even learn something new on your holiday – Fauld Farm also offer workshops to teach traditional skills, such as dry-stone walling. 

  3. Shop local in Tobermory Tobermory

    Isle of Mull Soap Company in Tobermory

    Tobermory is the most recognisable village on Mull, with its cheerful painted housefronts overlooking the deep blue waters of the harbour. Its picturesque streets make it an ideal spot for a wander, but it’s also home to independent shops selling a range of products and gifts to remind you of your time on Mull. Pop into the Isle of Mull Soap Company for scented gifts handmade on the island – including a handy midge repellent soap! Visit Tobermory Chocolate for homemade treats, Isle of Mull Ice Cream for gelato made with dairy from a local farm, try the catch of the day with fresh seafood at Tobermory Fish Company or sample a whisky at the atmospheric Tobermory Distillery, whose roots date back to 1798.   

  4. Get a taste of the island with Isle of Mull Cheese Near Tobermory

    The Glass Barn farm shop and café

    No holiday is complete without sampling the local delicacies, so a visit to Sgriob-Ruadh farm is a great way to indulge in some of Mull’s award-winning produce. The idyllic rural location gives you a real flavour of farm life, and you can join a tour to find out more about the sustainable farm, cheese production and the distillery, which uses by-products from cheesemaking to produce alcohol. Complete the experience with a visit to their Glass Barn café and farm shop, filled with leafy green plants and dramatic, twisting vines overhead. They also sell their cheese, whey spirits and other assorted goodies from local producers around the island.  

  5. Take a scenic drive to Calgary Bay Northwest Mull

    Calgary Bay

    There are some amazing landscapes on the island, so slowing down to enjoy the view is one of the best ways to make some memories on Mull. Take a drive around the island and stop off to enjoy some of the hidden beaches, caves and viewpoints on the roads which hug the coast and offer incredible vistas over the sea. Just over 30 minutes' drive from Tobermory to the west of the island is Calgary Bay. The sweeping stretch of this beach makes it a tranquil spot for a chance to feel the sea breeze and unwind. Wander through the woodland art trail which backs onto the beach, admire the buttery yellow of the machair and pick up an ice cream from an upturned boat-turned-shop in the bay.  

  6. Immerse yourself in the Wild Hebridean Swimming Experience Mull and Iona

    Wild Hebridean Swimming

    Fully immerse yourself in the spectacular scenery and landscapes of Mull with a wild swimming retreat! Wild Hebridean Swimming offers expert-led wild swimming experiences around the seas, lochs and fairy pools of Mull and Iona for all ranges of ability. Embrace the freshness and many health benefits of cold-water swimming in some of the most beautiful spots in Scotland. It’s a great way to detox away from the everyday and reconnect with nature, swimming through clean, clear waters. They also work with local businesses to provide additional experiences on your retreat, including boat trips to Fingal’s Cave and walking tours of Iona. Their accommodation can sleep up to 14 guests, with luxury amenities including a private chef, yoga sessions on site and a wood-fired garden hot tub. 

  7. Enjoy a fresh catch at The Creel Seafood Bar Fionnphort

    The Creel Seafood Bar

    Fionnphort is where you can catch the ferry to Iona but, if you’re looking for some local produce packed full of flavour, make sure you get there well ahead of time to enjoy the delicious Creel Seafood Bar. Indulge in fresh seafood caught just across the pier from the Creel, mostly by the owners themselves alongside local divers and fishermen. Savour succulent lobster, crab, scallops, langoustine, fish tacos and more alongside some iconic Mull viewpoints. You can watch the comings and goings of the bustling port, look out across the glittering sea to Iona and catch a glimpse of the historic Iona Abbey.  

  8. Soak up the spiritual history of Iona Iona

    Iona Abbey

    Iona has been attracting visitors and pilgrims from around the world for hundreds of years, famous as the spot where Saint Columba arrived in 563 AD. He set up the Benedictine abbey that remains intact to this day; it’s a striking building set against a rugged backdrop. The abbey graveyard is the resting place of many early Scottish kings and nobles, including Malcolm I and Macbeth. Whilst you’re there, it’s well worth discovering some more hidden gems around the island. Hiring a bike is the best way to see more of Iona, such as the serene beach on the other side of the island called ‘The Bay at the Back of the Ocean’, which has captivating views of the churning Atlantic. There are also some lovely independent shops to explore, from a craft wool shop to an incredible artisan pizza place at Ailidh’s.  

  9. Marvel at the puffins and geology on the Isle of Staffa Staffa National Nature Reserve

    Staffa National Nature Reserve

    A short trip over to the Isle of Staffa is a truly magical experience and a journey in the footsteps of Queen Victoria, Sir Walter Scott and John Keats. Staffa Tours offer boat trips from Mull to the island, where you can experience the incredible geological formations of Fingal’s Cave. It’s a spellbinding trip across the sea to arrive amidst the distinctive, hexagonal basalt columns for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. In the summer, you can also venture to the top of Staffa and go puffin spotting! The remote location makes it an ideal spot for birdwatching and wildlife, including guillemots, seals, dolphins and even whales.  

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