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Experience the very different atmospheres of two captivating islands, separated by a narrow strip of water.
Your twin-centre break begins with three nights on the Isle of Mull – either at the island ‘capital’ Tobermory, with its famously colourful harbourfront, or you could choose a beautiful Scottish castle perched by the coastline. From either spot, you are well-placed to explore the island – from the sweeping sandy beaches at Calgary and Ardalanish to hikes inland in search of waterfalls, ruins and wildlife. We’ll provide plenty of recommendations tailored to your interests. Mull is renowned for its diverse wildlife: minke whales, as well as basking sharks, dolphins and porpoise, frequent these waters throughout the season. You could choose to take a guided boat trip, or alternatively a land-based wildlife safari in search of otters and eagles – do ask us to pre-book to ensure you don’t miss out.
There’s no better way to round-off a holiday than a couple of nights soaking up the spiritual atmosphere of tiny Iona. Most people visit on a day-trip to see the abbey, the birthplace of Christianity in Scotland thanks to Saint Columba. Staying overnight is therefore a rare privilege to experience the island at is tranquil best. Long summer evenings are perfect for a gentle stroll to the evocatively-named Beach at the Back of the Ocean, while sunsets can be spectacular.
You start your journey by ferry from the port of Oban to Mull, with glorious views in all directions as you cross to Craignure. Your first accommodation is by Tobermory, the main island village, a short drive away.
Small but perfectly formed, your elegant guest house sits on the edge of bustling Tobermory, an idyllic and welcoming home from home while you make the most of your island explorations.
A paradise for lovers of Scotland’s natural heritage, Mull is an island gem with an enviable diversity of wildlife thriving everywhere from dense woodland glens to the grassy slopes of Ben More. Its many miles of coastline boast fantastic sandy beaches – particularly at Calgary and Ardalanish – whilst off-shore is one of Europe’s prime habitats for whales and dolphins. Meanwhile, lively Tobermory has a bustling vitality and is a great place. Brightly painted houses provide a colourful backdrop to the picture-postcard harbour and the ‘craic’ in waterfront bars rivals anything on the mainland.
A scenic drive from one side of Mull to the other will take you to the tiny ferry port of Fionnphort, in the south-west where you will leave your car behind and catch the next ferry to this very special island.
Iona’s popularity as a day trip destination is in stark contrast to the numbers of people who stay there overnight, and this is an ideal way to experience the peace and even mysticism of an island which has played a notable role on Scottish society for hundreds of years. The hotel overlooks the Sound of Iona to the pink and blue hills of Mull. Within walking distance of the Abbey, your accommodation is but a very short stroll from the jetty. Freshly prepared real home cooking features organically grown vegetables from the hotel’s garden. Dishes include local produce such as wild Mull salmon, venison, Scottish lamb, Tobermory smoked trout and cheeses.
A world away from Mull – but in reality just a short ferry ride across the Sound of Iona – this tiny island is a deeply spiritual place, a historic Christian pilgrimage that has drawn travellers to its enigmatic shores for more than a thousand years. The brilliant blue-green waters and clear light here have inspired poets, painters and pilgrims for centuries. Iona’s historical and spiritual significance dates back to the time of St. Columba, who founded a monastery here and helped to spread Christianity throughout Scotland. The present Iona Abbey dates from the eleventh century and is a true sanctuary, where services and special events are held every day throughout the summer months. The island is also noted for its wonderful sandy beaches and dramatic cliffs, offering picturesque views over to Mull. As you explore this enchanting wilderness, whether on foot or bicycle, keep an eye out for some stunning wild flowers and rare birds, including corncrakes, sparrowhawks and buzzards.
Today you will enjoy an afternoon boat trip to the neighbouring island of Staffa. This is an island of basalt pillars grown into geometric wonders; caves like cathedrals reach into the heart of the island and black rocks step out of the sea. Spend an hour wandering through green meadows atop the skerry, and if the weather is right, gaze upon the geological beauty of Fingal’s Cave. As you travel, do keep a look out for puffins, dolphins and minke whales.
Return home by small ferry from Iona to Mull, then by larger ferry from Mull back to Oban.
The two centres for this Scottish holiday are the enchanting islands of Mull and its tiny near neighbour, Iona.
£745 per person for April & October and £820 per person from May to September
Prices based on two people sharing double rooms ensuite for three nights on Mull and two nights on Iona, on a bed & breakfast basis. Price includes return ferry travel for a car and two passengers to and from Mull, and to Iona as foot passengers only, as well as a half day boat trip to Staffa from Iona.
This itinerary is also perfectly possible to arrange on a “car-free” basis, travelling on the famous West Highland railway line from Glasgow to Oban, and using local bus services while on the isle of Mull. Ask us for more details.
We would also be happy to arrange a whole range of additional wildlife and whale-watching boat trips for your holiday. Advance booking for these additions is strongly recommended.
Before your departure, you will receive personalised holiday information including full directions, recommended routes, and suggestions on places to visit depending on your interests and our local knowledge to help you get the most from your holiday. Included will be some information on the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust to help you learn more about their work in conserving whales, dolphins and porpoises in Western Scotland, along with how you can help their efforts with their “Whale Track” app and by visiting their discovery centre.
All itineraries and room types are presented subject to availability at specific hotels.
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This holiday can be arranged from April to the middle of October.
Availability is individually checked for a hand-picked selection of smaller hotels, guest houses and other independent businesses, so please bear with us and we will respond in 1-2 working days.
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All our holiday prices include a service charge of £9 per person per night towards the costs we incur in researching, planning and designing your holiday.
We guarantee to refund this service charge if you believe that arranging your holiday through McKinlay Kidd has not met your expectations for value. All we ask is that you write to us within 7 days of your return and explain your reason for claiming the refund. This will ensure that we can improve the experience for all our future guests.
My first trip through the western Highlands was a wonderful discovery of old and new. Coming from Ireland originally, I have strong beliefs that the I...
We had a great time thanks. We saw whales, otters, eagles and seals. Local food was amazing. Both islands absolutely beautiful.Shelagh & Mark, Merseyside, England
We loved meeting the puffins, the tranquillity of Iona and seeing a Golden eagle.Elizabeth & Robin, Sussex, UK