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You reach your first island by taking the ferry from Oban to Mull, then travelling by local bus or car to the far west coast of the island, from where you catch the passenger only ferry to Iona.
Just a short ferry ride across the Sound of Iona, this tiny island is a deeply spiritual place which 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 religious 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 picturesque views of Mull’s dramatic cliffs. As you explore this enchanting wilderness, whether on foot or bicycle, listen to the call of the corncrakes and keep an eye out for some stunning wild flowers and birds, including sea eagles and buzzards.
The best way to experience the unique atmosphere of Iona is to stay overnight, and this delightfully welcoming hotel is conveniently situated right at the end of the pier, near the village centre. It combines traditional Hebridean charm with a touch of sophistication. Relax in cosy, fire-lit lounges, the sunny conservatory and the elegant period dining room.
The hotel is committed to environmentally sound ecological practices and has for many years grown herbs and vegetables in its own organic garden, lovingly tended by three gardeners. These are naturally used to great effect in the superb hotel restaurant which offers the finest local dining, with a menu featuring organically-reared Argyll beef and lamb, organic dairy products and locally caught seafood.
The lovely Iona Abbey and Nunnery are open all day, with tours organised by Historic Scotland. There’s also an excellent Heritage Centre which tells the story of the Iona community and its way of life. On the opposite side of the island, vast sweeping beaches invite walkers to explore, whilst the machair conceals a challenging links golf course, home to the annual Iona Open. Fine Celtic art, pottery, jewellery and wood carvings can be found in the island’s several craft shops, or take a boat trip to the isle of Staffa to admire magnificent Fingal’s Cave and meet the island’s friendly colony of puffins.
Three ferry crossings today! Return first to Mull, then onwards to Oban and from here catch an afternoon ferry to Colonsay.
Your hotel stands just a short walk – or even shorter drive if you choose to be met – from the ferry quay. The core of the building dates from the 17th century and the original white-washed style, peppered with multi-pane windows sharply outlined in black, has been carefully maintained in later additions. The interior is calm and welcoming, using sea greens and blues appropriate to the island setting, with painted wooden floors and plenty of comfy sofas in the public areas.
Rooms are equally tasteful and come in a range of quirky shapes and sizes. The restaurant menu offers a perfect combination of superb, fresh produce and simple preparation so you taste the natural flavours at every bite, while a more traditional menu is available in the popular bar. Here you will no doubt be encouraged to share stories of your adventures of the day over a wee dram or locally-brewed beer.
One of the remotest of the captivating Hebrides, Colonsay offers the quintessential Scottish island experience. As your ferry docks, you’ll see residents and visitors alike descending from all corners to meet and greet the new arrivals. Then slowly, as the hustle and bustle dies down, the more pervading atmosphere of peace and tranquillity is restored. Gently rolling, heather-clad hills stretch into the distance, dotted with just the occasional cottage or farm building, and a few white flecks of sheep. Single track roads and footpaths enable you to meander across this beautiful landscape, frequently stopping to admire dramatic views across to Mull and back to Jura. Whether you choose to walk or cycle (do leave the car behind!), your efforts will be amply rewarded: from the glorious sweep of sand and sea at stunning locations such as Kiloran Bay, to the discovery of intricately-carved ancient stones at the ruins of Oronsay priory.
Return to Oban for your journey home.
This holiday, for which a car is not required, includes two nights on Iona and two nights on Colonsay.
£435 per person for holidays in March & October, £465 per person for May & September, and £475 per person in June, July & August.
Price is based on two people sharing a double or twin room ensuite for four nights on a bed & breakfast basis. The price includes return ferry crossings for passengers only to/from Mull, to/from Iona and to/from Colonsay. The connecting bus service to the Iona ferry port is not included.
There are regular train and bus services to/from Oban, which we can assist with as preferred.
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.
All itineraries and room types are presented subject to availability at specific hotels.
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...
Must be 11 or 12 years now that McKinlay Kidd have organised our island break. Never been disappointed - always a great experience.John & Susan, Whitburn, Scotland
It more than met expectations, the itinerary worked like a dream and the accommodation was perfect.Brid, London, England
Most enjoyable holiday where we lost all sense of time!Claire & Robert, Derbyshire, England
This holiday is available from late March to late October. Due to the complexities of ferry and train timetables the holiday can start on a Monday or Friday to Iona, as described here, or in reverse order to Colonsay starting on a Sunday only.
To check the latest availability for this holiday complete the form below or call us. We will respond to your availability check within one working day if at all possible. Please bear with us on this - we work with a hand-picked selection of smaller hotels, guest houses, and other independent businesses, ensuring that you have the chance to explore off the beaten track and really get under the skin of the destination.
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