Are you looking for a calm, relaxed place with amazing landscapes but you can’t stand to hordes of tourists? Mull is the answer! The Isle of Mull is the second-largest island in the Inner Hebrides. Smaller (and less known) than its bigger sister Skye, the island is a haven for everybody looking for amazing landscapes and raw, wild nature ⛰.
There is one main center on the island, Tobermory. Other than that, there are small conglomerates of buildings (it becomes difficult to even speak about “villages”!) and isolated houses scattered around the place. Single-track roads surround the isle. Several smaller islands are spread around the main block. Among them, Staffa Island, famous for its volcanic formations, and Iona island, with the famous abbey.
We loved this island. There are few places in the world we felt this sense of peace, the intimate contact with nature. Driving around is simply beautiful. Every now and then, we could stop the car, take a small walk nearby and find something new and pleasant. Our suggestion is to take it a little bit slow, to experience the island in harmony with the mindset of the location. Slow down, enjoy the panorama, and get in touch with your soul with this wonderful place.
How to get here
The only possible way to reach the island is by ferry. The main ferry line (and the one we suggest) connects Oban (on the mainland) with Craignure (on the island). We recommend booking the ferry during the summer months, as there are few places for cars. The best way to travel around the island is by using a vehicle. Roads are single-track, a smaller car is usually better suited (especially if you are not used to driving on small streets). If you cannot rent a car, the local bus system is a reliable alternative.
Where to sleep
Isle of Mull primary economy is represented by tourism. As such, there is no shortage of hotels on the island. Tobermory has the highest concentration of such facilities. Our choice, however, is to take advantage of the incredible hospitality of Scottish people and take a room in a B&B. The selection of these structures is excellent, and they provide a delicious breakfast!
In particular, we used Airbnb (the link uses our referral code 🙂 ) and found this fantastic place in Salen, right between Tobermory and Craignure. Our accommodation was excellent, with a delicious breakfast, and we definitely recommend it!
We spent some days exploring the island and we collected some of the highlights of this beautiful place!
The colored houses of Tobermory
The village of Tobermory, with more than a thousand inhabitants, is the main settlement on the island. This is where most of the services are present, there is a bank, a supermarket, the distillery 😛 everything you will possibly need 😛.
Jokes aside, the real reason to visit Tobermory is its amazing landscape. A series of colored houses 🌈 reflects itself in the water of the harbor. When the sun shines, the view is fantastic. Walk toward the aquarium to get the perfect picture!
Driving in nature
As mentioned before, we highly recommend bringing your own car to the island and tour around. This will give you the freedom to stop everywhere you like and as much as you like. Furthermore, some of the places are only reachable by car, and without that, you will lose some of the most beautiful places this location has to offer. But there is another, fundamental reason. Driving around is just wonderful. Traffic is minimal, and the roads are often empty in both ways. This helps a lot, considering that most of them are single-track with passing places. There is one main road surrounding the island. After the “village” of Pennyghael (composed of four houses 😛 ) turn toward the “scenic route to Salen” to keep the Ben More on your right, and enjoy some of the best landscapes in Scotland!
Delicious tip: fuel is more expensive on the island than on the mainland. Fill up the tank before taking the ferry!
The wonders of Staffa Island
The Isle of Staffa is a volcanic island less than an hour far from Mull. Simply put, it’s one of the most incredible geological formation you can find in the world. Ancient lava flows created lava pillars, similarly to what you can see at the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland. The most famous spot on the island is the Fingal’s cave, a cavern whose natural acoustic inspired the composer Felix Mendelssohn for the overture of his opera, The Hebrides. Between May and the end of July, the island becomes a haven for puffins, adding magic to its already incredible structure.
You will need to book a trip to Staffa Island, with one of the few authorized companies. If the weather is nice, you can set ashore on the island and walk around this incredible natural environment.
Walk around Iona island and its Abbey
Iona island is a stone throw from Mull. A ferry service is available to travel between the two island, sailing every 15 minutes. The island can be easily explored by foot. Time stopped on Iona. There are (almost) no cars here, and there is a sense of peace and relax it’s hard to find anywhere else. The main attraction on Iona is its abbey. Founded in 563 by St. Columba, Iona Abbey has been one of the most important Catholic centers in the world during the Middle Ages. The abbey has been raided by Vikings several times over the centuries and was finally abandoned at the end of the 16th century. The current structure was built during the last century, but you can still see the remains of the old abbey and the ruins of the nunnery, as well as several artifacts preserved in the museum. It’s a beautiful place, where time has a different meaning and where to relax and walk in the steps of history.
Explore the landscape from Duart Castle
Mull has its own castle, obviously. Duart Castle sits on the western side of the island, next to Craignure. It has been the seat of the clan MacLean for more than 500 years (even if it was built by the clan MacDougall). We visited the building, with many well-preserved halls, and its surrounding. The view toward the mainland is majestic, with the waves crashing on the seashore. We can definitely see why Sean Connery chose this location as set for its movie Entrapment!
Go on a beach trip at Kilvickeon Beach
We walked on a white sand beach, with crystalline water and light blue sky. But we had our jackets on! Kilvickeon Beach is one of the best beaches of the island, and it’s a perfect spot for some beautiful pictures. Arriving here is a bit tricky, as we had to drive off-road for a while before leaving the car and walk on a muddy track, crossing a couple of gates to reach the sea. Once we got there, we were well rewarded, as the panorama is astonishing!
Delicious tip: Once you leave the car, take the first deviation on the right. You’ll get to the remains of a medieval church with a surrounding graveyard, an eerie place that is just perfect for some amazing photographs!
Bring us more fish at Cafe Fish!
We couldn’t really miss a dinner spot. This award-winning restaurant is one of the most famous venues in Tobermory. They do one thing, but that’s good enough. Fresh fish is daily brought and served, with extraordinary results! Ordering from the “daily specials” board is almost mandatory, as they always have some incredible products available! We had oysters, scallops, sea bream and razor clams. Everything was so good we actually tried to get back here again the day after! But without a reservation, it’s almost impossible to find a place during the evening!
We loved the Isle of Mull. It’s an excellent place to explore the real spirit of the Hebrides. The relative lack of tourists, who usually prefer the more notorious Isle of Skye, allows the island to keep its pristine state. Take your time here, sleep in one of the fabulous B&B, experience some excellent Scottish hospitality, and enjoy this splendid place and its nature.