The Isle of Mull is a perfect place for a short break in Scotland and one of my favourite weekend gateways in Scottish isles. There are so many great things to do on the Isle of Mull, from island hopping to the nearby Isle of Iona, Staffa and Ulva, to looking for puffins, relaxing on the white sand beaches or hiking in the mountains. Have a look at this full guide for a perfect short break in Scotland on the Isle of Mull!
What always attracts me to the Scottish islands is the calmness and their remote feel. On Isle of Mull, you can drive on empty single track roads, get lost in between the green hills, try delicious local seafood and rest on the secluded beaches.
Whereas many people visiting Scotland just go to the Isle of Skye, they seem to forget that there are also other amazing places in Scotland. Of course, Isle of Skye is also beautiful and easily accessible, but it also means it’s getting a bit crowded, especially in the summer. Therefore, I prefer to go to more remote islands, that are equally pretty – such as the Isle of Mull. Visits to the nearby Isle of Iona with the famous historic Abbey and the geological heaven of volcanic Isle of Staffa, together with some great wildlife watching tours only add to the experience. The third largest of the Scottish islands, located in the Inner Hebrides, is not to be missed from your Scottish itinerary. It is still not so popular among foreign visitors and can be called a bit off the beaten path, so it felt like a small hidden gem when we arrived there for the first time.
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Things to do on the Isle of Mull – the comprehensive guide
Table of content:
1. How to get to the Isle of Mull
2. Where to stay on the Isle of Mull
3. Things to do on Mull
3.1. Outdoor activities on the Isle of Mull
3.2. The towns, culture and castles
3.3. Isle of Iona
3.4. Isle of Staffa
3.5. Beaches on the Isle of Mull
3.6. Isle of Ulva
How to get to the Isle of Mull?
The best way to get to the Isle of Mull from the mainland of Scotland is by the ferry.
The Scottish ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne (or Calmac) has car ferry services on the three routes. The most popular one is from Oban (which is also worth a visit) to Craignure on the east coast of the Isle of Mull. You can also travel from Lochaline to Fishnish or from Kilchoan to Tobermory – the biggest town on the island.
The services from Oban are the most frequent, but if you are planning to take your car, especially in the summer, better book your ticket in advance. You can check the timetable here. Note, that the check-in closes for cars 30 minutes and passengers 10 minutes before the departure.
The ferry ride is spectacular on its own, so you will enjoy it with no doubts!
Where to stay on the Isle of Mull?
The island of Mull has a wide range of accommodation from local B&Bs, hotels, hostels, Airbnb, and campsites. Depending on your requirements and a budget, you can find something suitable.
The best hotels on the Isle of Mull:
- Budget hotels and hostels
- Mid-range hotels
Isle Of Mull Hotel and Spa, Craignure – with indoor swimming pool and hot tub, this hotel should more fall under luxury stay, but with their great prices and frequent offers, it’s still mid range (you can easily get a private room for two for £78).
- Upper-class hotels
Ardoran House, Isle of Iona – located on the tiny island, just across the water from the Isle of Mull and 15 minutes ferry ride, with hot tub and the private beach is a great place to escape and celebrate. Check prices and availability here.
Other Isle of Mull accommodation options:
- Traditional Scottish cottages
- Mull camping
For the wild camping, the best are places close to the numerous stunning beaches, that also provide great views. We tried the Knockvologan bay and Calgary Bay (less wild one but with toilets and running water).
There is also a very nice and picturesque campsite on Fidden Farm, located “far from the madding crowd, in an incredibly beautiful location”. More about those locations below!
Oban – a first stop on the way to the Isle of Mull
If you decide to take the first route to the Isle of Mull, I highly recommend stopping in Oban.
Oban, called “the main gateway to the Hebrides” is a pretty harbour town with amazing seafood restaurants on every corner. Its name means “the little bay” in Gaelic, and it couldn’t be more accurate. The main centre of this picturesque town lies by the blue waters of the harbour. However, some of the streets can be quite steep as they climb the hills located quite above the sea level. The effort of the walk is well worth it, as the views are stunning.
If you like camping, you can try spacious and green Oban Caravan & Camping Park, that also has great views and clean toilets. This is where we stayed!
The best things to do on the Isle of Mull
Outdoor activities on the Isle of Mull
Outdoor enthusiasts will find many things to do on the Isle of Mull.
If you like hiking and outdoor adventures, Mull will keep you busy. You can climb a Munro – Ben More, from where you have wonderful views of the whole island and around. There is also a variety of other walks through the hills, forests and beaches. For more information head to Walkhighlands.
The Isle of Mull is also perfect for cyclists – with little traffic and great views, it’s worth to put some effort into cycling up and down the hilly landscape.
Alternatively, if you’ve ever dreamed of riding a horse through the endless beach, now you can try. With pony trekking schools in the Isle of Mull, they can cater all horse riding abilities.
The towns, culture and castles
Isle of Mull’s main town, Tobermory, is a charming place. Colourful buildings located in the seafront, create beautiful reflections in the harbour waters. Family-run restaurants serve great food and local businesses can be found around every corner. Go to the traditional local Scottish pub, try some seafood and visit the art gallery. Tobermory also has its own distillery, which is one of the oldest ones in Scotland. If you are planning the tour – book it in advance.
As everywhere in Scotland, there are also castles in the Isle of Mull. The ruined castle of Moy near Lochbuie and renovated ancient Duart Castle opened to the public. We visited only the surroundings of the Duart Castle, as the inside was closed, but the views stretching from there are spectacular. There is also a little green garden and a beach around, that you can get a free access to.
Visit two gems on the Mull’s crown – Isle of Iona and Staffa
The Isle of Iona
Located on the west of the Isle of Mull and easily accessible by the 15 minutes ferry, lies the tiny Isle of Iona. Home to the beautiful bays with turquoise waters (would you believe it’s Scotland?) and the famous ancient Abbey, Isle of Iona is so well worth visiting. It is concerned to be one of the most valued sacred and historic sites in Scotland. Being a quiet and remote place, it will make you feel like you escaped to the end of the world.
Isle of Iona is very small, so you only need an hour to visit it properly. The ferries run very frequently, but don’t miss the last one if you sit in one of the pubs for too long!
The Isle of Staffa
The Isle of Staffa has been on my bucket list since forever. It is a paradise for geologists (hey, it’s me!), but not only. The volcanic island with the famous Fingal’s Cave is a must see. In my opinion, it’s one of the best things to do when you are on the Isle of Mull.
The Isle of Staffa is made entirely from the hexagonal basalt columns. On one side of the island, there is naturally created cave, called the Fingal’s cave, shaped in the cathedral-like structure. When you enter the cave, you can hear the water bashing on the basaltic rocks and the seabirds screaming above your head.
In the summer months, between May and August, you can see puffins chilling on the Isle of Staffa. The big puffin colonies come there to nest. We were a bit later in the season, so we didn’t see any puffins on the island, however, there were plenty of them on the sea.
Trips to Iona and Staffa depart from the town of Fionnphort on the west coast of the Isle of Mull. For the Staffa tour, I would highly recommend booking a trip with a tour operator – Staffa tours. The sailing takes 45 minutes with birds and sea wildlife possible to be seen on the way. Then you will have time to explore the island, which is very small. Puffins can be seen on the grassy plateau on the top. The geology and landscape in the Isle of Staffa and the views are stunning. It feels like out of this world.
If you want to visit the three islands in one trip, there are a three day trip from Glasgow or West Highlands, Mull and Iona 4-day tour from Edinburgh ready for you. Otherwise, if you have more time for planning, go and explore yourself!
The beaches on the Isle of Mull
Being an island, Mull has the miles of a beautiful coastline ready to be explored. There are multiple wonderful beaches worth visiting, hidden in small bays with small single track roads leading to them. Some of the best ones are below.
The best beaches in the south of the Isle of Mull
• Kilvickeon Beach – South West Mull
Nice sandy beach, split into two by a small island creating two bays. You can find more beautiful bays in other parts of the coast in this area. The beach is located close to the Bunessan. There’s a car park nearby, from where you can take a short walk down.
• Knockvologan – South West Mull
That’s where we wild camped on our first night, in one of the quiet bays with a private beach. White sand on each of the bays with blue water is really beautiful. To get there, park at the Knockvologan farm (there’s a sign for the car park in between chicken and sheep – so cute!) and go down the track to reach the beach.
• Uisken Beach – South West Mull
Wide beach, easily accessible by car, located just beyond Bunessan. The parking area is located directly by the sand. It’s popular with families, but still very nice for relaxing.
• Ardalanish – South West Mull
The long stretch of white sand with some sand dunes. Located close to Uisken, with parking in Ardalanish’s Weavers and a short walk to the beach.
• Laggan Sands – South East Mull
Located along the shorefront at Lochbuie, it was voted the 9th best beach in the UK for wildlife spotting, with possibilities to spot seals and various seabirds there.
• Carsaig Beach – South Mull
This beach mainly has dark grey sand with some stretches of pebbles, but cliffs surrounding it make it look more spectacular. It also usually gets more waves than any other beaches in Mull.
• Fidden Beach – South West Mull
White sand beach with pink granite rocks and wonderful settings. Great for the sunset and watching the wildlife. You can camp nearby on the Fidden Farm campsite.
The best beaches in the north of the Isle of Mull
• Langamull – North Mull
Beautiful, secluded beach with a sandy bay, sheltered from the breeze. You need to walk a bit from the car park to get there, but it’s definitely worth it.
• Tobermory Beach – North Mull
Not the typical paradise looking beach, but nice for sitting down with an ice cream or takeaway fish and chips.
• Fionnphort Beach – Ross of Mull
Lying just next to the small ferry terminal where the boats to Isle of Iona and Isle of Staffa depart from. It has nice views over to Iona and colourful flags hanging in the nearby car park.
• Duart Beach – South East Mull
Located close to the Duart castle, it’s a small sandy cove that can be reached by walking behind the tearoom. It’s less spectacular than others but still has nice views and the castle behind.
• Calgary Beach – North Mull
Calgary Beach in the Calgary Bay in the north-west is the most popular and famous of the Isle of Mull beaches. No wonder why, as it has a wide stretch of white sand with blue waters and beautiful dunes leading to the Machair grasslands. It’s a popular (wild/free) camping spot with public toilet facilities (although they were not in the best state when we were there last time). If you are looking for an empty location, you won’t find it there, as many families come to camp for few days, but it’s still nice to visit.
Other things to do on Mull
There are multiple wildlife watching tours organized from Isle of Mull, where you can spot dolphins, whales, basking sharks and several types of seabirds. The whale watching tours typically depart from Tobermory.
Isle of Ulva
An interesting place to visit from the Isle of Mull, located a bit off the beaten path, is the Isle of Ulva. There are no cars on the islands, and some great walks can help you to explore it on foot. You can reach it by 5 min ferry from the Mull’s west coast. Just check the schedule in advance, as you might realize that the ferry doesn’t operate on Saturdays and you would need to view the island from the shore (what we ended up doing ;)). The boat to the Isle of Ulva costs £6.
The drive to get to the ferry to Ulva through the elevated roads is stunning by itself, so it’s definitely worth a go!
The perfect short break in Scotland
Isle of Mull together with Isle of Iona and Isle of Staffa are definitely on my list of the best places in Scotland. They are just perfect for a short break in Scotland. Once you get to those Scottish islands, you will understand what I mean by the totally different feel of the trip in comparison to the mainland. It’s so unique, remote and calm, that will make your time there very special.
Have you ever been to the Isle of Mull, Iona or Staffa? Would you like to go? Tell me in the comments!
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