Iona, Inner Hebrides

A picture-perfect island in the Scottish Inner Hebrides, Iona’s tiny size does nothing to diminish the impact it has on all those who visit. 

 

A picture-perfect island that is 1.5 miles wide and 3 miles long, Iona is a wild paradise in miniature. Home to a population of 120 residents and welcoming visitors from all over the globe each year, it calls to those looking to connect with its religious roots and explore its wild landscapes. Whether you are visiting for the first time or returning for more, the island is sure to take you beneath her untamed wing and inspire extraordinary adventures and unforgettable memories.

Visiting the island itself is possible to do in a single day, both from mainland Scotland and Mull. If you are staying in a luxury holiday cottage on Mull, then you can easily travel to and from the island, making use of the regular ferry crossings. Operated by Caledonian MacBrayne, the ferry runs every 30 minutes or so in the summertime (less frequently in winter) and the crossing itself only takes 10 minutes. To protect the island’s fragile infrastructure and environments, visitors’ cars aren’t allowed.

Once you’ve landed ashore, you’ll find plenty to explore. Perhaps one of the best places to start, though, is Iona Abbey. Established in 563 by St. Columba, an Irish missionary evangelist, Iona Abbey is one of the oldest religious centres for Christianity in Western Europe and is credited with spreading Christianity throughout Scotland. Today, the island is still known as the ‘Cradle of Christianity’ in Scotland and the abbey is still open, welcoming many pilgrims each year and hosting spiritual retreats. 

To continue your journey of discovery on Iona, you can also visit the Augustinian nunnery; Dun Cul Bhuirg, the Iron Age fort; and the Marble Quarry – worked from the Medieval times up until the early 20th Century. Of course, it’s no secret that the island of Iona itself is the most beautiful attraction though and, with its unspoilt aesthetics and open spaces, has something for everyone. And, as everything on the island is easily reached on foot, you can spend as much time as you like exploring.

For only a small island, Iona certainly has its fair share of beautiful beaches. The cragged outcrops of rocks that fringe the island enclose a number of white sandy stretches, offering sheltered coves and wide open bays. St.Columba's Bay (where St.Columba and his fellow monks are believed to have landed in 563), Martyr's Bay, Traigh an t-Suidhe, Camus Cuil an t-Saimh (“the Bay at the Back of the Ocean”) and Traigh Ban beach are just some of the beaches that you can enjoy. 

If you’ve got time, a wander up to the high point of Dun I will reward you with dramatic views over the surrounding islands, while a boat trip out to sea will lend you another point of view of the coast and surrounds. It may even give you the opportunity to see some of the island’s wildlife, including seals, dolphins, minke whales, basking sharks and more. Finally, when you’re ready to relax, you’ll find a range of shopping opportunities on the island, as well as two hotel restaurants serving meals throughout the day.

Feeling inspired? Take a look at our luxury cottages in Mull here.

Ssshhh... don't tell anyone

We can let you know about our newest retreats, exclusive offers, featured luxury properties and what's on. Just let us know your email address and we’ll keep you in the loop.