Complete Guide to the Isle of Iona
The small island of Iona, found off the Southwest Coast of Mull, is a beautiful area of Scotland to discover and explore. If you’re visiting Oban or the West Coast, we highly recommend including Iona on your list of places to visit.
Throughout this guide, we’ll discuss the history of the island, how to get there, what to do and where to stay on the island.
Quick Overview of the History of Iona
The Isle of Iona is thought to be the birthplace of Christianity in Scotland. Once arriving on the island, St. Columba established a monastery on the island, which became the first Celtic church in existence. This monastery was one of the most important and influential on the British Isles and is considered to be the reason behind Christianity spreading throughout Scotland.
Today, visitors to Iona can explore the ruins of the ancient Iona Abbey and the burial ground of Scottish kings, including Macbeth.
The island is also home to the Iona Heritage Centre, which offers a fascinating insight into the island’s history and culture.
Getting to Iona by Ferry
If you’re planning a trip to the beautiful Isle of Iona, you’ll need to know how to get there.
The only way to reach Iona from Scotland’s mainland is via ferry. To begin your journey, you’ll need to take a ferry to the Isle of Mull, which is served by three different ferry routes, operated by Caledonian MacBrayne.
The main route is the Oban to Craignure ferry service, which has an estimated journey time of one hour. Alternatively, if you find yourself further North West, you can opt for two other routes:
Once you arrive at one of Mull’s ports, you can take a smaller ferry from Fionnphort to Iona. It’s important to arrange transport to the ferry in Fionnphort, from one of the three Mull terminals, before arriving in Mull. This will help ensure your journey is seamless and without issues, as it can take a while to reach the Fionnphort terminal.
The journey from Fionnphort to Iona only takes around 10 minutes.
Iona’s Car Regulations
When travelling to Iona, please be aware of their “Prohibition of Vehicles” Order, which controls the type of vehicles visitors are allowed to bring onto the Island.
This Order was introduced in 1978 to ensure the preservation of Iona. If you’re travelling to the island, do not bring your car, unless you have a special permit that allows you to do so.
Fortunately, Iona is easily accessible for those travelling by foot or bicycle, with numerous bike hires available across the island. If you need to travel by car, there is a single taxi company in operation called ‘Iona Taxis’ – click here to visit their website.
Accommodation on Iona
When visiting the Isle of Iona, you have a range of accommodation options to choose from, catering to all budgets. Whether you prefer a hotel, bed and breakfast, or camping, you’ll find something suitable.
There are two hotels to choose from on the small island of Iona. Below is a short description of both of the hotels:
St. Columba Hotel
Located near the historic Iona Abbey, the St. Columba Hotel offers breathtaking views of the island that extend across the Sound of Iona. They provide delicious meals from their onsite restaurant and free wireless internet access.
The hotel has three types of rooms available – family, twin, and single – accommodating every type of traveller.
The Argyll Hotel is a self-proclaimed “small hotel” located a short 2 minute walk from the ferry terminal. Similar to the St. Columba Hotel, the Argyll Hotel also offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner from their onsite restaurant.
Like our own hotel in Oban, Iona’s Argyll Hotel is dog-friendly, with every one of their rooms able to accommodate your furry friend!
Bed and Breakfasts
For those who enjoy the great outdoors, there’s one campsite on the island of Iona. The location is called Iona Campsite. The campsite has a number of facilities available for visitors, such as toilets, showers, and cooking equipment onsite.
If you’re looking for a more luxurious option when camping In Iona, you could check out Iona Pods. They’re self-catering camping pods, with the ability to sleep up to four, and come with a range of facilities and free Wi-Fi!
Attractions on Iona
If you’re planning a visit to the Isle of Iona, there are plenty of attractions that you won’t want to miss. Here are some of the top things to see and do on the island:
One of the most famous attractions on Iona is the Iona Abbey. This historic site dates back to the 6th century and has been an important religious landmark for centuries.
The Abbey is home to a number of interesting features, including the St. John’s Cross, which is one of the finest examples of Celtic crosses in Scotland. The Abbey also has a museum that tells the story of the island and its religious history.
Iona has a number of gorgeous beaches to explore that are perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and enjoying the stunning views of the island!
Here’s a list of all the beaches on Iona. Click the links to be taken to their Google Maps location.
Iona’s only golf course, once unknown, has become a place for keen golfers to experience one of the most authentic golf experiences possible in the 21st century.
With no one employed to maintain the course, and the grass being kept playable by the local sheep and cows, it’s considered a must-play by golfers around the world.
The highly popular golf.com published an article titled ‘Iona Golf Course is maintained by sheep and costs £1. It’s the best course you’ve never heard of’ and describes the course as ”close to pure golf as one can get”.
If you’re a golfer and planning on visiting Iona, it’s highly recommended you visit this hidden gem of a course!
In conclusion, the Island of Iona is a must visit destination for those seeking a peaceful and relaxing getaway. With its rugged terrain, stunning landscapes, and rich history, Iona offers a unique experience that is hard to find elsewhere.
On your way to Iona, you’ll likely be stopping in our beautiful seaside town of Oban. While here, you should consider No.26 By The Sea, our unique, luxury, and dog-friendly hotel in Oban.
To learn more about our hotel, you can view our all our handcrafted rooms by clicking here.