Updated on December 22nd, 2020
If you like castles, stunning scenery, beaches to rival the best in the Caribbean, a chance to see eagles soaring overhead and whales in the waves then you have come to the right place. Add to this a picture-perfect harbour town with 300 miles of wild and spectacular coastline and the Isle of Mull has it all! Here is my list of top 10 things to do on the Isle of Mull.”
Isle of Mull, Scotland
As part of a 10-day road trip to discover the Highlands and Islands of Scotland with a friend, the Isle of Mull caught our attention. I am so pleased it did as this beautiful island became one of the highlights of a spectacular trip. If you are interested in stunning scenery, sheep, empty white-sand beaches, turquoise waters, cows, cliffs and more sheep, then look no further!
I spent one day on the Isle of Mull and only wish I could have given it more time. We took our car over on the ferry and I thoroughly recommend you have your own transport too. The thing I did not appreciate about the island was how long it takes to get anywhere. What we thought was a 30-minute scenic drive was actually 2 hours, including many, many stops to just take in the views. Most of the driving was on single track roads with hills, cliffs, twists, turns and oncoming traffic. Therefore, I am sharing with you what I did, as well as what we thought we would do and a lot more besides. So, if you are looking for the best things to do on Mull, then you are in the right place.
Throughout 10 days of driving in Scotland, we picked up some important tips and a lot of experience with single-track roads. For the Isle of Mull, knowing how to drive these roads is essential so here are my top tips to enable you to enjoy the roads safely and not annoy the locals.
- Keep left.
- Stop to let vehicles pass.
- Stop and wait at the designated ‘Passing Places’ if you see any traffic coming.
- Look out for ‘Passing Places’ so you know where they are if you need to reverse.
- Cross to the right, even if there is a ‘Passing Place’ there.
- Create a queue. Pull in to let others pass (that way you enjoy the drive so much more too!).
- Park or drive on the verge or park in ‘Passing Places’.
- Make others reverse a long way back.
Love Scotland? See also 18 Best Things To Do In Fort William & Things To Do in The Trossachs – A One Day Road Trip
Top 10 Things to do on the Isle of Mull
Here is the route I took for my day on the island. I advise you to execute the route in this direction. The road along the East Coast from Tobermory to Craignure is a fast road and takes 30 minutes between the two villages. Therefore, it is more predictable for your final journey to the ferry.
Please note that I visited in August 2020, when things were just tentatively reopening after the COVID lockdown. Hence, many of the usual attractions were not in operation.
If you do not have access to a car to drive yourself on the Isle of Mull, then click HERE to check out a tour instead?
1. See Duart Castle
The first stop from the ferry should be Duart Castle. It is the ancestral home of the Maclean clan and perfectly situated on the cliffs overlooking the Sound of Mull. The 13th-century fortress is one of the oldest inhabited castles in Scotland. You can tour the castle or stop in the café but if you are following this itinerary, then don’t stop for long as there is a lot still to see!
If you like castles, check out 15 Reasons to Visit the Tower of London
The Ross of Mull is the largest peninsula on the south-west of the island at 28 kilometres long. To drive to the end was a great introduction and a must-do if you are looking for one of the best things to do in Mull.
Here, we found pristine white beaches and turquoise waters to rival any I have experienced throughout the world.”
We started by following the sheep down the small road to lovely Uisken, before continuing the journey to Fionnphort. Our mission was to make it to Fidden and our efforts were not in vain.
Fidden Beach was just a palm tree short of one of the best beaches I have visited in the Caribbean…although not quite as warm 😉 The pink granite rocks separate the fine sand from the clean, azure waters. We had this part of paradise for ourselves as we just walked, admired and pinched ourselves to believe we were in the Isle of Mull. If you are lucky you may even spot some seals basking on the rocks, so keep your eyes peeled.
Eventually, we tore ourselves away and followed the sheep back up to the “main” road. Our plan was to move on to see the next gorgeous beach at Kilvickeon, followed by the dramatic Carsaig Arches. However, we stopped for petrol and learnt our first lesson about life on the Isle of Mull. Don’t underestimate the time it takes to get anywhere!
Kilvickeon Beach was a 45-minute drive and 20-minute walk and Carsaig would have taken 2 hours there and back. In addition, what we imagined was a 30-minute drive to Calgary, via the scenic route would be a minimum of 2 hours.
We had a re-group. As we were here for the scenery, the West Coast drive sounded spectacular, so we chose to circumnavigate the island instead.”
4. Take the West Coast Scenic Drive
When you are looking at what to do on Mull, do not miss the West Coast Scenic Drive. We wended our way back along the Ross of Mull to a panoramic crossroads and took the road marked to Calgary via the scenic route. The journey up the west coast took us over 2 hours but it was worth every second! As with so many of our experiences in Scotland, the journey was so much more than the destination. We weaved our way along the coast road encountering spectacular views every mile of the way. We stopped regularly for the sheep and cows who owned the road and often had to back up for traffic coming in the opposite direction. Take your time and savour every moment.
Want to try an epic train ride? Check out Everything you need to know to ride the Hogwarts Train, Scotland.
5. Enjoy Calgary Beach
Eventually, we made it to Calgary Beach which is much-touted as the best silver-sand beach on Mull. We felt it wasn’t a patch on Fidden. However, it is more suited to daytrippers and was a popular place to stop for a few hours or overnight. Calgary is also home to Calgary Arts in Nature, an artists workshop, sculpture walk and the first café we had encountered since Duart Castle (and toilets, to boot!).
6. Shop at Tobermory
From Calgary to Tobermory the roads go inland and are much quicker, but also busier. This is where you feel you are rejoining the world again. Tobermory is the pretty main town and an important stop for any itinerary of the best things to do on the Isle of Mull. Sitting in a quiet bay, Tobermory is picture-perfect with colourful houses and shops all along the waterfront.
Stay a while to reflect on an amazing day, do a bit of shopping for local produce and relax in a café before the easy drive back to the ferry.”
7. Discover the Isle of Iona
When you are down at Fionnphort, you can take a ferry out to the sacred Isle of Iona. The ferries run every 30 minutes throughout the summer and it takes 10 minutes to take the 1-mile journey. Please note, that you are not allowed to take a car unless you have a special permit. The spiritual heart of the island is Iona Abbey, Nunnery and the graveyard of many of Scotlands early kings (including Macbeth). It is also believed to be the place where the famous Book of Kells was transcribed before being taken to Ireland. It is now the key draw at Trinity College in Dublin.
Love the Scottish Islands? See Top 15 Picks for your Perfect Isle of Skye Itinerary
8. Take a Wildlife Boat Tour
The Isle of Mull is the best place in Europe to spot white-tailed sea eagles. As a result, Mull has gained the nickname ‘Eagle Island’.
These magnificent creatures have a 2-metre wingspan. They became extinct from Britain in the 1900’s but were successfully reintroduced in the 70s and have thrived here ever since.”
In addition, you may be lucky enough to see puffins, otters, dolphins, porpoises, seals or whales. Minke whales can be spotted here between June and August. Try Mull Eagle Watch or Nature Scotland and book ahead to avoid disappointment.
9. Taste some delicious Local Produce
If sampling locally produced food is something that appeals, then check out the Mull and Iona Food Trail. Here, they are committed to celebrating the amazing produce and hospitality from the islands and gives a directory of producers, farm shops and places to eat to sample the best things that the Isle of Mull has to offer.
If you are looking for a more liquid-based experience, then head for the Tobermory Distillery. You can take a tour and sample the 2 distinct malt whiskies produced here. You will also find Tobermory handmade chocolate available to satisfy your sweet tooth.
10. Hike or Walk
For something more challenging you could choose to take on Ben More, the highest mountain and only Munro (Scottish mountains over 3000ft) on the Isle of Mull.”
There are also numerous fantastic looking walks around Calgary and Tobermory. Check out the Isle of Mull website for more choice and all the details.
How to get to the Isle of Mull
Getting to Mull is easy by ferry from Oban, with regular sailing a number of times a day. The trip takes about 45 minutes and you need to check in 30 minutes ahead of departure. Make sure you book well in advance to ensure the timing allows you to make the most of the island. We caught the 6.45am ferry and although very early, it meant we got Duart Castle pretty much to ourselves. Check out all the sailing times and details at Calmac. It was well worth the early start.
Although there are bus routes across the Isle of Mull allowing access to the main villages, the best way to see the island is to have your own transport. Ideally fill up with petrol before you leave the mainland, although there are a few small petrol stations, gas here is more expensive and you would hate to run out and get stranded on some of these isolated routes!
In terms of toilet facilities, take advantage of any you find as for us they were few and far between (especially on the Ross of Mull and the West Coast Road until Calgary).
Where to stay on the Isle of Mull
As I went to Mull purely for a one-day trip, we stayed overnight in Oban. However, if you decide to extend your stay on the Isle of Mull, then I would advise that you book early to avoid disappointment. For me, in Tobermory, I like the look of Linndhu House. Or for something a little grander how about Glengorm Castle? If you are heading to Iona, then I love the idea of Iona Pods or St Columba Hotel. Alternatively, if you fancy getting away from it all with your tent, why not try Fidden Farm? You can use the map below to find your perfect bed for the night.
I loved my day on the Isle of Mull and it truly was a highlight of my spectacular trip to Scotland. My next stop was Fort William for more magnificent scenery, gorgeous hikes and the infamous Harry Potter train. I hope you’ll join me next time…
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