The Isle of Mull is one of the larger islands set off the west coast of Scotland and is one big outdoor adventure playground for everyone who visits. With impressive craggy coastlines, sandy beaches, historic castles, white-tailed eagles and killer whale sightings, there is something for every interest on this amazing island.
Visit the island and tour around it with your loved ones, taking in amazing landscapes and discovering ancient history as you soak up the culture and attractions on offer. It is a lovely holiday destination cut off from the busy urban lives that many of us lead, offering a wilderness escape to families, friends and solo travellers.
Read on to find out about the best things to do and see on the island, all of which can be enjoyed from our Mull cottages.
About the Isle of Mull
What is the Isle of Mull known for?
Well, if we go back about 20 years you might remember the popular children’s TV show Balamory, which was set on this colourful island. This generated a lot of exposure for the island, with Tobermory being the backdrop to their fictional village of ‘Balamory’, but there is a lot more to the island than some fun, fictional characters.
Mull is home to rare white-tailed eagles, two of which are famous on Twitter. Skye and Frisa were made famous by Springwatch, the BBC Documentary presented by Mull’s own Gordon Buchanan. Many people flock to the island to catch a glimpse of these amazing birds as well as the other wonderful wildlife that can be seen around the island, including seals, otters, whales, dolphins.
How do you get to the Isle of Mull?
You can cross over to the island from three different points of the west coast mainland – Oban, Lochaline and Kilchoan. During the summer months, the Isle of Mull ferry can get really busy so the best advice would be to book ahead so you don’t miss your chance to visit. Each crossing offers a different perspective of the island, but equally amazing views.
Destinations to add to your Isle of Mull bucket list
Tobermory in the northeast is possibly the most iconic part of the Isle of Mull in Scotland. It was built as a fishing port in the late 18th century and is now the centre for events and culture on the island. Its brightly coloured houses lining the shore have become a well-known and popular sight, and one for the photo must-have when visiting Mull. It has a lively harbour which is constantly buzzing with fishing boats, yachts and ferries, and a lot of the wildlife tours set off from here too. There are a great array of places to eat and drink, including local pubs and cafes which are perfect for resting the legs.
Salen on the southeast of the island is an area that shouldn’t be missed. Salen is the central point in Mull for travelling to all the other areas, and it is a buzzing little village with shops, a post office and restaurant, and a coffee shop. There is a lovely Gothic church here and you will also find a quirky charity bookshop. The views from the town are spectacular, and there are lots of coastal walks to enjoy from this characterful village.
What islands can you visit from Mull?
The Isle of Iona is set off the southwest point of Mull and is worth a trip if you have the time. You can drive to Fionnphort, taking in views of beautiful Loch Scridain along the way. The road is mostly single track, taking you deep into the wilderness on an exciting adventure. The ferry ride is a short trip of 10 minutes and is very frequent, and you can buy your tickets at the port. Once on the island there are many companies offering day tours, which make day trips totally possible! Places to visit include Iona Abbey Church, St Columba’s Chapel and St Columba’s Bay.
Attractions to visit on the Isle of Mull
Visit a castle on the Isle of Mull
There are six castles on the Isle of Mull, which is pretty amazing when you consider the size of it. On top of this, the island is also home to many ancient duns and brochs, which are some of the earliest castles of Scotland. You can drive between the castles easily in a day or spread them out over a couple of day trips to really soak them all up. Some of these castles are still standing and inhabited, however, some are now dramatic ruins set amidst stunning scenery. Our favourites include:
This is Mull’s oldest inhabited castle dating back to the 13th century. It is open for you to explore its stately rooms, creepy dungeon and exhibitions, delving you into the history of the castle and Clan Maclean. Location: PA64 6AP
Also dating back to the 13th century, this little castle is perched on a hill, with views across the water. Now a ruin, you can walk around it and admire the ancient stonework and traces of other buildings that are set around it, including a little stone chapel. Location: PA72 6JP
This impressive castle dates back to 1860 and sits on the north coast of Mull, surrounded by woodland, lochs and hills – an impressive scene to anyone new to the island. This castle is actually a hotel but there is a farm shop and coffee shop open to the public, and it offers a lovely day out for long walks and down time. Location: PA75 6QE
You can also visit Moy Castle, Dun Ara Castle and Torosay Castle on the Isle of Mull. You can't get into Torosay Castle, but there is a lovely garden and woodland walk to enjoy with nice views of it.
Wildlife tours from the Isle of Mull
There is nothing better than taking off the organising hat and booking a wildlife tour where you can fully relax and learn about a new area without having to do all the planning. Due to Mull’s impressive range of wildlife, there are many tour companies that have set up to show you the real locals of the island. Common species include the golden eagle, white-tailed eagle, hen harrier, otters, and marine life like seals and dolphins. There are also whale watching trips from the isle of Mull on which you might catch a glimpse of some killer whales.
Here are some of the companies to check out for your next adventure:
Take a bus tour adventure around the southwest coast of Mull and be shown all the hidden gems that the locals know all about. Sit back, relax and let the tour guide do the work. Contact: 01681 704 229
This company offers a wide range of nature exhibitions all led by dedicated naturalists, conservationists, and educators. Contact: 07743 956 380
This is a small, family-owned business with 30 years of experience in walking and wildlife tours. You can enjoy cheerful and chatty tours whilst learning all about the island and its abundant nature. Contact: 01688 301 213
Visit a distillery on the Isle of Mull
Tobermory Distillery produces two single malt whiskies and a Hebridean gin. It is open to visitors throughout the year, welcoming you into the visitor centre and to experience a tour and tasting. The two whiskies produced here are called Tobermory and Ledaig (Pronounced Letch-ick). The Tobermory is unpeated and is made for six months of the year, and the Ledaig is heavily peated and produced in the other six months of the year. This is a really interesting place to visit for those interested in the distilling process and those who like a Scottish dram. Location: PA75 6NR
Beaches to visit on the Isle of Mull
Spending a day by the sea is good for the soul, especially for those who live busy lives in towns and cities, where the seaside feels far away. On Mull, there are a number of beautiful beaches that can offer you a glimpse of the beach-bum life and provide a wonderful haven for the kids to stretch their legs. Rock pooling, sandcastles, ball games, wave jumping, swimming, surfing and dog walks are just a handful of activities you can enjoy when spending time by the ocean on Mull. Being an island, there are miles and miles of coastline to explore, whether that is on foot, in sea kayak, or by boat!
Here are some of the more well-known beaches on Mull:
- Ardalanish Beach – With water that could challenge the blue water of Barbados, this white sand beach is a hidden gem on Mull's south coast.
- Langamull Beach – A 2-mile walk from the car park will get you to this beautiful cove to the north, with amazing views out to the Isle of Mull.
- Traigh Ghael Beach – This is a hidden beach on the south of the island and involves a 2-3 hour hike through the Tireragan Nature Reserve to get there. It’s worth the effort and you can cool down with a swim.
- Calgary Bay – This is a beach surrounded by history. Combine a day at the beach with discovering ancient ruined settlements and Iron Age forts!
Walks to enjoy on the Isle of Mull
Aros Park provides the perfect location for woodland walks, and you will find it on the outskirts of Tobermory. There are many marked walking trails, from easy to hard, and you can opt for shorter or longer routes too. You will be able to enjoy splendid views over to Ardnamurchan as well as woodland vistas and Aros waterfall – the perfect spot for a picnic.
If you are looking for a family-friendly walk you could take on Calgary Bay Nature Walk, which is a trail that takes you to the bay via a woodland sculpture trail. You start at Calgary Farmhouse and proceed along the windy trail, taking in artwork from lots of different local artists. The kids will love spotting all the sculptures before you.
The Three Lochs of Glenmore is another great walking route, not known by many, but worth a wander if you want something a bit more challenging. You can find them by taking a walking route from Lochbuie. You will come across three lochs in a line, surrounded by heathery hills.
Fancy a hill climb? Many people love a hill climb when on holiday, so it’s lucky that Mull has a Munro – the only one in the Inner Hebrides! Ben More is the ultimate hill challenge on Mull. From the summit on a clear day, you can see the Sound of Mull, Staffa, Ulva, the Ross of Mull and Iona in the distance – it is worth the gruelling climb to the top!
Take a walk to the Standing Stones at Baliscate, a unique set of stones set in a small row that dates back to 1788, before the village of Tobermory was created. For something truly fascinating, take the 14-mile walk to the mysterious MacCulloch’s Fossil Tree, a sea cliff which looks like a tree, developed over thousands of years following a volcanic eruption. It is over 12 metres high and 1.5 metres in diameter. This isn’t suitable for dog walks or anyone with vertigo as it involves a decline on a steep metal ladder to reach the bottom of the cliff.
Places to eat and drink on the Isle of Mull
It is an absolute treat to get away from home and not have to think so much about the food shopping. Even with a self-catering holiday you can push the boat out and jump between cooking at home and eating out. It is nice to visit a place that has a great variety of eateries, and Mull has just that.
One of the main parts of a holiday is enjoying good food, and the west coast of Scotland is the iconic home of seafood. With a great array of places to eat on Mull, you can expect everything from takeaways to posh restaurants and pubs on the Isle of Mull. Mull is well known for its locally caught, fresh seafood – it would be silly not to try it whilst you are there!
Here we have highlighted slightly different places to grab a bite to eat. Driving around, you will see the more obvious local pubs and cafes, so we thought we would share the hidden gems of the Mull food scene instead…
This is a quirky takeaway seafood hut serving up the best of Scottish seafood caught from the waters surrounding Mull and Iona. Scallops, mussels, crab, lobster, cullen skink and good old fish and chips are all on the menu, and the friendly staff will be able to recommend something to your taste. Location: Fionnphort Pier
You have to take a boat to get here, but the delicious seafood at the other side makes it totally worth it. Set on the tiny island of Ulva sits the Boathouse, a traditional boathouse turned pub on the shores overlooking the sea. You can enjoy simple but effective home cooking celebrating local produce, along with locally caught seafood. We have heard the shellfish platter is pretty spectacular! Location: Ulva
You will find this cute café in the friendly town of Salen, set on the roadside, with a chocolate-box exterior. Serving up hot and cold drinks, home baking and light lunches, this is the perfect pitstop during your Mull adventures. You can order grub to take away, but they also offer a delivery service island-wide from Monday-Friday. Perfect for self-catering holidaymakers! Location: Salen, PA72 6JG
This business was set up to specifically provide self-catering holidaymakers with delicious ready-made meals – what a genius idea. Being able to pre-order your meals and have them ready to reheat in the oven makes a lot of difference to the ‘cook’ of the group, so make sure you keep this larder in mind for your next trip to Mull. The meat dishes include lamb, beef, venison and pork. Location: The Old Post Office, Lochbuie.
This is a traditional artisan farmhouse cheese unique to Sgriob-Ruadh Farm on the Isle of Mull. In fact, it is the last remaining farmhouse cheese from the Hebridean Islands! They make exceptional natural cheeses which you can learn all about on a tour. The café there offers hot and cold drinks, home-baked goods, and lunch, and you can pick up all sorts of artisan treats from the farm shop. You can also purchase cheese online. Location: PA75 6QD
Annual events to enjoy on the Isle of Mull
Getting involved in events can help you get an idea and taste of the culture of a new place, and the Isle of Mull is certainly not short of annual events! From music festivals and fiddle rallies to flower shows or Highland games, there is lots to get involved with and plan your trip around. Here are some of the well-known events that happen annually on the Isle of Mull:
The Mull’s Fiddler’s Rally
Fiddlers from all over Scotland and the rest of the UK come to Mull and congregate for an evening of fiddle music. They play together and individually, and it is one of the most popular annual music events on the island. If you like watching fiddlers play, then this is the event for you.
This is a festival which celebrates the best of Scottish music over a full weekend. Expect rock bands, fiddle, accordion, dance and ceilidh bands, and be prepared to immerse yourself in Scottish culture. The event takes place throughout hotels, pubs and bars, and brings people together to celebrate in style. It usually takes place in April, but keep an eye on the website for dates.
If you are planning a Christmas break to the Isle of Mull then make sure you head to Tobermory for the Tobermory Santa Dash, which takes place on the last Sunday before Christmas each year. Raising money for Marie Curie, hundreds of Santas take part in a charity race and then get together for pies and mulled wine in merriment.
Hosted by the Tobermory Horticultural Society, this is an annual flower show where residents and visitors can come and enjoy everything about seasonal flowers. Relax amongst cut flowers, home-grown fruit and vegetables and flower arrangements, and admire the local talent celebrated with a prize giving. Next year’s event will take place in August 2022.
Where to stay on the Isle of Mull
Where should I stay on the Isle of Mull? Stay in a self-catering cottage on the Isle of Mull and enjoy everything from the doorstep of a cosy cottage. Check out our collection of self-catering cottages.
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing,
please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.