10. Scotland: West Highlands, Mull and Iona 4-Day Tour
Immerse yourself in the scenic splendor and ancient history of Scotland’s West Highlands, and the Hebridean islands of Mull and Iona on a relaxed small group sightseeing tour. The 4-day adventure is by comfortable climate controlled Mercedes minibus for a more intimate and personal experience.
Drive across the mountain pass of the Rest and Be Thankful, discover the scene of the infamous Clan MacDonald massacre, marvel at the baronial Inveraray Castle, meander through the mountains of Morven, and much more.
Depart Edinburgh and travel north past Stirling Castle to the bustling town of Callander. From here, continue through Queen Elizabeth Forest Park and the bristling Trossachs, before reaching the remote expanse of Rannoch Moor, one of the largest wilderness areas left in Europe. A short drive north brings you to Glencoe, scene of the infamous massacre of Clan MacDonald in 1692. Take a short ferry ride across Loch Linnhe to explore the impressive mountains of Morven.
At Lochaline, take another ferry to the Hebridean island of Mull. A short drive brings you to Tobermory, the island’s capital and location for your 3-night stay. Tobermory, meaning “Well of Mary,” is one of the prettiest harbor towns in Scotland with its brightly painted houses overlooking the sea.
This is a leisurely day, with a drive to the more remote areas of the island. Visit the pretty settlement of Dervaig, with its own festival theater, and Kilmore Church, with its round steeple. From here, venture to the wild thrashing sandy shores of Calgary Bay. If you are lucky you might see the sea eagles that live in the area. An early afternoon return to Tobermory will provide the chance to soak up the atmosphere of the pretty town, with a chance to peruse the small shops, and the local Tobermory Whisky Distillery.
Bask in the glory of Mull, as you head south to Fionnphort to take a passenger ferry to the small Island of Iona. Iona is an island of quiet charm, lapped by glorious turquoise waters. Located in the cradle of Celtic Christianity with the arrival of St. Columba in 563 AD, enjoy plenty of time to explore the Abbey and its museum of Celtic heritage. Visit the magnificent Celtic crosses and headstones, or enjoy a stroll along the quiet sandy beaches.
In the afternoon there will be the chance to catch a small boat to the Island of Staffa, where nature enthusiasts can look for the abundant marine life. With its basalt columns of 5 and 6-sided hexagonal stepping stones, Staffa and Fingal’s Cave are an amazing tribute to the effects of nature and are known locally as “Nature’s Cathedral.” After a great day outdoors, return to Tobermory for the night.
Depart Tobermory and head south to Craignure, the main ferry terminal for the short crossing to Oban. Continue west to the whitewashed 18-century town of Inveraray on the shores of Loch Fyne. Marvel at Inveraray Castle’s mix of Scots Baronial and Neo Gothic architecture, featured in an episode of the TV miniseries “Downtown Abbey.”
Next, go to the National Park of Loch Lomond and climb more than 800 feet to the “Rest and Be Thankful” mountain pass before hugging the shores of Loch Long and Loch Lomond. Continue towards Stirling, with opportunities for impressive photos of the castle, before your early evening drop off in Edinburgh.