A short ferry (hourly; £4) journey through sparkling turquoise waters from the southwest tip of Mull, the emerald island of Iona has been a place of great spirituality for about 1400 years.
It’s to Iona that Irish solider and missionary St Columba came in 563 to establish a monastery and spread a brand of Celtic Christianity which successfully colonised much of Northern Britain.
Most evidence of these times is now long gone on the island, but a spiritual atmosphere remains – at least after its many day visitors have gone. That’s really the time to appreciate the place, but book your accommodation well in advance since it’s scarce and popular.
The small island (three miles long by a mile wide) also has some basic services by the ferry terminal – including a post office, small grocery store, bike rental and a few art and craft shops.
Island attractions include:
Accommodation options include the Iona Hostel (+441681/700781; Lagandorain; dorms £21); and the Argyll Hotel (+441681/700334; Baile Mor; doubles £85) which also has a restaurant serving island produce. The Iona Community, is a flourishing ecumenical spiritual community which holds regular courses and retreats and offers accommodation – with prices dependent on the length of stay.