Day Trip: Isles of Staffa and Iona

Our day on the Isles of Staffa and Iona, which make up part of the Inner Hebrides archipelago in Scotland, could not have been more perfect. We woke up to a gorgeously sunny day and ate breakfast on the beach before making our way to the harbor in Fionnphort to depart for our boat tour. Almost as soon as we pulled away from the harbor, we saw seals basking in the sun on the rocky shore of a small island we passed. And around 30 minutes later, we were hopping off the boat straight onto Staffa’s otherworldy landscape. The only thing that could have made the day more amazing is if we had seen puffins (the island is famous for them).

TRAVEL

‘Early Bird’ Boat Tour | We chose the earliest tour possible in order to make the most of the day. It really wasn’t even that early considering our campsite was so close to the departing port. This tour leaves at 9:45 am from Fionnphort on Mull, giving you an hour on land to explore the Isle of Staffa before heading to Iona. Of course, there are other options if you’re staying on Iona as well!

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SEE

Fingal’s Cave | Follow the lower path along the side of the island to get to Fingal’s Cave, aka the Cave of Melody. Entirely composed of basalt lava columns and appearing like a natural cathedral, the atmosphere in this cave is insane. The famous composer Felix Mendelssohn was so moved by the cave, it served as inspiration for his ‘Hebrides Overture‘. If only we had been able to blast this from the boat while exploring the cave. Don’t forget to sing or hum something to hear the incredible acoustics!

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Iona Abbey | There is so much to see and learn about at this special place, considered one of Scotland’s most sacred sites. In addition to the abbey and nunnery, the grounds also accommodate a graveyard of ancient Scottish kings and 4 iconic high crosses. The island of Iona has survived as a center of Christian worship since 563 AD when St. Columba first arrived with his Irish followers and it retains a feeling of spiritual calm to this day.

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EAT

I only have one food recommendation for the Isle of Iona. And considering it’s such a small island, you shouldn’t need much more than lunch and maybe some ice cream from the corner shop. We did also stop at a pub, but it wasn’t very good so I won’t tell you about it.

The Low Door | They have a few lunch and tea options available for take away including soup and sandwiches. They also have a good range of local food and drink products on display in their shop–lots of whisky to choose from!

SHOP

Iona Craft Shop | We walked into a handful of gift stores on the island, but this was our favorite. It’s full of knitwear and wool blankets, basically anything stereotypically Scottish done in a slightly more modern way.

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For more photos and to read about the rest of our trip to the Inner Hebrides, see my previous post on the Isle of Mull.