Mull, the second-largest island in the Inner Hebrides, is the stuff of romantic fantasies.
Its mountainous core, dominated by the 3,196-foot peak of Ben More, is encircled by 300 miles of coastline, with blinding white sandy coves lapped by emerald waves. It is a wildly beautiful place.
Even if you don’t have a car, Mull is an easy day trip from Oban on Scotland’s western coast. To help you plan your day, here’s how to get there and the best things to do in Tobermory, Mull’s biggest settlement.
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The Best Things to Do in Tobermory
Tobermory is a place to switch off, tune out, think and dream. But if you want a more structured itinerary for the day, here’s my pick of things to do in Tobermory.
Wander around Tobermory
Tobermory is small but perfectly formed.
With its houses coloured like a box of children’s crayons, reflected in the harbour’s still water, it is one of the most attractive harbour towns that I have visited. Yet, despite its popularity, it manages to retain an air of calm and friendliness.
Start your day in Tobermory by wandering its main street, browsing in its shops and perhaps stopping for a coffee.
Walk to the lighthouse at Rubha nan Gall
The easy 2 km walk through woodland to the lighthouse at Rubha nan Gall is sensational.
A sheer drop to the ocean on one side; a heather-clad bluff rising on your other side. The initial short steep climb levels off to a path that winds its way gently to the lighthouse.
Across the Sound of Mull, there are great views to Ardnamurchan and the peak of Ben Hiant receding into the horizon. Rowan trees in full bloom provide occasional splashes of scarlet.
To reach the lighthouse, walk along Tobermory’s main street until you reach Tobermory Lifeboat Station. From here, take the signposted path that goes diagonally into the woods.
Visit Tobermory Distillery
In the mood for a spot of whisky tasting? Then why not visit Tobermory’s distillery?
Established in 1798, this tiny distillery has had a chequered history, shutting down three times. But it is now back in business and is open to visitors.
One of the best things to do in Tobermory, Mull on a rainy day!
Visit Mull Aquarium
Tobermory has an aquarium with a difference.
This community-owned venture is a catch and release aquarium, the first of its kind in Europe. All marine life that you see here is released back into the sea within four weeks.
Visiting here is another excellent thing to do in Tobermory during wet weather.
You’ll find Mull Aquarium in the Harbour Building in Tobermory’s main car park. It is open from 9.30 am to 5 pm daily, March to October. The cost of an adult ticket is £5.50 (2021 price).
Visit Mull Museum
Yet another good wet weather activity in Tobermory – let’s face it, in Scotland it’s wise to have a few of these up your sleeve – Mull Museum tells the history of the island through the exhibits packed into its tiny room.
The museum is open from Easter until the end of October, Monday – Saturday, 10am – 4pm. Admission is free but donations are welcome.
You’ll find Mull Museum on Tobermory’s Main Street.
Walk to Aros Park
Pick up the walking trail to Aros Park in Ledaig car park, just past Mull Aquarium. A more strenuous walk than the one to the lighthouse, it covers a distance of three miles.
This woodland walk follows the coastline heading east out of Tobermory, with sensational views over the harbour and the Sound of Mull. As you make your way through the woodland ferns, you’ll pass a few waterfalls until your reach a loch dressed with lily pads.
Aros Park was once a private house and estate owned by the Allan family, Although the house is long gone, the park remains for all to enjoy.
Go on a wildlife watching tour
Tobermory is an excellent place to pick up sea safari, with a range of boat trips to let you go spotting for Minke Whales, Harbour Porpoise, eagles, seals and dolphins.
Boats leave from next to the main car. Sea Life Surveys run a one-and-a-half-hour Eco Cruise or a four-hour Whalewatch Explorer. These run from May to September and an adult ticket costs £20 (Eco Cruise) / £60 (four-hour cruise).
Take a boat trip to Staffa and Treshnish Isles
Uninhabited Staffa is one of Scotland’s most romantic islands. It is best known for the basalt columns on its southern side, which the sea has carved into dramatic caverns. The most famous of these is Fingal’s Cave.
Treshnish Isles are known for their rich wildlife, particularly seabirds, puffins and seals.
Staffa Tours operate two wildlife boat tours out of Tobermory that visit Staffa and Treshnish Isles: a four-hour one and a six-hour tour. These cost £45 / £65 for an adult (2021 price).
Where to Eat in Tobermory
I feasted on a pile of fresh-off-the-boat scallops at the Pier Café at the ferry terminal. Its patio is perfect for dining al fresco on a sunny day, the food is fantastic and not expensive.
A large main course and drink cost £11 (cash only accepted).
How to Get to Tobermory, Mull from Oban
Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) operates a ferry service from Oban to Craignure on Mull’s west coast.
The return fare is £7.60 for a foot passenger (2021 price).
There’s no need to book in advance; just show up at the ticket office before the ferry leaves Oban. I travelled on a busy weekend in August, peak season, and this was easy to do. However, if you prefer, you can book on-line.
This is a day trip where the journey is almost as good as the destination.
Leaving Oban’s solidly Victorian waterfront behind you, the ferry passes the tip of Kerrera island giving you a close-up view of Lismore lighthouse. Entering the Sound of Mull, the island’s mist-capped peaks come closer into view as you approach Craignure.
The journey takes 45 – 60 minutes. From March to October, the service runs 8 – 10 times a day (reduced service in winter).
Solo Travel in Scotland
Scotland is home to some of the most striking and diverse landscapes to be found anywhere. From its lush rolling hills and mirror-like lakes to its blindingly white beaches, it’s a walker’s and photographer’s paradise.
The country is relatively safe, the locals are very friendly and speak English. There is a wide variety of accommodation, from a thriving hostel scene and cosy bed & breakfasts to boutique and castle hotels.
It’s easy to get around. Whilst driving is the easiest way to explore Scotland, this is not for the faint-hearted. Some roads in the Highlands and islands are single lanes punctuated with passing places that you can pull into if necessary.
I chose to travel in Scotland without a car and managed very well using buses, trains and day tours.
Scotland’s major towns and cities are linked train and bus (Scottish Citylink runs long-distance express coach services).
I have taken day trips with the local Rabbie’s Tours who were excellent. Group sizes are small and the knowledge and humour of their drivers/guides are first-rate.
Is Tobermory, Mull Worth Visiting?
Although there’s not a huge amount to do in & around Tobermory itself, there’s certainly enough to occupy you for a day. And sometimes it’s just enough to sit and be in a place without having to dart between attractions, isn’t it?
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