Scotland island hopping holiday, car free
Includes return rail travel as described, return ferry travel to Mull & Skye, hotel transfers on Skye and a guided tour on Skye.
Description of Scotland island hopping holiday, car free
Scottish island holidays can take a bit of planning, working out ferry logistics, how big each island is to navigate and so on, which is why we crafted an itinerary that takes in the three very different islands of Iona, Skye and Mull. Also, these islands are wonderfully remote and so many people don’t want to take a car, so holiday is all about leaving the car at home, travelling up on the stunning West Highland Line and travelling as a foot passenger after that. This holiday starts in Glasgow where you will travel on the West Highland Line, one of the UK’s most spectacular rail journeys, through highlands to the islands and passing Loch Lomond en route to Oban ferry port.
Mull and Iona
Although you take the ferry from Oban to Mull, you connect almost immediately to the neighbouring island of Iona by taking another short ferry crossing. This is because Iona’s spiritual and mystical heritage really immerses you in island life, making for the most refreshing start to any island hopping Scotland holiday. The island was first settled by Irish monk St Columba in 563 AD when he arrived with a handful of followers with a view to spreading Christianity in Scotland. They built a monastery and, although the present monastery dates back to the 11th century, this has long been a place of pilgrimage for many, and still is today. Worshippers of nature also travel long journeys to enjoy the wildlife and tranquillity here, from seals, sea birds, sandy beaches, wild flowers and incredible night skies.
You will stay in a locally owned hotel, built in 1868, with a waterfront location and ever changing views of the Sound of Iona and over to Mull.
Return to Mull, taking the ferry and bus to Tobermory, the island hub well known for its candy coloured terraced houses that line the seafront. The family owned hotel where you will be based for two nights is a beautiful restoration of several fishing houses on the waterfront.
Another wildlife lover’s haven, you will definitely want to bring your binoculars for some seriously good bird watching, with the chance to spot some whales or dolphins on coastal walks too. We are able to organise guided walks and wildlife tours if needed. In the evenings, Tobermory is a lively place to be, with friendly seafront bars and a very laid back atmosphere, as befits all Scottish islands.
Spean Bridge and Isle of Skye
After heading back to Oban, take the West Highland Line again to Spean Bridge, a small village in the Highlands and a beautiful location to take a break before your next island adventure. Spend the night in a small, locally owned hotel, celebrated not only for its fine organic food but also its ideal location for strolls that give views out to the natural wonders of Ben Nevis, the Great Glen valley and the wonderfully named Loch Lochy.
The next day, take the West Highland Line again to the port of Mallaig where the Isle of Skye awaits after a crossing of about 40 minutes. On Skye your hotel is in a beautiful sheltered cove with views for miles across the waters. The hotel is also a hub for the community, where Scottish Gaelic is the usual language spoken, and the traditional ‘craic’ is par for the course, making the bar a warm and welcoming place. The food is also excellent, specialising in local fare such as seafood and game. Whisky is, of course, always on the cards here, especially with The Gaelic Whiskies distillery, shop and sampling room just within a skimming stone’s distance from your hotel.
On the final full day of your holiday you can experience the delights of the Isle of Skye on a full day small group tour, led by one of our hand-selected local guides. If you have anything in particular that you would love to see, please advise your guide and they will try to incorporate it into the day.
The following morning you will leave Skye and travel by ferry to Mallaig and then along the length of the West Highland Line to Glasgow once more.
6 Reviews of Scotland island hopping holiday, car free
Reviewed on 21 Jun 2021 by Graham OrpwoodExcellent....The day at Iona including the trip to Staffa and the visit to the Abbey Read full review
Reviewed on 09 Aug 2019 by Sarah MakowskiThe Isle of Skye was stunningly beautiful, and we enjoyed all of the animals we met along the way. Read full review
Reviewed on 09 Aug 2019 by Gillian YatesThe highlight of the holiday was visiting Iona and Skye, not using car just trains and ferries and buses. Read full review
Reviewed on 28 Jul 2019 by Paul TobinThe most memorable part of the holiday was probably our first day on Iona - sun was shining and our room had superb views. Read full review
Reviewed on 23 Aug 2018 by Lisa BrooksLovely! We will book something similar again! Read full review
Reviewed on 30 Aug 2015 by Mark GurvisIt was a great holiday. We were very happy with it. Read full review
PlanetWe are continually increasing our range of public transport holidays for those who want to leave the car behind. We grapple with the timetables of trains, boats and buses, and fill-in the gaps with short taxi transfers to make this possible in the more remote areas. Not having a car in tow can transform your experience, especially on a Scottish island – exploring on foot and by bike helps you to properly engage with the environment and experience the place at a more appropriate, slower pace. In each place, there are plentiful local walks, and some short trips available by local bus on Mull and Skye - we will provide suggestions and recommendations in your holiday pack, but do check the most up-to-date information with the staff at your hotel.
We take the utmost care to choose local business partners who share our values and commitment to sustainable travel, preferring to work with locally-owned and managed businesses wherever possible. Your hotel in Spean Bridge is committed to home-cooked organic food, while the shellfish for the hotel restaurant on Skye is landed at the local pier. We build long-term relationships based on mutual trust with our business partners, with a joint commitment to excellent customer satisfaction and care for the environment.
PeopleFor us, true sustainability means promoting and helping to maintain a way of life, where the economic benefit from tourism can make a genuine difference. That’s why we work almost exclusively with local, family-run businesses, not with large corporate organisations. We build close and lasting relationships with our business partners, based on mutual trust and an unerring commitment to customer satisfaction. We carefully select these partners to ensure that they share our values of sustainable and responsible travel. For example, the small hotel featured in this holiday on the Isle of Skye is based in the heart of a Gaelic community, and all staff are encouraged to learn the language, whatever their original native tongue.
All of our holiday packs include "Robert's Recommendations", our specific tips on places to visit, places to eat and places to shop locally, all of which have been researched by us, and many of which are off-the-beaten track.
We are corporate members of the John Muir Trust, an organisation committed to protecting the wild land of the Scottish highlands and islands.