Scotland island hopping holiday, car free

“An 8 day, tailor made Scottish Island Holiday seeing iona, Skye and Mull, travelling without a car.”

Highlights

West Highland Line railway | Oban | Mull | Iona | Spean Bridge | 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 donít 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 UKís 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 Ionaís 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.

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 loverís 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 Ďcraicí 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 stoneís distance from your hotel.


Travel Team

If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. The Travel Team.

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Departure information

This trip can be tailor made only from April to end September.
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Responsible tourism

Scotland island hopping holiday, car free

Carbon reduction

Your holiday will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this holiday and how to reduce them.

Environment

We 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 Ė 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.

Community

For us, true sustainability means promoting and helping to maintain a way of life, where the economic benefit from tourism can make a genuine difference. Thatís 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.

5 Reviews of Scotland island hopping holiday, car free

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Reviewed on 09 Aug 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The Isle of Skye was stunningly beautiful, and we enjoyed all of the animals we met along the way.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


For vegetarians - check out local restaurants in advance. Healthy options can be limited. I think that this tour is better for adults - a few bits were "too slow" for our 15-year old (but great for us!)

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


I doubt we made a huge impact, but we did stay at local places, use public transportation, and took part in a sea life survey tour which monitors marine activity in the area.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


We had a fantastic time overall and got a good introduction to the Scottish Isles - enough to know that we definitely want to go back!

Reviewed on 09 Aug 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Visiting Iona and Skye, not using car just trains and ferries and buses

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


If you are as eco conscious as we are you may want to check that every hotel has similar values. One of the hotels had very few eco credentials and the
management could not understand why we would want to travel by train rather than car and kept criticising the holiday. The other hotels were really great
with organic food and local produce etc.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes as mentioned above, apart from the one hotel

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Fabulous - the scottish islands are amazing and most of the travel connections worked really well

Reviewed on 28 Jul 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Probably our first day on Iona - sun was shining and our room had superb views

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Make sure you have thoroughly read the holiday itinerary and know where you have to be and at what time - double check ferry schedules when you get
there. Also be aware of the steep climb to the accommodation on Tobermoray.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Not particularly to be honest.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Overall we had a brilliant time but there are a couple of things i should mention. 1. The itinerary had the wrong timing for the ferry back from Iona on day 3.
It said we should catch the 9.05 ferry to get the bus on the other side to Tobermoray but in fact the ferry was at 8.45 - the bus was 9.05 not the ferry. We were lucky - we made it by the skin of our teeth. 2. The accommodation at Tobermoray was up a very, very steep hill and i suffer from a heart condition. You should warn people of that fact and give them an option to stay somewhere in the town centre. I really struggled to get up the hill and had to stop a few
times to let my heart rate settle down.

Reviewed on 23 Aug 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Wandering around and finding hikes to walk. The meals were amazing. We loved attending the local music brought in at the Festival on Skye (Feis en Eilean). That was where we were able to really get a feel for the island. I don't believe there were many tourists there.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Small bags, like 40 L backpacks work best. The trains and buses can be
crowded. Also, the operator had amazing customer service.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


To some extent. I liked supporting the local wool merchants in Mull, but travel on the Isle of Skye takes a big toll on its citizens and infrastructure.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Lovely! We will book something similar again!

Reviewed on 30 Aug 2015 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Traveling without a car made us travel with less, slow down, and engage more with people around us. So we had a wonderful time meeting people from Scotland and all over, which was great.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Recognize that you'll spend a bit more time getting between places than you otherwise might, so let go of the rush to "get there". And pack light.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


We were in small hotels except for the extra nights we added in cities, and staying in small towns. So we definitely benefited those small business (including many pubs). And the hotels were all fantastic.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


It was a great holiday. We were very happy with it.

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