Not your average island getaway | Exploring Scotland’s Isles

What a month it’s been here in Oban, although it definitely feels like I’ve been living here longer. This little seaside town has proved to be the perfect base for a return trip to Scotland, allowing easy and frequent access to all of the island gems (the Inner Hebrides, if we’re being technical).

With the (mostly) lovely weather we’ve been having, I’ve taken full advantage of all free days to wander, both on the mainland and off. If you’re planning a trip to this stunning country, don’t overlook the Oban and islands! Especially in the warmer months.

Need a little help with ideas of where to go? I’ve got you covered, friends…

Not your average island getaway | exploring Scotland's Inner Hebrides | oban | little cup of j

Of course! Come check in at Oban Backpackers, and explore the little town for a full day.

But…what can you do here?

  • Eat fish & chips (tell my friends I say hi!)
  • Wander to the beaches, enjoy the rare sunshine
  • Get coffee and some sweets at the Oban Chocolate Factory
  • Go on the distillery tour (get in free by signing up to be a “friend of classic malts” here)
  • Visit the castles! This one is about 10 minutes from the hostel (with a lovely nature trail leading up to it and a cafe attached), the other is a 45ish minute walk.
  • Walk up to McCaig’s Tower for sunset

Not your average island getaway | exploring Scotland's Inner Hebrides | oban | little cup of j

Not your average island getaway | exploring Scotland's Inner Hebrides | oban | little cup of j

Not your average island getaway | exploring Scotland's Inner Hebrides | oban | little cup of j

Not your average island getaway | exploring Scotland's Inner Hebrides | oban | little cup of j

You’ll find no shortage of things to do! Before resting up for your ferry to the islands the next day, of course…

Now, this stunning little isle is a different process to get to, so we’ll start with it. Rather than going to the normal ferry terminal right in Oban’s harbor, you’re basically going to walk past it and follow the coastline south for about 40 minutes (walking). The Kerrera ferry is in a spot of its own, and only takes about 3 minutes to cross. A lovely ride nonetheless, though!

Not your average island getaway | exploring Scotland's Inner Hebrides | kerrera | little cup of j

Once on the island, take a left. You can opt to take the long route (which loops around the whole southern bit) or the short route (essentially straight to the southern tip).

I chose the latter, as I was on a mission to get to the Tea Garden and the castle (because I got a late start, as per usual).

It takes about an hour to get from the ferry stop to the Tea Garden, but there are kitschy little path markers and signage along the whole route. Plus, the entire walk is incredibly scenic…rolling hills, craggy cliffs and baby lambs. Just magic.

Not your average island getaway | exploring Scotland's Inner Hebrides | kerrera | little cup of j

Not your average island getaway | exploring Scotland's Inner Hebrides | kerrera | little cup of j

Not your average island getaway | exploring Scotland's Inner Hebrides | kerrera | little cup of j

Not your average island getaway | exploring Scotland's Inner Hebrides | kerrera | little cup of j

Not your average island getaway | exploring Scotland's Inner Hebrides | kerrera | little cup of j

Not your average island getaway | exploring Scotland's Inner Hebrides | kerrera | little cup of j

Not your average island getaway | exploring Scotland's Inner Hebrides | kerrera | little cup of j

Not your average island getaway | exploring Scotland's Inner Hebrides | kerrera | little cup of j

I went to Mull for the first time last October, upon first arriving in Scotland. With just an afternoon and some friends to lead the way, the short ferry trip away from where I was volunteering (over on the Ardnamurchan Peninsula) felt like such an adventure! That particular ferry sailed right into Tobermory – the biggest (and most colorful!) town on Mull.

If you were to go from Oban, you’d catch a ferry to Craignure (on Mull), and then take the bus up to Tobermory. Easy!

This little town was filled to the brim with charming shops, fish & chip stops and a darling little coffee / chocolate shop that I could’ve stayed at for hours.

Not your average island getaway | exploring Scotland's Inner Hebrides | Tobermory | little cup of j

Not your average island getaway | exploring Scotland's Inner Hebrides | Tobermory | little cup of j

Aside from Tobermory, I spent a total of about 20 minutes in Fionnphort on the way to the Isle of Iona. But, there are many other beautiful, scenic spots throughout the rest of the island! I know quite a few people who have spent many days camping, hiking, etc in more remote areas.

Not your average island getaway | exploring Scotland's Inner Hebrides | Mull | little cup of j

This stunning little isle is only accessible from the Isle of Mull, which means it takes 2 ferries and a bus to get there from Oban. You’ll take the ferry from Oban to Craignure, the bus from Craignure to Fionnphort, and then the ferry from there to Iona.

Absolutely, 100% worth the (3ish hour) journey! I did two full days on the isle (as a camping trip) and was completely blown away by the beauty of it all.

Not your average island getaway | exploring Scotland's Inner Hebrides | Iona | little cup of j

If you want to camp, but don’t have the gear (like myself), I highly recommend Iona Campsite! They have all camping gear available for rent, are in a perfect location and the couple that runs it are super nice.

Otherwise, the cutest (and only) hostel on Iona is…Iona Hostel. (Fitting, right?) This place honestly looks like something out of an interior design magazine. Moroccan rugs, farm tables, fresh blooms everywhere. The dream!

Not your average island getaway | exploring Scotland's Inner Hebrides | Iona | little cup of j

Not your average island getaway | exploring Scotland's Inner Hebrides | Iona hostel | little cup of j

Don’t forget to pick up one of the tourist maps from any of the shops upon arrival – all of the hotspots are listed!

Also, keep in mind that the ferry will land on one side of the island, but be sure to check out the beach on the opposite side. Watching the sunset from the large beach (on the other side) right beneath the island’s golf course was one of the most spectacular things I’ve ever seen.

Not your average island getaway | exploring Scotland's Inner Hebrides | Iona | little cup of j

Not your average island getaway | exploring Scotland's Inner Hebrides | Iona | little cup of j

Not your average island getaway | exploring Scotland's Inner Hebrides | Iona | little cup of j

Not your average island getaway | exploring Scotland's Inner Hebrides | Iona | little cup of j

Not your average island getaway | exploring Scotland's Inner Hebrides | Iona | little cup of j

Not your average island getaway | exploring Scotland's Inner Hebrides | Iona | little cup of j

Not your average island getaway | exploring Scotland's Inner Hebrides | Iona | little cup of j

An absolute MUST while you’re on Iona is the Iona Craft Shop. So many gorgeous goodies, crafts, Scottish knitwear and excellent coffee. One of my favorite things while traveling is stumbling into these perfectly Insta-worthy coffee shops / gift shops in the most unexpected places…

Not your average island getaway | exploring Scotland's Inner Hebrides | Iona | little cup of j

Not your average island getaway | exploring Scotland's Inner Hebrides | Iona | little cup of j

After caffeinating and such, I took a little “hike” to St. Columba’s Bay on the southern tip of the island. The lush, mountainous landscape opens up to a rocky beach and Caribbean-like waves…Scotland, is that really you?

Not your average island getaway | exploring Scotland's Inner Hebrides | Iona | little cup of j

Not your average island getaway | exploring Scotland's Inner Hebrides | Iona | little cup of j

Not your average island getaway | exploring Scotland's Inner Hebrides | Iona | little cup of j

Not your average island getaway | exploring Scotland's Inner Hebrides | Iona | little cup of j

Now, if you’re feeling like moseying a little more…take the Staffa day trip from Iona! I sadly did not have time, but two of my friends went on it and could not stop raving about the experience. The main highlight? Puffins! 🙂

This will forever be one of my favorite places. There’s nothing like it! If you didn’t catch the original post last fall, here is a wee guide to 2 days on the Isle of Skye.

Not your average island getaway | exploring Scotland's Inner Hebrides | Skye | little cup of j

Not your average island getaway | exploring Scotland's Inner Hebrides | Skye | little cup of j

Not your average island getaway | exploring Scotland's Inner Hebrides | Skye | little cup of j

Not your average island getaway | exploring Scotland's Inner Hebrides | Skye | little cup of j

Not your average island getaway | exploring Scotland's Inner Hebrides | Skye | little cup of j

Happy travels!

xx,
J