Believed to be the birthplace of Christianity in Scotland, Iona may be a small island, but it is huge in terms of its global influence, as well as being home to a creative community and abundant wildlife. Iona is an island that has had – and continues to have – a huge impact across Scotland and the globe, with thousands visiting the island every year on a pilgrimage of discovery. The ‘cradle of Christianity’ marks the spot where St Columba arrived in 563 AD, bringing a new religion to Scotland. The Iona Community continues the saint’s work to this day. You can visit the place where the Book of Kells was made and explore Scotland’s finest collections of early medieval carved stones and crosses. On the edge of the village, the main attraction is a visit to the Abbey and Nunnery, with architecture spanning the 13th to 16th centuries.
Ask an Islander
We asked locals in Iona to tell us why their island is special. Here’s what they said:
Head beyond the historic sites for stunning beach walks, exciting boat trips and a plethora of delicious local produce. The island is just three miles long and 1.5 miles across and has nine white sandy beaches with crystal clear blue waters. Check out the White Strand of the Monks and North End Beaches.
For something truly spectacular, neighbouring Staffa, which is just a boat ride away, has fascinating geology. Legend has it that its extraordinary pattern of hexagonal columns were the northern end of a causeway built by a giant in Northern Ireland to fight his Scottish opponent.
For a walk, The Hermit’s Cell is a secluded ring of stones in a sheltered glen rumoured to be where St Columba came to pray, away from the monastic community. Begin the walk at the entrance to the MacLeod Centre, opposite the Abbey – look out for the well-worn path that marks the way.
Gaelic / Gàidhlig
The Gaelic name for Iona is Eilean Ì.
Want to say ‘how are you’ to someone in Gaelic? That’s ‘ciamar a tha sibh‘!
CalMac Ferries operates regular crossings throughout the day for foot passengers from Fionnphort on the Isle of Mull. Visitors’ vehicles are not permitted on the island.
Find out more about getting to Mull.
Want to find out more about Iona and explore more of our amazing islands?
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