It may only be 3 miles long, but there is so much to see and do on Iona that it can be hard to know where to begin! If like so many visitors you only have 1 day to explore the wonders of this beautiful Island then check out our top 5 visitor recommendations.
Iona’s religious heritage dates back to the arrival of St Columbas in AD563, when he arrived on the island and founded a monastery. The Abbey became influential as a centre for the spread of Christianity in Scotland, hence why Iona is known as the symbolic centre of Scottish Christianity, and why the Abbey is still to this day a centre for pilgrimage.
Although the Abbey has been restored it has not succumbed to the commercialisation so many landmarks have fallen victim too; there are no signs telling you where to go and you are left to explore and discover its beauty in your own time.
Whilst there make sure you visit the Infirmary Museum, which sits north of the main Abbey building. The museum is home to one of the most impressive collections of stone crosses, slabs and grave markers you will find in Scotland. Most of the relics are native to Iona and a history lover’s dream!
St Oran’s Chapel
St Oran’s Chapel is the oldest building that is still standing on Iona; it can be easy to overlook in the shadow of the Abbey but is well worth a visit! The graveyard that surrounds the chapel is known as Relig Odhráin.
The graveyard is named after one of St Columba’s followers, who legend has it agreed to be buried alive to stop the walls of the first church built on the island from falling down – talk about taking one for the team! For centuries the graveyard became the traditional burial ground for the kings of Scotland making it an important historical and cultural landmark on the island.
St. Columbas Bay
The bay is where historians believe that St. Columba and his monks landed in 563. The hike to get to the bay begins by crossing over ‘The Hill of the Angels.’ The hill itself has long been associated with the supernatural and spiritual world, and the story goes that St Columba was seen in prayer on the hill surrounded by angels.
The rest of the walk allows you to further take in the stunning scenery of Iona with pretty breath taking views.
No visit to Iona could be complete without some souvenirs.
Aosdana gallery sells artwork, Scottish designer jewellery and traditional Iona jewellery inspired by the landscape and rich Celtic culture that is rooted within Iona. Each piece of jewellery is unique and intricately designed, with products ranging from earrings to necklaces and hand-crafted bracelets.
The Iona gallery houses a range of contemporary and early 20th century original paintings of Iona. The gallery also sells pottery as well as hand-built and thrown ceramics using the landscape of Iona as inspiration.
Each piece created is unique so you areguaranteed to leaving with a true one of a kind!
Small but mighty, Iona has a lot to offer. Our Three Isles Tour takes in Iona, as well as Mull and Staffa. If you’re looking for a shorter trip, have a look at our Mull & Iona Tour as well!