August 6, 2018

Slow Travel: Tobermory

Tobermory is a colourful harbour town on the Isle of Mull in the Scottish Inner Hebrides. It is located on the east coast of Mishnish, in the most northerly part of the island. Famously the inspiration behind the popular children’s program Balamory, this gorgeous little town is full of quaint shops, cafes and restaurants. You could easily spend a day exploring this absolute treasure of a place.

Here are my top 6 recommendations of things to see and experience, in what is one of Scotland’s dreamiest seaside towns:

1. Take a walk along the harbourside


On a clear, bright day, the views across the harbour are stunning. There are plenty of viewpoints and benches around, so take a seat, soak up the sun (hopefully the weather will cooperate) and watch the hustle and bustle of sea and harbour life. If you’re heading to Tobermory around lunchtime, why not treat yourself to the freshest takeaway around from Fisherman’s Pier Fish and Chip van? Tuck into freshly-caught fish and salt-and-vinegar dressed chips (my personal favourite) on one of the benches dotted around the harbour wall.

2. Do a spot of shopping on Tobermory High-Street

Tobermory is the capital of Mull with a population of 1,000 people (which is actually smaller than the sleepy village I’m originally from in Surrey) and has the best selection of shops on Mull. If you are self-catering or are staying in an AirBnB (there are some gorgeous options around Mull so definitely check them out), then the Coop in Tobermory is a great place to grab your basics. It also has a petrol station and garage (an absolute god-send for us when Fliss, the not-so-reliable Ford, lost her oil cap and the entire engine started to smoke – she recovered and is (miraculously) hanging on in there still).

There’s a lovely little bookshop called Tackle and Books where you can get yourself a holiday read to relax with in the sun or tuck up with indoors away from the pouring rain. Be sure to pop into Tobermory Chocolates as well- we had great fun sampling some of the chocolates (they have the most amazing selection) and came away with a packet of white chocolate mice and a selection of six bite-sized chocolates.

If you’re a bit of a foodie then make sure you visit the Tobermory Bakery and Coffee Shop as well. If you are looking for a sweet treat or spot of lunch this is a great option. Steaming windows, friendly staff and mouth-watering food – this was one of our favourite places we tried on the Isle of Mull.

3. Visit An Tobar, Mull’s Art Centre


Situated in a beautifully refurbished Victorian primary school that overlooks Tobermory bay, An Tobar is a focus for arts activities on the island. It has a dedicated gallery, a performance space, cafe and shop. The Gallery was our favourite part – it actually hosts a different exhibition every month, featuring both local artists and touring shows. It’s well worth a visit, despite the steep climb up the hill!

4. Go Whisky tasting at Tobermory Distillery


Although a gin-drinker at heart, we decided to sample the peated and unpeated whisky at the famous Tobermory Distillery. We signed up for a tour of the Distillery and tried two different whiskys at the end. The tour was well-led and very interesting – you learn about the intricacies of whisky making and see first-hand the machinery they use to make their specialist whisky. Reasonably priced and informative, this whisky tour was one of our highlights of the holiday!

5. Try out the local cafes and restaurants


Whilst at Tobermory we tried out two of the restaurants, Mishdish and Cafe Fish. We had fish at both and were really pleased with our choices. The staff were attentive and friendly and the food was delicious – Cafe Fish just topped it for me but would highly recommend both places.

We also tried the Isle of Mull Ice-cream shop and had a nice ice-cream there. I wouldn’t say it was the best ice-cream I’ve ever had – my top ice-cream so far in Scotland has to go to Gelateria Alandas in North Berwick (you can read about it here) which was beyond incredible. It was however the best ice-cream we had on Mull so definitely worth a visit nonetheless!

Our favourite cafe we visited however, was hands down, no-question-about-it, The Glass Barn which is located on the Isle of Mull Cheese Farm. This light, glass-ceiling barn with grape vines climbing the walls and across the beams is the loveliest little retreat with views looking across the farmland. We enjoyed the tastiest cheese-board and mezze-plate and returned a second time for a hot drink and generous slice of cake on our last day in Mull. When we visited, they had a very young, hugely lovable puppy who just wanted to play. He made a lovely addition to this farm cafe!


Although I recommended the Coop for the basics, it’s here that I would recommend for your meats, eggs, bread and of course cheese. We took back to Edinburgh a large loaf of sourdough bread, cheese, chutney and rhubarb jam! The jam is still going strong and acts as a sweet reminder of our stay on Mull each morning when I spread it on my toast.

6. Take a day-trip from Tobermory Harbour

On our last day in Mull we went whale-watching with Sealife Surveys from the harbourside. Unfortunately it was a little overcast and we didn’t spot any whales or sharks sadly, but we did see a harbour porpoise, eagle, plenty of seals and birds. It was rather expensive, especially considering we didn’t see any whales (!) but it was 4 hours of fun on the sea with knowledgeable tour guides and friendly people.


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