Tobermory (Gaelic Tobar Mhoire, "Mary's well") is the main settlement on the island of Mull, in the Scottish Inner Hebrides. It has the most accommodation and other amenities, and is the obvious base for visiting the island. By mainland standards it's a small village, but in Hebridean terms it ranks as a town, and is so dubbed here.
Tobermory has a picture-perfect seafront, with the buildings painted in bright colours. It's often used as a TV or film location and Britain's present cohort of children will recognise it as Balamory, produced here 2002-05 by BBC Scotland. The colours are a good way to identify places, but they're not immutable, eg the well-known Mishnish Hotel was previousy royal blue but is nowadays custard.
The only way onto Mull is by Calmac ferry, usually sailing to Craignure from Oban, which has trains and buses from Glasgow. Ferries sail daily, roughly hourly Apr-Oct and every 2 or 3 hours Nov-March, taking 50 min. Single fares are £3.70 adult, child £1.85, car £13.75, returns are double.
Craignure is 21 miles from Tobermory along A848. West Coast Motors Bus 95 / 495 meets the ferries five times daily, running from Craignure via Fishnish and Salen to Tobermory (50 min, no Sunday service Nov-March).
There's also a ferry to Tobermory from Kilchoan on the Ardnamurchan peninsula, sailing every couple of hours, taking 40 min. Although Kilchoan is on the mainland, it's a long way from anywhere and you'd only travel that way in order to tour Ardnamurchan. Same goes for the short crossing from Lochaline to Fishnish on Mull.
Bus 494 zigzags through Tobermory then runs to Dervaig and Calgary, 40 min; three M-F and one on Saturday.
The town can readily be explored on foot, but there's a steep hill from the seafront main street up to the residential area and the Western Isles and Park Lodge Hotels. Bus 494 zigzags through town but is infrequent. You need a car or taxi to reach the theatre to the south.
Chris's Taxis (+44 749 3886 237) based in Tobermory do point-to-point journeys within Mull, airport & ferry pick-ups, and tours around the island.
- 1 Mull Museum, Columba Buildings, Main St Tobermory, ☏ . M-Sa 10:00-16:00. Displays island life down the years. Free.
- Mull Aquarium, open daily 09:30-17:00, has changing displays of local marine life as they have a catch-and-release policy. Adult £16.50, child £12.
- Near Glengorm Castle (see "Sleep") are 3 Standing Stones - look west. You can follow the path northwest for half a mile to Dùn Ara Castle overlooking the sea, but the remains are scrappy and you come for the view towards the Outer Hebrides.
- Boat trips go out to the seabird and seal colonies, eg those on Calve Island just offshore. Several operators, enquire in the harbour car park.
- 1 Tobermory Whisky Distillery, Tobermory PA75 6NR, ☏ . Daily 10:00-16:00. Standard tour of the distillery hourly, children welcome. They produce Tobermory (smooth, fruity) and Ledaig (peaty, smoky, like an Islay malt whisky). Tour £9.50.
- 2 Mull Theatre (Comar), Druimfin PA75 6QB (2 miles south of town on A848), ☏ . Varied programme in 100-seater theatre. Occasional shows also at their town base An Tobar, though this is is mostly studio/workshop space.
- Walk to the lighthouse at Rubha nan Gall, a couple of miles north along the muddy clifftop path. The 17-m lighthouse was built by the Stevensons in 1857 and automated in 1960; unusually, it's reached by a short bridge. You can stay self-catering in the lightkeepers' cottages but they're totally off-grid with no road access.
- The Golf Club is nine holes on the cliff tops north of town. Visitors welcome, no booking, but weekends they often stage competitions, so check the club fixture list.
- The Volcano is the plug of rock north of the lane towards Dervaig and Calgary. Good chance of seeing eagles and other upland wildlife here, but the trail is hard going.
- 3 Aros Forest Park, off the main road a mile south of town, has waterfalls and woodland walks.
- Mull Music Festival in late April features folk-rock bands, fiddle, accordion, dance and ceilidh bands. It's held mostly in Tobermory; the next event is 23-26 April 2020.
- Isle of Mull Highland Games are held in Tobermory in late July on Erray Park at the north end of town. The next event is Thurs 18 July 2019.
- And see Mull for events across the island, many of which are in Tobermory.
- 1 Co-op Food, 33 Main Street, Tobermory PA75 6NT, ☏ . M-Sa 07:00-22:00, Su 12:30-22:00. This is the only sizeable supermarket on Mull. Reasonable prices, good selection of fruit & veg, has bakery and ATM.
- The Island Bakery produces shortbread, which you can order online or buy in Tobermory and elsewhere. They no longer run a cafe there.
- Fish & Chip Van, Fisherman's Pier (The grey metal trailer by the clock tower), ☏ . Daily 12:30-21:00. Said to be the only fish & chip van with a Les Routiers award.
- Cafes include Tobermory Scullery (pale blue, daily), Tobermory Bakery (lilac, M-Sa) and Gallery cafe (in the old church).
- Galleon Grill is licensed, open M-F 13:00-21:30, Sa Su 15:00-20:00.
- 1 Cafe Fish, The Pier (The white one near ferry pier for Kilchoan), ☏ . Mid-March-Oct daily 11:00-15:00 & 17:30-23:00. Serving seafood from their own boat and other island specialities, good wine list, and claiming "the only thing frozen is our fishermen."
- 2 Macgochan's, Ledaig Building (The lemon one by harbour car park), ☏ . Closed by fire. Restaurant bar for upscale dining, Bar-beag for fireside whisky, plus function suite and beer garden. Suffered fire damage May 2019.
- 3 Isle of Mull Cheese Farm, Sgriob-ruadh Farm, Tobermory, PA75 6QD (off Dervaig road, a mile west of Tobermory), ☏ . Tu-Sa 09:00-16:30. The farm produces unpasteurised artisan cheese - the product varies seasonally as the cows' diet changes. With shop, small cafe does lunch, and you can watch the cows being milked.
- Tobermory & Ledaig Scotch Whisky as above.
- 1 The Mishnish, Main Street, Tobermory (The custard yellow one), ☏ . Bar daily 11:00-01:00. 3-star hotel has rooms but it's the lively bar that Mishnish is renowned for. Good beer, ambience, pub grub (12:00-15:00 & 17:30 till late). An essential part of visiting Tobermory. B&B double from £120.
- MacDonald Arms (the deep blue one) on Main St is open daily 10:00-14:45 and 17:00-00:00. Good pub grub, dog friendly.
- 1 Tobermory Youth Hostel, Main Street, Tobermory PA75 6NU (The terracotta one), ☏ . Check-in: 17:00- 22:00, check-out: 10:00. Seafront hostel open Mar-Oct. Friendly, good facilities, private rooms also available. Dorm £20 ppn.
- Several B&Bs and at least a dozen self-catering cottages. Seafront prices match the hotels but drop sharply as you go inland.
- 2 The Tobermory Hotel, Main Street (The lilac one near the distillery), ☏ . Comfortable 3-star hotel in renovated fishermen's cottages. Small rooms, and sloping ceiling may cramp tall visitors. With restaurant. B&B double £160.
- Park Lodge Hotel (the vanilla one up the hill) is a good comfy 3-star up the hill on Western Rd, B&B double from £105. Within is Auld Mull Bar, meals served 17:30-20:30 and does takeaway.
- 3 Western Isles Hotel, Tobermory PA75 6PR (on hill above ferry pier), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 16:00, check-out: 11:00. Victorian 3-star hotel with 28 rooms and restaurant. There is no lift to 3rd floor, but they plan to instal one. B&B double £160.
- 4 Glengorm Castle, Tobermory PA75 6QE (5 miles northwest of village), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 10:00. Scots Baronial pile, built 1860, has upscale lodgings with l B&B apartments and self-catering. With park and gardens. B&B double £200.
- Tobermory is the obvious base for reaching anywhere on Mull. Iona can be done as a day trip but deserves an overnight stay.
- The Ardnamurchan peninsula, though it's on the mainland, is more remote and deserted than Mull.
- Otherwise it's back to the mainland at Oban.