Baile Mor, Isle of Iona Tobermory Iona Abbey

What’s the Story in Tobermory?

Tobermory tells a colourful story; of a lost Spanish galleon brimming with gold, of ambition to create a thriving fishing port. Of vision to craft a 200-year-old Scotch whisky and of a legendary Queen’s approval.

Today the island of Mull’s main town is a busy fishing harbour, a thriving cultural and arts centre. The outstanding wildlife is certainly also a draw for thousands of tourists who visit the island.

Tobermory is instantly recognisable thanks to the brightly coloured buildings curving round its pretty harbour front. Consequently these have inspired many a painting and photograph over the decades. But it gained new renown in 2002 as the setting for BBC children’s programme Balamory. Opening with its catchy tune ‘What’s the Story in Balamory’; the rainbow-hued characters and their houses sparked a tourism boom among pre-schoolers.

The town derives its name from the Gaelic ‘Tobar Mhoire’ meaning the well of Mary. An intimidating cliff face had to be carved out to create the 18th century fishing port. This was based on a design by eminent bridge engineer Thomas Telford. The kelp trade brought alive the vision of a thriving harbour in Tovermory. It was harvested for soap and glass making. With this industry’s demise, tourism became important thanks in part to visits by the composer Mendelssohn. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert also visited aboard the Royal yacht. In time Tobermory thrived as a safe harbour and it was an important naval dock during the second world war.

Today visitors on our small group tours can enjoy diverse shops, restaurants serving local produce including seafood, traditional Scottish pubs with live music and artisans producing Isle of Mull Cheese and Mull Pottery.

Tobermory is home to the island’s only whisky distillery; established in 1798 and one of the oldest commercial distilleries in Scotland. Before enjoying a glorious resurgence in the 1990s; it weathered an 18th century distilling ban, the Great Depression, American prohibition and economic ills.

To absorb more about the island’s colourful history and its tenacious people, visit the Mull Museum. Moreover, if the arts appeal, drop into live music venue An Tobar and the Mull Theatre.

Mull has earned a reputation as the UK’s premier wildlife tourism destination. As a result knowledgeable locals offer many land and sea-based tours from Tobermory. Look skyward for a glimpse of the rare and unusual golden and white-tailed eagles and seaward for whales, dolphins and sharks.

And while you’re gazing out over the Sound of Mull cast your mind to the wreck of a Spanish galleon that’s reputed to lie in the mud at the bottom of the bay, teeming with gold bullion for the Spanish army’s pay day.

Our four day small group tours from Glasgow and Edinburgh to the Isles of Mull, Iona and the Highlands include three nights spent in Tobermory.

Other tours

6 Day Island Hopping Tour to the Isles Mull, Iona & Skye from Edinburgh
The Isles of Mull, Iona & The Highlands 4 Day tour from Glasgow
2 Day Loch Ness, Glencoe and the Highlands Adventure Tour from Glasgow
Isle of Skye, The Highlands & Loch Ness 3 Day Tour from Glasgow

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