Ferries to Mull – best ways to get to the Isle of Mull in Scotland

The Isle of Mull is one of the most popular islands on the west coast of Scotland, popular with wildlife spotters, and families looking to see the real life Balamory – a children’s to show that was filmed there (that might be just me!)

Did you know that there are 3 different ferries to Mull that you can choose from? 4 if you count the one from Iona! So which one to go for? In this article I’ll be looking at all of the options that will take you from the mainland to Mull. Some are easier, and more popular than others!

With so many things to do on Mull, it’s a popular island to visit all year round. Let’s take a look at the options available…

A note from the writer: Hey! I’m Kirsty and I’m a UK travel expert – while I grew up in Scotland, as an adult I now return to visit almost every year – there’s so much to see! Shout (or comment below) if you have any questions about your next trip and I’ll get back to you ASAP.

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Like all ferries in Scotland, there’s a summer and a winter timetable. If you’re travelling at the cusp of the changes (May and October) it’s always worth double checking your timings with Calmac. Winter timetables are often much less frequent.

When the weather is bad, all year round, it can affect the ferries so always keep an eye on the Calmac website to ensure the ferries are running on time.

calgary beach on island of mull
Mull is home to gorgeous beaches like this one on Calgary Bay – what’s not to love?

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How to get to Mull by ferry?

There are three ferries from the mainland to Mull and one that goes from the isle of Iona too.

  • Oban – Craignure
  • Lochaline – Fishnish
  • Kilchoan – Tobermory
  • Fionnphort (Mull) – Iona

Which ferry to Mull is the best to take?

The best ferry to Mull is going to be the one that is most convenient to you.

For many people the best ferry to Mull is the Oban to Craignure ferry.

Oban is really easy to get to no matter whether you’re using public transport around Scotland or have your own car. Trains and buses go regularly from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Fort William and Inverness and there are a lot of accommodation and food options.

The other plus about this ferry route is that it runs later than the others which finish around 6pm and is larger so can take more vehicles and passengers.

The other 2 mainland ferry ports are located in quite off the beaten track parts of the mainland so won’t be for most travellers. However if you happen to be exploring there anyway, as in our case, then they can be an excellent option. Especially as the ferries are less busy and may have capacity to take you when the other one is full.

Depending on where you’re coming from, taking the Lochaline or Kilchoan ferries may also require you to get another ferry from just south of Fort William on the A82 across to Corran. The Corran ferry is a short crossing but can add another cost to your day so bear that in mind. The road route is a LOT longer!

oban to mull ferry in craignure
Mull ferry at Craignure. Note that later on the kiosk to check in isn’t open and you have to wait for a steward to come scan your ticket.

Oban – Craignure ferry

This is the ‘main’ ferry people take to Mull – book in advance! Best for foot passengers.

This is the main ferry to Mull from the mainland of Scotland and goes from the gorgeous harbour town of Oban. One of my faves and highly recommended if you can spend time there!

It’s also the longest journey and one that you’ll need to book in advance if you have a vehicle. Foot passengers should be fine booking nearer the time.

We didn’t quite realise that it would be so busy and left it a little late to book our ferry off the island. We had a campervan and were travelling in July which probably didn’t help but if you’re taking a vehicle definitely book in advance so you can get the best timings for you.

Craignure on Mull is a small village with a few shops, pubs and restaurants for the arriving tourists. There’s not a tonne to do though so you’ll likely want to head on to other areas. Do bear it in mind if you have time before the ferry leaves as a good place to get refreshments!

It’s well connected by bus to both Tobermory in the north and Fionnphort to the west of the island – perfect if you don’t want to drive on Mull. Some of the ferry crossings correlate with the Glasgow train to Oban as well so it’s a great way to get to Mull from the city!

The crossing is really nice and long enough to enjoy all the scenery as you travel across the Sound of Mull. We saw dolphins during our crossing too so definitely keep your eye and camera out! You’ll also get a great view of Duart castle – the seat of the Maclean clan as you sail past. It can be cold though – take a jacket!

The crossing takes just under an hour. Check the summer timetable here

ferry to mull from Lochaline
Ferry waiting to leave at Lochaline on the Morvern peninsula on the mainland

Lochaline – Fishnish ferry

This crossing is much more suited to people in vehicles since both Lochaline and Fishnish are small, remote areas that are harder to access with public transport.

Driving through some stunning Scottish scenery on the Morvern peninsula you finally get to Lochaline, a tiny village with the ferry over to Fishnish on Mull.

It’s a very winding, single track road to get there but the views definitely make up for it. And you need the practice on these roads before getting to Mull!

Our friends who live nearby advised us that while both the Lochaline and the Kilchoan ferries were ok, the Lochaline one had a nicer drive to get to it and the ferry was quicker – so that’s how we chose!

One thing to note is that we didn’t manage to leave our vehicle on this crossing – it was quite tightly packed in and I was worried about hitting cars with our doors. It was a shame as I’d have liked to watch as we approached Mull, but it was busy and our campervan was in the middle of lots of other cars.

onboard lochaline ferry to mull
View while on board – it was tightly packed!

Fishnish is about in the centre of the east coast of Mull. There isn’t much there apart from the port but it is served by buses. Either turn right when you get off the ferry to head to Tobermory or left for Craignure and Fionnphort.

The ferry crossing is nice and short – just under 20 mins! It runs between 7am and 6pm ish in the summer and goes pretty much every hour (not regular times though). It’s recommended to book in advance but you don’t book for a specific ferry. Check out the timetable here.

Visiting the harbour village of Tobermory is the top thing to do on Mull
You can just spot the ferry leaving Tobermory at the right hand side

Kilchoan – Tobermory ferry

This ferry takes you to the largest town on Mull, Tobermory.

This was the only ferry we didn’t personally take on our recent Mull trip but we did witness the ferry docking in Tobermory – it was quite the traffic jam in the little harbour town after it arrived!

The Tobermory ferry arrives from across the water at the western end of the Ardnamurchan peninsula on the mainland. It’s fairly out of the way but if you’re looking to get really off the beaten track, like the Lochaline ferry, this will get you away from the throngs of tourists in Scotland! However, that will change once you arrive in Tobermory.

There’s only one road really that leads from the ferry terminal in Tobermory through the village. It’s only wide enough for a single car as there are often many others parked up and as such it can be really busy, especially in the middle of the day.

We saw delivery trucks and buses hold up the traffic and large campers try and negotiate their way through. It took a while! Just be aware that when you arrive it might be a little fraught as you make your way through.

The ferry takes around 35 minutes to get to Mull from Kilchoan. You don’t need to have booked your specific ferry in advance but it’s recommended to book online for the day you need – it’s kind of an open ticket for any service.

The ferry runs from 7am to around about 6pm. Check the Calmac timetable here

calmac ferry to iona from mull
Ferry at Fionnphort looking over to Iona

Iona – Fionnphort

It’s worth noting that there’s one other ferry to Mull, again run by Calmac and this one goes to the very close by island of Iona.

Iona only allows cars on the island from the residents or for deliveries so it’s likely if you’re visiting as a tourist that you’ll just be interested in the passenger rates.

The ferry crossing doesn’t take long, only 10 minutes to get from one side to the other. It’s a really nice and cheap crossing too – only £1.85 per adult one way so it makes visiting Iona from Mull a great trip.

The ferry goes at regular intervals through the day so anytime you arrive there’s likely to be one that’s about to arrive or leave. In summer the first one is at 8.35am (from Fionnphort) and the last is at 6.15pm. Buses go from Craignure to Fionnphort so if you’re looking to get to Iona from Oban check those out here.

If you’re travelling early or late it’s worth checking the timetable on the Calmac site to be sure you’re getting the up to date times.

I hope that this guide to the ferries to Mull has been helpful for you – it’s a wonderful island to visit!

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Kirsty Bartholomew

Kirsty Bartholomew is a travel expert and has been getting lost around the world for over 30 years and writing about it for over 10 of those. She loves to help people explore her favourite places in Scotland, England and beyond. She cannot stay away from historical sites.

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