Iona Abbey and Nunnery
Iona Abbey and Nunnery
4.5
Historic SitesReligious SitesChurches & Cathedrals
9:30 AM - 5:30 PM
Monday
9:30 AM - 5:30 PM
Tuesday
9:30 AM - 5:30 PM
Wednesday
9:30 AM - 5:30 PM
Thursday
9:30 AM - 5:30 PM
Friday
9:30 AM - 5:30 PM
Saturday
9:30 AM - 5:30 PM
Sunday
12:30 PM - 5:30 PM
About
Iona Abbey is one of Scotland's most historic and sacred sites. Located on the Isle of Iona, just off the Isle of Mull, it was founded by St Columba and his Irish followers in AD 563. As a celebrated focus for Christian pilgrimage, Iona retains its spiritual atmosphere and remains an enduring symbol of worship. The abbey church was restored at the beginning of the 20th century, whilst work on restoring the living accommodation began in 1938, following the foundation of the Iona Community. Today, the Iona Community continues the tradition of worship first established by St Columba 1,450 years ago.
Duration: More than 3 hours
Suggest edits to improve what we show.
Improve this listing
Tours & experiences
Explore different ways to experience this place.
What is Travelers’ Choice?
Tripadvisor gives a Travelers’ Choice award to accommodations, attractions and restaurants that consistently earn great reviews from travelers and are ranked within the top 10% of properties on Tripadvisor.
See what travelers are saying
  • Christine A
    Oxfordshire, United Kingdom62 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Brilliant day!
    We were lucky to visit this site on a lovely sunny day. We found the Nunnery interesting with detailed information boards. We recommend joining one of the free tours of the Abbey lasting about 45mns, as this puts this building into the local historical and Celtic Christian context and explains St Columba´s life and influence. We also learned about the architecture of the building and current worship there. A lot of details which we would have missed otherwise. Thanks to Callum, our guide,who obviously enjoys his work and responded to our additional questions with interest. Do not miss the free entry museum at the back. It contains all the relevant history, some amazing Celtic crosses and tombstones, well worth spending time there. There are lovely walks to bays with turquoise water and white sand. Also, nice places to have coffee and food too. Plenty to do and enjoy if you take your time.
    Visited September 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written September 19, 2023
  • KarenM1_10
    1,044 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Informative guide at the abbey
    When you depart from the ferry, the first thing you see on your walk to the Abbey are ruins, is the Nunnery. As you proceed down the road, you will arrive at the Abbey. We were lucky that when we arrived a guided tour was about to begin. The guide provided good information relative to the history of the Abbey and answered all the questions from the group. We also saw the quad and the museum that was worth a look as well. If you have a tour allow yourself about 1-1/2 hours to explore this area.
    Visited July 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written October 5, 2023
  • Tom B
    Chesterfield, United Kingdom942 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Delightful Visit
    Make sure you check the ferries before travelling to Fionnphort the chanel has very strong currents. We only had a short time on Iona due to the ferry operations. However it was adequate and the Abbey etc was fantastic. What an experience of this atmospheric place. Thoroughly recommended.
    Visited September 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written October 5, 2023
  • davidandshona
    Dumfries, United Kingdom3,008 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    A return pilgrimage a mere 45½ years later
    I last visited Iona in 1978, on a school camping trip! 45½ years later, I fulfilled my vow to return again someday. After a spectacular 58 mile drive south from Tobermory (where we were staying for the week) to Fionnphort, we took the 10 minute ferry ride to the beautiful Isle of Iona. It was a first visit to Iona for Shona (and Glen!) This was quite simply the most enjoyable, if tiring, day out that we have had in years. Congratulations if you manage to view all 50 photos! Believe me when I say that these are merely the 'edited highlights'
    Visited January 2024
    Traveled as a couple
    Written February 5, 2024
  • Bob H
    Watsonville, California1,144 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    It is worth visiting
    It was a long day as we took a ferry to one island and then, drove across the island to get to another ferry. But it was worth it. I gave only four stars because of the long travel. We lucked out as we had great weather while we walked around. As we headed back to Oban, it poured.
    Visited July 2023
    Traveled with friends
    Written April 23, 2024
  • coteb39
    Nashua, New Hampshire142 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Not easy to get to, but very nice
    Iona was beautiful. A quaint little island. It's so hard to believe something 800 years old is still standing. Took a ferry from Oban to Mull, then a bus. We had lovely weather and the flowers were blooming.
    Visited May 2024
    Traveled with friends
    Written May 23, 2024
  • WD50
    Scotland, United Kingdom53 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Interesting, immaculate, very helpful staff.
    Beautifully kept gardens and buildings at the nunnery. Helpful staff who were very friendly and helpful, charismatic and happy to explain things. Interesting having a walk around and reading all the historic information. An audio guide was available but I preferred to take my own route.
    Visited May 2024
    Traveled as a couple
    Written May 25, 2024
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Most Recent: Reviews ordered by most recent publish date in descending order.

Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

Popular mentions

4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles1,091 reviews
Excellent
744
Very good
250
Average
71
Poor
15
Terrible
11

Eleanor C
Edinburgh, UK1 contribution
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2021
We went for a tour around the Abbey last weekend. We were a group of 4 booked into a tour of 9, but the other 5 did not show up, so we ended up with a private tour of the Abbey which was fantastic!

Our Guide was Mel, who delivered an enjoyable and informative tour! We really appreciated how welcome she made us feel and she took really good care of us throughout the tour.

The Abbey is set up really well for Covid, with pre-booked tours and clear instructions on when to wear masks and social distancing. We felt really safe going round (helped by having such a small group!)

We would definitely recommend a visit to other friends visiting Iona!
Written July 28, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

DrZZZZ
London, Canada98 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2022
I had known about Iona for sometime, especially after seeing the Book of Kells in Dublin and learned of the connection between the two, The history on this island is amazing and the nunnery ruins are a good preview to the Abbey.
The Abbey is impressive and a collection of old and early-mid 20th century rebuilds of the traditional buildings. The church is beautiful in it's austereness. Museum has some interesting artifacts and original stone crosses moved inside to protect them from the elements.

The drive to Fionnphort is about an hour from the ferry terminal. It is a beautiful trip, though to the uninitiated of single track roads, it is also an exciting one! You can buy your tickets at the ferry terminal, though if it is closed, you can also buy tickets on board. There are no scheduled ferry times, as the ferry ride is about 10 minutes and runs back and forth continually. You won't have to wait long. Tickets can be bought with cards, but the snack bar in the terminal only takes cash. No ATM nearby! It was a cold, rainy and blustery day and we wanted something hot to drink. A food truck across the road does take cards, but is not always open.
Written June 16, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Susan A
Dundee, UK178 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2020 • Couples
We have been here many times and never tire of this place. Mull itself is beautiful then you get a very short ferry trip to Iona and a short walk to the Nunnery and Iona Abbey. All worth a visit but this time around because of Covid you were not allowed into the Abbey itself. A real shame because inside is stunning to see. Still worth a visit to see the outside
Written October 9, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Ross
2 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2021 • Couples
Phenomenal building and atmosphere just like the whole island. Abbey is far bigger than expected. However my partner visited with her school twice around 16 years ago and she says a large ammount of it is closed. As we walked round she could tell me what was behind every closed door. Something i would not even think about until she brought it up ...gift shop is great like all other historic scotland sites. The courtyard is stunning. The main hall is beautiful. The smaller chapel out back is very basic and dark but it is what its meant to be i suppose. The small museum out back which holds the crosses is great. The nunnery is a beautiful ruin if only it wasnt beyond repair it would be just as beautiful as the abbey itself.
Written October 20, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Karl F
Liversedge, UK718 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2021 • Couples
Such an interesting tour - John was the main tour lead - only 10 on the tour which made you feel safe. John was so knowledgeable of the site and made the tour flow so well - the museum takes your breath away. Loved it
Written July 8, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

SarahB
4 contributions
2.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2021 • Friends
Wonderful location, but if, like many of the visitors whilst we were there, you didn’t know before your trip that you had to book, then you might have made the trip in vain. The signs at the ferry port on Mull were not prominent enough (A4 size and amongst other similar signs; one was on the boat-too late). All visits are guided with very little time to wander round and absorb the setting. Less information would definitely be more.
Written August 9, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Thank you for taking the time to review your visit to the abbey, we really appreciate your feedback. As a result of the pandemic, we have prioritised the safety of our visitors and staff and significantly reduced our daily visitor capacity as well as introduced visits by guided tour only to control the visitor flow. We are sorry to hear that you did not find the time at the abbey sufficient and have shared your feedback with the abbey staff. We have also done our best to communicate that tickets must be booked online in advance on our website, social media channels, newsletter and through the ferry operators. As government restrictions ease, we have now also eased restrictions at the abbey and other Historic Scotland sites. We have increased visitor numbers and a number of walk up tickets are now available.
Written September 7, 2021
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Mo100
43 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2023 • Solo
Sadly my whole day was ruined. I only had a couple of hours to spend on the island due to the late arrival of my ferry into Mull.

I went for a short hike in the hills & almost ran out of time before going back to the port. I decided to just pop into the small church for a few minutes on the way back to the port & I knew I wouldn't have time to go into the abbey.

I walked from the hill past the abbey on my left & there was a big gate (see photo) which I thought was the right one to use for the small church. I knew the small church did not require a ticket.

Upon opening the gate, the female staff member with short brown hair came out of the shop scowling at me & proceeded to rant at me about how that was a ticketed site and that I had used the "wrong" gate and it was reserved for vehicles & that I should've known as there was a padlock on it! The padlock (which I didn't even notice) was obviously not locked! I had just been hiking & opened about 3 gates on the hills that all had different catches on them so I thought nothing of this one. She did not even ask if I had actually bought a ticket in advance & treated me like a trepasser!

I politely said I had not been there before and was only intending to quickly visit the small church (it was already after 5pm). Thinking she would then understand why I ws at that gate, I was wrong. She STILL ranted on about the padlock and then (stroppily) told me the gate for the small church was further down the path to my right & did not require a ticket. I couldn't believe how I was being spoken to & why she was so wound up over a gate.

I pointed out there was no warning sign on the gate & that I'd walked from the direction of the hills where it wasn't possible to see the correct gate. She got argumentative at me AGAIN and was still going on about the padlock & so at that point I asked for the manager.

Upon going into the shop, her colleague called the manager. I told the first employee that had she been more civil to me, I would not feel like I needed to complain. She got worse, was pointing in my face and so in order to obtain evidence of this, I tried to capture this on my phone and she HIT my arm & tried to wrestle my phone out of my hand. I pointed out to her colleague that she was a witness to that & she implied she didn't see anything & gave me a nasty look which made it obvious she was just going to side with her colleague even though she did not see the gate incident. It was all so upsetting when I was a visitor and I was the one treated appallingly all because I committed the "grave error" of going through a wrong gate!

The manager arrived & was very kind & recorded my complaint but did state that there was no cctv on site.

After leaving the site, I found my e-ticket for the abbey which I purchased a few days before. Not once did that assistant ask if I'd bought a ticket in advance and just treated me like an illegal trespasser. Due to all the upset, I didn't think to find the ticket on my phone at the time.

The manager has refunded my ticket but after 4 weeks, it is very disappointing that nobody from Historic Scotland has responded to my complaint even though they have a formal complaints procedure on the website. I still feel sick when I think about the horrible way I was treated that day.
Written August 16, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Thanks for your review of your visit to the abbey. We were disappointed to read that your visit did not go as planned. Staff members advise that all visitors to the Abbey enter via the open pedestrian gate by the ticket office. The graveyard and St Oran’s Chapel have a separate entrance nearby. We have contacted our site team regarding your complaint. It was recorded at the time that you had submitted a verbal complaint to the abbey site manager, which did not require any follow up and that was confirmed by a family member. If you are unhappy with our response you can request a further investigation of your complaint. If you wish to do so, please contact us at complaints@hes.scot.
Written August 22, 2023
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Christine A
Oxfordshire, UK62 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2023 • Couples
We were lucky to visit this site on a lovely sunny day. We found the Nunnery interesting with detailed information boards. We recommend joining one of the free tours of the Abbey lasting about 45mns, as this puts this building into the local historical and Celtic Christian context and explains St Columba´s life and influence. We also learned about the architecture of the building and current worship there. A lot of details which we would have missed otherwise. Thanks to Callum, our guide,who obviously enjoys his work and responded to our additional questions with interest.
Do not miss the free entry museum at the back. It contains all the relevant history, some amazing Celtic crosses and tombstones, well worth spending time there. There are lovely walks to bays with turquoise water and white sand. Also, nice places to have coffee and food too. Plenty to do and enjoy if you take your time.
Written September 19, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Sue K
Stourport on Severn, UK76 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2024 • Couples
Firstly let me say that Iona is a beautiful island & the large majority of locals are friendly and welcoming, however this was Not our experience at the abbey.

Arriving at the ticket office we discovered it was £10 each to get in, not really having £20 in our budget for this we carried on walking up the road. We came to an unlocked gate, “lovely” we thought “we can wander round the grounds”.
Not having got very far along the path, a gentleman from the ticket office comes hurrying along “this is a fee paying site” he says. We apologise & explain that we thought the entrance fee was just to go into the Abbey.
This is when things turned far nastier than they needed to be.
“No”, he says “it’s for the whole site. I’ve just seen you walk past the office & come in through the gate” he accuses.
We turn to leave - & he unnecessarily stands and watches us until we’ve gone back through the gate & shut it behind us.
Next we cross over to the lovely community shop, who should appear but jobs worth from the ticket office. The shop stocks some lovely items & the lady behind the counter was incredibly friendly, offering us coffee, but being watched like criminals from this employee made us feel very uncomfortable & we left.

We understand that they need to raise money for maintaining the abbey, but unfortunately we didn’t have the spare cash to be able to contribute that day, but to be made to feel vindicated purely from going through an unlocked gate, with no signs on to say that you need to purchase a ticket to enter the grounds left a very bitter taste in our mouths.

They make a big deal about the Christian community over there, worshipping together, cooking & cleaning together, but there was certainly no Christian spirit extended to us. I feel for anyone wanting to make a pilgrimage there who doesn’t have money.

All in all it spoilt our enjoyment of our visit to a beautiful island.
Written February 24, 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Thank you for your recent review of the site. We were disappointed to read that your visit did not go as planned. The admission fee for Iona Abbey contributes towards the maintenance of the Abbey complex, Maclean’s cross, St Oran’s Chapel and the Nunnery on the Isle of Iona. The fee is for entry to the entire Iona Abbey site rather than to the Abbey Church only so you can also visit the cloisters, the shrine where Columba was buried, the museum with the sculpted stone collection and the Michael Chapel. It is possible to visit the graveyard, St Oran’s chapel and Nunnery without a ticket and these are all outwith the Abbey grounds. We are sorry you felt interaction with our steward was uncomfortable and we will look to put signage on the gate in the winter months advising visitor entry is through the main entrance. Many thanks for taking the time to review the Abbey.
Written April 12, 2024
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

GKTravellers
Harrogate, UK1,305 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2021
Fortunately, we were informed by our b&b of the need to book online for tours of the Abbey. Our guide, Jon, escorted us around the site (inside and out) for nearly one and half hours, expertly passing on his knowledge of the Abbey's history. We were also given time to view the museum and visit the gift shop.
Written May 13, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Showing results 1-10 of 992
Is this your Tripadvisor listing?
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.
Claim your listing

Iona Abbey and Nunnery, Isle of Iona

All things to do in Isle of Iona
RestaurantsFlightsTravel StoriesCruisesRental Cars