Iona is thought to be the first Christian site in Scotland.

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The Columba Centre was opened by Historic Environment Scotland in Fionnphort on Mull in 1997 as part of the commemorations for the 1400th anniversary of Columba's death. There are several good craft/gift shops and a book shop on Iona - click here for a list.

The Iona Gallery and Pottery run by Gordon Menzies is super.

The gardener was trimming the edges as the sun came and went.

I sat on one of the benches gazing at a row of three arches edged with pale stones.

It runs back and forth throughout the day and takes 5 minutes. This 6-hour trip allows ample time ashore on Iona, plus a non-landing trip to Staffa (Fingal's cave). There are regular buses from Craignure on the east coast of Mull connecting with the ferries arriving from Oban on the mainland. Travellers' Tips If you are unable to walk the quarter of a mile to the abbey, you can hire the Iona Taxi.

Throughout the tourist season there are daily coach day-trips to Mull, Iona, Staffa and the Treshnish Isles from Oban, click here for details. Scheduled boat trips (up to 3 hours) also operate on certain days. Contact Lindsay and Joyce Mc Intyre - telephone 07 - advance booking is essential. Or try Blazing Saddles Cycle Hire at Seaview Guest House in near the ferry at Fionnphort (Mull). The Oban Times has a free tourist map of Mull & Iona which you can download online (PDF).

Also visit Aosdana which is full of Celtic Iona silver jewellery, and the Oran creative crafts co-opererative in the Columba Steadings opposite the Columba Hotel.

A very useful biography was written about Saint Columba just a century after he died.

If you want to feel its magic, the best time to be on Iona is either early in the morning or in the evening to avoid the hundreds of day-trippers who pour off the ferry every day.

If the area around the Abbey gets too busy for you, then find one of Iona's sandy beaches and relax.

The south and western parts of the island are not so well visited, but well worth seeing.