Travel and safety
Language: English is the journey language and the official language in Scotland.
Travel Documents: A valid passport for the duration of your time in Scotland, United Kingdom (UK) is required. To come to the UK as a general visitor, you must be able to show that:
you are eighteen or older;
you intend to visit the UK for no more than six months;
you intend to leave the UK at the end of your visit;
you have enough money to support and accommodate yourself on your trip.
For other situations and more detailed information, please visit the UK Border Agency website or check with the United Kingdom embassy in your home country to verify visa requirements.
IMPORTANT: Do not pack your passport or travel documents in your luggage, as you will need them at the airport and upon boarding the plane. Keep them, as well as prescription medication, and any valuables in your carry-on bag, and keep your carry-on with you at all times while traveling.
Travel to Iona If you require a flight, we recommend flying into Glasgow International Airport (GLA). Immerse yourself in Scottish hospitality as you travel to Iona. Below are the suggested steps to get to Bishop’s House and/or the Catholic House of Prayer:
Flight to Glasgow International Airport (GLA)
Shuttle bus from the airport to Glasgow’s Queen Street Train Station
Train to Oban, Scotland
Ferry to Craignure on the Isle of Mull
Bus across the Isle of Mull from Craignure to Fionnphort
Ferry from Fionnphort to the jetty on the Isle of Iona.
Walk to your Lodging
Glasgow International Airport (GLA) is the closest international airport to the journey location. There are flights to Glasgow from major cities including Amsterdam, Philadelphia, New York, Toronto, London, and Paris. First Glasgow Shuttle provides you with the most direct service between the airport and Glasgow city centre. This inexpensive service operates up to every ten minutes, twenty-four hours a day, and it takes approximately twenty-five minutes.
You may have heard the saying, “All the way to heaven is heaven.” In our experience, all the way to Iona is part and parcel of the journey. There are regular trains from Glasgow’s Queen Street Train Station to Oban. Total travel time for the train trip is approximately three hours. The views of Scottish hills and lochs are soul stirring. You can learn more at Scot Rail.
In Oban, it is a short walk from the train to the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry terminal, where you can purchase a ticket to cross to Craignure on the Isle of Mull. If you have time to spare, Oban is a wonderful place to explore. This would be a great place to book a room overnight if you want to make your trip more leisurely.
The ferry ride to Craignure passes stunning castles and lighthouses and lasts about an hour. A scheduled bus service by West Coast Motors meets most ferries from Craignure to Fionnphort. Buses park on the left as you disembark the ferry. Tickets are purchased from the driver.
The drive across the Isle of Mull winds past misty mountains, picturesque farms, and small villages, bringing you to the Sound of Iona at the tiny village of Fionnphort. The sound is less than a mile across and is served by a frequent ferry operated by Caledonian MacBrayne. The crossing from Fionnphort (Mull) to Iona takes about ten minutes. Tickets can be purchased at the small ticket office or, if it is closed, from staff on board the ferry.
It is about a five-minute, moderate walk from the Iona jetty to Bishop’s House; your luggage may be transported if you would like assistance. You won’t need an address because everyone on Iona knows where Bishop’s House and the House of Prayer are. In fact, they don't even have a street address beyond “Isle of Iona, Argyll, UK.” You have come far enough to leave street addresses behind!
And now for the best part: You are likely to meet other participants along the way.
Money: Currency in Scotland is pound sterling (£). You may bring cash to exchange, use credit cards, or, prior to arrival on Iona, use ATM machines. Traveler’s cheques are not encouraged, as you must find a bank that will cash them.
What to Wear: Bring moderate clothing that you can layer. Include rain gear and sturdy walking shoes or boots for walking over hilly and sometimes damp terrain. Bordered by ocean, Iona can be windy and wet, but in May, it may also be warm and sunny. It is impossible to predict, so be prepared for variable weather, aware that walking is the way you meet the island. Pack a sweater or jacket for potentially cool days and sunglasses and a hat for sunny days. Please bring a flashlight.
Telephones and Internet access: Bishop’s House and Catholic House of Prayer have free wireless Internet access for their guests. There are no computers available, so participants need to provide their own. If participants bring a mobile telephone and hope to use it, you will need to make sure your provider works with O2, as that is the only reliable network on Iona. Bishop’s House has a pay telephone just outside the guest lounge that can also accept incoming calls.
General Information: Visit Scotland’s tourism website for more information on traveling in Scotland.