The Isle of Skye is one of the must visit places in Scotland, attracting millions of visitors every year from all around the World. Located in Northern Scotland, the Isle of Skye is famous for its breathtaking landscapes, majestic rugged mountains, dramatic cliffs, medieval castles and colourful fishing villages.
The word, ‘Skye’ originated from the Norse, meaning the island of clouds. In Gaelic, the name for the island is ‘Eilean a Cheo’ – ‘Misty Isle’. Also, the Isle of Skye is the land of fairies, kelpies and brownies – all mythological creatures in Scottish folklore. They go really well with the magical and mystic landscape here.
Visiting this island should come at the top of your Scotland travel bucket list. There are plenty of things to do and explore here. Every inch of this island is beautiful – it’s quite daunting to narrow down to a few places.
In this detailed travel guide, we will cover all the best things to do in the Isle of Skye – including popular hikes, stunning viewpoints, where to shop and eat, and where to stay and how to get around – pretty much everything you will need to know to plan your trip to the Isle of Skye.
Yay! Let’s begin the adventure together.
📍 Where is the Isle of Skye
The Isle of Skye is the most northerly and largest Island of the Inner Hebrides Islands. Situated on the west coast of Scotland, it belongs to the Highland Council area and is part of Inverness-shire county.
The capital of the Isle of Skye is Portree – the largest town and a busy tourist hub, famous for the pastel-coloured houses. After Portree, Broadford is the second-largest settlement on the Island.
🌦️Weather on the Isle of Skye
The Isle of Skye has a mild Oceanic climate due to the impact of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf Stream. It feels cold for most of the year. Generally, July is the warmest month, with an average temperature of 17°C. The temperature rarely drops below 8°C. The coldest month is February, with an average maximum temperature of 6°C. May is the driest month, with around 13 rainy days. The windiest month is January, followed by December, and then November. The wettest month is October.
Leaving behind all statistics and data, the weather here is very unpredictable. So, come prepared. The first time we visited the Isle of Skye was at the peak of summer, and it was pouring for most of our stay. You can’t predict Scottish weather, can you? You would need a bit of luck to get on with the weather.
🗓️ Best Time to Visit the Isle of Skye
Chances are you have already heard about how notorious Scottish weather could be. As the saying goes, “ If you don’t like Scottish weather, wait thirty minutes, and it is likely to change”. Therefore it’s a bit difficult to point out the exact best time to visit the Isle of Skye. Every weather is beautiful here in its way, making it an all-year-round destination.
🌞 Peak Season: The Summer months, May – July are the peak tourist season on the Isle of Skye. The weather stays relatively dry and warm this time of year and is great for all kinds of outdoor activities. Keep in mind though Midges ( the tiny monstrous insects, found in Scottish highlands) usually emerge around this time – from late May to September.
🍂 Shoulder Season: Our pick would be Autumn and Late Spring when the landscape gets more photogenic, midges are away and the hotels are less expensive. Also, it gets much less crowded than in summer. Weather is very unpredictable this time of year on the Isle of Skye. You might get to experience four seasons in a single day.
🏔️ Low Season: From November to March, the weather stays above the freezing temperature. Snow might linger in the higher mountains. Therefore not the best time for outdoor activities. It gets very gloomy and windy around this time. But Midges are gone for good, as they can’t survive the frost and cold.
⏱️ How Many Days to Spend on the Isle of Skye
Plan at least 3 days to explore the Isle of Skye. It may look like a small island on maps. But in reality, the island is quite huge. You can easily spend 1-2 weeks exploring different corners of this magical island.
If you have only 1 or 2 days, we would recommend going on an organised tour. That way, you can visit all the famous places on the Isle of Skye in a limited time.
🏴 25 Best Things to Do on the Isle of Skye
1. Discover the Magical Fairy Pool
Fairy Pool is hands down our favourite place and one of the main attractions on the Isle of Skye. Located in Glenbrittle, this magical place has an impressive web of small waterfalls with turquoise crystal clear water.
The setting against the backdrop of the imposing Black Cuillin mountains is simply out of the world. We were totally amazed the moment we set foot, despite seeing plenty of pictures on social media before.
In theory, it takes around 40 minutes to walk from the car park to the fairy pools. But we would recommend spending at least a couple of hours here to fully appreciate the natural beauty of this place. On a sunny warm day, it’s very tempting to take a dip under the waterfalls and have a picnic; Sounds “fairy” eh?
- Starting point: Fairy pool car park
- Distance: 2.4 km
- Time: 40 min – 1 hour
🔥Pro Tips: Fairy Pool is an excellent spot for wild swimming in Scotland. Don’t forget to bring your bathing suit or a wetsuit with you. The water here is pretty chilly all year round.
Thanks to Instagram, fairy pool has gotten insanely popular nowadays. As a result, this can get overcrowded sometimes, especially during the summer months. We would recommend getting here early in the morning or before the sunset to avoid the crowd. And you might have the whole place to yourself.
🚗 How to reach by car– It’s pretty straightforward to get here by car. Head straight to Glen Brittle, where you’ll find a parking lot. And a well-built path leading directly to the Fairy Pools.
🚌 How to reach by bus– Fairy Pools are not easily reachable by public transport. Citylink bus from Glasgow stops near Sligachan hotel, which is the nearest bus stop. From there you have to walk nearly 5 miles to reach the fairy pool car park.
You can also hire a taxi to pick you up from Sligachan. Other than the main town of Portree, the taxi service here is very limited on the Isle of Skye. So, pre-book your taxi if needed.
2. Hike Quiraing – Table, Needle and the Prison
A must-visit place on the Isle of Skye, Quiraing is famous for its dramatic landscape and rugged charm. The word ‘Quiraing’ has its origin in the Norse word, Kvi Rand, which means – ‘Round Fold’. Located on the Trotternish peninsula in the northern part of the Isle of Skye, Quiraing has some unique landforms:
- The Table – a flat grassy landscape
- The Needle – a pointy 37m pinnacle
- The Prison – a unique rock formation having a resemblance to a medieval keep.
The Quiraing circuit from the car park would take about 3 – 4 hours to complete. You would get a stunning panoramic view of Staffin Bay and the motorway, which winds down with several twists and turns. Undoubtedly, that’s one of the most photogenic roads in Britain. You can hack this amazing view with just a short walk from the car park.
- Starting point: car park at the summit
- Distance: 6.5 km / 4 miles
- Time: 3-4 hours
🚗How to reach by car– The car park is at the highest point of a single track road. It’s about 5.5 miles from Uig and 2.5 miles from Staffin. From Portree, it’s 21 miles and will take about 30 minutes to drive.
The car park gets very busy in summer and fills up quite quickly. So, you might need to drive further along the road to find a spot.
🚌How to reach by Public transport– The nearest bus stop is 3km away at Brogaig, Staffin. Catch Stagecoach bus service 57A from Portree town square to Brogaig.
3. Neist Point – A Must-see Attraction on the Isle of Skye
Located in the most westerly part of the island, Nest Point is certainly one of the must-visit places on the Isle of Skye.
This iconic landform is home to one of the most iconic lighthouses in Scotland. Moreover, It boasts of having some stunning cliffs and offers an unrivalled view across the North Atlantic Ocean.
Once there, take the concrete path to the left from the car park that descends down to the lighthouse. It gets a bit steep at places, but it’s worth the walk as you would be blessed with some gorgeous views. Plus, if you are lucky, you might be able to spot some minke whales and dolphins as well from the tip of the lighthouse. Allow around 45 minutes to 1 hour to walk down and come back.
Finally, don’t miss the Lighthouse Viewpoint which is a short walk to the right of the car park. As you walk along, the seductive stretch of the cliff would become more prominent with the lighthouse at the end. On a warm sunny day, it’s a great spot to enjoy a picnic with a view.
📸Photography Tip: If you are a keen photographer, Neist Point is one of the best sunrise and sunset points on the Isle of Skye. It’s a popular spot to watch the sun dip on the Atlantic. You can imagine how golden the lighthouse would like under the setting sun.
🚌How to reach by public transport: The nearest bus stop is 5 km away at Glendale, Duirinish peninsula. Catch Stagecoach bus service 56 to reach Glendale.
🚗How to reach by car- From Portree 1 hours 5 min / 30 miles.
4. Hike the Mighty Old Man of Storr
An iconic place on the Isle of Skye, Old Man of Storr is one of the most dramatic rock formations in the United Kingdom.
There are many folklores behind these unique shaped rocky pinnacles. Some say it’s the fingers sticking out of a giant. Now, some believe it’s the work of the angry brownies of the Isle of Skye. Another story goes that the fairies tricked an old man and his wife into stones.
Anyway, choose whatever you would like to believe, the Old man of Storr is mind-blowingly impressive.
Hiking it is one of the best things to do on the Isle of Skye. The walk, from the Old Man of Storr car park to the pinnacles, is a popular hike, particularly in summer. From the car park, it would take about 45 minutes to reach the foot of the mighty pinnacles. It’s a moderately easy walk – so you can easily do this even if you are not a serious hiker. From the top, the view of the pinnacles is simply magical. You would also get a stunning view of Loch Leathan and the Sound of Raasay.
- Starting point: Old man of Storr car park on the left side of the A855, 6.8miles from Portree.
- Distance: 4.5km / 2.75 miles
- Time: 1.5 – 2 hours
- Elevation: 288m
🔥Top tips: As the hike is extremely popular, we would recommend making an early start. You would be able to enjoy the place more to yourself. Plus, there would be great photo opportunities with lesser people.
One of the best viewpoints for photographing the Old Man of Storr is from the road near Loch Fada. On not so windy days, you get to see the reflection of Storr on the water.
🚗 How to reach by car: From Portree, around 14 minutes drive to the Storr car park.
🚌How to reach by public transport: Catch Stagecoach bus service 57A from Portree town square. It takes around 15 minutes to reach Old man of Storr car park.
Alternatively, you can get a taxi from Portree market square. One way taxi will cost you around £15.
5. Visit Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls Viewpoint
By the name of it, this 90-metre Basalt rock formation looks like a pleated kilt. If you are not familiar with the Kilt, it’s a short knee-length dress for men – sort of a national emblem of Scotland. The Kilt Rock is one of the famous things to see in Skye.
Not sure whether it’s just us, but we struggled to find the resemblance. Although, We were very amused with the Mealt Falls tumbling down the Kilt Rock to the sea – a treat to the eyes. There is a viewing platform to admire the spectacular beauty of the Isle of Skye. Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls is a popular photo spot, and it can be quite busy sometimes, particularly in summer.
🚗 How to reach by car: From Portree 30 minutes / 15.3 miles
🚌How to reach by public transport: Catch Stagecoach bus service 57A from Portree town square. It takes around 27 minutes to reach Kilt Rock.
6. Lose Yourself in the Fairy Glen
Located near the northern village, Uig, Fairy Glen is a cluster of grassy, cone-shaped wee crumpled hills. Most of them are super easy to climb, and you would have a gorgeous view over to a small loch. Walking around the fairy glen is one of the best family-friendly things to do in Skye.
A bit of scrambling would be required to climb up Castle Ewen, a rocky tower among them. The panoramic view from there is simply breathtaking.
Though there is no folklore linking the fairies (or faeries – Scottish mythological creatures) to the Fairy Glen, some believe that they created this land and hide in the hills. So, best of luck with finding the fairies.
🚌How to reach by public transport: Catch local Stagecoach bus service 57 or Citylink service 916 from Portree town Square to Uig Hotel. The bus takes around 26 minutes. From the Uig Hotel bus stop, it’s a one-mile walk to get to the Glen.
🚗 How to reach by car: From Portree 24 minutes / 15.7 miles.
Parking Space is very limited in Fairy Glen. If you are coming by car, would recommend leaving your car at Uig and walking down here. It would take nearly half an hour.
7. Portree – A Great Base to Explore Isle of Skye
Located on the east coast, Portree is the main settlement on the Isle of Skye. Portree itself is very picturesque. Look at the colourful houses at the harbour. Aren’t they cute? It’s a great base to stay and explore most of the attractions on the Isle of Skye.
A popular viewpoint in Portree is the Lump which is just a five-minute walk from the town Centre. You can get a stunning view of the harbour and the bay from Apothecary’s Tower over there. On a clear sunny spell, mighty pinnacles of the Old Man of Storr will come into sight.
Portree has lots of hotels, B&B, restaurants, award-winning fish & chips shops (The Chippy), and pubs around the town centre. Seafood is highly recommended in local restaurants.
🚌How to reach by public transport: Being the major tourist hub on the Isle of Skye, Portree is easy to reach. Citylink buses and Local Stagecoach buses all go through Portree.
🚗 How to reach by car: From Glasgow 5 hours 10 min / 216 miles.
8. Be Captivated by Scenic Village Elgol
Tucked away on the southern coastline of the Isle of Skye, Elgol is a small Scottish village in the Strathaird peninsula offering one of the best views of the Cuillin ranges. This village on Loch Scavaig is about 14 miles away from Broadford, the second biggest settlement on the Isle of Skye after Portree.
Elgol has some great walking opportunities including the coastal walk to Loch Coruisk. Also, you can explore Bonnie Prince Charlie’s cave where he hid after the defeat of the Jacobites in the mid-18th century. The boat services to Loch Coruisk and the wildlife trips are sailed from the village harbour.
🚌How to reach by public transport: Stagecoach runs bus service 55 from Broadford to Elgol a few times a day on weekdays and Schooldays.
🚗 How to reach by car: Takes 35 minutes to drive down from Broadford.
9. Loch Coruisk – Birthplace of ‘The Skye Boat Song’
Lying at the foot of the Black Cuillin, Loch Coruisk is a breathtaking beautiful freshwater loch on the Isle of Skye. It’s easily accessible by boat from Elgol across another loch, Loch Scavaig. Taking this boat trip is one of the most fun things to do on the Isle of Skye.
There are a couple of companies that run boat services from there. We took the boat tour called Misty Isle Boat Trips. The closer we came to the imposing mountain ranges, the view got more mesmerising. It was an incredible experience. The loch is also accessible by a long and strenuous walk from Sligachan and Elgol.
Legend has it, that this loch was once the home to the Kelpies – mythical water horses in Scottish folklore. Allegedly, they can transform themselves into human shapes. So, you never know whether you might meet a Kelpie.
It’s also believed that the famous Scottish folk song ‘The Skye Boat Song’ originated in Loch Coruisk, getting inspired by a Gaelic version sung by the local rowers.
⛵How to reach: Catch Stagecoach bus 55 from Broadford to Elgol. Then, board a ferry from Elgol pier.
10. Uncover the History and Heritage of Dunvegan Castle
🚌How to reach by public transport: Limited stagecoach bus service 56 from Portree.
🚗 How to reach by car: 35 minutes drive on A850 from Portree.
⏰Opening hours: Seasonal Opening, 14 May – 15 October, daily 10 am – 5.30 pm.
💰Entrance fees: Castle and Gardens- Adult £14.00, Child (5-15yrs) £9.00. Gardens only- Adult £12.00, Child £7.00
11. Visit Sligachan Old Bridge for an Epic View of the Cuillins
Sligachan is situated about 10 miles south of Portree on the Isle of Skye. This small settlement offers a classic view of the majestic Red and Black Cuillin mountains.
There are 11 Munros (Scottish terms for mountains over 3000 ft) and over 30 summits on the ridge of the Cuillin mountains. Also, the famous ridge of the Black Cuillin is UK’s most challenging mountain range.
Besides, the picturesque stone bridge and the Sligachan River add some extra dimension. You would see them appear on many postcards of the Isle of Skye. Honestly, the wet weather in Skye perhaps makes this rugged place more atmospheric, at least to us.
Near the Sligachan Car park, you can spot the statues of Prof. Norman Collie and John Mackenzie – two pioneering mountaineers and friends. They established the hiking routes for climbing the Cullinan mountains in the early 20th century.
🚌How to reach by public transport: Catch Stagecoach bus service 52 or Citylink service 915, 916, 917 from Portree or Kyle of Lochalsh to Sligachan Hotel.
🚗 How to reach by car: From Portree 13 minutes / 9.4 miles.
12. Go on a Wildlife Boat Tour on the Isle of Skye
The Isle of Skye has an abundance of wildlife, especially the minke whales, dolphins, seals, otters, white eagles, golden eagles and many more. Several wildlife boat trips operate from various places on the Isle of Skye, mainly Portree, Elgol, Dunvegan and Uig. Some boat trips run year-round, while others are seasonal.
One of Scotland’s best wildlife locations, the Isle of Skye is a birdwatcher’s and wildlife enthusiasts’ paradise. On our boat trip to Loch Coruisk from Elgol, we spotted a few minke whales jumping playfully above the water. It’s a shame they completely eluded our camera.
We managed to get pictures of some seals and red deer though on the shore of Loch Coruisk. So, keep your eyes peeled and get your cameras ready.
13. Discover Dinosaurs Footprints at Staffin Bay
Million years ago, Dinosaurs once roamed around this breathtaking land. In recent years the Isle of Skye has become a well known geological heritage site. Nearly 15% of all mid-Jurassic discoveries worldwide were made here. Not only that, but you would also get a gorgeous view of the Quiraing, which lies not too far from here. So, a perfect place to paddle along the sandy beach savouring the view.
🚌How to reach by public transport: Catch local Stagecoach bus service 57A from Portree town Square to Staffin village. The bus takes around 31 minutes to reach. The beach is a short walk from the bus stop.
🚗 How to reach by car: From Portree around 35 min / 19 miles.
14. Rainy Day Activities: Try a Dram at Talisker Distillery
Talisker Distillery is the oldest working, single malt Scotch whisky distillery on the Isle of Skye. It’s located in the beautiful Scottish village of Carbost, on the shores of Loch Harport. Established in 1830, Talisker is a must-visit attraction for all whisky lovers visiting the Isle of Skye. They run distillery tours every day and you would get to taste a few drams. Plus, you can grab a gift or souvenir from their gift shop.
Talisker offers two different distillery tours – The Talisker Cask Tasting tour and the Flavours of Talisker tour. Both the tours last for around 45 minutes.
Talisker Cask Tasting tour offers a tasting experience of 4 unique drams, 3 of which are hand-drawn from casks taken from the warehouse. Due to the rare and exclusive whiskies included in this experience, it is only available once every day, at 1:30 pm and costs £25 per person.
Flavours of Talisker tour is a tutored tasting of 3 expressions of Talisker whiskies by an experienced guide in their visitor centre. This tour runs daily, every hour, 10 am – 4 pm and costs £15 per person.
⏰Opening hours: March- October 10:00 am – 17:00 pm / November – February 10:00 am – 16:30 pm
🚗 How to reach by car: From Portree around 26 min / 17.2 miles.
🚌How to reach by public transport: Catch A MacDonald bus service 608 from Portree. Takes nearly 40 minutes to reach Talisker.
15. Enjoy Fresh Seafood on the Isle of Skye
The Isle of Skye has a brilliant seafood scene. You can find restaurants serving delicious and fresh seafood all around the island – from chip shops to Michelin Star restaurants. The Chippy in Portree is one of the award-winning Fish and Chip shops in Scotland. Also, pop inside The Oyster Shed near the Talisker Distillery. It is a very popular seafood restaurant on the Isle of Skye. Taste their fresh crab, lobster, mussels and oysters.
If you would like to splurge, Loch Bay Restaurant near Dunvegan Castle (about 15 minutes drive) is a Michelin starred restaurant. They have an amazing seafood tasting menu. For more recommendations on restaurants, read out the ‘Where to eat’ section later in this travel guide.
16. Wee Photo Stop at Rigg Viewpoint
Located at about 10 miles north of Portree on the east coast of Isle of Skye, Rigg Viewpoint is an excellent spot to pull over on A855. A wee stop along the road to soak up the stunning coastal view.
You would get a spectacular panoramic view over mainland Scotland, the Isle of Raasay and Rona. You can also see Trotternish Ridge, Red and Black Cuillin Mountains, and the Old Man of Storr. If you are travelling around the Isle of Skye in a campervan, it’s a great place to spend the night.
🚗 How to reach by car: From Portree around 22 min / 10.2 miles.
17. Explore the Iron age ruins of Dun Beag Broch
Located on the west coast of the Isle of Skye, Dun Beag is an iron-age broch – historic stone houses found in the north and west parts of Scotland. On your way to Dunvegan Castle, don’t forget to make a stop at this Hebridean stone tower.
Located over a small hill, Dun Beag Broch is free to explore. From the car park, it’s quite easy to climb but keep in mind there is no proper waymarked path. You would get an astounding view over to Loch Bracadale and the Cuillin Mountains. It is a very nice wee spot on the Isle of Skye to ponder over history and enjoy the view.
⏰Opening hours: Open year round.
🚗 How to reach by car: From Portree around 25 min / 11.2 miles.
18. Stargazing on the Isle of Skye
Free from light pollution, the Isle of Skye is one the best places in the UK for keen stargazers. There are about nine Dark Sky Discovery sites located throughout this Island. Three of those are around Waternish, one in Broadford, two at Kylerhea and Kinloch Forest, and three around Armadale. The best time to gaze upon the celestial wonders is between September and April.
On clear nights, you can see the Milky Way, stars, distant planets and meteors. In Winter, you can witness the Northern lights dancing over the Island.
During our stay on the Isle of Skye, we got clear nights most of the time and were able to see the spectacular starry skies and Milky Way. We were coming from Kyle by bus, and we got off at a stop near Broadford, where we booked our hotel for the first couple of days. It was pitch dark, and we couldn’t see a thing apart from the sky crammed full of stars and galaxies. It was a magical experience.
19. Lealt Falls – A Lovely Waterfall on the Isle of Skye
One of the most picturesque waterfalls on the Isle of Skye, Lealt Falls is located about 12 miles north of Portree. In fact, it’s quite close to Kilt Rock. This spectacular waterfall lies inside a 90 meter deep gorge on the Lealt River in the Isle of Skye.
There are a couple of viewing platforms to enjoy a superb view of this waterfall and the surroundings. There are some picnic benches as well if you fancy a bite admiring the view.
🚌How to reach by public transport: Catch local Stagecoach bus service 57A from Portree town Square to ‘Lealt Fall Road End’ bus stop. The bus takes around 22 minutes to reach.
🚗 How to reach by car: From Portree around 20 min / 12 miles.
20. Skye Bridge – Bridge Connecting with the Mainland
Skye Bridge connects the Isle of Skye with the mainland of Scotland – linking the village of Kyleakin on Skye to Kyle of Lochalsh on the Scottish mainland. Opened in 1995, this road bridge is 500 metres long over Loch Alsh and is one of the busiest road bridges in the UK.
📸Best Viewpoints: There are two nice viewpoints from where you can admire the view of this beautiful bridge:
Kyle of Lochalsh Viewpoint – From Kyle of Lochalsh Rail Station, walk 18 minutes to reach this viewpoint. The stunning view over the Skye Bridge and Loch Alsh is worth the walk. A great sunset photo spot.
Loch Alsh Viewpoint – Walk 12 minutes from Kyle of Lochalsh train station to reach this viewpoint. A great place to stop along the A87 and take photos. The view of Skye bridge and Kyleakin village is gorgeous.
🚌How to reach by public transport: Catch a Citylink or local Stagecoach bus from Portree or Broadford.
🚗 How to reach by car: From Portree around 46 min / 33 miles.
21. Eilean Donan Castle – One of the Most Visited Castles in Scotland
One of the most photographed and best castles in Scotland near the gateway of the Isle of Skye, Eilean Donan Castle is a jewel on the Northwest coast of Scotland.
Perched on a small islet, where three sea lochs meet, this castle is connected to the mainland by an arched stone bridge. Surrounded by gorgeous mountain ranges, no wonder why Eilean Donan Castle is a popular spot among visitors and wedding photo shooters.
Take a tour of the castle to discover its fascinating and riveting history. Throughout the centuries, it has seen many battles and destruction. It got completely destroyed during the Jacobite Uprising. Reconstruction began in the 20th-century.
This castle was featured in many movies, tv shows and documentaries. It appeared as the MI6 headquarter in the 1999 Bond film – The World is Not Enough.
This iconic castle is technically not on the Isle of Skye. But due to its proximity, this castle is a must-see attraction on your trip to the Isle of Skye. After exploring the Eilean Donan Castle, stroll around the neighbouring fishing village Dornie. The colourful houses there are very picturesque.
⏰Opening hours: Varies depending on the season. Generally, 10 am – 6 pm during summer months.
💰Entrance fees: Adult £10, Child £6 and Family £29.
🚌How to reach by public transport: Catch Citylink bus services 915, 916 and 917 from Glasgow, Inverness or Portree on the Isle of Skye. The bus stop is called Bridge Road end. It takes 38 minutes from Broadford and 1 hour 18 minutes from Portree.
🚗 How to reach by car: From Portree, it’s around 1 hour / 43 miles.
22. Befriend a Highland Cow
If you are not familiar with Highland Cow (or Heilan Coo in Scottish), it’s time to see some photos of them before your trip to Scotland. Highland Cow is one of the icons of Scotland. You would find them appear on many postcards of Scotland.
These cute animals have quite unique curvy horns and long woolly coats. Originated in the Highlands and the Outer Hebrides, they are the oldest registered breed of cattle in the world. They come in many shades of colours like brindle, red, white, and black. They are usually very friendly, and you can easily take a selfie with them.
On the Isle of Skye, you can find them near a village called Sconser – located on the way from Broadford to Portree. We have marked the location on google maps later in this article.
23. Uig - A Port Village in the Isle of Skye
Uig is one of the three main settlements on the Isle of Skye. It’s a great base to explore and walk the Trotternish peninsula, which has two of the main attractions of the Isle of Skye – The Old Man of Storr and the Quiraing.
Having a horseshoe-shaped bay, Uig offers some great views. Plus, Fairy Glen is just half an hour’s walk from here. You can explore the Skye Museum of Island life and Caisteal Uisdean – a 17th century ruined castle.
Having a horseshoe-shaped bay, Uig offers some great views. Plus, Fairy Glen is just half an hour’s walk from here. You can also explore the Skye Museum of Island life and Caisteal Uisdean – a 17th century ruined castle.
If you would like to extend your trip to the Western Isles in the Outer Hebrides, take the ferries from here operated by Caledonian MacBrayne to Tarbert (Isle of Harris) and Lochmaddy (North Uist).
🚌How to reach by public transport: Catch Stagecoach bus service 57C or Citylink service 915, 916 from Portree to Uig.
🚗 How to reach by car: From Portree around 20 min / 14.5 miles.
24. Plockton – the Jewel of the Highlands in Scotland
Mild weather, palm trees, coral beach, seal watching, hiking – you would have plenty of amazing things to do in Plockton. This former fishing village in North West Scotland is a perfect spot to relax and soak in the stunning scenery.
Taking a short trip to the peaceful Plockton is of the best things to do on the Isle of Skye if you want to avoid the crowd.
🚗 How to reach by car: Plockton is about 15 minutes drive from Kyle of Lochalsh, the gateway to the Isle of Skye. So, this village is a perfect detour when you are getting in or out of Skye. If you are on the NC 500 road trip, take a slight detour from Strathcarron via A890. There is a car park at Harbour Street near the Visitor Centre.
🚂How to reach by train: Plockton is just about 10 minutes train ride from Kyle of Lochalsh. From Inverness, there are regular ScotRail services to Plockton as well.
25. Visit Outer Hebrides – Extended trip from the Isle of Skye
In case you haven’t heard of the Outer Hebrides before, it’s a group of stunningly spectacular islands off the west coast of mainland Scotland. Isle of Lewis and Harris, North and South Uist, Barra and Benbecula are the main islands in the Outer Hebrides. They have some of the award-winning best sprawling beaches in Europe, and because of its remote location, it’s free of the crowd. Sounds tempting?
Exploring the Outer Hebrides would be a lifetime experience. If you have time to extend your Isle of Skye trip by a few days (at least 3 – 4 days), one of the Islands in the Outer Hebrides would be a great choice.
⛴️ How to Reach by public transport: Just Hop on the CalMac Ferry from Uig on the Isle of Skye. They run regular ferry services to Tarbert in the Isle of Harris and Lochmaddy in North Uist.
🗺️ Map of the Attractions on the Isle of Skye
Here is the Google Map of all the best things to do on the Isle of Skye. Outside the main towns, Portree and Broadford mobile network coverage might be poor sometimes. So, download the map and use it offline. We have marked all the attractions, viewpoints and restaurants on this map.
📋 Some Practical Tips for your Isle of Skye Trip
Here are some practical tips and suggestions to help you plan your next trip to the Isle of Skye.
🤠 Bring your sense of adventure – Don’t let the bad weather ruin your holidays. The weather here is very dramatic, and even at the peak of summer, you might get some rain. Be flexible with your itinerary. It is better to plan indoor activities, like exploring castles and whisky tasting on rainy days.
🥾 Bring Comfortable walking shoes – Most of the attractions on the Isle of Skye are outdoors. So, you will need a pair of comfortable walking shoes, best if it’s waterproof.
🦟 Bring Midge Repellent – If you are visiting Skye in summer, stock up plenty of midge repellents before heading out. Currently, Smidge is a popular Midge repellent brand. Also, consider buying a midge net to cover your face and neck from these little monsters. If you want a midge-free holiday, visit the Isle of Skye in autumn, winter and early spring.
🌇 Get there early – In recent times, Skye’s popularity has grown exponentially. As a result of over-tourism, famous sights like Fairy Pools and Old Man of Storr gets over-crowded and super busy during the day. So, visit these places early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid crowds.
🧥 Bring a waterproof jacket – There are always good chances of rain – no matter when you visit. So, bring a lightweight, breathable, waterproof and windproof jacket with you.
🚢 Ditch the crowd and Visit Raasay – If the Isle of Skye is too crowded for you, visit the stunningly beautiful neighbouring Isle of Raasay. This island is just a 25-minute ferry ride from Sconser on the Isle of Skye, but it’s not that touristy. There are plenty of activities you can do here – hiking, kayaking and whisky tasting in Raasay Distillery.
🏡 Book Hotels & Restaurants in advance – In summer, hotels and restaurants get filled up very quickly. So, to avoid disappointment, book your hotels and restaurants early, preferably at least a month before your trip.
🗺️ Download the offline maps – Outside the main towns and villages, mobile network coverage is not too great on the island. So, download the offline maps beforehand. You may need it to navigate.
📸 Bring your Camera – Every corner of the Isle of Skye is so pretty. It is a photographer’s paradise. So, enjoy your stay on this magical island, and take beautiful memories back home.
Planning a Trip to Scotland?
For further reading on other SCOTLAND destinations:
🏴 Cullen, Moray | 2 Days in Cullen, Moray Firth – 17 Things to Do
🏴 Braemar | How to Spend 2 Days in Braemar – 15 Top Things to do
🏴 Inveraray | 15 Most Awesome Things to do in Inveraray
🚗 How to Reach the Isle of Skye by Car
You can reach the Isle of Skye very easily by car from all the main cities or towns in Scotland. You have two choices here – drive to Mallaig and catch a ferry to Armadale, Skye or drive to Kyle of Lochalsh and cross via Skye Bridge.
Let’s see the Skye bridge option first. It takes over 5 hours to drive from Edinburgh or Glasgow to reach Portree – the main town of the Isle of Skye. If you would like to take a detour via super scenic Glencoe, Loch Lomond and Fort William, it would take about 6 hours.
We would recommend making a few stops or a few day trips along the way to break the long drive. This way you would get to see more of Scotland. Visit Stirling, Cairngorms National Park, Loch Ness and Glenfinnan on your way to the Isle of Skye.
- From Edinburgh to Portree: 5 hours 30 minutes / 235 miles
- From Glasgow to Portree: 5 hours / 216 miles
- From Inverness to Portree: 2 hours 30 minutes / 114 miles
- From Fort William to Portree: 2 hours 20 minutes / 108 miles
- From Aberdeen to Portree: 5 hours 20 minutes / 215 miles
You can also come to Isle of Skye by a Car ferry operated by CalMac, sailing from Mallaig – a port on the west coast of Scotland. A great option if you would like to combine the famous Jacobite Steam Train ride (also known as the Hogwarts Express) with your trip. The CalMac ferry takes approximately 45 minutes to reach Armadale in the Isle of Skye. You can buy ferry tickets from the CalMac website or the ticket office at the port.
Ferry Timetable: Runs every day. Time varies depending on the seasons. There are separate timetables for the winter and summer months.
Fares: Adult £3.10, Child £1.55, Car £10.30.
🚃 How to Reach the Isle of Skye by Public Transport
Wondering how to visit the Isle of Skye without a car? We have been lucky to travel to this magical island twice over the years. Both times, we entirely relied on public transport to get us here.
Getting to Skye is pretty straightforward and super easy. Buses and trains run timely and are very efficient. Also, we would recommend visiting a few other places in Scotland on your way to the Isle of Skye.
So, sit back and relax. Enjoy the incredible natural beauty Scotland has to offer.
🚂 Visit Isle of Skye by Train
There is no train station directly located on the Isle of Skye. You have to take a train to Kyle of Lochalsh, located on the mainland and also the nearest train station. Four trains are running daily from Inverness to Kyle. Make your way to Syke, after visiting the world-famous Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle.
- From Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh: 2 hours 35 minutes
- Train Fare: Adult £14.60 One Way
Alternatively, you can take a train from Fort William to Mallaig. Catch a CalMac ferry from Mallaig to Armadale in Skye. From Armadale take Stagecoach bus 52 to Broadford.
Keep in mind that the bus is not very frequent. Will recommend going through the Skye Bridge route if you want more flexibility on public transport options.
- From Fort William to Mallaig: 1 hour 22 minutes
- Train Fare: Adult £7.50 One Way
🚌 Visit Isle of Skye by Bus
Citylink runs regular bus services a few times a day from Glasgow Buchanan Bus Station to Uig on the Isle of Skye. The bus stops at Broadford, Portree and Kyle of Lochalsh as well.
In the summer months, tickets get sold out pretty fast, especially during the weekends. So, get your tickets way in advance to avoid disappointment.
It’s a long scenic journey to reach the Isle of Skye. Bring a good book and some great music to accompany you.
- From Glasgow to Portree: 6 hours 20 minutes, Bus Fare: Adult £47.10
- From Fort William to Portree: 3 hours 4 minutes, Bus Fare: Adult £34.30
- From Inverness to Portree: 3 hours 14 minutes, Bus Fare: Adult £28.10
*Buying a 3-day or 5-day Citylink Explorer pass for £49 or £74 will be a cost-effective option.
⛴️ Visit Isle of Skye by Ferry
Take the CalMac (Caledonian MacBrayne) ferry from Mallaig to Armadale on the Isle of Skye. That’s a good option if you would like to combine the iconic Ben Nevis or Glenfinnan Viaduct with your trip. We would suggest spending a few days exploring Fort William – the outdoor capital of the UK.
If you are coming from the Outer Hebrides, CalMac ferries run daily ferry services from Tarbert (Isle of Harris) and Lochmaddy (North Uist) to Uig.
There is also a ferry crossing from Glenelg on the Scottish mainland to Kylerhea on the Isle of Skye. Board MV Glenachulish, the last manually operated turntable ferry in Scotland.
Depending on the weather conditions, the ferry runs from Easter until October. Daily between 10 am to 6 pm.
🏃♂️How to Get Around Isle of Skye
🚗 By Car
The easiest and most convenient way to get around Skye is by car. Many of the roads here are single track. So, keep left, never cross right, and reverse back to the nearest passing place, if needed.
🚌 By Bus
For public transport, Stagecoach runs the local bus services around the island. You can purchase tickets from Stagecoach apps or directly from the bus driver. A single ticket costs £3.90 per adult. If going to travel a lot by bus, we would suggest buying the ‘Skye DayRider’ – costs £7.30, valid at all times on all services within the Isle of Skye. Buses are comfortable and run timely.
The other bus company that operates on the Isle of Skye is Citylink – these are long haul buses. You can book the tickets online in advance from their website or buy them from the bus driver. In summer, seats fill up very quickly. So, even for a short ride, we would recommend booking online early. Buy a 3-day Citylink Explorer pass for unlimited travel for any 3 days out of a consecutive 5 days on Scottish Citylink services within Scotland. It costs £49 per adult.
Portree is the main town on the Isle of Skye, and most of the buses leave from here. If you are using lots of bus services to get around, stay near Portree or Broadford. Keep in mind that most of the local Stagecoach buses don’t run on weekends. But, Citylink buses run every day, even on weekends.
🛌 Where to Stay on the Isle of Skye
Portree, Broadford and Uig are three main settlements on the Isle of Skye. Portree has most of the hotels and B&Bs. It is a great base to explore this island. Also, Uig is a good choice. There are some excellent walking opportunities in the Trotternish peninsula. Broadford would be a good base for exploring Elgol and Loch Coruisk. Also, there are many hostels and campsites dotted on this island.
Skeabost House Hotel (*8.8) – This historical country-house hotel is surrounded by a river, gardens and a golf course. It is just an eleven-minute drive from Portree.
Hebridean Inn (*8.8) – Located in Broadford, on the Isle of Skye, this inn boasts spectacular views over the Broadford bay. Rooms at the Hebridean Inn are cosy and comfortable. The staffs are super friendly and helpful.
Greshornish House Hotel (*9.1) – Located in remote Greshornish peninsula, a Lovely secluded location on the Isle of Skye, this hotel is about 17 miles from Portree.
Cuillin Hills Hotel (*9.4) – This is a luxury 4-star hotel near Portree – that boasts a wonderful view over Portree Bay.
The Portree Hotel (*8.3) – This hotel is located at a corner of Portree’s main street. The main bus stop and taxi ranks are very close to this accommodation.
Portree Youth Hostel – Just minutes from Portree town square, this hostel offers both small private en-suite and shared accommodation. All the attractions in Portree are within walking distance.
Portree Independent Hostel – Situated in the centre of Portree, this vibrant yellow coloured hostel comes with a spacious kitchen and dining room. It also offers a stunning view from Portree Bay to the Cuillins.
Broadford Youth Hostel – Located near Broadford Bay, this hostel offers small private and shared rooms. It’s within walking distance of supermarkets, cafes and bus stop. You can often see Otters and seals from the nearby pier.
Skye Backpackers – Located in the beautiful fishing village of Kyleakin, this cosy hostel offers all essential facilities.
Glenbrittle Youth Hostel – This hostel is close to the magical Fairy Pools and the famous Talisker Distillery. A good base for hikers and climbers exploring this area on the Isle of Skye. Private rooms are available too.
Flora Macdonald Hostel – Located in the Sleat Peninsula on the Isle of Skye, this hostel offers stunning views over the Sound of Sleat to the mountains of Knoydart in mainland Scotland. A good choice for travellers using the Mallaig-Armadale ferry.
🏕️ Camping on the Isle of Skye
Camping on the Isle of Skye is a great experience. Campsites are dotted all over the island.
Torvaig Caravan & Camp Site – 5-minute drive from Portree town centre, this campsite has 35 tent pitches and 40 hard standing pitches for Motorhomes, Caravans and Campervans. Also, the view of the Cuillins is stunning from here.
Kinloch Campsite – Set on the shore of Loch Dunvegan, this family-run campsite is five minutes walk from the shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants of the village.
Glenbrittle Campsite & Cafe – Situated near the Loch Brittle, this site has over 30 electric hook-up pitches for motorhomes and around 150 tent pitches. There is also a cafe serving a great selection of delicious bakery and pastries on the site.
Uig Bay Campsite – Uig pier is a few minutes walk from this campsite. Hard grassed and standing areas for tents and caravans are available.
Staffin Caravan & Camping Site – Located close to Staffin Bay and the iconic Kilt rock, this campsite offers a great camping experience in a stunning location. One adult with a tent costs £5.
Camping Skye – Situated on the west end of Broadford village, off the main road, this campsite is 5 minutes away from shops, pubs and bus stop. There are 26 tent pitches and 26 Motorhome and Caravan pitches at the site.
⛺ Glamping on the Isle of Skye
Want to have all the facilities of a traditional holiday whilst enjoying the adventure of camping? Then glamping is the answer for you. It’s a great way to experience nature without compromising comfort. Here are some of the great clamping options on the Isle of Skye.
Skye Eco Bells (*9.1) – A luxury super off-grid eco-glamping experience. Located near Dunvegan, on 2 acres of moorland and woodland gardens. Cabins here come with individual fire pits.
Tigh Beag na h’aibhne (*9.3) – Located in Broadford, Isle of Skye Tigh Beag na h’aibhne offers a garden, barbecue facilities and a terrace. There is a small kitchenette area and a wet room on the property and a wee hot tub.
Skeabost View Pods Skye (*9.7) – Located in the quiet countryside with beautiful views, Skeabost View Pods is only 5 miles from Portree. Comes with all essential amenities for a comfortable and peaceful stay in nature.
Dunvegan Camping Pods (*8.9) – Situated in Dunvegan, about 22 miles from Portree, Dunvegan Camping Pods offer a number of modern amenities, like microwave, fridge, stovetop etc.
Shulista Croft Wigwams – Luxury glamping Wigwams, on a working croft on the Isle of Skye, boasting a great view towards the sea and the Trotternish Ridge.
🌳 Wild Camping on the Isle of Skye
If you are one of the brave, adventurous souls, wild camping is a great way to enjoy the unspoilt rugged landscape of the Isle of Skye. There are so many stunning spots for wild camping here – the mighty Quiraing, secluded Coral Beach and remote Camasunary beach – are some of the few. Please remember that the Isle of Skye has a very fragile and delicate ecosystem. So, take care of the environment and leave no trace on the landscape. Read Scotland’s outdoor access code before venturing out.
🍽️ Where to Eat and Drink on the Isle of Skye
There are plenty of good restaurants, cafes, chippies and pubs in Portree, Broadford and Uig. If you would like to splurge, Isle of Skye has a few luxurious award-winning restaurants and one Michelin starred restaurant. A few of our recommendations are:
🦐 The Oyster Shed – Fresh delicious seafood takeaway shop, near Talisker Distillery.
🦞 Loch Bay Restaurant – Serves great seafood. Scottish Restaurant, with a French twist. Michelin starred.
🍲 The Three Chimneys – Famous, Award-winning luxury dining experience in Colbost, Dunvegan.
🐚 Scorrybreac Restaurant – Experience Scottish Fine Dining. Located in Portree harbour.
🦑 The Lower Deck Seafood Restaurant – Serves homemade seafood meals in Portree.
🍛 The Old School Restaurant – Located in Dunvegan, this restaurant offers great food and drink, using local produce.
🍜 Coruisk House – Serves the freshest local Scottish food in Elgol.
🐟 The Chippy – Great Fish and chips takeaway in Portree. Eat by the harbour.
🥣 Claymore Restaurant – Set in Broadford this restaurant serves fresh & locally sourced seafood.
🦀 Sea Breezes – A local seafood joint by the Portree harbour.
🥯 Cafe Arriba – Funky, colourful cafe with great views over Portree Bay.
☕ Granary Restaurant and Coffeeshop – Small cafe offering a great range of breakfast & lunch in Portree.
🍞 Deli Gasta – Serves Coffee, Sandwiches and Seafood at Broadford. Pop in for breakfast or lunch.
🍺 For a Drink
🍻 The Old Inn & Waterfront Bunkhouse – A free house pub stunningly located in Carbost on the Isle of Skye. Great food and drink options. Live music throughout the year.
🥂 The Portree Hotel – A great place in Portree town square. Live music every weekend in the winter months and every night during the Summer months.
🥃 Seumas’ Bar – Located in Sligachan, this pub has an impressive collection of over 400 malts from all around Scotland.
Tired of eating out and looking for a packed lunch or picnic? There are several general stores and supermarkets located on the Isle of Skye. You will find Co-op supermarkets in Portree and Broadford. Other than that, there are local independent stores in Uig, Dunvegan and Kyleakin. Often you will find small shops inside village halls and post offices. Keep in mind though these small stores get closed very early.
Hope you have enjoyed reading our travel guide to the 25 most awesome things to do on the Isle of Skye, Scotland.
Love, Sankha and Moumita.