Let’s go to the Isle of Skye! Billow and breeze, islands and seas, mountains of rain and sun… sadly we no longer have to travel to Skye by boat, but the island is still just as spectacular. Here is my complete guide to things to do on the Isle of Skye. Let’s go!
Top ten things to do on the Isle of Skye
- Explore The Quiraing, a giant landslip on the Trotternish Ridge with incredible views across the island.
- Hike up to the Old Man of Storr, Skye’s famous chimney rock stack.
- View the Black Cuillin – hike to Camasunary Beach at Elgol, take a day hike to the magnificent Sgùrr na Strì, or just view the ridge from Sligachan Old Bridge, Gesto Bay Viewpoint or the Fairy Pools at Glen Brittle.
- Spot whales and orcas from Rhuba Hunnish and the Lookout bothy, the most northerly point on Skye.
- Visit Neist Point Lighthouse at sunset for lovely views down to this famous lighthouse.
- Take a boat trip from Elgol into Loch Coruisk for views across the Cuillin ridge.
- Try a dram at the Talisker Distillery and take a tour.
- Swim at the Fairy Pools, a series of waterfalls flowing out of the black cuillin, great for wild swimming.
- Discover the Fairy Glen with its glens, lochans and even its own castle.
- Visit Coral Beach made famous by the movie, the Outlaw King.
Isle of Skye map
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A three day itinerary for the Isle of Skye / five day itinerary for Skye
Looking for an Isle of Skye Itinerary? As the Isle of Skye is 50 miles long and 25 miles wide, with windy roads, Skye is far too big for a day trip. I suggest three full days as a minimum, so here is how to visit the Isle of Skye.
Prefer a tour of the Isle of Skye?
Day 1 – Explore the Trotternish Peninsula
On day one of your visit to the Isle of Skye, drive the circular route around the Trotternish Peninsula to visit some of the biggest and best sights on the island. The full circular route will take around 2 hours to drive, including the detours to the car parks to visit each stop. Read my full guide to the Trotternish Peninsula below, or visit these four famous stops on the route:
- The Fairy Glen – visit this miniature landscape of glens, lochans and castles. A visit to the glen will take around 1 hour.
- The Quiraing – Hike the 4 mile / 3 hour hill circuit to view the Trotternish Ridge in all its glory, or just take in the fabulous views from the lower path.
- Kilt Rock & Mealt Falls viewpoint – view the 90m high Meall Falls as they drop over Kilt Rock to the sea.
- Old Man of Storr – Hike the 3 mile / 2 hour circuit to view the Old Man of Storr. There is also a great viewpoint of the Storr at Loch Fada.
Day 2 – The Waternish Peninsula and Duirinish Peninsula
The most westerly peninsula on Skye can be visited in a day trip from Portree. A drive out to Neist Point and a visit to Skye’s Coral Beach will take around two hours 40 mins. Read my full guide to the Waternish and Duirinish peninsula below, or visit the best bits:
- Dunvegan Castle – home of Clan MacLeod, Dunvegan Castle sits in a stunning location on the seafront, and the gardens are also lovely to wander around.
- Skye’s coral beach – Made from crushed white coral this is one of the best beaches on Skye.
- Neist Point Lighthouse – one of the most famous, and most photographed lighthouses, can be found at Neist Point, the most westerly point on the Isle of Skye.
Day 3 – Minginish and Glenbrittle
The eastern peninsula’s of Skye – Minginish and Glenbrittle – are home to the Talisker Distillery and the famous Fairy Pools. Here is how to visit:
- The Sligachan Bridge and waterfalls – a great stop to view the Cuillin ridge and take a photo of the Sligachan Bridge.
- Talisker Distillery – visit the Talisker distillery at Carbost to try a few local drams.
- The Fairy Pools – a natural series of pools and waterfalls that leads down the River Brittle out of the Black Cuillin – heaven for wild swimming.
- Glenbrittle Beach and Waterfalls – a hidden gem to the south of Glen Brittle and the fairy pools is Glen Brittle beach and waterfalls looking out over Loch Brittle.
Day 4 – Elgol
However, if you like life a little more sedate the Cuillin is also viewed in all its magnificence from a walk to Camasunary Beach on the Elgol (or to give it its proper name) Strathaird Peninsula. If you don’t fancy a long walk, there is a long drive on a single track road to the village where you can take a boat ride into the heart of the Cuillin.
- Camasunary Beach Walk – hike out to this stunning beach over the spectacular Am Mam pass.
- Take a boat trip from Elgol – take a boat trip out to Loch Coruisk in the heart of the Cuillin range.
Day 5 – the Sleat Peninsula
The Sleat peninsula is the most southerly part of the island, so perfect for your last day on Skye.
- Visit Armadale Castle and The Clan Donald Skye Visitor Centre – a 20,000-acre working Highland estate with a ruined castle and lovely visitor centre.
- Hike to the Point of Sleat – discover the most southerly point of Skye where there is a lovely walk to a beautiful beach, a lighthouse and views across to Eigg, Rum and Canna.
Where is the Isle of Skye?
The Isle of Skye is one of Scotland’s Inner Hebridean Islands and is located off the west coast of Scotland. The island of Skye is located in the Lochaber region. The capital of Skye is Portree.
When is the best time to visit the Isle of Skye?
Skye should always be on your list of islands to visit in Scotland. However, in summer, Skye is often fully booked with crowds at all the main attractions. The island is beautiful all year round. think about visiting in autumn or winter when the crowds are much smaller. Be prepared for some wilder weather and shorter days, but October, November and April to May are stunning times to visit Scotland.
How big is the Isle of Skye?
The Isle of Skye is 50 miles long and 25 miles wide, plus the roads are windy and often windy – far too big for a day trip!
Should I visit the Isle of Skye?
Thanks to Instagram (and site’s like mine!) the Fairy Pools, the Fairy Glen (Glenbrittle) Neist Point Lighthouse and Kilt Rock (Meall Falls) have made the Isle of Skye Scotland’s most famous island. It has also led to some disappointing headlines of poor parking, overrun locations and litter and campervan waste being dumped by the side of the road.
However, I still think Skye should be on your list of places to visit in Scotland, so here are a few ways to make your visit to Skye more sustainable:
- Don’t build rock towers at the Fairy Glen – they aren’t a natural part of this beautiful landscape.
- Do not attempt to climb down the cliff to the bottom of Meall Falls – you can’t, it is actually a long walk along the coast.
- Do eat out at local bars and restaurants, rather than visiting a chain supermarket or bringing all your food with you – support the local economy on Skye – just don’t take photos of the island.
- Take all your litter home with you – do not expect someone to empty an overflowing bin!
- Do visit attractions first thing in the morning, or the last thing at night to avoid the crowds
- Do not wild camp in a campervan, and dispose of all waste, including grey waste at proper disposal spots – its very damaging for the environment
- Don’t park in passing places or on the roadside if you can’t find a parking spot – always have a plan B!
Isle of Skye Whisky
There are two whisky distilleries on the Isle of Skye, and one on neighbouring Raasay.
- Talisker Distillery is located in Carbost and offers a shop, tastings and tours.
- Toravaig Distillery opened in 2017 on Sleat and is now producing its first whisky. There is a visitor centre.
- Raasay Distillery is located on the Isle of Raasay and has a modern visitor centre and offers tours.
- Like Gin? Try Misty Isle Gin which is distilled by the Isle of Skye Distillers in Portree.
The best things to do on the Isle of Skye
Here’s how to visit the Isle of Skye.
Portree, capital of the Isle of Skye
Portree is the main town on the Isle of Skye – famous for its colourful cottages and harbour feel. There are lots of hotels and restaurants, alongside local crafts and services, making Portree a great base from which to explore the Isle of Skye.
Isle of Skye’s mountains – the Black and Red Cuillin
The Isle of Skye’s dramatic Cuillin mountain range dominates the misty isles’ skyline wherever you look – climbing the twelve 3000 ft+ peaks of the Black Cuillin ridge is on most Munro Baggers bucket list and summiting the Inaccessible Pinnacle is probably the most daunting climb in Scotland.
Whilst there is no easy Munro in the Black Cuillin, with the right hill experience, proper walking gear and in good weather, Bruach na Frithe and Bla Bheinn are two of the easiest summits to reach. Don’t attempt the Cuillin in winter without winter climbing experience. The Red Cuillin lies further east of Glen Sligachan and contains a corbett Glamaig (775 m).
However, you don’t have to climb the Red or Black Cuillin for a view of these mighty hills.
The best views of the Red and Black Cuillin
- Sligachan Old Bridge
- Camasunary Beach, Elgol
- Cuillin Hills viewpoint at Drynoch
- Gesto Bay Viewpoint
- Fairy Pools at Glen Brittle
- Elgol and Cambusary Beach
- Sgurr na Stri
Visit Skye’s Peninsulas
You can break Skye down into areas; radiating out from the island’s heart, the Cullin – are the Trotternish Peninsula, Minginish, Duirinish, Waternish, the Elgol/Strathaird Peninsula, the Sleat Peninsula, and Broadford and Kyleakin.
The Trotternish Peninsula
To the north of Portree you will find many of the Isle of Skye’s most famous sights, from the Quiraing to the Trotternish Ridge, Meall Falls to the Fairy Glen. Here is how to visit the Trotternish Peninsula.
The small hamlet of Uig on the Trotternish peninsula is where the ferries departing for the Outer Hebrides leave from on Skye. The lovely Ferry Inn is a great place to stay if you want to explore the Trotternish Peninsula from Uig.
The Fairy Glen
The Fairy Glen on Skye is an Instagram star! Found to the north of the island near Uig, the Fairy Glen is a miniature landscape of glens, lochans and its own tower named Castle Ewan. There is now a pay and display car park at the Glen and the glen will take around 1 hour to explore. There is a popular tradition by visitors of making stone spirals in the glen as a tribute to the fairies, however, these are now removed by local residents to keep the glen a natural environment. Visit the Fairy Glen.
Rubha Hunish and the Lookout Bothy
The most northerly tip of the Trotternish Peninsula and on Skye, Rubha Hunish is a great place to spot wildlife, including whales and orcas from the cliffs that drop down into the sea. At the point is the Lookout Bothy, a former coastguard watch station. The round trip walk to Rubha Hunish and the bothy is around 5.5 miles and takes between 3 and 5 hours – it is pretty boggy, so wear decent hiking shoes!
Did you know that one of the most popular attractions on Skye is actually a landslip? The Quiraing is a landslip on Meall na Suiramach, the highest part of Skye’s Trotternish Ridge.
The landslip is actually still moving, with the road to the hill needing repairs most years! The Quiraing is made up of lots of photogenic parts – the needle, the prison and the table from which there is an incredible view. Visit The Quiraing with this circuit from Walkhighlands.
The Old Man of Storr, Isle of Skye
Part of the Trotternish Ridge, the Old Man of Storr on Skye is probably the island’s most famous landmark – and one of the most popular walks on the Isle of Skye. The walk will take around 1 hour to complete.
Kilt Rock (Meall Falls)
It is said the rocks over which Meall Falls resemble a kilt – the basalt rocks certainly are ‘pleated’. The falls can be found around 15 miles north of Portree and there is a large car park and viewing point. Many instagrammers have climbed the fence to take photos of the falls – do not add to the damage to the cliff edge – plus at Kilt Rock, the 90m high Meall Falls drop down to the sea! You cannot climb down the cliff either – it is a long walk along the coast to get to the bottom.
Dinosaur Footprints at An Corran Beach Staffin
Fancy going on a dinosaur hunt? Head to An Corran Beach at Staffin where you might be lucky enough to spot a series of 60 million-year-old dinosaur footprints! The footprints are covered at high tide, and often covered by sand – so look carefully! More dinosaur footprints can be found at Duntulm Castle
Otherwise known as Rubha nam Brathairean, Brother’s Point is a beautiful headland and one the quieter spots for a walk on the Trotternish Peninsula. The walk out to the point is around 2 miles and will take around 1 hour including the striking Dùn Hasan, a castle like feature overlooking the isle of Rona and Raasay to the south.
More things to do on the Trotternish Peninsula
- Lealt Falls – a dramatic waterfall and a popular stopping point on the route around the Trotternish Peninsula.
- Bearreraig Bay – a stony beach, famous for its fossils.
- Bride’s Veil Falls – a pretty waterfall near the Old Man of Storr
- Loch Fada – a pretty loch with a great view of the Old Man of Storr
- Rha Waterfalls – two pretty waterfalls on the River Rha outside of Uig.
- Skye Museum of Island Life and the Grave of Flora MacDonald– a lovely little museum to the north of the Trotternish Peninsula, and nearby the grave of Flora MacDonald, a famous Jacobite!
The Duirinish Peninsula
Isle of Skye lighthouse – Neist Point Lighthouse
One of the most famous, and most photographed lighthouses in Scotland can be found at Neist Point, the most westerly point on the Isle of Skye. The lighthouse was first lit in 1909 and was designed by David Alan Stevenson and sits on the Duirinish Peninsula. In summer, the single track road down to the lighthouse can be a dangerous drive, and the small car park (room for 20 cars) is regularly overrun.
You can visit Neist Point with this walk from Walkhighlands.
Macleod’s Tables / Macleod’s Maidens
The Macleod’s Tables are two strange, very flat-topped hills – also called Healabhal Mhòr (1,539 ft) and Healabhal Bheag (1,601 ft) – which were formed by lava flows and then Glacial retreat in this part of Skye 58 million years ago. Climb the Tables with this walk from Walkhighlands (7miles, 4 hours)
Macleod’s Maidens are three sea stacks to the south of the Duirinish Peninsula – said to be the wife and two daughters of one of the Chiefs of the Clan MacLeod – who drowned. Visit the Macleod’s Maidens on this 10 mile walk from Orbost.
More things to do on the Duirinish Peninsula
- Varkasaig beach – a lovely little beach overlooking Loch Barcasaid and Harlosh
- Meanish Community Pier – a quiet spot on Loch Pooltiel at Glendale.
- Colbost Folk Museum – visit a traditional Skye Blackhouse
The Waternish Peninsula
Isle of Skye castle – Dunvegan Castle
Visit Dunvegan Castle, home of Clan MacLeod to learn not only about the history of this clan but also the role of clans today – as well as their most famous member, Dame Flora MacLeod. The Castle sits in a stunning location on the seafront, and the gardens are also lovely to wander around.
Skye’s Coral Beach
Made from crushed white coral this is one of the best beaches on Skye and is a 10 minute drive from Dunvegan Castle. The beach recently featured in the Outlaw King,
Giant Angus MacAskill Museum
Standing 7 foot 8, Angus MacAskill was the tallest Scotsman ever recorded – he was actually a giant! Angus never lived on Skye, but he was a notable member of Skye’s MacAskill clan. Visit the wee museum in his memory.
Explore this remote and wild corner of Skye with beautiful sea views from Waternish Lighthouse. Walkhighlands has a lovely 8 mile walk which takes you to Waternish Point through crofts to spot dolphins and whales out on the water. Dogs on leads for this one.
Minginish and Glenbrittle
The Fairy Pools, Glenbrittle
A natural series of pools and waterfalls leads down the River Brittle out of the Black Cuillin – heaven for wild swimming. The pools of the River are beautifully clear and make for a great photograph. The Pools are near Glenbrittle, with parking nearby at the Forestry Commission car park signposted ‘Glumagan Na Sithichean’. It will take around 1 hour to walk up to the pools and back from the car park.
Visit the beach at Loch Brittle
A hidden gem to the south of Glen Brittle and the fairy pools ia Glen Brittle Beach looking out over Loch Brittle.
Eas Mor, Glen Brittle Waterfalls
The 40 m high waterfall at Glen Brittle – Eas Mor is one of Skye’s and Scotland’s finest waterfalls. Climbing up from the Glen Brittle Memorial Hut through Allt Coire na Bannachdich to the falls, the walk takes around 15 minutes.
Rubha an Dùnain
Hidden away to the south of the Minginish Peninsula is Rubha an Dùnain – a township representing more than 5000 years of history – including a viking ship yard. The region is very remote (it is a 13 km hike from Glenbrittle beach) so very hard to visit so take a virtual tour of Rubha an Dùnain.
Carbost and the Talisker Distillery
Carbost is located out at what feels like the end of the world – you turn left at The Cullins and just keep going and going and going until you reach the home of the Talisker Distillery. The Old Inn at Carbost is a great place to stay if you want to try a few very local drams.
The Talisker Distillery does tours – the main tour is £20 with 3 drams, the tasting experience with 3 drams is £15 in the distillery’s new tasting room, or draw your own whisky from a cask with tutored tasting of five unique whiskies.
Talisker Bay Beach and Talisker Waterfall
To the west of Carbost are the Talisker Bay Beach and Talisker Waterfall. The beach is one of the finest on the whole island – a lovely sweeping sandy bay, and from the beach you can view the Talisker Waterfall as it pours over the cliffs!
The Elgol Peninsula
The tiny hamlet of Elgol is one of my favourite places on Skye. With dramatic views of the Cuillin mountain range.
From Elgol you can take a boat trip out to Loch Coruisk in the heart of the Cuillin range from where, if you dare, you can negotiate the Bad Step or climb the diminutive, but distinctive, Sgurr Na Stri – both as epic as any quest dreamed up by Tolkien.
Camasunary Beach from the Elgol Peninsula
If you like life a little more sedate the Cuillin is also viewed in all its magnificence from a walk to Camasunary Beach on the Elgol (or to give it its proper name) Strathaird Peninsula. Read more – hike to Camasunary Beach.
Broadford is the first place you reach on arriving on the Isle of Skye – and is the 2nd largest village after Portree. If you like hiking, Broadford is a great base for discovering the Cuillin Range.
The Sleat Peninsula
On the south coast, with rolling lush green landscapes and views over the sound to Morar, Knoydart and Glenelg, the Sleat Peninsula is one of Skye’s hidden gems. Often bypassed by those arriving on the Skye ferry the Sleat peninsula is also one of Skye’s quieter corners. Here is what to do on the Sleat Peninsula:
- Armadale – the main ferry terminal on the Isle of Skye from Mallaig.
- Armadale Castle and The Clan Donald Skye Visitor Centre – a 20,000-acre working Highland estate with a ruined castle and lovely visitor centre.
- Point of Sleat – discover the most southerly point of Skye where there is a lovely walk to a beautiful beach, a lighthouse and views across to Eigg, Rum and Canna.
- Kylerhea – from where a ferry service operates to Glenelg
- Dunscaith Castle – sitting out on a 40ft rock, Dunscaith Castle is a dramatic ruin
- Ord Beach is a lovely beach on the Sleat Peninsula
Isle of Skye Accommodation
Looking for the best places to stay on the Isle of Skye? Here are my favourites:[Affiliate links, which may earn me a commission at no expense to you]
My favourite places to stay on the Isle of Skye
- Try Stay on the Bay in the main Skye town of Portree
- The Blacksmith’s Bothy is a traditional black house with a hot tub
- Stay in a Garden Bothy in the crofting community of Glendale
- Taigh Uilleim is a stunning wooden cabin near Dunvegan
- One for the bucket list – Tinhouse is an architectural gem
- Looking for a cute Crofter’s House? This one near Portree is gorgeous!
- The Bird Song Bothy has lovely views at Colbost – perfect for dining at the Three Chimneys
Isle of Skye hotels
Looking for hotels on the Isle of Skye Scotland? My favourites are the Sligachan Hotel with its whisky bar sitting under the Cuillin, Skeabost House and the Cuillin Hills Hotel. On Isleornsay check out Hotel Eilean Iarmain, Duisdale House Hotel or Toravaig House.
Hotels in Portree
With its bars, restaurants, shops and hotels, Portree is a great place to base yourself to explore Skye, book into the trendy Marmalade or the Bosville Hotel or the classic accommodation at The Portree Hotel.
Isle of Skye luxury hotels
Isle of Skye cottages
Looking for a self-catering cottage in Skye? Try the beautiful conversion of an Old Post Office, 5 miles from Portree, the Airigh at the Black House is a self-catering cottage with a view of the Sound of Sleat. If you are looking for a family-friendly self-catering house, have a look at Crofters Cottage, and down at Sleat, The View, Isle Ornsay sleeps four.
Dog-friendly cottages Isle of Skye
B&B Isle of Skye
Isle of Skye hostels
Glamping and Isle of Skye pods
Love camping but prefer a bit of luxury? Try glamping? Down on the Sleat Peninsula are the Skye Yurts, the Glenview Pods, the Skye Cabins, or the Skeabost View Pods. The Little Skye Bothy is a cute Isle of Skye pod near Broadford.
Isle of Skye lodges and log cabins
Isle of Skye wild camping
Informal lightweight ‘wild camping’ is legal in Scotland, however, this does not apply to campervans, and you should not camp within the sight of your car. Isle of Skye camping sites are marked on the map below.
Places to eat Isle of Skye
- Lunch at The Oyster Shed (although we chickened out of the slippery suckers and instead went for prawns & mussels and lobster)
- Dinner at the Old Inn at Carbost where you can also enjoy the local Skye & Cullin breweries.
- Woodfired pizzas from Cafe Sia – they are also available to take away if you prefer the peace of your yurt.
- Michelin-starred / fine dining at the Three Chimneys and Loch Bay restaurants.
- Book in for dinner at Kinloch Lodge or Edinbane Lodge or Scorrybreac,
- Cocktails and Pizza at the Caberfeidh or high quality meals at Dulse and Brose, both in Portree
- An Crùbh – a cafe, shop and venue in Sleat, near to Armadale
- For coffee – In Broadford the Coffee Bothy or in Portree try Birch.
How do you get to the Isle of Skye?
The Isle of Skye is connected to the mainland by both a bridge and three ferry services.
Isle of Skye Ferry
- Mallaig to Armadale – the Mallaig to Armadale ferry links the mainland direct to Sleat. There are up to 9 ferries a day in summer and it is a 30/40 minute crossing. Make sure you book in advance as if there is no ferry crossing available from Mallaig it is about a 3-hour drive round via the bridge!
- From the Outer Hebrides – You can also arrive on the island at Uig from Tarbert on Harris in the Outer Hebrides.
- From Glenelg – Catch the tiny Glenelg ferry – great fun
Driving to the Isle of Skye
How to get to the Isle of Skye from:
- Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye – driving time 5 hours
- Inverness to the isle of Skye – driving time 2.5 hours
- Glasgow to the isle of Skye – driving time 4.40 hours
- London to Isle of Skye – 11 hours! Best way to get to the Isle of Skye is to fly to Edinburgh, Glasgow or Inverness
- Fort William to Isle of Skye – driving time 2.15 hours
Train to the Isle of Skye
There is no railway on Skye. The closest train stations are at Mallaig for the ferry to Armadale and at the Kyle of Lochalsh. Book your train tickets with trainline.com*. Local Skye buses connect across the island.
I’m Kate – a travel writer and photographer living in Scotland. Love, From Scotland is the Scotland travel guide that shows you where to stay and how to get outside in Scotland.