What to do on the Isle of Skye?
To visit the Isle of Skye is to discover the second largest island in Scotland. Endowed with grandiose landscapes and exceptional natural sites, it is a must on a Scotland itinerary.
To help you organize your stay, I have prepared a complete itinerary to the Isle of Skye. And yes, you will find all the must-see places of interest on the Isle of Skye in our Top 20 of the most beautiful places!
At the end of the article, I also give you some tips for what to do in the area, ideas for itineraries to visit the Isle of Skye in 1, 2, 3 or 4 days as well as my selection of the best accommodation.
So where to go and what to see on the Isle of Skye?
You wish to combine the visit of the Isle of Skye with a stay in Scotland, consult our articles to organize your itinerary as well as possible according to the duration of your holiday:
Visiting the Isle of Skye: the must-sees
1. The Old Man of Storr
It is one of the best-known places of interest on the Isle of Skye, it could even be called the emblem of the island.
The Old Man of Storr (“old man of stone”) is a rock of about fifty meters, erected vertically on the mountainside on the crest of Trotternish, in the north of the island.
This monolith is reminiscent of a man’s head and has served as a landmark for sailors for several centuries. You can approach it by following the hiking trails (allow about 2 hours round trip from the car park for the short version, up to 5 hours if you go up to the top), or simply admire it from the road.
The site is splendid and offers magnificent views of the Trotternish peninsula.
It is also one of the best photo spots. The sunrises there are spectacular and offer the opportunity to take great photos with the sun appearing behind the pinnacle. During the day you can also capture very beautiful images of the rock but also of the surroundings.
The Trotternish Peninsula is arguably the most photogenic area so if you’re a photography fan like me, this is the place to be on the Isle of Skye.
This is another place to visit on the Isle of Skye. Quiraing and its mountain range covered with moors and peat bogs are located in the north of the island.
The viewpoint is accessible from the main road that runs along the coast. A small single-track road (the famous “single track roads”) leads to a large car park from where you can admire the view.
The car park is also the starting point for several hikes during which you can discover exceptional views of Staffin Bay.
The view over Quiraing and the Trotternish ridge is one of Skye’s finest views.
Mountains, moors and rock formations, the place is photogenic at any time of the day. In the morning and at the end of the afternoon, the low light highlights the reliefs even more and promises you beautiful photos.
Tips for your Isle of Skye itinerary:
In the climb on the small road that leads to the viewpoint of Quiraing, you will come across a small car park but this is not the place to stop. Continue to the large parking lot at the very end and park here.
3. Dunvegan Castle
The Isle of Skye is a lot of nature but also some sublime castles (we are in Scotland all the same!).
Built on the edge of Loch Dunvegan, Dunvegan Castle and its gardens are among the must-see visits on the Isle of Skye. In particular, you can admire a beautiful collection of paintings, the treasures of the MacLeod clan as well as the famous Fairy Flag, a flag that is said to have magical powers.
On the Dunvegan site, you will also have the possibility of taking a sea excursion to observe the seals which have taken up residence not far from there.
Find all the information, timetables and prices on the official website.
4. Fairy Pools
The Fairy Pools are aptly named as this place is enchanting.
The short hike to it is one of the most popular walks on the Isle of Skye.
From the Fairy Pools car park, you will find the start of a trail. After about 20 minutes of walking following the stream, you will arrive at the first waterfall followed by several other waterfalls which successively flow into small pools of translucent water.
On a clear day, the Cuillins range appears in the background and makes the landscape even more magical. Under the sun, the turquoise waters of the basins are reminiscent of a tropical landscape.
Tips for your Isle of Skye itinerary:
If you have good weather, take the opportunity to picnic!
You can also set off on foot to explore the Cuillin Hills massif, whose landscapes are among the most beautiful places on the Isle of Skye.
5. Eilean Donan Castle
If we want to be precise, Eilean Donan Castle is not really located on the Isle of Skye but just before the bridge that leads to it. It is generally when leaving or returning from Skye that we go there for a walk.
This very famous Scottish medieval castle is accessible by a unique stone bridge. It has served as a setting and filming location for many films and we quickly understand why. Authentic and majestic, this imposing castle has a very rich history.
Be sure to stop here if you are passing over the Kyle of Lochalsh Bridge. A huge parking lot allows you to park because the place is a must-see tourist site around the Isle of Skye.
If you don’t want to visit the castle, you can still admire it from the shore and take some great photos of the most photographed castle in all of Scotland.
Information for visiting the castle can be found on the official website.
Among the places to visit on the Isle of Skye, do not miss Portree.
It’s the biggest city on the island and it’s a good, fairly central base that gives easy access to many sites. There are many accommodation options, restaurants and shops.
Portree is a port village characterized by colorful houses lined up along the water’s edge. The port allows you to take a nice walk, but people come mainly to Portree to do some shopping, eat and spend the night.
I give you some suggestions for accommodation in Portree in the section “Where to sleep on the Isle of Skye?” “.
Sea excursions are also organized from the port to observe the local marine fauna.
Tips for your Isle of Skye itinerary:
If you don’t want to drive and prefer to see the Isle of Skye with a full day guided tour, the best part is Portree. You can book it here.
And if you prefer to visit the Isle of Skye with a multi-day guided tour from Inverness, Edinburgh or Glasgow, I’ll give you the best ones at the end of this guide, in the ‘Best Isle of Skye guided tours’ section .
7. Loch Ainort
You will come across this stunning loch along the road to Portree.
Surrounded by the glowing mountains of the Cuillins range, it really is a magnificent spot to stop for a few minutes or even a few hours.
You will also find not far from there the small village of Luib on the edge of the lake. Loch Ainort is not mentioned on any tourist map but it is really an exceptional site that you should not miss to see when you go to Portree.
8. Neist Point Cliffs and Lighthouse
A circuit on the Isle of Skye would not be complete without a visit to Neist Point. It is one of the key places (it is the case to say it!) of the Isle of Skye.
Nest Point is located at the extreme west of the island and is really one of the excursions not to be missed.
The cliffs of Nest Point are quite difficult to access because the site is very isolated. The single road that leads to it is a single track road of several kilometers.
The journey may seem a little tiring (especially in high season when there are many visitors on the road), but it is definitely worth it.
At the end of the road, you will come across a small car park above which you will have access to a superb view of all the cliffs, the bay and the lighthouse erected at the very end of the point.
To approach the lighthouse, a path allows you to get there in about 1 hour of walking (be careful because the ascent is quite rough). A breathtaking ride, even in the greyness.
9. Lealt Waterfalls
During your stay on the Isle of Skye, I advise you to go to the Lealt waterfalls.
Lealt Waterfalls are on the North East coast of Skye, just 8km from the Old man of Storr.
From the car park of the same name, a path leads you on foot to the cliffs. From there, you discover an incredible view of the Lealt Falls which are probably the most beautiful waterfalls in the whole of the United Kingdom.
You can descend or climb to the top to get different angles of view of the higher waterfalls and those of the lower level.
This stunning location is obviously a must-see on the Isle of Skye for photographers. Coming in the morning is recommended because it is at this time of the day that the light illuminates the waterfall at its maximum.
Take the time to descend to discover splendid views below of the waterfalls tumbling between 2 cliffs.
10. Kilt Rock and the Mealt Falls
The site of Kilt Rock is a key destination for a trip to the Isle of Skye.
A little further north, still along the east coast, is the impressive cliff of Kilt Rock and its famous 60-meter high waterfall which flows straight into the sea.
The place takes its name from a part of the cliff, located further north of the waterfall, whose large basaltic columns recall the folds of a kilt.
It is a very touristy place which loses some of its authenticity with the security barrier and the crowds that flock there in high season.
Despite everything, it is a unique natural site that is well worth a look.
Still in the north of the island, Staffin and its pretty beach are a pleasant stop to make during a road trip on the Isle of Skye.
On leaving the village of Staffin, follow the road that goes towards the sea and discover a small beach surrounded by cliffs.
In the village of Staffin, you can also visit the “Staffin Fossil Museum” and its collection of fossils and dinosaur footprints housed in a charming stone cottage.
Traces of dinosaurs were indeed discovered a few decades ago in Staffin Bay and you can even observe them directly on the beach in front of the museum.
12. Claigan Coral Beach
Among the things to do on the Isle of Skye, a trip to Claigan Coral Beach is a must.
A magnificent beach reminiscent of the tropics with its turquoise water and white sand.
It is on that one does not expect to see this kind of landscape in Scotland.
The very small parking lot of Claigan Coral Beach is located a few kilometers north of Dunvegan. Park and then walk about 30 minutes to reach the beach.
Walk, boat trip or simply rest and relaxation, this is what I offer you as a program.
13. Castle Moil
Continue your vacation on the Isle of Skye with a visit to Moil Castle.
The ruins of this castle are located on a small hill near the village of Kyleakin, at the entrance to the Isle of Skye, just after the bridge that connects it to the mainland.
You can admire what remains of the Caisteal Moal from the village or go for a walk around it. The walk will take you about 1h30 and is 3.5 km round trip.
The site is not frequented by tourists and it is all the more pleasant!
14. Talisker Distillery
If you have toured the natural sites and are wondering what to visit on the Isle of Skye, I advise you to stop at the Talisker distillery.
It is the one and only on the island and that is why it is one of the essential visits.
It is located near the town of Carbost, on the west coast of Skye. The visit is very nice to do, even if you are not particularly a whiskey fan. Tours and tastings are organized and it is an opportunity to learn a lot about this famous local beverage.
If you make the trip to the distillery on the Isle of Skye, be sure to also take a trip to Talisker Bay. Carbost beach is magical and offers splendid sunsets.
Tips for your Isle of Skye itinerary:
To access the beach, leave Carbost and take the B8009 road towards the South-East. A small parking lot allows you to park, then you have to walk about 1.5 kilometers to reach the beach. You will then have to go around some rocks along the barrier, but be careful because they are very slippery.
15. Armadale Castle, Gardens and Museum
Visiting the Isle of Skye also means discovering the town of Armadale.
You will arrive directly in Armadale if you travel to Skye by ferry from the Port of Mallaig.
Armadale is located in the very south of the island and is home to a superb area to visit: the Armadale Castle, Gardens and Museum.
From the small port where you disembark when the boat arrives, you can easily get there on foot by following the signs (about a 10-minute walk).
Inside you can discover:
- A very well done museum on the history of the Clan MacDonald
- Huge gardens with play areas for children and superb centuries-old trees
- The ruins of Armadale Castle, to be admired from the outside as access is prohibited due to the risk of rockfall and collapse.
16. Skye Museum of Island Life
If you are looking for a cultural activity to do on the Isle of Skye, I recommend visiting the Isle Museum.
This museum is located in the very north of the island in the small town of Kilmuir and will take you in the footsteps of the inhabitants of the Isle of Skye.
The Skye Museum of Island Life is made up of several 19th and 20th century Scottish cottages to visit. This original and really interesting visit allows you to discover the modest life of the inhabitants of the island of yesteryear.
Furniture and tools are exhibited in the reconstructed houses and immerse us in daily life 100 years ago.
A nice stop to make during your tour in Scotland, in the North of Skye. Plus, entry is just £2.5!
17. Elgol and Loch Coruisk
We continue this guide to the Isle of Skye through the village of Elgol.
Elgol is a small isolated fishing village on the west coast of the island.
You can get there by the very beautiful B8083 road (one-way) which skirts the mountains and offers spectacular views of the Cuillins range.
From the village, boat trips are organized to Loch Coruisk and around the islands of Eigg, Rum and Canna. With a bit of luck, you might spot seals and even whales!
18. Fairy Glen
The magical landscapes of Fairy Glen, in the North of the Isle of Skye, guarantee you an unforgettable walk.
Green valleys, miniature mountains, zigzagging streams. You would almost expect to see elves tumbling from behind the hills so much the place seems straight out of a fairy tale.
Located near the village of Uig, Fairy Glen is at the very end of a small single-lane road. During the walk, you will discover several points of view. A truly magical site that it would be a shame to miss during your stay on Skye.
19. Sligachan Bridge
Starting point to the Cuillins massif, the Sligachan Bridge is a mythical place on the Isle of Skye. You will necessarily pass it by climbing north towards Portree.
Sligachan Old Bridge is a very busy and very photogenic place. The stone bridge rises majestically over the river and the Cuillin Hills in the background make the whole landscape even more enchanting.
Ample parking, picnic tables and even a pub have been set up nearby.
20. Duntulm Castle
Perched on the edge of the cliff, the ruins of Duntulm Castle (the fortress of the Clan MacDonald until 1716) are just a 5-minute drive from the Skye Museum of Island Life and are one of the stops to make during a road trip in the North of the Isle of Skye.
The mystical setting of this picturesque place and the gusts of wind (sometimes very strong, you have to be careful when you are on the cliff) give this site a very mysterious atmosphere.
The castle is also located in the very north of the Trotternish peninsula which has the most beautiful landscapes of the island. Suffice to say that the views from the cliff are breathtaking (even more so in good weather).
Unfortunately, we cannot visit the ruins because of the risk of collapse, but the walk around is superb.
What to do around the Isle of Skye?
A visit to Skye is usually combined with an Scotland itinerary. Whether arriving in Glasgow or Edinburgh, you can make a circuit in Scotland including a visit to the Isle of Skye but also a passage through the Highlands, Loch Ness or the Trossachs National Park for example.
You will find all our itinerary ideas here:
You can also reach the Outer Hebrides of Lewis and Harris from Skye by taking a ferry from the small town of Uig.
This other exceptional Scottish island (the largest British island after Great Britain and Ireland) is famous for its superb white sand beaches and its impressive prehistoric standing stones.
A bit like Skye, it is full of splendid wild landscapes. It is one of the most popular places around the Isle of Skye.
The Isle of Skye can also be easily combined with a visit to Mallaig, since it is from this small fishing port that you reach the island from the mainland.
The ideal is, on the outward or return journey from Skye, to devote at least half a day to Mallaig to have lunch in one of its very good restaurants, admire the Jacobite Express (which stops at Mallaig station every lunchtime) and enjoy the friendly atmosphere of the small port. A must do near the Isle of Skye!
Do not miss to take the superb road between Mallaig and Fort William for a crossing of exceptional landscapes.
How long to visit the Isle of Skye?
The Isle of Skye is not very big but there are many exceptional sites and landscapes to see. You could literally spend at least a whole week on the Isle of Skye as there is so much to explore.
If you are not lucky enough to be able to stay there for so long, 2 days is the minimum duration to get a good overview of the island. Especially that you will have to do with the single-track roads and the impressive number of tourists who had the same idea of vacation as you!
If you have the possibility, I would advise you to stay there 3 to 4 days. You will then have time to visit all the must-see sites that I have listed above.
2 Days Isle of Skye Itinerary
On the program for this first day on the island:
- Crossing the Kyle of Lochalsh Bridge
- Drive to Sligachan to admire the stunning stone bridge over the river, with the Cuillin Hills in the background
- Continue the road (about 20 minutes) to the Fairy Pools car park
- Rejoin the car and head back north to Dunvegan Castle
- If you have time push to Neist Point
- Then spend the evening and night in Portree
The next morning, for your second day on the Isle of Skye:
- Take the A 855 road which runs along the coast
- Stop at the Old Man of Storr and take the opportunity to hike around the rock
- Take the car back to Kilt Rock and its waterfall which flows directly into the ocean
- Continue north to reach Quiraing and its magnificent panoramas over Staffin Bay
- Then stop at Duntulm Castle to admire its ruins
- Visite du Skye Museum of Island Life
- You can also go for a walk on the Fairy Glen site
- Slowly descend back to Portree.
- If you have time left, you can return to the mainland the same evening (by the Kyle of Lochalsh bridge or by taking the ferry at Armadale). Alternatively, spend one last night in Portree and depart the following morning.
3 or 4 Days Isle of Skye Itinerary
Two whole days on the Isle of Skye will allow you to have an excellent overview of it, but spending 3 or 4 days there will allow you to visit all the must-see sites and really soak up the atmosphere of the place.
Here is a proposed program to spread over 3 or 4 days, depending on your pace (assuming you arrive by road and leave by ferry).
- About ten kilometers before the Kyle of Lochalsh bridge , stop at Eilean Donan Castle to visit it or just admire it
- Cross the bridge.
- Stop at Caisteal Maol (5 minutes from the bridge)
- Continue on the A87 and stop at Loch Ainort and its magnificent mountains in the background
- Just a 20 minute drive away you will find Sligachan and its pretty stone bridge
- Hit the road again to Portree where you can stroll and have lunch
- Continue north to reach the site of the Old Man of Storr in just 15 minutes.
- Lealt Falls is then not far away
- Push to Kilt Rock and its magnificent waterfall
- Make a stop on the beach of Staffin then join Quiraing
- Spend the night in Portree.
- Head to the ruins of Duntulm Castle
- Continue to the Skye Museum of Island Life for a quick cultural getaway
- Take the road back to Fairy Glen
- You will then have just over an hour’s drive to arrive at Dunvegan Castle
- Go admire the beach of Claigan Coral Beach (15min drive from Dunvegan)
- Continue to Nest Point all the way west.
- Head back south stopping at Dun Beag Broch (an Iron Age historic site)
- Stop at Talisker Distillery. For those who are not interested in whiskey at all, go and admire the magnificent bay of Talisker and enjoy the beach of Carbost near the distillery.
- Take the road again to the Fairy Pools where you can spend some time and have a picnic
- Stop at Elgol (the road is quite long and will take you more than an hour because you have to go around the mountains)
- Direction Armadale for the visit of the castle and the gardens
- It is then time to take the ferry back to Mallaig on the mainland.
Accommodation on the Isle of Skye?
The Isle of Skye being very touristy, I strongly advise you to book your accommodation as far in advance as possible. Here are the ones offering the best value for money:
- Portree Youth Hostel: Youth hostel located in Portree town centre. Bed in dormitory from 23€. Most: the ideal location, cleanliness, staff.
- Sky Lodges: Located 2.9km from Portree. You will stay in small, well-equipped and tastefully decorated wooden chalets from €130 per night. The pluses: the ecological concept, the modern fittings, the cleanliness.
- Cuillin Hills Hotel: Set in 6 acres of grounds facing Portree Bay. Double room with traditional and warm decoration from €210 per night, breakfast included. Most: the magnificent view, the delicious meals, the charming staff. It’s our favorite for its location on the Isle of Skye!
- Skeabost House Hotel: Located on the edge of Loch Snizort, Portree. Very cozy double room with a view of the park or the Loch from €270, breakfast included. Most: the superb view, the comfort of the rooms, the very warm atmosphere, the golf course. This is our recommendation for a romantic getaway to the Isle of Skye!
Visit the Isle of Skye with a Guided Tour
Are you going to Scotland and prefer to visit the country with a guided tour?
No problem !
In order to help you, I have selected the best guided tours of the Isle of Skye and the surrounding area depending on your departure city and the duration of your stay.
For all the details and to book them, just click on the orange links below.
Visit the Isle of Skye from Inverness
Here are the best guided tours of the Isle of Skye from Inverness:
- 1 day- Isle of Skye and Eilean Donan Castle
- 1 day – Isle of Skye and Fairy Pools
- 2 days – Discover the best of the Isle of Skye: The best choice to visit the island and its surroundings in 2 days (also includes Eilean Donan Castle).
Visit the Isle of Skye from Edinburgh
You can also visit the Isle of Skye, the Highlands and more on a guided tour from Edinburgh. All tours below include Skye.
- 3 days – Isle of Skye, Highlands and Loch Ness
- 4 Days – Isle of Skye, Highlands, Mallaig: also includes Glenfinnan Viaduct as well as ferry from Mallaig to Isle of Skye
- 5 Days – Best of Scotland: The best 5 day tour that includes the Isle of Skye!
- 5 Days – Best of Scotland + Jacobite Express Steam Train: The perfect trip if you want to take the Jacobite Express, also known to Harry Potter fans as the Hogwarts Express!
- 6 Days – Best of Scotland + Off the Beaten Track Islands: Looking for the most amazing 6 day trip to Scotland? It’s This one!
Visit the Isle of Skye from Glasgow
- 3 Days – Isle of Skye, Highlands & Loch Ness: The Best 3 Day Tour from Glasgow!
- 5 Days – Best of Scotland + Jacobite Express Steam Train : Got 5 days? So choose this one!
How to Get to the Isle of Skye?
To go to the Isle of Skye, I strongly recommend that you rent a car as soon as you arrive in Scotland, whether from Edinburgh or Glasgow. Without that, it’s impossible to visit all the places I’m talking about in this top 20.
The one and only road access from the mainland is via the Kyle of Lochalsh Bridge.
- From Edinburgh, the journey will take you 4h40.
- From Glasgow, you will take about 4h30.
You can also reach the Isle of Skye by sea, then you have to go to Mallaig to take the ferry. The journey takes about 40 minutes and you will arrive in Armadale. You can of course take your rental car there.
Allow 4h20 to reach Mallaig from Edinburgh and 3h40 from Glasgow.
When to Visit the Isle of Skye?
As everywhere in Scotland, the climate is humid and often cool on the Isle of Skye.
At the end of spring and in summer (from June to September), the temperatures are pleasant but the tourists are present in droves and can make the visits lose a little authenticity, not to mention the hotels which are all full months in advance.
At this season, midges (very voracious Scottish mosquitoes living in wetlands) may also make your stay a little difficult. As you will have understood, I advise you to visit the Isle of Skye at another time, if possible.
The best time to visit the Isle of Skye, in my opinion, would be spring (April to early June). In spring, the days are long, (sometimes) sunny and the rains are rarer than during the rest of the year.
Autumn is also a very good season to experience Skye at its best. At this time, the island is adorned with its most beautiful colors, tourists are few and the days are still quite long.
In winter, the Isle of Skye is beautiful but the very low temperatures are more difficult to bear. Snow also restricts access to certain sites and makes hiking more difficult.
And you, what do you plan to do and see on the Isle of Skye? What places of interest do you want to visit?
Are you going to Scotland? Read also
Discover all our articles on Scotland: All tips about Scotland are listed here.
- Itinerary: A week in Scotland – The ultimate itinerary to visit Scotland in 7-8 days
- Itinerary: 2 weeks in Scotland – Our recommended itinerary to visit Scotland in 14-15 days
- Edinburgh: Top 20 things to do and must see
- 2-3 Days in Glasgow: Itinerary with Top 20 Things to Do