Located just off the west coast of mainland Scotland, the Isle of Skye is the largest island of the Inner Hebrides. A top tourist destination, astounding landscapes, stunning waterfalls, lonely lighthouses and much more wait for you when you visit the Isle of Skye.
There are lots of things to do on the Isle of Skye, especially on Portree, its largest town, and a picturesque port. Experience breathtaking landscapes, diverse wildlife, and rich history on the Isle of Skye.
How to get there
There are two main roads to the Isle of Skye; the A87 via Glasgow, Fort William, and Inverness which uses the new Skye Bridge from Kyle of Lochalsh on the mainland to Kyleakin on Skye, and the A830. While you can drive across yourself, you can also visit the Isle of Skye by bus or coach. Buses go directly to Portree from both Glasgow (8 hours) and Inverness (4 hours), but make sure to boo in advance, especially during the peak summer months.
The Caledonian MacBrayne (also known as “CalMac”) runs daily between the port of Mallaig in the West Highlands to Armadale on the south of the Isle of Skye. Both Mallaig and Armadale are well connected by local buses and trains. The CalMac also runs from Uig on the north of the island to the Outer Hebrides
If travelling by train, there are two railways station near the Isle of Skye, at Mallaig and Kyle of Lochalsh. The Mallaig station connects with Glasgow and Fort William via the West Highland Railway, and there are convenient connections for the CalMac ferry to Armadale.
The station at Kyle of Lochalsh has daily connections to Inverness, as well as onward buses to Skye. If you’re planning to travel from London, you can take an overnight sleeper train from London Euston to Glasgow, Fort William or Inverness. You can also take the ‘Highland Chieftan’ train from London King’s Cross to Inverness.
Getting around Skye
Driving around by cars is perhaps the best way to get around Skye and to experience its breathtaking scenery. However, keep in mind that some of the roads can get quite narrow.
The island also has a network of rural stagecoach buses that connect the main villages. Make sure to check the timetable in advance, as timings can change during the weekends and the offseason.
Things to do when you visit the Isle of Skye
- Visit Dunvegan Castle: it is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland. Dunvegan has been home to the Chiefs of Clan MacLeod for 800 years. Don’t forget to check out the beautiful formal gardens.
- See Armadale Castle: the ancestral home of Clan MacDonald, Armadale castle is almost 1500 years old. Now mostly in ruins, it is run by the Clan Donald Lands Trust and is also home to the Museum of the Isles.
- Trek the Cuillin Mountains: the most famous mountain range on the Isle of Skye, the Cuillins are home to exciting rocky peaks. Keep in mind that there are very few sources of fresh water, so you need to carry it with you. For those who are less adventurous, there are also boat tours around the mountains.
- See the Old Man of Storr and the Quirang: located on the Trotternish Peninsula, which is full of interesting rock formations, are the dramatic rock towers that from the Old Man of Storr, and the Quirang.
- Go to the Fairy Glen: this hidden valley is surrounded by cone-shaped hills and bubbling streams. It is located near Uig, but there are no signposts along the road.
- Take a whiskey tour: like the rest of Scotland, no visit to the Isle of Skye is complete without a tour of a whisky distillery. The oldest working distillery on the island is Talisker Whisky in the village of Carbost.
- Go on a Day trip to Eilean Donan Castle: this famous castle is located in the tiny village of Dornie, not far beyond Kyle of Lochalsh.
Visitors to Scotland don’t need a special visa, as it falls under the purview of the more general UK Visa. Also remember that the Isle of Skye is a small island, and there are few dining options available. Apart from traditional highland fare and pub food, there is an Indian restaurant and a Mediterranean cafe.