Visiting Isle of Skye, Scotland: An Enchanting Island Gem

The Isle of Skye is one of the most beautiful destinations on Earth. Located off the coast of Scotland, this island is one of the Outer Hebrides and is 50 miles (80 km long). 

Famous for its scenic beaches, rugged landscapes, and historic castles, the Isle of Skye has so much to offer. It’s also a popular spot for hikers and nature lovers, as endless wildlife-watching opportunities exist here.

To reach the Isle of Skye, cross the Skye Bridge from Kyle of Lochalsh or take the ferry from Mallaig. As the island is in the Scottish Highlands, you’ll need to fly into Scotland first, to Aberdeen, Edinburgh, or Glasgow. 

The Best Time to Visit the Isle of Skye, Scotland

Isle of Skye, Scotland
Photo Credit: [@Lukassek/DepositPhotos]
The most popular time to visit the Isle of Skye is during the summer months of July and August. During this time, temperatures are at their highest, and you have a better chance of having pleasant weather.

However, the Isle of Skye can get very crowded since school is out during this time. This can be a problem, especially as many roads are single-lane and narrow.

May, June, and September are better times to visit, as they’re much quieter. Temperatures are still pleasant this time of year, and the island is far less crowded. 

Things to Do on the Isle of Skye, Scotland

Isle of Skye, Scotland
Photo Credit: [@elxeneize/DepositPhotos]
This guide will take you through things to do, restaurants to try, and day trip opportunities to ensure you have the best time. Explore the rugged coastline, mystical landscapes, and quaint villages of the Isle of Skye, delving into its rich Gaelic history and folklore.

The Old Man of Storr

The Old Man of Storr in Isle of Skye, Scotland
Photo Credit: [@RubinowaDama/DepositPhotos]
The Old Man of Storr is a must for any Isle of Skye itinerary. It’s a unique rock formation found on the Trotternish Peninsula, and you can hike to the top of it. It’s a 3.8 km (2.4 miles) return hike from the parking lot, which takes an average of 1.5 hours. However, you don’t want to restrict yourself on time, as you’ll be treated to epic views of the Sound of Raasay. Make sure you do the hike on a clear day.

Visit Portree, the Capital

Portree in Isle of Skye, Scotland
Photo Credit: [@zhuzhu/DepositPhotos]
The colorful town of Portree is an excellent home base for your trip to the island. Although small, it’s the island’s capital, so plenty of amenities exist, including shops, cafes, and accommodations. It’s also a great place to pick up a souvenir or two.

The town’s location is beautiful, as lush green hills, the Sound of Raasay, and Loch Portree surround the town. If you have a car, you’ll also have easy access to some of the island’s main attractions.

Take a Sound of Raasay Boat Trip

Sound of Raasay in Isle of Skye, Scotland
Photo Credit: [@RubinowaDama/DepositPhotos]
You can take a boat trip from Portree to the Sound of Raasay. A ‘sound’ is essentially a body of water that isn’t fully open to the sea, and it’s a great place to spot wildlife (bring binoculars if you can).

If you’re lucky, you can spot seals, dolphins, eagles, whales, and other marine life, including orcas. There are a couple of companies to choose from once you get down to the harbor, or you can book a tour online.

Drive the Quiraing Pass

Quiraing Pass in Isle of Skye, Scotland
Photo Credit: [@RubinowaDama/DepositPhotos]
Driving the Quiraing Pass is a fantastic experience for those renting a car. This mountain pass is 856 ft (261 meters) above sea level and offers stunning views of the Trotternish Peninsula.

However, this road is only suitable for confident drivers due to its one-lane road and narrow passing places. Make sure to drive it on a clear day, too, so you can appreciate the views and the road surface isn’t wet. 

Once you get to the top, there’s a viewpoint where you can park. 

Views from Neist Point

Neist Point in Isle of Skye, Scotland
Photo Credit: [@stroop/DepositPhotos]
Neist Point is one of the best places to visit on Skye! Here, you’ll find the Neist Point Lighthouse on the island’s most Western tip. This lighthouse has been around since 1909 and is surrounded by some of Skye’s most rugged landscapes. 

The walk down to the lighthouse takes around 45 minutes, or you can admire the views near the parking lot. If you’re lucky, you might be able to spot marine life here, with basking sharks and whales known to make an appearance off the coast. 

Relax at The Fairy Pools

Fairy Pools in Isle of Skye, Scotland
Photo Credit: [@fedevphoto/DepositPhotos]
One of the most unique places on the Isle of Skye, the Fairy Pools are gorgeous. It is found in Glenbrittle and has several crystal-clear water pools that flow from the Cuillin Mountains.

You have to pay for parking, but other than that, the site is free to visit. It’s a 15-20 minute walk to reach the first set of pools. If you’re brave enough, you can jump in for a swim, but be careful, as the waters can be frigid.

Restaurants on the Isle of Skye, Scotland

seafood platter
Photo Credit: [@lvssvl1/DepositPhotos]
Indulge in the hearty flavors of traditional Isle of Skye cuisine, where fresh seafood like succulent scallops and flaky haddock take center stage. Explore the island’s culinary heritage with classic dishes such as stovies, a comforting mix of potatoes, onions, and meat slow-cooked to perfection, offering a taste of Scotland’s rich gastronomic tradition.

The Old School Restaurant is one of the best places on the island to sample local produce. It’s located in Dunvegan and offers a fantastic dining experience, complete with a pre-dinner room, open fireplaces, and a varied menu. The menu highlights include the beer-battered haddock, langoustine, and sticky toffee pudding.

The Oyster Shed is a perfect choice if you’re a seafood lover. It’s found in the small village of Carbost, and the menu changes daily depending on the catch. Popular options at this eatery include oysters, lobster, smoked salmon, mussels, and crab. There’s even a seafood platter if you’re after a bit of everything. 

The Stein Inn is the oldest pub on the Isle of Skye, dating back to 1790. It’s located on the shores of Lochbay, so it offers stunning views of the Outer Hebrides. Here, you can try a variety of Skye-inspired dishes, including shellfish and over 120 Scottish whiskies. It’s also possible to stay overnight in a sea-view room.

You’ll find Cafe Sia & Siaway in the town of Broadford. A highlight of this place has to be its wood-fired pizzas, which are also available for takeaway. The ice cream milkshakes are another delight, as well as the real-fruit smoothies. Of course, there are plenty of other tasty dishes on offer too. 

Another popular spot in Broadford is Deli Gata, known for its charming setting, signature sandwiches, cream cheese bagels, and soups. Many tasty sweet treats are available, including scones, coffee and walnut cake, lemon drizzle, and chocolate orange cake. So much to choose from! 

Day Trip: Fort Augustus + Loch Ness (1.5 Hours)

Fort Augustus and Loch Ness Lake in Scotland
Photo Credit: [@bloodua/DepositPhotos]
If you head over the Skye Bridge, you can easily visit Fort Augustus. This charming village is located on the Caledonian Canal and is a must-visit.

Fort Augustus is also found on the Southern tip of Loch Ness, one of Scotland’s most popular tourist attractions. This colossal freshwater loch is famous for being home to the Loch Ness Monster, with daily boat trips around the lake. 

If you don’t mind driving further, Drumnadrochit is just 30 minutes away. Here, you’ll find the Loch Ness Centre, a popular tourist attraction, which will take you through the loch’s history and mysteries. 

Day Trip: Fort William (2 Hours)

Fort William in Scotland
Photo Credit: [@alexey.fedoren/DepositPhotos]
Often referred to as the UK’s outdoor capital, Fort William is another fantastic place to visit. The United Kingdom’s tallest mountain towers behind the town, so Fort William is naturally known as the ‘Gateway to Ben Nevis.’

Thanks to its location on the shores of Loch Linnhe, Fort William is incredibly scenic. There are also many things to do, such as visiting the West Highland Museum, taking a tour of Ben Nevis Distillery, or picking up a souvenir from Treasures of the Earth.

However, Fort William is most popular with hikers as there are some fantastic trails in this area, including one that leads to Steall Falls.

Day Trip: Glenfinnan Viaduct (2 Hours)

Glenfinnan Viaduct in Scotland
Photo Credit: [@Marcin_Kadziolka/DepositPhotos]
If you’re a Harry Potter fan, don’t miss out on visiting Glenfinnan Viaduct. This is the famous bridge from the Harry Potter movies, where the Hogwarts Express takes its students to Hogwarts from Kings Cross Station. 

You can see the famous Jacobite Steam Train (aka Hogwarts Express) go over the bridge if you time your visit right. You’ll need to research the train times in advance and then get to the viewpoint before it crosses. 

Just be aware that this area can get very crowded during the peak summer season, as everyone comes to see the train. Try to avoid visiting on a weekend. 

Visiting the Isle of Skye, Scotland

Castle Ewen Mountain in Isle of Skye, Scotland
Photo Credit: [@rissix/DepositPhotos]
As you can see, the Isle of Skye, Scotland, is the perfect destination for nature lovers. Whether you’re looking to go hiking, search for wildlife, or head out on a boat trip, this beautiful island has something unique for everyone to experience. Vacationers should allow at least 3-4 days for their visit. If you want to take day trips from the island, consider visiting for a week so you are not rushed. 


Visiting Isle of Skye, Scotland: An Enchanting Island Gem
Jack Bolton & Abbie Bevan

We're Jack and Abbie, a travel-mad couple who live in the United Kingdom. Both of us are passionate about the outdoors and love to centre our adventures around wildlife and nature. We also travel on a budget wherever we can and are ticking off our bucket list one destination at a time!