Visit the Isle of Skye: Top 20 Things To Do and Must-See Attractions

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Things to Do on the Isle of Skye: The 20 Best Places to Visit

You’re going to Scotland and plan to visit the Isle of Skye during your trip?

Excellent idea!

The 2nd biggest island of Scotland features grandiose landscapes and exceptional natural sites, so no doubt you will have a memorable trip.

In order to help you plan your stay, I have created this guide of the 20 best things to do on the Isle of Skye, with all points of interest and must-see attractions.

In addition to this list of things to do and activities, I will also give you itineraries to visit the Isle of Skye in 1, 2, 3, or 4 days as well as my selection of the best accommodations depending on your budget.

And as always, this travel guide contains all my best tips to make the most of your stay.

So, what are the best places to visit on the isle of Skye? Where to stay?

If you want to combine your visit to the Isle of Skye with a trip to the rest of Scotland, you can have a look at my detailed itineraries articles. They will allow you to easily plan your trip depending on the duration of your stay.

Visit the Isle of Skye: All Must-See attractions

1. The Old Man of Storr

The Old Man of Storr is probably the most famous point of interest on the Isle of Skye, and could even be considered as the symbol of the island.

This 50 meter tall vertical rock is located on the Trotternish ridge, in the north of the Skye. This monolith is reminiscent of a man’s head and served as a landmark for sailors for several centuries.

When you will be there, you will have 2 options: You can either admire it from the road or go to the foot of the rock with a 2 hours hiking trail (round trip).

The Old Man of Storr is also know to be one of the best photo spots of the Isle of Skye: the site is splendid and offers amazing viewpoints over the Trotternish peninsula.

Photo tip: The sunrises are especially spectacular, so if you’re a photography enthusiast, try to wake up early, it’s worth it!

Voyage Tips - Advice
There is a small parking next to the start of the hike.

However, the Old man of Storr hike is the most popular of the island, so it’s quickly full during the high season!

You should thus ideally come early in the morning or at the end of the day.

Old Man of Storr
Old Man of Storr

2. Quiraing

Let’s continue this guide of the best places to visit on the Isle of Skye with the Quiraing mountain range, located in the north of the island.

The most famous viewpoint is accessible from the main road along the coast. A small single track road leads to a large car park from where you can enjoy the view over the hills covered with moors and peat bogs.

The car park is also the starting point for several hikes featuring stunning views over Staffin Bay. The view of Quiraing and Trotternish Ridge is one of the most beautiful panoramas of Skye!

With its Mountains, moorland and rock formations, the place is beautiful at any time of the day. For photography, the best is to come in the morning and at the end of the afternoon, as the low sun enhances even more the reliefs.

Voyage Tips - Advice
As you climb up the small road leading to the Quiraing viewpoint, you will come across a small car park, but this is not the place to stop. Continue up to the large parking lot and park there.
Quiraing
Quiraing

3. Dunvegan Castle

Even if the Isle of Skye is especially famous for its beautiful landscapes, it also features a few castles to visit (we are in Scotland after all!).

Built on the edge of Loch Dunvegan, Dunvegan Castle and its gardens are one of the must-see sights on the Isle of Skye.

There, you can admire a beautiful collection of paintings, the treasures of the MacLeod clan and the famous Fairy Flag, said to have magical properties.

From Dunvegan, you will also have the opportunity to go on a boat excursion to observe the seals that have taken up residence not far from there.

You can find all the information to visit the castle such as timetables and prices on the official website.

Dunvegan Castle
Dunvegan Castle

4. Fairy Pools

The Fairy Pools are, as the name suggest, one of the most enchanting places to visit on the Isle of Skye.

To get there, you will need to park your car at the Fairy Pools car park, the starting point of the short hike leading to the waterfalls.

You will arrive at the first waterfall (the biggest) in about 20 minutes. You will have to continue on the path to reach several other waterfalls that successively flow into crystal clear pools of water.

On a clear day, the Cuillin Hills appears in the background and makes the landscape even more magical. Under the sun, the turquoise waters of the pools will remind you of a tropical landscape!

Voyage Tips - Advice

If you’re lucky enough to be there on a sunny day, the Fairy Pools are the perfect place to enjoy a picnic!

And if you’re up for more hiking nearby, you can also explore the Cuillin Hills, a great place to hike on the Isle of Skye.

Isle of Skye Fairy Pools
The Fairy Pools, on the Isle of Skye

5. Eilean Donan Castle

To be precise, Eilean Donan Castle isn’t really on the Isle of Skye. It’s actually located just before the bridge leading to the island.

People generally visit this castle when going to or coming back from Skye.

This very famous medieval Scottish castle has been used as a filming location in numerous movies. Linked to the mainland by a beautiful stone bridge, Eilean Donan Castle is authentic, very photogenic, and has a rich history.

So don’t forget to stop there if you go to Skye by car!

You won’t have any problem to park, as there is a huge car park nearby. Eilean Donan Castle is a major tourist attraction in the surroundings of the Isle of Skye.

If you don’t want to visit the castle, you can always admire it from the shore and take beautiful pictures of the most photographed castle of Scotland.

Information to visit the castle can be found on the official website.

chateau d'Eilean Donan
Eilean Donan Castle

6. Portree

Portree, the biggest city of the island, is a great place to stay on the Isle of Skye.

There, you will find many hotels, restaurants and shops and its central location will allow you to easily access most tourist attractions.

This seaside village most iconic feature is for sure its colorful houses lined up along the waterfront. The port is a nice place to go for a walk, but people come to Portree mainly for shopping, eating and sleeping.

I will give you my suggestions of the best places to stay in Portree at the end of this article, in the “Where to stay on the Isle of Skye” section.

From the port, you can also go on a boat trip to observe the local marine fauna.

Voyage Tips - Advice

If you don’t want to drive and prefer to visit the Isle of Skye with a 1 day guided tour, the best one is starting from Portree. You can book it here:

And if you prefer to visit the Isle of Skye with a multi-day guided tour from Inverness, Edingburgh or Glasgow, I will give you the best ones at the end of this guide, in the “best guided tours to the Isle of Skye” section.

 

Portree
Portree

7. Loch Ainort

You can’t really miss Loch Ainort during your trip to the Isle of Skye, as it’s located along the main road of the island.

Surrounded by the Cuillins Hills, it’s a very nice photo spot to stop by along the way!

On the shores, you can also find the very small village of Luib.

Loch Ainort is rarely mentioned on tourist maps, but it’s an exceptional site that you shouldn’t miss when heading to Portree.

Loch Ainort
Loch Ainort

8. The cliffs and the lighthouse of Neist Point

Your trip to the Isle of Skye wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Neist Point, one of the most famous tourist attraction of the island.

Located at the extreme West of Skye, the cliffs of Nest Point are quite isolated. The only road leading there is a single track road of several kilometers.

From Portree, it will take you about 1 hour driving to get there (sometimes a bit more during the high season, when many other tourists are going there too!), but it’s definitely worth the small effort.

At the end of the road, you’ll arrive at a small car park and a viewpoint offering a superb view over the cliffs, the bay and the lighthouse built at the very end of the peninsula.

And if you’re up for a hike, you can take a trail to get close to the lighthouse. It will take you about an hour’s walk to get there. You will love it!

Isle of Skye
Isle of Skye – Neist Point

9. Lealt Waterfalls

Lealt waterfalls is another great place to visit on the Isle of Skye.

It’s located on the north-east coast of Skye, only 8 km from the Old Man of Storr.

First, you will need to park your car at Lealt falls car park.

Then, follow the trail for a short and easy walk that will take you to the waterfalls. There are several viewpoints along the way, and you should really take the time to go all the way down to discover the splendid views of the waterfalls falling between 2 cliffs.

To enjoy Lealt waterfalls at its best, you should ideally go there after an heavy rain and in the morning, when the sun light shines on the waterfalls.

Lealt Falls
Lealt Waterfalls – Isle of Skye

10. Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls

You’re wondering where to go on the Isle of Skye?

Then head to the cliffs of Kilt Rock and the Mealt Falls, the famous 60-metre high waterfall that flows straight into the sea. It’s also located along the east coast, a bit further north Lealt Waterfalls.

The place takes its name from a part of the cliff, located further north of the waterfall, whose large basalt columns are reminiscent of the folds of a kilt.

Kilt Rock is a very touristic place, so you shouldn’t expect to be alone there, especially in high season.

Nevertheless, it is a unique natural site that is well worth a visit!

kilt rock
Kilt Rock

11. Staffin

Also located in the North of the island, Staffin and its pretty beach is a pleasant place to stop at during your road trip on the Isle of Skye.

At the exit of the village of Staffin, you can follow the road that goes to the sea to discover a small beach surrounded by cliffs.

In the village of Staffin, you can also visit the Staffin Fossil Museum. It features a 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.

Staffin bay
Staffin

12. Claigan Coral Beach

You may not know it, but the Isle of Skye also features amazing beaches.

The most famous one is for sure Claigan Coral beach: with its turquoise water and white sand, it will probably remind you some of the best tropical beaches of Thailand or Mauritius.

You wouldn’t expect to see this kind of landscape in Scotland!

The small car park of Claigan Coral Beach is located a few kilometres north of Dunvegan. Park your car and walk about 30 minutes to reach the beach.

Claigan Coral Beach
Claigan Coral Beach

13. Caisteal Maol

During your trip on the Isle of Skye, you can also go to Caisteal Maol, sometimes also called “Castle Moil”.

The ruins of this castle are located on a small hill near Kyleakin village, close to the bridge that connects the Isle of Skye to the mainland.

You can admire the remains of Caisteal Moal from the village or go for a walk around the castle. The 3.5 km walk (round trip) will take you about an hour and a half.

The site is rarely visited by tourists, which makes it even more enjoyable!

Caisteal Maol
Caisteal Maol

14. Talisker distillery

If you have visited all natural wonders of the island and wonder where to go on the Isle of Skye, you can head to Talisker distillery.

It’s actually the only whisky distillery of the island!

Located near the town of Carbost, on the west coast of Skye, the Guided tours with tastings will allow you to learn more about the fabrication of Scotland’s most famous beverage.

If you decide to go to the distillery, you should also go to Talisker Bay, a great beach to enjoy the sunset.

Voyage Tips - Advice

To get to the beach, leave Carbost by the B8009 road, direction south-east. You will need to leave your car at the small car park and then walk about 1.5 km to reach Talisker Bay.

Talisker Distillery
Talisker Distillery

15. Armadale Castle, Gardens and Museum

During your trip to Skye, you can visit the town of Armadale.

If you go to the Isle of Skye by ferry boat from Mallaig harbor, you will arrive directly in Armadale.

Located in the very south of the island, this village is especially renowned for its beautiful Armadale Castle, also featuring gardens and a museum.

You can easily go to the castle on foot from the small port where ferry passengers disembark. Simply follow the signs  and you will be there in about 10 minutes.

Inside you will be able to discover:

  • A very well done museum on the history of the MacDonald clan.
  • Huge gardens with children’s playgrounds and beautiful hundred years old trees
  • The ruins of Armadale Castle, to be admired from the outside as access is prohibited due to the risk of rock falls and collapse.
Armadale Castle
Armadale Castle

16. Skye Museum of Island Life

If you are looking for a cultural activity to do on the Isle of Skye, you can go visit the the island’s museum!

This museum, located in the small town of Kilmuir (north of the island) consists 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 island’s inhabitants in the past.

The furniture and tools on display in the reconstructed houses will plunge you into the daily life of 100 years ago.

An interesting place to visit during your tour in Scotland and the entrance fee is only £2.5!

Skye museum of Island Life
Skye museum of Island Life

17. Elgol and Loch Coruisk

Let’s continue this Isle of Skye travel guide with the village of Elgol.

This small isolated fishing village is located on the west coast of the island.

To get there, you will have to take the beautiful B8083 one way road that offers spectacular views over the Cuillins Mountains.

From the village, boat trips are organized to Loch Coruisk as well as near the islands of Eigg, Rum and Canna. During the boat tour, with a bit of luck, you might see a few seals or even whales!

elgol
Elgol

18. Fairy Glen

Fairy Glen, in the north of the Isle of Skye, is a fairy tale landscape featuring Green valleys, miniature mountains, zigzagging rivers and more!

You would almost expect to see elves coming from behind the hills, as the place really seems to be straight out of a fairy tale.

Located near Uig village, at the end of a small single track road, Fairy Glen’s short trail will allow you will discover several viewpoints. A truly magical site that you shouldn’t miss during your stay on Skye.

Fairy Glen
Fairy Glen

19. Sligachan Bridge

Sligachan bridge is a mythical place of the Isle of Skye. It’s located close to the main road of the island, so you will inevitably pass nearby while going up towards the North in direction of Portree.

Sligachan Old Bridge is a very busy and photogenic place. The stone bridge stands majestically over the river and the Cuillin Hills in the background make the whole landscape even more enchanting.

A large car park, picnic tables and even a pub have been set up nearby.

Sligachan Bridge
Sligachan Bridge

20. Duntulm Castle

Perched on the edge of the cliff, the ruins of Duntulm Castle (a fortress belonging to the MacDonald clan until 1716) are only a 5 minute drive from the Skye Museum of Island Life.

Don’t missing it during your road trip in the North of the Isle of Skye!

The mystical scenery of this picturesque place and the wind gusts (sometimes very strong, you will have to be careful when you will be on the cliff) give this castle a very mysterious atmosphere.

Duntulm Castle is located in the very north of the Trotternish peninsula, featuring the most beautiful landscapes of the island. You will see, the views from the cliffs are breathtaking!

Unfortunately, you can’t visit the ruins because of the risk of collapse, but the walk in the surroundings is superb.

Duntulm Castle
Duntulm Castle

The best things to do around the Isle of Skye

You will probably combine your visit to the Isle of Skye with a trip in the rest Scotland.

Whether you arrive in Glasgow or Edinburgh, here are my itineraries recommendations to visit Skye as well as the Highlands, Loch Ness or Trossachs National Park for example:

Lewis and Harris

From Skye, you can also take a ferry in the small town of Uig to reach Lewis and Harris island.

This other beautiful Scottish island (the largest British island after Great Britain and Ireland) is famous for its superb white sandy beaches and impressive prehistoric menhirs.

Just like Skye, Lewis and Harris is especially famous for its splendid wild landscapes. It’s one of the most popular places to visit around the Isle of Skye!

Mallaig

The Isle of Skye can also easily be combined with a visit to Mallaig, the small fishing port and departure point of the ferries to Skye.

On the way to or from Skye, you can spend at least half a day in Mallaig to have lunch in one of its very good restaurants and enjoy the friendly atmosphere of the small port.

You can also admire the Jacobite Express steam train, which stops at Mallaig station every day at lunchtime.

If you’re doing a road trip in Scotland, you should really take the superb road between Mallaig and Fort William to enjoy exceptional landscapes.

Jacobite express Scotland
Onboard the Jacobite Express!

How many days to visit the Isle of Skye?

The Isle of Skye may not be very big, but it features many exceptional sites to discover.

In my opinion, 2 full days is the minimum to get a good overview of the island. Even if the distances between the tourist attractions are relatively small, you will need to drive slowly due to the single track roads and number of other tourists during high season.

If you have the possibility,you should stay 3 to 4 days on the Isle of Skye. You will then have time to visit all the must-see attractions of this guide!

Isle of skye in 2 days

For your first day on the island, you should:

  • Cross the Skye bridge (close to Kyle of Lochalsh town) to get to the island
  • Stop by Sligachan Old Bridge, the magnificent stone bridge crossing a river with the Cuillin Hills mountain range in the background
  • Continue on the road (about 20 minutes) to the Fairy Pools.
  • After your visit, get back to your car and drive north to Dunvegan Castle
  • If you have the time, head to Neist Point to admire the sunset
  • Spend the evening and night in Portree

The next morning, for your second day on the Isle of Skye:

  • Take the A855 road along the coast.
  • Stop at the Old Man of Storr
  • Drive to Kilt Rock and its waterfall that flows directly into the ocean
  • Continue north to reach Quiraing and its magnificent panoramas over the Staffin Bay
  • Then stop at Duntulm Castle to admire the ruins of the castle
  • Visit the Skye Museum of Island Life
  • You can also go for a walk at Fairy Glen
  • Go back to Portree
  • If you’re in a hurry, you can return to the mainland in the evening (via the Skye bridge or by taking the ferry in Armadale). Otherwise, spend one last night in Portree and leave the next morning.
Visit Isle of Skye
Visit the Isle of Skye

Isle of skye in 3 or 4 days

While 2 full days on the Isle of Skye will give you an excellent overview of the island, spending 3 or 4 days there will allow you to visit all the must-see attractions and really soak up the atmosphere of the place.

Here is a 3 days itinerary, you can easily adapt it for 4 days depending on your pace. For this itinerary, I assume you arrive by road and leave by ferry boat.

Day 1:

  • About 10 km before the Skye bridge, stop at the Eilean Donan Castle for a quick visit or just to admire it
  • Cross the bridge
  • Stop at Caisteal Maol (5 minutes from the bridge)
  • Continue on the A87 and stop at Loch Ainort for a nice photo.
  • From there, drive for about 20 minutes to reach Sligachan beautiful stone bridge
  • Head to Portree, where you can visit the small town and have lunch
  • Continue north to reach the Old Man of Storr in just 15 minutes.
  • Lealt Falls is then not far away
  • Then, go to Kilt Rock and the magnificent Mealt waterfall
  • You can stop by Staffin beach and then head to Quiraing
  • Spend the night in Portree.

Day 2:

  • Drive to the ruins of Duntulm Castle
  • Continue to the Skye Museum of Island Life for a short cultural visit
  • Then head to Fairy Glen
  • After your visit, you will then have a little over an hour’s drive to reach Dunvegan Castle
  • Go admire Claigan Coral Beach (15min drive from Dunvegan)
  • End the day Nest Point to enjoy the sunset.

Day 3:

  • Start with a visit to Dun Beag Broch (an Iron Age historic site)
  • Stop at the Talisker Distillery. For those of you who aren’t interested in whisky at all, you can instead go admire the magnificent Talisker bay and enjoy Carbost beach, located near the distillery.
  • Drive to the Fairy Pools, where you can spend some time and have a picnic
  • Go to Elgol. It will take you around 1 hour on beautiful mountain roads to get there.
  • To end the day, you can go to Armadale and visit Armadale castle and its gardens
  • It’s then time to take the ferry back to Mallaig, on the mainland.

Where to stay on the Isle of Skye?

The Isle of Skye being very touristic, I strongly advise you to book your accommodation as early as possible. Here are those offering the best value for money!

  • Portree Youth Hostel: Youth hostel located in the center of Portree. Dormitory bed from 23€. Strong points: ideal location, cleanliness, staff. The best Youth Hostel of the island!
  • Sky Lodges: Located at 2.9 km from Portree. You will stay in small, well-equipped and tastefully decorated wooden chalets starting at 130€ per night. Strong points: the ecological concept, the modern facilities, the cleanliness.
  • Cuillin Hills Hotel: Located in a 6 hectare estate facing the bay of Portree. Double room with traditional decoration from 210€ per night, breakfast included. Strong points: the magnificent view, the succulent meals, the charming staff. My favorite hotel for its excellent location on the Isle of Skye!
  • Skeabost House Hotel: Located on Loch Snizort, in Portree. Very cosy double room with view on the park or Loch from 270€, breakfast included. Strong points: the superb view, the comfort of the rooms, the very warm atmosphere, the golf course. This is my recommendation for a romantic stay on the Isle of Skye!
Road trip Isle of Skye
Road trip on the Isle of Skye

The best guided tours to the Isle of Skye

You’re going to Scotland and would prefer to visit the country with a guided tour?

No problem!

In order to help you out, I have selected the best guided tours to the Isle of Skye and its surroundings depending on your city of departure and duration of your stay.

For all the details and to book them, you simply have to click on the orange links below.

Visit the Isle of Skye from Inverness

Here are the best guided tours to the Isle Of Skye from Inverness:

Visit the Isle of Skye from Edinburgh

You can also visit the Isle of Skye, the Highlands and more with a guided tour from Edinburgh. All the tours below include Skye.

Visit the Isle of Skye from Glasgow

Visit the Highlands
The Highlands – Scotland

How to get to the Isle of Skye?

To get to the Isle of Skye, the easiest is to rent a car as soon as you will arrive in Scotland, either in Edinburgh or Glasgow. Without a car, it would be impossible to visit all the places I’m talking about in this guide.

The only access to the island by road from the mainland is via the Skye bridge, close to Kyle of Lochalsh town.

  • From Edinburgh, the journey will take you about 4h45.
  • From Glasgow it will take around 4h30

You can also reach the Isle of Skye by sea.

To do so, you will have to go to Mallaig and take the ferry boat. The ferry journey takes about 40 minutes and will take you to Armadale. You can of course take the ferry with your rental car.

It takes about 4h20 to reach Mallaig from Edinburgh and 3h40  from Glasgow.

If you already know your travel dates, you should book your car now to get the best price. Simply click on the button below to compare car rental prices on the Isle of Skye:

Best time to visit the Isle of Skye?

As everywhere in Scotland, the climate on the Isle of Skye is humid and often quite cold.

In late spring and summer (mid June to September), the temperatures are pleasant. However, it’s the high season, so you will for sure meet lots of other tourists during your stay! The best hotels are thus all fully booked months in advance.

During this season, the Midges (a kind of hungry Scottish mosquitoes living in wetlands) may also bother you. So if possible, it’s best to visit the Isle of Skye at another period.

In my opinion, the best time to visit the Isle of Skye is spring, from April to the 15th of June. In spring, the days are long and there is less chance to have rain than during the rest of the year.

Autumn is also a very good season to discover Skye at its best. During this period, the island is adorned with its most beautiful colors and there aren’t many tourists. It’s however more rainy than spring.

In winter, the Isle of Skye is beautiful but the very low temperatures are more difficult to bear. The snow also restricts access to certain tourist attractions and makes hiking more difficult.

Tourist map of the Isle of Skye

To help you visualize the island a bit better, I have made a tourist map of the Isle of Skye listing all the places to visit that I talk about in this “Best things to do on the Isle of Skye” travel guide. You can display the map’s legend by clicking on the top left button with a small arrow.

Book your trip now and save money!

Scotland travel Guides

You’re traveling to Scotland? These articles will help you!

Discover all my articles about Scotland: All my articles to help you plan your trip to Scotland are listed there.

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Visit Isle of Skye
Visit the Isle of Skye: All must-see attractions
Vincent

Creator of the Voyage Tips blog, travel and photography lover. I give you all my best tips to plan your next trip.

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