Eilean Donan Scotland

Driving to the Isle of Skye, Scotland

Julie Scotland 15 Comments

The Isle of Skye is one of Scotland’s most popular destinations. It may seem like a long drive to get there, but by adding in scenic pitstops along the way, you can turn the journey into a sightseeing adventure. In fact, the journey through Scotland is almost as good as the destination! Keep reading to learn how to make the most out of driving to the Isle of Skye.

Drive to Isle of Skye Scotland

Sights to See Along the Way

Incredible scenery, old castles, whisky distilleries, hiking trails, and Scottish pubs are just a few of the sights and places you can visit on a drive to the Isle of Skye.

Scotland Map Road Trip

We recommend driving two different routes to and from the Isle of Skye. The “northern” route takes drivers through Pitlochry, past Loch Ness, past Eilean Donan Castle, and across the Skye Bridge onto the Isle of Skye. Our “southern” route involves taking the car ferry to Mallaig, visiting the Glenfinnan Viaduct, taking the scenic route through beautiful Glencoe Valley, and driving alongside Loch Lomond.

Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye (Northern Route)

Places to Visit:
  • Edradour Whisky Distillery
  • Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle
  • Eilean Donan Castle

Scotland Road Trip Map

If you were to drive from Edinburgh directly to the Isle of Skye, it would take between five and six hours with 235 miles of driving. Expect this route to fill most of your day, adding an additional 50 miles to the total drive (to visit Loch Ness).


Edinburgh to Pitlochry: 70 miles, 1.5 hours

Start your journey early in the day, preferably by 9 am. From Edinburgh, head north on M90 towards Perth and Pitlochry. This first part of the drive will be one of the few times that you will drive on a divided highway (dual carriageway).

The small town of Pitlochry is your first chance to get out and stretch your legs. Why visit Pitlochry? This quaint town is home to Edradour, Scotland’s smallest whisky distillery.


Guided tours and whisky tastings are offered Monday through Saturday (closed Sundays). Or, just visit their shop and bring home some whisky as a souvenir.

Edradour Distillery is open to visitors between mid-April to mid-October. Visit their website for full details.

Have an early lunch in Pitlochry or continue on your way.


Pitlochry Scotland


Old Mill Inn Pitlochry

Pitlochry to Invergarry

Pitlochry to Invergarry: 82 miles, almost two hours

Continue your journey northwest from Pitlochry, on A9. Now you are driving along the southern border of the Cairngorms. The rolling hills are becoming mountains, the roads are getting narrower, and your cell service is probably starting to fade. If you are renting a car, it’s a great idea to get a car with the built in navigational system. Once you are in the Highlands and on the Isle of Skye, it can be very difficult to get a good signal on your cellphone.

At Dalwhinnie, take A889 to Laggan, then A86 to Spean Bridge. The road name changes again to A82, taking you to Invergarry.

On the road

Scotland Road Trip

Beautiful Scotland

Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle

Invergarry to Urquhart Castle: 50 miles round trip, 1.25 hours

Now you have a choice to make. Continue directly to the Isle of Skye or take a detour to Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle. To get to Urquhart Castle, the detour takes an hour and twenty minutes with 50 miles of driving (round trip).

For us, the detour to Loch Ness was worth it. Seeing Urquhart Castle against the backdrop of one of Scotland’s most famous lochs was wonderful. And of course, if you get lucky, maybe you will spot Nessie, the Loch Ness monster.

Urquhart Castle Loch Ness

For a late lunch, consider dining at the Glenmoriston Arms Hotel, located in Invermoriston. Stop here on your way to Urquhart Castle.

Urquhart Castle is open daily. In order to tour the castle, you have to pay an entrance fee. Allow approximately one hour for a visit to the castle, although speed demons can see it in a half an hour or less. For full details on hours of operation and ticket prices, visit the Urquhart Castle website.

Read More: Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle…Are They Worth Visiting?

Eilean Donan Castle

Invergarry to Eilean Donan Castle: 41 miles, one hour

From Invergarry, you are just one hour away from the highlight of the day, Eilean Donan Castle. This castle gets our vote for coolest castle in Scotland.

Eilean Donan

You can simply see it from land, for free, or pay the entrance fee to enter the castle. The castle is open from 10 am to 6 pm during the summer months, with shorter hours during other times of the year. Tickets are £7 for adults, £17 for families.

Visit the Eilean Donan website for full details.

Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan Castle Scotland

Isle of Skye

Eilean Donan Castle to the Isle of Skye: 10 miles, 15 minutes

From Eilean Donan Castle, you are just 15 minutes away from the Skye Bridge, the gateway to the Isle of Skye. Continue on A87 through Kyle of Lochalsh and cross the Skye Bridge (there is no toll to cross the bridge).

Skye Bridge

Welcome to the Isle of Skye!!

Continue on to your accommodation. Most people stay in Portree, just under an hour driving away.

Driving from the Isle of Skye to Glasgow or Edinburgh (Southern Route)

Places to Visit:
  • Glenfinnan Viaduct
  • Glencoe Valley
  • Loch Lomond

Drive Isle of Skye

This route requires a ferry crossing from the Isle of Skye to the mainland. This route takes drivers past the Glenfinnan Viaduct, through gorgeous Glencoe Valley, along Loch Lomond, and on to Glasgow or Edinburgh.

View of Sleat Peninsula, Isle of Skye

Isle of Skye

Ferry Crossing: Armadale to Mallaig

From Portree, it takes between an hour to an hour and a half to drive to Armadale. From here, you will take the ferry to Mallaig, on the mainland. It is highly recommended that you book your ferry tickets at least several days in advance, especially during the busy summer months.

The ferry is operated by Caledonian MacBrayne. The journey takes 40 minutes and ferries run all day. For a family of four with one car, a one-way ticket costs £17.80. Tickets can be purchased directly on the Caledonian MacBrayne website.

Mallaig Ferry

Glenfinnan Viaduct

Mallaig to Glenfinnan: 26 miles, 40 minutes

From Mallaig, take A830 to the Glenfinnan Viaduct. Park in the very small car park (during peak visiting hours it can be nearly impossible to find a spot here!). A short walk uphill takes you to a viewpoint over the Glenfinnan Viaduct.

For Harry Potter fans, this is well worth it. The Glenfinnan Viaduct was used in the filming of the Hogwart’s Express.

We were here under less than ideal weather conditions. The Viaduct looks rather dreary in rainy weather. Hopefully, you will have better luck, but it is Scotland, and wee bit of rain here and there is expected.

Glenfinnan Aqueduct

Glencoe Valley

Glenfinnan to Glencoe: 33 miles, 50 minutes

Now it is time to visit the gorgeous Glencoe Valley. This place blew us away!


From the Glenfinnan Viaduct, continue on to Fort William and then drive south on A82.

For full details about what to see and do in Glencoe, do not miss this post: Postcards from Glencoe, Scotland

Glencoe Valley Drone

Glencoe Scotland Drone

Loch Lomond

Glencoe to Glasgow: 94 miles, 2 hours

From Glencoe, continue south on A82 towards Glasgow. This drive takes you along Loch Lomond. It is another scenic spot in Scotland, although after what you have already seen on the Isle of Skye, in Glencoe, and near Kyle of Lochalsh, Loch Lomond may not seem that thrilling. Even so, it is a very nice drive.

Loch Lomond

From Glencoe, it takes about two hours to reach Glasgow. If you are continuing on to Edinburgh, it’s one more hour of driving.

With More Time

Here are some recommended side trips.

Whisky Trail

Whisky lovers may want to add two days into this itinerary to drive the whisky trail. On our northern route, from Dalwhinnie, continue north on A9 and then A89 to Glenlivet. You can spend several days here touring the whisky distilleries.

Isle of Mull

From Glencoe, head south to Oban and take the ferry over to the Isle of Mull.

Tips for Driving in Scotland

If you have a valid license in your home country, you can drive in Scotland.

In the UK, they drive on the left. Roundabouts are very common and can be intimidating to first time drivers in the UK, especially if you are accustomed to driving on the right. It takes a little getting used to!

In rural areas, it is not uncommon for sheep and other livestock to cross the roads.

In the most remote areas, including much of the Isle of Skye, you will drive on singletrack roads. These one-lane roads are only wide enough for one car. There are frequent passing zones, areas of the road that have been widened for two cars to pass. At times, this may require that you put your car in reverse, backing into one of these spots, to let oncoming traffic pass.

Slower drivers are expected to pull over into these passing zones in order to let faster traffic pass them.

Post updated August 2017.

Do you have plans to drive to the Isle of Skye? If you have any questions, comment below!

Keep Reading:


Scotland road trip: Driving to the Isle of Skye

Comments 15

  1. I just literally stumbled onto your blog. Lots of useful information and great pics! My wife and I are planning our first trip to Scotland in May 2018. You’ve given me some good ideas! We’re planning on flying from the US to Glasgow…two nights there…train to Edinburgh two nights there. A train to Inverness. A night or maybe two there, then rent a car, drive to Skye. Four nights at an AirBnB on Skye in Portree. Drive/ferry to Mull. Three nights there. I am leaving five unplanned days after that before needing to be back in Glasgow for the flight home. We’re thinking of spending some time along the Caledonian Canal and now, for sure, some time in Glencoe. I am a little leery about the right hand drive cars/drive on the left side of the road….I’ve had some experience with that in New Zealand…but nothing like some of the single track roads in Scotland!

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      Hello Mark. It sounds like you have an awesome trip planned. And it does take some getting used to…driving on the left hand side of the road…if you don’t usually do it. The single track roads have plenty of turn-offs for passing, so just take your time and enjoy the views. Scotland is gorgeous!! Cheers, Julie

      1. Hi Julie,

        Your pictures of so many wonderful spots were really helpful. I’ve been buried in research…travel guides…online stuff, too…but your pics brought the countryside alive!

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    2. Hi we are from Poland – and I have almost the same plans for May 2018 :))) with my husband: 10th days for 10th Wedding Anniversary :)))
      We will start from Edinburgh and travel also by train and maybe 🙂 by car at Skye. I love this blog and I hope to spend in Scotland very good time. I wish you the same and maybe see you then :)))

  2. Dear, I love your post! Full of information that I am looking for. We are tourists from Malaysia, and we will rent our car in london and head all the way up to Glasgow. We will reach London Heathrow on 3rd november early morning, and we must be in Glasgow on 9th November. And we would like to have some stop in between for example to have a good night sleep and continue the next day. How could I fit in your itineries between 3rd to 8th? Could you please give me a hand? Thanks!

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      Hello Ling. If you are going to drive all of the way there, you should plan on having 3 days in the Isle of Skye. Glasgow needs one full day. Your extra days will be transportation days between London, Glasgow, and the Isle of Skye. You could try to squeeze in Edinburgh. With one day you can see the main sights and it’s a quick drive from Glasgow. Cheers, Julie

  3. Love your blog, great detailed advice & suggestions. We are planning to rent a car in Scotland. We will be 2 couples from USA, so driving on the left side will be challenging! We will have 5 large bags and 6 carry-on bags, any suggestions on the type of vehicle we should rent for 5 days? We are driving from Edinburgh to Isle of Skye to hike The Old Man of Stor. Do you think we have time to hike 2 trails, The Old Man of Stor and the Quiraing or Fairy Glen, in 1 days time? If so, which 2 hikes do you think we should do? We are in good decent shape & fitness level. We are saying over night in Portree. I hope your children will remember this year+ long travel you took them on, what an amazing journey you accomplished!

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      Hello Joyce. It sounds like you need a large car or SUV, just so you have enough storage space for your luggage. We rented a Kia Sportage for our family of four and something about this size will probably work for you. If you have one full day on the Isle of Skye, you should be able to do all three of these hikes. Old Man takes about 2 hours, the Quiraing takes about 2 hours, and the Fairy Glen about one hour. We did all three plus the hike to Brother’s Point on the same day. The Old Man is a must-do hike. The Fairy Glen is quick and easy and unique (and quiet first thing in the morning). Brother’s Point was our favorite hike because it was unexpectedly beautiful and there was no one else on the trail. You can get the best views of the Quiraing from the viewpoint near the car park, so if you are running short on time, you could just walk the first 10 minutes of this trail. Have fun!! Love the Isle of Skye…it’s gorgeous. Cheers, Julie

  4. Great tips. I’m Glasgow born & bred so my favourite route to Skype is via Glencoe. Although my other half is originally from Inverness so we go via Invergarry if we’re up that way. Just a small correction, it’s Glenfinnan viaduct (not aqueduct) The Inner Hebrides closer to Glasgow are amazing too, you should check some of them out if you’re back in Scotland. Especially Mull, Iona, Bute, Tiree and Coll.

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      Thanks for all the tips and correcting me about the Viaduct (I made the change in the post). And yes, we will visit Scotland again someday…it’s one of our favorite spots. Cheers, Julie

  5. Thank you for the great post. I will be a first-time traveler to Scotland in June for 5 1/2 days. I will be traveling with my two adult children, and we are planning on renting a car. We are in the planning stages of our trip, but are anticipating starting in Edinburgh and spending one full day there. We would like drive to Isle of Skye and spend two days there and then end our trip in Glasgow. Do you have any recommendations for accommodations? We prefer to spend less on accommodations and more on outings. We just require something clean with private bathrooms. I look forward to reading your response. Thank you.

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      In Edinburgh we LOVED the Hub by Premiere Inn. Modern, spotlessly clean, awesome location, one block off the Royal Mile (check out our Edinburgh itinerary for more info). In Glasgow we also stayed at a Premiere Inn at Buchanan Galleries. This was good, too. Check out our Glasgow post for the link. On the Isle of Skye, we stayed at the Quiraing Guest House, this was nothing fancy but it was clean with private bathrooms. Check out our Isle of Skye post for full details. Enjoy Scotland!!! – Julie

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