The Isle of Skye is one of Scotland’s hottest destinations. Why? With stunning scenery, scenic drives, hikes for all ages and ability levels, quaint towns, and awesome seafood, it’s easy to see why this is a hot spot for travelers. In our Isle of Skye Guide, we’ve got you covered. We’re here to help you plan the perfect vacation to the Isle of Skye.
Best Time to Visit the Isle of Skye
The weather is the best between May and September. However, the summer months, in particular July and August, are peak season. B&B’s will be sold out months in advance for these months, car parks will be overflowing, and restaurants book up early. June is a good month to go because the Isle of Skye is usually not packed with visitors yet.
April and May are the driest months. If you don’t mind it being chilly, these are great months to go to the Isle of Skye as well.
You can visit the Isle of Skye during the winter. Yes, it may be cold, but you could have some of the best sites all to yourself.
Weather on the Isle of Skye
The Isle of Skye gets a lot of rain. The wettest months are September through January (October is the rainiest month). March through June it is relatively dry. The warmest months are May through September, with average highs in the mid 50’s to low 60’s (7-13°C), cooler at night.
How Long Should You Spend on the Isle of Skye?
Ideally, two days or more is necessary to visit the Isle of Skye.
With only one day, you have just enough time to visit the highlights. Two days gives you enough time to see the best sights, and with three days or more, you have plenty of time to explore all of the island.
In our Isle of Skye Itinerary, we give suggestions on how to spend 1, 2 and 3 days on the Isle of Skye.
Map of the Isle of Skye
How to Use This Map: Click the tab in the top left hand corner of the map to view the layers (points of interest and the driving routes). You can click the check marks to hide or show layers. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each point of interest.
If you click the star next to the title of the map, this map will be added to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.
Best Things to do on the Isle of Skye
Here’s a list of the must-see places on the Isle of Skye
- Old Man of Storr
- Fairy Glen
- Rubha nam Brathairean (Brother’s Point)
- Neist Point
- Fairy Pools
- Talisker Distillery
- Dunvegan Castle
- Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls
LEARN MORE: 12 Must Have Experiences on the Isle of Skye
Old Man of Storr
Isle of Skye with Kids
The Isle of Skye is a great family destination. Search for fairies at the Fairy Glen or Fairy Pools, visit Dunvegan Castle, climb up to the eerie Old Man of Storr, and hike out to Brother’s Point. Even your kids will be wowed by the scenery here.
Kara at the Fairy Glen
Best Hikes on the Isle of Skye
There are hiking trails for people of all ages and ability levels. Here is a list of some of the best trails on the island.
Fairy Pools. This short hike is really more of a walk. A relatively flat trail follows along the river, with views of the Fairy Pools. Good for all ages and fitness levels. Allow one to two hours for a visit here.
Fairy Glen. Another very easy hike. Just 1 mile in length, allow one hour for a leisurely walk through this very unique and quiet corner of the Isle of Skye.
Old Man of Storr. A little more strenuous but your reward is a view of one of the Isle of Skye’s most iconic spots. The entire hike is just under 3 miles. It’s a climb up to the Old Man of Storr with awesome views out over the island.
Rubha nam Brathairean (Brother’s Point). For a relatively easy hike to one of the Isle of Skye’s little known spots, this was a highlight for us. The entire hike is just over 2 miles, a walk along the coastline with awesome views of the Brother’s Point peninsula and out to Kilt Rock.
Quiraing. Another Isle of Skye icon. This is a more challenging hike, 4.5 miles in length, along the cliffs of the Quiraing. Perfect for older, adventurous kids.
Bla Bheinn. For a hike offering 360° views of the Cuillins, this is a good one! 5 miles in length, allow about 6 hours for the hike.
Sgurr Alasdair. This is the highest peak on the Isle of Skye. This is a very challenging hike, 6 miles in length. Allow 5 to 6 hours.
The Trotternish Ridge. This is a 2 day hike covering 23 miles on the Isle of Skye. The starting and ending points are Portree and Flodigarry.
The Skye Trail. For experienced hikers only. This hike takes 7 days and is 128 km in length, traversing a huge portion of the Isle of Skye.
Walk Highlands is an excellent website with details for hiking trails not just on the Isle of Skye but throughout Scotland. Visit their website here.
Hiking to Brothers Point
How to Get to the Isle of Skye
The only way to get to the Isle of Skye is by car, bus, or by tour. The closest airports are in Glasgow, Inverness, and Edinburgh. Most people rent a car for a self-driving tour of Scotland and the Isle of Skye.
For full details about getting to the Isle of Skye, read our article about Driving to the Isle of Skye, which provides multiple driving routes between Edinburgh, Glasgow, and the Isle of Skye.
Isle of Skye Coast, seen from Brothers Point
Where to Stay on the Isle of Skye
Portree is the Isle of Skye’s largest town with a great mix of hotels and B&B establishments. Here are some recommended places in and around Portree.
Cuillin Hills Hotel. This high-end hotel is located just outside of Portree. It gets rave reviews, has an onsite restaurant, and offers views that look out over the bay. Rooms can accommodate two people.
Tor View. This bed and breakfast is located just a short drive north of Portree. Since you are not located in town, you get some wonderful views of the Isle of Skye from this property. In fact, many prior guests rave about the views from this hotel, but all around, it gets high marks.
Skeabost View Pods. Want to stay in your own chalet? Four “pods,” one-bedroom studio chalets, sit side by side in the countryside 5 miles northwest of Portree. These have a small kitchenette and private bathroom. Each patio comes with a small fire pit and supply of firewood.
When to Make Your Reservation
This is very important!! Learn from our “mistake.” We booked our accommodations at the end of May for a visit to the Isle of Skye at the very end of July. Two months before our trip, accommodations on all of the Isle of Skye were 95% booked. I emailed every single one of the 100+ B&B’s on the island, as well as hotels and hostels. We got lucky, with one B&B that still had vacancies.
So, if you will be traveling to the Isle of Skye during the summer months, book your accommodations at least 3 months in advance. Six months would be even better.
Rubha nam Brathairean (Brothers Point)
Where to Eat on the Isle of Skye
Here are some of our favorite restaurants.
The Granary. Located in Portree, this place was so good that we ate here twice. They serve mostly seafood dishes, have a great wine list, and a convenient location in Portree. We could walk here from the Quiraing Guest House. Reservations are necessary, especially during the summer months.
Dinner at The Granary
The Isles Inn Pub & Hotel. This lively pub serves good Scottish food. We liked this place because we could get a table without a reservation, one of the few in Portree.
The Old Inn. Located in Carbost (near the Talisker Distillery), this cozy pub serves excellent food, coffee, and hot chocolate. Even in the summer, it was nice to come here to warm up and dry off after our wet, rainy visit to the Fairy Pools.
The Three Chimneys Restaurant. Ok, we didn’t eat here. But we wanted to! This place gets excellent reviews and can only be visited with a reservation. If you are planning to watch the sunset at Neist Point, this is a great restaurant to visit afterwards. Three Chimneys is located in Colbost, between Neist Point and Dunvegan. They also are a 5-star accommodation.
PRO TRAVEL TIP: You need to make a reservation for most restaurants during peak season. Many places are completely booked between 6 and 9 pm.
Isle of Skye Travel Tips
Driving on the Isle of Skye. In the most remote areas, you will drive on single track 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.
Cellular Service. Don’t expect great reception on the Isle of Skye. During our visit in 2016, 3G was available in Portree and Broadford. Outside of these areas, there was little to no cellular signal. Therefore, it is a huge advantage to rent a car with a built-in navigation service. This helped get us from point to point when our cellphones were useless. We used O2 but another popular carrier is Vodafone. Update in 2022: According to this article, there may now be 4G in the Isle of Skye.
Midges. What’s a midge? A midge is tiny, mosquito-like insect. They bite, just like a mosquito does. Midges tend to swarm your face, getting in your hair and even down into your clothing. They are annoying but not harmful. Lather on the bug repellent, look silly and wear mosquito netting around your head, or be prepared to shoo them away from your face. Midges are worse near streams and lakes. They are out in full force from May to September.
If it is raining. We spent three days on the Isle of Skye and it rained everyday. When it rains, it usually does not last long. Wait out the rain in your car and when it stops, go on your hike and check out the view. The rain tends to wash the other visitors away, giving you some tranquility, as long as you are patient enough to wait out the passing shower. Just make sure you have a good rain jacket, waterproof shoes, and an umbrella.
Mealt Falls and Kilt Rock
Do you have any questions about this Isle of Skye guide? Let us know in the comments below.
More Information about Scotland
PLACES TO VISIT IN THE ISLE OF SKYE: For an overview of must-have experiences on the Isle of Skye, read our article Best Things to Do on the Isle of Skye. We also have detailed guides on the Old Man of Storr, the Fairy Pools, the Fairy Glen, Brother’s Point, and the Quiraing.
SCOTLAND WITH KIDS: If you have plans to visit Scotland with kids, don’t miss our article Best Things to Do in Edinburgh with Kids. Kids will also love exploring the Isle of Skye, hiking to Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh, and exploring the Fairy Glen and the Old Man of Storr on the Isle of Skye.
DRIVING IN SCOTLAND: If your visit to Scotland includes a visit to the Isle of Skye, there are two different routes to get from Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye.
SCOTLAND ITINERARY: With 10 days in Scotland, visit the highlights, including Edinburgh, Glasgow, the Isle of Skye, and Glencoe.
EUROPE TRAVEL INSPIRATION: For more great ideas on where to go in Europe, check out our article 30 Beautiful Places to Visit in Europe. You can also get more travel ideas in our 10 Days in Europe itinerary guide, which has 10 great itineraries for your next trip to Europe.
Read all of our articles about Scotland in our Scotland Travel Guide.
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great source of information.
we are planning trip to Isle of Skye in the month of November most likely last week of November or first week of December, how would you recommend or suggest visiting Isle of Skye during this time considering weather conditions? and what would be best location to stay to cover Isle of Skye in 2 days by renting a car.
Thanks in advance for your comment.
Towards the end of November into December, it will be cold in the Isle of Skye and more rainy than the summer months. It’s not a great time to visit, as far as weather is concerned. But it shouldn’t be crowded. You can see more about the weather in the Isle of Skye here. As far as where to stay, Portree has a great location for exploring the Isle of Skye. Cheers, Julie
Hope you are doing great.
I am visiting Inverness in the 3rd week of August with my husband and son. We booked our stay in Inverness since its closer to Inverness airport. We are there for 4 nights and wish to visit Isle of Sky. Somehow the best tours that take you on a day tour of the Skye from Inverness are not available in August. We are not planning to rent a car. It would be great if you could suggest some Bus tour operators who take to the famous points in Skye, also need your suggestion if renting a car is better or going on a bus tour. Are there any private car operators who can take us around if we do not wish to drive ourselves, since it gives us the liberty of choosing what places we would want to visit.
I am also wondering if staying in Inverness was a good option or Staying in Skye would have been better. Our problem is our flight out of Inverness to London is very early in the morning. Looking forward to your advice.
Hello Aarti. I don’t know of any bus tours or private drivers to recommend, unfortunately. Based on our experience, having a car is the best way to get around the Isle of Skye, if you can’t join a guided tour. You could probably rent a car in Inverness, drive to Skye, spend 2 nights on the Isle of Skye, and then return to Inverness the day before you fly home. It takes several days to explore the Isle of Skye and if you stay in Inverness, you will do LOTS of extra driving. With all that being said, it could be very difficult to find a place to stay on the Isle of Skye 3 weeks before your trip, but I think it’s worth at least looking into. Cheers, Julie
Thanks a lot for your response.
You are right, it is very difficult to find any place in Skye currently. So we will stay put in Inverness and will try to take a guided tour from there. But thanks anyways.
Your site mentions hike distances for the various attractions. Am I correct in assuming those are one-way distances?
The hiking distances are round trip.
Thanks for the lovely posts. I will be thankful if you could help me with –
1. We are senior citizens who wish to visit Scotland in July, and do suffer from age related problems like inability to hike or walk much especially up/downlope. I understand from your post that one needs to hike/walk on undulating, muddy ground, which we may not be able to do. If that be the case, is it possible to see the Old Man of Storr, Neist Point etc. at all from parking? If not, is it worth just the drive?
2. Would you then recommend a bus tour for us. I am assuming that the buses do not wait for long durations for the tourists to walk to and from the point of interest?
Some sites don’t require much walking (Neist Point, Fairy Glen, Mealt Falls, and the viewpoint of the Quiraing fall into this category). Some sites require a lot of hilly walking, such as the Old Man of Storr and the Fairy Pools. However, you can see the Old Man of Storr from the road, it just won’t be the iconic viewpoint. It’s still very worthwhile to drive to all of these places, walking the trails for the ones you feel comfortable with. I don’t know much about bus tours of the Isle of Skye, but I did find this one day tour of the highlights that starts in Portree. You could also look into hiring a private driver, because they would move at your pace. Cheers, Julie
Thanks for sharing this helpful guide. Fabulous post!
We are coming onto Skye for a short 1 1/2 day visit. We will be traveling from Fort William after the morning train ride. I currently have 2 accomodations booked and wondered if you thought one would be better than the other. I have a room in Sligachan and a room in Uig on the Portree side. My thought was to drive to Neist Point and then head to hotel in Uig for the night. Get up early and travel clockwise around the other side and then out. OR, should we skip Neist Point all together, stay in Sligachan and then hit the counterclockwise tour and then head out? I am torn…any advice? Thanks so much, your map and review were extremely helpful in my planning.
Hello Paula. I like your Uig idea. You get to see Neist Point on your first afternoon in Skye, which is a nice, quick visit. By staying in Uig, you are very close to the Fairy Glen, so you can go right here first thing in the morning, before the crowds, then drive the Trotternish Loop, have a late lunch/early dinner in Portree, and then head out. If you are doing great with time, you could add on the Fairy Pools, but that’s probably a bit too much to do in one day. Cheers, Julie
Amazing, thanks so much. I am overthinking it too much. Just so excited as it is our first trip!! Thanks!
Hi Julie! Your blog has been very helpful in planing a trip through Scotland. Been trying to find more information on the car parks for the main stay attractions on Skye – I understand some (maybe all) charge for parking, but I’m curious if they accept card payments or cash only. Want to plan ahead if cash only.
That’s a tough one to answer. When we visited the Isle of Skye (2016), we did not have to pay for parking. If I remember correctly, you now have to pay for parking for the Fairy Pools and I am not sure if the other sites now have parking fees. Check the Walk Highlands website. They might have information about parking at some sites, or if you have your hotel booked, the staff should know the answer as well. It’s always a good idea to have some cash on you, but we used mostly credit cards while in Scotland. Cheers, Julie
Hi thank you for the info on this site. Very impressive. We’re staying on the Isle of Skye for my birthday next week. Can’t wait! We’re travelling on the NC500 before we stay at Skye. I wanted to visit the Hebrides in the summer but hubby says there’s lots of midges during that time. Just hope we get some decent views in your his rainy weather. Stay safe. Happy New Year!
You’re welcome and happy birthday! Cheers, Julie
Hello. If I wanted to cover all the Isle of Skye, and all the hikes, could I do all that using Portree as a base?
Yes, Portree is an excellent place to stay to explore all of the Isle of Skye. Cheers, Julie