Isle of Skye Guide

The Complete Isle of Skye Travel Guide

Julie Scotland 8 Comments

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.

Isle of Skye Guide

Contents

When to go

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 Visit 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.


Read more: The Perfect Isle of Skye Itinerary


Neist Point

Neist Point

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
  • Quiraing
  • Fairy Glen
  • Rubha nam Brathairean (Brother’s Point)
  • Neist Point
  • Fairy Pools
  • Talisker Distillery
  • Dunvegan Castle
  • Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls

For more details, read: 12 Must Have Experiences on the Isle of Skye


Old Man of Storr

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

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 Rubha nam Brathairean

Hiking Isle of Skye

 

Quiraing

Hiking Quiraing

Getting to the Isle of Skye

The only way to get to the Isle of Skye is by car or bus. 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, click here.

Isle of Skye Coast, seen from Rubha nam Brathairean

Brothers Point

Where to Stay on the Isle of Skye

Portree is the Isle of Skye’s largest town. Most people stay here. Portree offers a great mix of hotels and B&B establishments. Here are some recommended places:

Quiraing Guest House. This is where we stayed. This small, budget B&B is located just outside the city centre of Portree. They offer six comfortable, very clean rooms and a delicious Scottish breakfast every morning.

Viewfield House. Over 200 years old, this B&B resembles a small castle. It gets rave reviews on Trip Advisor.

Seaforth Cottage. This small B&B in Portree offers panoramic views of the ocean as well as views out to the Cuillin hills.

Shulista Croft Wigwams. Looking for someplace unique? This place is located on the northern portion of the Trotternish Peninsula (not in Portree). This is where you go to get away from it all. Again, people rave about this place on Trip Advisor.

When to Make Your Reservations

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. One place was available for our dates, the Quiraing Guest House. Even though it was the last place left for our dates, it was still a very nice place to stay.

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

Rubha nam Brathairean

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.

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.

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. 3G is available in Portree and Broadford. Outside of these areas, you will be extremely lucky to pick up a 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.

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

Mealt Falls

Post updated April 2018.


Travel Inspiration: More on the Isle of Skye

 

Isle of Skye Travel Guide

Comments 8

  1. Hi Julie and family,
    We are visiting the Scottish Highlands early in September. Please advise us how to reach the best viewpoint to watch the Jacobite Steam Train going over the Glenfinnan Viaduct.
    Many thanks.
    Raj

    1. Post
      Author

      We have some info about this on our Driving to the Isle of Skye post. There is a parking lot at the viaduct and a trail that leads to a viewpoint. This is a good spot to be. I believe there may also be a hiking trail to get closer but I don’t have those details since we didn’t do it. We visited in the rain, not such a pretty time to visit the viaduct. Cheers, Julie

  2. Hi Julie,

    I’m so happy to have found your blog as my husband and I will be visiting Scotland for the first time next month.

    We will drive from Edinburgh and spend the first night in Invergarry. Definitely want to see Eilean Donan castle as we head to the Isle of Skye for the next two nights! We’re beyond excited to see this incredibly beautiful corner of the world!

    Your travels have outlined so much of what we hope to visit.

    Thanks so much for the great information!

    Linda

    1. Post
      Author
  3. Oh my goodness, I should have done a bit more digging on your site: I just found the answer to a question I’d just submitted on another post! Sorry! Again, thanks for such a detailed, practical overview. You’ve totally found a new follower. Cheers!

    1. Post
      Author
  4. Hi Julie & Tim, I wanted to let you know that after all the extensive research I’ve done on where and what to do in Scotland, I find my thoughts and preference on how to travel most similar to yours. I will be using quite a few of your recommendation for my family trip in early May. Can’t wait to explore Scotland, the skye, the trails and those food you recommended!

    I also like your mantra on live to travel, traveling is one of the most rewarding thing ever. It’s so inspiring to read your family profile, leaving everything behind to truly see the world together and finished the project, truly being in the moment, very admirable. I’m sure you have learnt so much about the world during this journey, but most importantly the bond and memories created between the 4 of you..will always stay with you for the life time, and that’s why living truly means. Congratulations!!

    It takes effort and commitment to upkeep this blog since you’re not on the road anymore, hence i’m dropping you a little ‘encouragement’ that someone from other side of the world really really looking forward to more from you guys and hope you will keep pushing forward.

    All the best,
    Claudia from Kuala Lumpur

    1. Post
      Author

      Wow, this is so nice, Claudia. Thanks for writing to us. Yes, this blog is a lot of work, but it so rewarding to be able to inspire others and help them travel better. Have a great time in Scotland. After everywhere we’ve been, Scotland is one of our favorite places. You are in for quite an adventure!! Cheers, Julie

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