The Isle of Skye is one of Scotland’s hottest destinations. Every year, thousands of visitors flock to the island to see its breathtaking scenery, quaint towns, and stunning coastline. So, how do you plan the perfect Isle of Skye itinerary?
Whether you have one, two, or three days (or more, if you are really lucky!), we have great suggestions to help you make the most of your time here. A minimum of two days is ideal. On a map, the Isle of Skye may look small, but there is a lot to do here. Even if you only have a day to spare, you still have enough time to see the best of the island.
Those with three days or more have enough time to cover the majority of the Isle of Skye. Plus, the extra time gives you a better chance of touring the island during pleasant weather. During the summer months, consecutive days of rainy weather are not unusual.
If you do not have a car but want to spend a day on the Isle of Skye, check out the tour options at the end of this article.
Planning Your Isle of Skye Itinerary
For this itinerary you will need a rental car. Yes, it is possible to tour the Isle of Skye by bus, but you will be at the mercy of the bus timetables. Traveling by bus is economical but can waste a lot of precious time. We highly recommend having your own car, particularly if you have limited time.
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.
1 Day Isle of Skye Itinerary
With only one day on the Isle of Skye, do not miss the Trotternish Loop. This peninsula contains the most popular, most epic scenery on the Isle of Skye.
Most people stay in Portree, the largest town on the Isle of Skye. This town contains the highest concentration of B&B’s, hotels, and restaurants. Portree makes an excellent home base for the Isle of Skye.
With only one day, start early to maximize your time. That means getting started by 8:30 am if possible.
Most tour companies and travel guides recommend traveling counterclockwise around the Trotternish Loop. We recommend traveling clockwise, against traffic. It will help minimize crowds at several stops and you get to visit the Fairy Glen first thing, before the crowds arrive.
Important Note: I recommend packing a picnic lunch to bring with you. In our original itinerary we recommended the Pie in the Skye Cafe for lunch (just before visiting the Old Man of Storr). Unfortunately, the Pie in the Skye Cafe closed. On today’s drive, there are no convenient places to stop for lunch, which is the reason why we recommend the picnic lunch. You also have the option to have a very late lunch in Portree after visiting the Old Man of Storr, but I doubt you will have enough time to get to Dunvegan Castle before closing time if you plan to also visit this on day 1.
The first stop of the day is the mystical Fairy Glen. Often overlooked on the most time limited itineraries, we still think it is worth a stop. Plus, if you get here early enough in the morning, you may get it all to yourself.
From Portree, it is a 25 minute drive to get here.
The Fairy Glen is a quick visit (about 30 to 45 minutes is enough time to visit the Fairy Glen), easy to hike, and if there is anywhere you could possibly find a fairy on the Isle of Skye, it would be here.
Fairy Glen | Isle of Skye Itinerary
The Quiraing is a gorgeous spot on the Isle of Skye. See it from the car park (time: 5 to 10 minutes), follow the hiking trail for ten to fifteen minutes to leave most of the crowds behind, or hike the entire 4.5 mile circuit (about 2 hours). To get here from the Fairy Glen, it is a 20-minute drive.
LEARN MORE: Hiking the Quiraing on the Isle of Skye
Pro Travel Tip: Travelers with only one day on the Isle of Skye may want to skip the full hike, putting their time into Neist Point and Dunvegan Castle.
The Quiraing | Isle of Skye Itinerary
Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls
This is the quickest stop of the day and offers epic views along the coastline of the Isle of Skye.
To get here from the Quiraing, continue on A855, heading south past Staffin. 1.6 miles south of Staffin, on A855, there will be a car park, labeled for Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls. It takes 15 minutes to drive to the Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls viewpoint.
The car park is located right next to the viewpoint, so very little walking (or time) is necessary for this stop.
Pro Travel Tip: From the viewpoint, look north to see Mealt Falls and Kilt Rock. If you look south, the scenery is almost as beautiful and you can see Rubha nam Brathairean (Brother’s Point) off in the distance. This is your next destination.
Rubha nam Brathairean (Brother’s Point)
This is the Isle of Skye’s hidden gem. Very few people seem to know about this place, which makes it that much more special. If you like the idea of doing a short, relatively easy hike to stunning coastal scenery, Brother’s Point should be #1 on your list of places to see on the Isle of Skye.
To get here, it is just a 5-minute drive from Mealt Falls and Kilt Rock. Park at “Brother’s Point Parking” on A855 and it takes 1.5 to 2 hours to hike the 3.6 km (2.25 mile) out-and-back trail to Brother’s Point.
LEARN MORE: Brother’s Point: Isle of Skye’s Hidden Treasure
Pro Travel Tip: Just do it! For us, Brother’s Point was one of the highlights on the Isle of Skye. It is unexpectedly awesome.
Old Man of Storr
The Old Man of Storr is one of the Isle of Skye’s icons. It is on everyone’s list of things to see, so expect huge crowds. Even so, it is absolutely worth it.
From Brother’s Point, it is a 10-minute drive to the parking lot for the Old Man of Storr. A visit here lasts 1 to 2 hours.
LEARN MORE: The Old Man of Storr
Old Man of Storr | Isle of Skye Itinerary
By now it is mid to late afternoon, depending on how much hiking you did at each stop.
If you have two or more days on the Isle of Skye, we recommend returning to Portree for dinner.
If you only have one day on the Isle of Skye, consider continuing your Isle of Skye tour. In order to do this, you have to move quickly through the sights on the Trotternish Loop, in order to leave enough time in the afternoon for Dunvegan Castle and Neist Point.
From the Old Man of Storr, drive west to Dunvegan. This drive takes approximately 45 minutes. If you arrive by 5 pm, tour the Dunvegan Castle.
For full details, visit the Dunvegan Castle website.
Neist Point is the Isle of Skye’s most popular place to watch the sunset. Expect an overflowing car park and lots of people. You can walk all of the way out to the lighthouse (2 miles, allow 1 – 2 hours), or just walk uphill from the car park along the coast for this view of Neist Point:
Neist Point | Isle of Skye Itinerary
Getting Here: Neist Point requires another 30 minutes of driving from Dunvegan. From Dunvegan, take B884 west, and then follow signs to Neist Point. Parking can be a major issue, especially during the busier months. It can take an additional 10 – 30 minutes to find parking, as the narrow car park becomes gridlocked with cars.
After visiting Neist Point, return to Portree.
2 Day Isle of Skye Itinerary
Day One: Follow our Trotternish Loop drive on the Day 1 itinerary listed above but skip Dunvegan Castle and Neist Point
Day Two: Fairy Pools, Talisker Distillery, Neist Point, Dunvegan Castle
This is another popular spot. Getting here early, preferably earlier than 9:30 am, will help minimize the crowds. From Portree, it takes approximately 35 minutes to drive to the Fairy Pools.
LEARN MORE: How to Visit the Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye
Fairy Pools | Isle of Skye Itinerary
The Talisker Distillery is the only whisky distillery on the Isle of Skye. Take a tour, do a whisky tasting, or simply purchase some whisky in the souvenir shop.
Getting Here: From the Fairy Pools, drive 5 miles north to the town of Carbost.
Lunch at The Old Inn
This cozy pub serves great food. It’s warm, inviting atmosphere is great, especially during the cooler months, or if you got stuck out in the rain earlier at the Fairy Pools. The Old Inn is located in Carbost, within walking distance of Talisker Distillery.
Neist Point and Dunvegan Castle
If you did not do this yesterday, spend the afternoon here. Finish your day by having dinner in Portree.
3 Day Isle of Skye Itinerary
Option 1: Bla Bheinn (Blaven)
For a hike that offers 360° views of the Cuillins, this hike is a great option. We attempted this hike in rainy weather, which really is not a great idea. But, if you love hiking, and if you have a clear day while on the Isle of Skye, consider this hike.
LEARN MORE: Our Attempt on Bla Bheinn, Scotland
Option 2: Boat Trip from Elgol to Loch Coruisk
This trip takes up the majority of the day. Those who do it, rave about it. From Elgol, a boat will take you to Loch Coruisk. Along the way, you have the chance to spot puffins, dolphins, and even Orcas. Once at Loch Coruisk, walk along the scenic lake, spotting seals on the shore.
For more information, visit the Misty Isle Boat Trips website.
One Day Tours to the Isle of Skye
If you would like to visit the Isle of Skye, only have one day, and are not planning on renting a car, here are three highly rated tours from Inverness. To get to Inverness from Edinburgh, you can take the train, a journey which takes approximately three and a half hours.
About this Isle of Skye Itinerary
If you plan on visiting the Isle of Skye for several days, the order of the itinerary can be changed. It is better to visit the Trotternish Loop and Blaven during clear weather. If you have a rainy day, go to the Fairy Pools and Talisker Distillery.
This post was originally written in September 2016 and it is updated on a regular basis.
Do you have any questions about this Isle of Skye itinerary? Let us know in the comment section 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 ITINERARY: With 10 days in Scotland, visit the highlights, including Edinburgh, Glasgow, the Isle of Skye, and Glencoe.
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.
EDINBURGH: Learn about the best things to do and how to plan your time in our 2 Day Edinburgh Itinerary. We also have detailed guides on how to hike to Arthur’s Seat, how to visit Edinburgh Castle, and best things to do with kids in Edinburgh.
TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY: For more information about the camera gear we carry, check out our Travel Photography Gear Guide. And tips and tricks for taking great photos in our article How to Take Better Photos while Traveling.
Planning a trip to Scotland? Read all of our articles in our Scotland Travel Guide.
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Your blogs are amazing, they help me so much to help plan our trip to Scotland in a couple of months. Thanks so much for writing it down so nicely and with lots of worthwhile information. I understand that you’ve been here already quite some years ago, so some things might have changed, but I’m sure it will still be very worthwhile. Thanks again. We are even more looking forward to our visit there.
You’re welcome! I hope you have a great time in Scotland! Cheers, Julie
Hi, we are planning a trip to Scotland this summer. My idea is to get to London (from Belgium), then take the Caledonian sleeper into For William. I would rent a car there to continue to the Isle of Skye followed by Loch Ness (the kids really want to go there). We would also like to fit in the 182 with the road from Sky Fall, Meeting of the Three Waters.
In the end we would like to finish in Edinburgh and then fly back to Belgium.
I seem to struggle a little with picking up (and probably having to return the rental car) at Fort William to then get to Edinburgh. This is mainly driven by all the recommendations to take the Caledonian Sleeper into Fort William.
Any tips you can give us?
Hello Yannick. Fort William is a small town and I imagine it could be challenging renting a car from there. If you are having troubles renting a car, alternatively, you could take the train to Edinburgh (I just checked and it does go to Edinburgh) and pick up and drop off the rental car here. This is where we picked up and dropped off our rental car and had no issues. If you have your heart set on picking it up in Fort William, just be prepared for higher prices and more restrictions, and then you will have to add on the cost of transportation to get from Fort William to Edinburgh. If it were me, I’d keep things easy (and cheaper) and rent the car from Edinburgh. Your plan overall looks great and I hope everything works out with renting a car. Cheers, Julie
Excited to finally be planning a visit to Skye. Love this itinerary!
We will be in a rental car out and back to Edinburgh and plan for the three day option. My question is this: where do you recommend as the best place to stay as a starting point each of those days?
My mother was a McCloud (deriv: MacLeod) and a proud member of the clan. She was never able so make it to Dunvegan Castle so this is so much in her memory.
Thanks in advance for all the great info. .
Hello Cindy. That’s exciting that you are planning a visit to the Isle of Skye! Portree is the most convenient place to stay in the Isle of Skye. It has a lot of hotels and B&B’s to choose from as well as some great restaurants. Plus, it is rather centrally located on the peninsula, which makes it easy to get around the Isle of Skye. I hope you have a great trip!! Cheers, Julie
Just did this trip. You could stay in Portree but consider the hotel in Sligachan. It’s halfway between Talisker and Portree. Cute place with a nice pub/restaurant. Staying in Portree is easy. Don’t worry about parking as most places don’t have it. Simply park in the public car parks. Very reasonably priced. Grab breakfast and your lunch at Relish Deli on the day you do the Totternish Loop. Believe it or not, the best breakfast we had on Skye was at Gasta. It’s located in the combo candle store, movie theatre and visitor centre. The poached eggs on sourdough with salmon was amazing.
My family and are are planning a trip in October finally after 2 years of cancellations. We were going to take the train and then bus. Is there a group of tours guides until would recommend. We will stay 2 days. So we will also have a 10 month old. ( cause we had to wait 2 years before the trip).
Hello Mary Kate. We don’t have personal experience with them, but Rabbie’s runs tours of the Isle of Skye. I also found this website that runs small bus tours and also has private drivers. I hope you have a great time in Scotland after your long wait! Cheers, Julie
Hope you’re doing well! Great pictures, guidance and appreciate the efforts here.
I am planning to visit Isle of Skye in end of Mar’22 or Start of Apr’22 from Ireland, I will be flying from Dublin (either to Glasgow/Edinburgh as it seems only 2 options available) and then a car drive of approx. 10 hours to and fro Isle of Skye.
1. How many days are ideally needed to cover Isle of skye (will your 3 day itinerary suffice)
2. If above applies then can I plan a 4 days end to end trip from Dublin Glasgow/Edinburgh Isle of Skye. (Eg: Sat Early Morning Arrival to Glasgow/Edinburgh – Tue Late night return to Dublin)
3. How kms far from the Center of Portree I can go for accommodation.
4. Which Car hire approach would be cheaper hire from Glasgow/Edinburgh to Isle of Skye or hiring locally in Isle of Skye.
5. It would be great if you can help customize trip as per point 2 and/or if you feel 3 days would suffice too (end-to-end).
Hello Navin. I’d be happy to help. Three full days is enough time to see the highlights. That is how much time we had and we thought it was enough. Having the 4 days, like you said, should work well, since that gives you some time to travel to and from the Isle of Skye. I think your best bet to is to rent a car from the airport you arrive into. Then you can drive right to Skye and won’t be dependent on a bus schedule. Plus, there may not be any places to rent a car on the Isle of Skye. Portree is a great home base, since there are many restaurants and hotels here. Since you will have a car, you can also stay outside of Portree if you like, and drive into town for dinner.
As far as an itinerary: Day 1: arrive in Scotland, pick up rental car, drive to Isle of Skye, check into your hotel, visit Portree. Day 2: Follow day #1 of this itinerary Day 3: Follow day #2 of this itinerary Day 4: Do option #1 of day #3 of this itinerary, or drive out to Elgol (nice scenic drive), then return to Ireland.
That’s great Julie. This is exactly what I was planning for. Happy to be aligned on the approach.
Last question: Your road trip itinerary shows northern and southern route where one route includes ferry and other one doesn’t. But the non ferry route is from Edinburgh, is there a itinerary for a road trip from Glasgow to Isle of Skye without ferry. (though google shows the route has restricted usage or private roads)
You can take the southern route and modify it so you avoid the ferry. Once at Fort William, continue north towards Fort Augustus, rather than heading west to Glenfinnan. From Fort Augustus, drive through Kyle of Lochalsh and enter the Isle of Skye from here. Cheers, Julie
That sounds Good. Appreciate your support.
I plan to reach Isle of Skye either by bus or train. Not having to rely on public buses while there I have read in an article that there are tours of the island organised from Portree. However I couldn’t find anywhere online any like this advertised. All organised tours I found online are with starting points in Inverness, Glasgow or Edinburgh.
Are you aware of any tours which can be purchased straight from the island while being there?
Pre-COVID, tours were being offered from Portree, and I did have links to them from our website. However, in the past year, they have stopped being offered and I have noticed the same thing: I just see tours from the nearby cities. Hopefully soon, as travel begins to get back to normal, these tours will be offered again. This is not just for the Isle of Skye, I have seen this happen throughout Europe and the USA. For right now, if you want to see the Isle of Skye, the best way to do it is to rent a car, since you may not be able to join a tour. Or, join a tour from Inverness, since that is closer to the Isle of Skye. Cheers, Julie
This trip looks amazing!!! Hoping to get here someday.
It is an amazing three days in Scotland. I hope you can get here someday, too!! Cheers, Julie