Julie Itinerary, Scotland 80 Comments

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.

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 recently 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.

Fairy Glen

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.

The Fairy Glen is a quick visit, easy to hike, and if there is anywhere you could possibly find a fairy on the Isle of Skye, it would be here.

Hiking the Fairy Glen

Fairy Glen

Fairy Glen | Isle of Skye Itinerary

Quiraing

The Quiraing is a gorgeous spot on the Isle of Skye. See it from the car park, follow the hiking trail for ten to fifteen minutes to leave most of the crowds behind, or hike the entire 4.5 mile circuit.

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.

Quiraing

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.

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.

Mealt Falls Isle of Skye Itinerary

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.

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.

Isle of Skye Itinerary Brothers Point

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.

Isle of Skye Itinerary 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. Those with two or more days on the Isle of Skye can return to Portree for dinner. If you only have this one day, consider continuing your Isle of Skye tour.

Dunvegan Castle

From the Old Man of Storr, drive west to Dunvegan. This drive takes approximately 45 minutes. If you arrive by 4 pm, tour the Dunvegan Castle.

For full details, visit the Dunvegan Castle website.

Neist Point

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:

Isle of Skye Itinerary 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

Day Two: Fairy Pools, Talisker Distillery, Neist Point, Dunvegan Castle

Fairy Pools

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.

Fairy Pools

Fairy Pools | Isle of Skye Itinerary

Talisker Distillery

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.

Blaven

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

Planning a trip to Scotland? Read all of our articles in our Scotland Travel Guide.

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Comments 80

  1. Avatar for Laura B
    Laura B

    Hey! My mom and I are headed to Scotland at the end of May. I would love to see Skye, if feasible. So would you recommend driving from Edinburgh or Glasgow? We are staying in Edinburgh, but could easily take a train to Glasgow and rent a car from there. Here’s what I’m thinking…Day 1-Pick up car in Glasgow and drive the 6 hours to Portree (are there stops along that way?). Day 2-Drive around the Isle of Skye. Day 3-Could do more driving around and then head back to Glasgow?

    I need advice! What do you think is the best way. Another possibility would be to take a train to Inverness and then do a day trip with a travel company to Skye?

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      This post, driving to the Isle of Skye, should answer your questions. You can drive from Edinburgh or Glasgow, it really doesn’t make much of a difference. If you can add another day for the Isle of Skye (so you have two full days) that would be ideal. Cheers, Julie

  2. Avatar for Kristin
    Kristin

    Hi Julie and family,
    just wanted to say thank you for this blog. We have just come back from our Easter break on the Isle of Skye and had used it to prepare our trip, adding a little bit here and there to make it our own. Your tips and explanations on how far people need to walk in order to see the sights was great, having travelled with our 4 year old boy who is simply not (always) up for longer walks. Having said that, he did amazingly well and we are sure to come back to Skye once his little legs have grown a bit. Can’t wait to explore some of your other trips. All the best, Kristin and family x

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      Thank you Kristin and family. We are glad that we could help you out and that you had a good experience! Cheers, Julie and family 🙂

  3. Avatar for Julie De Louker
    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      I would highly recommend having a rental car. It’s worth the money to explore the Isle of Skye on your own schedule. It will be so much more time efficient and enjoyable. Honestly, I don’t really know how the buses work on Skye and I don’t recall seeing very many of them. Cheers, Julie

      1. Avatar for Julie
  4. Avatar for Christina
    Christina

    Hi Julie,

    Where did you rent your car from? We are coming from Inverness and want to end in Armadale. Any thoughts on how to make that work with a rental car.

    Thanks for your help!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      We rented a car in Edinburgh and returned it in Glasgow. Renting a car from Inverness should not be a problem, but returning it in Armadale is probably a no-go. I just did a Google search for rental car agencies in Scotland and nothing came up in Armadale. There’s one option in Portree, but most places are located in the bigger towns/cities of Inverness, Fort William (Sixt), Edinburgh, and Glasgow. You could contact available rental car companies in Inverness and inquire if you can drop the car in or near Armadale. Good luck! Cheers, Julie

  5. Avatar for Amelia
    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      We use the DJI Phantom 4 drone. We bought it the summer of 2016 so there are newer models out there now. But we have been very happy with it. Just check where you can fly drones before investing money into this purchase. It seems like a lot of places have restrictions on drones and recently we have been very limited where we can use it. Have a great time on the Isle of Skye!! Cheers, Julie

  6. Avatar for Cathy Rodstein
    Cathy Rodstein

    Hi, love your post! The evening we arrive on Isle of Skye, we are staying in Elgol. The following night we stay in Portree, leaving midday on the ferry from Armadale. So, we only have the one full day and a few hours the next morning. How would you plan your itinerary from Elgol to Portree that day? So many wonderful places to see! Any suggestions for lunch?
    Maybe we have time the day we leave to go over the bridge to see the castle as our ferry leaves at 1:00.
    So appreciate any advice you may have,
    Cathy

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      In my opinion, the must-see places to visit are the big sites on the Trotternish Loop (Old Man, Quiraing, Fairy Glen, Brothers Point, Mealt Falls). Seeing these sites takes almost one full day. As you drive from Elgol towards Portree, you will pass Bla Bheinn on your left. If it’s a clear day, stop a take a look (but you don’t have enough time to hike it if you want to get to the bigger sites). Somewhere along the drive on B8083 you will come across an old cemetery in ruins. It’s a neat spot to explore and only takes a few minutes. I can’t remember the exact location but it’s easy to spot from the road. Then I’d drive up past Portree and spend the rest of the day on the Trotternish Loop. There are restaurants between Elgol and Portree but we never ate at any so I can’t give you any good suggestions about lunch spots. But it seems like you will be in Portree at lunchtime so you could just eat here.

      On the second day, you do have time to see Eilean Donan Castle. It’s worth it. Just start early, but I believe the castle does not open until 9 am if you want to tour it.

      Cheers, Julie

      1. Avatar for Cathy
        Cathy

        Thank you Julie! So, you don’t think we have enough time to see Neist Point and Dunvegan Castle on the way to Trotternish? Do they even compare to the sites on Trotternish?
        Really appreciate your advice. We won’t do much hiking, taking my 80 year old Mum back to Scotland after 12 years away. My daughters may do a little, Old man of Storr likely.

        1. Avatar for Julie Post
          Author
          Julie

          You can do it, but you must start very early in the morning and you won’t have time to linger long at most of the stops. You can see Neist Point and the Quiraing very quickly and save time for Old Man and Brother’s Point. It is a bit of a walk up to the Old Man of Storr but it’s the only way to see it. Cheers, Julie

  7. Avatar for T Nguyen
    T Nguyen

    Beautiful pictures! Thank you for sharing. Is day 1 Itinerary really feasible? 7 stops, driving time of +5.5h from Google Map. I’m afraid there’s not enough time at each stop. But we really want to do this. Start at sunrise?

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      Yes, this is a very full day, but it can be done (we did it). Some stops are very fast, like Mealt Falls. I recommend not hiking the Quiraing, just enjoy the view from the start of the trail. Spend the most time at the Old Man of Storr and Brother’s Point. The trick is to get to Dunvegan Castle by 5 pm if you want to tour it. If the castle is not a big deal for you, you have a lot more time. Starting at sunrise will give you plenty of time, plus the first one to two places you visit will be empty or have just a few people. Enjoy! Cheers, Julie

      1. Avatar for Amelia
        Amelia

        We’re almost literally planning the exact stops for our day on the Isle of Skye, but I had no idea how much time to plan for anything so this was perfect. We aren’t planning on the Fairy Glen or Dunvegan Castle, so we might fill that time with hiking Quiraing. So grateful for this post, I was so worried we’d be pressed for time.

  8. Avatar for Nirmal Singh
    Nirmal Singh

    I am planning to visit Scotland will arrive on 23rd morning and will leave on 25th evening, so i have around 3 days in Scotland, i am planning to come there by Car that i have rented from Welwyn Garden City (UK).

    could you please help me with the best itinerary and tips if i want to cover Isle of Sky with few more interesting scenic points.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      The Isle of Skye is a 12 hour drive from Welwyn Garden City. I would recommend skipping Scotland on this trip and seeing the English countryside (Cotswolds, Bath, Stonehenge, and Dover are all much closer if you only have 2.5 days). Cheers, Julie

      1. Avatar for Nirmal Singh
        Nirmal Singh

        Hello Julie,
        Thanks for guiding me, i already have plan to go around English countrysides.

        I am in Welwyn Garden City for around 2 months, came for work on international assignment wit my client TESCO from India , while i am staying here, i am thinking to plan a weekend in Scotland covering Isle of Sky.

        Let me know how to plan this best, should i come by train and then book some bus tour or coming by car would be a good option?.

        Thanks,
        Nirmal

        1. Avatar for Julie Post
          Author
          Julie

          Ok, I understand now. Sorry, I thought you only had 3 days total for the entire visit (and you would be driving up from London). You could take a train or fly to Glasgow or Edinburgh. If you feel comfortable doing so, I recommend renting a car and driving to the Isle of Skye. This gives you more flexibility in touring the island. Once in the Isle of Skye, you can use this itinerary to help you plan your time. If you will be in the Isle of Skye between May and September, book your accommodations as soon as possible because this place is getting very popular. Again, sorry for the misunderstanding. Cheers, Julie

  9. Avatar for Rebecca
    Rebecca

    Hi!
    Thank you so much for this, it’s great! My fiance and I are planning our honeymoon in June and want to visit the island. I think we might just follow your itinerary! 🙂
    Just a quick question, did you have a map that you followed, did you use your phone to navigate, or are the road signs easy to follow?
    Thanks!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      We used Google Maps on our phone. You need to cache the maps on your phone before arriving on the Isle of Skye, or in Portree, because cell service is poor/nonexistant throughout much of the island. But the GPS will still work so you will know where you are. The roads are well marked. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a paper map as a back up. Have fun! Cheers, Julie

  10. Avatar for Dave
    Dave

    Hello Julie & family!

    A few quick questions;
    1 – You said to drive the route clock-wise, against traffic? Did you find that that caused you to spend much time in the passing places for traffic to go by?
    2 – This is more for Scotland in general than just Skye, but obviously the views are stunning. I’ll be our family driver, so can’t hold the camera. Is it easy to find places to pull over for a quick photo or to stretch young legs?
    3 – It doesn’t sound you did, but just to ask, did you visit any castles other than Dunvegan, or see any of the dinosaur footprints on Skye? Something I’m plan for our trip 🙂

    Thanks!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      On the Trotternish Loop,the road is wide enough for two cars, so getting by oncoming traffic is not really an issue here. The roads get narrower on the shorter access roads and then once you travel to the western side of the Isle of Skye. There are plenty of places to stop for photographs. Believe me, we know. We stopped constantly to take photos…this is such a beautiful place. No, we never saw the dinosaur footprints (I never heard of them, to be honest) or any other castles. But don’t miss Eilean Donan Castle, just a short drive from the Isle of Skye. It was our favorite castle in Scotland. Have fun! Cheers, Julie

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