A Scenic Drive Through Scotland's Isle of Skye
Road Trip Travel
The Isle of Skye is one of Scotland’s most popular destinations, and for good reason. On my road trip through Scotland, this was without a doubt my favorite stop and one I’ll absolutely be returning to in the future. The Isle of Skye offers dramatic coastlines, cute towns with great food, awesome hiking trails and endless views. While a one-or two-day stay on the Isle of Skye is absolutely possible, I recommend spending three days to really see all that it has to offer at a comfortable pace. And while bus tours are widely available, I recommend renting a car, which will allow you to travel on your own time and to get to some less-populated areas.
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Where to stay in Scotland
Cozy and comfortable, in the center of Potree.
Cuillin Hills Hotel
Overlooking Portree Bay, this hotel boasts elegant rooms and a Scottish restaurant on the Isle of Skye.
Set on 200 acres in a 200-year-old manor house, this B&B features traditional rooms and fantastic views in Portree.
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Things to do in Scotland
Portree is the biggest town on the Isle of Skye and is likely where you’ll base yourself. Portree has numerous hotels, tons of great dining options (including one Michelin-starred restaurant) and lots of cute shops for souvenir shopping.
Old Man of Storr
This is perhaps the most popular and iconic landmark on the Isle of Skye, and for good reason. The hike is a bit challenging at about three miles roundtrip with quite a bit of elevation gain. Take it slow and appreciate the views around you as you ascend and across this gorgeous mountain. At the top, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the sea, the cliffs and the unbelievable rock formations that make this stop a staple on an Isle of Skye itinerary.
On my trip to Isle of Skye, every stop I made I proclaimed was my new favorite stop. That said, I think Quairaing might be my favorite. Here, there is an option of just going to the lookout, which on my trip was what I had planned to do as I was running out of daylight. Arriving at the lookout, I knew I had to keep going; it was too beautiful to walk away from. The entire hike is 4.5 miles and is a bit challenging. There are a couple sections where you have to scramble up some rocks, as well as some steep drop-offs as you walk along the cliff’s edge. All of that said, we saw people of all ages and fitness levels on this trail and the reward is so, so worth it. The views of the island are unparalleled and will leave you feeling like you’re on a different planet. For those who are able, I really urge you to include this on your itinerary; you won’t regret it.
On a list full of Isle of Skye hot-spots, this is a bit of an off-the-beaten-path suggestion. That said, I truly don’t know why it’s so often overlooked- I absolutely loved it and consider it a must-do for all visitors. From the small parking lot, there isn’t a clear trail the whole way, but just follow the coastline for about a mile until you arrive at the peninsula, which you can walk out to. The views are unbelievably beautiful and due to its lack of popularity, you might even get lucky and have the whole area to yourself like I did.
This is a highlight of a trip to Isle of Skye. Aside from the relatively steep hill to and from the parking lot, this is a flat walk and good for all fitness levels. Follow the trail along the water, passing numerous waterfalls with the Cuillins mountain range in the background. Walk along the pools for as long as you’d like and even go for a dip if you can handle the chilly water. This is not a stop to be rushed, so I would plan to spend two hours here. Even if you don’t plan on walking the whole stretch, you’ll probably get carried away with the beauty and end up getting pretty far.
Kilt Rock and Melt Falls
This is a quick, roadside stop that offers a stunning view of the coastline and Melt Falls, a huge waterfall that descends into the ocean.
This is a short and easy stroll that takes you through a beautifully lush and less crowded area of the Isle. This is a great stop for kids, as they can climb the various small hills and rock formations. It really does look like the perfect home for fairies.
This is the only whiskey distillery on the island and they offer tours and tastings daily.
This is the only castle on the island and they offer daily tours. You can even stay on the property in one of their self-catering cottages for a really unique experience.
Getting to Loch Coruisk, a beautiful lake set among the Cuillin Hills, requires a boat tour. On the water, you’ll have the opportunity to see dolphins, puffins, seals and if you’re lucky, porpoises and basking sharks. Once on shore, you’ll be able to take a short stroll around the gorgeous lake with the opportunity to spot more wildlife before returning back to the port. I didn’t have enough time to do this, but it’s at the top of my list for next time!
Places to eat & drink in Scotland
The Three Chimneys: One of the UK’s most famous restaurants serving locally caught seafood in a 5-star setting.
Loch Bay: Isle of Skye’s only Michelin-starred restaurant.
The Old School: Casual, family-run restaurant serving traditional Scottish food.
Sea Breezes: Affordable option for great local seafood.
The Oyster Shed: Super casual, order at the counter with BYO service for the freshest oysters you can find.
Need to Know
For more travel tips, check out Fora Advisor Lizz Callaway guide, 5 Days of Family-Friendly Adventure on the Isle of Skye.
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Scotland.