A Guide to Isle of Skye
Isle of Skye is among the top locations that you need to visit in Scotland. The scenery and the landscapes will take your breath away and make your jaw drop simultaneously. It is the largest of the Inner Hebrides with Portree as its capital city. Isle of Skye is great if you enjoy wildlife watching as you may get to see otters, seals, whales, and dolphins among other animals. Be prepared to walk a lot, this is a popular destination for hikers and climbers. Having been on the island twice now I want to share some of my favourite spots and walks that you shouldn’t miss out on.
Where to stay
Finding a place to stay on Skye can be tricky depending on when you are visiting and when you start to look. If you are going in the summer and want to stay in a fairly nice place, start looking a long time before! I went the first time in August and already in April when we started looking for places almost everything was full. Bear in mind that Skye is a popular destination. The second time I went was in late October and finding places was a lot easier (and the weather was actually nicer, you just never know with Skye). It has become increasingly easy and budget friendly since you can use AirBnB. We stayed in a lovely cottage in Broadford the second time for a pretty good price. When you have access to internet make sure you download offline maps! There is barely any internet on Skye and you will need your maps.
Where to go
Before reaching Skye (or when leaving) a must see is the Eilean Donan Castle (featured in Skyfall among other films). It is a 13th century castle and is located on a little island during the high tide. The surrounding lochs (Duich, Long and Alsh) are beautiful. You will see it just before you reach the bridge to Isle of Skye on A87. Hop off and take some pictures!
The start of the walk is on the way towards Glenbrittle. It’s a beautiful walk along the River Brittle. There are multiple crystal clear blue pools and the walk is fairly easy as there is a gravel path. It takes around 20 minutes to get to the first waterfall (but keep going, it gets better!). If you visit during the summer, you can even have a swim in some of the pools.
Make sure you don’t miss the Coral Beaches, located in the north of Skye with the car park being a only 10-minute drive from Dunvegan Castle (which was closed when we were there so can’t add it on this list! But if you’re heading to either place, make sure to visit the other as well). It takes roughly 25 minutes to walk from the car park to the beach (both ways it is roughly 3.6 km). The beach is made from crushed white coral-like seaweed which creates its beautiful tropical look.
Neist Point Lighthouse
Neist Point is the most westerly point on Skye with beautiful cliff scenery. It offers a view of the Outer Hebrides, and apparently in the summer months you can spot minke whales. It is a bit of a walk to the light house, including some hills. The walk is about 3km.
Old Man of Storr
This is a popular climb! The first time we didn’t walk all the way to the top, but the second time we were pretty close to it. The views over the Sound of Raasay and the mainland are beautiful whether you go all the way up or not. It’s a pretty steep and rocky path. The car park is on the left side of the A855 heading from Portree. It is not just worth going to see the Old Man, the whole rock formation is beautiful. Both times I’ve been, there have been ominous dark clouds above the Storr which made it feel as if we were walking towards Maleficent’s castle… Silly? Maybe. Majestic? Very. The full route is almost 4.4 km.
Mealt Falls is a 55m water fall that plunges from the cliffs into the Sound of Raasay and the scenery is beautiful (spotting a pattern here?) with the Kilt Rock formation in the background. This attraction doesn’t include any walking, the car park is next to the cliff where you can view the waterfall, it is located on the east side of Skye.
We actually came across the Quiraing by mistake! We had seen people mention it online, but we didn’t plan on heading there. When we headed from the east coast to the west coast, we ended up passing through the Quiraing and it was breath taking. Get out of your car and have a walk around to take it in. There is a path (6.8km) which would take about 2 hours to complete but isn’t recommended under certain weather conditions.
Uig and Rha Falls
I was incredibly excited for the Rha Falls in Uig, as I had been in Uig before but didn’t know the falls existed (PS. If you need wi-fi to check the location, there is a ferry terminal in Uig where you can access free wi-fi). You can park near the bridge crossing River Rha (on the A855 – we parked at Park Terrace). Walk back to the bridge, there is a tiny gap in the wall where the path begins (look for a small sign saying Woodland Walks). It will take less than 10 minutes to reach the waterfall and you walk through a beautiful forest. Now, this place is not as touristy as the Fairy Pools or the Mealt Falls – we had the whole place to ourselves. It was my favourite waterfall on Skye as you could see it from the bottom, and it was surrounded by a beautiful forest.
Portree is the largest city on Skye, and it definitely has charm with its colourful houses and the harbour which is fringed by cliffs. We stopped here for some late lunch/early dinner (believe it or not, I didn’t have any issues whatsoever being vegan on Skye).
To be fair, wherever you choose to go on Isle of Skye, you will be surrounded by beautiful scenery. Whether you want to go for long demanding hikes or shorter walks, there is something for you. It is a good idea to have a packed snack when you explore the island as you will be in the car for a few hours per day. I would also recommend you to try to stick to one side per day (east/west) as it makes an easier drive. We tried to stick to this except for on our last day when we crossed the Quiraing to reach Uig from the east coast.