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Travel bucket list idea:

Last updated: 28 May, 2023
Expert travel writer: Lucy Gillmore

Skye is the largest of the Hebridean islands (48 miles by 25) – and the only one attached to the mainland by a handy bridge.

Despite the fairly remote location, there are plenty of reasons to make a beeline here. The raw grandeur of the landscape, dominated by the dramatic Cuillins range, draws munro-baggers, hikers, mountain bikers – and movie-makers; its credits include Macbeth and blockbuster fantasy, The BFG.

The Trotternish Peninsula in the island’s north is home to some of the most striking landscapes in Scotland, easily accessible from the island’s ‘capital’, the wonderfully colourful village of Portree located on its eastern coast.

The Isle is also a place of pilgrimage for gourmet travellers schlepping to the Three Chimneys or Kinloch Lodge, the home of doyenne of Scottish cookbook writing, Lady Claire Macdonald.

And then there’s the history; Bonnie Prince Charlie famously fled over the sea to Skye after his defeat at the Battle of Culloden, and 13th-century Dunvegan Castle was the traditional seat of Clan MacLeod.

Recommendations

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Old Man of Storr

Isle of Skye, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

Tourists climbing Old Man of Storr rock formation at Isle of Skye, Scotland

A short drive north of Portree on the Trotternish Peninsula is the 720m-high ‘Storr’, a large rocky outcrop that dominates the landscape. On the Storr’s steeper eastern slope you’ll find the famous ‘Old Man’ of Storr – a 50m high rock ‘tooth’. Great for a drive-by, or stopping for a walk.

Best for ages 6+

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Kinloch Lodge

Isle of Skye, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

Exterior of front of Kinloch Lodge

This family-run, manor house hotel offers a combination of stylish comfort and warm hospitality from owner Isabel. If you don’t stay, then go for the outstanding gourmet food – using fresh local ingredients and traditional Highland recipes. There’s a whisky bar with over 120 different bottles.

Best for ages 13+

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Kilt Rock & Mealt Falls

Isle of Skye, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

Aerial view of the dramatic coastline cliffs with a large waterfall pouring into the sea

Another geological highlight of the Trotternish Peninsula is Kilt Rock, an impressive 90m cliff constructed of odd-unusual basalt blocks. Close by is the plunging Mealt Waterfall, fed by Mealt Loch. See them from the same observation point, 17km north of Portree and just south of the village of Staffin.

Best for ages 4+

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The Fairy Pools [Walking]

Isle of Skye, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

Lovely small waterfall with mountains behind on a sunny day

This famous pool, fed by the River Brittle that cascades in via a series of enchanting waterfalls, is a popular destination for walkers and wild swimmers (prepared to brave the cold). It’s a 2.5km, 40-minute return walk from the nearest car park through Glenbrittle Glen. You can also walk to it from Dunvegan Castle.

Best for ages 6+

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Dunvegan Castle

Isle of Skye, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

Dunvegan Castle exterior - A beautiful castle of golden stone set into the hills

This 13th-century castle – restored in the 19th century – was the traditional seat of Clan Macleod, one of the Highland’s most celebrated clans. It’s filled with Highlands clan history – portraits, weapons, and assorted clan memorabilia and heirlooms.

Adult price: £15

Best for ages 4+

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The Oyster Shed

Isle of Skye, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

The Oyster Shed

This little shack up a bumpy track near Talisker Distillery is the place to go for freshly shucked oysters straight from the oyster farm in tidal Loch Harport. It’s rough and ready with a lean-to and picnic tables and a sea-loch-view to die for.

Best for ages 13+

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Loch Bay Restaurant

Isle of Skye , Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

Loch Bay Restaurant

Skye punches above its weight in terms of foodie enclaves and chef Michael Smith’s Scottish seafood restaurant in the village of Stein on the Waternish peninsula – is one of the Michelin-starred highlights.

Best for ages 13+

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Three Chimneys

Isle of Skye, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

Three Chimneys

Foodies have been making a pilgrimage to this legendary restaurant, founded by Scottish food heroes, Shirley and Eddie Spear, for over three decades for its famous eight-course tasting menu. There are comfy bedrooms if you want to stay.

Adult price: £50

Best for ages 13+

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Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 13+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

The Skye bridge makes it the most accessible of Scotland’s islands to visit (bad weather affects many ferry crossings in Scotland). It’s off the northwest coast and easy to explore independently by car. Having your own transport is useful. There’s no train station on the island but you can catch the train from Glasgow to Mallaig (6 hours) then take the ferry or the train from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh (2.5 hours) and a bus across the bridge.

If you’re visiting for the scenery (as opposed staying for the food), you could take a guided tour from Inverness. Tours take a full day (10 hours +) but often also stop at the magical Eilean Donal Castle, ticking off two sites in one.

Book ahead in summer. It’s so popular the island is sometimes reported to be ‘full’, with tourists asked to stay away if they haven’t booked accommodation.

When to do it

Skye is a year-round destination, its wild, brooding landscape even more atmospheric in autumn or winter – without the crowds.

Who to go with: organised tours

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Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

3-Day Isle of Skye and Scottish Highlands Small-Group Tour from Edinburgh

Edinburgh

3-Day Isle of Skye and Scottish Highlands Small-Group Tour from Edinburgh
Immerse yourself in the wild beauty of the Scottish Highlands and Isle of Skye on this 3-day small-group tour from Edinburgh, with accommodation and round-trip transport included. Drive through the magnificent Highlands, including Glencoe, and cross to the Isle of Skye for a free day to explore this rugged island. On the last day return to Edinburgh with a stop at Loch Ness to look for its legendary monster, "Nessie". Your small-group tour includes breakfast each morning, and personalized attention from your guide with numbers limited to 16 people.

Price: £457

Min age: 5

Rating 4.85 / 5 [1047 ratings]

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3-Day Isle of Skye Inverness Highlands and Glenfinnan Viaduct Tour from Edinburgh

Edinburgh

3-Day Isle of Skye Inverness Highlands and Glenfinnan Viaduct Tour from Edinburgh
Scotland is a big place and with so many amazing places to explore you’ll be right to be excited about your 3 day Isle of Skye, Inverness & Highlands tour. With a guarantee of discovering new and interesting things and seeing breathtaking scenery and landscapes around every turn. You’ll see why so many movie locations were based and filmed here in Scotland, with views that inspired the likes of Harry Potter (Glenfinnan Viaduct) and James Bond (Glencoe), and more. You’ll be spoilt for choice for getting that perfect picture, especially in the Isle of Skye where many of Scotland’s myths and legends come from. See mountains created by giants, enchanted waters that will give you eternal youth, and hear songs of the faerie folk in the wind. This is a tour that will fill you with joy and leave you with a feeling that can only come from being truly immersed in the moment - something truly priceless. Don’t just take our word for it, check out our reviews!

Price: £184

Min age: 7

Rating 4.90 / 5 [891 ratings]

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3-Day Isle of Skye and Scottish Highlands Tour Including "Hogwarts Express" Ride

Edinburgh

3-Day Isle of Skye and Scottish Highlands Tour Including "Hogwarts Express" Ride
Experience the Highland beauty of the Isle of Skye on a 3-day excursion from Edinburgh. You'll spend two nights on the Isle of Skye, see legendary Loch Ness and ride one of the world's most famous steam trains, the Jacobite Steam Train, as seen in the Harry Potter films.

Price: £749

Min age: 5

Rating 4.83 / 5 [710 ratings]

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3-Day Isle of Skye and Highlands from Edinburgh Inc Accommodation

Edinburgh

3-Day Isle of Skye and Highlands from Edinburgh Inc Accommodation
Discover the best of the Highlands and the Isle of Skye on this 3 day tour from Edinburgh. See Eilean Donan Castle, explore the Highlands and Culloden Battlefield, take an optional Loch Ness cruise, tour Urquhart Castle and enjoy the incredible scenery on the beautiful Isle of Skye.

Price: £400

Min age: 3

Rating 4.67 / 5 [622 ratings]

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Isle of Skye, The Highlands and Loch Ness- 3 Day Group Tour from Edinburgh

Edinburgh

Isle of Skye, The Highlands and Loch Ness- 3 Day Group Tour from Edinburgh
Discover one of Scotland's most beautiful islands, the Isle of Skye, on a fantastic 3-day tour. See Eilean Donan Castle, visit Loch Ness, traverse Glencoe and more with your guides as the tour lets you see the best Scotland has to offer. Choose between single, double, or no accommodation at time of booking and travel by air-conditioned coach throughout your journey.

Price: £205

Min age: 4

Rating 4.74 / 5 [465 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Destination guides

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Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

Scottish Highlands

Scottish Highlands, United Kingdom (UK)

Ruins of Kilchurn Castle on the edge of Loch Awe with brown hills behind

Magnificent mountain scenery slashed by silvery lochs and peppered with brooding castles: all laden with rich Scottish heritage, history and tradition. Drive the NC500 road trip, or ride on the spectacular West Highland Line.