Hi guys, I’m Marci – originally from Washington, D.C. Thanks for stopping by my travel guide on the best things to do on the Isle of Skye.
Ever since I traveled abroad in college to France and was able to see new cities on the weekends, I was hooked. After college, my friends moved all over the world and whenever I could I hopped on a plane to visit them.
I’m very fortunate to have a few really good friends that also have the flexibility and financial means to travel. Together, we are always interested in planning a trip to a new destination. When it comes to photography, my brother is a Graphic Designer and both my parents are into photography.
So it was only a matter of time before I got into photography as a serious hobby. Even in high school, I always had the latest digital camera and wanted to capture every moment. I still remember dropping off film to the drug store and anxiously waiting for the pictures to get developed.
Visiting the Isle of Skye in Scotland
My trip to the Isle of Skye originated with a plan to visit Scotland. When I saw a direct flight deal to Edinburgh, I jumped on it. My friend and long time travel partner that came with me has acquaintances in Scotland who said we had to visit the Isle of Skye.
That suggestion was all it took. We decided to spend half our time in Edinburgh and half on the Isle of Skye. We spent three days and two nights on the Isle of Skye – stopping around Glencoe on the way there and the Eilean Donan Castle and Loch Ness on the way back from the Isle of Skye.
It was so fun to enjoy the Highlands in between Edinburgh and the Isle of Skye. Some of those stops were incredibly memorable. On the Isle of Skye, we stayed in Portree with a view of the colorful houses on the water.
We spent a full day going around the entire isle and stopped at Talisker Distillery for a tasting and tour. Our full day driving around the Isle of Skye packed in some incredible spots, each one was better than the last.
Some of the amazing places we visited included: Old Man of Storr, Quiraing, Staffin Beach, Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls Viewpoint, Fairy Glen, Talisker Distillery, Fairy Pools and Neist Point Lighthouse.
Favorite Place on the Isle of Skye
My favorite place on the Isle of Skye was Neist Point. We lucked out with sunny weather the entire day, but as we raced to Neist Point, the wind picked up and the clouds rolled in. I didn’t pack waterproof shoes (amateur mistake!) and knew when I walked to the view that it was going to be wet.
I took off my socks so I would have dry socks when I returned. I put on an extra layer, zipped up my raincoat and braved the weather. It took a big effort to walk quickly through the rain without slipping in the puddles.
In fact, it was so windy that the ledge of the cliff had water flowing back up into the sky, instead of down like a traditional waterfall. However, the view of the lighthouse and Neist Point was stunning. To this day, it’s still one of my favorite photos and I’m glad I braved the cold and wind to see it.
5 Best Things To Do on the Isle of Skye
The Isle of Skye is the second largest island of Scotland and is home to rugged landscapes, jagged mountains, massive sea cliffs and stunning lochs. Additionally, you can find a scattering of castles and villages on the isle which add to the overall experience. Below are my top five things to do:
1. Enjoy a Whiskey at the Talisker Distillery
The Talisker Distillery is situated on Loch Harport in the village of Carbost and is the oldest working distillery on the Isle of Skye. Take a tour of the distillery to see the traditional copper pot stills, worm tubs and casks. Then finish your tour with a tasting of their award-winning whisky!
2. Discover Epic Views on the Quiraing Walk
The Quiraing Walk on the Isle of Skye is an essential walk for any trip to Scotland. Discover incredible views at the top in every direction. The walk passes through some spectacular scenery including high cliffs, majestic plateaus and pinnacles of rock. Make sure you bring good walking shoes!
3. Visit the Beautiful Staffin Beach at Low Tide
Head to Staffin Beach at low tide and try to locate the fossilized dinosaur footprints located on the beach. I learned here that the Isle of Skye is sometimes called the Isle of Dinosaurs. Bonus points if you spot a Hairy Coo on the drive to the beach. It makes for a fun afternoon or full day out.
4. Take Photos at the Magical Fairy Glen
Fairy Glen was one of the most magical places I visited on the Isle of Skye due to the unique, green landscape. I loved learning about the local folklore of the site too. Make sure you bring your camera to take photos of the grassy hills, mystical ponds, unique rocks and otherworldly landscapes.
5. Admire the Views at Neist Point Lighthouse
The trick at Neist Point is to take the path that leads up and away from the lighthouse. This way you can capture the lighthouse and full length of the land in the background. You can spend a good couple of hours here just admiring the landscape of this iconic landmark of the Isle of Skye.
Where to Stay on the Isle of Skye
We stayed at an amazing hotel in Portree called the Cuillin Hills Hotel. I was originally attracted to the picturesque view from the rooms and front lawn of Portree Bay (colorful houses along the water). Upon arrival, the hotel exceeded expectations. The staff were incredibly friendly.
The food was fantastic which makes sense since they are recommended in the Michelin Guide. This hotel was the perfect place to relax after a long day of touring around the Isle of Skye. They have a lounge with games and a fireplace too. I felt like I was hanging out at a wealthy relative’s home.
I was sad to leave that hotel after two days and would absolutely stay there again. I should note that I don’t usually splurge on hotels and instead prioritize on excursions, flights or local transportation. However, after staying at this incredible hotel, it has changed my perspective a little bit.
Before this experience, a hotel was just a place to sleep for me. But now, as I look back, Cuillin Hills was a memorable and enjoyable luxury on the Isle of Skye trip. I highly recommend Cuillin Hills Hotel for those who can afford it.
Best Memories on the Isle of Skye
Spotting dinosaur footprints at Staffin Beach was one of the most incredible experiences because I love learning about dinosaurs. It’s mind boggling that dinosaur footprints from 165 million years ago are still preserved today. I didn’t realize at the time how lucky we were to see them.
Another cherished memory was when we tried to cram in the Fairy Pools and Neist Point in a short amount of time. To get to the Fairy Pools, we ran from the parking lot, across the gravel and uphill to get a view of the pools.
On the way back, I can’t remember if the water was rising or if we tried a more direct route to the van, but I needed to cross a pond. Keep in mind that I’m still wearing suede shoes because I failed to pack waterproof ones.
A nice tourist saw my struggle and gave me his hand as I had to take steps on rocks to cross the stream without completely soaking my feet. My friend captured the moment on her phone and it still makes us laugh!
Need to Know Before you Go
You should absolutely spend time on the Isle of Skye if you are visiting Scotland. For us, the mix of outdoor adventures combined with the city of Edinburgh was a great balance which made for a memorable trip.
Before you go I recommend managing your expectations. The weather changes pretty quickly and you never know what to expect. On the evening we arrived, it was windy and foggy but by the next morning it was sunny.
However, the entire isle is beautiful in all conditions – so either way you will be able to enjoy its beauty. Of course, bring the right equipment to suit all conditions. This includes a raincoat with a hood, many layers, extra socks and waterproof shoes. That last item is important as you may well know.
Map out your route ahead of time. There is an efficient way to drive in a loop around the isle which includes all stops. Build in extra time in case it’s foggy or if you want to see a certain spot in different weather.
The Old Man of Storr was foggy when we visited it in the morning and if we had more time I would like to go back with clearer conditions. Lastly, be sure to meet the locals. Everyone we met was extremely friendly. The local shopkeepers, bartenders and servers were a delight to meet.