The Scottish island of Skye, Sky Island, is one of the most beautiful islands in Europe and certainly one of the coolest sights in Scotland. The rugged nature, deep cliffs, waterfalls and mountain peaks make the Isle of Skye a perfect destination for a walking holiday or an adventurous road trip across the island. In terms of surface area, the Isle of Skye is comparable to the Dutch province of Zeeland, so you can discover many of the coolest Isle of Skye sights in one or two full days. And I can tell you, it is stunning! These are the most amazing sights on Isle of Skye you should really discover during your time on the island.
#1. The old stone bridge over the Sligachan river
When you drive from the mainland of Scotland onto the Isle of Skye you will soon pass the village of Sligachan in the southeast. There is nothing to do in the village itself, but the beautiful old stone bridge over the river Sligachan is worth a short stop. If you have more than enough time planned for Isle of Skye, you can also start the Sgurr na Stri Trail from here. There is even a story about the stream that runs under the bridge, which is certainly fun to read before your visit. Just past the Sligachan bridge on the left you can see one of the most beautiful waterfalls on the Isle of Skye.
#2. Portree: Isle of Skye’s capital
The capital of the Isle of Skye is Portree. About 4000 people live in Portree. The compact center has a bus station – you can travel from Isle of Skye to Inverness, Edinburgh or Glasgow, for example – a number of hotels, restaurants and shops. During our visit to Portree we tried out a number of restaurants. Our favorites are the restaurant of the Portree Hotel and The Isles Inn where mainly locals come for a snack and a drink. For the most beautiful point in Portree you have to drive a little further. Continue through the village to Staffin Road and on the right – just after the Coop supermarket – you will see the cutest, colored houses on the other side of the water. Worth a stop!
Looking for a place to spend the night in Portree? We can recommend Air Leth Bed & Breakfast. The spacious en-suite double rooms are amazing. Not what you are looking for? Click here to compare all accommodations in Portree.
#3. Loch Leathan
Scotland is known for the many beautiful lakes, so it will not surprise you that you will also encounter a number of lakes on Sky island. The first you encounter on this Isle of Skye roadtrip is Loch Leathan. From here you have a fantastic view over The Storr and a number of impressive, photogenetic Scottish Highlanders stood nearby during our tour.
#4. Wildlife on Isle of Skye
There is roughly one real high way on the island, the A87, which runs from north to south. Some of the Isle of Skye sights are right on this road, so you can’t miss them. Still, I definitely recommend that you get off this road as soon as you can. The smaller roads take you to even more beautiful places and you often have them all to yourself. Don’t be alarmed, because sheep regularly walk in the middle of the road and huge Scottish Highlanders, aka Hairy Coo’s, graze next to the roads.
#5. The Old Man of Storr
It’s a tough hike during bad weather – and unfortunately this is often the case on Isle of Skye – but if you’re lucky and have enough time for a long climb, be sure to visit the Old Man of Storr on the east side of the island. The Old Mann of Storr is an impressive rocky outcrop that is part of the Trotter Nish Ridge. The views are truly phenomenal, but make sure you don’t get blown away. The wind during colder days is enormous. If the weather is nice, it will take you about half an hour to hike to the huge rocky outcrop. The Old Man of Storr is one of the most popular Isle of Skye sights for a reason. The chance that you have this place to yourself is therefore small, unfortunately.
Another fun fact for film lovers: The Old Mann of Storr can be spotted in the 2012 film Prometheus. Even if you decide not to go upstairs, a short stop is worth it. From a distance, the huge rocks quickly appear, which makes this the perfect stop to take photos.
#6. Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls
One of the things you should really do on Isle of Skye is visiting Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls. The viewpoint at Kilt Rock and the Mealt Falls falls, at Elishadder, is also a popular destination on Isle of Skye. Which is not surprising at all. The cliffs are very impressive and the adjacent waterfall that plunges into the sea from the cliffs is beautiful. The viewpoint is well signposted and you can easily park your car there. From here it is only a minute’s walk to the viewpoint, next to which is the waterfall.
#7. Must do on Skye Island: Quiraing hike
The Quiraing is known as one of the most beautiful places to hike on Isle of Skye and is therefore one of the most beautiful Isle of Skye attractions. Here you can hike almost 7 kilometers through one of the most beautiful landscapes on the Skye. The hike leads you along steep cliffs and viewpoints. During our visit there was unfortunately so much wind and some roads were quite slippery so we decided not to go for the entire hike. If this is also the case during your trip, then I recommend that you at least get out and go into nature. You can make the walk as short or long as you want. The Quiraing has been used as a film set for Star Wars, which shows how special it is out here.
#8. The Harbor town of Uig
After all the hikes and great impressions you are probably ready for a bit of recovery. The harbor town of Uig is perfectly suited for this. Here you will find a number of pubs and restaurants, but also the Skye Ale, the island’s brewery where you can buy craft beers and the best Skye souvenirs. Uig is also located on a beautiful bay from where ferries depart regularly. The views are the best.
#9. The most stunning cliffs and views
Nature lovers can stop every few meters on a trip across the Isle of Skye for the best pictures. Wherever you look, the views are amazing. I can say that the Isle of Skye is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. So rough. So mysterious.
#10. Fairy Glen
Another place on Isle of Skye that seems to have been snatched from a movie set is the mysterious Fairy Glen, just east of Uig. There is little to do here and after a few minutes you will most likely be bored, but for a moment you feel like you are here in “Hobbit land”.
#11. Dunvegan Castle
As with the lakes, sheep and Scottish Highlanders, you cannot ignore the many castles in Scotland. Dunvegan Castle on Sky island is one of the oldest inhabited castles in the north of Scotland. The castle is located on Lake Dunvegan, where you can spot sea otters and seals with a bit of luck. Unfortunately, the castle can only be visited between April and October.
#12. Spot the Northern Lights on Isle of Skye
Did you know that you don’t necessarily have to travel to Iceland or Lapland for the Northern Lights? In Scotland too, the chance of spotting the Northern Lights is very real for a large part of the year. And the Isle of Skye is even one of the places in Scotland where you have the greatest chance of seeing this natural wonder. During our visit we even got the message that the chance was very high and so we got into the car at nine o’clock in the evening. Through the snow, in the dark, on the smallest roads, along the steepest cliffs. The northern lights are often best spotted on the west coast near the town of Glendale. Finally, we saw a slightly green glow in the sky. We think it doesn’t really count. But spotting the northern lights on the Isle of Skye is really possible.
Do you want to know exactly when the chances of spotting the Northern Lights are greatest? Andy Stables, who himself lives in Glendale, has created a really useful website, Aurora Alerts UK. An alarm will appear on this as soon as the northern lights can be seen. During our hunt for the Northern Lights, he indicated on this site that he too saw it.
Renting and driving a car on Isle of Skye
As I mentioned earlier, there is only one real motorway across the Isle of Skye, from north to south. First of all you have to take into account – during your entire trip through Scotland of course – that you always drive on the left side of the road. In addition to the A87, there are mainly single lanes on Skye. These are small roads that are only wide enough for one car at a time. If an oncoming vehicle is approaching, it is important to stop as soon as possible at a passing place on your left. If the oncoming car sees a single lane first, he / she waits and you can continue. Now you probably won’t see a lot of traffic on the Isle of Skye, but it’s still important to always keep this in mind. Passing Places are constructed approximately every 200 meters.
Speeds on road signs are given in miles throughout Scotland. When you rent a car, this is not a problem, because the speeds in the car are not indicated in kilometers. However, if you travel to Scotland with your own car, it is important to think about this. One mile is 1.6 kilometers. Which means that 60 miles is almost 100 kilometers per hour.
General information about Skye Island
Isle of Skye is the largest island in the Inner Hebrides. Skye has an area of 1,656 km², making it the second largest island in Scotland. You can reach the island in a number of ways. The easiest way is – and this is what we chose – to drive over the Skye bridge. This starts just after the village of Kyle of Lochalsh on the mainland. Until 2004, toll had to be paid for the bridge, but nowadays you can drive to the island for free. You can also travel to Isle of Skye by ferry. For example, you can board in Mallaig on the mainland and arrive in Armadale on Skye. Many boats only move forward in good weather and for some it is important to book in advance. The bridge is always the easiest – and also the cheapest – option.
From Edinburgh it is about a five hour drive to Isle of Skye.
Isle of Skye is our favorite destination in Scotland and I really recommend you going here during your time in Scotland. We’ve spent two nights on Sky Island at Air Leth Bed & Breakfast and have been able to explore all sights mentioned in this article.
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