Think of Scotland’s most famous island, and the image of Isle of Skye will immediately spring into your mind. The second-largest island in Scotland (after Lewis and Harris) is spectacular for many reasons. The mythical Skye is famous for its natural beauty, rich history and also incredible wildlife. It has picturesque fishing villages, medieval castles, fantastic hiking trails and extraordinary landscape that will take your breath away. But with so many scenic places, where should you start? To help you to make the most of Skye, we have created a list of the best things to do in the Isle of Skye.
Grab your hiking boots and your camera and explore the Isle of Skye’s iconic landscape.
Top 23 things to do in the Isle of Skye
There are many beautiful places to visit in the Isle of Skye. Whether you visit the island for a day or a week, here is a list of must-see Isle of Skye attractions.
1. Portree, Isle of Skye
Most of the visitors to the Isle of Skye begin in the island’s capital, Portree. It is the largest town and an excellent place to stay on the Isle of Skye because it is close to most tourist attractions. Charming Portree is a cultural hub of Skye – you can find here restaurants and hotels. Also, it offers plenty of shopping opportunities and boat trips operated from here. No matter what you end up doing in Portree, make sure you see its beautiful colourful houses that line the scenic harbour.
2. Old Man of Storr
If you only have time for one activity when visiting the Isle of Skye, make sure you visit the Old Man of Storr. This impressive rock formation might be more frequently visited by tourists, but it is well worth a visit. The Old Man of Storr is a symbol of the island and the most famous hike on the Isle of Skye. It offers stunning views and also some of the best photo opportunities on the island. Some believe that these majestic rocks are the partially uncovered remains of a giant who once lived here. The others think that an ancient landslide created these spectacular towering rocks. Either way, hiking the Old Man of Storr certainly is one of the best things to do in the Isle of Skye.
The Old Man of Storr, also known as the Storr, is one of the best Isle of Skye attractions. You can find it in the north-eastern region of the island, a top Trotternish Ridge.
How hard is it to hike the Old Man of Storr?
The walk from the car park to the Old Man of Storr is not a difficult hike, but it can be strenuous when raining and foggy. The well-marked hiking trail gets rougher and steeper as you come closer to rocks.
It is impossible to imagine visiting the Skye without seeing the Storr, the magnificent pinnacle of rocks. If the Storr is out of the fog, you will go crazy with your camera.
How long does it take to hike the Old Man of Storr?
Depending on your fitness level and photo stops, it will take you about 2 hours to complete the Storr round trip. It covers a distance of 4.5 km (2.75 miles). The Old Man of Storr uses the same path up and down – you will start and end at the car park.
The trail will lead you through grassland up to the rocks. It is a challenging hike, but it offers unforgettable views of the Storr.
GOOD TO KNOW:
To make the most of your experience, visit the Old Man of Storr early in the morning or late in the afternoon during the summer months. The fog often covers the Storr, and it disappears from sight.
Wear sturdy shoes, wind and waterproof clothes as the weather can change quickly here. Also, do not forget to bring a map and compass.
3. Loch Fada
Serene Loch Fada
After hiking the Old Man of Storr, make sure you stop at nearby Loch Fada. This peaceful lake, located south of the Storr, offers beautiful views of the island’s most famous landmark. The best time to visit Loch Fada is either early in the morning or late afternoon as the light conditions are the best at that time.
Stopping at Loch Fada is one of the unique things to do in the Isle of Skye. Surprisingly romantic Loch Fada is not a popular attraction on the island. There is a bigger chance that you will share unique views of the Storr with a fisherman than with the crowds of tourists.
4. Fairy Glen, Isle of Skye
It is easy to see why this area has got its fairy name.
Many visitors will tell you that visiting Fairy Glen is one the best things to do in the Isle of Skye, and they are not wrong. Even though it gets overlooked by many visitors, Fairy Glen is one of the most magical Isle of Skye attractions. This dramatic landscape hidden near the village of Uig looks like a place that was made by fairies. But in reality, a landslip created this unique landscape with small symmetrical hills and pinnacles.
Fairy Glen trail is short and very easy. The tallest hill may look like a ruins of the castle, but it is not. It is a natural rock formation.
Several walking trails allow you to explore these fairy-tale hills. Hike up tiny hills and explore unusual geological formations. Visit one of the tallest hills, Castle Ewan and enjoy beautiful views of the area.
GOOD TO KNOW:
Many people move rocks and create rock spirals when visiting Fairy Glen. Even though they look excellent in pictures, the locals remove them because they want to keep the Glen in its natural state.
5. Talisker Bay
Beautiful Talisker Bay
Talisker Bay may not feature high up on the list of Isle of Skye attractions, but it really should. This beautiful beach located on the west coast of Skye, just a short drive from Talisker Distillery, is undoubtedly beautiful. It is secluded, has dramatic views of massive cliffs and large pebbles with grey sands exposed during the low tide. If you look around, you will find beauty around every corner. You can also see a tall waterfall at the far end of Talisker Beach, which gets blown back upwards on windy days.
GOOD TO KNOW:
There is a small car park at the end of the single track road. To access Talisker Beach, you need to walk about 30 minutes from the nearest road through farm areas. The walk to Talisker Beach is easy, and it is perfect when visiting on a sunny day (ideal if you arrive for a sunset).
6. Talisker Distillery
Before you leave Talisker Bay, make sure you try some local whisky. Whisky distilling is a centuries-old industry on the Sky, and Talisker Distillery is the oldest working distillery on the island. Here you take an educational tour and learn more about this premium single malt. And, of course, you will be able to taste some whiskey too! Visiting Talisker Distillery is one of the popular things to do in the Isle of Skye. Therefore, you need to book a tour in advance. Make sure that you do not forget to do that.
7. Torabhaig Distillery
The Isle of Skye is also home to Torabhaig Distillery, which you can find on the south of Skye. The second whisky distillery, which operates on the island, also makes single malt whisky. Torabhaig Distillery offers educational tours where you can learn more about whisky-making and sample some products. Also, you can buy some souvenirs in the visitor’s centre.
Visiting Torabhaig Distillery is one of the unique things to do in the Isle of Skye because it is a new distillery on the island. This is the first distillery built on Skye in 190 years, and it is not as busy as Talisker Distillery.
The Isle of Skye has two distilleries where you can learn more about their products.
Winding road at Quiraing, the Skye.
Although many locations on the Skye easily fit the category of a natural wonder, some are more unique than others. Quiraing in the north of the island is one of those places. This wonderland of natural beauty is made up of soaring cliffs, rock pinnacles and beautiful plateaus. Rolling hills and striking landscape make Quiraing one of the best places to visit in the Isle of Skye.
The mysterious Quiraing is famous for its remarkable landscape.
You probably do not know it, but the Quiraing Mountain Range is a result of millions of years of geological history. The series of landslips have formed the Trotternish Ridge’s unique landscape, which you can see today. But unlike at the Storr, the earth at the Quiraing is still actually moving – a few centimetres every year. Therefore, the nearby road requires repairs each year.
Quiraing Mountain Pass viewpoint
One of the most rewarding ways to see Quiraing is by driving a car. Driving up Quiraing is one of the best things to do in the Isle of Skye because it is an icon of Skye. This road between the towns of Staffin and Uig is single track and features numerous hair pins. If your nerves can handle the road, then stopping off at Quiraing Mountain Pass Viewpoint offers the world-famous views of the island.
Twisting turns and dangerous drops of the narrow road between the towns of Staffin and Uig might be enough to put off some visitors. But it should not, because you can enjoy stunning views with a little bit of caution and precaution. Just remember that you can’t drive here in winter conditions or when low visibility.
The drive through Quiraing Mountain Pass will show you the spectacular landscape of the Isle of Skye. It is a must-drive for everyone visiting this beautiful island.
GOOD TO KNOW:
A single-track road will bring you to a large car park, where you can leave your car and enjoy scenic views.
Many road-trippers leave once they take a few pictures of the famous road, although it is worth continuing on Quiraing walk. If you like the scenic views, you should explore the area for a little longer. With this in mind, it is good to remember that the Quiraing car park is a starting point for several hikes. They are a feast for the eyes.
It is easy to see why the Quiraing walk is one of the famous Isle of Skye attractions. It has breathtaking views of mountains and lochs and is steep in natural beauty and even history. The trail is long, but it will leave you speechless.
Many years ago, the locals used this dramatic landscape to hide their livestock from Viking raiders.
Hiking Quiraing is one of the best things to do in the Isle of Skye because it offers spectacular views from any angle. The Quiraing Loop is a 6.5 km (4 miles) trail, and it will take you 3 hours to complete it. Quiraing walk is a moderate hike. It is steep at times, and it can get slippery when wet. Hence, wear a pair of sturdy walking boots and waterproof clothing.
9. Skye Museum of Island Life
Skye Museum of Island Life
Those who would like to learn more about the history that shaped the island’s way of life certainly should visit the Sky Museum of Island Life. This unique museum gives you a chance to see what life was like in an old Highland village. Take a tour through time and discover how the locals used to live in the past. Here you can see the preserved traditional thatched cottages, workshops, furniture and even tools. You can find the Sky Museum of Island Life in the small town of Kilmuir on the north of the island.
Visiting the Skye Museum of Island Life is one of the best things to do in the Isle of Skye if you are looking for cultural activity.
10. Duntulm Castle, Isle of Skye
A short drive from Sky Museum of Island Life will bring you to Duntulm Castle. Here you can find the crumbling ruins of the castle, which sit on a cliff with steep drop on three sides. Even though it is not possible to visit the ruins because of the risk of collapse, you can walk around and enjoy stunning views of the area. Appreciate the defensive position of the castle and be aware of ghosts who, according to legend, roam Duntulm Castle.
11. Sligachan Old Bridge
Sligachan Old Bridge is also one of the iconic Isle of Skye attractions. A stone bridge that spans the River Sligachan offers picture-perfect views of the rocky mountains that dominate the island’s landscape. Sligachan Old Bridge with the Cuillin Mountains in the background is one of the most famous scenic places on the island. You can find many hiking routes with impressive views here. Also, Sligachan is a popular base for those who decide to climb the Cuillin mountains. Therefore, exploring Sligachan is one of the best things to do in the Isle of Skye.
Once here, go under the bridge to see the mountains.
GOOD TO KNOW:
A short walk from the Sligachan Old Bridge is a large car park, a pub and picnic tables.
12. Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye
The Fairy Pools certainly are a photographer’s dream.
Whatever you do, do not leave without visiting beautiful Fairy Pools. They might be one of the most famous attractions on the island, but it is easy to see why. The Fairy Pools are a series of waterfalls of various shapes and sizes located near the village of Glenbrittle. The crystal clear river cascade through a stunning glen and create natural pools with scenic views. What’s more, the Cuillin Mountains appear in the background and make the landscape of the Fairy Pools even more beautiful. Deep emerald pools and rushing waterfalls make the Fairy Pools one of the best things to do in the Isle of Skye. While they might be busy during the summer, the Fairy Pools are popular for people of all ages and fitness levels.
The Fairy Pools are an ideal place to try wild swimming or cooling off on a warm sunny day.
GOOD TO KNOW:
The walk to the Fairy Pool is easy. Park your car at the Fairy Pools car park, cross the road and follow the path down towards the stream. The return walk to the first waterfall takes about 40 minutes (2.4 km). Follow the stream, and you will reach several other waterfalls and pools at the top.
It takes 2,5 – 3 hours to visit the Fairy Pools. You will use the same route from the pools and back.
13. Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls
Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls.
The Skye isn’t famous only for its beaches and mountains, but it also has many beautiful cliffs and waterfalls. Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls are popular places to visit in the Isle of Skye, and for a good reason. They are unique attractions, offer stunning views and are also easy to reach. You can find this unusual rock formation with a sea cliff waterfall between Portree and Staffin on the Trotternish Peninsula.
GOOD TO KNOW:
Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls have the same observation point from where you can appreciate their beauty.
The dramatic Kilt Rock gets its name from the stripes on its face, making it look like the pleat of a kilt. The Mealt Waterfall, fed by the nearby Mealt Loch, cascades from the top of the cliff straight into the sea below. But that is not the only reason why you should visit this unique place. On a breezy day, a haunting tone comes from the surrounding area. This comes from the holes in the fencing that surround the lookout point. The safety barrier turns into an organ powered by the wind and adds a fascinating dimension to the experience. Some even say it sounds like a mermaid song.
Once here, do not miss an information board about dinosaurs which you can find close by.
14. Lealt Waterfall, Isle of Skye
As you continue, you will come to Lealt Waterfall, located just a few minutes drive from Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls. This spectacular waterfall is easy to see and get to as well. All you have to do is follow the short trail to view decks from where you can admire Lealt Waterfall, which falls into the depth of a gorge. Visiting Lealt Waterfall is one of the best things to do in the Isle of Skye if you love exploring waterfalls.
15. Isle of Skye Dinosaur footprints
Millions of years ago, dinosaurs crossed Staffin beach.
As you already know, the Isle of Skye is a land of mountains, waterfalls and lochs. However, this beautiful island is famous for another unique attraction – Dino footprints. Yes, that is right, dinosaurs roamed this beautiful stretch of land millions of years ago. And you can still find marks of their presence in a few places on the island. One of those places is Staffin beach – a small beach surrounded by cliffs.
GOOD TO KNOW:
Finding footprints is not easy because you can see them only at low tide. The best time to find them is after a storm when the rocks are clean from the sand. Also, be careful because they are usually slippery when covered in seaweed.
16. The Staffin Dinosaur Museum
Head to the Staffin Dinosaur Museum in the village of Staffin, where you can see a collection of dinosaur fossils. Visiting the Staffin Dinosaur Museum is one of the best things to do in the Isle of Skye because it is the only attraction of its kind on the island. Not only you can learn more about dinosaurs, but you can also see the dinosaur fossils, which are not easy to find on the beach.
There are other places where you can find a set of dinosaur footprints on the Isle of Skye. One such place is Corran Beach. Alternatively, visit Score Bay near Duntulm Castle or Brother’s Point, where the storm revealed dinosaur footprints in 2020.
17. Neist Point Lighthouse, Isle of Skye
Do not forget to visit Neist Point, which you can find close to the town of Glendale. Neist Point Lighthouse is probably the most famous lighthouse in Scotland. It is popular for steep cliffs and a chance to see whales and dolphins during the summer. It is the most westerly point on the island, and therefore, many people visit this place to watch the sunset.
A 30-minute walk from cark park will bring you to the scenic lighthouse. The path is quite steep in places, but it offers beautiful views of the dramatic coastline.
Visiting Neist Point Lighthouse is one of the best things to do in the Isle of Skye if you love a cliff walk. There are many natural vistas, and it is definitely worth a few hours of your time at the very least.
18. Dunvegan Castle, Isle of Skye
Beautiful Dunvegan Castle, Scotland
Dunvegan Castle is also one of the excellent Isle of Skye attractions. It is the most famous historic building on Skye and one of the most impressive castles on the island. Moreover, Dunvegan Castle is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland. It dominates Skye for 800 years, and it is the seat of the Clan MacLeod. This majestic castle, which sits beside an idyllic loch of the same name, has an impressive collection of paintings. Also, it has beautiful gardens, and you can go on a boat excursion to see the seal colony, which lives not far from there.
19. Cuillin Mountains
Hiking Cuillin Mountains is one of the unique things to do in the Isle of Skye if you are an experienced climber.
Adventurous souls might want to explore the Cuillin. Cuillin Mountains is a rocky mountain range that slices through the centre of the island. You can see the mountains from the road as you drive through the southern part of the Skye. The easiest way how to admire the beauty of the Cuillin is from the Fairy Pools. However, if you would like to hike them, be aware that only experienced climbers and hikers can do that. Even though the hikes offer beautiful views, hiking the Cuillin Hills is very difficult because they are one of the most challenging mountain ranges in the UK.
20. Elgol, Isle of Skye
Before leaving the Isle of Skye, make sure you have time to explore Elgol at the tip of the Strathaird peninsula. Elgol might be only a tiny fishing village, but it is famous for its magnificent views and seaside scenery. Many hiking routes start here, and you can also find the best viewpoints for the Cuillin Mountains.
One of the beauties of visiting Elgol is the islands, which you will have the opportunity to visit. The islands of Rum, Canna and Soy are famous for wildlife sightings. Take a trip to the islands and see beautiful scenery and abundant wildlife. And, if lucky, you might even spot the puffins, dolphins and whales!
21. Spar Cave
Visit the beautiful Spar Cave during the low tide to see one of the unique Isle of Skye attractions. Spar Cave is a natural wonder on the Isle of Skye, which you can visit for only an hour during the low tide. Make sure you bring grippy walking shoes, extra clothes and a head torch as the cave is pitch black.
22. Eilean Donan Castle
Eilean Donan Castle is linked to the mainland by a stone bridge.
After exploring the beautiful Isle of Skye, your last stop should be Eilean Donan Castle. Even though you will not find this famous castle on the Skye, it is one of the popular places to visit in the Isle of Skye.
Eilean Donan Castle has a famous medieval castle in Scotland. It has a rich history, is very photogenic and you could see it in many movies. You can find Eilean Donan Castle before the bridge leading to the Isle of Skye.
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