If you’re looking for the best things to do on the Isle of Skye, let me take you through my recent trip. For a relatively small place, there are some great things to do on Skye, here goes…
I took approximately 1000 photos and videos during my three days in Skye. If you’ve ever dreamed of running away to a faraway place, trekking through magical landscapes and living in a pretty village – the Isle of Skye in Scotland is your next destination.
I can’t begin to describe the beauty of its natural, raw lands. Every sheer cliff and green covered mountain was a camera moment. After my first time, I went back again for more!
There are just so many things to do in Skye.
Skye is one of the most scenic places I’ve ever been. Every way you looked there was more Instagrammable beauty luring me in, tempting me with its brown hues, purple fauna and every-blue-on-the-spectrum waters. The earthy autumnal colours of the land from a mild December made for a beautiful palette, and the area had recently been shaken up by the passing Storm Frank just a few days before giving a rugged and rough look, although when I mentioned it ‘the look’ is apparently standard.
Photos of things to do in Skye
We were lucky. I went to Skye from the 2-5 January and the visibility was perfect. We could see out to the other islands from our viewpoints and the rain held off. The cold wind though, jeez, I took some videos and you can’t even hear what I’m saying the wind is carrying my voice away.
I was worried I’d get blown away at some points – good job I ate all those delicious fish and chips and Highland beef burgers along the way to keep me grounded.
Best Things to Do on Skye in Scotland
I’ve been to the Isle of Skye twice now. Once as part of a group trip exploring the best of the area, and once with my friend Helen when we were wild camping in the Outer Hebrides. Here’s what I think are the best places to visit on Skye for your trip.
1. Glenfinnan in Skye
As you head into the Scottish Highlands and towards the isles, you’ve got two major attractions to stop by. Glenfinnan, just off the Isle of Skye, is one of them.
This Scottish hamlet was the site of the 1745 Jacobite rising and of pop media fame, where the Harry Potter bridge is located. The railway viaduct is a gorgeous curved landmark that runs above the treetops; the railway on which the Hogwarts Express Train speeds towards the magic school.
2. James Bond’s birthplace
Along the road to the Isles is another pop media related stop – the rural lands of Glen Coe. The road to Fort Williams offers a rather surreal vista, the tranquil valley a great spot for wild camping. It may also look familiar to hardcore James Bond fans.
That’s right; it’s where Skyfall House was set.
The Skyfall house may no longer be here, but it’s pretty cool to see James Bond’s birthplace. Just imagine a young Bond scampering all over the place!
3. Roads of Skye
One of the best things to do on Skye in Scotland is no doubt throwing out the map and just driving. The roads of Skye are single-lane, livestock-infested and utterly breathtaking.
Steep winding roads lead you through its otherworldly landscapes, past cliffs, pinnacles, plateaus, moorlands. Road cycling tours have become a popular activity on Skye as you take in the scenery without distractions.
Bear in mind that the roads are small and narrow on Skye, so be careful when you’re driving! Don’t rent big cars as it’ll be difficult to reverse when coming across another vehicle.
4. Black Cuillin Mountains in Skye
Looming over the stunning Fairy Pools is the dramatic Black Cuillin Mountains. Stretching the southern coast of Skye in Scotland, they’re visible on your drive through.
I highly recommend hiking here; it’s one of the best things to do on Skye! With a total of 36 imposing peaks, you have a wide range of trails to pick from. Bla Bheinn and Sgurr na Stri offer 360-degree views over the isle, with the black ridges themselves a rather amazing sight. For the brave and experienced, climb Sgurr Alasdair, the highest peak on the island.
For safety, hire a guide to take you through the pathless areas.
5. Sheep of Skye
Interestingly enough, the misty Isle of Skye in Scotland is home to over 100,000 sheep – that’s more than ten times the human population! They’re literally everywhere, wandering the roads like they’re on fields, uncaring of cars that might come by.
Keep an eye out for these fluffy, black-faced sheep if you’re doing a road trip in Scotland. You may follow behind them on roads or come across a flock when trekking through the mountains. While I don’t recommend going up to them, Skye sheep make pretty good subjects to photograph.
6. Mealt Falls in Skye
Just before the rather uniquely patterned Kilt Rock cliffs is a famous 60-metre high waterfall called Mealt Falls. Thundering straight into the sea, it’s an amazing sight.
Make sure to capture both waterfall and those basalt columns in the back – Skye’s natural landscapes are great postcard photos.
Mealt Falls does get extremely crowded during peak tourist season, so try to go earlier in the day. Definitely one of the coolest things to do in Skye!
7. Accommodation in Portree
Colourful Portree is a great place to stay!
Centrally located, it’s in close vicinity to Skye’s best attractions. What it’s famous for however, is the bright row of houses by the waterfront. Snap shots of this fishing village as the surrounding hills are quite scenic.
It’s also worth walking around, with cafés, boutique shops, restaurants and even a cinema. For maps and brochures on various attractions, drop by the tourist information centre. They’ll update you on annual events too, such as the Portree Show and the Skye Highland Games.
Portree is a good spot to pick up some great Scotland souvenirs while you’re here.
8. Neist Point in Skye
Near Denvegan is the popular Neist Point. In the summer months, this site gets crowded with sunset watchers. High cliffs jut out at a sloping angle, before flattening out near the tip. There’s a walking path that cuts around the slope, bringing you to one of Scotland’s most famous lighthouses.
I really loved it here – so fresh and Scottish – but, it was also SO, so windy. Almost got blown away. Just about managed that semi-eagle yoga pose.
9. Neist Point Lighthouse
Nearby Neist Point Lighthouse is arguably one of the best places to watch the sunset due to its westerly location. You can spot it from the walk down, a white complex that stands out from the high cliff it’s perched on. It’s definitely the beacon sailors look to, and a lovely spot for marine life watching.
The walking path is paved but can get quite steep, so only attempt it on low-wind days – not like ours. If you’re on Skye by yourself, here are some great tips on walking alone if you’re nervous at all.
One of the great things to do in Skye for adventurous people.
READ MORE: The Best Beaches in the Outer Hebrides
10. Eilean Donan Castle
Eilean Donan Castle might not be on Skye proper, but you can easily fit this attraction into your itinerary. Sitting before the bridge that connects Skye to the mainland, this medieval castle is an iconic landmark of the Scottish highlands. Built in the mid-13th century, it went through many rebuilds to become its present-day form.
Stop by to learn about its rich history and see which films have used it as a set.
11. Isle of Skye Fairy Pools
Possibly the most magical place in Scotland, Skye’s Fairy Pools are one of my personal favourites. Drop your car off at the car park before embarking on a short hike; you’ll stroll past successive waterfalls that run from the Cuillin.
At the end of your journey are deep, turquoise pools that cascade through a glen. Many dip their toes in the icy waters while braver souls go ‘wild swimming’ – which one would you choose?
Make sure you consult the weather before you try and seek out the Fairy Pools on Skye. The second time I went we drove the winding roads all the way up there only to find out the fierce roads meant they were closed. So disappointed!
12. Puffins on Skye
With high cliffs, open seas and vast moorlands, it’s no wonder that Skye houses a variety of wildlife. Among them, are these diving sea birds with parrot-like bills. Yes, puffins – the sea birds that famously got CGI-ed into Star Wars because the crew couldn’t and wouldn’t unroost them – you’re going to want to look them up.
Join a wildlife tour to spot these elusive birds! They’re most active in early spring, but you’ll have to take boat trips out to neighbouring islands to find Puffin nests.
13. Hang out at Quiraing on Skye
Misty Scottish charms have never been stronger than at Quiraing. It’s one of the best locations for panoramic shots, as its viewpoints look over Quiraing, Trotternish Ridge and Staffin Bay. Photos come out best during sunrise and sunset, the low sun bringing out the moorlands and rock formations.
Lucky for us, there’s a carpark for easy access. If you have the time, be sure to try the hiking trails along the coast too.
14. Old Mann of Storr on the Isle of Skye
The ‘old man’ in question is none other than a massive basalt rock column, standing sentinel over the Trotternish ridge. You can hike up from the town of Portree (it’s around 2 hours round-trip) for gorgeous views over the lush valley.
By far one of the best things to do on Skye, this landmark has been featured in many films. The Old Mann of Storr can even be considered the mascot of Skye, if there was one.
15. Loch Ainort in Skye
Running from the Skye Bridge to Portree, Loch Ainort is an iconic view that you can’t really miss. Like most of Scotland’s greats, it highlights the expansiveness of the landscape – how small we are in comparison.
Step out of the car for some photos, especially when Cuillin Hills runs a terracotta perimeter around it. The small village of Luib is also a lovely place for a short break.
16. Lealt Waterfalls
Just 8km from the Old Mann of Storr is another best thing to see on Skye: the Lealt Waterfalls. Like the Fairy Pools, you have to take a short and easy trail to the hidden gem. Don’t stop at the viewpoints; go all the way down for the beautiful site!
I love how moss has grown over the eroded rocks that bracket the waterfall itself. The cliffs turn a lovely golden hue under the right lighting. In fact, if you ask the locals, they’ll tell you that Lealt Falls is most beautiful after a heavy rain.
17. Claigan Coral Beach on Skye
While hiking is one of the best activities on Skye, the Scottish island also features some lovely beaches. Claigan Coral Beach is one such example, the combination of curved sandy strip and turquoise waters just beckoning you for a swim! Most people don’t expect to see this type of landscape in Scotland.
You can park your car some 30-minute walk away; there’s a small carpark for visitors. Enjoy the green flatlands along the way. I also suggest bringing along a picnic since there are plenty of unspoiled spaces to sit at.
Isle of Skye with Rabbies
I was travelling in a group with Rabbies – their USP is that the van is a 16-seater so compared to the big Highlander tours we saw going through we were more nifty, able to stop where we wanted and go to lesser known spots, such as the Fairy Glen for example.
It also meant we were quicker at rest stops, with less people to hang around for.
I did the three-day tour, it was a lot of driving but the fact that I wasn’t responsible for any of it meant that I could just relax and look out the window at the incredible Highlands rolling out in front of me.
Travelling to the Isle of Skye
If you want to travel to Skye independently, and don’t have time for Edinburgh first, fly into Inverness and hire a car. Make sure your Des is a confident driver though – you’ll have to navigate the winding roads and rogue sheep. The rewards of being able to stop where and when you want will make it all worth it though.
Visiting the Isle of Skye is one of the best adventure weekends in the UK – enjoy!