Traveler: Ashley Hollender
Length of Trip: 2
Skye is an enchanting island packed with astounding natural beauty. From the jagged Cuillin mountain range, to the rugged Trotternish landscape, to the towering sea cliffs, it can feel like a scene from a fairytale. The best way to explore this island is on foot when possible, so bring your hiking boots! This itinerary is just a peek into the many attractions on Isle of Skye.
When to visit
April through October are generally the best months to visit, however spring in Skye is exceptional: days are at their longest, young lambs are abundant, and the spring colors are superb. Rain, low clouds, and mist can happen year round but precipitation levels are typically a bit lower at this time of year.
While on Skye, driving is the preferred method of travel as it gives you the most flexibility and access to more remote locations. Skye is served by bus however they do not reach some of the more remote areas on the island.
There are two ways to reach Skye: by ferry from Mallaig to Armadale or over the Skye Road Bridge via Kyle of Lochalsh. The nearest international airport is in Glasgow and the nearest local airport is in Inverness, both of which have many car rental options. Buses also run from Glasgow and Inverness to Skye. There is no rail service on Skye, but you can take a train to Mallaig or Kyle of Lochalsh.
Where to stay
There are a variety of hotels, B&Bs, self-catering rentals, and camping options on Skye. Portree is a larger town on the island with a good location and a range of accommodation and restaurant options. Sligachan is centrally located and offers a great base for exploring the Cuillins. Or, opt for a more private, quiet stay elsewhere on the island.
Skye has unpredictable weather – it’s not uncommon to see all four seasons in a single day. The walks in Skye tend to be boggy and leave you pretty dirty. Come prepared with these essentials:
Today, embark on a boat journey to remote Loch Coruisk nestled in the Black Cuillin mountains. Head out to the village of Elgol for one of the best views of the Cuillins and where you will board the boat to Loch Coruisk. As you slow down to dock, you’ll pass by the local seal colony basking on the rocks. Spend an hour and a half walking the shores of Loch Coruisk before returning by boat. Or, if you have the stamina, select a later return and make the trek up the backside of Sgurr na Stri for breathtaking views of the Cuillins, Loch Coruisk, and the Small Isles. Allow at least 3 – 4 hours to ascend and descend Sgurr na Stri. Pad in some extra time to thoroughly enjoy the views and Loch Coruisk below. Bella Jane and Misty Isle Boat Trips offer sailings to Loch Coruisk from Elgol. Bookings are highly recommended.
Once back on shore get back on B8083 and head toward the harbor-town of Portree, a great place to base yourself out of while in Skye. About 8.5 miles from Elgol stop at the Blue Shed Cafe where you can enjoy a tasty treat and views of Blaven Mountain. Keep heading towards Portree, stopping at the Sligachan Bridge for more incredible views of the Cuillins. Look out for the famous highland cattle with their long horns and shaggy red coats along the way. In Portree, you will find a range of eateries serving excellent fresh seafood. If you’re craving something sweet after dinner try some whiskey flavored tablets, a Scottish variation of fudge.
Enjoy a full Scottish breakfast and then head out to the Trotternish Peninsula. Make your first stop at the Quiraing, a landslip that is still slowly moving. Do the 4.5 mile walk around the Quiraing, taking in the pinnacles, crags, sheer cliffs, velvety terrain, and sheep dotting the landscape. This walk involves somewhat steep climbs and can be quite boggy, but the views are spectacular. Allow 3 – 4 hours to complete this walk.
Hop back in the car and drive to your next stop to see the vertical basalt columns of the sea cliff, Kilt Rock, and Mealt Waterfall freefalling into the Sound of Raasay below. There are no walks here and it’s well fenced off, but this scenic stop is worthwhile.
Just a bit further down the A855, make the last stop of the day to see the Old Man of Storr. A somewhat steep but short walk up to the Storr is worth it for both the up-close and surrounding views. The sharp, jagged pinnacles here are remnants of ancient landslips on the Trotternish Peninsula. You can also choose to do a longer walk around this area or summit the cliffs if you are up for it.
For dinner, try the traditional Scottish haggis dish – not necessarily for the picky eater but a savory treat nonetheless! If you’re a whiskey or beer drinker enjoy the local Talisker Malt Whiskey or an Isle of Skye beer with dinner, a perfect way to end your time in Skye.