17 Best Things to Do in Isle of Skye, Scotland in 2024

Author of the post in a black jacket and hat walks near a grassy coastline overlooking a body of water with hills and cliffs in the distance under a partly cloudy sky.

Get ready to be blown away by the misty island, a magical place that you’ll fall in love with and never want to leave! But first let’s start this guide on things to do in Isle of Skye, Scotland!

I’ve recently visited the Isle of Skye and spent some unforgettable days there exploring the highlands and meeting the fairies, but also trying all the fun activities!

So read this post and discover the top attractions on this Scottish island! I’ve also included some tips on how you can get to Skye, getting around the island and a short list of hotels!

Skye is one of the most popular places in Scotland! I recommend booking your hotels in advance, especially in the summer time as the prices are pretty high!

Quick Picks for Your Stay

If you don’t have time to read the whole post with the top things to do in the Isle of Skye, I’ve got you covered with the best activities that you need to book in advance:

And here are the best hotels: Cuillin Hills Hotel (luxury), Bosville Hotel (mid-range), Rockview (budget)

1. Go on a walk around the Fairy Pools

Author of the post in dark clothing walks near a stream surrounded by grassy hills under a foggy sky.

Fairies and other mythological creatures like selkies and gnomes are a big part of Scottish folklore and lots of spots like these pools were named after them. Usually because the “wee folk” are thought to roam around these places!

The Fairy Pools are located on the Northern slopes of the magnificent Black Cuillin range, around a 30 min drive away from Portree, the main town. They’re basically a number of waterfalls with crystal-clear water that you can walk around and even do some wild swimming when it’s warm outside!

Author of the post standing outdoors next to a large boulder, wearing a black jacket and hat in a mountainous, misty landscape with a creek in the background.

I visited the pools on a very rainy and windy day so I only got to do the walk from the parking lot (map) to the pools. The entire walk to see all the pools takes around 40 min to 1h and a half, depending on how often you stop and how fast you walk. But on the way you will see lots of pools, so if you don’t have time or the weather is terrible you don’t have to go all the way.

PRO TIP: I highly recommend wearing hiking shoes, or really comfortable sneakers when visiting Skye, as well as having some waterproof clothes. My jacket and trousers were waterproof and it made all the difference, as it rained a lot and the wind was so strong.

The Fairy Pools are so magical and you’ll get some incredible pics! I loved exploring and seeing all the waterfalls, although I didn’t spot any fairies! Maybe you’ll have more luck!


2. Listen for the otherworldly sounds at Kilt Rock

Aerial view of a coastal landscape with cliffs, a waterfall falling into the ocean, fields, and a lake surrounded by hills under a partly cloudy sky.

By far, one of my favorite things to see on Skye!

Set only a 30 min bus drive away from the main town of Portree, Kilt Rock offers some incredible views of the coastline and of the gorgeous Mealt Falls!

To get there, you can take the 57A bus from Somerled Square (map) in Portree and then to get back to Portree (if you are staying there) you can take the 57C bus from this stop (map).

The only thing is that the buses run usually every 2h, so you’ll have some time on your hands! That’s how it was for me but honestly with those views of the highlands, I didn’t mind the wait time!

Steep cliffs with a small waterfall cascading into the rocky shore below, meeting the ocean. Rugged landscape with sparse vegetation along the cliff tops. Overcast sky.

Now back to the gorgeous Kilt Rock! You’re probably wondering why it’s called like this, and it’s because the rock actually resembles a kilt, the traditional Scottish garment.

It’s not only the gorgeous Rock that will leave you in awe of its natural beauty, the Mealt Falls cascade looks so beautiful that you’ll want to spend hours gazing at it!

While there, listen for the otherworldly sounds that some say come from the Falls, others from the fences around the Rock, but who knows! It’s such a special sound, that will make the whole experience even more amazing!

If you’re visiting Kilt Rock on a rainy day (like I was) and you have nothing to do until the bus comes, you can head to the Staffin Dinosaur Museum, which is set right near the bus station and has a small collection of dinosaur fossils found on the island that you can see for just £4.


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3. Dive into the history at Dunvegan Castle

A stone castle with multiple towers and battlements, surrounded by greenery, with a clear blue sky and scattered clouds in the background. A pathway leads to the main entrance.

Scotland is home to some incredible castles that once belonged to the clans and you’ll find one on Skye as well!

Dunvegan Castle is one of the best cultural attractions on the island and it’s located on the West coast of Skye. This is the oldest continually inhabited castle in Scotland and it honestly looks straight out of a fairy tale!

Of course, it has lots of myths and stories linked to it, many including the clan MacLeod as this is their ancestral home!

One of the most famous tales is linked to the Am Bratach Sith – The Fairy Flag of Dunvegan, which is the clan’s most treasured possession (still sitting in the castle) that is thought to be from the fairies. Although, there are many other versions regarding its provenience!

I loved exploring the castle and its gorgeous gardens which are home to beautiful flowers and some ancient trees that look straight out of a Lord of the Rings movie!

From the castle, you can also take boat trips on Loch Dunvegan and see the seal colony that lives there! You can read more about this on their official website.


4. Hike up to see the Old Man of Storr

A rocky landscape with tall spires and a dirt path winding through, set against a clear blue sky during early morning or late evening.

Put on your hiking shoes and get ready for the iconic climb up to the Old Man of Storr, a 55-meter-high peak of basalt rock located at the West end of the Trotternish Ridge.

This is one of the most important attractions on the Isle of Skye and for good reason as it looks so incredible! As for the name, many say that the stone resembles the face of an old man!

To reach the attraction you can take the 57A bus from Somerled Square (map) in Portree, or get there by car, if you’re renting one.

Author of the post sits on a rock in front of a misty, rugged mountain landscape with green moss covering the ground.

PRO TIP: I highly recommend wearing hiking shoes and waterproof clothes.

The bus will leave you in the Old Man of Storr car park (map) and from there you will begin your hike up! I would say the hike up is not so difficult, especially if you get good weather.

When I went, the winds were pretty strong, so we had to stop for a few moments to hold onto something. It takes extra attention, care and patience on those windy days, but it’s not impossible!

In total, it takes around 45 min to 1h from the car park to reach the point where you can admire those stunning views that the Old Man of Storr is famous for!

When I got there I actually stayed and just relaxed and took in the incredible scenery! The atmosphere is so incredible up there and the sights are beautiful!

As with most places in Scotland, there are lots of stories and myths related to the Old Man of Storr! Some stories say a giant was walking on the island, he fell and died. The earth covered him and what we can see now is his pointy finger!

P.S. If you are traveling to Skye October through to March, you might be lucky enough to see the Northern Lights! Here’s a site that you can check out, which sends alerts when you can see the Northern Lights in the UK.


5. Explore the unique Fairy Glen

Author of the post in a black jacket and hat kneels on a rocky path amidst a green, hilly landscape on a cloudy day.

Up for more fairy stories? I always am!

The next stop you have to see is the beautiful Fairy Glen. This spot is located just a 5 min drive away from Uig, one of the island’s main towns and around a 30 min drive away from Portree.

PRO TIP: If you’re staying in Portree without a car you can take the 57C bus from Somerled Square (map) that will leave you somewhere nearby and from there you can walk 30 min to reach the Glen. If you are coming by car I recommend that you arrive early as the car park (map) gets pretty busy with cars, especially in the summer.

The Fairy Glen is located on the Trotternish Loop and it’s an area filled with natural rock formations and small, cone-shaped hills that look so magical. And naturally, where there’s magic on Skye, there are also fairies, hence the name!

It honestly looks straight out of a fairy-tale so no wonder there are so many connections with these mythical stories!

Our tour guide told us that a really long time ago, the Fairy Glen was a sacred spot where priests and priestesses would come to perform rituals at certain times of the year like the Solstice and Equinox.

You can explore the Glen for 1h or 2 as it’s pretty big, and admire the stunning scenery! If you want to get some cool views, head up to Castle Ewen (map), which is not really a castle but more of the ruins of something that resembles a castle, but the views from up there are amazing!

 I loved the panoramic sight of the Fairy Glen!


6. Spend a day in cozy Portree

Author of the post wearing a jacket and backpack walks along a narrow, fenced path on a cliffside overlooking a body of water and trees.

Welcome to Portree, the “capital” and the largest town on the island, where I stayed during my holiday here!

Portree is a great base for those who don’t own a car, as it has bus connections, hotels, lots of restaurants, gift shops and cafes!

From here you can reach some of the famous attractions on the island by bus and you’ll also get to do a bit of shopping and fill your bags with some Scottish souvenirs!

The former fishing village is home to the famous colorful houses that you’ll probably see in most pics, although there’s more to the town than those houses.

I loved exploring this town and there are so many things to do in Portree, Scotland! Although small, its streets are so cozy, its people so warm and welcoming and its pubs just perfect for drinking some delicious local beer and whisky, of course!

Start your mornings with a cup of coffee and some pastries at Birch (map) a super stylish and cozy cafe that serves specialty coffee, some breakfast dishes and lots of delicious cakes and pastries!

A cup of coffee sits next to a plate with a slice of cheesecake and a muffin on a wooden table. Two forks and napkins are placed beside the plate.

Then you can go on a stroll and check out the stores! My favorite places were Carmina Gadelica (map) from where you can get some amazing books, Isle of Skye Soap Company

(map) which sells candles, soaps and other things, Isle of Skye Distillers (map) and Òr (map), a lovely gift shop.

As for places to eat, I really enjoyed the food at the Rosedale Restaurant (map), which offers some incredible views of the harbor! I would also recommend Dulse and Brose (map) and its neighbor the Merchant Bar (map) which is great for some drinks!

You’ll also find some walking paths in Portree, perfect for a quick morning stroll! I went on the Scorrybreac Trail (map) and caught some stunning views!

7. Learn more history on St. Columba’s Island

A tranquil river flows through a lightly wooded area with sparse grass and bushes on the riverbank.

So this is a pretty special place and honestly, not lots of tourists know about it, as it’s not included in the main list of attractions that people visit when they come on Skye. But, if you’re into history then definitely visit this place!

Located a 10 min drive away from Portree by car and a 30 min bus drive away from Somerled Square (map) with bus 56X, this spot is the ancient burial ground and site of the Cathedral Church of the Bishop of the Isles from 1079 to 1498.

According to tradition, 28 chiefs of the MacNicols or Nicolsons clans are buried here but our guide also told us that some Templar Knights were possibly buried here!

The gravestones are super interesting and the whole place has a certain something! So if you’ve got the time, definitely check it out!

8. Go on a full day tour of Skye

This section is for all my readers who are visiting Skye without a car or those of you who are wondering what to do in Isle of Skye in a day here.

A small waterfall flows over rocks into a pool, surrounded by grassy terrain.

When I visited I wanted to make sure I hit the main spots. Since I didn’t have a car, and most of the places are spread out on the island (with not many bus connections between them) I decided to book a tour.

This is the full-day tour I booked which included the Fairy Pools, Talisker Distillery, Dunvegan Castle, Neist Point Lighthouse, the Fairy Glen, Quiraing and Old Man of Storr! The tour costs US$107 and it lasts 9h.

Although it was so rainy on the day we had the tour, I loved the experience! We got to visit all these iconic spots except the Neist Point Lighthouse as the weather was not in our favor! That can happen, as the weather is so unpredictable, but our guide was super nice and he took us to another place instead!

If you’re staying in Portree without a car you can still visit some of these places by bus, but if you want to be sure you check them all, without worrying about buses and stuff, I think this tour is a great option.


9. Visit the Armadale Castle & Gardens

Old stone building ruins surrounded by lush greenery and blue sky. One structure has ivy growing over it, while the other has multiple windows and a battlement.

If you’re a lover of castles then definitely head to Armadale Castle and Gardens, located in the South part of the island!

This is the last ancestral home of the Macdonalds of Sleat and it is home to the award-winning Museum of the Isles, where you can learn more about the history of the Scottish highlands and some of the clans.

While here you can explore the gardens and castle ruins, and see if you can spot some red deer and golden eagles, as they’re known to roam around these woodlands.

PRO TIP: If you’re coming by bus from Portree, you can take the 916 bus from Somerled Square (map) up to Armadale Road End, and for there jump on the 152 Armadale Pier bus that will leave you near the Armadale Castle.


10. Tour a whisky distillery

View of Talisker Distillery buildings next to a river, featuring white exteriors and lit windows, reflecting in the calm water. Overcast sky.

Can you even say Scotland without thinking of whisky? I should think not!

Although I’m not a big fan of whisky, there’s something special about drinking one in this country!

If you are a fan though and want to see how whisky is, make sure you go on a guided tour of one of the distilleries on the island!

I visited Talisker Distillery but didn’t get to jump on a tour. This is one of the most popular distilleries on the island and they offer various experiences that you can check out on their official website! To reach Talisker Whisky Distillery, which is located on the banks of Loch Harport, you can take the 608 bus from Somerledd Square (map). The journey takes 30 min.

Another big one is Torabhaig Distillery (map) which you can also go on a tour of! They offer different tours too, which you can check on their official website! You can reach this place by bus from Portree. Just take the 916 bus from Somerled Square (map) up to Armadale Road End, stop there and change for the 152 Armandale Pier bus that will leave right near the distillery. The whole journey takes around 1h and 20 min.

P.S. Near the Talisker Whisky Distillery there’s a great place to grab a bite called the Oyster Shed (map), that serves local produce including crab, salmon and oysters! Perfect for a quick snack before heading to the next destination.

11. Enjoy the views at Neist Point Lighthouse

A white lighthouse with attached buildings sits on a grassy cliff overlooking a calm sea under a clear sky.

Get your camera ready for some iconic pictures!

Set on the West end of Skye, the Lighthouse (map) offers some incredible views and although it can get pretty windy, it’s definitely worth the trouble!

Unfortunately, there aren’t any buses that go here from Portree, so the only way you can visit this place is by car or if it is included in a tour that you’re taking.

If you are coming by car, you’ll have to leave your car in the parking lot (map) and then go on a rocky trail that leads to the lighthouse and various viewpoints.

12. See dinosaur footprints on An Corran Beach

A double rainbow arcs over a rocky coastline with green algae-covered rocks in the foreground and a cloudy sky.

If you’re wondering what to do in Skye with your kids then definitely check this section, as it has one of the best things to do on Skye for families!

Staffin is a town easily reachable from Portree (by taking the 57A bus from Somerled Square and stopping after the 30 min ride at Slipway Road End), it takes around the same time if you’re coming by car.

Here you’ll find the An Corran Beach (map), a famous sandy beach that has dinosaur footprints from the Jurassic period! This is the spot (map) where you can see the footprints.

The views here are great so if you’re coming when the weather is good, I recommend spending some time here and exploring this Northern part of the island!

If you’re coming during the summer months and you want to explore more beaches, I’d also recommend Coral Beach (map), which is located in the Northwest part of the island.

13. Hike the Quiraing & see the Needle

A rocky pinnacle rises from a grassy valley, flanked by steep, jagged cliffs, with distant hills and a cloudy sky in the background.

Set on the East coast of Trotternish Peninsula, the Quiraing circuit is a stunning hiking area, which was formed as most places on the Trotternish Peninsula by giant landslides.

The landscape is absolutely stunning here filled with pinnacles, ridges, cliffs, and lakes!

To reach the Quiraing you’ll need a car as there are no buses from Portree. For those coming with a car, you can leave it in this car park (map) and from there it will take you around 3 to 4 hours to complete the Quiraing circuit, depending on how often you stop along the way.

Although the views are amazing from anywhere you stop on the walk, there are some unique spots that you should see like the Table (map), the Needle (map) and the Prison which sort of resembles a medieval keep.

14. Snap a pic at Sligachan Old Bridge

A stone bridge with three arches spans over a shallow, rock-strewn river, set against a backdrop of rolling hills and a partly cloudy sky.

Skye is absolutely packed with scenic spots and one of them is the Sligachan Old Bridge (map) which is located just 10 miles away from Portree.

If you want to get there by bus, you can take the 608 bus from Somerled Square which will leave you just 2 min away from the bridge.

Once here, you can stop to admire the bridge and the views of the Red and Black Cuillin Mountains!

Legend says that if you dip your face in the water running under the bridge you will gain eternal beauty! But you have to do it the proper way and that’s by dipping your face into the water while sitting by the water’s edge and holding your hands on your knees, while submerging your face entirely for 7 seconds!

15. Explore the beautiful Elgol village

A stone house with a sloped roof is situated by a rocky shoreline, surrounded by greenery, a large tree, and cliffs; an overcast sky and distant mountains are visible in the background.

Located on the Southwestern coast of Isle of Skye, Elgol is a tiny village that you should definitely explore if you get the chance!

The town has a couple of accommodations as well, so if you’re thinking of staying here, there are options!

Although not as busy or equipped with shops like Portree, Elgol has a small shop/cafe/souvenir store where you can go to enjoy a cup of tea and get some cute local souvenirs, called Elgol shop (map).

From there you can make your way to Elgol Beach (map) which has lots of walking paths and spots where you can admire the views!

If you want to make your visit here even more fun, you can hop on a boat trip with Misty Isle Boat Trips on the gorgeous Loch Coruisk. They run daily trips and during the boat tour you can see a seal colony and also some cute puffins!

16. Check out the unique Eilean Donan Castle

A castle illuminated at dusk, reflecting in a body of water with a stone bridge on the right, mountains, and a dramatic cloudy sky in the background.

Although technically not on the Isle of Skye, Eilean Donan Castle is set right near the border between the island and the Scottish mainland, across the Skye bridge and you can reach it by bus from Portree.

I’ve included it on the list as it’s one of the most famous castles in the country and it’s definitely worth a visit!

You can take the 916 bus from Somerled Square in Portree and get there in 1h and 30 min.

NOTE: If you are using the 916 service, you will have to buy your tickets in advance as this is the bus that usually goes from Skye to big cities like Inverness, Glasgow, etc and they require booking in advance. You can do so on their website, and to reach this particular spot you’ll have to enter Dornie town as your destination, since that’s the closest one to the castle (around a 10 min walk).

Now back to the castle which is perched on a small islet and linked to the mainland by a bridge. Yep, it looks incredible!

You can visit the castle and learn all about its fascinating history and how it was mostly destroyed during the Jacobite uprising and rebuilt again in the 1900s.


17. Visit the Skye Museum of Island Life

Two stone cottages with thatched roofs stand on a grassy field near the coastline, with a green boat and cartwheels placed beside them under a partially cloudy sky.

Located in the North part of Skye Isle, this museum offers its visitors a peek into what island life would’ve looked like 100 years ago!

While here you’ll see some old cottages, learn about the local crafts and the history of the island! If you’re lucky you might even spot a famous highland cow!

It’s such a charming place and definitely worth a visit if you’re around this part of Skye!


⛰️ Unique attraction:Old Man of Storr
🏰 Top castle:Dunvegan Castle
🌊 Best free activity:Fairy Pools
🥧 Must-try food:Haggis

How to get to the Isle of Skye

A ferry docked at a coastal harbor with other boats, surrounded by blue water and a clear sky with scattered clouds. Distant mountains are visible on the horizon.

Now that we’re done with all the attractions in Isle of Skye, we can move to the parts of the trip that are not so fun to plan always, but necessary!

So if you’re wondering how to reach the Isle of Skye, stop scrolling and check out the main ways to get to Skye from mainland Scotland:

  • By bus: I used the Scottish CityLink service and took a bus from Glasgow to Portree. The journey takes around 8h and you’ll stop at Fort William for a wee break while they change drivers. If you are planning to use the bus, get your tickets in advance from their website. A return ticket usually costs around US$93.
  • By train: You can take a train from Glasgow to Mallaig, for 5 hours (you can get the tickets from this website), from there you can take the CallMac ferry to get to Armadale, which is on the Isle of Skye. The ferry ride lasts around 30 minutes and you can check the timetable here.
  • By car: If you are renting a car from Glasgow, Edinburgh or other city then you should definitely plan your route as there are lots of gorgeous things to see on the way to Skye.

How to get around the Isle of Skye

A few sheep are crossing a rural road with a cautionary sheep crossing sign visible. A bus approaches from a distance.

The main ways to get around Skye are by car, bus or by joining a tour.

Honestly, I think it’s totally doable to visit if you’re not renting a car, so don’t let anyone scare you out of not doing the trip. It’s true, you won’t see the whole island but there are buses to the main spots and if you have a few days on the island as I did, you can visit the main attractions.

By bus & tours

So if you’re not renting a car, I recommend staying in Portree, the main town which has bus and tour connections. Most buses leave from Somerled Square (map), which I mentioned through this post and you can check the routes and see which buses can take you to where you want to go on Google Maps, as it’s super reliable. That’s what I did the entire time I was there.

If you are taking a tour, I’d recommend this full-day tour, which checks most of the main spots on the island.

By car

If you’re renting a car and doing the self-drive trip, then you can definitely find a more remote accommodation and stay there, as it might be cheaper than staying in Portree (since it’s the main town where all the tourists stay, prices can be higher there).

Where to stay on the Isle of Skye

A picturesque seaside village with colorful buildings lining the waterfront, small boats docked in the harbor, and lush greenery on the hillside under a partly cloudy sky.

We’re reaching the end of our guide on things to do in Skye and I thought I’d leave you with a short selection of the top hotels, all set in Portree, the main town!

  • Luxury: Cuillin Hills Hotel – such an amazing hotel, perfect for your Scotland trip that has stylish rooms, a restaurant and free parking spots.
  • Mid-range: Bosville Hotel – located a short walk away from the town’s colorful houses and Portree Bay, this hotel offers modern rooms, a great restaurant that serves local produce and great views.
  • Budget: Rockview – this hotel comes with sea view rooms, a coffee machine and a private bathroom.

FAQs about things to do in Isle of Skye

Author of the post lying down on a thick, horizontal tree branch, surrounded by a garden with bushes and trees.

🤩 What not to miss on the Isle of Skye?

I wouldn’t miss the Old Man of Storr, the Fairy Glen, the Fairy Pools, Dunvegan Castle and Neist Point Lighthouse.

📅 How many days do you need at Isle of Skye?

I would recommend spending at least 5 days in Skye, that way you can visit all the main attractions.

🏔️ What is famous about the Isle of Skye?

Skye is famous for its rugged landscapes, medieval castles, picturesque fishing villages, fairy stories and rich history.

Final thoughts on Isle of Skye things to do

Author of the post standing on a grassy slope, striking a playful pose with one leg lifted, surrounded by rocky formations and misty, cloud-covered peaks.

Yay! You’ve reached the end of this guide with the best things to do in Isle of Skye!

I’ve had a blast remembering all the places that I’ve been to in Skye and I can’t wait for my next trip there.

This post has a lot of info on everything you need to know about what to do on Isle of Skye, plus some tips on how to get there, how to get around the island and where to stay in Skye.

I recommend booking your hotels in advance, especially if you’re coming during the summer months, as that’s when Skye gets absolutely packed with tourists!

Enjoy your Scottish adventures and if you have any questions, just drop me a comment below! I’d be happy to help you out.

Happy exploring,


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