The Isle of Skye is the largest island within the Inner Hebrides archipelago, at 50 miles long. This archipelago is situated off the coast of mainland Scotland and is accessible via a bridge or ferry.
Skye is a destination that has something to offer no matter when you visit. Whether you have glorious weather or you get to appreciate the island’s moody vibes, this place is a must-visit.
This guide will take you through the best things to do on the Isle of Skye. Home to epic landscapes, fantastic hiking trails, and historic castles, there is so much to do on this incredible island.
1. Hike up to the Old Man of Stor
The Old Man of Stor is a must for any Isle of Skye itinerary! It is the most famous hike on the island and will take you to a large rock formation. For the best experience, try to visit on a clear day. This way, you can appreciate the breathtaking views from the top.
From the car park, it is a 2.3-mile (3.8 km) round-trip hike. You will want to allow at least 1.5 hours for the trip so you don’t rush your visit. If you plan to spend a while at the top, allow at least two hours for this destination.
The hike is relatively easy, but it does require some exertion at points. You will also want to layer up, as the weather here can change quickly.
2. Visit Armadale Castle
Armadale Castle is another popular spot on the island. It is around 1,500 years old and was once home to the Clan Donalds, one of history’s most powerful Scottish families.
At the castle, you will find 40 acres of landscaped gardens, a museum, a gift shop, and a cafe. Of course, the castle itself is the main attraction, although the ruins are cordoned off for people’s safety.
These ruins date back to the early 19th century, and exploring the woodlands around them is the best way to appreciate the area’s beauty.
For the best experience, allow at least 2 hours for your visit. This will give you enough time to wander around the gardens and learn about the castle’s history.
3. Look Out for Highland Cows
There are plenty of things to do on the Isle of Skye, but no trip is complete without seeing a Highland cow. Also known as the Highland Coo, these beautiful creatures are a Scottish breed of cattle.
With their long horns, shaggy ginger locks, and cute faces, these cows are a highlight of visiting Scotland. During your time on the island, you will want to snap at least a photo or two.
The Village of Sconser is one of the best places to see Highland cows. It is just a 20-minute drive from the capital of Portree, so try to include it on your itinerary. Skulamus is another popular spot and is located just after the Skye Bridge.
No matter where you go on the island, keep your eyes peeled, and you will see one eventually!
4. Enjoy Seafood at the Oyster Shed
If you love food, no trip to Skye is complete without visiting The Oyster Shed. Located in the village of Carbost, this place is famous for its fresh seafood.
Here, you can try some delicious dishes including mussels with wine and garlic, queen scallops, crab, and lobster. If you don’t mind sharing, you can try one of the tasty seafood platters.
There are also less adventurous options like fish and chips and salmon. For those who would prefer a more hands-on experience, you can shuck your own oysters!
The Oyster Shed is just a short walk from Talisker Distillery, so you can always visit both. Better yet, buy some whisky from the distillery and pair it with your lunch.
5. Go on a Wildlife-Watching Boat Tour
Heading out on a wildlife boat tour is one of the best things to do on the Isle of Skye! The waters surrounding Skye are teeming with marine life, so you have a great chance of spotting some wildlife.
Depending on the time of year, you can spot seals, dolphins, basking sharks, and minke whales. Rarer species include killer whales, humpback whales, and fin whales.
Boat trips leave from several destinations on the island, but Portree is often the most convenient. From here, you will explore the Sound of Raasay, where you have a great chance of spotting sea eagles.
One of the most popular operators in this area is Stardust, and they offer four different boat trips, lasting between 2-3 hours.
6. Walk the Point of Sleat
You will find lots of fantastic hikes on this island, but some stand out against the crowd. One of these will take you to the Point of Sleat, the island’s Southernmost point.
From the car park, it is a 5.3-mile (8.5 km) round trip to the Point of Sleat. The track is easy to follow and will take you over grassland and moors until you reach Camas Daraich.
This is one of the most scenic beaches on Skye. If you keep walking, you will come to a lighthouse. This place offers a great chance of spotting marine life, so keep your eyes peeled.
If you plan to hike to the Point of Sleat, allow yourself at least 3-4 hours.
7. Admire the Views From Neist Point
Neist Point is one of the best places to visit on Skye! You will find this lighthouse on the island’s Western tip so naturally, the views are breathtaking.
From the car park, it is around a 45-minute walk down to Neist Point Lighthouse. While you walk, you will want to take photographs and admire the epic vistas.
Better yet, look out for marine life while you are here. From the cliffs, you can spot basking sharks and minke whales. Try to bring binoculars along for your Scotland trip if you can.
You will find plenty of things to do on the Isle of Skye, but no trip to the island is complete without heading to Neist Point.
8. Visit the Oldest Pub on Skye
Dating back to 1790, the Stein Inn is the oldest pub on the Isle of Skye. It is a 35-minute drive from the capital of Portree and is easily accessible by car.
Thanks to its location along the shores of Lochbay, the Stein Inn offers stunning views of the Outer Hebrides (an island group in Scotland).
If you visit the pub between 12 pm to 2 pm or 5 pm to 9 pm, you can treat yourself to some food. The menu here focuses on sustainable seafood, but there are a variety of other dishes to choose from, too.
If it is a clear day, you can relax with a drink in the outdoor area. Better yet, head out for a swim in the loch.
9. Head to the Fairy Pools
The Fairy Pools are undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places on the island. If you are driving along the A87, turn off at Sligachan. This is another incredible place to stop at.
As the name suggests, the Fairy Pools are a set of beautiful rock pools in Glenbrittle. To reach the first set of pools, it is a 15-20 minute walk from the car park. These pools boast a striking backdrop of the Cuillin Mountains.
If you continue onward, you will reach more pools, and these are sometimes quieter. Some people choose to swim here, but be wary of the cold temperatures and currents.
10. Drive the Quiraing Pass
If you are a confident driver and plan to hire a car, then make sure you drive the Quiraing Pass. It is a mountain pass along Skye’s Trotternish Peninsula and offers one of the island’s most iconic views.
The Quiraing Pass is situated at 856 ft (261 meters) above sea level and offers panoramic views of the surrounding area. Just be cautious as you head along the road as it is extremely narrow in some places, and there aren’t too many passing places.
The whole route will take around 20 minutes to complete with no stops, although this mountain pass can get pretty busy.
Once you get to the top of the pass, there’s a viewpoint where you can park up and admire the views.
11. Explore the Capital of Portree
Portree is one of Scotland’s most charming towns and is Skye’s capital. It is a great place to base yourself while visiting the island, especially as you will find several cozy accommodation options here.
Although only home to around 2,400 people, this small town has a lot to offer. Originally a tiny fishing village, Portree is now the largest settlement on the Isle of Skye.
Thanks to its location along the Sound of Raasay, you can go on wildlife-watching boat trips from here. You will also be in a good location for exploring the nearby area, including the Old Man of Storr and Sligachan.
As well as there being a couple of things to do in town, there are a few quaint cafes in Portree which serve local dishes.
12. Grab a Drink at Talisker Distillery
Talisker Distillery is the oldest functioning distillery on the island and dates back to 1830. It is in the village of Carbost, just a short walk from The Oyster Shed, so you can always visit both.
Visiting this distillery is one of the top things to do on the Isle of Skye. While here, you can go on a 1-hour guided tour. This tour will teach you about the distillery’s history and the whisky production process.
There are also a couple of tasting experiences that you can do, however, these don’t tend to include the full distillery tour. Or, you can do the tasting yourself, as there’s a bar outside.
13. Walk Around the Fairy Glen
The Fairy Glen is another popular spot on the Isle of Skye. Here, you will find unique landscapes of grass-covered mounds and rock circles, so you don’t want to miss out on this place.
The Fairy Glen is just a 6-minute drive from the village of Uig. There is a relatively small car park here if you are traveling by car. Once you’ve parked up, spend some time exploring the area.
One of the best things to do is hike up to Castle Ewen, although the path can be a little precarious if it is raining. The vistas from here are spectacular, and you will get a unique view of the stone circles.
Honestly, it doesn’t get much more magical than this. Scotland is a country full of folklore, and you will understand why once you visit the Fairy Glen.
14. Admire the Views From Rubha Hunish
The Isle of Skye is full of fantastic hikes, and Rubha Hunish is another incredible option. It’s the island’s northernmost tip and is located along the Trotternish Peninsula.
The car park for this hike is just off A855. However, there aren’t many spaces, so you will want to get here relatively early. From there, it’s a 5.25-mile (8.5 km) round-trip hike. This should take around 3-4 hours.
The route is challenging due to its steep sections, so take your time. On the way down, make sure you admire the views of the Outer Isles.
If you are heading to the Isle of Skye during the summer then Rubha Hunish is an excellent place for whale-watching.
15. Visit the Skye Museum of Island Life
The Skye Museum of Island Life will allow you to step back in time and experience what Skye would have been like 100 years ago.
Situated in Kilmuir, this incredible museum is an award-winning attraction that’s home to seven traditional thatched cottages. These consist of a weaver’s home, the old smithy, and a barn, so you will get to appreciate a variety of tools and equipment.
This incredible attraction has been open since 1965 and is a popular spot. Wandering around this museum is a truly unique experience, and there is a lot to see, so don’t rush your visit.
The Skye Museum of Island Life is open between mid-April to the end of September, but it is closed on Sundays.
16. Go on a Cruise to Loch Coruisk
Last but certainly not least, heading out on a cruise of Loch Coruisk is one of the best things to do on the Isle of Skye.
At nearly 2 miles (roughly 3.2km) long, Loch Coruisk is extremely impressive. This freshwater loch sits at the base of the Black Cuillin, so the scenery here will take your breath away.
Interestingly enough, this loch is believed to be home to a kelpie (or water horse), a magical shape-shifting creature. So make sure you keep your eyes peeled!
Although you can hike to Loch Coruisk, catching a boat is much quicker. The journey takes around 35 minutes. Then, you will have some free time to explore before going back to Elgol.
We’re Jack and Abbie, an adventure-loving couple that has a passion for travel. Throughout the years, we’ve hiked in the Indian Himalayas, explored the Amazon Rainforest, and swam with sharks in Sri Lanka.