Here are my top tips for Isle of Skye activities you should add to your road trip itinerary!
Cross the Skye Bridge
When you’re planning your Isle of Skye road trip you have two choices, take a ferry or drive across the Skye Bridge. There are two reasons that you should choose to drive: 1 – The road to the bridge takes you past the beautiful island castle Eilean Donan (featured in iconic 80’s masterpiece, Highlander, starring Sean Connery). And 2 – the experience of driving over the dramatic arch of the Skye Bridge, with Loch Alsh on one side and the Inner Sound on the other, is simply breathtaking. Note that this experience is not for those with gephyrophobia, you guys can go ahead and book that ferry crossing. Let’s just hope boats aren’t an issue.
Opt for Unique Accommodations on the Isle of Skye
There’s nothing that says travel like sleeping in absolutely ridiculous places. And let’s be honest, sometimes the places we choose to lay our heads can make or break a vacation. The Isle of Skye has no shortage of unique accommodations. Sure, you could stick with your average B&B or Airbnb apartment, but why do that when you could sleep in a wooden hut in the highland mountains? The unique stay of choice on our Isle of Skye itinerary was definitely the compact and budget friendly wigwam. You can find these wooden huts all over the UK, but there was something special about staying as close to nature on the Isle of Skye as possible.
We ended up flying by the seat of our pants and chose a beautiful location with friendly hosts; a very remote and rustic tiny cabin in Glasnakille, where we had an up close and personal run in with the Highland Coos and had sweeping views of Loch Scavaig. If you’re staying in this area be sure to explore the shore, the walking trails, and the sea caves below.
If cedar wood huts aren’t your thing, there are lots of extraordinary options for Isle of Skye accommodations, so don’t settle. Whether your style is more contemporary cottage chic, backpacker hostel, or Michelin star winning hotel-restaurant, there will be something to suit your style and budget.
Win Eternal Youth at the Fairy Pools
Set against the backdrop of the Cuillin mountains is a collection of rock pools fed by a succession of waterfalls. The crystal blue waters of the fairy pools are said to have magical properties that grant eternal youth and beauty, but only if you stick your face in for 7 seconds. In the summertime, when the pools are frequented by “wild swimmers” and the falls flow in gentle streams, this is all well and good. It takes a bit more grit and determination when it’s mid-October, pelting rain, and the water is rushing like whitewater rapids. But rest assured, it can be done.
Visit the Old Man of Storr
If you’re down for a potentially wet climb, head to the Trotternish Ridge and look out for the pinnacle rock that looms tall on the mountain. Legend has it a giant was buried on this ridge and his thumb was left jutting from the earth – time has turned it to stone and created a stunning monolith for us to marvel at. If you want to believe modern science (*exaggerated air quotes*) the formation was created from a giant landslide. No matter what story you go with, the hike up the ridge is a lot of fun – even in the misty rain. Watching your traveling companions slip and slide down the hill is all part of the experience.
Take in a jaw dropping view at the Quiraing
I have been to the Quiraing twice and it was just as awe-inspiring the second time. Don’t be intimidated by the twisty, narrow, one way track that leads up to the car park – it’s completely worth the perilous drive. Once you make it to the top you won’t even mind those chilly Scottish gales, you’ll be too busy wondering whether you just got transported back in time or to an alien planet. It’s that amazing, just trust me on this one. The pictures are stunning, and even they can’t convey how sensational this view is.
Be Blown Away at Kilt Rock
Another gem on the Trotternish Peninsula, Kilt Rock is a sheer cliff of basalt columns on a base of sandstone that mimics the pleats and tartan pattern of a kilt. With the sun hitting the rocks, Mealt falls rushing down to the sea, and the wind turning the safety fencing into penny whistles, it’s a truly magical scene to behold. Nearby you can also visit the nearby Staffin Ecomuseum to learn about Skye’s rich archaeological and geological history.
Go Hunting for Dinosaurs
Speaking of archaeology, the Isle of Skye looks like a Jurassic wonderland for a reason. Scientists have discovered that Skye was once home to a variety of dinosaurs during the Middle Jurassic Period including large plant eaters, carnivores, and even stegosaurs! If you have a passion for paleonology or happen to be traveling with children, you can find some remnants of these ancient beasts for yourself. Scour for tracks at An Corran Beach or Score Bay at low tide and get ready to walk in the footsteps of dinosaurs.
Explore a Castle
While you’re hunting for dinos at Score Bay in Duntulm, be sure to visit the haunting cliffside ruins of Duntulm Castle. Or, for a more hospitable noble experience, opt to wander the grounds of Armadale Castle and Gardens on the southern end of the isle, or find some seals at majestic Dunvegan Castle.
Hop on a Boat and Spot some Puffins
There is no shortage of options for viewing Skye’s beautiful coastline by boat, and what makes being on a boat so much better? Puffins. You don’t have to go to Iceland to view these long lived fast-fliers, plenty of them make their cliffside homes right here on Skye! Many boat trips will also afford the opportunity to spot other wildlife, like seals, eagles, maybe even whales – so be sure to get out on the water during your Isle of Skye road trip.
Have a Cheap Snack at Mackenzie’s Bakery
This wouldn’t be a complete article without a mention of food. Portree, the capital of Skye, will definitely be a stop on your Isle of Skye road trip. It’s definitely a tourist trap, but on my first visit to the isle I was introduced to Mackenzie’s Bakery – a small family owned shop where the prices don’t appear to have budged since 1975. So get yourself a delicious snack, a hot cocoa, and indulge in a day of shameless souvenir shopping. Anything wool is a fantastic choice.
Those are my top 10 things to do on an Isle of Skye road trip!
Add any or all of these activities to your Isle of Skye itinerary for a whirlwind of Scottish fun and magic. To make your trip a bit more interesting, toss in a couple of distillery tours. A few flights of whisky will certainly take the chill out after your foray into those fairy pools. Have you visited Skye? What were the highlights of your trip?