There are so many spectacular things to see and do on the Isle of Skye, particularly if you’re a fan of road trips, being outdoors, hiking, and swimming. It’s truly a paradise of unspoiled natural beauty, and it can be overwhelming to try to narrow down the list of the incredible sites to see on the Isle. Here is a list of 10 of the things we loved doing the most on the Isle of Skye, in no particular order, that are sure to make you fall in love with the land of my ancestors just as we did!
If you only have time to visit 2-3 of the places on this list, my favorites were numbers 2,3, and 4/5, simply because of how incredibly beautiful they were. We simply have nothing that compares to the beauty of these places in Michigan where I live, and it was just such a spectacular display of how beautiful and powerful nature can be. I hope you get to visit all of the places on this list and more during your time on the Isle of Skye. You’re going to have such an incredible adventure!
- Visit Eilean Donan CastleEilean Donan Castle has an incredible history stretching back nearly 1500 years, and although what stands today was a reconstruction completed in the early 1900s, it’s a testament to Scotland’s tenacity and desire to remember and celebrate its past. Read all about Scotland’s most photographed castle in my guide to visiting the castle here.
- Explore the Fairy GlennThe Fairy Glenn was a place I’ve wanted to visit for years. Famous for it’s many hills with spiral hillsides, carved by grazing sheep, the Fairy Glenn feels mysterious and inviting all t once. It was the most beautiful place for a picnic during our 5th wedding anniversary trip, and we had such a gorgeous time wandering the hills, sitting amongst the ferns, and enjoying the various vantage points that the area offers.Parking is free but sparse, so be sure to arrive early and avoid crowds like we did. There’s also a gorgeous fish pond and benches, making it such a wonderful place to relax, meditate, do yoga, or simply enjoy being in nature.
- Swim in the Fairy PoolsThe Fairy Pools was another place I’ve always wanted to visit, and was where we decided to renew our vows. After renewing our vows, we went for a swim in the gorgeous turquoise waters that were fed by snowmelt from the surrounding Cuillin Hills and natural springs. It was crystal clear, briskly cold, and so invigorating. My only regret about this place is that we didn’t have more than half a day to spend hiking and swimming here.Do not go here without first buying Biting Midge Fly Repellant. They are everywhere and completely ignore you if you wear it, and will eat you alive if you don’t have it on. We saw some people who didn’t have any covered in red, itchy welts and it was brutal.Read all about how to visit the Fairy Pools, where to park, when to visit, what to bring, and much more in my guide to visiting the pools, here.
- Marvel at Kilt RockKilt Rock is an incredible seaside rock formation, weathered by century after century of sea waves crashing ashore and eroding the rock. Along the rocks grows some of the most beautiful purple heather, delicate ferns, and other common Highland plants and grasses. The views from Kilt Rock are simply breathtaking. On clear days like the one we had when visiting, you can see for miles and admire the natural beauty of Scotland.We visited during the season when whales and dolphins have their young, and saw some jumping out of the water in the distance, since they like to bring their babies to shallower waters to feed and teach them survival skills away from predators. It was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen in my life and the beauty of it all brought tears to my eyes!Scotland is unbelievable!
- Admire Mealt FallsIf you were to look to the immediate left of where the photograph above was taken, you would see Mealt Falls, one of Scotland’s most powerful and spectacular waterfalls, plunging directly into the sea. Fed by Loch Mealt (hence the name), the water falls onto the beautiful basalt columns shown at the bottom of the above photograph. At around 60m high, this impressive force of nature churns the water below it, casts rainbows at the right angle, and adds an incredible sense of wonder to an already breathtaking landscape. Both Kilt Rock & Mealt Falls are accessible from the same parking lot, and visitors need only walk a short distance to see them both. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a puffin here!Not pictured in the image above were the adorable sheep wandering about making short work of the tall grass above the waterfall.
- Visit Neist Point LighthouseContinue walking down along the cliffside path pictured above to reach one of Scotland’s most famous lighthouses. We didn’t get much closer to the Light than where we stood to take this photograph, but it was a beautiful site to marvel at the cliffside and look for breaching whales or dolphins!
- See the Beautiful Views from Portree, Skye’s Capital CityPortree is many people’s first stop when heading into the Isle of Skye. Skye’s capital and largest city, Portree is a great place to fuel up, grab snacks and water, and it serves as the gateway of sorts to the beautiful, wild Highlands. While you’re in town, be sure to head down to the water to enjoy the gorgeous mountain views, see the many pastel colored building fronts, watch fishing boats come and go, and enjoy the fresh sea breeze. My Portree travel guide will be out soon.
- Hike the CuillinsThe Cuillin Hills surrounds the Fairy Pools, so if you’re headed to #3 on this list, you’ll already be most of the way to the Cuillins! Occupying nearly 90 square miles of the Highlands, these hills are popular camping and hiking spots, but be warned that while much of the hills is easy hiking, some of it can be very dangerous. Loose rocks and slippery footholds can make getting injured or worse very easy if you’re inexperienced. Be sure to stick to marked trails, let someone know where you’re going and when you plan to return, pack out what you bring in, and you’ll have an excellent time.
- Visit Hector’s Highland CoosOne of the main things on my Scottish Bucketlist was seeing adorable Highland Cows (or “coos” as they’re referred to in Scotland), and I was so sad when I couldn’t find them roaming around wildly. On our fifth day on the Isle of Skye, we came across Hector’s Highland Coos simply by chance, and after a quick Google search to confirm that we could visit and that it wasn’t private land, I skipped on over to a massive pen of beautiful Highland Coos grazing happily in the mist.We made a generous donation at the box at the front of the pen because we were so grateful for the chance to see these wee beasties, and spent some time admiring and photographing them. They all looked so happy and healthy and had tons of space to roam, so much so in fact that we couldn’t see the far end of their pasture, so stop by and admire these beautiful little darlings.I recommend bringing a telephoto lens so that you can get some great close ups of coos that may be far away from the fence.
- Hike the Quiraing If you’re courageous enough to drive up this terrifying, hairpin turn hill that only has one lane for traffic coming and going, head up the Quiraing, which is a series of landslides (some of which are still sliding and may occasionally occlude the roads), to hike and experience some of the most incredible landscapes in all of Scotland. From the top you can see the see (off to the left of this photo), and winding trails that will make you feel like you’re part of the Fellowship in the Lord of the Rings.The views alone are worth the 1-2 hour trek up here, and if you feel like hiking for a few hours, there’s probably nowhere better in all of the United Kingdom to do so. Just be sure to stay away from the edges of the many cresty hills, because as I mentioned the ground is unstable and some people have been injured or lost their lives getting too close to the edges without realizing how unstable the ground is. If you’re walking along common walking trails, you’ll be perfectly fine.
I hope you find these suggestions for 10 incredible things to see and do on the Isle of Skye useful when planning your trip. I can’t begin to describe how much my husband and I absolutely adored our time in Scotland, and I want these guides to serve as aides so that all of my readers can plan the absolute best trip to this beautiful region of Scotland. As always, all photos are entirely my own – I hope you enjoyed them!
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