A slow travel guide to the Isle of Skye, Scotland
If you follow me on Instagram, you’re probably already pretty aware that I fell totally in love with the Isle of Skye during our trip last week. I’d heard that it was beautiful, but I wasn’t quite prepared for just how special our time there would be. Skye is like nowhere I’ve ever been before - it has this magical quality that is only amplified by the breathtaking landscapes and interesting history.
So many of you got in touch to ask for tips or recommendations for the Isle of Skye, and so I thought I’d put a little guide together. If you’re looking for somewhere to visit where you can both embrace a slower pace of travel and still have tonnes to see and do on your doorstep, I’d thoroughly recommend it.
Here’s my slow travel guide to the Isle of Skye…
A SLOW TRAVEL GUIDE TO THE ISLE OF SKYE, SCOTLAND
WHEN TO VISIT
Skye is renowned for being pretty grey, and so the drier summer months tend to be the most popular time to visit. That being said, we visited during the Easter week and were surprised to experience beautiful blue skies and warm temperatures for the majority of our trip. If you can avoid the months of July and August you’ll find that accommodation is cheaper and the roads will be quieter too (an important factor given how many of the roads are single track).
A majority of the attractions and eateries we visited had only just reopened after the winter season, so to get the full island experience, I’d recommend visiting between April and October.
We decided to drive up to Skye - my husband spent some of our trip there writing some songs for his new album, and so it was much easier to drive up in our car, rather than trying to navigate planes or trains with all of his guitars and equipment.
The journey was long (around 450 miles from Leeds), but we broke it up with a night in Loch Lomond which definitely helped, and it was lovely to see that area too. The drive itself is very beautiful, winding along the banks of beautiful lochs and through the Scottish highlands. We entered the island using the Skye bridge, although there are ferries from various locations too.
If you don’t fancy the drive, your best bet is to fly to Inverness and hire a car there for the last leg of the journey. It’s possible to use public transport to get from Inverness to Skye, but I think to see as much as the island as possible, it’s best to have your own form of transport.
WHERE TO STAY
One of the key factors that made our time on the Isle of Skye so special was the beautiful lodge we stayed at. We booked Piper’s Lodge via Wilderness Cottages, and it was absolutely perfect. It was in a very remote part of the island which meant that we were never disturbed, and the views were incredible. Plus, it had a gigantic hot tub, brilliantly equipped kitchen and the biggest bath I’ve ever had the pleasure of soaking in. If you’re travelling as a couple and want somewhere where you can truly relax, I couldn’t recommend this place more.
If you’re looking for something more central, the areas of Portree or Broadford are probably your best bet. Both are well connected to the main roads and are well set up for tourists, with plenty of restaurants and shops.
WHAT TO SEE & DO
I was really surprised by just how much there is to do on the Isle of Skye. We were there for a whole week and there were still some places that we didn’t manage to get to, but what we did see and do was great. Here are some of the sights and spots I’d recommend…
A truly spectacular place to head out for a hike, the Quiraing is one of the most stunning landscapes I’ve ever seen in real life - it looks like something out of Lord of the Rings! If you hike the main route you’ll be rewarded with beautiful views of Staffin Bay and beyond.
If you choose not to stay in Portree, it’s still well worth a visit to this pretty harbour town. Think pastel coloured shop fronts, cute shops, and plenty of places to grab a bite to eat.
This is a popular spot with tourists but for good reason - the waterfalls and turquoise pool have a totally magical feel to them. This would make a good spot for wild swimming if you’re brave enough!
Claigan Coral Beach
I had no idea that beaches this beautiful existed in the UK - think perfect white sands, crystal clear turquoise waters, and hardly anybody around. It was total bliss.
Neist Point Lighthouse
This lighthouse sits on the most westerly point of Skye, making it a brilliant place to head for a spot of sunset viewing. It can get pretty windy out here, so make sure you wrap up warm.
Another beautiful beach that was almost completely deserted - I think we saw 3 other people in the hour and a half we were there. There’s also a peacock farm near to where you park and there were about 20 peacocks just casually strutting around.
Staffin Beach is a beautiful beach in itself, but what makes it super cool is that you can see ACTUAL DINOSAUR FOOTPRINTS in the rocks nearby. How awesome is that?!
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK
As we had such a well equipped kitchen at our little lodge we ate most of our meals at home, but we did try a couple of the food and drink options that the island has to offer, and we were super impressed!
The Three Chimneys
I’m gonna be bold here - this was the best meal I have ever eaten in my entire life. We went for lunch on our last day and it was a truly special experience - the flavour combinations were perfect, the ingredients were really fresh (with some of the seafood caught right outside of the restaurant), and the service was great too.
It’s not cheap, and you’ll have to book quite far in advance to get a table, but trust me when I tell you that it’s absolutely worth it!
This is the oldest pub on Skye, and a brilliant spot to sit and watch the sunset with some delicious food and a pint if you’re lucky enough to get a sunny evening. Just don’t forget your insect repellent.
A visit to the Talisker Distillery was high on my husband’s to do list, and I was surprised to find that I actually really enjoyed it too! The tour was very informative, and we even got to try a wee dram of whiskey at the end. Plus the area surrounding the distillery is absolutely stunning.
Caora Dhubh Coffee Company
Sitting opposite the Talisker Distillery is Caora Dhubh Coffee Company. It’s the perfect place to pick up a flat white, and the cakes looked pretty delicious too.
Isle of Skye Brewery
We passed the Isle of Skye Brewery on our way to the Quiraing, and couldn’t resist stopping to pick up a couple of bottles of local beer. The choice is pretty impressive, and we really enjoyed the selection of craft lagers and ales we bought.
OTHER THINGS WORTH KNOWING
Apart from the main roads that connect the island, the rest of the roads are single track, with passing places dotted along to allow cars to pass each other. We got the hang of driving on the single track roads pretty quickly, but if you can arrive on the island in daylight, your journey will be a little easier.
Shops and supermarkets on the Isle of Skye are sparse, with just the odd Co-op and corner shop. You can get your hands on most essentials, but if there’s anything specific you want it might be worth stocking up in advance. We stopped in Fort William on the way up and did a big food shop there which worked well for us.
There are quite a few spots on the island where you’ll struggle to get a phone signal - save any routes down in advance, or perhaps go old fashioned and take a map. Mark on any important spots, such as where you’re staying and where the petrol stations are.
The real magic of Skye lies in slowing down and appreciating all of the beauty that island has to offer. Try not to head there with a jam packed itinerary, and instead give yourself enough time to soak up the gorgeous landscapes and incredible views.
There you have it, my slow travel guide to the Isle of Skye, Scotland. Have you visited Skye before? Is it on your travel bucket list?