There’s a reason that the Isle of Skye is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Scotland — Skye is home to the perfect blend of ancient culture and history, magnificent nature, stunning scenery, and adventure.
Famed for the natural beauty of sights like Kilt Rock and being home to Scottish clans with rich history like Clan Donald, the Isle of Skye will not disappoint.
Skye has countless activities and attractions, from nature trails, historical sites, wildlife, spectacular views, and cultural experiences.
The Isle of Skye has so many alluring and exciting activities that it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer number of things to do.
Lucky for you, we’ve compiled the spots you absolutely should see on this fantastic isle with this handy local Skye guide so that you can enjoy every second of your holiday!
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Before entering Skye, the wonderfully curved Skye Bridge awaits visitors like a gatekeeper to the mythical Inner Hebrides.
Opened in 1995, Skye Bridge is a great reminder that you don’t only have to be practical when it comes to architectural design.
Skye Bridge connects Skye with the picturesque Eilean Bane, famous for Eilean Donan Castle.
Eilean Donan Castle is a terrific sight on your way to the Isle of Skye. It is famous for its Scottish history and location upon the meeting of three lochs (Loch Alsh, Duich, and Long).
Don’t let your adventure start once you reach Skye. Take a quick detour to Eilean Donan Castle before beginning your journey.
And once you’re ready, your trip across will make you realise that Skye Bridge represents something truly magical as you transition from Scotland into the Isle of Skye.
The main city of Skye is Portree, which acts as the sanctuary of civilisation when travelling through the Isle of Skye and is usually one of the first destinations visitors get to experience after arriving.
Skye’s largest town is home to many colourful rainbow houses and incredibly scenic views of the harbour, with entertainment in the many inviting restaurants for those that want to enjoy a more comfortable start to their journey.
Revel in a visit to the cultural Aros Centre, where many of Portee’s residents show off their Celtic pride, entrancing and informing watchers with jaw-dropping shows.
Kilt Rock & Mealt Waterfall
Northwest of Portree lies the fascinating Kilt Rock, a towering 90-metre tall sea cliff with tartan-like patterns across its cliff face.
This natural wonder of Skye is home to another top attraction on the Isle of Skye, the Mealt Waterfall.
This impressive waterfall cascades down from the cliff face into the Trotternish Peninsula. It is famous for its eerie sound that bears a striking resemblance to the melodic whistles of Scottish bagpipes.
You can witness this spectacular scenery from a viewing platform that gives an excellent vantage point of Kilt Rock and Mealt Waterfall. You can also see the expansive Trotternish Peninsula beyond it from this lookout point.
For lovers of the mystical and magical, the fairy pools near the village of Glen Brittle offer an absolute once-in-a-lifetime experience to immerse yourself in Scottish legends.
Legends say that these magical pools once attracted Selkies, which explains why the fairy pools hold a particular enchanting atmosphere.
It’s easy to get lost in the fantasy of Scotlands and its myths when you visit the fairy pools.
Whether you decide to dip your toes or brave a dive into the crystal clear water, no one can deny that the fairy pools are a delightful find even to those sceptical of these fantastic tales.
Dunvegan Castle & Gardens
Further north-west of the fairy pools lies the impressive Dunvegan castle and Loch Dunvegan, home to the chiefs of Clan Macleod for nearly a century, and which currently still holds the title for the ‘oldest continuously-inhabited castle’.
Clan Macleod remains one of the most prominent historic Celtic clans on the island of Skye and is a traveller’s key to unlocking a deeper look inside the remarkable family history and timeline of the Macleods.
The Fairy Flag of Dunvegan Castle, or “Am Bratach Sith” in the local language, remains in Dunvegan Castle and is rumoured to be enchanted. The Clan Macleod were said to use the flag when they waged battle, drawing upon its magic to emerge victoriously. Whether this is true or not, the fairy flag is an iconic symbol to this long-lived clan.
Dunvegan Castle is a must-see and provides an incredible opportunity to engage with the living history of Scotland to those who are willing to venture to these wondrous grounds near Loch Dunvegan.
Old Sligachan Bridge
Where the Black Mountains meet the western isle seaboard, you’ll find the mystical stone bridge that runs over River Sligachan on the Isle of Skye. This mesmerising Old Bridge is an ancient structure that breathes an innate curiosity to those who visit its cobbled stone.
Built around 1810 by Thomas Telford, Old Sligachan Bridge has been the subject of many postcard pictures and photos online for its beautiful surrounding landscape and historic design.
Old Sligachan Bridge often draws in visitors who want to take a personal photo and make long-lasting memories at this iconic location.
Join a journey over this legacy bridge and maybe even take a picture for your Facebook page on your next visit to the Isle of Skye.
The Black Cuillin Mountains
The dramatic mountain scenery presented by the Cuillin Mountains is a top-rated destination in the Isle of Skye for hikers, climbers, and experienced walkers.
The mountains form part of a ridge that spans 14-kilometres long and is 992-metres at its highest point.
They offer experienced hikers a variety of challenges depending on their skill level, with daring trails that give you stunning views of the Winged Isle of Skye.
When you set out on your climb, bring all the necessities with you, such as a bottle of water and weatherproof clothing.
These rocky mountains are recommended mainly for those with experience, but the Isle of Skye has many more relaxing trails to wander.
The mystical Fairy Glen is said to have been built by fairies and now beguiles those that enter into its rolling vistas.
There’s an otherworldly feel to the Glen, with roads that sweep up and down rounded hills and offer peaks at ponds and the curious rock formations like Castle Ewan.
The Isle of Skye has a long-standing history with fairies, and the Fairy Glen serves as one of the most enchanting places while visiting Skye.
Whether it’s the haunting magical atmosphere that settles itself over the Glen or the peculiar stone spirals that are everywhere, visitors will leave wanting to come back and experience the magic of the Fairy Glen time and time again.
Home to the famous Clan MacDonald, Clan Donald Centre, and the Museum of Isles, Armadale Castle is too close to Portree to miss out on.
Armadale Castle is one of the most visited attractions on the Isle of Skye. and although Clan MacDonald had left residency of the castle in 1925, this attraction still boasts incredible gardens and walking trails that allow you to get lost in the history of Celtic clans.
History buffs visiting Armadale Castle will be thrilled to learn about the MacDonald Clan like Flora MacDonald while at Clan Donald Centre, one of Scotland’s more romantic characters.
Historical figures like Flora MacDonald are one of many of the MacDonald Clan that have left their mark. The Armadale Castle and Clan Donald Centre allow visitors to get a peek into the fascinating history of the powerful MacDonald family. Definitely worth the trip!
Witness the Powerful Sea Eagles
The Isle of Skye also holds a vast amount of incredible wildlife, like the red deer. However, a short boat ride away reveals a truly extraordinary creature known as the white-tailed eagle or sea eagle.
These magnificent creatures are the largest birds of prey in Britain and can be seen while atop a pleasant boat cruise.
Both budding and experienced bird watchers will be in for a treat. Seeing these powerful birds as they swoop down near Portree harbour and catch fish alongside the locals and their fishing boats is a true example of the natural balance found on the Isle of Skye.
Neist Point Lighthouse
The Neist Point Lighthouse guards the westerly point of the Isle of Skye and can be travelled to through the city of Glendale.
This fully automatic lighthouse was originally constructed in 1909 and can be travelled to by taking a simple concrete path from the hiking trail parking lot.
The Lighthouse is a reputed hotspot for sunset walks, as the view from the ridgeline is simply spectacular to behold.
It serves as a popular venue for proposals and marriages, so consider the romantic Neist Point Lighthouse if you’re thinking of popping the question soon.
Keep in mind that it’s essential to take care when deciding which day you’d like to walk the trail up to the Lighthouse, as on particularly windy and wet days, the path can be steep and slippery.
On days when the weather isn’t in your favour, it’s best to view the Neist Point Lighthouse from the convenient viewing platform found at the base of the ridge.
On Loch Harport’s rugged shores, you’ll find Talisker Distillery, the oldest working whisky distillery on the Isle of Skye.
This distillery was founded in 1830 and continues to brew its whisky with defining flavours distinct to Talisker.
Talisker is one of only two credited whisky distilleries on Skye that are highly praised for their single malt Scotch whiskies and grants it with an exclusiveness that makes visiting this distillery on the top of your agenda.
To those that enjoy the taste of a complex and smooth Scotch whisky, you are one reservation away from sipping one of Skye’s finest distilleries while overlooking the serene Loch Harport and a spectacular view of the Black Cuillin Mountain range.
A short and easy trek from the Talisker Distillery lies the secretive Talisker Beach. This gorgeous, calm beach is the perfect choice for families and children wanting to enjoy a beach day.
Lay down the picnic blanket and snacks and relax as your kids explore the rock pools as the gentle waves navigate the rocky beach. Talisker is perfect for a day when all you want is a calm day to spend with the family.
Talisker Beach is also one of the only beaches on the Isle of Skye where surfing is also possible, given the right conditions, making many who visit it wonder if they’re in Scotland or Hawaii.
Navigate Skye Isle with Boat Trips
The Isle of Skye offers truly wondrous ways to experience the natural beauty of this truly magical place, from the back seat of your vehicle to hiking alongside the green pastures of Skye.
One of the best ways to experience the Isle is to hire one of the many boats that allow you to see Skye from a perspective that very few get to experience.
Trips lead passengers up close to views that can only be seen on the horizons while on the Isle of Skye, and places like the seal colony, Kilt Rock & Mealt Waterfall, Seaprobe Atlantic all offer visitors an unforgettable sea voyage.
The trip to Loch Corusisk is incredibly exclusive. This fresh water loch surrounded by the Black Mountains is only accessible by sailing through Elgol but is worth the voyage as the view of clouds tumbling over the mountains will take your breath away.
The Quiraing Vista
To experience the most natural beauty that Skye has to offer, look no further than the northernmost summit of the Trotternish, the Quiraing Vista.
The winding roads, pock pinnacles, and mountain formations stand as one of the most iconic symbols of untameable Scotland.
Nature lovers can experience the trail at their own pace, although you should allow around two hours for this 6.8-kilometre track.
Quiraing Vista is a part of Trotternish Ridge near Old Man of Storrs, a dream hike for anyone, whether you’re an experienced hiker or a casual one.
Just make sure you’re ready for the journey and, more importantly, prepared to capture the spectacular scenery of Skye.
The Old Man Of Storrs
A quick visit from Quiraing Vista leads you to the infamous Old Man Of Storrs, one of the highlights of your tour on the island of Skye.
People claim that visiting the Old Man of Storrs is similar to visiting a grandparent, with an atmosphere of innate comfort settling over those who see him.
The Old Man Of Storr is easily the most recognisable rocky outcrop out of an awe-inspiring collection of rock pinnacles that stretch on for miles and miles.
Tall and proud, The Old Man remains one of the most ancient parts of Trotternish Ridge.
And like an old man, it is happy to welcome visitors to join it in its watch over the island of Skye.
Dinosaur Tracks at An Corran
You heard us right, dinosaurs! The tracks of these ancient and incredible behemoths can be found near An Corran and Staffin Beach, where you may be able to spot the fossilised footprints of giants, with some being as large as 50-centimetres in width.
These are the youngest and largest dinosaur fossils in Scotland, estimated to be around 160 million years old. It’s fascinating to imagine what was happening millions of years ago on Skye!
The dinosaur tracks are a perfect place to take your child or palaeontologist friend who is obsessed with these ancient beings. You may find yourself being obsessed as well.
Skye Museum of Island Life
The Skye Museum of Island Life offers a glimpse into the lives of the people on Skye that lived here 100 years ago.
The Museum of Island Life is found near the town of Kilmuir and allows you to learn about the lives of 19th-century Scottish villagers, with authentic thatched cottages that are untouched from the time.
The Skye Museum also looks at the politics of Clans in Skye, including the highland clearances that took place in Scotland and Skye as time went on, leaving many areas such as the Skye Museum of Island Life and Boreraig empty.
Immerse yourself in the rich history of how fine craftsmanship, loom work, and architecture, or wander into the shingled homes that have been preserved and imagine what island life would’ve been like for the people here so long ago.
Bog Myrtle Cafe
It’s important to occasionally take a break from sightseeing and relax with excellent food and drink after a long day’s travel.
Bog Myrtle Cafe is the perfect, homely spot to kick back and enjoy the tranquillity of Skye. The cafe offers an incredible range of sweet treats, fresh homemade baked goods, and roasted coffee that you can enjoy there.
We know that you’ll definitely be taking some extras home with you!
When Skye becomes rainy, they even offer hot chocolate and the option to read an old book as the rain pitter-patters against the window.
Although with the breathtaking views of Loch Harport and the Cuillins that Bog Myrtle Cafe provides, you may not be able to turn your head away.
Kylerhea Otter Hideaway
Kylerhea is one of the best places in Scotland and the Inner Hebrides to view otters in their natural habitat.
Better yet, the viewing shelter offers unparalleled sights of Kylerhea and how cute and cuddly otters truly are and is but a short trail walk away from the car park!
Kylerhea Otter Hideaway was a little something for everyone, whether you’re a lover of gorgeous scenery or aquatic wildlife.
The Kylerhead Otter Hideaway is the only place on the island of Skye where you can enjoy otters, an opportunity that should not be missed for those that can’t help but love these adorable mammals.
While on Elgol Beach, you will receive views of the Cuillin Mountains, unlike anywhere else on the island of Skye.
This pristine beach location is right next to the homely hamlet of Elgol, a short ride away from the larger town of Broadford.
Make no mistake, however, Elgol is definitely worth checking out for an afternoon when the weather is beautiful and you’re craving a comforting beach and sunsoaked holiday.
Elgol Beach is a hub of activity for boat cruises up to Loch Corusisk, and by itself is a fantastic place to take in the fresh air and explore the cliffs and caverns.
In fact, near Elgol Beach lies the very cave that Bonnie Prince Charlie was hidden by Flora MacDonald, which makes this beach breathtaking and the perfect location on Skye for a romantic walk at sunset.
For those that love the idea of trail walks, there is no better place on the island of Skye to experience a view of the Outer Hebrides than a stroll through Rubha Hunish.
Outer Western Isles such as Lewis, Harris, and Uist can be seen on clear days, or if your interest is focused on Skye, this trail allows views unlike any other of the magnificent Duntulm Castle.
The spectacular scenery offered from the high cliffs of Rubha Hunish is unparalleled, with Scotland’s highlands behind you and the expansive sea in front of you stretching to the horizon. There is even a chance of seeing the elusive Minke Whale from Rubha Hunish.
Axe-Throwing at A.C.E Target Sports
Hone your aim at A.C.E Target Sports, the home of daring target-based sports found just outside of Portree. Many of the activities you can do at A.C.E Target Sports call back to how weapons were wielded on Skye by Celtic clans.
A.C.E. offers various adrenaline-pumping sports for you to participate in, such as axe-throwing, air-rifle shooting, and clay target shooting. These are some of the best outdoor activities on the Isle Skye.
Take part and show off your skills in many of the tournaments that A.C.E holds, or hold an event or party there yourself!
Isle of Skye Highland Games
In August almost every year since 1877, the Isle of Skye Highland Games is a celebration of Scottish heritage on Scotland’s highlands.
Everything from piping, dancing, and even sailing and rowing can be seen and enjoyed throughout the day-long event.
There is no better way to integrate yourself into Scottish and Skye Isle culture than to participate yourself, and many of the events are open to entry on the day they are held! Fancy your strength in the tug-of-war?
Experience true highland tradition amongst thousands of locals at one of the most popular calendar events found on the island of Skye.
During the Autumn and Winter months, something truly magical happens on the Isle of Skye. The Northern Lights dance along the night sky and can be seen from the island’s northernmost points.
Keep in mind that the Northern Lights don’t come out to dance every night, so for the best chance to witness this earthly miracle, make sure you stay in Skye for a couple of days at least!
The lights can be seen best where the light pollution is low and the nights are cold and clear of skies. Skye is one of the best places to experience the Northern Lights and is a photographer’s dream.
Dunvegan Seal Boat Trip
Don’t miss out and visit the friendly seal colony found only a short boat trip away from Dunvegan Castle. This is the best way to see these seals and wave hello to one of the original residents of the Isle of Skye.
With hundreds of seals scattered on the rocky islands on Loch Dunvegan, you’ll be able to get extremely close to these often lazing mammals and snap some clear and quality pictures of the adorable wildlife.
The trip also offers the opportunity to fish with the local fisherman, who are experts at catching fish off the island, while enjoying the incredible views of the Outer Hebrides. Whether you want to keep the fish for that evening’s dinner or throw them out to feed the seals is up to you.
Visit the Ruined Town of Boreraig
The town of Boreraig was originally home to 120 residents but was cleared by the MacDonald Clan in 1853. It now stands as a beautiful look into the history of Skye instead.
These structures are an example of some of the highland clearances that took place in Skye and Scotland as the clans who owned the land began to change their priorities over the years.
Now, the old and weathered stone buildings still stand in striking green pastures and are a testament to resistance against change in Scotland, definitely worth a visit.
The Distillery at Torabhaig
The Torabahig Distillery is one of Skye’s only two whisky distilleries. The Torabhaig Distillery offers a refined taste of the single malt Scotch whisky and a scenic view of the Isle of Skye to accompany it.
Many people tour the distilleries one after the other, going from Talisker to Torabhaig and then to Raasay, the only distillery outside Skye.
The best part is enjoying the local malts while sitting down by the cafe, where excellent service elevates the experience of tasting a range of craft Scotch whisky with a selection of hearty soups and sandwiches.
Camas Daraich Beach
It’s easy to overlook Camas Daraich Beach for some of the other major attractions on the Isle of Skye, but this is a sore mistake.
At one of the Southernmost tips found in the Sleat peninsula, the beach is often mistaken for a Mediterranean coast with its sandy beach and soft blue waters.
It’s so far South that it’s easy to see mainland Scotland from its shore and the nearby island of Rum!
Camas Daraich Beach is one of the hidden highlights of those that visit the island and are too close to sites like Armadale Castle to miss out on.
Count the Scattered Brochs
These Pictish round towers scatter the landscape of Skye. They are a peculiar and mysterious attraction to visitors of the island.
Their origins are unknown, but some historians say they may have served as defensive positions along the island to ward off invaders onto the Isle of Skye. Still, their true purpose hasn’t been definitively unearthed just yet.
Walking within their stone structure evokes the imagery of battles all over the Isle of Skye and tempts those who visit to see if their true purpose will be revealed.
The Oyster Shed
With menus that burst with flavour, a bar stocked fill with beers, wines, and spirits, as well as spectacular lochside views, the Oyster Shed has it all.
Whether you want to feel like one of the locals and watch the rugby while drinking Guinness, or you want a fantastic place to eat before jetting off to the next attraction on Skye, the Oyster shed can accommodate all your needs and more.
This local hotspot is family-owned, and while it isn’t as glamourous as your typical seafood restaurant, the quality of the food and service is undeniably excellent.
With so much to do on the amazing Isle of Skye, you may just need to extend your trip!
Other Things To Do in Scottish Isles
- Things to do in Arran
- Things to do in Harris
- Things to do in Isle of Lewis
- Things to do in North & South Uist
- Things to do in Portree
- Things to do in Stornoway