Updated: Oct 2, 2020
The Isle of Skye is a major tourist destination, and for very good reason. The scenery here is stunning. When it comes to Scotland, you’ll be hard pressed to find a place with such a vast amount of scenic spots as you'll find on Skye.
You can see most of the popular spots in a day or two, but there’s so much more to see which could take a week or more to explore. Unfortunately due to not having a car when I explored the isle, I was limited to what I could see, but I did see the most popular spots, which are the places I’ve included below. I had to miss places such as Rha Waterfall, Brothers Point and Spar Cave, which was unfortunate, but they will be on my list if I plan to return at a later date.
I think a car is essential if you want to make the most of your trip, although I would recommend a day with Skye Scenic tours who will take you to some of the best sights, as Donald who organises the tours was a very informative guide with a good amount of Scottish humour added in. You won’t get this type of knowledge from exploring yourself and googling information, so sometimes a guide can be well worth while.
The capital of Skye is a good location to use as a base. There’s plenty of accommodation here, and it’s quite a colourful and pretty portside town. There are places to explore such as the colourful houses on Quay Street, the Apothecary Tower on the Lump or simply checking out the local pubs and restaurants.
Old Man of Storr
The most famous sight on Skye is a rock pinnacle (the Old Man) which stands on a hill (the Storr). The hike can be tough, and it will likely be the busiest hike you’ll undertake on the island. The problems I encountered were mostly once I reached the top. I was literally blown over a few times due to the high winds, which meant I didn’t dare climb on some areas I’d wanted to for unique photos. The other issue was getting down. Where it had been wet weather the day before, there were lots of mudslides, so it took some time to descend safely.
On a calm sunny day, you shouldn’t have too many issues getting up there and back, but if the weather turns, it can be a little dangerous in places.
Still, the hike was fun and it’s definitely worth the climb to the top viewpoint. You can also get right up close to the Old Man, even though there is a sign advising not to continue past “this point”, it is widely ignored.
Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls
I was somewhat underwhelmed by these two sights located next to one another. Kilt rock gets its name due to looking like a kilt, which in all honesty I guess it did.
Mealt Falls is a little more impressive than Kilt Rock, being a tall waterfall which flows of a cliff into the sea. But I don’t imagine you’ll spend too long here. Stop by for 5 minutes as you pass on your way to other destinations to take a few photos and you’ll be back on your way.
I found fairy glen to be the most impressive sight on the Isle of Skye. It actually felt quite eerie being here. There are lots of uniquely textured hills here as well as spiral circles on the ground. At one time these spirals would have several small stones added to them to give a more mystical effect. However the locals have removed these and there are now signs up to deter people from adding stones. I really can’t understand why this is, as I think it looked much better with the stones.
Although you’re unlikely to see any fairies here, and the area apparently has nothing to do with fairies, this was at one time considered a place evil. There are many rowan trees surrounding the area, which are there to deter evil (including evil fairies) from entering.
Again, a place that doesn’t really have anything to do with fairies, but the name certainly adds to its appeal.
I arrived quite early in the morning but it was still overcrowded with tourists. The area is actually a lot larger than I had imagined, the various pools go on for quite a way. You can clamber over the rocks whilst exploring the area and in warmer weather, it’s not uncommon to see people swimming in some of the deeper pools here.
Neist Point Lighthouse
To be honest, I considered this to be the least impressive sight on Skye, but the couple with me on the tour considered it their favourite. Being the furthest point west on the island, I have heard that the best time to visit here is at sunset.
You can hike along the cliffs here, and you’ll get good views of the lighthouse, but if it’s a really clear day then you’ll also see the Outer Hebrides.
I didn’t actually walk towards the lighthouse, but I believe this is possible and there will likely be some stunning views of the surrounding cliffs from there.
Before visiting the Quiraing, I wasn’t too fussed about it as I didn’t know exactly what it was. It’s actually a landslip with some beautiful surroundings. There are various hikes you can take around here, but it can be quite dangerous in bad weather. When I began my hike it was clear skies, so I was able to go quite some way and see some beautiful views. The ledges can at times be quite narrow, so make sure you watch your footing. Unfortunately for me, the weather turned bad after about an hour into my hike and I had to rush back down before it got worse. The high winds and rain made it quite tough to navigate the narrow ledges and clamber across the now slippery rocks. I’d suggest being prepared for the weather to change quickly, and reconsider if the forecast looks bad.
Sligachan is located a 15 minute drive south of Portree and it’s here that you’ll find Sligachan Old Bridge. Usually the river is quite dried up underneath, which makes the bridge look older and more impressive in my opinion. However due to recent heavy rain when I visited, the river was fully flowing.
There are several hikes you can take from here, one of which leads south to a loch, but it is quite a long hike. You can also head to the nearby Sligachan falls, which has some beautiful highland scenery around the small waterfall.
Eilean Donan Castle
Whilst not on the Isle of Skye itself, I’d recommend a visit to Eilean Donan as you are on your way to or from Skye. It’s about an hour’s drive from Skye, and if you’re travelling by car it’s very likely you’ll pass it on the way. If you’re going to visit a castle whilst in Scotland, then this is certainly one of the most impressive.
Eilean Donan has been used in several movies, “Highlander”, “The Wicker Man” and one of my favourite rom-coms “Made of Honor”.
It’s worth a quick look inside, but for me it’s the scenic views of the bridge leading up to the castle that took my breath away.
One thing I didn’t understand here was that I was not allowed to take photos on the bridge as I was walking to the castle, but on my return I was allowed to.