I’ve seen other bloggers say that you can do Scotland’s Isle of Skye in a day, but I disagree.
Skye is a large island, and there is loads to see. I think you need 2 days minimum to see the major sights on Skye. To explore the island at a slow pace, it would be easy to spend a whole week hiking around the pretty landscapes and visiting the historic ruins and viewpoints.
For my trip around Scotland, I decided to book 3 nights in Portree, leaving 2 full days in between to sightsee around the island. It was just enough, though I did feel a little rushed. There were a few things that we missed because we ran out of time, or because the weather wasn’t great. Skye deserves a relaxed pace to be properly appreciated.
There are two major driving loops that you can do on Skye – one around the north and one out to the west. For our trip, we rented a car and based ourselves in Portree and did one driving loop per day. Here’s my perfect Isle of Skye itinerary for 2 days on the island!
0 – Portree
1 – Dunvegan Castle
2 – Neist Point Lighthouse
3 – Talisker Distillery
4 – The Fairy Pools
5 – Sligachan Old Bridge
6 – Old Man of Storr
7 – Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls
8 – Duntulum Castle
9 – Uig
10 – The Fairy Glen
Where to stay:
We stayed in an Airbnb cottage in Portree – the biggest town on Skye. It was a surprisingly good find, as the photos on the Airbnb listing looked average but the reviews were great. The cottage turned out to be totally adorable, and it was one of the few places that we could find with 2 double bedrooms for ourselves and our other married friends (yep, that’s right – we go on married couple trips now).
Day one itinerary:
Get ready for a big day of exploration! This day includes the most driving with much of the journey following narrow, single lane roads, which take you to some of the most spectacular spots on the island. Make sure your camera battery is fully charged and that your SD card has plenty of room for photos!
1. Dunvegan Castle
Start your morning by driving out to Dunvegan Castle. This 13th century castle is home to the MacLeod clan, and is pretty neat to walk through with its historic displays. The gardens here are absolutely gorgeous, so make sure you put aside time to explore the outdoor areas as well.
2. Neist Point Lighthouse
Next, head out to Neist Point Lighthouse. You may have seen photos of this spectacular peninsula already as this is one of the most iconic places on Skye. You can walk down to the lighthouse from the car park, but we opted to instead walk along the cliff edge until we found the famous photo spot. Be prepared – this walk can be muddy!
As you drive back past Dunvegan, you can stop for lunch as there are a few cafes nearby. We went to the Lochside Crafts & Tea Room for some tasty toasties.
3. Talisker Distillery
After lunch, head south to the town of Carbost where you’ll find Talisker Distillery – the oldest (and for a long time, the only) distillery on Skye. Many visitors choose to take a tour, but if you want to do this, be sure to book ahead as the tours fill up quickly. We ended up doing some tastings in the bar and reading about the history on the visitor center displays instead.
4. The Fairy Pools
Next up is the Fairy Pools, which I found absolutely magical! This waterfall cascades down into numerous smaller pools, and you can climb all over the rocks to get some amazing photos with the scenic mountain backdrop.
The pools require a bit of a walk, and I might add that this walk can be muddy and has a river crossing (in which everyone in our party got their shoes wet – even the ones wearing waterproof hiking boots!), but it was totally worth the soaked socks.
5. Sligachan Old Bridge
On your way back to Portree, stop at the Sligachan Old Bridge for a photo op. This stone bridge is totally adorable and is surrounded by gorgeous scenery.
Day two itinerary:
It’s best to start day two early so that you can beat the crowds. We made the mistake of leaving around 9:30 AM and we ended up struggling to find parking and available seats at cafes. I’d suggest an 8:30 AM start if you can drag yourself out of bed that early.
6. Old Man of Storr
Start the day by driving north to Old Man of Storr – a spectacular rocky outcrop with views that will blow your mind. The muddy hike up to the lookout takes about 2 hours return. Remember to take some water and snacks!
You’ll probably want a big lunch after that hike, so head straight to the town of Staffin and grab a table at one of the cafes – try the Skye Pie Cafe, Telford Tea Rooms, or Columba 1400 restaurant. We arrived at Staffin around 1:00 PM and all of these options were full up, so we unfortunately had to settle for a soup at the local grocery store! If you get there earlier, you may have more luck.
7. Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls
After lunch, it’s time for a photo stop at the Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls viewpoint. The scenery here is 100% gorgeous. We even had a busker turn up and play us some Scottish tunes on the bagpipes while we admired the view from the cliffs. What a dream!
8. Duntulum Castle
Drive onwards to the northernmost point on Skye. We stopped at Duntulum Castle for a quick look at the ruins with their ocean backdrop, but were caught in a rain storm 5 minutes in and had to quickly retreat to the car. I got back first and managed to escape the worst of it, but everyone else got thoroughly drenched! Fun times.
Next stop is the township of Uig, which holds the Isle of Skye Brewing Co. It’s unfortunate that the onsite shop doesn’t have a tasting room (whyyyyyy!?) but you can purchase some of their bottled brews to enjoy later.
10. The Fairy Glen
The Fairy Glen (not to be confused with the Fairy Pools that we did on day one) is not far from Uig. The Fairy Glen is a magical little grassy spot with rocks arranged in mysterious patterns. We unfortunately missed this spot, which I am quite devastated about because I’ve heard that it is really lovely! From here, it’s back to Portree for your last night on Skye.
A few tips for your trip to Skye:
- Download offline maps. You’ll find that there are a few places on Skye which have no phone reception, so if you’re relying on Google Maps to get around, download the map area before you head out.
- Take a raincoat (if you have one). Umbrellas are inferior as the wind will pick them up!
- Wear layers. The weather on Skye can change in 5 seconds (literally!) so be prepared for anything.
- Take waterproof shoes, like gumboots or hiking boots. It’s muddy!
You might also like: