How big is the Isle of Skye?
Skye is its own island connected to mainland Scotland via a small bridge. It’s honestly not that far from mainland Scotland, but still, it’s own island!
The Isle of Skye isn’t overly big, which makes it perfect for exploring.
The Island is 50 miles long and 25 miles wide.
The “capital” is Portree, other villages include Dunvegan, Staffin, Uig, Carbost, Broadford, Kyleakin, and Armadale.
Theoretically you can drive around the Isle of Skye in half a day without stopping (but what would be the point in that!)
How long do I need on the Isle of Skye?
This totally depends on how much time you have to spend on your trip. Lots of people opt for day tours to Skye usually formed as part of a wider adventure to Scotland on a scheduled tour, such as this one here.
However, I honestly think that trying to see EVERYTHING the Isle of Skye has to offer in just one day is impossible and it must feel rushed when you’re doing it.
But of course if all you have is a day, then you should still visit.
On the other hand, those who have their vehicles have the luxury of road tripping the Isle of Skye which gives you the time and flexibility to see everything this small but mighty island has to offer.
We spent 3 days on Skye and think this is the perfect amount of time to experience all the best things to do in the Isle of Skye!
Hence why this is a 3 day Isle of Skye itinerary!
When is the best time to visit the Isle of Skye?
Well technically you can visit the Isle of Skye all year round, but Bradley and I visited in the off-season which was November time.
If you want fewer crowds and autumn colours, then we suggest that you visit at a similar time to us (but do note that some Skye attractions will be closed for the season, but not the best ones!)
However if you seek warmer weather and sunshine, then spring, summer is going to be your best bet, BUT of course, naturally, everything is going to be a lot busier then.
So it’s really up to you and how you prefer to travel, but the Isle of Skye will offer something different all year round.
Getting to Skye
Skye is one of the most popular places to visit in all of Scotland, and the chances are that when you visit, you’ll already be in Scotland...BUT, if not, then there are a few ways to get to Skye.
If you’re going to Skye on your own, you’ll need your own vehicle.
You can opt to rent a car, or even a campervan if you want to check out some of the great wild camping spots in Scotland.
If you’re wondering what the easiest airport is next to Skye, then that’ll be Inverness as it’s located in the Highlands. The drive from Inverness to the Isle of Skye is around 2 and half hours driving.
You can check for flights to Inverness from around the world via Skyscanner.
We have our own campervan which we spent 3 months converting, and it was perfect for road tripping the Isle of Skye.
You can get onto Skye via two options:
1. The Skye Bridge: You can take the Skye bridge over to Skye. The bridge isn’t overly big or impressive, but the drive throughout Scotland to get to the bridge is beautiful, and worth it! You’ll need to drive to Kyle of Lochalsh to get to the Skye bridge.
2. Take the Ferry from Mallaig: If you’ve been visiting Fort William for Ben Nevis, or even the Harry Potter Train, you can get the ferry from Mallaig to the Isle of Skye. The ferry takes 45 minutes and costs between £4-6. It runs twice daily and docks at Armadale.
Our 3 day Skye Road trip itinerary
Isle of Skye Road trip itinerary: Day one
We suggest heading to the Isle of Skye early. You have a lot to see and do, so it’s best to get started.
Before you head off on your road trip around the Isle of Skye, you can stop at the large Co-Op shot in Bradford to get groceries and cheap fuel!
1. Sligachan Old Bridge
This beautiful old bridge is located in the small village area of Sligachan. On a clear day this bridge is a beautiful backdrop to the Cuillin mountain range, and it’s actually a starting point for a walk to the Cullin mountain range (which is the most famous mountain range on the Isle of Skye!)
When we visited it was a little foggy and misty, but still made for great photos!
There is also a statue of the famous mountaineer John Morton MacKenzie.
We actually saw a documentary on TV about him a few months before we visited Scotland, so it was cool to learn more about him.
This place is free to visit since it’s in nature, but the parking lot is quite small so I think it would get very busy quickly on a nice day, but lucky for us, no one was around!
The river also has a myth behind it, if you put your face into it, you’ll get eternal beauty in return!
Good luck with that, as it’s bloody freezing!
2. Visit the capital of Skye: Portree
Portree is the “capital” of the Isle of Skye-- I use that term lightly as it’s not big, but it’s big in comparison to the rest of the little towns on the Isle of Skye.
But, Portree is a small place with a lot of charm. There is lots to do here depending on what you like.
You can check out the Isle of Skye distillery shop which produces unique gin, vodka and whisky! (a great gift idea) OR you can visit one of the cafes on offer and enjoy a great cuppa coffee. Highland coffee is bloody delicious!
But, the most famous thing to do in Portree is definitely visiting the colour house viewpoint.
There’s a small little viewpoint you can basically walk to (or park beside) and get a gret view of the coloured houses that sit on the harbour front. It reminds me of Balamory a little!
3. Hike the Old Man Of Storr (one of our favourite things to do on Skye)
The Old Man of Storr on the Isle of Skye is probably one of the island’s most famous attractions, and it’s really no surprise!
This dramatic landscape is an epic sight to behold and definitely worth visiting on a visit to Skye.
You’ll be happy to hear that if the hike here isn’t too bad and if I can do it, so can you.
It’s only 3.8 KM but because it’s basically a full incline the way, it can feel pretty steep. It should take you around 40-50 minutes up to the Old Man of Storr itself (it will take longer if you’re going to a higher up view point), and it’ll be quicker coming back down!
It’s worth visiting on a clear day, and we were pretty lucky with the weather when we arrived.
But what I will say is that the weather changes VERY quickly on Skye and it’s famous for having 4 seasons in one day, so if you get to the Old Man of Storr and it’s a little cloudy or dark and dreary, simply hang around for 15 minutes and it’ll probably change!
Make sure you bring a raincoat with you, just in case.
I did this hike in boots, (not walking boots), but fashion style boots, and Bradley did it in trainers, but if it’s been raining, then I would definitely suggest actual walking boots as there is a lot of mud and grass on your trail.
They’re currently building a step way up to the final point, so this will help with walking in the future.
Since we visited in November, it wasn’t very busy. We met about 6-8 other hikers on our way, so if you want to visit without crowds then visit in the morning and in the off-season.
They’re currently (as of 2020) constructing a visitor centre and a lot more parking, so I imagine this place is only going to get more popular as time goes on.
The views at the Old Man of Storr are truly epic and this was one of my favourite things to do on Skye!
If you started your Isle of Skye road trip at a reasonable time, then you’ll be able to hike this around mid-day.
If you’re visiting in the summer, then hiking around sunset time would also be quite pleasant! We visited in winter so day light wasn’t on our side and we set off on the hike at 10 am.
Ps, bring a camera, because it's TOO easy to take amazing travel pictures here.
4. Visit Kilt Rock & Mealt Falls viewpoint
After you walk to the Old Man of Storr, you would still have time to visit a couple of more sights before you head to a campsite, or opt for wild camping for the night!
So head on up to Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls Viewpoint.
This is a great spot to visit and it’s free.
The Kilt rock itself is pretty unique because it’s supposedly shaped like a Kilt (I think I can kind of get it), but there’s also a pretty beautiful waterfall here. It’s also got great viewpoints out to the sea where you can spot dolphins and seals at certain times of the year.
So it’s a good place to just relax with a hot drink.
But, the other REALLY cool thing about this spot is the dinosaur prints.
I love dinosaur history, and there have been dinosaur discoveries on the Isle of Skye which is cool and you can find out about it here, and at the museum which is close to this spot too (it was closed when we visited!)
Definitely one of the more unique things to see on the Isle of Skye, and something I wasn’t expecting!
WHERE TO STAY? That’s it for day one! And I’m sure you’ll be feeling tired, so it’s time to set up camp for the night.
If you decide to wild camp, we recommend Rigg Viewpoint. It’s just a 10-minute drive from Kilt Rock, quiet, secluded and there is a fire pit.
The views of the stars here at night were also unbelievable. Just be warned, it can be windy, but we got lucky!
If you’d rather stay at a specific location, then nearby there are lots of Airbnb properties located on the Isle of Skye with some pretty cool unique spots to stay. There is also a campsite called “Campingplarz” which is a 6-minute drive from the Kilt Rock.
Isle of Skye Road trip itinerary: Day two
1. The Quariang (walk or viewpoint)
Part of the Trotternish peninsula, the Quariang is another iconic Skye attraction and totally worth it too. The drive to this area is something special too, and even if you don’t plan on hiking this area, it’s definitely worth visiting just for the drive to it.
We didn’t do a full hike here, as it was the same day as our other hike, but if you’ve got more energy than us then you can!
There are different durations, but the most popular lasts around 2 hours.
It’s worth noting that from the car park, if you walk about 250metres ``into” the hike trail, you’ll be greeted with epic views of the Quaraing landscape, so whilst it’s technically cheating, you still get an indication of the views on offer! Prefect if you’re short on time whilst visiting the Isle of Skye.
2. Visit the remains of Duntulum Castle
I’ll be 1000% honest with you and say I was underwhelmed with this “castle”, because it’s just very bad remains, but the drive to it, and the drive around the north coast of Skye is beautiful, so you should definitely head that direction.
We actually pulled over here for some lunch, and it’s a pretty great place with a view for lunch! Not far from this spot is also the Skye Museum of Island life which gives you an interesting look into how life on Skye was many years ago.
When we visited the Museum was closed, but you can still see some of the old style houses as you drive by.
3. Get lost in the magical Fairy Glen
The Fairy Glen on the Isle of Skye was my favourite spot on the whole island. I saw the photos of this place on Instagram before I visited, and like most things online, you’re worried they won’t live up to reality, but this place did. I loved it!
The area is seriously mystical and it was created by a landslide, but it’s just so different from the rest of the landscape around it, and there is a “castle” known as “Castle Ewan”, which isn't actually a real castle, but just looks like it could be the remains of one in this mysterious place.
When we visited the place was empty, and we actually wild camped right beside it, but I know for a fact this would be impossible in the high season, as parking is extremely limited at the Fairy Glen, and the road is very small to get to it.
Your best bet is to park at the town of Uig (which has a shop and petrol should you need to top up), and walk to the Glen, which will take around 30 minutes.
There is talk about organizing a shuttle bus between the two in the future due the growing popularity of the Fairy Glen.
I think it would be good to strike a balance between tourists and locals here, so that people can visit in a fair and controlled way.
If you do get the chance, visit at sunrise or sunset and sit on the top of Castle Ewan to enjoy it!
4. Check out Dunvegan Castle & Gardens
Unfortunately, when we visited here it was closed due to Covid, but I think it’s worth a visit if it’s open. I do think it’s a little pricey at £14 per person, but, it’s not like you spend a lot of money on attractions on the Isle of Skye since most of the sights are free. BUT, since it wasn’t opened, we drove down to a “free castle viewpoint”, just because we wanted to see what the castle looked like.
Again, the weather wasn’t great, but the castle did look cool!
Check out opening times and more on their website.
5. Visit Neist Lighthouse for sunset
Neist Lighthouse is located on the east coast of the Isle of Skye and is famous for its stunning sunset backdrop. Of course, this is all weather dependent, but if you’ve still got time to chase the sunset and the weather is clear, then I recommend driving to Neist Lighthouse!
On your way, there is a really nice little coffee shop called Cafe Lephin which served the best coffee I’ve ever had in Scotland! They have a nice cozy fire too and it’s a perfect place to grab a drink.
When we visited the lighthouse, the weather was bloody terrible.
The rain wouldn’t stop, the wind was howling and it was generally just a crap day. To walk to the actual lighthouse, you do have to do about a 20-30 minute walk, so when it’s super windy, it’s not entirely pleasant.
WHERE TO STAY: After a busy day two on the Isle of Skye road trip, we can recommend using Park4Night for a variety of wild camping spots.
We stayed just off the side of a road at a recycling point which was quiet and shielded from the wild wind.
Isle of Skye Road trip itinerary: Day three
Okay, it’s the final day of our Isle of Skye road trip itinerary! And this day is going to be slightly easier, but includes one of the most famous Skye attractions.
1. Visit the famous Fairy Pools
Full disclosure, Bradley and I didn’t go to the Fairy Pools.
Not because we didn’t want to.
We both have heard many amazing things about it, but the weather was TERRIBLE. The walk to the Fairy Pools is a couple of hours, and the wind was manic (high winds, not just normal winds, there was a weather warning) and the rain wouldn’t stop. So it was just not worth it, and the fairy pools wouldn’t look like we expected them to, SO, we didn’t go!
But if you get the right weather then obviously go, and if you’re feeling brave, then head into the fairy pools.
Since we didn’t go to the fairy pools, I’ve included this post that will give you all the extra information you need to visit the Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye.
2. Armadale Castle Gardens
After visiting the Fairy Pools it’s time to head to another castle. Located in the south area of Skye, this is a good place to head on your way out of Skye. If you want to take the ferry back to Mallaig, this is the area you get it from!
OR, it’s close to the Skye bridge, so either way, it’s a good castle to leave as one of the last attractions to see on the Isle of Skye.
AGAIN, this castle was closed when we visited. The season had ended (a few sights will close for winter on the Isle of Skye- especially castles), so it’s worth visiting in the summer months.
3. Walk to the Point of Sleat
If you want one final walk before you finish your adventures on the Isle of Skye, then this can be it. The Point of Sleat is a walk along a track to the very southernmost point of Skye.
You’ll pass by a beautiful white sand beach which you can swim in (weather permitting) or grab a bite to eat. And there is also a lighthouse further on the walk and views out to some of the other smaller islands around the Isle of Skye including, Eigg, Canna, and Rum.
This walk will take around 2 and a half hours.
4. Bonus attraction: if visiting via Skye bridge: Eilean Donan Castle
This castle isn’t technically on the Isle of Skye itself, but it is in the Skye region (Kyle of Lochalsh), so it’s technically still classed as Skye, but you can only see if you're driving to Skye via the Skye Bridge.
It’s a very beautiful place and a great place to photograph. You can wander around the castle and it’s perched in the water and accessed via a scenic bridge.
There’s also a restaurant, a pretty good souvenir shop and toilets!
Other things to do on the Isle of Skye
There are things on the Isle of Skye that you can see that are not included in this 3 day Skye Road trip Itinerary, and if you have time, or you really like the sound of them, then you can add them in.
- Go to a whisky distillery: Scotland is famous of it’s whisky, so it’s definitely worth visiting a distillery if you like whiskey (Brad and I do not!) Talisker distillery is the most famous on the island.
- Coral beach: We originally had this on our Skye itinerary, but due to bad weather, we didn’t fancy going to a beach. However, I’ve seen beautiful photos of this beach, and there’s little bits of coral on it (hence the name) and if it’s summer time, I bet it’s beautiful!
- Do a hike of the Black Cullins: hiking depends on your fitness level and the time of year, but apparently this is a pretty great hike too.
Where to stay on the Isle of Skye
If you’ve got your own campervan or plan on doing some wild camping, then you’ll be happy to hear there are lots of beautiful wild camping spots on the Isle of Skye. The app we used was Park4Night and we found somewhere awesome to stay each night without issue.
Skye isn’t short on accommodation either and there are lots of different types of accommodation including the possibility of a stay in Shepherd huts, Yurts and more.
Not Wild Camping? Then check out this awesome spot of accommodation on the Isle of Skye.
One of our favourite places to stay on the Isle of Skye is the Eilean Sionnach Lighthouse Cottage.
This allows you to stay on your own private island (yes I said private island) with your very own lighthouse in a fantastic lighthouse cottage.
Brad and I spent 3 nights here and you can read ALL About it right here, but just let me tell you, it was bloody awesome and perfect if you’re looking for a romantic getaway in Skye, or just a really unique form of accommodation.
Other tips for road tripping the Isle Of Skye
- Phone signal is varried. Due to the nature of Skye, up in the highlands of Scotland, you can expect the phone signal to be a bit funny. We are both with o2 and sometimes we had okay WiFi, sometimes we had none, but we never had “great” WiFi.
- There are public toilets in Portree & Uig and you’ll find toilets in certain Skye attractions, like the castles.
- Plan ahead in high season: if you want to stay in hotels, airbnbs or even campsites, you’ll need to book ahead in high season. Skye gets super busy in the summer and you could find yourself stuck if you don’t book ahead of time. We recommend booking.com and Airbnb for the best options for accommodation on Skye. On the flipside, prepared for less options in the low season if you aren’t planning on wild camping.
- If possible, hire a campervan for the duration of your stay on the Isle of Skye, it’ll be worth it, trust me!
- Take a good camera and photograph lots of Highland cows, cause they're amazing!
- If the weather isn't perfect, still wait around for 15 minutes because the weather changes very quickly on the Isle Of Skye
- Since the island is small, you'll only need to fill up once to complete this Skye road trip itinerary
If you're looking for a 2 day Isle of Skye itinerary, then stick to the Trotternish peninsula so you don't miss out on the BEST things to do on Skye, and if you really truly only have one day, then you're going to need to return, but at least make your way to Old Man of Storr and The Fairy Glen, as I think they're the best things to see on the Isle of Skye.
So there you have it, our 3 day Isle of Skye road trip itinerary! This was one of our favourite road trips we've been on around the world.
For more inspiration on Scotland's road trips, check out this guide.
I hope you find this Skye itinerary useful, and it’s all totally doable. If you’re visiting in the summer, you may find you can fit even more in because you’ve got more daylight, but we were able to do all this in winter with the sun setting at 4 pm, so you’ll be fine.
Skye is definitely one of my favourite places to visit in all of Scotland -- so don't miss out!
If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to drop me a comment below.