The Isle of Skye is the largest island in the Inner Hebrides and lies in the North Sea off the north-west coast of Scotland. This island is rich in history, myths and lore. From warring clans to fairy legend, dinosaurs roaming the landscape millions of years ago to one of the most incredible natural phenomena the world has to offer, the Isle of Skye will capture any visitor with its beauty.
The Isle of Skye should not be seen as a quick place to day-trip in, but somewhere to explore at a more leisurely pace, as this small island has a wealth of things to rekindle your love of travel. It’s a place where you’ll see some of the most stunning landmarks in Scotland. Here are 20 things to do on the Isle of Skye.
- Isle of Skye
- 20 Things To Do On The Isle of Skye
- 1- Old Man of Storr
- 2- Quiraing
- 3- Fairy Glen
- 4. Rubha nam Brathairean (Brother’s Point)
- 5- Neist Point Lighthouse
- 6- Fairy Pools
- 7- Talisker Distillery
- 8- Dunvegan Castle
- 9- Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls
- 10- Loch Coruisk
- 11- Armadale Castle, Gardens and Museum
- 12- Walk Cuillin Ridge
- 13- Rock Climbing
- 14- Staffin Dinosaur Museum
- 15- St Columba’s Isle
- 16- See wildlife on Seaprobe Atlantis
- 17- Sea Kayaking
- 18- Coral Beach
- 19- Wild Camping
- 20- Northern Lights
- 20 Things To Do On The Isle of Skye
Isle of Skye
20 Things To Do On The Isle of Skye
1- Old Man of Storr
Created by a large landslide, the rocky outcrops of the Old Man of Storr are part of the Trotternish Ridge on the isle.
The walk to the Old Man of Storr is a pleasant one and one accessible by walkers of all levels.
The views over the Trotternish ridge from Storr are outstanding, and the Old Man is one of the most photographed landscapes in the area thanks to its striking appearance.
The name Storr comes from Old Norse, meaning Great Man, and is named so because the rocky outline and pinnacles resemble the face of an old man.
Formed in a landscape of ancient lava flows and glacial movements, the Quiraing is the largest mass movement slide in the United Kingdom, and the landscape is still changing.
The name Quiraing comes from anglicised Gaelic from the Old Norse ‘Kvi Rand’, meaning something folded.
This name is apt for the landscape, and the ground folds and falls in unusual creases around you, with spectacular cliffs and ridges to climb and explore.
Walking the Quiraing is a spectacle in itself, with unusually named place markers such as The Prison and The Table.
On clear days, bring a camera as the Old Man of Storr is visible, and The Table valley is one of outstanding beauty.
3- Fairy Glen
The Fairy Glen, nestled high in the hills above the village of Uig is a miniature Quiraing as it is formed of a landslip.
The glen is filled with small round grassy hills and lochans (ponds), which add an element of magic to this landscape.
The fairy legends are rife on the Isle of Skye, however, the glen has no traceable legends associated with it.
The name simply was given because of the magical beauty of this particular piece of land.
Within the landscape is a cave behind a basalt rock nicknamed Castle Ewan because of its appearance.
It is believed that on entering the cave if you place a coin into the cracks in the rock you will have good luck.
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4. Rubha nam Brathairean (Brother’s Point)
Known locally as Rubha nam Brathairean, or Brothers Point, this beautiful peninsular is located on the Trotternish Loop.
With the wilds of Skye behind you and the North Sea in front, this lesser-visited part of Skye is not to be missed.
Following the gravel track on foot that leads from the main road will allow the sea to break through gaps in the hillside, and will end with a rocky beach.
Along this short trail, the rocky beach will fall away to grassy bogs that line the peninsular.
Further along, Brothers Point is a dramatic cliff walk, again with impressive views over the peninsular. From this vantage point, Kilt Rock can be seen in the distance.
5- Neist Point Lighthouse
Considered to be one of the most famous lighthouses in Scotland, Neist Point Lighthouse is located on the most westerly tip of Skye.
Hidden from the main carpark, views of this spectacular lighthouse are only visible once visitors begin the short walk along the cliff.
The lighthouse at Neist Point was built in 1900 and was ran as a manned lighthouse until an automated system was installed.
The light from the lighthouse can be seen for up to 16 nautical miles.
From the rocks by the lighthouse, whales and Basking Sharks can be seen during the summer months in the waters below.
6- Fairy Pools
The Fairy Pools of Skye lie at the foot of Black Cuillins.
The pools are crystal clear blue waters with small waterfalls cascading into them.
The pools are frequented for wild swimming, despite the cold temperature of the waters, as well as photography of these spectacular pools.
The start of the Fairy Pools is marked by a high waterfall; the highest waterfall and deepest pool of the Fairy Pools.
The most famous Fairy Pool, however, is the second; a crystal clear pool perfect for swimming, with a natural arch that stretches across the pool.
Similarly to Fairy Glen, there are no fairy legends associated with the Fairy Pools.
7- Talisker Distillery
The Talisker Distillery is the oldest working whisky distillery on the Isle of Skye.
The distillery itself sits on the shore of Loch Harport.
The distillery was built in 1830 at the displeasure of the local clergyman.
A fire in the 1960s destroyed the stillhouse, however, the copper stills that were lost were replaced by replicas, and are still heated by coal today.
Visitors to the distillery can go on a tour which takes in the traditional copper pot stills and worm tubs that allow the makers to produce a unique and smooth tasting whisky.
Tours end with tasting sessions of the award-winning whisky in the visitor centre.
8- Dunvegan Castle
Continuously lived in as the ancestral home of the Chiefs of clan MacLeod for 800 years, Dunvegan Castle is the oldest continually lived-in castle in Scotland.
The castle itself was built in the 1200s and has been continually developed and built on until the 1850s.
The castle features battlements running the length of the roof, imposing entrance halls and grand staterooms.
As the castle has been owned by the same family for 800 years, each Chief of clan MacLeod has had his own additions added to the house, the most important of which perhaps being the romantic restoration during the 1840s by the 25th Chief.
9- Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls
Named Kilt Rock due to its resemblance of traditional Scottish Kits, Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls are a spectacular sight on the Isle of Skye.
The rock is made of basalt columns on a sandstone base.
Atop the rock is a loch named Mealt Loch, from which Mealt Falls plummets down Kilt Rock to the sea below.
The views across Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls can be seen from Neist Point Lighthouse and the surrounding peninsular, and designated viewing points on top of the Rock are available.
10- Loch Coruisk
Loch Coruisk, a freshwater loch, is in the heart of the Cuillins range.
The waters of the loch are pristine, and the surrounding mountains make this loch a spectacular place to visit.
The Loch was a favourite destination for Victorians, in particular landscape painters, and this alluring landscape has continued to attract artists and now photographers who aim to capture its rugged beauty.
Loch Coruisk can be reached on foot on one of the many footpaths and trails, or by boat; setting sail from Elgol and travelling past seal colonies.
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11- Armadale Castle, Gardens and Museum
Scotland and its islands are home to some of the most beautiful and ancient castles in the United Kingdom.
Armadale Castle is a ruin, however, its rich 1500-year-old history continues to draw curious visitors today.
The castle is the spiritual home of Clan Donald and sits within a 20,000-acre Highland estate which is home to red deer, golden eagles and sea eagles.
As the castle is in a climate created by the Gulf Stream, the climate is mild, allowing for spectacular gardens to be grown.
The castle also offers a museum which will reveal the history of the highlands and islands of Scotland, as well as the story of Clan Donald.
12- Walk Cuillin Ridge
Named as the ‘Holy Grail of British Scrambling’, the Cuillin Ridge consists of 22 peaks and a 12-kilometre ridge crest through areas of outstanding natural beauty.
The range itself consists of two Cuillins; Red Cuillin and Black Cuillin, with its ridge being the UK’s most challenging mountain range.
The range was formed 60,000,000 years ago and has slowly developed into the range as a magma chamber of a huge volcano eroded over time.
The route itself is described as alpine-style, however, scaling the ridge is recommended only for highly competent mountaineers due to the challenges of the climb.
13- Rock Climbing
Both sea-cliff and mountain climbing are popular sports on the Isle of Skye, as the island has many unique and challenging climbs to tackle.
Due to the nature of the rocks on the island, there is a range of climbs available for all skill levels of rock climbing.
Routes for rock climbing include Kilt Rock for crack climbing, Neist Point for sea-cliff climbing, and Cuillin Ridge for more experienced and challenging climbs.
As climbing brings a large number of tourists to the island each year, Skye has a number of mountaineering organisations which offer guided climbs as well as advice on climbs and routes.
14- Staffin Dinosaur Museum
Established in 1976 by Dugald Ross, a teenager on the Isle of Skye, the Staffin Dinosaur Museum houses some of the most important dinosaur fossils in the world, to international acclaim.
Ross identified Stegosaurus, Megalosaurus and Ceolophysis to name a few species on the Isle of Skye, with their fossils on display in the museum.
The museum also offers tours to the Staffin dinosaur footprints, which are notoriously difficult to find without a knowledgeable guide.
Ross still runs the museum today and is on hand to share his accounts of finding the fossils, and his knowledge on the dinosaurs of Skye.
15- St Columba’s Isle
One of the most ancient and intriguing parts of Skye’s history is St Columba’s Isle.
The site, filled with graves and ancient ruins, once used to be a cathedral for the bishops of the Isles and was founded by St Columba.
These buildings date from between 1076 and 1498 when the Isle of Skye was the centre of Christianity for the Hebrides.
Walking away from the Isle towards the gorge, keep your eyes peeled for salmon in the river, and for the boulder that St Columba used for the pulpit in his cathedral.
16- See wildlife on Seaprobe Atlantis
The Isle of Skye is teeming with wildlife both on and off the land.
There are many companies running boat trips across the waters and lochs of Skye, but for a truly unique experience set sail aboard Seaprobe Atlantis.
Seaprobe Atlantis is Scotlands only semi-submersible glass-bottom boat and takes passengers through Lochalsh Marine Special Area of Conservation.
While on the trip porpoise, otters, dolphins, seabirds and even underwater kelp forests are visible both from the boat and of course its glass bottom.
Seaprobe Atlantis also runs trips to a World War II shipwreck which has since been taken over by local aquatic life.
17- Sea Kayaking
Unlike boat trips on the loch’s of Skye, sea kayaking offers the unique experience of being much closer to Skye’s nature and wildlife, in a tranquil environment and smaller group.
Sea kayaking the waters of the lochs reveals hidden secrets, such as starfish sitting on the bottom of the loch 20 feet below the surface of the water, which are visible thanks to the crystal clear waters.
Kayaking is often done with trained instructors who will teach beginners or take more advanced kayakers on tours from the water.
18- Coral Beach
Coral Beach is a unique sight on Skye.
While other beaches on the island are formed from pebbles, Coral Beach’s white appearance makes the waters of the North Sea look almost tropical.
Despite its name, Coral Beach is not formed from white corals, but instead of sun-bleached Red Coralline seaweed skeletons.
The seaweed comes from a nearby reef close to the Isle of Lampay.
On closer inspection, hundreds of beautifully coloured shells are mixed in with the seaweed, however, due to the small nature of the beach, shells should remain there.
Further along, the beach are rock pools filled with small crabs, tiny fish and even starfish.
19- Wild Camping
Throughout Scotland, wild camping is offered.
There are restrictions in some areas, however quick checks online will leave visitors happy and knowledgeable about this form of camping.
The Isle of Skye is no different and offers numerous spots, free of charge, to wild camp. One of the most popular wild camping spots on Skye is Quiraing.
Wild camping offers many things traditional camping does not; the ability to choose your own plot with magnificent views, no noisy neighbours, and plenty of curious animals.
Be sure to pack your things up early, however, and move to a new spot so as not to spoil the landscape for others.
20- Northern Lights
Many people associate the Northern Lights only with Iceland and other northernmost countries, however, the Northern Lights are visible from the Isle of Skye.
Head to Skye during winter for the best chances of viewing this breathtaking natural phenomenon.
The aurora is often visible over Glendale, with the columns of colourful light stretching high into the sky, often with the milky way and constellations visible too.
Another spot to view the Northern Lights is over the waters of Loch Pooltiel, which casts magical reflections of the lights over its waters.