The Isle of Skye in Scotland had been on our travel bucket list since we first arrived in the UK. This almost mystical, beautiful part of Scotland was an area we hoped to explore by car, so instead of our usual weekend whirlwind trip, we booked three nights there with two full days to explore the island.
For most of our time, the weather was overcast, adding to the brutal, foreboding drama of the island’s varied terrain. When the sun did come out, it was breathtaking and brilliant. The sunshine highlighted the green fields and rolling hills, giving the island a sense of life the clouds had obscured. As mentioned in my post about our drive from Edinburgh to Isle of Skye via Loch Ness, we visited during lambing season! The island was filled with little baby lambs, all white and clumsy, following their mama lambs and navigating their first weeks of life. It was so cute and really special.
Isle of Skye, Scotland
Stay | Do | Eat | Basic Tips
Where to Stay in the Isle of Skye, Scotland
Andrew, our trip planner extraordinaire, chose Portree (pronounced Port-REE) as our home base on Isle of Skye, for its location as well as its amenities. It is the largest town on Isle of Skye, with several restaurants and many hotels. From Portree, the sights are all within about an hour’s drive, making it a great place to begin and end days of touring.
My parents joined us for this trip, so we booked somewhere we though would be both comfortable and memorable for our epic Scotland tour. The Viewfield House was the perfect place. The view over Portree was a bonus!
A short drive or walk from the harbor, this manor house was a wonderful setting for our trip to Isle of Skye. This Victorian-era country house has been owned by families in the MacDonald Clan for decades and it feels like you are stepping back in time as you enter to see a hall filled with taxidermy animals, dark wood features and high ceilings.
Our rooms were lovely and we enjoyed the sitting room, where we played cards at night or chatted with the owners about Skye and other adventures over a drink and had tea by the fire after a rainy hike adventure.
Breakfast each morning was delicious and served in the gorgeous wood-paneled dining room. We had dinner here one night as well. They adapted the entire menu to accommodate gluten free for my mom and me, which was so incredibly lovely of them!
We had a great stay and would definitely return if we are lucky enough to return to the Isle of Skye!
What to Do on the Isle of Skye, Scotland
The Isle of Skye is Scotland’s second largest island, spanning over six hundred square miles. There are many natural wonders to explore!
Climb Old Man Storr
We undertook the walk up to Old Man Storr under less than ideal circumstances, with pouring rain and tons of fog. Photos of Storr from clearer days are remarkable! For us it was a dramatic approach, as the dark shadow of the rock became more clear through the fog as we approached.
It wasn’t a walk in the park, but it wasn’t a terribly difficult hike either. It starts as a well paved path, but becomes more rocky as you ascend. I highly recommend the climb and wish you clearer skies than when we ascended!
We had to travel back to our hotel to toss our clothes in the dryer and warm up with a cup of tea afterward, since we were all soaked. It was absolutely an adventure!
After warming up with some tea, we took off again, endeavoring to complete the circular drive around the northern tip of Skye from Portree. This time we went counter-clockwise, stopping in Uig for lunch. We watched the ferry depart through the fog and then stopped in the darling shop The Uig Pottery for a souvenir plate for our collection.
From Uig, it is a short drive to the Fairy Glen. The landscape there is truly remarkable. It feels like another world, where fairys would live!
Parking around here is limited. Since we visited before peak season, we were able to just pull over and explore this fantastic spot in the fog.
Set on a dramatic cliff on an outcrop near the northern tip of the isle are the ruins of Duntulm Castle.
Formerly a castle owned by the MacDonald Clan, it has been reduced to rubble over time. In the windy overcast weather, it was very dramatic indeed.
Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls
Next up on our drive was Kilt Rock. I may or may not have been thinking “how cool could a rock be?” but that was before I saw it.
It is stunning. The views along the coast are lovely and it really is incredible that the rock looks like a kilt!
From Kilt Rock, it was a short drive down the coast to Lealt Falls. The wind was really and I mean really whipping at this point. If we had traveled there with small chilldren, I would have feared for them.
We made it out for picture, but hurried back to the car after that!
Our second day in Isle of Skye, we started out for the Fairy Pools. This natural sight is very popular, so its best to head over early to miss the crowds.
The walk along the stream is easy and the pools get more magical as you walk further along.
It’s a beautiful place and the pools are a beautiful shade of blue-green.
After our Fairy Pool adventure, we drove over to Carbost to tour the Talisker Distillery. The oldest distillery on the Isle of Skye, it is interesting to learn about the history of the distillery and the process of making this spirit.
No pictures are allowed during the tour, as you pass through hot rooms filled with flammable alcohol. We got to taste a variety at the end, so this is a great tour for whiskey lovers!
Dunvegan Castle & Gardens
After our whiskey tour, we drove over to Dunvegan to tour the castle and gardens. The storied estate of the MacLeod Clan, the castle and gardens are beautiful to explore.
We arrived in sunshine, so decided to tour the gardens first. This was a great call because it did get overcast as we made our way to the castle. The grounds are beautiful.
The castle itself is well-maintained and the rooms are gorgeous. You learn the history of the MacLeod clan as you wander through its halls, including the legend surrounding the Fairy Flag.
Well worth a visit!
What to Eat on Isle of Skye
The food we enjoyed during our stay reflected the natural beauty of the Isle of Skye and we ate very, very well. Seafood, of course, was abundant.
Located in Portree harbor, Sea Breezes serves up delicious seafood with a view!
I ordered the risotto and it was fabulous. We also got yummy mussels for a starter.
The restaurant is small, so be sure to book ahead. We had a lovely meal here.
Caora Dhubh Coffee Company
While waiting for our Talisker tour to begin, we grabbed coffees at Caora Dhubh Coffee Company. This is hands down the best coffee I’ve had so far in 2018, and I don’t typically prefer espresso. I got a flat white and it was delicious.
The Oyster Shed
For lunch before our whiskey tour, we drove up to The Oyster Shed from Carbost. This unassuming little spot was just the ticket for a quick lunch before our tour.
The seafood is incredibly fresh. I got the scallops and Andrew got oysters and lobster. They have a little market inside, where my mom found gluten-free cookies!
The Three Chimneys
The stand out meal on our trip was our dinner at The Three Chimneys. Set on a sea loch waaaay out there, it is amazing that a Michelin-starred restaurant would call such a remote place its home.
I, for some reason, thought we were going to a nice pub and did not adequately prepare my parents for the dining experience we were about to embark on. I think we were all a little surprised when our first course included a scoop of what was essentially fish ice cream!
Our meals were fabulous and the service was wonderful. They even accommodated gluten-free seamlessly. It was such a treat!
Our ride home was a bit of a voyage, as thick fog rolled in over the dark, winding, single lane road. Here’s a photo of some friends we passed along the way.
Andrew, our fearless driver, handled the low visibility and twists and turns in the dark like a pro!!
Basic Tips For Visiting the Isle of Skye
- We’ve learned that Americans should always get the insurance when renting a car in the UK. Though we didn’t need it, it’s good for peace of mind, especially on the one way, winding, tiny roads of Isle of Skye.
- Many roads throughout the isle are one lane with passing places. This actually works out pretty well, but is definitely a little scary at first!
- We visited during the early May bank holiday weekend and most hotels and B&Bs in Portree had no vacancies. Book well in advance, as accommodations are limited if you want to stay on the isle.
- Visiting in early May, the weather was still quite cold! Bring your layers!