Renowned for its rich history, picturesque landscape, and impressive ruins, the Isle of Skye charming every visitor that passes by. The local folklore and legends, combined with the enchanting nature makes the island appear other-worldly. It’s no wonder that the island attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every year! Needless to say, you have to go on an Isle of Skye road trip at least once in your lifetime to get a taste of its magic. Before embarking on your trip, there are a few tips you should know:
- The weather in Scotland can be quite unpredictable. Consider planning your trip between May and September to have a lower chance of being caught in the rain. It is worth noting that July and August are the busiest months, meaning some of the island’s most famous sites will be quite packed, so be sure to start your day early.
- The roads on the island can be quite small. In fact, there are a great number of one lane roads that are only wide enough for one car. This can make driving a little confusing, so be sure to refer to the driving tips for single track roads presented on the island’s official website.
- Wild camping is legal in Scotland. It is quite safe to do, but be sure to avoid camping on a beach as the tides can change! Be sure to also pack some bug spray with you, as midges will be out and about during the warmer months.
Considering that there is much to see and do, it can be quite overwhelming if you aren’t sure where to go. Luckily for you, you can follow a comprehensive Isle of Skye driving map which covers some of the Island’s best destinations!
Getting to the island
There are a number of ways you can reach the Isle of Skye:
- Via Glasgow: Glasgow to the Skye Bridge is roughly a 5-6 hour car ride, however, visitors can choose to spend a night in Fort William along the way to rest and explore Scotland.
- Via Inverness: It takes roughly 2 hours to drive to Portree, the island’s capital and largest down. You can continue to the Isle of Skye after you complete your itinerary for the Edinburgh to Inverness Road Trip in a motorhome.
- Via public transportation: It is worth noting that public transportation on the island can be a bit of a hassle, so it’s best not to rely on it entirely. You can reach the island by taking national buses to Skye, starting from Glasgow or Inverness.
- Via ferries: Car ferries operated by Calmac are also possible with smaller vehicles, which stop at Armadale, Sconser, and Uig. You can also board the Glenelg Ferry for a scenic trip to the island. It is worth noting that vehicles cannot be transported on this ferry.
Should you drive to the island, it is strongly recommended that you enter by driving across the Skye Bridge (along the A87), and drive to Portree, the ideal starting point of your Isle of Skye driving route. Consider spending the night in Portree to enjoy a full day to explore the northern regions of the island!
Day 1: Portree to Dunvegan
- To reach your first destination on your Isle of Skye itinerary, drive along the A855 for 16 minutes to reach the Old Man of Storr car parking lot. The Old Man of Storr is one of the most famous walking paths on the Isle of Skye, which means it can get busy at times, so be sure to head out early! The path gets its name from the largest pinnacle of rock at the peak of the path, which resembles the ‘Old Man’. The path is roughly 3.8 kilometres long, and takes roughly 1 hour and 15 minutes to complete without breaks. However, do expect to spend up to 2.5 hours at the site, especially if you do not frequently hike.
- Continue along A855 for 8 minutes to reach your second destination, the Lealt Falls car park. Follow the small path for a short walk to get to a spectacular viewpoint of the landscape. You’ll see a magnificent waterfall drip down a 90-metre gorge. If you continue following the path, a second viewing platform will allow you to look over the towering sea cliffs. You’ll also see some ruins at the bottom of those cliffs, a remnant of those who once inhabited the region.
- For a stop that requires less physical activity, you can opt to visit the Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls viewpoint further up the A855. Towering at 90 metres, the Kilt rock is made of basalt columns in a formation that slightly resembles a pleated kilt. At the same viewpoint, you admire the Mealt waterfall, which crashes into the wavy waters of the sea below.
- Just a ten-minute drive along the A855 you’ll find the next destination: Quiraing. This path is considered to be a must-visit for any passionate photographer -- the views are unlike any place you’ve ever seen. The region was formed as a result of a landslip, resulting in high cliffs and plateaus. The path is roughly 6.8 kilometres long, and takes two hours to complete without any breaks. It is worth noting that walking along this path may be challenging for those of you who have not hiked before, so be sure you are well rested!
- As an alternative to hiking, consider visiting the Skye Museum of Life, a 20-minute drive away from Quiraing along the A855. This museum is a time machine that takes visitors back in time to show them how islanders lived in the past. Comprising many traditionally thatched cottages and historical archives and stories, you’re guaranteed to leave the museum with a great appreciation for the island’s history.
- Although often overlooked by visitors, your final stop of the day is one you should not miss on your Isle of Skye road trip. Further down the A855, you’ll find The Fairy Glen. Although small, the site is guaranteed to put a smile on every visitor's face. There is a small path which takes visitors up a hill, which gives visitors a spectacular view of the area! The crooked trees along the path could be from a fairytale book, an experience that is further exacerbated by the serenity of the region. You can also find still ponds in the area which beautifully reflect the green hills nearby.
- Finally, continue along the A87 and A850 to reach Dunvegan, where you’ll spend the night.
Accommodation: Kinloch Campsite
Stay at Kinloch Campsite, a cosy family-run campsite located by the shores of Loch Dunvegan. For only £29.00 per night (including two adults and an electric pitch) Campers have the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful views and local wildlife on site.
Location: Kinloch Campsite, Dunvegan, Isle of Skye IV55 8WQ, United Kingdom
GPS: 57.43190815238394, -6.579840545150449
Day 2: Dunvegan to Glenbrittle
After a restful night, enjoy breakfast with a view at the Waterside Cafe Bistro and Gallery! This day will include less destinations to give you the chance to re-energise after a busy day.
- Drive along A863 and A850 for three minutes to reach your first stop of the day. Built in the 14th century, Dunvegan Castle never fails to impress visitors with its grand architecture and rich history. It is home to the MacCleod clan, who inhabited the castle for the past 800 years, making this the longest-occupied house in Scotland. Because the castle is still inhabited, there are a few rooms that are not open to the public. However, many of the accessible rooms are well preserved, allowing visitors to step back in time. While on the lookout for the elegant oil paintings and clan treasures on display, be sure to pass by the infamous Fairy Flag, which is rumoured to have miraculous powers. The castle has multiple gardens filled with various plants and statues that you cannot miss! Tickets are £14.00 for adults, £9.00 for children (aged 5-15), and £11.00 for seniors. Expect to spend between 1.5-3 hours exploring the castle and gardens.
- Drive along the B884 for 30 minutes to reach the Neist Point car park, the second destination on the Isle of Skye driving route. Neist Point is home to one of Scotland’s most famous lighthouses, which was built in 1900. There is one clear path in the area, stretching at about 2.2 kilometres. Although you could cover the region within 45 minutes, more time would be needed should you wish to take a break or explore the area. The cliffs offer a spectacular view of the deep blue waters, and if you climb to the rocks by the lighthouse during the summer, you might be able to catch a glimpse of whales or Basking Sharks!
- End your day at the Talisker Distillery in Carbost, which is a 55-minute drive via B884 and A863. This is the island’s oldest working distillery, and a destination that must be included in any Isle of Skye Itinerary. You’ll get the chance to try their award-winning Talisker Single Malt Scotch Whisky! Should you wish to get the ultimate experience, consider following a tour of the distillery for a unique insight into the whiskey’s history and how it is made. Tickets start at £15.00 per adult, however, they can sell out quickly so be sure to book them in advance!
- Finally, drive along the B8009 for 20 minutes to Glenbrittle, where you will spend the night.
Accommodation: Glenbrittle Campsite and Cafe
Rated as the best coastal campsite in 2020, Glenbrittle Campsite and Cafe is the perfect place to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the island. Prices may vary, ranging from £32.00 per night for two adults and a campervan, or £30.00 for a family (2 adults, 4 children), and a campervan.
Location: Carbost, Isle of Skye IV47 8TA, United Kingdom
GPS: 57.201910, -6.286237
Day 3: Glenbrittle to Broadford
Once you soak up the beautiful sunrise Loch Brittle, enjoy a warm cup of coffee at the cafe on-site! After all, what better way to kick off a busy day than with the right amount of caffeine?
Note: You can opt to explore the Isle of Skye following a 3-day itinerary, making this your last day on the island.
- Just a ten-minute drive from the campsite, you’ll find yourself at the Fairy Pools, the most mystical spot along the Isle of Skye driving map. Follow the gravel trail from the parking lot for roughly twenty minutes, and you’ll find yourself at the first and largest waterfall along this path. As you continue walking, you’ll find the Fairy Pools -- with its spectacular crystal blue pools, this is one of the island’s most popular destinations. There are a few waterfalls that pour into the pools, so be sure to take the time to enjoy the relaxing sound of rushing water. It is worth noting that you can swim in the alluring waters, however, be sure to pack a wetsuit as the temperature can be quite low. The path is roughly 2.4 kilometres long, and takes 40 minutes to walk without any stops. Expect to spend up to two hours exploring the region.
- Return back to the campsite to park your motorhome. From there, you may embark on your climb along Rubh’ an Dùnain (translating to ‘headland of the fort’). This region has seen over 8,000 years of history, including Mesolithic, Neolithic, Viking, and Medieval history. There is no doubt that this is one of the island’s hidden gems; from ancient ruins to diverse wildlife, this path is definitely not one that should be overlooked. Be sure to keep an eye out on the waters of Loch Brittle for seals, otters, and basking sharks! This destination on the Isle of Skye driving route has the longest walking path, at 12 kilometres round trip. Although it requires 3-5 hours to be completed, this is a beginner-friendly campsite, as it can be easily walked along. Don’t forget to check out a complete Rubh’ an Dùnain walking guide for additional information on where to go.
- Drive along the A863 for 30 minutes until you arrive at the Sligachan Old Bridge. The bridge was built between 1810 and 1818, however, it is no longer in use. Legend has it that the water rushing beneath the bridge is a gateway between the faerie world and the human world. This has been the subject of many local legends, most notably the story of Scáthach, the island’s greatest female warrior. She fought against Ireland’s greatest warrior at the time, Cúchulainn. Scáthach’s daughter was worried for her mother, and cried at the river. The faeries heard her cries, and told her to wash her face in the river. The girl gained the knowledge to stop the battle, and brought it to an end. Local Sligachan legend also states that anyone who dips their face in the river by the Sligachan Bridge would be granted eternal beauty. However if local legends do not interest you, you can enjoy beautiful views of the Black Cuillin mountains from the bridge.
- To arrive at your destination for the night, drive along the A87 for 20 minutes to reach Broadford.
Accommodation: Camping Skye
Situated just outside the village of Broadford, Camping Skye is the perfect place to stay while exploring the island. Motorhome pitches are £25.00 for two adults per night.
Location: Pairc Nan Craobh, Broadford, Isle of Skye IV49 9DF, United Kingdom
GPS: 57.24494891747469, -5.918169775963476
Day 4: Broadford to Skye Bridge:
Start your day with a cup of coffee and a hearty breakfast at Cafesia, only a five-minute walk from the campsite!
Note: Although the destinations of the day are not as popular as the previous ones, it is worth incorporating one or two of them in your Isle of Skye 3 day itinerary.
- After spending time exploring Broadford, drive along A851 for 23 minutes, where you’ll reach Armadale Castle, Gardens, and Museum. Spanning over 40 acres, the property is the last ancestral home of the Macdonalds of Sleat, Scotland’s oldest and most powerful clan. The current mansion was built around 1790 and was last inhabited in 1925. Unfortunately, it is currently unstable and is fenced off for visitors’ safety for the time being as renovations are taking place. Visitors can still enjoy a romantic view of the natural landscape and castle when visiting. The garden has been restored, giving you the chance to stroll among 40 acres of trees, flowers, and shrubs. Parts of the garden are just as old as the castle, which visitors can learn more about by following an audio guide. Prices of tickets to the castle vary from £9.00 per adult, £7.50 for children under 16, and free entry for children under 5.
- Just a 6-minute drive along A851, you’ll arrive at South Skye Sea Kayak. Here, you can choose to sign up for a full day or half-day expedition to explore the Isle of Skye. Haven’t been on a kayak before? Don’t worry, there are different levels you can choose from, depending on your experience kayaking! Prices start at £95.00 per person for a full day expedition and £65.00 per person for a half-day expedition, however, you can always get group deals if you’re planning to go with more than four people! If you want to extend your stay on the Isle of Skye, consider signing up for some of their organised kayak camping expeditions.
- If you’re hoping to end your Isle of Skye itinerary with something less physically demanding, drive back along A851 and A87 to reach Kyleakin Harbour. To truly appreciate the beautiful nature surrounding the island, consider booking a wildlife boat tour. Passengers will get to see countless wildlife, ranging from mammals such as seals and otters, to diverse aquatic creatures such as crabs, starfish, and jellyfish.
- Continue along A87 and cross Skye Bridge to reach Balmacara, where you’ll spend the night.
Accommodation: Reraig Camping
It is important that you are well rested before embarking on your journey home, and Reraig Camping is the place to stay. Situated by the shoes of Loch Alsh, the cosy nature of the site is guaranteed to make visitors feel more relaxed. Pitches start at £20.00 per night for one adult.
Location: Balmacara, Kyle of Lochalsh IV40 8DH, United Kingdom
GPS: 57.28259325972934, -5.626080029348094
There is no doubt that the Isle of Skye is filled with countless natural gems that are waiting to be explored. So, needless to say, by following an Isle of Skye road trip you’ll get to truly appreciate all that the island offers. And we all know the best way to enjoy a trip is to drive a motorhome. Unsure where to look? Check out the many options for motorhome hire in Scotland -- you’re guaranteed to find the perfect campervan to suit your needs.