ISLE OF SKYE: TRAVEL GUIDE


Find great places to stay and things to do

Welcome to our Isle of Skye travel guide! Plan and book your perfect holiday with local tips, places to stay, things to do, holiday inspiration & destination info.

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The Isle of Skye is one of Scotland’s most popular destinations with it’s dramatic landscapes, scenic drives, traditional pubs and historic castles.

Our Isle of Skye travel guide gives you all the info you need to plan your perfect holiday to this stunning island.

Where is the Isle of Skye?

The Isle of Skye lies off the west coast of Scotland and is the largest island in the Inner Hebrides archipelago.

 

 

Best time to visit the Isle of Skye

The best time to visit will depend on what you want to see and do on your Skye holiday.

The weather is the best between May and September. However, the summer months, in particular July and August, are peak season. B&B’s will be sold out months in advance for these months, car parks will be overflowing, and restaurants book up early. June is a good month to go because the Isle of Skye is usually not packed with visitors yet.

April and May are the driest months. If you don’t mind it being chilly, these are great months to go to the Isle of Skye as well.

Winter

If seeing the Northern Lights (aurora borealis) is your priority, winter is the best time to go. You will have more hours of darkness to enjoy the star-filled skies and, if you’re lucky, the lights. Skye is home to a number of Dark Sky Discovery sites so is excellent for star-gazing.

Winter is also a less popular time of year so there will be a lot less tourists. This also means though that some tourist businesses will be closed.

The weather can be wild so always wear layers and carry your waterproofs with you.

Spring

May and June are good months for seeing breeding birds. Seabirds begin to nest on the cliffs and it’s a great time to see gannets and guillemots. Skye is also a good place to see white-tailed sea eagles and golden eagles as they nest and lay their eggs in the spring.

Spring sees longer days and it tends to be fairly dry and sunny giving you more chance to explore the island. You have a good change of avoiding the midges at this time of year too.

Summer

The summer has the longest days and the sun can set later than 10pm. I always take a sleep mask on my Scottish holidays as the sun rises very early and wakes me up. I’ve found this eye mask to be perfectly designed to block out the light and I can even sleep during the day using it.

July is the month to see the orchids at their best and the heather colours the hills purple in August.

Check the shores of the lochs for wading birds.

You also have more chance of seeing whales and dolphins during the summer.

In the summer you will also find cultural events including local Highland Games. The Fèis an Eilein or Skye Festival takes place in July and in 2020 celebrates the Year of Scotland’s Coasts and Waters.

As you’d expect there is a high demand for accommodation during the summer holidays so it’s best to book in advance. Scotland’s school holidays run from the start of July to mid-August.

Autumn

As the nights start to draw in you have the chance to see the Northern Lights. You can also go to the fireworks display at Dunvegan Castle which includes setting fire to a Viking longship. At this time of year, you can also experience some incredible sunsets and sunrises.

How to get to the Isle of Skye

The Skye Bridge – Travelling to Skye by car

The Skye Bridge spans the sea between the villages of Kyle of Lochalsh (mainland) and Kyleakin (Skye).

Top tip for satnav users: If you are travelling from the south and select the shortest route, you may find the route takes you via Mallaig where there is the ferry to Skye. You need to check that it takes you on via the free road bridge which is slightly longer.

Car hire is the preferred option by many visitors to Skye, as it allows the flexibility to come and go as you please.

If you have your own transport it means you can stay in one of the more isolated areas of the island.

If you prefer not to drive choosing accommodation in one of the larger villages (Portree, Broadford or Dunvegan) would be advised. There are local buses that can be relied on, but they are not that frequent.

Travelling to the Isle of Skye by ferry

There are two crossings from the mainland to Skye.

The main crossing is run by Calmac (Caledonian MacBrayne) and is:

    • Mallaig (mainland) – Armadale (Skye)

There are other crossings from other islands run by Calmac: 

      • Sconser (Skye) – Raasay (a small island)
      • Uig (Skye) – Lochmaddy (North Uist, Outer Hebrides)
      • Uig (Skye) – Tarbert (Harris)

For full details and timetables see the Calmac website.

Glenelg Ferry

Want a unique experience? Then take the last manually-operated turntable ferry in Scotland from Glenelg. There has been a car ferry service crossing the Kylerhea straits since 1934. Take the boat ‘Over the Sea to Skye’ and help conserve a piece of history.

      • Glenelg (mainland) to Kylerhea (Skye)

This is a seasonal service. For more info, see:

skyeferry.co.uk

Travelling to the Isle of Skye by plane

There is no airport on the Isle of Skye. The nearest international airport is Glasgow and there is a local airport in Inverness. You can book flights or find out more information on the Flybe website. You can then hire a car from the airport.

Travel on the Isle of Skye

Car hire

You can hire a car from a local car hire company such as Skye Car Hire.

Car-free travel around Skye

If you prefer to travel without a car or fancy a day off from driving, there are several options including public transport.

Public transport on the Isle of Skye

There is a local bus service on the island operated by Stagecoach. Full timetables can be found on their website.

Cycle hire

Cycling has grown in popularity on Skye and you can hire bikes from various companies such as Skye Bike Shack and South Skye Cycles.

Taxis

There are a range of taxi services on Skye. You might want to try:

Walking

If you love walking, the Skye Trail is a challenge for experienced walkers. This unofficial long-distance route takes you through 128km of stunning mountain and coastal landscapes. There are lots of other shorter routes which are less demanding so you’ll find something to suit you.

 

 

Plan your trip

We hope this Skye travel guide has inspired you to start planning your holiday. Also on our website, you can find holiday accommodation on the Isle of Skye and don’t forget to get your Outer Hebrides guide book from Amazon.

Maps

Ordnance Survey maps with free mobile download – various options are available for Skye from Ordnance Survey and Amazon.

Walking

Holiday inspiration

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