Visiting Scotland is high on many travellers itineraries and bucket lists. With so many beautiful islands to explore during your visit what makes the Isle of Skye an absolute must-visit in any Scottish itinerary?
To help plan your visit I have asked Gemma, a Scottish travel blogger from Highlands 2 Hammocks to write a guest post about the best Isle Skye itinerary for one day.
Whether you are planning your Skye road trip itinerary, considering a tour or even planning a rail trip around Scotland to Fort William and Oban on the West Highland line and hopping over to Skye by ferry this post will provide lots of inspiration and practical tips to help you make the most of your visit.
Looking for the best 1-day tour of Skye from Inverness? We think this tour from Inverness to Skye (including the Fairy Pools) is a good option if you prefer to join an organised group.
If you are planning a trip to the UK or if you live in the UK and want to explore more of the country why not join my UK Travel Planning Group on Facebook? You will find lots of tips, resources and ideas to help plan your trip whether it is for a day or a month!
- An introduction to the Isle of Skye
- One Day Isle of Skye Itinerary
- Places to visit if you plan a longer visit to the Isle of Skye
- Planning your visit to Skye
- How to get to the Isle of Skye
- What to pack for the Isle of Skye
- Map showing the best places to visit in the Isle of Skye in one day
- Best tours to the Isle of Skye
- Enjoy your trip to the Isle of Skye
An introduction to the Isle of Skye
Dramatic, jagged mountains, crystal clear beaches waters and quaint, fishing towns, the Isle of Skye is straight out of a fairytale. With so much to see and do on this island, you could spend weeks exploring the beautiful countryside of Skye. For those wishing to explore the best sights on a day trip, this is your ultimate one-day itinerary to the Isle of Skye.
Sitting on the west coast of Scotland, the Isle of Skye is a hugely popular destination for Scottish locals and foreign tourists alike. More than 500,000 people flock to the island every single year to explore its hugely diverse landscape. Although the mountains of Skye look like the countryside of New Zealand or the Alps, there are lots of enjoyable walks for even the most novice of visitors.
This one day itinerary for the Isle of Skye will take you to the most beautiful parts of the island, showing you natural beauty, cute towns and stunning landscapes. Below is a brief summary of the day ahead, all of which will be discussed in greater detail in this article.
Read – Isle of Skye Travel Guide
- Experience the magic of the Fairy Pools
- Wander the quaint, seaside town of Portree
- Enjoy Lunch at the Granary
- Take in the spectacular views of the Old Man of Storr
One Day Isle of Skye Itinerary
The Fairy Pools of Skye
It’s time to start your Skye adventure, and what better way is there to do so than by chasing pixies at the famous Fairy Pools. This beautiful collection of waterfalls and plunge pools sit at the foothills of the Cuillin Mountains, a short walk from the nearby car park. Plucked straight out of a fantasy fiction novel, the crystal-clear water from the mountains flows between a collection of pools of various shapes and sizes.
Pack your swim gear (if you dare to face the bitter cold) and make your way along the 30-minute walk from the car park to the pools. There are plenty of places to stop and admire the natural beauty around you as you follow the path to the Fairy Pools. The first waterfall sits around 2km along this path, which is quickly followed by the rest of the collection of waterfalls.
Swimming is allowed in these pools, however, the water rarely rises to a comfortable temperature so a wetsuit might be advisable if you want to refresh yourself for the day ahead.
The Seaside Town of Portree
The largest town on the island, Portree is a popular stop off point for visitors to the island. Built into the natural harbour of the eastern shore, the high cliffs that surround the dock provide beautiful views out over the bay. The seaside feel and the old-fashioned buildings give Portree a cute and homely feel to it.
If you walk up the hill to the south end of the village, you will find a vantage point named “The Lump”. This high point offers spectacular views of the surrounding bay and town behind you.
Lunch at the Granary
Once you have explored the quaint streets of Portree, it is time to fuel up before the afternoon’s adventures. The cute cafe named “the Granary” is located in the centre of Portree and is the perfect spot to heat up and enjoy the delicious food Skye has to offer.
Choose from a huge selection of freshly caught seafood that Scotland does so well, or simply have a lighter bite to eat with a homemade cake and coffee.
The Old Man of Storr
Fabled resting place of the Giant of Trottenish Ridge, the Old Man of Storr is said to be the burial ground. Sticking up from the earth, the Old Man pinnacle is rumoured to be thumb of the giant, the only part of the body remaining above the ground. This is just one of many folklore and tales as to the origin of the incredible stacks of Storr.
The basalt columns sitting 2300ft above sea level are another hugely popular sight on the Isle of Skye. Located just 6miles from Portree, the hike to get to the viewing platform for the Old Man of Storr will take you roughly 1hr and 15mins. It is a pretty steep climb, so be sure to pack your hiking shoes and a camera, as the view is definitely worth it.
At the top, you will reach a plateau that sits high above the surrounding landscape. Views across the sea to the mainland, highlighting the jagged, rough and rugged landscape that the west coast of Scotland is famous for. The 50m tall stacks in front of you are the main feature, named the “Old Man” due to the apparent resemblance of the outline to an old man.
Soak up the views from this platform and reflect on the natural beauty that this incredible island has shown today. Although the trip has come to an end, you will definitely be coming back for more some day.
Places to visit if you plan a longer visit to the Isle of Skye
If you plan to extend your trip to Skye and are planning a 2 day Isle of Skye itinerary, 3 day Isle of Skye itinerary or perhaps an even longer 4-day itinerary for the Isle of Skye there are additional places we recommend considering including (if you take a Skye tour you will find many of these attractions are part of the tour)
Fairy Glen is one of the most well-known and photographed natural rock formations in Scotland. It’s about a two-mile walk from Portree, the capital of Skye. The best way to find it is to take the footpath south out of town towards Dunvegan, past the Skye Brewery and Cill Chriosd, then up and over Lùb Mòr to reach The Fairy Loch. Once you’re at Fairy Glen, there are lots of places to explore and views to admire!
Here are some tips for visiting:
– Wear comfortable walking shoes and bring water with you
– Don’t climb on the rocks – not only is it dangerous, but you will also destroy the fairy’s homes!
Dunvegan Castle is more than 1000 years old. It’s the home of Clan MacLeod, and one of Scotland’s oldest inhabited castles, so it has some great stories to tell!
Try to see as many of these features as you can:
– The Fairy Flag – find out about this mysterious flag that only flies on the day a Fairy Flag bearer dies.
– The Fairy Tree – find out how it got its name and when it was planted.
– Dunvegan Castle is also home to the oldest example of Gaelic writing in the world, which you can see inside.
The Quiraing is another rock formation that has a fascinating story. It’s a landslip on the eastern side of Meall na Suiramach, which includes a variety of peaks and rock formations. It’s between Staffin and Uig, about three miles south of the village.
The Quiraing consists of a series of rocky pinnacles which make an extraordinary sight as they rise out of the moor. It includes precipitous rock faces and covers about 2000 acres. The best way to get there is by turning off the A855 onto the B880, then continue onto the A87.
A famous landmark of Skye that can be seen from here is The Needle – a jagged rock tower that stands on the summit of Sgùrr Alasdair. This mountain is named after Alexander Nicolson, who was known as ‘Alasdair Crotach’, and was the last clan chief of Clan MacLeod. He built a memorial cairn on top of it in memory of his nephew, who died during the Battle of Culloden in 1746.
Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls
Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls are a short, half-mile walk from Staffin. The falls themselves aren’t huge, but they’re beautiful and unusual because they flow over red sandstone!
There’s a lovely view of the falls, and you can also see Kilt Rock – a narrow stack shaped like a kilt. This is where staffin – the Gaelic word for ‘trousers’ – comes from.
Duntulm Castle is in the north west of Skye, near Dunvegan. Built around the 13th century by Clan MacLeod, it was once an important stronghold. You can still see plenty of the castle’s original features.
Neist Point Lighthouse
Neist Point Lighthouse stands at the most northerly point on Skye. It’s a five-mile round trip from Carbost, and it’s absolutely stunning!
There’s also an Interpretation Centre with tons of information about the lighthouse itself.
Skye Museum of Island life
Skye Museum of Island Life tells the story of Skye’s people through the centuries. It’s in Portree, and it’s free!
Talisker is one of the best known and most popular single malt whiskies in the world, produced on Skye. The whisky distillery is open for tours! The distillery is located in Carbost near the Skye Museum of Island Life.
Planning your visit to Skye
How to get to the Isle of Skye
You will need a car to travel to (and around) the Isle of Skye. The only alternative would be to book an organised tour if you prefer not to drive.
The Isle of Skye is connected to Kyle of Lochalsh on the mainland of Scotland by the Skye bridge, via the island of Eilean Ban. Located at the southern end of the island, this bridge is free to use and is by far the easiest way to get onto the island.
If you are heading to the Isle of Skye from Scotland’s largest cities, Glasgow and Edinburgh, the drive to the island will take you around 5-5½ hours. It makes sense to stay overnight on the island in either one of the many B&Bs or hotels, or at one of the camping sites around the island.
If you are planning to stay more than one day it is essential to book accommodation in advance as the island is very busy during the summer months.
Click here to find all the best deals for accommodation on the Isle of Skye.
What to pack for the Isle of Skye
When it comes to weather in Scotland, there is no such thing as being too prepared. It is not uncommon to experience snow, hail, rain, wind and sunshine all within the hour in Scotland, especially when you venture to the rugged north.
We recommend packing warm layers of clothes, easy to remove and easy to layer up in case the temperature changes whilst you are out. A good waterproof is perhaps the most important item to pack, as are a good pair of walking shoes. If you are going in the winter, full winter gear will be required, such as a hat, gloves, scarves and plenty of warm layers.
If you are going to hike around the mountains of Skye, we cannot stress enough the importance of being prepared for the worst. Due to the rapid change in weather conditions in Scotland, it is very common for hikers to head to the hills unprepared and unfamiliar with the landscape, and soon after need rescued from these conditions.
Pack a compass, map and head torch and make sure you know how to use all of them.
Map showing the best places to visit in the Isle of Skye in one day
Best tours to the Isle of Skye
I am sure you will now have some great ideas and inspiration for your Isle of Skye Itinerary.
If you prefer to take an organised tour to the island I recommend booking with Get Your Guide. This is my tour company of choice and they offer a wide variety of tours and activities around the world. Unfortunately, Skye is too far for a day trip from Edinburgh but can be included in a Muti day tour.
These are my top choices from Get Your Guide
Best day trips to of the Isle of Skye
Best two day tour of the Isle of Skye
Best three days tours to the Isle of Skye
Best five day tours to the Isle of Skye
Enjoy your trip to the Isle of Skye
So there you have it, your full 1 day itinerary to the Isle of Skye. The magical and awe-inspiring landscape of the west coast of Scotland will leave you excited to explore even more of this bonnie land.
The fascinating folklore and legends that surround this part of the world will leave the hairs on your neck tingling, excited for more.
Thanks to Gemma for this article. You can read more about Gemma in the author box below.
Skye is just one of the many fantastic places to visit in Scotland. For more Scottish travel inspiration you can read my top 19 places to visit or for the UK my Ultimate Bucket List with 100 must-see destinations to include in your itinerary.