The Isle of Skye is Scotland’s second largest island and, thanks to its mountain scenery, rugged coastline and mythical legends, it is one of the most beautiful places in Britain. In our article, we will show you how to get to know the best places and what you should definitely not miss. So don’t hesitate and come with us to the Isle of Skye – the main attraction of Scotland.
The Isle of Skye can be found on the northwest coast of Britain, relatively far from civilization. The nearest larger city (Inverness) is over 100 km away. The island itself is not very populated, on average there are only 6 inhabitants per km 2 . However, thanks to the natural attractions that the island offers, it is a frequent destination for tourists. So let’s show you which places are definitely worth it!
The mysterious Cuillin Mountains
Taking a closer look at the map, we find that we can get to Skye via a bridge. The Skye Bridge is the fastest and cheapest option (free) to get to the island. Then just a short drive from crossing the arched bridge and you will immediately be captivated by the Cullin Mountains rising from the sea. The sharp rocky peaks will undoubtedly excite climbers and tourists . The main ridge of the range stretches for ten kilometers and twelve peaks exceed 1,000 feet (914.4 m) in height, making it one of the Scottish Munros. Although it is not an extra height, but when you rise from sea level, the elevation can take a toll. You also have to take into account the absence of tourist signs, occasional climbing (so-called scrambling) and the treachery of the Scottish weather. It is not unusual that a strong sea wind causes thatthe rain falls from the side and one gets wet quickly .
If you are hesitating which hill to go to, then we have a tip for you. In addition to the highest mountain on the island of Skye – Sgùrr Alasdair (992 m above sea level), it is worth going to the peak called The Inaccessible Pinnacle (986 m) . You can already tell from the name that it will not be easy to climb to the very top and it is not possible without a rope, but even just the sight of the 50 m high rock tower rising from the main ridge of the Cuillin Mountains is definitely worth it. In addition, on the way you pass the breathtaking Eas Mòr waterfall in the Glen Brittle valley, which reaches a height of almost 50 m. If you are more of those who like to admire the mountains from below, then a nice view of the mountain range is offered from the old bridge over the river Sligachan or from the wharf in the village of Elgol, where one can see beautifully how the mountains “grow” from the sea.
Fairy Pools ice pools
Another way to enjoy the beauty of the mountains and to cool down is the Fairy Pools. Fairy Pools is a collective name for the cascading waterfalls on the river with the breakneck name of Allt Coir’ a’ Mhadaidh, in the Glen Brittle valley. Here, the clear mountain water inexorably makes its way back to the sea, creating several waterfalls with small pools for swimming. Cooling off surrounded by mountain peaks will be one of your top experiences on the Isle of Skye, but one has to be lucky with the weather as the mountain water is really icy. The advantage is that the path to the pools takes approximately 10 minutes and the trail is paved, so you don’t have to worry about wet shoes.
Tip: the main car park to the pools costs around £6. It is therefore worthwhile to park a little higher (GPS: 57°15’19.273″N, 6°16’31.507″W), and thus save on parking fees.
Talisker Bay with waterfall
Whether you’re visiting Glen Brittle for hiking or swimming, you shouldn’t miss nearby Talisker Bay. The bay is only a few kilometers away on single-track roads and less than 2 kilometers of leisurely walking. The reward for a bit of driving nerves will be a unique view of an abandoned sea bay lined with rocks. What’s more, a waterfall falls into the sea from one side of the cliffs . Also, the local beach and rocks in the sea will surely excite you. Unlike the other mentioned places, the bay is not so “sloppy” and you will be almost alone here.
The Old Man of Storr
We will move to the northern part of the island, where the second mountain range with the highest peak The Storr (719 m) stretches on the Trotternish peninsula. Just below him patrols the Old Man (The Old Man of Storr). The 55 meter high rock tower is at the forefront of search engines when you look for the top places on the Isle of Skye. There are several rock towers here, and together with the view of the indented coast, they will offer you an unforgettable experience . It is definitely worthwhile not to be put off by the view from below and climb approximately 250 meters directly below the rock towers. It is also important to mention the parking fee. Three hours is plenty of time for a tour, and the car park costs three pounds.
Rock formations wherever you look
Another such place to see diverse rock towers and formations is the Quiraing rock formation. We can find it on the north side of the summit of Meall na Suiramach (543 m), not far from the village of Staffin. Bizarre rock formations are among the most photographed places on the island, but admiring them will not be easy. Leave the car on the unpaid patch along the cemetery (GPS: 57°37’49.432″N, 6°16’41.787″W) and start cutting 300 meters of altitude. Immediately to the left rises the first rock formation resembling a shark’s fin. If you overcome the pitfalls of the harsh Scottish weather and climb further, you will also discover other places, for example: The Prison (prison), the rock platform The Table (table) or the iconic rock tower The Needle(needle). As with the previous one, here too it pays to go as close as possible to the rocks, where you will get the best views. Definitely don’t be afraid to explore the hidden trails on the slopes and occasionally climb somewhere, provided the weather permits.
Mealt Waterfall and dinosaur footprints
It wouldn’t be a true visit to the Isle of Skye if you didn’t stop at the famous Mealt Waterfall as you pass between the rock towers. It falls from a height of 55 meters straight into the sea , something you won’t see anywhere else. One might argue that Talisker Bay offers a waterfall falling into the sea, but Mealt Waterfall is viewed from above. The absence of entrance fees, parking fees and the need for tourism is also nice. You just jump out of the car and the waterfall is in the palm of your hand.
As you drive along the northern coast of the island, look around for dinosaur tracks ! 166 million years ago, when the Isle of Skye was still part of the continent somewhere below the equator, megalosaurs roamed it, whose tracks are still visible in the rocks on the coast. You can probably find the largest concentration of traces around An Corran beach , near the village of Staffin, and there is even a small > museum < (a short distance from the Mealt waterfall).
At first glance, it’s clear that the east coast of the Trotternish Peninsula is home to some of the most stunning locations on the Isle of Skye. However, even the western part of the peninsula is not left behind, and the fairytale valley of Fairy Glen is a clear proof. The only road leading into the valley branches off from the main road near the port town of Uig, where ferries leave for the other islands of the Hebridean archipelago. After less than two kilometers of driving, you will be greeted by a paid parking lot, so for free parking, continue driving a few hundred meters along the lake (GPS: 57°35’1.587″N, 6°19’25.365″W).
The fairy-tale valley got its name thanks to the unconventional layout of the rocks and green hills. The main center of action can be found above the lake, where a rock called Castle Ewen rises , which from a distance really resembles the ruins of a castle. One can climb up to the top and thus enjoy the view of the entire valley. However, one thing catches your eye at first glance. The grassy spiral carved into the ground will certainly give you reason to think about how it actually came to be. Over time, tourists filled it with stones, giving it an even more mystical appearance. Will you believe the superstitions and try to go through the spiral leaving a coin in the middle for luck? Whether you try your luck or not, a visit to Fairy Glen will take you about 30 minutes and you can easily go here with children.
Tip: while wandering around the Isle of Skye , you’re sure to come across a seal . Just look out for gray “dog” heads in the sea.
The town of Portree and Dunvegan Castle
The Isle of Skye – the main attraction of Scotland will undoubtedly captivate you with its natural beauty and attractions. However, if you’d like to take a break from the rock formations, mountain scenery and jagged cliffs, head to Portree. The town of Portree is located on the east coast and is the administrative center of the Isle of Skye. But don’t expect any big center or busy streets. The town is really small and the colorful houses lining the coast will dazzle you the most . Be sure not to miss the small observation tower above the church, and you will also find interesting views on the nearby peak of Ben Chracaig (149 m).
The second cultural experience on the island is Dunvegan Castle. The seat of the Scottish MacLeod clan will delight you with its magnificence and its location on the shores of Loch Dunvegan. If you decide to visit, expect an entrance fee of around 14 pounds/person. The ticket is valid for entering the gardens and the castle, and without it it is almost impossible to see the castle. An interesting option is also boat trips to look for seals on the sea lake Dunvegan. You can find more information about the castle and trips on the > official website <.
Coral beach – the most beautiful on the island?
While you’re at Dunvegan Castle, take a stroll down to Coral Beach. The name of the beach is derived from crushed seaweed skeletons that look like miniature corals. Just walk along the beach with the wind in your hair and you’ll have a handful of them in no time. In addition to corals, Coral Beach will delight you with its white sand and turquoise water , and it is no exaggeration to say that it is one of the most beautiful on the island. Most readers will also appreciate that there is a leisurely two-kilometer path leading to it, which does not require crossing any waterlogged areas, as is customary in Scotland.
Neist Point Lighthouse
If you pass through the Isle of Skye – the main attraction of Scotland, do not forget to look around the west coast more. E.g. the Neist Point Lighthouse will be one of your top experiences. Neist Point is the westernmost point of the island and the fierce wind from the Atlantic has created amazing cliffs here . Immediately after parking, you will have a wonderful view of the outcrop, and the surrounding rocks give the place a truly wild atmosphere. It is about a kilometer to the lighthouse itself on a concrete walkway, where one first descends from the cliff down the stairs and then walks along the side of the An t-Aigeach hill (122 m). The white lighthouse is now in private ownership, so you can’t get directly into its area, but the best photos are still offered from the mentioned peak.
Tip: the entire promontory, including the lighthouse, will open up beautifully for you if you head right towards the cliffs from the parking lot.
Tasting at the end
It wouldn’t be a visit to Scotland without tasting the drink of life. Whiskey is an inherent part of Scotland, and there are also several distilleries on the Isle of Skye. You can visit, for example, the oldest distillery > Talisker <, where tours are currently suspended, but it is still possible to taste and buy the single malt miracle in the shop. If you’re after a tour, head to the > Torabhaig Distillery < where tours cost around £10.