This is a recap of my recent trip to the Isle of Skye in Scotland!
My younger sister Laurie, her husband, his sister, and his sister’s husband reached out a few months ago about a trip to Scotland; Laurie suggested the Highlands, specifically the Isle of Skye. The two of us did most of the research and planning of this 3-night trip.
There is a lot to see on Skye, so I thought it would be helpful to put our itinerary out in the internet world for others who are looking to plan a similar trip!
My sister and her crew started their trip in Edinburgh, Scotland first (from the U.S.) and took the train from Edinburgh to Inverness (in the Highlands.) Dustin and I took a short flight from London to Inverness on British Airways, arriving around 10 am on Sunday, October 1.
We had time to kill before my sister & group arrived, so we changed into running clothes and went for a 5-mile exploratory run of Inverness. Here we are by Loch Ness!
And we happened to run upon the Loch Ness Marathon! It was such a beautiful fall day for a marathon too.
The course looked like it was a pretty one, though we mostly saw the last few miles and the finish line area. We were happy to break up our short run with lots of stops to cheer for the runners!
We didn’t shower afterwards (eew, ha!), but just changed into dry warm clothes and went to the grocery store to get food and drinks to bring to the the Air BnB. Our Air BnB (this place– amazing!) was in Dunvegan, which we had learned did not have more than one restaurant, so we planned to cook most meals at the house, as well as bring sandwiches for lunches on the days we were hiking/exploring. The Beach House in Dunvegan was an incredible place to stay in Skye and perfect for the 6 of us.
The more popular place to stay while on the Isle of Skye is in the town of Portree; there were a lot of rentals there, but I’m glad we stayed at this place in Dunvegan instead, as it gave us a real Scottish Highlands vibe!
After my sister & crew arrived in Inverness, they picked up their rental car; we had to rent two cars, as we couldn’t fit all 6 of us in one, plus luggage. And no one wanted to drive a big car on the narrow Scottish highland roads!
Inverness was a 3-hour drive to Dunvegan, but the views along the way made the time pass quickly. I must give kudos to Dustin (and to Laurie’s husband in the other car) who did all the driving on the “other” side of the roads, and the roads were very narrow and treacherous throughout the trip!
(I don’t think you can explore the Isle of Skye without a car, FYI. It would be really difficult, as there was not much for public transportation, unless you were part of a bigger bus tour.)
We arrived at the Air BnB in time to shower and get ready for dinner at the one restaurant in Dunvegan, the Old School Restaurant, which turned out to be really good! We did try to eat there a second time, but couldn’t get in as they were very busy.
Monday, October 2: Dustin and I started the day early with a 5 mile run in Dunvegan, waking up all the sheep along the way, who did not seem pleased to be disturbed!
Then we drove from Dunvegan to Portree for coffee/breakfast and some souvenir shopping. I had read that most places in Skye prefer cash, but we were able to use cards.
We could have spent a bit more time in Portree, but we wanted to keep moving to get to the Old Man of Storr.
The Old Man of Storr hike is a must-do hike in Skye.
We were faced with blustery winds, which made it more challenging, but I think wind and rain are pretty common in Scotland. Other than the weather, the hike wasn’t all that strenuous; I’d rate it as a medium hike that most physically fit people would find doable. Kids can do it and dogs too! The weather may have added a bit of a challenge but that’s to be expected in Scotland. I don’t think it ever gets that hot there.
It took us about 2 hours for the 3 mile hike (with about 2400 ft of elevation) but we stopped quite a bit for pictures and to regroup with everyone.
If you were a smaller group, you probably could do the full hike in about an hour.
After making our way back down to the parking lot, we had worked up quite an appetite and ate our picnic lunches in the car; there aren’t a lot of places to stop along the drive, so definitely bring food with you.
Next we stopped at Kealt Falls. There is an option to hike down below the falls and do some wild swimming, but it was rainy and quite windy, so we opted out of the hike.
We moved along the east coast of the island to Mealt Falls and Kilt Rock. This was a beautiful spot, though it was raining when we went here, so we didn’t spend a lot of time lingering! There was a food truck that served coffee here though, so we stopped there for a warm cuppa!
Fortunately the weather improved a bit by the time we made it to the Quiraing.
The whole group started the hike of this unique landscape, but there were a few more challenging sections where you had to scramble up some rocks and cross some small streams, so the rest of the group turned back and went on to the Duntulum castle ruins instead. Dustin and I continued on the hike, though we didn’t complete the full 3-4 hour loop. Even so, we spent about 2 hours there and definitely saw most of it! So green and pretty. A very cool area to explore.
After the Quiraing, Dustin and I drove to the town of Uig where you can often see puffins along the shore; Uig is the ferry port for Skye.
Unfortunately we didn’t see any puffins, but we did stop at the Isle of Skye Brewery. The brewery doesn’t sell pints or tastings; it’s only a shop to purchase bottled beer to take home, so we purchased a few bottles to bring back to the Air Bnb.
We waited to reconnect with the rest of our group before walking to the Falls of Rha. This was a short hike and the waterfall wasn’t as incredible as the others we had seen, but it was still a lovely lichen/moss covered walk to a nice waterfall.
By this time, we had covered a lot of ground and were losing a bit of steam, but we powered through to the Fairy Glen and I’m so glad we did! The Fairy Glen was another unique landscape.
Since it was raining off and on, we were treated to some beautiful rainbows.
The Fairy Glens are pretty – definitely another must-see! There is a large rock that you can climb to get great views, but if not for that climb, this area was pretty accessible for all levels of hikers (or kids.)
Just a really stunning place and a highlight of the day, (of which there were many!)
After the Fairy Glen, we made our way back to Dunvegan and called it a day- a very full day! We had dinner at our Air BnB and crashed pretty early after all the activities.
On Tuesday, October 3, Dustin and I again started the day with a 5 mile run around Dunvegan.
Then we all drove to the Sligachan Old Bridge. The legend here is that if you dunk your face for 7 seconds, you will receive eternal beauty. Of course, we all had to try!
The bridge itself is neat and is surrounded by the Cuillan ridge, which made for a nice backdrop.
From the bridge, we tried to stop by Hector’s Highland Coos to meet some Highland cows, but unfortunately there were none there when we arrived! That was a bust…not sure where they had gone to. Maybe the rain kept them away.
Instead, we made our way to the Fairy Pools. The Fairy Pools were quite busy- the parking lot was full and there were the most crowds there that we had seen the whole trip.
But once we started the walk, it wasn’t too crowded. You can walk along the trail for quite some time; we spent about two hours here, but we were focused on finding the right pool to do a cold plunge.
My sister Laurie and her crew plunged in one spot, and Dustin and I plunged in a different spot, where we were joined by two strangers- it would have been nice to have the pool to ourselves, but honestly, we could only take the cold for a few minutes, so not a big deal.
I had trouble warming up after the plunge, even though I had dry warm clothes to change into; it probably didn’t help that I was fighting a cold….
Anyways, after the plunge, we made our way back to the car and drove to the Oyster Shed outside of Dunvegan for a late lunch of oysters, lobster, and smoked salmon. Amazing! The line is quite long there, and they are only open from 10-5, but I’m so glad we went as the food was delicious and very fresh.
The Oyster Shed is quite close to Talisker Distillery; of course the isles of Scotland are known for their whiskey, so we did a small tasting (not the official tour though- you need to prebook that pretty far in advance), and bought a few souvenir bottles. Well worth a visit, even if you aren’t that into whiskey.
After the distillery (and some coffee to warm me up from a cute place across the street) we went on to Dunvegan Castle. The Dunvegan Castle entry fee included the gardens, which were quite lovely. The castle was interesting as well; cool to visit especially if you are interested in Scottish “clan” history.
By the time we finished at the castle, we were all pretty tired and ready for a hot shower back at the Air BnB, where we cooked dinner again and played games.
Wednesday was our departure day, which ended up great as we woke up to torrential downpours. It would have been tough day to hike and explore. Instead, we drove back to Inverness where we caught a short flight back to London.
I highly recommend the Isle of Skye. The natural beauty and sites are absolutely stunning, my pictures do not do it justice. I’m really glad my sister Laurie selected this for her birthday trip. It was wonderful sharing the experience with her!
Summary of our Itinerary:
Arrive in Inverness, drive to Isle of Skye
Morning run with the sheep
Explore Portree: coffee & souvenirs (1 hour)
Hike Old Man of Storr in hurricane winds (90 min- 2 hr)
Picnic lunch (15 min)
Kealt Falls (10 min)
Mealt falls and Kilt Rock (10 min)
Hike Quiraing (can do as little as 30 minutes, as much as 4 hours, we did 2 hours)
*optional excursion to Dunhelm ruins (45 min)- our group that didn’t hike the Quiraing went here instead.*optional stop in Uig for puffin search and Skye brewery (45 min)- Dustin and I went here after the Quiraing and waited for the other group.
Falls of Rha (30 min)
Fairy Glens (1 hr)- don’t miss!
Cooked dinner at the Air Bnb
Day 3: slower day, less hiking.
Sligachan Old Bridge (dunk face for external beauty), 15 min
Fairy Ponds wild swimming (cold plunge), 2 hours
Lunch at Oyster Shed + Talisker Distillery (lines are long at Oyster Shed but worth it, Talisker is worth it even if you don’t drink whiskey. We did not do an official tour.)
Dunvegan Castle + optional seal tour (seal tour is weather dependent and wasn’t available for us. Dunvegan Castle takes about 30 minutes, but the gardens are surprisingly nice and we spent an hour there.)
Dinner at Air Bnb again
Drive back to Inverness, flight home