Written by Emma Knapp from Daydream Believer
To the first time visitor the Isle of Skye can seem intimidating; the endless rolling hills covered in heather, the ever-present mist and rain and the winding single-track roads, where the only traffic jams are caused by the freely roaming sheep. These are all part of the beauty of Skye, a place relatively untouched by the ‘go-go-go’ mentality of the modern world where you can disconnect and experience life in a simpler way.
In May I spent some time travelling around Skye with my parents, it was my second visit to the island and just as it had on my first trip two years prior, the wild and isolated landscapes captured my heart and had me envisioning what it would be like to live here. While my parents loved the island they both agreed it was not a place they would want to live, but for me there was a voice in the back of mind thinking the opposite. I wondered if it would be as magical to live here long-term as it was during my fleeting visits. I never truly expected Skye to become my home, but fate obviously had other ideas because less than three months later I was living life as a local on the Misty Isle.
The Isle of Skye is a growing tourism destination but it can still be a bit overwhelming when you are visiting to know where to go and what to do. To make your visit to my spectacular new home as wonderful as possible I’ve listed some of the top things to do below! If you don’t currently have any plans to visit Skye perhaps this will give you some inspiration to add it to your travel bucket-list.
Top five things to do on the Isle of Skye:
++ Catch a sunset or sunrise
The opportunities to view a sunrise or sunset in Skye are endless, if the weather is cooperating you are in for a real treat!
My personal favourite spot to witness sunrise or sunset is from my very own front yard. I have a view over the stunning Uig bay and am still pinching myself that I get to look outside at that view each day! Some other places to witness an epic sunrise or sunset are at the Quirang, Old Man Storr, the Fairy Pools or the Fairy Glen (two different places!) Portree Harbour and Neist Point.
Now all you need to do is hope the weather plays nice and allows the mist to disappear for wee while.
++ Hike the Quiraing
You can’t visit Skye without taking a hike, big or small, you must get out and enjoy nature at its best while you are here. The Quiraing is a popular choice among travellers; it offers some of the most breathtaking views in Scotland over a 2-3 hour walk through an ancient landslip which created the high cliffs, valleys and rock pinnacles you see today. On a difficultly scale I would say it’s a medium, there are a few steep sections along the walk but it should be easily accomplished by anyone of a decent fitness level. I’ve seen people of all ages out there completing the walk, so would say it’s a good choice for most people.
You can check out Walk Highlands for more information and directions for the walk.
++ Wander the colourful town of Portree
It was not until I moved to Skye that I got the chance to explore Portree, the biggest township on the island. Portree is quite small by mainland standards but is a wonderful place to spend a few hours.
The colourful houses lining the harbour make for wonderful a photo, there are plenty of restaurants and cafes to enjoy a bite to eat and there are some great local stores to pick up a unique souvenir to take home.
Portree is also where the largest supermarket on the island is located, so if you are in need of some groceries for your visit this is the place to do it.
++ Enjoy the local eateries
The Isle of Skye is mostly known for its outdoor pursuits, but while I love a good hike I’m also a foodie so upon moving here it became my mission to seek out the very best in food and coffee on the island. You might be surprised to know the Isle of Skye has some of the best restaurants and eateries in the U.K!
Some of my favourites are;
+ Skye Pies
+ Three Chimneys
+ Sia Café
+ Café Arriba
+ Ella’s Café (Make sure you try the Ecclefechan Tart!)
+ The Skye Baking Co.
++ Visit Other Isles
The Scottish Hebrides are made up of many different islands, the Isle of Skye being part of the Inner Hebrides. If you have an extra day or two I would highly recommend getting out to one of the other islands. The Isle of Raasay is very easy to reach, only 30 minutes via a ferry which leaves from Sconser in the south of Skye. Raasay is a stunning small island, which can be explored in a day, there are many walking tracks to take and while being so close to Skye the landscape is something of its own and certainly worth seeing.
Lewis and Harris are technically one island (the Isle of Lewis), but don’t let the locals of Harris hear you saying that! Reached by a ferry leaving daily from Uig Pier, both Lewis and Harris are wonderful places to experience the Scottish island culture, which remains strong to this day with many of the locals still speaking the Highland language of Gaelic and practicing traditions such as playing the bagpipes and weaving Harris Tweed.
If you are looking to travel to Scotland and want to experience something a bit different I highly recommend the Isle of Skye! You can easily reach Skye by car (about a 6 hour drive from Edinburgh) or if you’re not driving there are regular buses coming from many of the main cities (see Citylink for times and prices). Getting around the island with a car is the easiest option but it’s definitely not impossible to get around using local buses – this just requires a bit more pre-planning to ensure your plans fit with the bus timetable.
I hope the above tips and tricks help you to get the most out of your trip to the Isle of Skye, or inspiration you to visit! For now I will leave you, and as they would say in Gaelic, Tioraidh (Goodbye)!
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Emma is a travel & food writer, photographer and world traveller from New Zealand. Currently based in Scotland she spends her time exploring the world while scouting out the best food and coffee. You can follow her adventures on her blog or on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.