Melanie Grandidge October 3 2022

With epic scenery, a rich history and abundant wildlife, it’s no surprise that the Isle of Skye is Scotland’s most popular holiday destination after Edinburgh.

As award-winning experts in self-drive holidays in the UK, we’ve been helping our clients discover the magical Isle of Skye for almost two decades. Read on for our top tips on visiting this incredible island.


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Best things to see and do on the Isle of Skye

Located on the west coast of Scotland, the Isle of Skye is the largest of the Inner Hebrides at 50 miles long and 25 miles wide.

For a relatively small island, it is packed with stunning attractions and iconic natural landscapes. It’s no wonder that Skye was used as the filming location for so many films, including Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), The BFG (2016) and Macbeth (2015).

The bustling harbour town of Portree is the island’s capital and cultural hub. The town acts as a fine base for sightseeing and visiting the more remote areas of Skye, and from Portree, you may wish to take to the seas and explore the abundant wildlife spotting opportunities and stunning views just beyond the island’s shores.

There are many boat trips which offer daily wildlife-watching tours of the Strait of Raasay, which is home to seals, golden eagles, otters, dolphins, and sea eagles.


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North of Portee, you’ll find one of the island’s most iconic landmarks; the Old Man of Storr. This unique geological feature is made up of distinctive rocky peaks that create a rugged and dramatic landscape. It is the highest point on the Trotternish Ridge which was formed by an ancient landslide.

Continue north to discover another beautiful result of this landslide, the weird and wonderful rock formations of The Quiraing. However, unlike the Old Man of Storr, there is still some movement in the land here as it still shifts a few centimetres each year. This unique landscape is a highlight of the Skye Trail – a long-distance walking route across the island.

The village of Carbost is home to Skye’s most famous whisky distillery, Talisker. Take a tour of the distillery and discover how they produce their wonderfully robust and award-winning Island malt.

Nearby you’ll find the magical Fairy Pools. Situated at the bottom of the Cuillin Mountains, these are a series of spectacular waterfalls and beautiful crystal-clear pools. The pools are best visited on a day with blue skies or sunshine as the water will look magical as it shimmers and reflects the light.


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Best places to eat and drink on the Isle of Skye

In Portree, we would recommend Scorrybreac, an elegant and intimate restaurant delivering modern Scottish cuisine with French influences, located on the harbour. Here the focus is on local and seasonal produce, combined to create irresistible flavour combinations.

Bosville Hotel has an upmarket bistro restaurant where tasty starters, delicious market fish, steaks and pasta dishes are served.

Alternatively, The Isles Inn offers good pub grub such as Scottish beef and venison, or why not try the local Haggis, neeps and tatties? After dinner, sit in their traditional Skye Black Croft House Bar in front of the roaring open fire and contemplate your day. Please note that The Isles Inn typically does not take reservations in advance for non-residents.


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There are also some fantastic options further afield on the island, but these require a drive or taxi journey and booking in advance.

In the beautiful Waternish Peninsula, you will find Loch Bay Seafood Restaurant. Set in a little crofter’s cottage with a welcoming wood-burning stove and Harris Tweed-covered chairs, the esteemed Michael Smith skillfully prepares elevated Scottish dishes with French touches. Advance reservations are essential at Loch Bay.

Nearby, the historic Stein Inn – the oldest inn on the island – offers light lunches and traditional bar meals in a cosy setting.

No visit to Skye is complete without a visit to the acclaimed Three Chimneys, one of Scotland’s favourite restaurants. You will find the owners Eddie and Shirley Spear and their candlelit crofter’s cottage, close by the sea on the shores of Loch Dunvegan. As a leading Scottish chef, Shirley Spear has won many top awards over the past fifteen years, including a Michelin Star. It is essential that you make a dinner reservation in advance at the Three Chimneys. This is probably the best restaurant in the Islands. You could also stop here for lunch during your time sightseeing on the island, although booking in advance is still essential.

Between Portree and Dunvegan, you will find Edinbane Lodge, specialising in a 10-course tasting menu which highlights Head Chef Calum Montgomery’s passion for the fresh local produce of the island. Enjoy delicious food served in the setting of a restored 16th-century Highland Lodge. The Lodge is open for dinner from Wednesday to Sunday, and we would advise pre-booking online.


Best places to stay on the Isle of Skye

For an extra special experience, we would recommend staying at the aforementioned Three Chimneys in the secluded hamlet of Colbost, near Dunvegan. As well as the world-class restaurant, they also have luxurious 5-star accommodation. Each room is calming and elegant with stunning sea views.

Another luxurious option in Colbost is the contemporary Hillstone Lodge. All their rooms are en-suite with spectacular views over Loch Dunvegan and Dunvegan Castle. Enjoy a delicious breakfast in their relaxing guest lounge with panoramic views of the loch.

If you’re looking for high-end accommodation closer to Skye’s capital, we recommend Canowindra. This luxury bed and breakfast has spectacular views of Ben Tianavaig and the Cuillin mountain. Each room has been individually designed with comfort and luxury in mind.

We understand how exceptional hosts can make a huge difference to having an enjoyable stay. Aileen and Thomas at Medina B&B always go the extra mile for their guests to ensure a relaxing stay in their home. Situated just a 10-minute walk from the centre of Portee, this modern bungalow boasts wonderful views over Portee Harbour.

Situated on the southern outskirts of Portee, is the charming Gables B&B. As this accommodation is owned by the lovely Margaret who is native to Skye, you can be sure of the best local tips for exploring the island.

Find the perfect place to stay for you in our blog: 10 Amazing Places to Stay on the Isle of Skye.


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Best time to visit the Isle of Skye

The best time to visit the Isle of Skye is from April to October. In spring, the weather begins to brighten and Skye’s seasonal businesses start to open up. If you’re keen to spot some local wildlife, then we recommend visiting in spring or summer. Take a boat trip to spot nearby puffins, seals and dolphins. Early spring and late autumn give you more chance of good weather and less chance of being bothered by pesky midges.

Summer is the island’s peak season as it’s easy to see why. The hours of daylight are long, giving you more time to explore and a chance to savour those relaxing mornings and evenings. With warmer and brighter weather, you also have more chances to experience a spectacular sunrise or sunset over one of Skye’s magical landscapes.

For a better chance of having this tranquil world all to yourself, opt for a winter escape. During the months of November to early March, the scenery can really sparkle under dustings of snow. Wintertime is also the best chance of spotting the iconic red deer as they will be on lower ground in search of better grazing away from the snow. If you don’t mind the chilly weather and love to cosy up by the fireplace in the evenings, then you’ll love our Isle of Skye & Scottish Highlands Winter Escape.

The Isle of Skye truly is a wonderful place to visit in all seasons. It all depends on your preferences as to which time of the year is best for you to visit. Whether you’re looking for better weather, more activities, a chance to spot the local wildlife or a peaceful relaxing experience, our Travel Specialists would be delighted to discuss the best dates for your perfect Isle of Skye experience.


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Isle of Skye tips from our team

Pippa: “If you have the time a boat trip to Loch Coruisk is not to be missed – the Loch inspired Sir Walter Scott and is rumoured to be home to a Selkie. The Loch is only accessible by boat or a multi-day hike, but it boasts incredible views – surrounded by mountains.”

Shelia: “Driving down Glen Brittle brings you up close and personal to the mighty Black Cuillin Mountains. It’s a fantastic drive and a single-track road all the way to the road end at the beach. If it’s clear, the scenery suddenly takes your breath away as a wall of serrated, dark mountains rears up ahead of you! Simply stunning.”

Lottie: “Get up early and walk to the Point Of Sleat. It’s a fairly easy walk, but because of limited parking, it feels very secluded. It visits Camas Daraich, which is a beautiful white sand beach with crystal clear blue waters. It ends with amazing views over Mallaig, the Ardnamurchan peninsula, and the isles of Eigg, Rum, and Rubh an Dùnain from the Point of Sleat itself.”

Sine: “Walk out to Neist Point Lighthouse and take in the dramatic views! This place truly has an end-of-the-world feel to it, with towering sea cliffs, cascading waterfalls and endless sea views. Here sea birds scream and fight, while the wind howls. Probably my favourite experience on Skye.”

Shelia: “Visit the Stein Inn, on the Waternish Peninsula and enjoy drinks at sunset and some of the best seafood from the loch opposite!”


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Discover the Isle of Skye with Absolute Escapes

Absolute Escapes have specialised in self-drive holidays since 2004 and know a thing or two about planning a perfect Scottish road trip.

Our Isle of Skye & The Outer Hebrides self-drive holiday is an excellent way to explore some of the most spectacular islands on Scotland’s west coast, including Skye.

Each of our holidays are created uniquely for you around your interests, and one of our award-winning Travel Specialists would be delighted to create your perfect tailor-made adventure with you.

Melanie Grandidge

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