The Isle of Skye is a stunning island off the west coast of Scotland and the largest island of the Inner Hebrides. With a road bridge connecting it to the mainland, it’s a great option if you’d like to take a trip in your own car to a Scottish Isle or add a Scottish Isle to your Scotland itinerary with relative ease.
Although you could easily spend much longer exploring Skye, this 3 day Isle of Skye itinerary is ideal to see all the main sights on the island without feeling too rushed, but really soaking up the beauty of this incredible Scottish Isle.
How to get to Isle of Skye?
The easiest option is to drive to Skye over the Skye Bridge from Kyle of Lochalsh. Kyle of Lochalsh is around a 4 hour drive from both Glasgow and Edinburgh and you can easily get there using Google Maps.
Alternatively, there is also a ferry to Isle of Skye from mainland Scotland which departs from Mallaig and arrives at Armdale on the Isle of Skye. The ferry takes around 45 minutes but the timetable is seasonal and boats are much more infrequent in the winter months, so make sure to check the timetable before your trip if you’re planning to visit.
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Where to stay on the Isle of Skye?
We stayed at Skeabost Hotel which is about 10 minutes outside Portree but located on a beautiful loch with Scottish decor, dark wood panelling interiors and beautiful modern rooms with large ensuites.
We also considered these hotels but because many places close in Skye in the winter, these places were either already fully booked because of limited options, or closed:
Isle of Skye 3 day itinerary
While it is completely possible to travel to Skye on a day trip from Edinburgh or Glasgow, spending a few days on Skye is really worth it to experience everything it has to offer and also to allow for the unpredictable weather conditions which can hamper plans with little warning when the weather suddenly changes.
So I suggest staying for at least 3 days to see the sights, enjoy a walk or two and use this Isle of Skye guide to plan the best route for your time on the island.
Hopefully this Isle of Skye blog will help you plan your trip to the Isle of Skye and show you many of the things to do on Isle of Skye on your visit.
Isle of Skye itinerary: day 1 - The East Coast Loop
The Old Man of Storr
Start your day early and set out driving North from Portree (if this is where you’re staying) on the A855 towards Old Man of Storr.
After just a 13 minute drive. you’ll reach the Man of Storr trail car park on the left. If you’re only going to do one of the many Isle of Skye walks, I recommend doing this trail because it’s relatively easy and with great rewards!
I recommend doing the trail in the morning because the weather generally seems to be better in the mornings on Skye, with clouds and bad weather rolling in later. However if the weather is looking better in the afternoon, you could do this day in reverse.
Parking at Old Man of Storr is metered and we did see car tickets being checked on our trip in November so I’d imagine they are extremely strict on it throughout the year. The tickets are just £2-3 as of 2020.
You’ll see the start of the trail marked from the car park and the trail is relatively easy to do, although steep in places, but I would recommend good walking shoes because further up can get muddy.
The trail path is clearly marked until you reach the grassy area at the top where you can explore among the rocks and gullies, there are various tracks to take and different views of the famous protruding rocks, just make sure you’re remembering your route to get back to the path as you’ll come back down the same way.
The views from the top are epic on a clear day, but even on a cloudy and misty day it’s incredibly atmospheric. We were lucky to experience both those weather types when we reached the top which did also prove how quickly the weather can change, which you should be prepared for!
In total the walk takes around 2-2.5 hours return depending how long you spend at the top.
Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls
Just a 12 minute drive further north on the coast road from Storr car park, you’ll reach the viewpoint for Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls. The car park is right on the cliff edge and just a short walk from there to the viewpoint to see the stunning Mealtfalls waterfall falling into the sea.
It is honestly like a scene from Iceland and well worth making a quick stop on your Isle of Skye driving itinerary to soak in the view and snap some photos.
The Quiraing is another short 10 minute drive further up the coast from Mealt Falls and is a spectacular place to stop.
Continue up the A855 coast road and then follow Google Maps which will take you on a single-track road on the left, going inland. There are plenty of passing places but it does get busy in peak season.
The Quiraing was formed by one of the largest landslides ever in Britain, which is why there appear to be rocks piercing up through the ground as it had shifted. Incredibly, it’s also the only area of the Trotternish ridge landslip which is still happening, albeit very slowly!
The car park at the top is also pay and display and costs around £3 too. From the car park, cross the road and walk towards the ridge for amazing views just a short walk from the car park.
If you’re in the mood for another hike, there is the Quiraing Loop trail walk here which is around 7km and takes roughly 2 hours to complete. It starts and finishes at the car park and can be a bit tricky in some spots but is a must-do if you’re an active hiker or looking for adventure!
Even if you’re not planning to hike the Quiraing, it is well worth driving here to just take in the views from the grassy area next to the car park.
The A855 coastal loop
Head back out to the A855 coastal road and continue the loop around the north coast of the island and back down towards Uig. Once at Uig, take the A87 back to Portree.
The rest of this drive should only take around 40 minutes but that gives you plenty of flexibility to stop wherever you like if you see a sight or view you want to stop for!
In the very north near Duntulm you’ll find the famous Instagram red telephone box on the Isle of Skye. You’ll also find the castle ruins of Duntulm Castle and there are amazing untouched nature walks around Rubha Hunish here.
Part of an Isle of Skye road trip is just enjoying the incredible landscapes as you drive, this is your first of many opportunities to do that!
Where to eat in Portree
If you’re not dining at your hotel, we loved trying the local fish and chips in Portree, check out The Lower Deck for fish & chips cooked in beef fat. Or The Chippy at the top of Quay Street for a more simple fish & chips which was our favourite!
Isle of Skye itinerary: day 2
Kick off your day in Portree, enjoying the colourful Portree harbour, walk along the shingle beach and even check out one of the boat trips that leave daily from the harbour in peak season.
We liked to grab breakfast to-go from Relish Cafe on the corner near Co-op (plus some sandwiches from Co-op for our road trip lunch!).
After exploring Portree, take the A87 North (the way you came back yesterday) for 25 minutes to Fairy Glen.
I would recommend going to Fairy Glen either in the off season or first thing in the morning because the road to it is single track with free passing areas and would be much more difficult to navigate in peak season in the middle of the day with lots of traffic.
Visiting here in 2020 there was no parking, just roadside pull-ins which is why we also when early in the morning. However they appeared to be building a car park so I would imagine there will be designated pay & display parking by summer 2021.
Fairy Glen is also an old landslide area, which is the reason for its unique hill formations. Locals have many folk tales and fairy stories associated with the area, hence the name, Fairy Glen.
There is a designated path from the road up to the main Glen where the fairy circle and Castle Ewen rock formation can be found. But other than that, you can roam among the lush hills with babbling streams and quirky rock formations here wherever you like and for as long as you like.
Isle of Skye west coast
After visiting Fairy Glen in the morning, drive back along the A87 until you reach the A850 at Borve and start your drive west towards the coast. The A850 will take you all the way to Dunvegan. Uig to Dunvegan will take around 40 minutes.
Dunvegan Castle sits on the edge of the sea and is unique because it’s the only Highland castle to have been occupied by the same family for 800 years.
The castle is amazing inside but the 5 acres of gardens are also beautiful to see in contrast with the surrounding landscape. They’re lush green, with a waterfall, walled rose garden, woodland walks, ornate bridges and beautiful landscaping.
Tickets to visit the castle and gardens cost £14 and tickets for just the gardens cost £12. There are also other activities to do on site like fishing trips and seal spotting trips if you have longer to spend in the area.
Continue on from Dunvegan to reach Neist Point for sunset.
The drive takes roughly another 30 minutes, so you’ll need to time it right if you do want to see the sunset. The roads do get narrower as you approach the west coast so allow stopping time!
The west of Skye really surprised us, it was so much more wild, untouched and breathtaking than we ever expected and the coastline at Neist Point was like seeing the lush green hills of Hawaii combined with the seastacks of the Great Ocean Road - we were blown away!
Parking at the Neist Point is free but parking is limited so you may need to park on the road and walk if you’re visiting in peak season.
The access steps are from the car park and are quite steep down the side of the cliff.
You can either walk to the lighthouse itself or I suggest crossing the gaps in the dry stone wall at the bottom on the right and climbing up the hill a bit so you have a view of the lighthouse from the other side and a clear view across the sea for sunset.
Enjoying sunset from here was so spectacular and it’s definitely a less popular spot to visit on Skye, so it’s great if you’re looking for some space and time away from the crowds.
You’ll be driving back to Portree in the dark after sunset so allow plenty of time.
Isle of Skye itinerary: day 3
For the last day of your Isle of Skye itinerary, 3 days means you have plenty of time to visit an iconic landmark and an iconic distillery as you leave.
Sligachan Old Bridge
It’s likely you will have driven past this bridge on your way to Portree when you arrived on the Isle of Skye.
This old bridge is a great stop on the last day as you leave the island, there’s a free car park right next to it on the side of the road and I love it just for its picturesque setting with mountains in the background.
But it’s also the point on the A87 where you need to turn off and take the A863 towards your next stop.
The Fairy Pools
Although picturesque all year round, these pools are best visited in the warmer months or better weather, not least because you can take a swim in the pools and if you’re visiting the Isle of Skye in winter, the water here will be extremely bracing!
The Fairy Pools car park is also pay and display costing about £5. The walk is relatively short but there isn’t a specific or obvious path for a lot of the walk to the pools. The amazing views really do make it a great stop on the last day of your Isle of Skye road trip itinerary.
The pools are crystal clear and blue green, with stunning views of the mountain range beyond, take a swim if you’re brave!
Once you reach the main waterfall, you can walk the same way back or continue on a loop trail, although this will take about 3 hours total.
No Isle of Skye Scotland itinerary would be complete without a visit to a Scottish whisky distillery.
The drive from the Fairy Pools to Talisker Distillery is just 13 minutes, so if you have had a dip in the cold water, the whisky is perfect to warm you up!!
Talisker is the oldest working distillery on the Isle of Skye and offers daily guided tours, every hour which is a very reasonable £15 for 45 minutes which includes a tasting of 3 whiskys. The tutored tasting only runs once a day and costs £25 for 45 minutes and 4 whiskys.
Here you can always take a taste of Skye home with you by buying a bottle from their distillery shop.
I hope this Isle of Skye road trip itinerary has given you plenty of inspiration for your 3 days in the Isle of Skye. It’s such a breathtaking part of the world with so much to offer and I know I can’t wait to go back and see more of it!
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