The Best of Skye 3-day road trip itinerary takes you through the scenic Scottish Highlands visiting the Fairy Pools, Kilt Rock, the Quiraing, and much more.
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The Best of Skye
Guest Post by Nat Took
The Isle of Skye is one of Scotland’s most visited destinations, and with good reason! It is a miniature highlands, cramming the region’s appeal into one island. From sea cliffs to mountain ranges this island has plenty to offer. You can see a lot of Skye in a small time frame if you do it right.
Here is my itinerary to see the best of Skye in just 3 days.
Best of Skye Day 1
Highlights – Skye Bridge, Loch Coruisk
Arrive at Skye in mid-morning, coming into Kyleakin. Access the island via the Skye Bridge on the A87 (if you have time make sure you stop off to see Eilean Donan Castle on the way, which is on the A87). You can park up in Kyleakin to get a quick picture of the bridge. The Skye bridge was first opened in 1995 and at first had a toll charge, however since 2004 it has been free to use.
From Kyleakin you have an hour’s drive to your first Skye experience. Continue up the A87 to Broadford, where you can buy supplies, if needed. I recommend at least getting a picnic for lunch.
A bit after you have left Broadford on the A87, turn left onto the B8083, towards Elgol. You should arrive at Elgol for midday.
At Elgol take a trip to Loch Coruisk. There are a couple of boat companies. Choose a standard trip that leaves by 12:30 pm. The standard trip usually takes three hours, giving you 1.5 hours on shore. You will need to book this in advance.
Loch Coruisk can only be reached by boat. It is an isolated glacial loch found beneath some of the highest peaks of the Cuillins Range. Many walkers use this loch to begin hikes in the Red Hills.
On the boat you can expect to see the local colony of seals. Once on shore you have an hour and a half to enjoy at your leisure. Have a picnic on the shore, wander around and explore. Just make sure you don’t miss your boat back!
You should return to your car by 4 pm at the latest. Once back, head toward Broadford. Once you reach the A87, turn left towards Sligachan. It should take about an hour to reach Sligachan from Elgol.
Here is where you will stop for the night. The historic Sligachan Hotel also has a campsite across the road. Alternatively, it is perfectly fine to stop and park overnight in Scotland. Just make sure you are out of the way, in a lay-by, and that there are no parking restrictions.
If you want to eat out, I would recommend either Seumus’ Bar or the Harta Restaurant in the Sligachan Hotel. Both serve local produce.
Best of Skye Day 2
Highlights – Fairy Pools, Talisker Distillery, Old Man Of Storr
Be up and about early, there is a full day ahead! If you want to go out for breakfast, the Sligachan Hotel allows non-residents to buy breakfast, and they offer very good salmon and scrambled eggs!
Before leaving, head down to the nearby River Sligachan. Face the hotel and turn left, walk across the road, and you are there. Here you can have your first taste of Skye Faerie magic! The Sligachan Old Bridge will be on your left. Walk to the water’s edge, kneel down, and dunk your face into the icy water. The faeries will reward you with eternal beauty!
Return to your car and head southeast on the A863, toward Glenbrittle. After about 5 miles turn left onto the B8009, then after 2 miles more, take the left turn toward Glenbrittle. After 5 miles you will see a carpark on your right. Stop there. This drive should take just under half an hour. Aim to be there by 10 am.
You have arrived at the carpark for the Fairy Pools. These pools are beautiful clear pools of water in the River Brittle beneath the Black Cuillins mountains. The walk to the main pool and back takes about 40 minutes, with no stops, but give yourself a couple of hours to explore these pretty pools and waterfalls. If you are feeling brave you can even swim in the pools, but remember it is Scotland, so expect the water to be chilly!
Be sure you return to your car by midday. Head back to the B8009 and turn left when you reach it. About 5 miles up the road you will reach Talisker Distillery. This drive should take about 15 minutes.
Talisker is the Isle Of Skye’s only single malt whisky, or in Gaelic “Uisce Beatha” which means “Water Of Life.” The classic 10-year old Talisker Skye mimics the contrasting landscape with its smoky yet sweet flavours. Spend a bit of time here stocking up on gifts for back home and maybe even have a taste. Note: The alcohol limit in Scotland is zero units, so if you are the driver, do not sample.
The following drive will take 30 minutes and you will want to be at your next destination between 1-1:30 pm, so make sure you allow enough time.
When at the car, retrace the drive back to Sligachan. Head southeast on the B8009, then take a right onto the A863. Once back at Sligachan, turn left onto the A87 and follow this road for about 9 miles. Take a slight right onto A855, and soon you will be in Portree.
Stop for lunch in this little town. There is a great little bakery called MacKenzie’s Bakery that I recommend. The pasties are amazing and the cakes even more so! As a seaside town, there are also chippies and a great ice cream shop, as well.
Be back at the car by 2 pm, then take the 15-minute drive north on the A855. In 7 miles you should find a carpark on your left. Stop here to visit the Old Man Of Storr.
The walk up to the Old Man and back takes 1.5 hours with no stops, so allow about 2.5 hours to fully appreciate the landscape. The Old Man is on the Trotternish Ridge and was created by a massive landslide. If you look up from the carpark you can see the Old Man and the surrounding cliffs. If you want to reach the base of the Old Man, be aware that the climb does become a bit of a scramble near the end, but it is well worth it for the views!
Be back at the car by 4:30 pm and head back to Portree. Stay here for the night. There are a few accommodation options in the town, or you could opt for the Torvaig Campsite just 2 miles north. If you want to eat in town there are plenty of options, such as the Isles Inn, and of course The Chippy.
Best of Skye Day 3
Highlights – Kilt Rock, Dinosaur Footprints, Quiraing
Rise nice and early to make the most of your last day on Skye! You want to be on the road by 8:30 am. For breakfast options you can head back to Mackenzie’s Bakery or try Café Arriba in Portree.
After breakfast ,drive north along the A85 for half an hour. You will come to Kilt Rock by about 9 am.
Kilt Rock is a sea cliff in Trotternish. The vertical basalt columns resemble the pleats of a kilt. Look north up the cliffs from the viewpoint to see the rock. Nearer the viewpoint is the Mealt Waterfall, which can also be seen from this spot.
Set off by 9:30 am, heading north on the A85 once again. Turn right just past Staffin onto the Staffin slipway, heading to the beach of An Corran. Here you can find dinosaur footprints in the rock. But check the tides before you head this way; the footprints are hidden at high tide under the water. Only visit if it is near low tide, or you will be sorely disappointed!
Continue north on the A85 if it is high tide, or after a quick look at the footprints. Just under 2 miles you will come across a single track road on your left. Take this road heading to Uig. After 2.5 miles you will find a carpark at the highest point of the road. Stop here. This drive should take 10 minutes from Staffin.
From here you can walk to the Quiraing. The Quiraing is a walk of hidden plateaus, pinnacles, and high cliffs. You will see formations such as the Prison and the Needle. These formations, like the Old Man Of Storr, were created by a landslide. The walk is a circular route and takes about 2 hours with no stops, so budget about 3 hours for this hike.
You should be back to the car from the Quiraing by 1:00 pm at the latest. From here continue to Uig along the single track road, which should take about 30 minutes.
Once at Uig, park up. Walk to the garage, and behind it you will find Ella’s Café, which is a great place to stop for lunch. I recommend one of the lunch platters!
From Uig you can get a ferry over to Harris and continue exploring the Scottish Islands (book in advance). If you have a little time to kill as you wait for a ferry, head south on the A87 and turn left at the Uig Hotel. About a mile down the road you will come to Fairy Glen. Just make sure you return in plenty of time if you are catching a ferry!
Alternatively, you can head down the A87 back towards Sligachan and then onto Kyleakin and the Skye Bridge to leave the island. If you missed the dinosaur footprints and it is now lowtide, head back the way you came and get back to Kyleakin via Staffin, Portree, and Sligachan. It takes just over an hour to reach the Skye Bridge via the A87 and about 1.75 hours via the Staffin and the Dinosaur Footprints.
For more information on the walks, I recommend Isle Of Skye for a full description.
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