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Isle of Skye questions/recommendations

Wife and I are planning 7-8 days in Scotland next May (after a few days in London). Bought the UK book, and it doesn't cover IoS. From a forum search, I've learned stay in Portree and Dunvegan Castle seems popular. Planning 2 nights in Portree. Looking for recs on place to stay, activities, etc. We will be coming off 2 weeks in Spain, so short hikes, sights, maybe a distillery, etc. nothing too taxing. Thanks!

Posted by
228 posts

There's a lot more to Skye than Portree (main settlement) and Dunvegan Castle (which I foiun d boring as it seemed to concentratte on family history and there is a limit to the number of portraits of the great uncle three times removed of the presnt owner... although the gardens were nice.)

Have a look at this map and follow the links to the pages with lots of information and pictures. The Undiscovered Scotland website is excellent and I now use it for planning all my trips to Scotland and don't bother with guide books.

https://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/usmapindexes/westhighlands.html

Trotternish peninsula is scenically very good.

Talisker Distillery is recommended.

Skye Museum of island Life is a small folm museum giving a flavour of life 100 years ago.

Flora MacDonald (of Bonnie Price Charlie fame) is buried in Kilmuir Graveyard.

Walking - the Walk Highlands website is the walkers Bible - Itr gives distances, times and also altitude climbed. Choose the short and easy walks...

https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/skye/

A car is definitley recommended as buses on the island are more geared up to locals rather than the needs of tourists.

Posted by
5559 posts

Skye is a bigger island than you think. For example, it is a good 50 minutes to drive from Kyle of Lochalsh to Portree. To drive around the Trotternish Peninsula without stopping and with no traffic is and hour and a half. And you MUST stop or why are you going there? You can find some love walks. I recommend really hiking boots for Scotland. Running shoes or trainers are not ideal. Trails can be boggy and or rocky! Long ago we did a longer hike up from Sligachan up to a great view of Loch Coruisk. We hiked in, looked down on the Loch and then turned around and walked back. Google maps shows the hike. The next day we took a bus to Elgol and a boat over to the Loch. Wonderful views of the Culliins.

On another trip I did more driving and saw Niest Point. We visited the Dun Beag Broch as well. There was a great jewelry store, Skye Silver. :)

Pam

Posted by
74 posts

OP- we have a member who runs a B & B in Skye. I believe she goes by "Skyegirl". I'd search the Scotland forum for a post of her's then send her a pm. She might be able to help.

Posted by
169 posts

If we could go back to Skye I would highly consider staying at the Stein Inn on Waternish peninsula. It is a little off the beaten track but the scenery is beautiful. We found this area while looking for a yarn shop-my wife. Agree with the recommendations above. esp the Tallisker distillery.

Posted by
1778 posts

We stayed in Portree and thought it was a great location. We like to be close to several restaurant choices. Also, it's a lovely, picturesque town. We also loved our hotel, The Bosville. The scenery is just stunning in the highlands. Just driving around you will be gob-smacked. We also enjoyed the Museum Of Island Life.

Posted by
511 posts

Hi redmillander

You've received great advice already, so there is very little I can add. I particularly agree with the comments made about Dunvegan Castle! The gardens are the best bit IMHO. Portree is the main settlement and has a picturesque harbour area, but little else to detain the holiday maker, apart from some decent eating options and it is relatively central on this large island. As others have said, don't underestimate the driving times as once off the main A87 road, many of the roads are single track roads with passing places and progress can be slow (and frustrating), especially if you are unfamiliar with the etiquette of using passing places (always stop on the left - even if the passing place is on the right). It's actually worth having a look on You Tube for some videos of how to drive on single track roads - a little preparation could save some frayed nerves once you get here.

Walk Highlands is a brilliant resource for finding hikes and walks to suit your available time and your ability. You will want at the very least to bring stout, waterproof shoes, but hiking boots would be better.

For a slightly different experience you might consider a day on Raasay, which an island off Skye. It has a fairly new distillery and some wonderful walks as well as Raasay House for lunch. The short ferry trip doesn't need to be booked - just turn up and drive on board.

You will definitely want to think about making restaurant reservations as everywhere decent (and I really do mean everywhere decent) gets booked up. If you want to eat at one of the 'destination restaurants' (Edinbane Lodge, Lochbay, Kinloch Lodge, Three Chimneys) you will need to book several weeks if not 3 months ahead of time. I would recommend all of those places and in that order of preference, with Edinbane Lodge and Lochbay as equal first choices.

Hiking is the main activity here, but there are also boat trips from various places on the island. I'd particularly recommend the drive to Elgol and a boat trip with the Bella Jane from there. Spectacular scenery on the drive and fantastic boat trips from 1/2 hour to full day. And on the way to Elgol I would recommend stopping at Amy's Place - a small cafe, perfectly situated with views of the mountains and sea, friendly owners and great tea/coffee and home made cakes.

In terms of accommodation - there is a lot of choice from a couple of high end places (Three Chimneys at approx £360 per night), through excellent bed and breakfasts ranging from £85 to £200 per night, camping pods at around £120 per night (but bring your own breakfast), to hostels. The two global booking platforms (you probably know who I mean) host most of the available options but you could also check out listings on Visit Scotland and book direct with the owners (which might save them a little commission and get you a better price). It is always worth emailing to check rates outside of the big platforms. And finally, many smaller providers don't open their diaries until Christmas or the New Year for the summer season.

Hope that helps.
Best wishes
Jacqui (Skyegirl)

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks to everyone (especially Skyegirl) for the great recs! We settled on Creagory Skye for the room. About half the B&Bs and hotels area already booked for next May. Let's hope we all get to travel again!

Posted by
2743 posts

I'll just add that I really loved Dunvegan Castle inside. As with so much that has to do with travel, it depends what interests you. Family history and portraits from one decade to the next intrigue me to no end. The day we were there it was pouring rain, so we didn't see much of the gardens. We were still extremely glad to have visited!

Posted by
1586 posts

We have been to Skye three times. First time we stayed at the Flodigary Hotel, second time in Portree, third visit we stayed in Broadford. Broadford was the most convenient location, since we also wanted to visit Plockton and Eileen Donan Castle. There were several good restaurants nearby. Portree was very tourist-oriented. Reading the above comments, we really enjoyed visiting Skye Silver and the Stein Inn, really disliked Dunvegan Castle with its endless portraits of dear departed ancestors. Although the trapdoor near the dining room table was entertaining....

Posted by
5559 posts

On my second trip to Skye I stayed at the Skye Picture House near Broadford. It is under new management since I was there, but the views look just as wonderful and the rooms look the same. I was there for a photo workshop which no longer are offered. I am not sure where the couple went that did them. They were English.

Pam

Posted by
511 posts

Just a note on the Skye Picture House. The new owners are English also, and very pleasant. I have bumped into them around and about a few times. The B&B has lovely views across to Scalpay and Raasay. The only note of caution I would sound is that it is right next to the A87, which is the main road that runs north to south on the island, so there will be some traffic noise. Nothing like city noise - but one of the busier roads on Skye.

Posted by
5559 posts

Yes, it is on a busy road, but it didn't bother me at all and I was NOT living in NYC at time so I am not comparing it to the insanity that NY! If you have concerns you might ask for a room in the back.