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Thoughts on itinerary and where to stay on Isle of Skye

I have decided to do a driving tour of Scotland at end of May, but I only have 11 days of traveling. I have pretty much decided on the itinerary below but would appreciate any thoughts or suggestions.

I am now in process making reservations for accommodations and having a little bit of difficulty deciding where an island sky I should stay. I would like the opportunity to mingle a little with the locals. I was thinking about staying in Uig or Portree area??

So here is the itinerary..
Fly into Edinburgh
3 nights Edinburgh
Train to Stirling to pick up rental car, and start drive to ft william (will catch stirling on way back).
1 night Fort William
3 nights Skye
1 night Harris or Lewis
2 nights Aviemore
drive back to stirling by way of Doune castle to make sure car is returned before 1 pm when they close. Tour round stirling and take train back to Edinburgh. Oh..just realized..what will I do with my suitcase while I tour around Stirling? Hmmm
1 night Edinburgh and fly out the next day.

Thanks in advance for the input!!


Posted by
1291 posts

First suggestion is drop the Outer Hebrides, for one night all you will be really doing is paying a lot of money to see the inside of a CalMac ferry. I would make Ft William a base for two nights at least. This would give you a chance to see Glencoe or Glenfinnan. I would also drop Aviemore in favour of Stirling. One day trying to fit in Doune, Stirling, Bannockburn, and possibly Linlithgow is not going to do them justice.

Posted by
2122 posts

I like your itinerary a lot, except for Aviemore, where I have never been and thus have no opinion. I would probably stay in Inverness if it was me.

I would have loved to stay on Harris or Lewis for a night, but I couldn't fit it into our trip. I needed to go on a Saturday or Sunday, and there were no ferries running on Sunday. (This was about six years ago; maybe they run on Sundays now. It's worth checking.) What we did do that worked out great, was take a one day tour to Harris and Lewis on that Saturday. We took a ferry from Uig (can't remember how long it took, but it wasn't that long), then took a bus tour to various parts of the island. It was a long day, but a very rewarding one. I just loved Harris and Lewis. At the time we went, this tour was only running on Saturdays. It's been a while, so you'll have to see what's available.

Both times I've been on Skye, we stayed in Portree. It was more developed the last time we went than the first time (1983), but still a nice little town on the water with beautiful scenery and places to eat. We stayed both times at the Rosetree and were very happy with it.

Have a great trip! Scotland is wonderful!

Posted by
61 posts

Thank you all for the input. I have taken the suggestions to heart and am taking another tact at the itinerary.
So, MC, quite right. The day for Lewis would appear to fall on weekend and I would have issues with the ferry. I think I might try Carol's suggestion and do the day tour if I can. Had really wanted to go since I am nee 'miles' and have some clan Morrison. I have Graham as well from my great grandmother on mums side but not sure I am going to be able to hit any of those spots much to see and so little time!

So I was trying to think outside the box, and within parameters of the rental car company, and I think I have a solution.
I will do my 3 days in Edinburgh then hop an early train to Inverness and pick up rental car there and drive the other way around; finishing in Stirling where I will drop the car off next day and train it back to Edinburgh. This will allow me to limit the driving from place to place to about 2.5 hrs or less.

I could stay in Inverness the night and do a little of the sightseeing from there, then 3 skye, 2 Fort William area (thinking maybe Glenfinnan) and then 1.5 in Stirling area.

Other option is to just drive straight to skye with stops at Culloden and Urquhart Castle on the way (about 3 hrs actual driving time but probably arrive 6-7pm); then I could do 3 nights skye, 3 Fort William area and 1.5 in Stirling area.
Funny, either way I do it I feel like I would be shorting Skye, Fort William or Stirling.
What do you think??

1. is there a reason to choose Fort William over Glenfinnan or another smaller location near by?...I would rather stay some place smaller where I might have a chance of meeting some of the local folks and enjoying some good pub food and music.

2.....wonder if I could reliably stay the night in Stirling and make my plane at EDI the next morning (be at airport at 9am for 11am flight) without any trouble??

  1. If I have the extra night to play with do I use it on Skye, Fort William or Stirling??

Thanks for all the input!!!

Posted by
1291 posts

When referring to places to stay in somewhere like Scotland outwith the big cities there is usually an implied and area typed in or spoken after the place name mentioned. Fort William is the largest town in that area but is also quite a small town by most standards. I would include Glenfinnan in that 'and area' for Ft William.

For getting to Edinburgh airport, that time is doable from Stirling. Remember Stirling is part of both Glasgow's and Edinburgh's commuter belt and plenty of people make that journey daily. By car just a quick jaunt down the M9, train a bit trickier but there will be bus connections from Stirling to the airport at that time.

Posted by
149 posts

My wife and I were in Scotland as part of our Great Britain tour in spring 2012. We only spent one night on Skye and stayed at the Coruisk House in Elgol so as to be close to where boats leave for Loch Coruisk. Iain and Clare have a wonderful B&B and the dinner was among the best we had. I only wish we'd have stayed longer to explore more of Skye.

After leaving Skye, we drove to Inverness and flew to Stornaway for two nights on the Isle of Lewis. Have you considered flying to the Outer Hebrides from Edinburgh? We flew on Flybe and it wasn't too expensive. Perhaps you could return to Inverness and still hit all the sites you had on your itinerary while you work your way back to Edinburgh?

Posted by
3091 posts

A point or two to add to what MC said about Glenfinnan --- it is part of the wider area that encompasses Fort William , about a fifteen to twenty mile drive from Fort William . By all means go there , the monument to the '45 and the rail viaduct are striking and there is wonderful walking and hiking in that area at the head of Loch Shiel . We had a lovely bit of time there with a gentleman from the Borders and his two Border Collies ( smartest dogs I have ever seen ) . Pick a good day for it if you can ,and stop at Banavie on your way out ( or back ) and see Neptune's Staircase , Telford's locks , that raise boats from Loch Linnhe to the Caledonian Canal . However , staying at Glenfinnan ( there are a handful of B and B's out there ) will leave you in the sticks , as the saying goes , with nary a chance of getting a sausage roll . The area is stunningly beautiful , but you need to be in Fort William in the evening for a pub , dinner , perhaps a dram ( or two ) , and a bit of entertainment and conversation . As well , you don't even want to consider the thought of driving with a detectable alcohol level . It's unsafe and not tolerated , in any event .

Posted by
5561 posts

I think that your plan B is better than your plan A. :)

As MC points out many people routinely catch planes in Edinburgh from Stirling. i'm not sure where you live in the US, but it would be the same as going from Rockford IL to O'Hare. :)

Whether or not you stay in Inverness depends on your interests. Culloden Field is a very significant historical spot. The visitor center is quite good. Also, if you are into stone circles and Outlander sites, Clava Cairns is quite close. It's an easy drive if you've picked up a car. It's a beautiful drive from Inverness to Skye. There are a couple of routes so don't automatically go down the north coast of Loch Ness.


Posted by
61 posts

Well I had a bit of good luck that came from some bad luck.... The airline cancelled the flight I was to take out to edinburgh and just slapped me on some other flight that would have me waiting almost 12 hours in New York. So I rang up and they switched me (without addl charge) over to a flight that has an overall duration shorter than the first one and arrives first thing in the morning, but the best part is that I am leaving a day early! So new plan :-) Getting better every time!

Edinburgh 3 nights - have booked a b&b near city center
Train to Inverness to pick up the car
Inverness for 2 nights somewhere around there
Drive to Skye and have booked 3 nights at a place in Uig and hoping to catch a tour over to Lewis for one of the days I am there.
Drive to Fort William area and have 2 nights somewhere around there
Drive to Stirling and have 2 nights at a b&b there (got a phenomenal rate because they aren't serving breakfast on the weekend when I am there) Drop car off afternoon day two and then will need to figure out how to get back and forth to the b&b. It's about a mile and a half out from the castle but I don't see alot of bus stops. Will figure it out.
Last day just take an airport shuttle from stirling to Edinburgh airport

Still need to figure out Inverness and Fort William and a few other things, but almost squared away. Keep looking for the place that is en suite and great, has an opening, inexpensive, near a good pub and food, and doesn't have too many round abouts :-) If you know of anything like that I would love to hear. Thanks so much everyone for all of your help getting a good itinerary together!!

Really going to have to study up on those round abouts though. I am good at them here, but they are very different there. I have been using google earth to drive the routes and some of the markings on the road at the round abouts look totally unfamiliar to zig zag/lightening bolt shaped areas and some that looked like a u-turn arrow.

Posted by
742 posts

From memory theres only 3 small roundabouts in Fort William,and one out by the Mallaig turn a few miles north.
Only one lane on to em all,the one by Glen Nevis is about 4 strides across.

Posted by
3091 posts

I think you are over-agonizing about the roundabouts , don't worry . You say you are good with them here . I'm not prying into your privacy , but are you in Cape Cod , MA ? It's the only place in the States that I am aware that they exist . If so , you have absolutely nothing to be of concern ; -- )

Posted by
61 posts

I am from Michigan and there was one in a city near where I went to college so I drove that round about in all kinds of weather in all kinds of conditions :-) There are also round abouts here in arizona now too...not in Phoenix, but other cities (like Sedona).

The one I was looking at in Stirling today had some funny little lightening bolt shaped areas though and then there was a u-turn like arrow but no apparent place to u turn...especially give that it was at the entrance to the round about. I need to make sure I have a good understanding before I am sitting there holding up traffic and not sure where to go.

Btw...any idea of whether Garmin works very well there? I ask because there are times I loose the sattellite here and our mountains aren't nearly as big as Ben Nevis.

Posted by
1291 posts

This might help The Highway Code.

The various links will have the various road markings, signs, etc. Generally a zig zag is a waiting restriction, in yellow outside a school (no stopping, waiting), in white by a pedestrian crossing (no parking), or a hatched yellow grid which means 'enter only if exit is clear'. In all cases they mean 'keep clear' to some degree.

Posted by
3091 posts

Using your Garmin ( called a SatNav in the UK ) should be fine , make sure you have the appropriate map software . Having a decent map as a compliment to it is a must - - buy an Ordinance Survey Map "Tour " designation - blue and silver color , of Scotland . Remember that if you are in a roundabout and unsure of your next move , you can keep circling until you have it sorted . You might want to reconsider your B and B in Stirling . When you have a car , you are less restricted to locations , without one , you need to consider access to transportation and food among other things . The price on the BandB may be great, but if getting to what you want to see is a hassle , you might want to reconsider how practical it is ( everywhere , not just Scotland ) .

Posted by
61 posts

Thank you. Added the map. I actually have a couple but one can never have too many maps...I love them :-)
I will check for the Garmin software update...thanks
For the rental car and B&B... Rental car company doesn't have hours on Saturday after 1pm and I leave the next day. I will have 1 1/2 days in stirling with a car, it's just that last half of day I will need to get around. It's looking like the b&b is only 1 1/2 miles from the castle. . Also, there may be an afternoon tour I can do as well. Thinking I can cab it short distances if I need to. Honestly, there were not any reasonably priced b&b right in city center. They were all upwards of $200 a night.

Posted by
4974 posts

Hi elisern - our trip this past August included some of your itinerary, in the same sequence. We picked up our rental car in Inverness (Arnold Clark company), drove to Skye (passed thru Uig late one afternoon, but had dinner reservations elsewhere and couldn't linger, but it looked delightful), drove to Fort William after 3 days (highly recommend the Seafield House B&B - ), then on to Doune and Stirling. We had a fairly early flight the next day, and opted to stay closer to the Edinburgh Turnhouse Airport, in Blackburn, rather than in Stirling. We turned the car in at the airport, with a free, quick shuttle to the terminal.

Our drive from Inverness to Skye in August was in a heavy downpour, as was the morning drive from Fort William to Doune. The weather had cleared by the time we reached Doune, so we visited the castle there, but we opted to glance at Urquart from the parking lot and move on, rather than tromp thru the pouring rain with the others who'd come by tour bus or rental car, and the parking lot was full from those folks.

Fort William has great options for pubs, music, and . . . outstanding Indian Food! In Edinburgh, don't miss the Royal Oak pub, described in Rick Steves' guidebook. Outstanding music, especially if there's something in their downstairs room.

We didn't make it out to Harris, but my understanding is that many of the residents there strictly follow The Sabbath, and Sundays are for going to church, and not for working, so many business services are unavailable that day.

Have a great trip!

Posted by
1586 posts

Harris and Lewis are fascinating and quite different from the other places you plan to visit. It is a very "watery" place - there are tiny lochans scattered all over the landscape. Perhaps you could have one less night in Edinburgh so you would have time to spend two nights on Harris and Lewis. You could use your first half day to drive around the coast of Harris (which is quite small), then drive north onto Lewis for the two nights. On Lewis, visit Callanish where you can wander through the stones and then visit the broach which is farther north. We had an excellent dinner at Digby Chicks in Stornaway. We stayed at Leumadair Farm, a simple B and B which is very close to Callanish. While the island does have a lot of Sunday closings, I believe there is less of it than there used to be.....Near Fort William, we stayed at a lovely modern B and B, Huntingtower Lodge. It was just west of the town and directly across the road from the Loch.

Posted by
453 posts

we stayed at the Bla Bheinn on Skye and it was awesome, two bedroom B&B, great host. The B&B is mid island so you are not especially close to one specific location but it provides for a great HQ for heading out in all directions, I cant recommend the hosts enuff...we easily went to Carbost, Quiraing, Kilt Rock, Fairy Pools and Fairy Glen from our B& might view for some ideas on locations of places to hike, visit, etc. great resource.

Posted by
61 posts

Thank you everyone. Think I have it cinched up now. There sure are some definite changes from when I started out thanks to all the good advice!

I had wanted a mix of history and scenery/walking/waterfalls etc, and I think I have that now without all the rushing, and only one drive that will be about 3 hrs. So I have 3 in city stays and 2 country'ish stays.
3 Edinburgh
train to inverness to pick up car...should be nice scenic train trip
3 around Cannich/Glen Affric area (will be in proximity of all the Inverness sites including Culloden, Cawdor and Clava Cairns, Loch ness, Urqhuart castle etc.)
3 Skye (at the hotel in Uig) will try to take one day trip to Lewis
1 Ft. William
2 Stirling (return the car mid second day)
Now really excited to go see everything :-) Packing lots of jeans, sweaters and my hiking boots.
I will study up on the driving...thanks for the links.
When I look at it in a list like that, it looks like it will be a quick trip!

Posted by
1291 posts

Looks a lot better, the trip to Lewis does seem a bit difficult because you will be spending most of the day in a CalMac coffee bar looking out at the sea, I would probably scrap that for Dunvegan, though you've probably got that in the plans. The train up from Edinburgh to Inverness should, weather permitting, be picturesque. You should be crossing the Forth Rail Bridge, and from Perth up, well they had a programme on that route on Sky TV the driver's comment was 'where else do you get that from the office window?'

Posted by
453 posts

here are some music options for Fort William and while on will have to check the web sites to make sure the players are there but at Fort Williams on Tuesday night in October we went to the Ben Nevis Inn and saw 5 awesome local players tht made for a wonderful night of music, good pub food, and great beer. They kinda play in the round and it ws magical. On Skye we visited the Old Inn at Carbost and had the good fortune on a Friday night to get to see the Peatbog Faeries playing in their hometown while home from touring, again a great night, so check the websites for those spots as the music is fantastic and the locals friendly and food good. I hope you luck into some live music! If you are at Uig it will be a bit of a drive at night back from Carbost, so that might be a big of a stretch. Be sure to visit the Fairy Glen up there near Uig and be sure to drive across the trotternish pennensula and visit quiraing here is a link to the map, you also can find the map for the fairy glen at the walkthehighlands site.

Posted by
5 posts

Heading to Glasgow in August (2nd recent trip),with husband and 17 yo son. I have been to Fort William in past couple of years from Glasgow. Went through to Glenfinnan (Mother's ancestors) and headed to Eilean Shona (Father's ancestor's). Did a tour around the peninsula and back to Glasgow that night. Roads are extremely narrow of course. Exciting day with a stick shift and driving on opposite side of the road and all. Flat tire, police stop for driving with fog lights (didn't know where they were). The one thing I wish I had known is..... do not ever drive after dusk. I agree with staying in Fort William. The trad sessions are great fun. Been to many in Glasgow and Dublin in the past. Fort William is quite a small town really. You will enjoy walking around.

Posted by
552 posts

Don't stress about the driving, you will get used to it quicker than you think, and the roundabouts are great! The signage is easy to follow (the ones to the tourist sights are brown), and driver there are courteous. At least once you when you first get the car you will probably pull out onto the wrong side of the road, and a tour bus will probably honk at you, but you will remember after that ;)