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visiting Edinburgh and the Isle of Skye

We are planning a trip to Scotland in August or early September and wish to visit Edinburgh and the Isle of Skye. We are planning 5 days in Edinburgh and wonder how many days we should plan for Skye. We plan to take the train from Edinburgh to Skye, but should we plan stops between.


Posted by
1464 posts

Please note that the Fringe Festival takes over Edinburgh for most of the month of August. It is the largest performing arts festival in the world. I love going, and it's an incredible amount of fun. However, hotels prices increase and availability decreases . You may google it for more info. So- either plan to attend, or plan around it.
Safe travels!

Posted by
941 posts

Hi, Gail,

You can take a train from Edinburgh to Kyle of Lochalsh or Mallaig, but you can't take a train to Skye. Once you reach either of those termini, you'd have to rely on public transportation (ferry and bus from Mallaig; bus from Kyle of Lochalsh) to travel about Skye. It's doable, but bus service is not that frequent, and they don't go to all the places on Skye which you may want to visit. Or if they do, it may be hours before the next bus comes by. Stagecoach Buses operate the service on Skye. You may want to consult their website to find out whether they go to all of the places you plan to visit, and how much time you'd have to wait for your onward journey or return.

You may wish to consider hiring a car for the Skye part of your holiday, if you are comfortable with driving on the opposite side of the road to which you're accustomed. Your other option would be to take a bus to Portree from Armadale or Kyle, and taking group tours out of Somerled Square.

Good luck!

Mike (Auchterless)

Posted by
1878 posts

I have been researching Scotland quite a lot myself lately, and I think if you are going all the way out to Skye three nights is a good length of stay. All that way for one full day is too rushed. Also I agree doing this on public transit would be difficult. If you don't want to rent a car, there might be easier ways to see great scenery on day tours from places like Oban, rather than going all the way to Skye.

The train to Oban is about four hours, and goes through the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. You can catch a day tour from Oban that goes to the Isles of Mull and Iona. 1.5 hour bus ride to Ft. William from where you could take the steam train to Mallaig, maybe even the ferry to Armadale on Skye.

Also if you mean August and September of this year, you might want to book lodging with some urgency. Skye is underserved for tourist infrastructure, lodging is expensive and your trip is not that far off.

Posted by
1464 posts

Instead of driving, one option would be to book an overnight bus trip to Skye, leaving from Edinburgh. We did a two-night tour a few years ago, enjoyed the scenery, and left the details to the professionals. There are several companies offering such tours.
Safe travels!

Posted by
527 posts

As Mike has told you, there are no trains on Skye. Any rail journey from Edinburgh will involve changes, either in Inverness if travelling to Kyle of Lochalsh, or in Glasgow and Fort William if travelling to Mallaig.

Bus schedules on Skye link the main villages, but basically run to a timetable designed to get kids to and from school so there are often only two buses per day and if you are really lucky, one at some point in the middle of the day. They don't go anywhere near what I call the 'honey pot' sights on Skye, Neist Point, the Quiraing, the Fairy Pools.

I think you would find it more satisfying either to take a small group tour with someone like Rabbies, or to rent a car. Morrisons on Skye have great service (I've rented from them when my own car was off the road). They will arrange to meet you off the ferry at Armadale (from Mallaig) or at the railway station in Kyle.

Most guests that we get at our own B&B stay for 3 nights and leave saying they haven't seen everything they wanted to see. That could be because we tell them about less visited places that aren't in the guide books! If you are not interested in hiking (long or short walks) then you will probably be able to see the main sights with 3 nights.

Another thing to bear in mind is that you are likely to have difficulties finding good accommodation if you are coming this year. Most places book up months in advance. There is a facebook group called Skye Rooms that it would be well worth you looking at as it hooks up providers with spaces with visitors looking for specific dates.

Good Luck!
Jacqui (Skyegirl)

Posted by
90 posts

If you go to Skye during August or any time actually and you plan to stay overnight you should definitely make reservations before you arrive there. Skye has become super busy, and a place to stay might be hard to find. Skye is definitely worth visiting, but a car is also a must there. Please be aware of driving techniques on one lane roads if you are not already familiar with them - and keep to the LEFT please!

Posted by
161 posts

I agree with Skyegirl regarding the car rental. In my opinion, you would just be too limited without a car on Skye.
A nice option, especially if you are looking for other areas along the west to visit, would be to take the train to Oban, rent you car there, and then spend a few days in the vicinity. We used Oban for a "home base" for a few days in May and found it to be a perfect spot. We had a car, took the ferry over to Mull for a day and had a wonderful time exploring Tobermory and the Northwest part of the island. We then drove to Skye and took the Mallaig ferry to Armadale in order to gain access to the Isle.
I would agree you need a minimum 2 full days on Skye, it is a magical place, but 3 days would be ideal.
Have a great trip !


Posted by
360 posts

We had three nights on Skye and felt that we at least saw everything that we wanted to see, but I think it depends on how long you generally stay in places and whether you'll spend some of that time hiking. We had our own car, though, and that allowed us the flexibility to leave whenever we were ready,. If you're busing with a group (which, in my experience, always moves slower than we would), i'd definitely add at least one more night.