The Isle of Skye is the largest of the Inner Hebrides in Scotland and draws hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. Some come to lay eyes on the staggering natural landmarks, some to retrace their family history, others to see the landscapes in one of the many films to have been shot here on location. Whatever your reason, there’s plenty of attractions waiting in store on the Isle of Skye – and here’s our roundup of the best.
Looking for a real adventure? You can now travel with Culture Trip to the Isle of Skye, as well as the Isles of Harris and Lewis, on a week-long discovery of the islands, taking in the highlights and some top secret spots only your local guide will know about.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
You might recognise this spot from the big screen: it’s featured in The BFG, Macbeth, Stardust, The Land That Time Forgot, Snow White and the Huntsman, 47 Ronin, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, and Transformers: The Last Knight. The landscape is formed by an ancient landslip that is actually still moving. Popular attractions include the Needle, a rock pinnacle; the Table, a concealed plateau; and the Prison, a rock formation that can look like a castle.
Skye Museum of Island Life
Opened in 1965, this museum helps you understand what life was like for islanders at the end of the 19th century. This is achieved by preserving a wee township of traditional buildings and collecting items that would have been used then. The results are fascinating, especially if you have ancestors from Skye.
Dinosaur footprints and Staffin Museum
The tiny museum at Staffin holds a huge collection of fossils and dinosaur-related information. It is worth visiting this first to talk to the knowledgeable staff, before then moving down to the beach in search of the internationally important preserved dinosaur footprints.
Visitors to Scotland are often pleasantly surprised by the quality of food on offer, and Skye is no exception. Scorrybreac is a tiny seaside restaurant in Portree, so booking ahead is essential. The service is impeccable and the food is some of the most memorable on the island.
Dolphin and whale watching
Skye is surrounded by some of the clearest water in the UK, so look out for the local marine life, which includes seals, dolphins, porpoises and even whales. The second-largest fish in the world, the basking shark, is regularly found here during the summer months. The best way to get close to these magnificent creatures is on a boat tour, with experienced guides who know the waters.
Neist Point Lighthouse
Neist Point Lighthouse is the best place to get a glimpse of marine life (including minke whales) if you don’t fancy heading out to sea. There’s a lovely cliff walk, too, with views over the dramatic Skye coastline – and as the most westerly point of the island, it’s the best place on Skye to watch the sunset.
Bright Water Visitor Centre
This small visitor centre is a must for those who want to know more about the tiny island of Eilean Bàn, and especially its association with the writer Gavin Maxwell. Maxwell is best remembered for his book Ring of Bright Water (1969), and the otters he lived with. This is also the place to book tours of the island if you want to visit and learn more of its history.
The Fairy Pools
One of the most magical places to go wild swimming in Scotland, this series of beautifully clear pools cascade through a picturesque glen. The walk is lovely, as is sitting by the water. But the icy thrill you get – even if it’s only a tentative paddle or dipping of the toes – makes these pools a must-visit.
Skye is full of fascinating walks with epic views, incredible landscapes and reminders of history everywhere. Even the shortest strolls, like the one at Kilt Rock, are spectacular. This cliff gets its name from of the vertical and horizontal stripes on its face, making it look like tartan, especially in certain lights. There is also one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Scotland here, Mealt Falls, a tall cascade dropping from the cliff into the sea below.
Talisker whisky distillery
Skye’s oldest working distillery, Talisker, is a must-visit spot for any whisky lover in Scotland. But even if you’re no whisky whizz, the connection between the drink and Scottish culture will help you understand the country on a deeper level. What’s more, Talisker sits on a beautiful bay that’s a great place to view wildlife.
Eat at the Oyster Shed
A minute’s drive beyond the Talisker distillery is the Oyster Shed where you can get some excellent local produce including game, cheese, honey and, especially, seafood. You can eat in or buy food to eat later, and the takeaway menu is reasonably priced for how good the food is.
There are several places on Skye where whole settlements were cleared and their inhabitants removed to make way for sheep; the residents shipped abroad to places such as Canada and Australia. Take the long walk to Boreraig to see this now-abandoned settlement for yourself.
Armadale Castle Gardens and Museum
If you’ve got the clan Donald blood in your veins, a trip to Armadale Castle is a homecoming – but there’s plenty to see here even if not. There’s a museum, beautiful gardens and, of course, the castle itself to explore.
A bothy is a small building in which you can sleep, and the one here at Camasunary sits on a beautiful bay, with the backdrop of one of the most famous munros on Skye: Blà Bheinn (anglicised as Blaven, the Blue-Black Mountain). Adventurous types will love this place, not least to meet kindred spirits from across the world. It draws in people who want to experience this wild corner of Skye and the Cuillin mountains in particular.
This is not for the faint-hearted, or those remotely scared of heights. Unless you know exactly what you are doing, hiring a guide is wise, and it’s essential you follow basic safety protocols. The walk is worth the extra precautions, though, offering unparalleled views and that wonderful feeling of freedom that you get from being high up.
Skye is home to both white-tailed sea eagles (often referred to as flying barn doors due to their immense size) and golden eagles. Spend time outside for a good chance to see one – even if only from afar. Your chances of spotting a sea eagle are greatly increased if you take a boat tour.
No visit to Skye is complete without seeing the Old Man of Storr. This is a part of the Trotternish landscape, south of the Quiraing, and one of the places you are likely to have seen on film. The Old Man himself is a giant column of basalt rock standing straight up from the ridge like a finger. You can’t miss it. The views from here, over to Raasay and the mainland of Scotland, are breath-taking.
Dunvegan Castle and Gardens
The oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland, Dunvegan has been home to the MacLeod clan since the early 1200s. It sits right on the coast, and the thriving gardens are contrast the surrounding moorlands. Artefacts here include pieces belonging to Bonnie Prince Charlie, who Flora MacDonald, one of the MacLeod clan, helped escape to France in 1746. Don’t miss the chance to take a boat trip to a nearby seal colony.
The Fairy Glen
A magical landscape of strange features lies above Uig, where time has sculpted weird and wonderful geological formations odd enough to give the area its fairy name. There are no supernatural legends here, but that’s beside the point; its strange beauty is captivating enough, and needs to be seen to be appreciated. Some people have started moving rocks to create spirals, but these are removed by locals who, rightfully, believe the landscape is best experienced in its natural state.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.