This is one of those places you will recognise from different movies. The landscape here is stunning, formed by an ancient landslip that at the Quiraing is actually still moving. With features named The Needle, The Table, and The Prison, it is evocative, no matter the weather!
Skye Museum of Island Life
Originally opened in 1965, this museum helps demonstrate what life was like for islanders in the last years 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 and a must-see, especially if you have ancestors from Skye.
Skye Museum of Island Life, Kilmuir, Skye, Scotland, +44 1470 552206
Dinosaur footprints/Staffin Museum
The tiny museum at Staffin is deceptive and actually 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 and looking for the internationally important preserved dinosaur footprints. Just make sure you check tide times before you plan your visit, or you may be disappointed!
Staffin Museum, 6 Ellishadder, Culnacnoc, Portree, Scotland, +44 1470 562321
Eat at Scorrybreac Restaurant
Visitors to Scotland are often pleasantly surprised by the quality of food on offer, and Skye is no exception. Here there are several restaurants, cafés and even takeaways, whose excellence and attention to detail are second to none. Scorrybreac is a seaside restaurant in Portree, and booking ahead is essential as it is only wee! Service is impeccable and the food is fantastic.
Scorrybreac Restaurant, 7 Bosville Terrace, Portree, Scotland, +44 1478 612069
Go dolphin and whale watching
Skye is surrounded by some of the best water in the UK to see marine life, from seals to dolphins, porpoises to mighty whales. The second largest fish in the world, the basking shark, is regularly found here during the summer months. Perhaps the best way to get close to these magnificent creatures is on a boat tour, with experienced guides who know and understand the waters.
Neist Point Lighthouse
If you want to stand a good chance of seeing marine life, like minke whales, but don’t fancy going to sea, this is the place to visit. It is also a lovely walk with stunning clifftop scenery and perhaps the best place on Skye to watch the sunset, being the most westerly point of the island.
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, The Ring of Bright Water, and the otters he famously lived with. This is also the place to book tours of the island if you want to visit and learn more of its history.
Bright Water Visitor Centre, The Pier, Kyleakin, Skye, Scotland, +44 1599 530040
The Fairy Pools
One of the best places for wild swimming in the UK, this is a series of beautiful and crystal clear pools, cascading through a picturesque glen. The walk is lovely, as is just sitting besides the water, but it is the thrill of the cold water that makes these pools a must-see, even if it’s just for a tentative paddle or dipping of the toes!
Skye is full of fascinating long walks, with epic views, incredible landscapes and reminders of history everywhere. Sometimes, though, the walks are short but still full of wonder, such as this one! This cliff has this name because of the vertical and horizontal stripes on its face, making it look like tartan, especially in certain lights. There is also a tall and stunning waterfall here, Mealt falls, cascading spectacularly from the top of the cliff to the sea below.
Talisker Whisky Distillery
Skye’s oldest working distillery, Talisker is a fascinating place to visit, even if you don’t like whisky! So tied as it is with Scottish culture, learning how whisky is made, its history, and current situation will help you understand the land in surprising ways. Talisker also sits on a beautiful bay, which is a great place to view wildlife.
Talisker Distillery, Carbost, Skye, Scotland, +44 1478 614308
Eat at the Oyster Shed
Just one minute’s drive beyond Talisker distillery is the Oyster Shed. This is a remarkable place to eat, or even to buy food to eat later, such as game, cheese, honey and, especially, seafood. The takeaway menu is ridiculously cheap for just how good it is.
The Oyster Shed, Carbost, Skye, Scotland, +44 1478 640383
Walk to Boreraig
There are several places on Skye where whole settlements were cleared, their inhabitants removed to make way for sheep, before being shipped abroad to places like Canada and Australia. This long walk is a good place to see what was left behind. It is hard not to feel the past here.
Another must-see, especially if you are one of the many with Clan Donald blood in your veins, this is the spiritual home of that clan and offers a museum, beautiful gardens and, of course, the castle itself to explore.
Armadale Castle, Sleat, Skye, Scotland, +44 1471 844305
Sit on a beach and wait…
…for the wildlife to come to you. There are several places on Skye where this is not only possible, but likely. The best thing to do is just make yourself comfortable, perhaps with binoculars to scan the water and beach, then wait and watch. If you do not make much noise, or move too suddenly, it is likely you will see playful seals and even otters, as well as birds and maybe even whales. Pretty much any beach will do, but the Coral Beach is a good start, as is Talisker Bay.
Stay at the Camasunary Bothy
There is a new bothy (small building to sleep in) here at Camasunary, which is situated in a beautiful bay, with the backdrop of one of the most famous Munros on Skye: Blà Bheinn (Anglicised as Blaven, the Blue-Black Mountain). If you are the adventurous type, this is an excellent place to meet other adventurers, from across the world. It draws in people who want to experience this wild corner of Skye and, especially, the Cuillin mountains.
Walk the Cuillin Ridge
This is not for the faint-hearted, or those who are remotely scared of heights. Unless you know exactly what you are doing, then hiring a guide is wise, and it is essential you follow basic safety protocols. The walk is worth the extra precautions though, offering unparalleled views and the feeling of freedom that being in the high places brings.
Skye is home to both white-tailed sea eagles (often referred to as ‘flying barn doors’, due to their immense size) and the iconic golden eagle. If you spend any time at all outside you have a good chance of seeing an eagle, even if only from afar, although your chances of seeing the sea eagle are greatly increased if you go on one of the boat tours on offer.
No visit to Skye is complete without seeing the Old Man of Storr. This is a part of the Trotternish landscape, further to the south than The Quiraing, and one of those places you are likely to have seen on film. The Old Man himself is a giant column of rock, standing straight up from the ridge like a finger. You can’t miss it! The views from up here, over to Raasay and the mainland of Scotland are breathtaking.
The second castle on our list, and far, far older than Armadale, in fact this is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland and the seat of the Clan MacLeod, occupied by the clan since the early 1200s. The gardens are beautiful and there are also boat trips to a nearby seal colony.
Dunvegan Castle and Gardens, Dunvegan, Skye, Scotland, +44 1470 521206
The Fairy Glen
A magical landscape of strange features lies above Uig, where time has sculpted weird geological formations so odd as to acquire the ‘fairy’ name! There are no supernatural legends based here, but this does not really matter, and the weirdness and strange beauty needs to be seen to be truly appreciated. Some people have started moving rocks to create spirals, but these are removed by locals who, rightfully, believe the landscape to be beautiful and odd in its own natural state.