Scotland | Isle of Skye Road Trip

The Isle of Skye is one of Scotland's most popular islands, receiving up to 650,000 visitors every year. Many people book tours and rush around all the sights in one day, but slow it down just a little and you can enjoy your visit in a more relaxed manner. We spent a weekend on Skye in February in cosy surroundings at the most beautiful Airbnb, overlooking the Quiraing with a soundtrack of the Eagles playing on the record player. With less than 48 hours on the island, we packed in a fair amount and I wanted to share just how much of the sights you can see in one weekend long Isle of Skye road trip. 

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Colourful houses at Portree harbour

Portree

Setting off late on a Friday morning, the 5 hour drive to Portree on the Isle of Skye was scenic enough to not feel dull. The Scottish Spotify playlist I made definitely helped! Our first port of call was the Isle of Skye Distillers shop to stock up on beer and Misty Isle gin for the weekend ahead.

After a potter about the local shops and a walk up to see the harbour and it's famous colourful row of houses, our stomachs got the better of us. Based right in the centre of Portree, the Isles Inn is renowned for it's hospitality and live music events. It has a cosy feel with the warmth of the fire and the local dogs making us feel right at home. Unfortunately the food didn't live up to our expectations but I do recommend nipping in for a dram!

Interiors of Bealach Uige Bothy
Lamb at the front door of the Bothy
Interiors of the Bothy, AirBnB on Skye

Where to stay in Skye - Bealach Uige Bothy

Staying at our first ever Airbnb, the Bealach Uige Bothy was everything we could have wished for and really made our weekend. I could have quite happily chilled out here and not ventured out at all. The Scandi "hygge" vibes are strong in this wooden bothy in the wilderness! 

It has a separate kitchen and dining area and a spacious bathroom, and is set next to the home of the owner so they're on hand to help with anything you need. We enjoyed meals out through the day and then cooked our own evening meals here. In the evenings the bothy is the perfect place to relax; record playing, G&T in hand and a Scottish monopoly battle to end all battles! Things may have got a little competitive...

Waking up to a view of Staffin Bay, we didn't mind having Lambekins (the pet lamb who is massive) as our alarm clock!


Lamb at AirBnB
Kilt Rock Waterfall
Misty view of the cliffs from Kilt Rock

Kilt Rock

On Saturday morning get up bright and early ready for a day of adventure! Your first stop is Kilt Rock, only a 5 minute drive from our accommodation. So called because of it's plait like formation in the cliff, the Kilt Rock waterfall is pretty striking. Just a shame it was too windy for us to fly the drone and get a decent shot! A short drive from here, you'll come across a viewpoint for Mealt falls which is also worth a stop.

Old Man of Storr in the fog
Mist at the Old Man

The Old Man of Storr

Possibly Skye's best known landmark, the iconic Old Man of Storr is a bit of a trek but well worth the effort. Parking is limited, so get there early - especially if you're visiting in summer! Expect to spend about 1-2 hours walking in total. We climbed the hill until we reached the pinnacle, and retreated when the already ominous weather took a turn for the worst. Even in the fog the Old Man is impressive!

Us at the Old Man of Storr
Steak ciabatta at the Uig Hotel
Mussels at the Uig Hotel

Uig Hotel

From the Storr head North, driving around the Trotternish peninsula. Stop off to see the memorial and grave of Flora Macdonald (who helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape after Culloden) and you may also spot the headstone of a more recent Scottish icon - the late, great Alexander McQueen. 

Nearby is the Skye Museum of Island Life which closes in the winter season. Carry on your road trip west to the Isle of Skye Brewing co to sample the local beers. Staff here recommend the Uig Hotel for lunch. A lovely setting overlooking the bay, he enjoyed a steak ciabatta whilst I devoured a bowl of local mussels cooked in Guinness with bacon. The hotel and restaurant is dog friendly and reasonably priced.

Do Not Stack Stones - sign at the Fairy Glen
The Fairy Glen walkway

The Fairy Glen

Just behind the Uig Hotel, you'll stumble across the mythical Fairy Glen in the hills. I will admit I was a little underwhelmed by what we found, but equally glad to see no man made stone circles. It's a great, picturesque spot to explore and for drone owners to get a birdseye view of the incredible landscape.

If you have time, continue on to Skyeskyns for a free tour of the local tannery, where you'll learn about the traditional techniques they use. You can also purchase sheepskin items for your home.

The Fairy Glen, Skye
The Fairy Glen, Skye

Stacking stones on these landscapes is harmful to the environment, causing unnecessary erosion and damage to natural habitats. Come, see, enjoy, but leave no trace.

Quiraing view, Isle of SKye

The Quiraing

If you have more time, you should definitely hike the Quiraing, otherwise make do with driving the road through back to the Bothy for the evening. Skye's landscapes are absolutely breathtaking. No wonder Hollywood uses the Quiraing in so many films! The BFG and Snow White & the Huntsman to name just a few. Landmarks include the needle, the table and the prison - each name making sense when you find it.

Lava of the cuillins - hot choc at Talisker distillery on Skye
Talisker Distillery Skye

Talisker Whisky Distillery

Your second morning in Skye begins as all days should - with whisky! (Not for the driver obviously). Whilst the main tours don't take place off season, the Talisker team were more than happy to oblige us with a brief history and a taste of the local dram, completely free of charge. I couldn't resist sampling their Lava of the Cuillins too - a rich, hot chocolate ganache infused with Talisker Distillers Edition, perfect to warm you up on a typical Scottish winter's day.

In the main season, you can choose from a classic tour for £10, a whisky and chocolate tour for £30 or a Talisker masterclass for £45. Advanced booking is recommended.

View from the oyster shed
Scallops at the Oyster Shed, Skye

The Oyster Shed

Following the road up the hill behind the Talisker  distillery, the Oyster Shed is an absolute must stop for lunch in Carbost. Literally what it says on the tin, you'll find a shed full of local foodie products for sale, as well as oysters farmed daily at nearby Loch Harport, and a selection of other seafood dishes cooked fresh for you to eat overlooking the water.

We tucked into delicious buttery scallops along with a half lobster and chips - far more gourmet than you'd expect to find in a shed right?!

Highland Cow at Carbost, Skye
Road to Glen Brittle and the Fairy Pools, Skye
The Fairy Pools, Skye

The Fairy Pools

From Carbost it'ss a short and dramatic drive to the spectacular Fairy Pools. Wrap up in your waterproofs and ramble up the hill with the water cascading down through the pools alongside you. With the black Cuillins creating an eery, atmospheric background to the succession of waterfalls, this really is one of the most beautiful spots in Scotland. 

The Fairy Pools, Skye

The Glen Brittle car park for the Fairy Pools does charge a small fee but the money goes back into maintaining the paths so it's a no brainer - pay up! Allow up to an hour for the walk up and back down. I recommend wearing waterproof shoes as there are a couple of streams to cross via stepping stones. Or if you really don't mind getting wet, you could join the mad people who go wild swimming here!

Eilean Donan Castle
Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan Castle

Your final stop on your Isle of Skye road trip is Eilean Donan Castle. It may not actually be on the island, but this is a highlight of most people's Skye bucket lists. Located just a short drive from the bridge, this is one of the most photographed castles in the whole of Scotland. Here you'll find a visitors centre, shop and café and you can of course explore inside the 13th century castle too. We got there just before closing time which actually turned out to be ideal as we managed to quickly set up the tripod and snap a few photos without the hoards of tourists!

Us on the bridge at Eilean Donan Castle

I don't know about you but I reckon that's a fair amount to pack into just 48 hours on the Isle of Skye! If you can spend a little longer here, please do. With the extra time I recommend checking out Dunvegan Castle and Neist Point, and catch the ferry to nearby Raasay where you can take a tour of the recently opened distillery. 

Is there anything else we should add to our Isle of Skye road trip itinerary?

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