Driving From Inverness to Isle of Skye? Follow Our Route!

Inverness to Isle of Skye

Planning a road trip to Scotland? Then there’s a good chance you’re taking the Inverness to Isle of Skye route! The drive may not look long, but the twists and turns of the Scottish Highlands make for such a fun day of exploring. Here’s what to know before your Inverness to Isle of Skye day tour, and easy to follow tips from our own trip.

Our Inverness to Isle of Skye Trip

As many other travelers do, we included the Inverness to Skye route in a larger Scotland road trip (read about our route here!). Inverness is the capital of the Highlands and a popular place for an overnight stay before visiting the Isle of Skye. There’s also flights to Inverness Airport if you want to start your trip from there.

We actually passed through the city quickly and decided to stay in Loch Ness right on the water. After an amazing boat tour, we headed off on this scenic road to the Isle of Skye. 

We’ll break down our entire day for you in this article, but know that was just a small part of our 10-day adventure. Looking back now, this was definitely one of our favorite days in Scotland!

Inverness to Isle of Skye Trip

Is it Easy to Drive From Inverness to Skye?

Well, that’s a tricky question. When looking at the map you’ll notice the most direct route is only a little under three hours of travel time.

However, if you haven’t driven in Scotland before, know that the roads are very tight and narrow. We’ve driven all over the world from Italy to Vietnam, and this area is not easy!

Some single track roads only have enough room for one car. You’ll have to use the designated passing lanes in this situation to pull over into.

We recommend renting a small car (here’s what to know before) on the Inverness to Isle of Skye route to give yourself one less thing to worry about. You’ll also want to remember to drive on the left side as they do throughout the United Kingdom. 

With that said, as long you have some experience driving in Europe you should be fine. Be patient on the winding roads and don’t be afraid to let the locals pass you. 

How to Get form Inverness to Isle of Skye

Is There a Train From Inverness to the Isle of Skye?

Almost! Technically, there is no direct train from Inverness to Isle of Skye, but you can get very close. The train ride from Inverness with ScotRail will take you on a 2.5 hour trip to a small town called Kyle of Lochalsh.

From there, you will need to hop on a bus or taxi over the Skye Bridge to get to the island. Alternatively, you could go to Inverness Bus Station and take it on a similar route without stopping in Kyle of Lochalsh (ticket prices here). 

The train is a beautiful way to see Scotland. Yet, to truly experience this country, the best way is to rent a car (check the prices). 

Inverness to the Isle of Skye

Can You Do a Day Trip to Isle of Skye from Inverness?

Yes, it is possible! However, it’s not something we would actually recommend. Even if you have a car hire to drive from Inverness, you’ll be spending over 2 hours just getting there without stops. 

If you start very early, you could potentially have a full afternoon to see the Isle of Skye. The better option would be to stay somewhere in or around the entrance to Skye so you’ll have more time to enjoy it. 

Another option is to take an Inverness to Isle of Skye day tour like this popular one. They stop in similar places as we did, and you won’t have to worry about driving. You can even check out this multi-day tour which goes throughout the Scottish Highlands.

Isle of Skye to Inverness

Early Morning Exploring Loch Ness 

As we mentioned, we decided to stay on the shores of Loch Ness as opposed to Inverness. It’s only a 20 minute drive between the two. This means you could easily get an early start in Inverness, and see Loch Ness first thing in the morning.

One of the best activities on our Scotland road trip was taking a Loch Ness boat tour (read about our experience). This was our exact tour, but if you’re short on time we recommend this one.

The company Jacobite Cruises took us all around the massive lake while explaining about the area. We didn’t spot the lake monster Nessie, but be on the lookout! 

Another must-see place before heading to the Isle of Skye is the legendary Urquhart Castle. It sits on the banks of Loch Ness, and has hundreds of years of history to explore.

You can include it as part of your Loch Ness cruise, or drive there yourself. If you’re touring the castle on your own terms you’ll need to book a time in advance.

We recommend getting one of the first time slots in the morning. This is especially important during the busy summer months.

Inverness to Skye Route

A87 Road From Inverness to Skye 

There are two different ways you can drive from Inverness to Skye that take the same amount of time. The northern road takes you in the other direction from Loch Ness. If you’re planning to head here you’ll definitely want to go on the A87. 

We took the southern road which goes past the iconic Loch Ness, Eilean Donan Castle, and other major attractions. Fort Augustus is a very popular town located on the southern part of the lake. 

There are many great walking trails and you can see the famous 5 water locks of the Caledonian Canal. It’s worth a visit or overnight stay if you have time. However, you may want to skip it on the Inverness to Skye route as it’s a bit out of the way.

The southern route begins in Inverness on the A82 highway and connects with A87. Between Urquhart and Eilean Donan will only be about an hour, but plan for extra time with photo stops. 

Be sure to stop at Chocolates of Glenshiel on the way from Inverness to Isle of Skye! It’s about 10 minutes before Eilean Donan, and a nice spot to grab a coffee, a breakfast pastry, or stock up on local chocolates.

Inverness to Skye Scotland

Touring Eilean Donan Castle

We wanted to specifically highlight Eilean Donan on our Inverness to Skye road trip. This is arguably the most picturesque castle in all of Scotland, and somewhere you’ve likely seen pictures of when planning your itinerary. 

The castle is small, so you can easily see it in around an hour on a quick visit. The fortress was constructed by King Alexander II all the way back in the 12th century. 

Both Scottish royalty and clans would call it home for centuries up until the Jacobite Uprising in 1719. After the British destroyed it, Eilean Donan lay in ruins for over 200 years! 

The MacRae family would purchase the grounds and rebuild it in the early 1900’s into what you see today. We loved touring this site and learning all about the history of this part of Scotland.

Know that unlike Urquhart Castle, you can’t pre-book your tickets for Eilean Donan. You’ll have to go straight to the visitor’s center when you arrive to buy them. Read all about our visit to Eilean Donan here

Inverness to Skye Drive

Inverness to Isle of Skye Bridge

Once you make it to Kyle of Lochalsh you’re almost to the Isle of Skye. From Eilean Donan it will be about a 15 minute drive to the Skye Bridge. 

This is one place you’ll want to stop to grab a photo and take in the spectacular views… if you have nice weather that is!

Just as we got to the Skye Bridge it started to downpour like crazy. Bummer! The bridge may look massive but it only takes a minute or two to cross over. 

Inverness to Isle of Skye Bridge

Late Lunch at Deli Gasta

There are plenty of places to eat along the Inverness to Skye route so you might’ve gotten lunch earlier in the day. Yet, just over the Skye Bridge is a cafe you won’t want to miss!

We had no idea Deli Gasta was so popular and they had an hour wait for a table when we got there. If you’re planning to go be sure to call ahead for a reservation. 

Luckily, they do have a take away window and offer food to go. We grabbed some sandwiches and enjoyed them outside before continuing on our Inverness to Isle of Skye tour.  

About the Isle of Skye Scotland

The Isle of Skye is one of the most popular places to visit in all of Scotland! For this reason, the accommodations can be hard to find. There are not many options to begin with, so you can imagine how hard it is to get something in the summertime. 

Somehow we found an amazing Airbnb in Carbhost. We searched a couple of months in advance and then planned our entire Inverness to Isle of Skye route around this booking. Here are a few more places to stay in the Isle of Skye to check out if you’re planning ahead.

Cuillin Hills Hotel: The hotel has breathtaking views of the Isle of Skye and Cuillin Hills mountain range. Located just outside of Portree, this is the perfect stay to mix luxury with nature.

Duisdale House Hotel: Family run boutique hotel in a charming area of Isle of Skye. Take in the sea views at this forming hunting lodge for a unique Scotland stay.

Sligachan Hotel: The Sligachan Hotel comes complete with its own museum, whiskey bar, and even has a microbrewery on site. It’s just 14 km from Portree. 

Greshornish House Hotel: Spacious rooms in a beautiful setting in the heart of the Isle of Skye. The restaurant specializes in traditional Scottish and British cuisine which is nice after a long day of driving.

Exploring Skye Scotland

Exploring the Isle of Skye in Scotland

We arrived in the late afternoon the day before, grabbed an early dinner at the Oyster Shed, and then had a full day to explore the Isle of Skye the next morning. The Talisker Distillery is also in Carbhost for whisky enthusiasts! 

Staying overnight on the actual island was so clutch as it allowed us to have an entire day at our own pace. The first stop was a hike up the Old Man of Storr. It took about 2 hours in total (here’s our full guide) and was so worth it for the amazing views!

From there, we took the scenic northern loop around the island. The A855 road goes around the tip of the Isle of Skye and to many small villages and beautiful beaches. Don’t miss out on the many viewpoints, Lealt Falls, Duntulm Castle, and Skye Museum of Island Life.

After lunch we headed straight to the Fairy Pools. If you plan to do the same there are a few things you should know first!

This is one place in the Isle of Skye that feels like a completely different world. The 45 minute hike takes you past endless cascading waterfalls with the Scottish mountains as a backdrop. 

Inverness to Isle of Skye Road Trip

Returning From Isle of Skye to Inverness 

Where you go next completely depends on your own itinerary. Those doing a day tours will likely be heading back over the Skye Bridge towards Inverness. This is when you could take the northern route to see something different.

We actually jumped on the Armadale to Mallaig ferry instead of taking the bridge. Our 10 day road trip took us to Fort William next for some mountain biking at the incredible Nevis Range.

This ferry is the best option for those with rental cars to experience the area in a unique way. Yet, it may not make sense unless you’re heading in the same direction as us.

Inverness to Isle of Skye Ferry

Have any questions about this article or want to share your own tips for traveling from Inverness to Isle of Skye? Leave us a comment below! 

Safe Travels,
Brigitte & Jake

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Scotland

Scotland Travel Planning

 Rental Car: The best way to get around Scotland is by rental car! We always use Discover Cars when traveling in Europe and have found some great deals by booking in advance.

Transportation: Omio is a great place to search for trains, buses, and transfers while traveling through Scotland.

 Tours: Check out Get Your Guide for activities all over Scotland. You can find everything from a Scottish Highlands tour from Edinburgh to a Loch Ness boat cruise, Harry Potter Magical Guided Walking Tour, and even chocolate making classes.

 Flights: It’s easy to find cheap flight deals using Skyscanner and Kayak. That’s how we got flights from London to Aberdeen for $30 USD and Edinburgh to Budapest for less than $80! 

 Accommodation: Compare multiple sites for the best prices such as Booking.com and Agoda. Also,  Hostelworld should be your go-to if you’re traveling on a budget. 

 Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without protection. We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.

 Packing Lists: Find all the inspiration you need with our Amazon packing lists. Including our electronics and camera gear, must-have medical items, and long flight essentials

Scotland Travel

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2 Comments

  1. Mae
    February 19, 2024 / 9:00 am

    I’m planning a road trip to Scotland and this guide is exactly what I needed. Loch Ness looks like a perfect spot for a stop over. Can’t wait to explore more of the stunning Scottish Highlands!

    • Brigitte & Jake
      Author
      February 19, 2024 / 9:05 am

      Awesome! So glad you found our Inverness to Skye guide helpful (-:

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