The Most Epic 1 Day Isle of Skye Itinerary (Follow Our Route!)

Isle of Skye Scotland

Only have 1 day in the Isle of Skye? Don’t worry! When we first started planning our Scotland road trip, the Isle of Skye was at the top of our list. Even though we began researching months in advance, we still ran into some roadblocks along the way. Honestly, between where to stay, how long we needed, and what we wanted to see, we were more than a little overwhelmed. Yet, as you’ll see, we eventually figured out the perfect 1 day Isle of Skye itinerary!

Why is Isle of Skye So Famous?

The Isle of Skye is a special region on the west coast of Scotland in the United Kingdom. It’s the largest island of the Inner Hebrides and a travel destination that gets more and more popular with each passing year. 

Travelers flock to the island in the summer which is the best time to experience the incredible mountain ranges, waterfalls, and magical scenery. If you’ve ever seen pictures of Scotland, there’s a good chance many of them were in the Isle of Skye! 

Not only will you find endless nature and hiking trails, but you’ll be treated to an abundance of castles and historical sites. As you’ll find out, it’s a mix of old legends and true tales of the country’s storied past. We hope you’ll be inspired to visit for yourself and see what all the hype is about after reading this guide!

Why is Isle of Skye So Famous

Planning a 1 Day Isle of Skye Itinerary

We actually spent two nights in the Isle of Skye as we arrived in the late afternoon on our first day. This ended up being an awesome way to see the area as it gave us the entire next day to explore. So was it enough time? We definitely feel like we made the most of every second, but would have loved to see more. 

You’ll have to decide how many days is enough when sorting out your own Isle of Skye itinerary. However, know that it is small enough that you can drive around it in one day. 

Our one day Isle of Skye guide is based on our own trip. We’ve also added some things that we wish we would’ve done differently looking back. From hiking the Old Man of Storr to visiting Fairy Glen and the Talisker Distillery, there’s so much to do and see in this part of Scotland!

If you’re spending 1 day the Isle of Skye then you’re likely including it in a larger road trip of the country and Scottish Highlands. Be sure to check out our ultimate road trip guide to see what we did over a full 10 days.

 10 Day Scotland Road Trip Itinerary: Our Epic Highlands Adventure

Visiting Isle of Skye Scotland

Do You Have to Take a Ferry to Isle of Skye?

We wanted to start with this question as it’s something we found a little confusing. As you might have guessed from the name, the Isle of Skye is in fact an island and not part of mainland Scotland.

This means to get there you might be taking the ferry! The other popular option is to drive from the city of Inverness to Skye (read our full guide here).

The A87 road from Inverness goes through Loch Ness and past the beautiful Eilean Donan Castle. The end of this route takes you over the Skye Bridge from Kyle of Lochalsh to the town of Kyleakin on Isle of Skye.

When leaving the Isle of Skye in Scotland we jumped on the Armadale to Mallaig ferry in route to Fort William. We actually loved the ferry and would recommend it at least one way just for the views.

So how much does the ferry cost? Fortunately, it was much more affordable than we originally thought. We paid £20.25 for our car and three adults for the one-way trip.

The only thing about the ferry is that it does sell out in the busy summer months. So if you only have 1 day in Isle of Skye (or any of Scotland’s Islands) it’s best to book in advance using the official website

Isle of Skye ferry

Is a 1 Day Isle of Skye Itinerary Enough?

As we mentioned, we had one full day for our Isle of Skye itinerary. It was great that we got there the night before as it allowed us to wake up early and beat the crowds to some of the major sites. 

With that being said, it would have definitely been beneficial to have at least one more day. We didn’t have time to visit Dunvegan Castle or some of the other best places in the Isle of Skye in Scotland.

While Dunvegan Castle is certainly worth the visit, we had already seen so many other magical castles in Scotland along our route. For this reason, we decided to leave that for next time and see other parts of the island. 

You should know that many travelers only see Isle of Skye in a day as we did. Still, if you do have the time, there’s more than enough to fill your days! 

Isle of Skye Scotland Guide

Where to Stay on the Isle of Skye 

So here’s the main issue that you may come across and why a lot of travelers only have a 1 day Isle of Skye itinerary. First off, the island is small and there aren’t really that many accommodations available. Hotels sell out months or even years in advance for peak season! 

We booked our trip in March for early July and still had a lot of trouble finding a place to stay that would suit our group. At one point, we almost gave up and were ready to visit the Isle of Skye on a day trip.

Luckily, at the last minute, we found an Airbnb in the town of Carbost. Someone must have canceled because it didn’t make sense to find such a nice place with only months to spare. We ended up taking the two nights on the Isle of Skye and planning our entire Scotland Road trip around that.

The advantage of staying in the Isle of Skye is clear: You’ll be up early and closer to all the top things to do. The other option is to drive in from the surrounding areas with the other tourists. Just know doing it this way will add a lot of driving to your day.

Here are some of the most popular and highly rated hotels in the Isle of Skye. Hopefully, you can book far enough in advance and find something nice like we did!

Cuillin Hills Hotel: Enjoy 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 near all the best attractions. 

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.

Isle of Skye Hotels

1 Day in the Isle of Skye Driving Tips

Aside from where to stay and how long you’ll need, there are a few more things to know when visiting the Isle of Skye in Scotland. Unless you’re taking a guided tour by bus (this one is the most popular), you’ll likely be renting a car for your trip.

Having a rental car will allow you to get the most out of your experience, especially if you’re doing Skye in a day! We always use this company to compare rates when searching for rental cars. It allows you to see the best prices for your dates and sort through the different car hires.

As with accommodations, It’s always best to book your rental car as far in advance as possible to secure the best price. Make sure to keep an eye out for the free cancellation so it will not be a problem if your plans change or you find a better deal later on.

We were actually working from the town of Stonehaven for a month prior to our road trip. This meant it made sense to pick our car up in Aberdeen and drop it off at Edinburgh Airport at the end before flying out.

Having a one way rental was so convenient and we loved being able to see Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile, and other amazing sites in the capital city. Here are a few more of our best tips for driving in the Isle of Skye! 

→ 9 Easy Tips to Know Before Renting a Car in Scotland

5 Tips For Your Isle of Skye Itinerary

Petrol Stations: The gas stations in the Isle of Skye can be far and few between in this part of Scotland. This is a good reason to fill up when you can. Even if we still had a half tank we made sure to top up before doing some of the longer drives.

Narrow Roads: If you’ve never driven in Scotland before know that the roads are much tighter than you may be used to. Also, they drive on the left side of the road in the U.K.

We especially had a tough time around Loch Ness where the roads are so small the vehicles use passing lanes to avoid hitting each other. You’ll want to have an experienced driver with you on your visit to the Isle of Skye. 

Camera Ready: Get your cameras out! It literally felt like every turn had picture spots and unique places to see on our Isle of Skye road trip. Make sure to bring a camera to capture some amazing memories on your vacation. Also, be sure everything is charged before leaving for the day.

Parking: Be aware that you have to pay for parking at most tourist attractions in Scotland. This includes the castles, hikes, and pretty much everywhere else you’ll be visiting.

Locate the electronic machines at the ends of the parking lots and print out the receipt to put on your dashboard. The good news is they all take credit cards.

How to Dress: Pack your rain gear and good shoes for the Isle of Skye. No matter the time of the year, you will likely have rain and windy weather for your trip to Scotland. Even in summer we needed rain jackets, pants, and warm clothing.

Isle of Skye in Scotland

Our 1 Day in Isle of Skye

As we said previously, we arrived in the Isle of Skye the night before and woke up well-rested the next day. Our first mission was to make the 45 minute drive to one of Scotland’s most famous hikes.

The Old Man of Storr is an iconic rock formation and the photos have been seen all around the world. The steep hike took us up around the rocks for panoramic views of the Isle of Skye. 

Storr’s dramatic landscapes will captivate you the entire way up, and it was one of our favorite hikes we did on our Scotland road trip. Since it was our first activity of the day we beat many of the other tourists there and had plenty of space on the trail. 

Morning Hike to the Old Man of Storr

It took us about 2 hours from start to finish, and we were back on the road before we knew it. Getting to the Old Man of Storr early is a must no matter where you are coming from.

In fact, it’s so popular that every tour bus stops here and hikers fill the trail. Not to mention the parking can be tough in the small lot if you don’t get there bright and early.

The one really good thing about Scotland in the summer is that it’s basically never dark out. During our visit, the sun was rising around 4 am! That meant that even if we woke up at 5 or 6am it was already completely light out and we didn’t have to do any part of the hike in the dark.

We loved stopping at the little food truck in the parking lot across from the Old Man of Storr hike. This was a great place to grab a scone and coffee before continuing on with our day.

→ 8 Best Things to Know For the Old Man of Storr Hike in Scotland

Scotland's Isle of Skye

Scenic Northern Loop

We finished the Old Man of Storr hike around 9am and started on the Northern route. Most of our day was spent either hiking or driving and the north of the island was absolutely beautiful. 

The A855 road takes you up around the tip of the Isle of Skye in Scotland where you’ll pass through small villages and remote beaches. There are a few official stops on this loop and countless hiking trails to enjoy. It all depends on how much you want to hop in and out of the car.

Popular places to see along the route are Rigg Viewpoint, Lealt Falls, the Brother’s Point, Duntulm Castle, and Skye Museum of Island Life. This drive was a highlight of our visit and thankfully we had decent weather for it.

We will say that if we didn’t have a very early start we wouldn’t have had time to make it to everything in one day. This definitely includes our lunch spot which we’ll tell you about next. 

Scotland Isle of Skye

Lunch at the Oyster Shed 

There are many great places to grab lunch on your Isle of Skye itinerary, but oh do we have a treat for you! The Oyster Shed is Skye staple and comes highly recommended by locals for seafood.

Funny enough, it was located right at the top of the hill above our accommodation in Carbost. This made it an easy choice to stop in for lunch after our adventurous morning.

We started off with a dozen fresh oysters and they did not disappoint. After that, we each ordered a fresh lobster which came with french fries and lobster bisque soup.

It’s no secret that Scotland is an expensive country to travel to, and the food prices can play a big role in that. However, we were pleasantly surprised by the cheap menu at the Oyster Shed.

Definitely make a stop here for lunch if you have the chance! If you need an afternoon pick up there is also an amazing coffee called Caora Dhubh Coffee Company.

Oyster Shed Isle of Skye

Isle of Skye Oyster Shed 

Talisker Distillery Tour

Scotland is full of whisky distilleries and the Isle of Skye is no different. This region is actually part of a larger whiskey trail that’s considered one of the most scenic in the world.

The Talisker Distillery was the first in the Isle of Skye opening in 1830. It’s located in Carbost near the Oyster Shed if you’re in the area. The only other distillery here is Torabhaig which can be found in the town of Teangue.

Taking a whiskey tour is such a fun addition to your Isle of Skye itinerary. Nevertheless, don’t worry if you don’t make it to an actual distillery. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to taste this popular liquor on your journey at the bars and restaurants. 

Talisker Distillery Tour

Scenic Walk at the Fairy Pools 

After our lunch we headed out to the second most famous hike in the Isle of Skye. The Fairy Pools are a series of cascading waterfalls that will take your breath away. The walking paths that go around the Fairy Pools are one of the most popular tourist attractions in Scotland.

Unlike the Old Man of Storr hike in the morning, we arrived here in the late afternoon. This meant we would be sharing the trail with hundreds of other tourists during high season. It was a cloudy day, but this only enhanced the otherworldly landscapes and waterfalls. Honestly, it looked like something out of a movie!

The Fairy Pools get their name from the mythological story of the Selkies. Legend has it, these creatures could morph from humans into seals and swim ashore.

They are said to have bathed in these very Fairy Pools at night time during a full moon. After visiting these magical waterfalls ourselves and mystical places like Loch Ness, it’s easy to see how these stories would come about.

Our Fun Fairy Pools Hike

From the car park to the top of the Fairy Pools was a gradual incline that took about 45 minutes. All the way up, you will pass numerous waterfalls that drop down into the pools below. Apparently, people swim here in the summertime but we didn’t see anyone in the water the day we were there.

The weather held up nicely for us for most of the afternoon. However, on the walk back to the parking lot we were hit with an unrelenting downpour! By the time we got back to our car we were soaking wet.

Be sure to pack sturdy hiking shoes and rain gear for your trip to the Isle of Skye. Even in the warmer summer months, you will see rain in this region of Scotland. 

→ 7 Must Know Tips For the Isle of Skye Fairy Pools in Scotland

The Isle of Skye Scotland

1 Day in Isle of Skye Portree Dinner 

After experiencing Skye in a day, we had a relaxing night enjoying the views at our Airbnb. If you you still have energy then we recommend going into the main town of Portree for dinner. 

It’s the largest village in the Isle of Skye Scotland so you could be staying overnight here anyway. During the day it can get crowded with tour buses (and even cruise ships) stopping here. 

While it may calm down at night, be sure to make dinner reservations in advance if you plan to go. They have everything from takeaway fish & chips spots to local bars, and fine dining restaurants. 

The Isle of Skye

Is a 1 Day Isle of Skye Itinerary Worth it?

Absolutely! The Isle of Skye was one of our favorite places we traveled to on our road trip in Scotland. From the small fishing villages to hiking trails and traditional food, we had such an amazing time.

This 1 day Isle of Skye itinerary guide was based on our trip, but there are so many different routes to discover. If possible, we highly recommend staying overnight in this area of Scotland.

Yet, if you’re making a day trip, know that you’ll have plenty to do and see in just one day. It is a popular tourist destination for a reason, with travelers visiting from all over the world to experience the magical island!

Is the Isle of Skye Worth Visiting

Have any questions on this article or want to share your own 1 day Isle of Skye itinerary? Let us know in the comments below! ​

Safe Travels,
Brigitte & Jake

PIN FOR LATER 

Scotland

Scotland Travel Planning

More Posts: Dunnottar CastleFairy PoolsBalmoral CastleObanNevis RangeUrquhart Castle Scotland Food 

 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

*We receive a commission for purchases made through links in this post. This allows us to continue our travels and keep providing great content to our readers! Also, as an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.
Share:

2 Comments

  1. October 10, 2023 / 3:58 am

    It looks wonderful. I’m a Kiwi who lived in England for 2 years for my “O.E.'” and I regret not making it to Scotland. It looks very similar (and familiar) to where I’m from which was settled by the Scottish 170 years ago or so. The Isle of Skye is on my must-visit list!

    • Brigitte & Jake
      Author
      October 10, 2023 / 4:07 am

      That’s amazing Dan! It’s definitely worth visiting when you make it to Scotland. The Isle of Skye is such a special area of the country to experience!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *