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A Weekend In The Isle Of Skye

“We don’t hire cars for that company anymore, they’re in liquidation.”

And that’s how my Isle of Skye birthday weekend started. I’d left work in Edinburgh early to get to the airport in time to meet a friend coming from London for my birthday weekend trip to the Isle of Skye. We planned to sort out the car paperwork together and begin our epic Scotland road trip.

First up was Loch Ness for a night, then the Isle of Skye, our ultimate Scotland destination and one that, from all accounts, promised to be a highlight of our working holiday in the UK.

Heading North of Edinburgh

After living in Scotland for nine months without crossing the Forth Road Bridge to venture north, I was more than ready to be on the road.

The Isle of Skye is one of Scotland’s ultimate destinations, and avoiding planning my own birthday celebrations is one of my life goals, so when Jess suggested we go to the Isle of Skye, the introvert and the traveller in me both screamed YES.

Isle of Skye Weekend
The magical Isle of Skye

The Isle of Skye is an island to the west of Scotland, forming part of the Inner Hebrides.

Its stunning and dramatic scenery earns it a place in the top destinations in Scotland and 4th best island in a previous National Geographic Traveller Magazine ranking.

Sometimes people forget to mention the regular rainfall and “atmospheric” mist means the landscape of Skye can be more than a little elusive…

After our car rental hiccup was solved thanks to a time-stamped email showing we hired the car a mere hour before the company folded, our rental was honoured, and we were on our way to world-famous Loch Ness to stay for a night to break up the journey. A little late, but better than never!

The Isle of Skye is definitely reachable in one day from Edinburgh, but if you want to take a more scenic route, then stopping in Loch Ness, Inverness, Glencoe, or Fort William are all good choices, depending on the route you take.

Loch Ness

Do I really need to tell you what Loch Ness is famous for? The giant Loch Ness monster statue outside the visitor centre probably gives it away.

Urquhart Castle sits on the edge of the lake, and taking a boat tour is a great way to see it from the best angle.

We took a tour with Nessieland, and George Edwards was a great skipper. He narrated the tour completely from memory and taught us far more about this lake than I ever knew before.

Loch Ness is actually interesting aside from the tale of the Loch Ness monster; who knew?! It contains more fresh water than all the lakes in England and Wales combined, and it’s super deep and hard to map, part of the reason the myth has continued all this time.

Drive to the Isle of Skye

After cruising Loch Ness it was time to head to the highlight of the Scotland road trip, the Isle of Skye.

One of my favourite drives in Scotland is from the bottom of Loch Ness to the Isle of Skye. The road curves over mountains and through huge valleys and also bypasses Eilean Donan Castle, one of the most picturesque castles in Scotland. It is worth the picture stop at the very least and a tour if you have time.

Isle of Skye Weekend
One of many scenic stops on the road to Skye
Eilean Donan Castle
The picturesque Eilean Donan Castle

Staying in Portree

There is a wealth of accommodation on the Isle of Skye, from hotels and hostels to B&Bs and even campsites, but these can get really busy in the summer period, and I would recommend booking in advance if you’re particular.

We chose the Portree Independent Hostel, once the Main Post Office for the island and located in the capital, and an ideal base location for exploring the Isle of Skye.

Portree is an easily walkable little town with waterfront restaurants and narrow streets. Since it was my birthday, we had to sample the local nightlife, which included quite a number of pubs for the size of the town.

We chatted with some younger locals, and surprisingly, a fair few had been to New Zealand or Australia on a working holiday. I suppose in the same way that I feel like New Zealand is so far away and I need to get out and travel, the young people of the Isle of Skye feel the same way!

Skye is actually further from Edinburgh or Glasgow than a flight from one of those locations to Europe. If you’re going to leave, you might as well go far away!

Portree Isle of Skye Weekend
The harbour at Portree
Sunrise Portree Isle of Skye Weekend
Sunrise on my birthday in Portree, Isle of Skye

Old Man of Storr

A quick trip up the road from Portree is the Old Man of Storr. It’s basically an epic rock you can walk up to.

It’s enough to get close to see it, but if the weather’s good, then I’d go all the way there to be right amongst the unique formations.

We went in fading daylight and near gale force winds and managed to get close enough for a good view just before low cloud cover obscured him from our view. I can now count managing not to be blown off a hill in my list of achievements.

Old Man of Storr Isle of Skye
Managing to stay upright by the Old Man of Storr


To experience a different town on our Isle of Skye weekend, we headed up to Uig, which is a pathway to the Outer Hebrides.

There was a grand total of two restaurants in Uig to choose from, so we took our chances with the Pier Restaurant and ended up having the most delicious fish and chips of my entire stay in the UK to date.

Neist Point

The beautifully located but ghostly former lighthouse and B&B of Neist Point make an interesting place to explore.

They’re on the opposite side of the island from Portree and kind of out of the way, but if you have the time, it’s a lovely drive.

The lighthouse used to be a B&B and kind of looked like an old school camp. It was being renovated, although we’re not sure what the plan is for it.

Neist Point Isle of Skye Weekend
The abandoned lighthouse at Neist Point that we explored for awhile before getting creeped out
Neist Point Isle of Skye Weekend
Looking down to Neist Point, where the lighthouse is located


Close to Neist Point is a small place called Milovaig, divided into an upper and lower town with many crofts still around. Driving through Milovaig felt like stepping back in time as we tried to negotiate the narrow lanes, avoiding the sheep that run free in the area.

Sheep on the road Isle of Skye weekend
Lower Milovaig Isle of Skye Weekend
So sheep eat seaweed, who knew?
Lower Milovaig Isle of Skye Weekend
Hanging out at Lower Milovaig

Dunvegan Castle

Jess has family history on the Isle of Skye, so we just had to stop into Dunvegan Castle, the home of the MacLeods for 800 years (history in Europe blows my mind!). There are beautiful gardens and the Castle itself featured in the Jacobite uprisings.

Dunvegan Castle Isle of Skye Weekend
Outside Dunvegan Castle which used to be completely surrounded by the sea

The Fairy Pools

One of the things I was most looking forward to on the Isle of Skye was seeing the Fairy Pools. I can’t remember when I first heard about them, but at some point, I pinned a million pins on Pinterest, so it was at the top of the Isle of Skye to-do list.

By the time we got to the Fairy Pools, the aforementioned rain and mist had set in, so we couldn’t see the famous Cuillin mountain range. I am a firm believer in making the most of any weather when you’re travelling, and the 15-minute walk from the car park was worth still worth it.

One look at the glowing colour of the water pooling between waterfalls is all it takes to understand why they’ve been named the Fairy Pools.

Fairy Pools Isle of Skye Weekend
Walking through the glen to the Fairy Pools
Fairy Pools Isle of Skye Weekend
That colour!

Fort William and Glencoe

To complete the circle back to Edinburgh we drove back from our Isle of Skye weekend through Fort William and Glencoe, arguably the most beautiful glen (valley to us non-Scottish folk) in Scotland.

Glencoe could be a destination all by itself, especially if you like hill walking or as a base for exploring the Highlands. It is some of the most stunning scenery I’ve ever seen.

After the weekend almost didn’t get off the ground due to my disastrous luck with car rentals (this is not the first time or the last…), the Isle of Skye more than lived up to the expectations of a top destination in the United Kingdom and, in particular, Scotland.

While you can see a lot of Skye in two days, I would recommend sparing more, if possible, because of the changeable weather and the chance to relax and take in more of the island.

Isle of Skye Weekend
The Isle of Skye really put on the magical scenery as we left

If we had more time, we would have ventured to the Quiraing, a beautiful area of mountains sliding down towards the sea, Kilt Rock – a sea cliff that looks like a kilt, and Elgol – another picturesque seaside village.

We went to the top spots that we could reach within a day and a half, but more time would mean finding more stunning areas hidden away.

Moving to the Isle of Skye

Obviously the Isle of Skye is absolutely stunning, but would you want to move there? This more isolated life on a weather-battered island off the west of Scotland would not be for everyone. That’s not to say it wouldn’t be an amazing experience.

Update in 2024: So we have now moved to the Isle of Skye. I would have been absolutely shocked if you’d told me that 10 years after this first trip, we would be living on Skye!

You can read more about why we moved to the Isle of Skye here and how to move to Skye here.

Want more Scotland info? Check out Essential Sights on a Quick Visit to Edinburgh and Highlights of a Scotland Road Trip!

Sonja x

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A Weekend In The Isle Of Skye

9 thoughts on “A Weekend In The Isle Of Skye

    • Migrating Miss says:

      Thanks! I went in late September. I mostly wore jeans and vest tops with cardigans. It wasn’t too cold so I didn’t need to bundle up a lot but it wasn’t the best weather so I had a rain coat and scarf too. Because it had been raining at that time of year it was a little muddy. I liked that time of year because it was the end of the busy season so there weren’t as many people around but it wasn’t too cold!

  1. Traci says:

    I love this post! I am going to be in Scotland in the first part of October of this year. I am curious as to what type of shoes you wore. I understand it is an off-road hike to get to the fairy pools and the ground will likely be wet and muddy.

    • Migrating Miss says:

      Thanks so much!! I’m actually really bad at wearing appropriate footwear and I’m pretty sure I was wearing vans when I went to the fairy pools. Oops. It’s really not THAT far so you should be fine with normal sports shoes, there’s no need to specially buy hiking shoes if you don’t own them and this is all the walking you’ll be doing!

  2. cora fazio says:

    I have traced my family to the highlands of Scotland and plan on traveling there next year. Any and all advice is appreciated I will be traveling with a dear friend we’ve completed our Ireland tour a few years ago. I plan on returning there also. Also I am trying to get more info on my 5 times great grandfather David Scott so that I will know just where he lived in the highlands.

    • Migrating Miss says:

      That sounds like fun! I traced my family history in Shetland so that I could go to some places there too :). Once you find out some more it might help you plan your trip a bit better! There’s so much to see it just depends what you like really :).

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