Want to see some of the best landscapes Scotland has to offer? You are right, visiting the Isle of Skye is a great option. But are you wondering how to make the most of your short time there? Here are some tips to help you choose your Isle of Skye Tour from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness or Portree.
Navigate back to the complete Travel Scotland Guide
This article contains affiliate Links (info on the Disclosure page). If you purchase using my link, I get a commission at no extra cost to you.
Why visit the Isle of Skye Scotland?
The Isle of Skye has often been listed as one of the most scenic islands in the world.
And once you are there, you understand why! There is everything (except palm trees LOL): Mountains, lochs, white sand beaches, cliffs, waterfalls, castles... And fairy stories!!!
It is possible to spend a whole holiday on the Isle of Skye.
Below are some of the highlights on Skye Island that you could see on your tour:
- The pinacle of the Old Man of Storr protecting the island
- The Quiraing ridge with stunning views that can go all the way to the see on a clear day
- The funny Kilt Rock with the Mealt Falls dropping directly into the ocean
- The magical landscapes of the Fairy pools cascading from one to the other with the mountains in the background
- The magnificent cliffs of Neist Point with one of the most iconic lighthouse landscapes in the world
The dream of Isle of Skye Day Tour from Edinburgh
A lot of people visiting Edinburgh are searching for opportunities to do a day trip to the Isle of Skye, as they have heard of its beauty. However it is absolutely not possible. Let me explain why:
Where is the Isle of Skye? - Map
Let's have a reality check, here is a map of Scotland:
And let's talk distances and driving time without stopping
- Edinburgh to Skye Bridge:
200 miles - 322 km
- Glasgow to Skye Bridge:
180 miles - 290 km
- Inverness to Skye Bridge:
80 miles - 129 km
Size of Skye Island Scotland
And once you are on the island, it is actually bigger than one imagines... this is why there is so much to see.
For example the main town Portree is already a 1 hour drive from the Skye Bridge and it is only in the middle of the Island!
Plus some of the roads are single tracks which means that driving takes a lot more time.
So, I am sorry but it is not possible to visit the isle of Skye on a day trip from Edinburgh....
OPTION 1 - Touring the Isle of Skye on a self drive
The absolute best way to discover the Isle of Skye is to rent a car and do a road trip on your own. This way you can stop whenever you like the scenery and you can explore out of the beaten path locations such as the magnificent untouched Loch Coruisk.
If you choose that option, head to my article about all the Things to do on the Isle of Skye.
With my eBooks, you can plan in details your road trip:
OPTION 2 - Join an Organized Isle of Skye Tour
The other option for those not willing to rent a car and drive is to book an organized tour. Small group tours are the best because you can stop more often and have more time at each locations, plus the itinerary is flexible depending on the group.
Pros of an Organized Skye island Tour:
- The road is scenic almost all the time. In the bus, you will be able to enjoy it the whole way (tip: while driving through Glencoe towards the Isle of Skye, sit on the left side of the minibus).
- You get a lot of information about the history of Scotland and what you are seeing (which you don't have in the car unless you partner/friend is a history teacher...)
- Scottish Tour Guides are famous for being very funny
Good to know before your Tour of Skye Island:
- Whatever the tour your choose, there will be lots of driving to get to the Isle of Skye and to drive around the Isle of Skye
- You can only see a selection of the best spots on the island - but it will already be enough to blow your mind
Such tours depart from Edinburgh, Glasgow or Inverness.
Options to Consider for Skye Island Tours
A I wrote earlier, there are no one day tour of Skye from Edinburgh possible. But you still have several options possible:
- Set up base in Edinburgh and book a 3 or 4 day tour to the Isle of Skye (different return options possible)
- Set up base in Glasgow and book a 3 day tour to the Isle of Skye
- Arrive in Inverness by cruise and do a one day trip to Loch Ness and the South of the Isle of Skye
- Take the bus to Portree, the main town on the Isle of Skye and book day trips from there to see the highlights of the highlands or complete a guided hike
With all those criteria you will find below some suggestions to book your Isle of Skye Tour depending on your criteria.
BEST OVERALL - 3 day Isle of Skye Tour from Edinburgh or Glasgow
I think one of the best options if you don't have much time in Scotland is to book the 3 day Isle of Skye Tour from Edinburgh or Glasgow.
About the Program
Those tour will give you a great overview of the Highlands and the Isle of Skye as you will drive through:
- The very scenic valley of Glencoe and its famous Mount Buachaille Etive Mor
- The Road to to Skye and the mountains of the 5 sisters of Kintail
- The famous castle of Eilean Donan before reaching Skye Island
- 1 day and a half admiring touring the Isle of Skye with both West and East coast
- A return via Loch Ness
My Tips for the best views
- On the way through Glencoe towards Skye, sit on the left side of the bus
- On the way around Loch Ness when driving back from Skye, sit on the right side of the bus
Fun Alternative - Edinburgh to Isle of Skye Tour 3 days (with train)
About the Program
Another company offers a similar tour but will a small twist: on your way back you can ride on the Jacobite train, the famous Harry Potter train with amazing views of the "Road to the isles" and traveling on the Glenfinnan viaduct.
It is great scenery, and nice to break from the bus a little. But that means not covering the Glencoe area, as it is replaced by the train.
My Tips for the best views
- On the way to Skye via Loch Ness, sit on the left side of the bus
- On the train back from Skye, sit on the right side
Got longer? Check out the 4 day West Scottish Highlands & Skye Tour
About the Program
If you are lucky to have one more day, you can book a 4 day tour to the Isle of Skye from Edinburgh to spend a little bit more time admiring the West Highlands before getting to the island.
This way you get both Glencoe and the Road to to the isle with the Glenfinnan viaduct (but by bus not train). You will reach the isle of Skye with the ferry from Mallaig. If the day is clear, the views of the Cuillin mountains will be fantastic. So much scenery in 4 days!
Snapshot Option - One day Isle of Skye Tour from Inverness
If you are stopping in Scotland and your cruise, your best option is to do a day tour from Inverness. You will not see the whole island, but you will be able to admire a lot of the Highland scenery with:
- The Loch Ness and its monster
- The Road to Skye and 5 sisters of Kintail in Glen Shiel
- The famous Eilean Donan Castle
- The South of Skye Island with the red Cuillin Mountains towards what I think if one of the best views in Skye: The view from the town of Elgol
But you can also consider taking the bus or train to take this tour as it takes you to another part of the Isle of Skye which is also magnificent and less touristy.
"As much as possible of the country in a relatively short time"
Isle of Skye tours from Portree
If you like more control, another solution is for you to take the bus to the Isle of Skye, organise your own accommodation in Portree (see my suggestions on the Scotland Accommodation Article) and book day trips from there.
2 suggestions of Skye Island Tours from Portree for you:
Covering the East Highlights
You will admire the ridge and viewpoints of Quiraing, the Old man of Storr, Kilt Rock and get out of the beaten track to the enchanting Frairy Glen with its miniature forest, summits and lochs.
A day of Fairies and West Highlights
Discover the Fairy pools cascading and sparkling, the impressive cliffs of Nest Point, Dunvegan castle and its fairy flag as well as the Fairy Bridge.
You can also consider Photography tours of Skye Island.
Many photographers, Scottish or not, offer Isle of Skye photography Tours. Just google "photography tours Isle of Skye"
But those tours don't run all the time, and you have to fit your holidays around the time when they are run.
Want to see more of SCOTLAND?
Ready to see some unforgettable scenery?
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: