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 best Isle of Skye Tour from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness or Portree.
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Best Isle of Skye Tours - Summary
In the following article I will share a lot of information about the island.
But, if you are looking for my short answer about the best tours to see the Isle of Skye, here is a summary
- The Isle of Skye can not be visited on a day trip from Edinburgh - it is too far away and too large
- Overall best Isle of Skye Tour from Edinburgh - 3-day tour by land - Check out program and availability
- Overall best Isle of Skye Tour from Glasgow - 3-day tour by land - Check out program and availability
- Isle of Skye day trip - only possible from Inverness - Check out program and availability
- Isle of Skye and Highlands Tour including ferry - 4 days - Check out program and availability
- or Head to Portree by yourself and see all the highlights on a day tour around the island - Check out program and availability
Why visit the Isle of Skye in 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 pinnacle of the Old Man of Storr protecting the island
- The Quiraing ridge with stunning views that can go all the way to the sea 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 the 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:
Can you see the isle of Skye on a day trip From Edinburgh
No. Edinburgh to the Skye Bridge is a 4h30 drive. And the Island is larger that you would expect.
There is not enough time in the day.
Where is the Isle of Skye? How to get there? - 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 the Isle of Skye
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....
How to visit the Isle of Skye - Tips
OPTION 1 - Touring the Isle of Skye on a road trip - self-drive tour
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 off 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 location, 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 your 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 tour you 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 tours 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 Isle of Skye tours - 3 days 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 Programs
Those tours 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 touring the Isle of Skye with both West and East coasts and all the highlights
- 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
Best Scottish Highlands & Skye Tours - 4 or 5 days
About the 4-day 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!
5-day Highland and Skye Tour
And if you have even longer, check out this 5 day trip to the Isle of Skye and the Highlands
You will see a lot fo the most magnificent scenery in Scotland
Best One-day Isle of Skye Tour from Inverness
If you are stopping in Scotland and you 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.
Best 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, organize 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:
Skye in a day - all the highlights
Explore all the main attractions!
Fairy pools, Talisker Distillery, Neist point, Dunvegan Castle, Old Man of Storr, Kit Rock, Quiraing and Fairy Glen... the grand tour!
Skye in a day - private tour
Or if you want to create your own itinerary, book a private tour
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 the best Scotland has to offer?
- Most beautiful landscapes in Scotland - read article
- Best things to do in Scotland - read article
- Best Scotland destinations - where to go? - read article
- Best Scottish Castles - read article
- Most beautiful lochs in Scotland - read article
- Most scenic drives in Scotland - read article
- The magnificent Wester Ross region - read article
- The Borders Abbeys including Melrose Abbey and the photogenic Jedburgh Abbey
Planning a trip to Scotland?
Check out my travel guide to help you plan:
Plan your dream trip around Scotland!
And keep track of your own trip!
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