A Weekend on the Isle of Skye

Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings...whether or not you’re into those books (or, let’s be real, TV shows/films), you probably admire the breathtaking scenery. If that’s the case, you’ll adore the Isle of Skye, which looks like a fairytale. In fact, my favorite place on the island is called Fairy Glen (see photo above). Here are some ideas on what to do on the Isle of Skye and the Scottish Highlands.

 Take a walk through the cliffs of  The Quiraing .

Take a walk through the cliffs of The Quiraing.

How to get there

If you don’t want to bus it from Inverness or Glasgow, you’ll need a car to get around the island. Or you can do what I did and join a tour group. I chose a three-day tour with Rabbies. They provide transportation and a guide for a small group (max 16), and you sort out your own restaurants and accommodation. I love this because it gives you the freedom to stay somewhere swank, or slum it in a hostel — your choice.

I took the train up from London (great ride, only 4.5 hours on Virgin) and met the group in Edinburgh, where the tour began.

 You can get married at Eileen Donan Castle for £1500, which sounds really cheap to me (though maybe my mind is warped from living in New York and London). Hands up if Scottish weddings make you think of Charlotte and Trey! 

You can get married at Eileen Donan Castle for £1500, which sounds really cheap to me (though maybe my mind is warped from living in New York and London). Hands up if Scottish weddings make you think of Charlotte and Trey! 

What to do on the Isle of Skye

  • Drink whisky Talisker offers tours and tastings.  If you like your single malt smoky and peaty, this place is for you. 
  • Hike the hills 🚶‍Scotland is all about the nature, so pack comfortable shoes. Check out walkinghighlands, which mapped out several walks you can do on your own, and also lists professional guides for areas that are too dangerous if you don’t know the land.
  • Drink wine and watch the sunset 🌅 Or, grab a bottle of beer from the Isle of Skye Brewing Company — the views of surrounding Uig will take your breath away. 
  • Snap some photos, sail, rent a bike 🚴 ⛵️ isleofskye.com recommends some great outdoor activities.
  • Patron cute shops. I wanted to buy a wool sweater, but apparently Scottish wool is the rough stuff found in fancy Persian rugs 🐑
  • Download some proper fiddle music to listen to while you’re driving around. We listened to Duncan Chisholm.
 Loch Ness. Do you see The Monster?!

Loch Ness. Do you see The Monster?!

What else to do in the Highlands

  • Explore a castle 🏰 We visited Eileen Donan, the most photographed castle in Scotland. Lots of movies have been filmed here, including James Bond: The World is Not Enough.
  • Ride The Jacobite steam train 🚂 (aka the Hogwarts Express) from Fort William to Mallaig You’ll be treated to beautiful views and excitable Harry Potter nerds.  
  • Drink whisky. Dalwhinnie Distillery pairs silky chocolate with your single malts. Need I say more?! After the tasting, I ordered their hot chocolate, served with a spoon because it’s so decadently thick 🍫 This place is a must. 
  • Go to Loch Ness! I’ve wanted to search for Nessie since I was a kid (though we always called her the Loch Ness Monster and I assumed she was a boy and a dinosaur 🐉). On this trip, I learned that Nessie is a kelpie, which is a horrifying water spirit that turns into a beautiful horse when on land. If you’re driving through Falkirk, you’ll likely see the steel horse head sculptures, The Kelpies, almost 100 feet high. 
  • Talk to a local about the history of Scotland. I learned about handfasting, an ancient ritual of trial marriage that couples participated in for a year and a day to check their compatibility. After this time, they could get married or walk away 👰 I participated in a handfasting demo and might now be in a practice marriage. Things are working out great because we never have to see each other.
  • Stop for a coffee break in a charming town, like Callander ☕ I actually didn’t get to do this, but driving through, I thought this holiday town looked so charming that it stuck with me. I did visit Pitlochry and could have easily spent more time there. Until Sept. 4, every Monday night you'll find traditional Scottish music and dancing as part of Highland Night’s 2017 season 🎶
 I'm still dreaming about this whisky and chocolate tasting at Dalwhinnie Distillery. Go for the hot chocolate if whisky is not your thing (or do both, like me).

I'm still dreaming about this whisky and chocolate tasting at Dalwhinnie Distillery. Go for the hot chocolate if whisky is not your thing (or do both, like me).

Where to eat

The village of Portree is small, so book reservations wherever you plan to dine 🍴 I ate at The Granary, offering tasty food served by completely indifferent staff. Also try Cafe Arriba.

Before or after your Skye visit, stop at All the Goodness for modern Scottish baking, coffee, and local specialty food. Their cute shop is eight miles from the Skye Bridge and overlooks Eilean Donan Castle — you couldn’t ask for a better view to accompany your cappuccino.

 If hostels are your thing, the bright yellow  Portree Independent Hostel  is in the heart of everything, and it used to be a post office, which sends the cuteness right off the charts. Book your accommodation as early as you can.

If hostels are your thing, the bright yellow Portree Independent Hostel is in the heart of everything, and it used to be a post office, which sends the cuteness right off the charts. Book your accommodation as early as you can.

Where to stay

The capital Portree has the most going on and where we made our base. 🏠

AirBnB and Hotels.com aren’t very helpful in these parts. Someone recommended the Facebook group Skye Rooms, where you can post what you’re looking for and when.  

I finally found my bed and breakfast on Isle of Skye Accommodation, choosing Avonlea because I love the book (let’s be real, miniseries). What a great stay! Donna and John serve a delicious breakfast and if you don’t feel like walking the 20 minutes to the center of town, they’ll drive you. I traveled solo on this trip and for a single I only paid £36 a night in prime season.

  Neist Point. Supposedly you can see whales and dolphins here, but i was too busy filming sheep to notice.

Neist Point. Supposedly you can see whales and dolphins here, but i was too busy filming sheep to notice.

Top tip

Bring jeans, sweaters, and a raincoat — even if you’re visiting in August. I’m always unprepared when it comes to clothes and wore the same outfit everyday to keep dryish and warm. ☂️

We were blessed with typical Scottish weather — rain, sun, rain, rain, sun, all in the same day (hour, really). But the cool grey drizzle actually made the warmth of the clear skies feel even more special. 🌞