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5 Things to do on the Isle of Skye, Scotland

Updated on January 24, 2017
Portree, Isle of Skye
Portree, Isle of Skye

The Isle of Skye is a breathtakingly beautiful island in the highlands of Scotland, where many mountains, hiking trails and other fun activities - lots of them free - are available for visitors who want to pull on their walking boots and go on an adventure.

Here's six of the most recommended walking and hiking trails on the island.

Elgol beach
Elgol beach | Source


Elgol is a rocky beach located on the south side of the island, and is a great walk for low-level hikers. The beach is beautiful, with a great view of the mountains. As a child, I would pretend that dragons and witches lived in the mountains, and if we walked far enough, we'd get to see them. This walk can be as long or as short as you want it to be, but it is recommended that you at least reach the sheltered cliff, which is great to sit under and have a picnic or a hot drink from your flask. With exciting places to climb, pretty rocks and a real sense of adventure, it's also a great place to take children who enjoy walking.

View from the top of the mountain
View from the top of the mountain
From under the 'old man'
From under the 'old man'

The Old Man of Storr

Pretty much every hiking book or tourist journal will recommend the Isle of Skye's most famous mountain - the Old Man of Storr. Easy for low-level walkers as well as enjoyable for experienced hikers, it is located just north of the island's main town, Portree. I've climbed the mountain in all sorts of weather - mist, sun, snow, rain - and it's always been great fun.

The 'old man' is the huge rock that sits at the top of the mountain. The main pathway circles round it, but it's also fun to hike to the very top and sit underneath the 'old man', enjoying the view or even a picnic. We had a barbecue up there once - it's perfectly okay as long as you clean up after yourself.

There's parking at the foot of the mountain, and you can also get a bus there from Portree. Mainly an uphill walk, the venture includes a forest path, rocky clambers, and you'll see a stream or two as well. It's a beautiful walk, and well worth the effort of the climb.

There's also a possibility that you can spot eagles on the mountain, although it's a rare treat.


Ben Tianavaig

Ben Tianavaig is also near Portree, and is another great walk and climb that you shouldn't miss during your stay on the Isle of Skye. The coastal view is one of the most beautiful and breathtaking views I have ever seen. One of my favourite memories is scaling the mountain, and then heading to Aros for a hot chocolate with whipped cream... mmm!

This walk seemed fairly difficult, but I was only a child when I climbed it, so to an adult hiker, it should be easy, but nevertheless enjoyable. The walk itself takes 3-4 hours, and the ascent is 469 metres. Click here for more information on the walk, including parking and safety information.

A brother and sister on the Quiraing
A brother and sister on the Quiraing


Quiraing is a tougher hike than Storr or Ben Tianavaig, but has one of the prettiest views on the island. Slopes, sea, rocks and notable landmarks like the Needle, it's definitely worth a visit. Go on a clear day to see views of the Outer Hebrides and the Scottish mainland, as well as surrounding cliffs and hills that make the experience somewhat magical, as well as exciting and adventurous.

The walk is about 7km/4.25 miles, so it's a hefty trip that could take most of the day. Take a picnic, choose a bright and sunny day (late spring gives fantastic weather on Skye), leave early in the morning, and enjoy Quiraing. You'll get photographs and memories to last a lifetime.

Boat Trips

Although not necessarily for hikers, taking at least one boat trip during your stay on Skye is a unique experience in itself. From Skye, you can sail to see sea eagles, seals, small outer islands and lots more.

From Portree bay, you can board the Brigadoon and see sea eagles, which the sailor lures in with previously caught fish. It's been voted the #5 attraction on TripAdvisor, and was a fantastic tour, despite the rain; a sea eagle came up close to the boat, and was a thoroughly exciting trip. There are also many more boat trips to see close-ups of the Cuillins and other wildlife. Check out the official website for more.

Sea eagle on the boat trip
Sea eagle on the boat trip

Although this articles features great places to visit on the Isle of Skye, it barely scratches the surface of what the island has to offer. It's an island full of beautiful landscape and adventure, with countless more hikes, walks, beaches and mountains.

See TripAdvisor, WalkHighlands and Skye's official website for more excellent trips.


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