Skye is loved the world over for its dramatic scenery, windswept mountains and swirling seascapes. The intoxicating blend of rugged scenery mixed with fairytale legends and island charm makes the largest of the Inner Hebridean islands and one of our most cherished spots.
But there’s more to this enchanting island than you might imagine, and we’re going to let you in to a few of its secrets. Discover unusual things to do and hidden gems on the Isle of Skye, including Waternish Point, Isle of Rum and more!
1. Relive dramatic history at Trumpan Church
A church right on the edge of the world, Trumpan tells the tale of a once thriving medieval town. Now a remote and dramatic ruin, it has lived through not one but three massacres over its tumultuous centuries-old history. Yet, this spot still has a sense of calm and serenity in the air and offers peaceful, uninterrupted views of The Minch, the channel of water between the Mainland and the Outer Hebrides. Keep an eye out for hairy Highland coos on the drive up there.
Go back in time at Trumpan.
2. Wander out to the spectacular Waternish Point
From the Trumpan Church, there is a 14 km circular walk to the Waternish Point Lighthouse and back which takes about 3 – 4 hours to complete. Take in the views to the Outer Hebrides and spot ancient brochs, wildlife and ruined steadings along the way. Reward an invigorating hike with a visit to one of the peninsula’s two fabulous dining options – the Stein Inn, the oldest inn on the island, or the Loch Bay Restaurant, which has a Michelin star.
3. Enjoy the best view of Skye from the Isle of Raasay
Leave Skye for a day out on the island of Raasay which was recently voted by Condé Nast Traveller as one of the ‘Best Islands to Visit in 2020’! The ferry crossing from Sconser takes just 25 minutes. Visit the beautifully restored Jacobean mansion Raasay House for tea before trying out one of the many outdoors activities, from sea-kayaking to sailing or coasteering. A two-mile stretch of single-track road might not sound hugely exciting, but it was built by just one man – Calum Macleod in the 60’s and 70’s and is now a lovely short walk called Calum’s Road. You can also hike up Dun Caan, Raasay’s highest hill for amazing views of the surrounding mountains and sea. Get to know the island’s history at the picturesque ruins of Brochel Castle, and see the newest attraction before you head back – the swish Isle of Raasay Distillery.
Discover the Isle of Raasay.
4. Discover more epic mountainous scenery on the Isle of Rum
It might be tough to tear your eyes away from the beautiful views of the Cuillin mountain peaks from Elgol, but the trip to Rum is worth it – promise! Situated to the south west of Skye, you’ll also get views of the Rum Cuillins which are equally impressive as the peaks on Skye. A paradise for hill walkers, the island is bursting with nature and history, from the extravagant Kinloch Castle, to peaceful Harris Bay and its impressive mausoleum and Highlands coos, or idyllic Kilmory Bay and its many wild red deer. You can travel to Rum from Elgol on Skye with several boat tour companies such as Misty Isle or Bella Jane during the summer.
Discover the Isle of Rum.
5. Find fiery sunsets at Talisker Bay
With cliffs and a waterfall to the north side and sea stacks to the south side, this beach is a breathtaking place to catch a fiery sunset or photograph the contrasting colours of the sand and stone on the shores, perhaps accompanied by a dram of Talisker whisky from the Talisker distillery nearby. In the evening, you can enjoy some home pub food and drink at the atmospheric Old Inn in Carbost, which also hosts some of the best traditional music sessions on the island led by piper Peter Morrison from Peatbog Faeries.
Explore Talisker Bay.
6. Discover clan history at Armadale Castle & Gardens
For those who love culture and coasts, walks and whisky, a few days exploring south Skye will please the soul. If you arrive from the Mainland on the Mallaig ferry, take the chance to discover this part of the island (pronounced ‘slate’ which means level land in Norse) before heading up north.
The romantic castle and seat of Clan Donald has centuries of stories to tell. The clan is one of the largest in Scotland, ruling over the western seas for hundreds of years. The Macdonald family name is still common to hear in Scotland and across the world. The castle has lived through the turbulent times of the Jacobites and showcases a collection of bagpipes, swords and a 17th century firearm used in the Battle of Culloden. The library holds an archive of genealogy records, especially interesting if you have clan connections to the clan. Explore the garden which is a glorious haven of tall trees and brightly-coloured wildflowers.
Visit Armadale Castle.
7. Paddle around the coast
One of the best ways to see Skye’s spectacular scenery is from a sea kayak! Celebrate Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020 with a memorable paddle along Skye sparkling waters from Elgol to Loch Coruisk at the foot of the magnificent Cuillin mountains, or along the stunning coastline of the Sleat peninsula. See all of your favourite spots from a new vantage point, paddle your way into crevices, nooks and crannies, see marine life and stop for picnics on the beach. Try it for yourself with guided day trips, sea kayaking lessons, private sessions and courses from many providers including South Skye Sea Kayak or Whitewave Outdoor Centre. An exciting adventure around the island’s adventurous coastline awaits!
Try something new with more outdoor activities on Skye.
8. Take a Gaelic course at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig
The Gaelic language is still spoken on Skye, and you might have already heard a tapadh leibh (Gaelic for thank you) after making a purchase in pubs or shops across the isle. Immerse yourself in Highland culture with a short Gaelic course, an inspiring traditional music workshop or a lively Highland ceilidh at the famous Talla Mhòr hall. This renowned college welcomes students and visitors alike from around the world with a wide range of creative courses such as language, music, photography and other creative subjects at the heart of the friendly Gaelic community.
Learn Gaelic on Skye.
9. Sleep in Sleat
Treat yourself to a stay at the Kinloch Lodge, where you can unwind with a few days away from it all. Indulge in a decadent afternoon tea or evening taster menu in the restaurant. Wander the delightful woodland paths of Kinloch Forest along a short 6.5 km (4 mile) trail, stopping to enjoy scenic vistas looking towards the Mainland over the Sound of Sleat. The lodge also offers cookery courses and foraging classes with an expert guide.
Or, just down the road, hide away in style by booking one of the luxury suites at Eilean Armain – perfect for dinner and cosy cocktails by the log fire. Another tip? Don’t miss a visit to the Torabhaig Distillery for a tasty dram.
10. Go back in time at the Museum of Island Life
This crofting museum (currently closed) stands on a hill at the very north tip of the Trotternish peninsula, an area quickly recognisable by the rugged ridges of the Quiraing and the Old Man of Storr. Take the time to pop into the museum to get a real insight into local farming life on Skye. You’ll feel like you’ve been transported back in time to a Highland village, with seven thatched-roof cottages filled with old tools and memorabilia from 100 years ago. In the cemetery, see if you can find two famous graves – Flora Macdonald, the woman who helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape after the Battle of Culloden, and Alexander McQueen, the fashion designer who drew on his Skye heritage in several of his collections.
Discover the Museum of Island Life.
11. Admire the local art scene
Admire beautiful seascape photography, acrylic painting and visual interpretations of Inner and Outer Hebridean landscapes in the Skye Blue Gallery, a lovely gallery and café, with work on display by local Skye photographer, Lynne Douglas. A great stop for a scone and a cup of tea! Or, fill up your shopping basket with an array of unique Scottish gifts and mementos from Òr in Portree. Browse beautiful contemporary jewellery, accessories, Scottish gifts, cards, prints, knitwear, skincare and lots of other locally-crafted products.
Follow the Skye Art Trail and discover more local talent and purchase a piece of art to remind you of your Skye adventure.
12. Explore the island on two wheels
Whether you’re looking for a short bike ride or fancy yourself as the next Danny MacAskill, a fantastic way to see the island is by bicycle. Head to Skye EBikes in Trotternish to explore the north of the island in an eco-friendly way, or Skye MTB Adventures at Kyle of Lochalsh for road bikes or mountain bikes, as well as expert knowledge on the best biking routes for all levels.