Search form

Scroll To Top
Travel & Nightlife

Out's Guide to the Isle of Skye


Discover this misty, romantic place off the coast of the Scottish Highlands.

Skye didn't get its moniker by chance. The name of the Inner Hebrides' largest island probably comes from the Norse words ski ("cloud") and ey ("island"). It's a misty, romantic place off the coast of the Scottish Highlands.

The island is approximately 50 miles long and just 25 miles at its widest, but the immensity of mountain ranges, lakes, jagged coastlines, bays, waterfalls, and tidal islands means that days of sightseeing could only scratch the surface. There are hardly a few square meters of land that aren't dramatic and ripe for Instagramming.

Skye is great for history hunters--the relative remoteness and the agricultural inhospitability mean the oldest evidence of human settlements hasn't been covered up by motorways and bedroom communities. Many ancient cairns (stone memorials or burial sites) and Iron Age subterranean earth houses are accessible via walking tours.

For sheer camera-ready topography, the Cuillin mountain range is a dramatic departure from any other British landscape. Climbers traversing the range--a rough seven miles from sea level to the bar of the Sligachan Hotel (, the cozy mountaineers' lodge--should plan on 15 to 20 hours. The Trotternish landslide is a geological feature that runs though 19 miles of the northernmost peninsula. The Quirang is a range of striking cliffs, and The Old Man of Storr, a photogenic pinnacle that can be seen for miles around, is a must-do for trail hikers. Want a dip instead of a lift? The Fairy Pools of Glen Brittle, near Carbost in the west, are popular with swimmers unafraid of the bracing, clear waters and magical surroundings.


90. Dunvegan Castle
The ancestral home of the chiefs of Clan MacLeod for 800 years, Dunvegan Castle is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland. The idyllic loch-side setting and tattered Fairy Flag lend the castle a certain ethereal feel. Legend has it that the flag possesses magical properties and has been used to win battles--and maybe even helped put out a fire that could have destroyed the entire place. After ogling the antiques and formal gardens, hop on a soggy tour of the loch to peep chubby seals that flop around adorably, with no natural predators for miles.

92. Merchant Bar at The Bosville
We followed our noses to Portree, the Isle of Skye's biggest settlement, and ended up at Bosville, a hotel overlooking the town's picturesque harbor. The smart Merchant Bar inside serves wine and craft cocktails, but you should set your sights on the whiskies and gins from Scotland and its isles. Travelers unite between the walls of wood and stone, sipping swill well into the night. In summer, the Scottish skies stay bright 'til late--the glow had barely left the sky when we stumbled out at midnight.

91. Clan Donald Centre
The ground beneath the Centre is uncharacteristically fertile for Skye, as evidenced by the lush, 40-acre botanical gardens at Armadale Castle, which was built not for defense, but as a mock-castle mansion in grand baronial style. Though it was destroyed by a fire in 1855, the ivy-covered ruins are a romantic display. Today the property also houses the Museum of the Isles, which traces 1,500 years of local history, including that of the Clan Donald, the most powerful of the clans of the Highlands and Islands. Pencil in a bit of extra time if you plan to research your ancestry in the museum's genealogical library.


93. Kinloch Lodge
Staying at this former hunting lodge along Loch na Dal feels like a night in a friend's home. And that's partly because it is: Owned by Lord Godfrey Macdonald and his wife, Claire (a well-known chef with several cookbooks), it's where the couple brought up their four children. Today it's run by their daughter Isabella--a warm and welcoming character in her own right--and features a Michelin-starred restaurant by chef Marcello Tully.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories Editors