From mist-shrouded mountain peaks to plunging sea cliffs and moss-carpeted valleys, this windswept Scottish island is a place of wild, rugged beauty.
Despite its popularity, the Isle of Skye manages to retain a remote, away-from-it-all feeling. Relish the quietude on uncrowded hiking trails, explore evocative castle ruins and marvel at the dramatic coastline from a kayak. Come evening, feast on fresh seafood and retreat to a cozy pub for a warming dram of Scotch whisky.
The Norse called this place “sky-a” (cloud island), referencing the mysterious mist that seems to stubbornly cling to the peaks of the Black Cuillin. Admire the jagged mountains from afar or tackle the climbing trails. Most climbing routes here are not for the inexperienced; be prepared to scramble up scree and traverse narrow ridges.
Skye’s top attractions are natural sights. Head to the Trotternish peninsula at the north of the island to photograph the Old Man of Storr, a tall, gnarled pinnacle set on a rocky slope. Nearby is the Quiraing, an otherworldly landscape dotted with crags and unusually shaped slabs of volcanic rock. Further south near Glen Brittle are the famous Fairy Pools, a series of colorful streams and waterfalls.
For insight into Skye’s history and culture, wander around the preserved thatched croft houses at the Museum of Island Life. The exhibits here chronicle life on Skye in the late 19th century and touch upon the tale of Flora MacDonald, who helped Bonnie Prince Charlie flee to Skye after the Jacobite defeat at the Battle of Culloden. Skye’s old fortresses, among them the ruined Duntulm Castle and the majestic loch-side Dunvegan Castle, are also big draws for history enthusiasts.
Most visitors use the island’s largest town, Portree, as their base. Choose from a selection of harbor-side seafood restaurants here and mingle with locals in a lively pub.
Weather on Skye can be changeable, so come prepared for rain, shine and everything in between. Access the island via the Skye Bridge or by ferry. Buses do serve the island, but renting a car will give you much more freedom. Single-lane roads do exist here, but regular passing places make them easy to navigate. Leave the mainland behind to discover the delights of Skye.