Do you want to visit the stunning Isle of Skye, but only have a single day to do it? Then this guide is for you! We’ll take you through what it takes to make the most of your day in Scotland’s magical and mysterious Isle of Skye. This post will help you explore the island in one day. All you need is a a sense of adventure. Here are seven must-do activities for exploring the Isle of Skye in one day!
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Why only one day on the Isle of Skye?
Sal and I visited Scotland’s Isle of Skye after tagging along Buddy’s Ireland and United Kingdom choir tour for two weeks. (Yes, we are groupie parents!) During the last leg of the tour, instead of following Buddy to England and Wales, we decided to drive from Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye. The Isle of Skye was on my bucket list, and we were so close that I did not want to miss out. Unfortunately, because of the timing of Buddy’s tour, we only had one full day and a few hours to explore the Isle of Skye.
We visited the Isle of Skye during the summer months, specifically over a weekend in early July. The weather was delightful, but there were a lot of fellow travelers on the trails.
I know, I know, one day (ish) is not enough time to explore the Isle of Skye. In fact, our Airbnb host thought we were crazy for not spending more time there! But if you are visiting Scotland from half a world away and have limited time to see the Isle of Skye, we are sharing the things we saw and loved, as well as the things that we missed. You can follow our Isle of Skye itinerary or create your own!
Unfortunately, Buddy did not visit the Isle of Skye during his choir’s trip to Scotland. But, he did do a Scottish Highlands tour from Edinburgh to Glencoe and Loch Ness. He took a Loch Ness cruise and got to see the famous highland cows! So, this post will not share a teenager’s perspective.
However, after seeing photos and hearing about our adventures, Buddy said that he wished he could have visited the Isle of Skye with us. And that he felt he missed out on a fun family road trip. I think he would have loved the Isle of Skye!
Exploring the Isle of Skye in One Day: 7 Must-Do Activities
1. Visit Fairy Glen
Fairy Glen is a miniature landslip on the Isle of Skye known for its stunning rock formations and lush green landscapes. This mystical spot is like something out of a fairytale with its rolling green hills and stone formations rising from the ground. There are many trails around the area for exploring and taking in the spectacular views. Compared to some of the other hikes on the Isle of Skye, these trails are gentle, although you will need to climb!
The Fairy Glen is located at Highland Skye, Uig, Portree IV51 9YG, United Kingdom. There is a small parking lot located at the Glen and visitors do need to pay for parking. If you want to park at Fairy Glen, rather than parking at Uig and walking 30 minutes to the glen, it is best to arrive early!
For our one day in Isle of Skye adventure, we left our Airbnb in Penifiler (just south of Portree) and drove to Fairy Glen. We arrived at 9am on a Sunday in July. A special thank you to the fellow traveler who was leaving the area and shared his paid parking ticket with us! When we arrived, there were a lot of empty parking spaces and very few people. So if you want to be sure to find parking and some time to yourself, arrive early!
We stayed at Fairy Glen walking the trails and taking photos for about an hour before heading off on the next adventure. If we had more time on the Isle of Skye, we would have spent more time exploring the area and hiking the trails.
- According to the Isle of Skye website, Fairy Glen “has no real legends or stories involving fairys that can be traced.”
- The rock spirals and circles that you see on the ground, some with trinkets in the middle, are a modern phenomenon. Tourists to the area arrange the rocks and leave trinkets. We do not recommend rearranging rocks or leaving trinkets behind. Rather we recommend leaving the beautiful fairy-esque landscape as is.
Great for: Families and hikers.
- Be sure to bring your camera here. This small glen offers some amazing views as well as plenty of opportunities to take photos with its
- And bring along sturdy hiking shoes as some paths can be slippery when wet!
2. Walk the Quiraing
To fully experience the Isle of Skye, you will be doing a lot of hiking. One must-do hike is the Quairaing Walk. Quiraing Walk, or Quiraing Circuit, is a 4 mi/6.5 km loop trail rated as moderate. There is an elevation gain of 1,286 ft/391 m and the trail takes an average of 3-4 hours to complete.
The trailhead is located at the parking lot (or car park!) on the Trotternish Loop, which is a road that runs between Staffin and Uig. And parking is paid.
Sal and I hiked the Quiraing Walk on a Sunday in July. We started the hike at 10:30am and finished at 1:49pm. It took us a bit over 3 hours in total to finish the hike. This was my fault. I kept stopping to take a lot of photos and to take in the breathtaking scenery at the beginning of the hike! The views are spectacular!
The blog post Quiraing Walk: Hiking Scotland’s Beautiful Isle of Skye has all the details about everything you need to know for this hike.
Quiraing or cuith-raing means round fold in Norse. And refers to a land slip on the north summit of Totternish. Check out this page for a pronunciation.
Great for: Families with older children and teens, hikers.
- Bring lip balm to protect against both wind and sun burn.
3. Visit Mealt Falls & Kilt Rock
Mealt Falls is a stunning waterfall on the eastern part of the Isle of Skye. The falls cascade off a cliff into the waters of the Sound of Raasay below. To the north of Mealt Falls, Kilt Rock provides a scenic background to this sea cliff waterfall.
Mealt Falls and Kilt Rock viewpoint is located at A855, Portree IV51 9JE, United Kingdom. There is a parking lot by the look out and a food truck nearby.
When we visited, it was packed! Luckily we found a spot in the car park, and did not have to join the many cars parked along the road leading to the viewpoint. However, the viewpoint itself was so packed that it was hard to find a spot along the outlook to catch a glimpse of the beautiful waterfall. We arrived at the viewpoint at 3pm on a Sunday afternoon. Our arrival coincided with that of a giant tour bus. It was busy! The crowds did not last long, however. The parking lot was nearly empty when we left.
The main attraction of Mealt Falls is to take in the views. There is dolphin and whale watching and of course the sights magnificent waterfall and Kilt Rock. The day we visited there was musician playing the bagpipes, which added to the experience. Mealt Falls is an eternal beauty of a waterfall. I wish we could have spent more time enjoying the views or admiring the stones in the waters below. But it was a bit hectic with fellow travelers all vying for a spot to get a photo of the waterfall.
Great for: Families, travelers of all ages.
Pack your patience! This is a very busy site.
A note about our Isle of Skye itinerary
Also, please note that if you plan on following this exact Skye itinerary, it did not take us 45 minutes to drive from Quiraing to the Kilt Rock & Mealt Falls Viewpoint. On a recommendation from our Airbnb host, after finishing the Quiraing Walk we drove to Rubha Hunish, which we heard was a beautiful place to visit. Once we arrived, however, we decided against doing the 1.5 kilometer or mile walk to get to there from the parking lot. We decided that we would rather hike the iconic Old Man of Storr to finish our one day in the Isle of Skye instead.
4. Visit Rubha nam Brathairean or Brother’s Point
Rubha nam Brathairean or Brother’s Point is a beautiful scenic headland where visitors can see dinosaur footprints along the trail. This is also the eastern most point of the Isle of Skye’s Trotternish peninsula. Visitors do have to hike out to Brother’s Point. The sheep lined trail is a 2 mile out and back trail with a 305 ft elevation gain.
Rubha nam Brathairean or Brother’s Point is located near Culnacnoc, Isle of Skye, United Kingdom between Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls and Lealt Falls on A855. And parking can be tricky. Our blog post Brother’s Point: Hiking Scotland’s Beautiful Isle of Skye has all the details and everything you need to know about the hike.
Sal and I visited Rubha nam Brathairean on a Sunday in July between hiking the Quiraing Walk and the Old Man of Storr Walk. After a quick stop at Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls, we stopped at Brother’s Point to take in the views. Because we were in between two longer hikes, we did not do the full 2-mile trail to Brother’s Point. Rather, I stopped about a mile into the hike, after we crossed the stream, to sit on the rocky shore and take in the views. Sal continued to meander a bit beyond that point but did not make it to Croc Rock or beyond. We saved our strength for the Old Man of Storr Walk!
- There are dinosaur tracks on the trail!
Great for: Families with elementary school aged children and teens and hikers.
Wear sunscreen! I got sunburned the few minutes that I stopped to take in the views by the water.
5. Visit the iconic Old Man of Storr
Experience Scotland’s breathtaking beauty and nature when hiking the Isle of Skye’s most recognizable landmark, the Old Man of Storr. With its spectacular landscape, magical views and varied terrain, there is something for everyone to enjoy on this awe-inspiring site. Visitors who want the best experience (and best views!) of the Old Man of Storr, will have to hike!
The Old Man of Storr Walk is a 2.75 mi/4.5 km loop trail rated as moderate. There is an elevation gain of 1,059ft and the trail takes an average of 2 hours to complete. The trailhead is located at the parking lot (or car park!) on road A855.
After leaving Brother’s Point, Sal and I headed directly to the Old Man of Storr. We started the hike at 5pm and finished at 7pm, finishing the hike in 2 hours. The hike is not for the faint of heart. It is quite the climb. Our Airbnb host told us that a lot of people give up on the Old Man of Storr walk because of how steep and rocky it is. But she said the complete circuit was really lovely. It really was!
- The Storr or an stòr means big or prominent in Norse.
Great for: Families with elementary school aged children and teens and hikers.
- A lot of people give up on the Old Man of Storr walk because of how steep and rocky it is. If the trails is crowded, keep on walking! It’s a climb, but you will find some solace and spectacular views at the top.
6. Grab a bite in Portree
After a full day of exploring and hiking the Isle of Skye, chances are that you will be very hungry! Head to Portree to grab a bite to eat at a local restaurant. Or visit the grocery store to pick up something to go. The grocery stores in Portree cater to hikers and offer premade sandwiches, fruit, trail mix, and other easy to grab and go items to take as snacks or meals.
As we wrapped rapping up our day of exploring the Isle of Skye, Sal and I poured into the rental car around 7pm and headed to Portree. As we did not make reservations for dinner, we dined at The Chippy in Portree and then stopped by a local grocery store to get drinks and snacks for the next day before heading back to our Airbnb in Penifiler.
Great for: Foodies. Families and travelers of all ages.
- The restaurants in Portree fill up quickly. Make your reservations early to secure a spot at the local eateries.
7. Visit the Fairy Pools
Another must-see attractions on the Isle of Skye are the famous Fairy Pools. The Fairy Pools are a series of cascading waterfalls that lead to deep blue pools in the River Brittle or the Allt Coir’ a’ Mhadaidh near the Cuillin Mountains. Visitors to the site can hike or take a dip in the pools.
The Fairy Pools are located in Glenbrittle, Scotland on the Isle of Skye IV47 8TA. This beautiful site is free to visit and open year-round. However, there is a small fee for parking in the car park. For the most up-to-date information, visit this website.
Okay, so I am cheating a bit here because technically, we visited the Fairy Pools on day 1.25 of our trip to the Isle of Skye. We stopped by for a hike at the beginning of the road trip back to the Edinburgh airport. But, as we squeezed it in, I am sharing it in this post!
Sal and I visited the Fairy Pools on a Monday in July. Despite our best efforts to get up early and be among the first visitors to the Fairy Pools, we were tired from the day before. After a late start, we arrived at the Fairy Pools at 11am. We spent two hours at the Fairy Pools. And despite the time constraints, we had a lovely time visiting the Isle of Skye Fairy Pools.
Our blog post Tips for Visiting the Famous Isle of Skye Fairy Pools has everything you need to know about the Fairy Pools.
- Like Fairy Glen, the Fairy Pools also have no folklore regarding fairies.
Great for: Families, hikers, swimmers.
- Make sure you wear appropriate footwear that’s comfortable for walking through rough terrain like hiking boots or shoes with good grip! Leave the sandals at home.
What we missed
Because exploring the Isle of Skye in one(ish) days is nearly impossible, there was not enough time to take in all the sites. Our one full day in the Isle of Skye left so many things left on my list of things to see. Here are some notable places that we missed on this trip. Hopefully, we get the chance to return soon!
- Rubha Hunish – As we shared before, we intended to explore Rubha Hunish on the recommendation of our Airbnb host. However, we decided against adding another short hike to our day. Next time!
- Exploring Portree – Yes, we stopped by for food, but I would have loved to explore the local shops. We did not have the time.
- Neist Point – I was really bummed that we missed this one!
- Dunvegan Castle & Gardens – our Airbnb host said that this was not the most striking in terms of castles.
- Highland Cows – Yes! We missed seeing the famous Highland Cows. However, Buddy saw them on a day trip from Edinburgh.
- Skye Museum of Island Life
- Talisker Distillery
Overall, if you want to take your time and explore, spend more than one day visiting the Isle of Skye. One full day and then some is just not enough time!
We did not have time to film a Movement Postcard on the Isle of Skye. We were too busy! Although there were some great sites for site specific dance films!
Where to stay on the Isle of Skye
Portree is very popular and as such, it sells out way in advance. By the time the choir finalized Buddy’s tour and we decided to visit the Isle of Skye, there was no accommodation in Portree.
Luckily we found an incredible Airbnb in Penifiler, which is a short drive to Portree. Our host was amazing. We had a delicious breakfast spread every morning. And the views from the room were spectacular! We could see the Old Man of Storr from the windows. I highly recommend Croft #3 – Isle of Skye.
Visiting Isle of Skye?
What to bring to explore the Isle of Skye in one day
These a few of our suggestions. Feel free to add to this list as you see fit!
- water bottle
- lip balm
- offline maps like downloaded google maps
- day pack
- journal and some pens in case the stunning scenery inspires you!
Buddy and I wrote full Scotland packing list that includes what to wear and what to bring that you can find here!
What to wear to explore the Isle of Skye in one day
As the weather can change very quickly on the Isle of Skye, you want to dress in layers. If you are hiking, you will cross streams and walk on a rocky beach. Chances are, your feet will get wet, so come prepared with waterproof shoes. Also, waterproof and wind proof jackets, waterproof pants are helpful for this hike.
For our day of exploring the Isle of Skye, I wore:
- Waterproof Columbia Hiking Shoes. The only thing about these boots is that they do not have great arch support. For that reason, I purchased some insoles.
- Layers! A Columbia rain jacket with a North Face jacket underneath.
- A long sleeve yoga top, tank top and sports bra from Stitch Fix.
- Yoga pants from Stitch Fix with REI Co-op rain pants layered on top.
I recommend sweat wicking or fast dry clothing for the hikes, especially the Quiraing Walk. Because you will sweat on that hike, but it is also cold and windy, and you do not want your clothes to retain moisture.
Renting a Car for your Isle of Skye road trip
If you are planning independent travel to the Isle of Skye, and you are visiting from outside the United Kingdom, chances are you will need to rent a car. Renting a car is the perfect way to explore the Isle of Skye.
Start your journey in Edinburgh or Glasgow and make your way northward, passing through picturesque villages and breathtaking landscapes along the way. With a rental car, you’ll have the freedom to travel at your own pace and discover the hidden gems that make Scotland such a captivating destination.
Questions about renting a car in Scotland? We have you covered with 5 Simple Tips for Renting a Car in Scotland.
Ready to rent your car for your unforgettable road trip to the Isle of Skye?
Exploring everything that the Isle of Skye has to offer in one day can seem daunting—but it doesn’t have to be impossible! With careful planning and an early start, families, travelers, hikers alike can experience most of what this magical island has to offer. So, grab your camera, tie your hiking boots, and head of for a fun adventure unlike anything else in Scotland! You won’t regret it—we promise!
Have you visited the Isle of Skye? If so, let us know in the comments below.
Do you have questions about family travel or traveling with teens? Feel free to reach out! We are happy to chat and share our experiences! We look forward to connecting with you.
If you enjoyed reading this, check out these blog posts!
- Brother’s Point: Hiking Scotland’s Beautiful Isle of Skye
- Quiraing Walk: Hiking Scotland’s Beautiful Isle of Skye
- Old Man of Storr Walk: Hiking Scotland’s Beautiful Isle of Skye
- Tips for Visiting the Famous Isle of Skye Fairy Pools
- 4 Tips for Visiting the Beautiful Calton Hill
- 6 Interesting Things To Do If You Only Have 24 Hours in Edinburgh
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14 thoughts on “Exploring the Isle of Skye in One Day: The Ultimate Guide”
This could not have been more helpful as I am planning a trip to the Isle of Skye in the spring! Im super excited after seeing all your photos, thanks for all the tips!
You are welcome!
This is such an awesome itinerary! Although you were only there for a day, you managed to cover a lot of ground. I’d love to go hiking or eat at The Chippy.
Wow I’ve never been here before but it looks so beautiful! The photos are stunning.
I don’t know if my comment posted but I’d love to go here!
It did go through! I hope you get to visit soon!
Wow you still got to see so much on the Isle of Skye in one day! I’d love to visit someday but probably a bit longer. Looks amazing!
I would definitely have to spend several days there (or weeks writing and taking pics?) What a beautiful landscape!
I am impressed on how you were still able to see a lot of wonderful places in just one day. I have Isle of Skye in my bucket list already and your itinerary is super helpful.
Such a great post! So helpful to know everything in one easy read! I’ve heard of Isle of Skye and didnt realise there was so much to do actually so this was very helpful!
I liked your tips and fun facts so much! And surely all these views are breathtaking, hope to visit this place one day.
Having spent a few days on Skye in the wind, rain and cloud, I saw bits of the places you mentioned, but not the whole scene. You were lucky. Thanks for sharing.
This is a really in-depth guide to the Isle of Skye. The fairy pool looks magical!
This is just the post I was looking for! I am hoping to visit Isle of Skye this year and need some good recommendations. Thank you for all of the tips!