The SL Guide To… Isle of Skye

Located on the west coast of Scotland, Skye is a 50-mile amalgamation of sea cliffs, jagged mountains, lakes and vast moors. A beautiful destination for a staycation, the scenery is seriously impressive, and there’s no shortage of activities on offer if you’re travelling with children. Whether you’re planning a summer trip or gathering ideas for later, here’s where to stay and eat – plus, what to do once you get there…

VISIT

PIOTR MUSIOL/UNSPLASH

Portree

 

Located on the east side of Skye overlooking a sheltered bay, Portree is the capital of Skye. This beautiful town is surrounded by hills, including Ben Tianavaig and Fingal’s Seat, and is home to Old Man of Storr, a large pinnacle of rock which is one of the island’s most famous landmarks. Here, you can book a tour to explore the island and visit the churches and pretty harbour, fringed by high ground and cliffs. Head to the Aros Centre which runs regular theatre shows, concerts and film screenings, and book a pony-trekking tour if you have little children in tow.

Dunvegan

Best known for its majestic castle, Dunvegan is on the west coast of the island. The village operates regular seal-spotting boat trips to Loch Dunvegan outside the castle, plus longer cruises to the tiny islands of Clett, Mingay and Isay. A lovely afternoon can be spent walking around the historic buildings, visiting the cake shops, and discovering the quirky galleries and castle trails. Be sure to visit Coral Beach, a peaceful spot with beautiful views towards the Outer Hebrides.

Staffin

Staffin is famed for its unique geology and spotty houses. Set beneath Skye’s Trottenish Ridge, the landscape around the village is rugged and beautiful, with a huge forest featuring pinnacles and rock formations, and a sandy beach where dinosaur footprints were discovered just 20 years ago. During a trip, head to the start of the Quiraing walk to walk the 6.8km circuit – it takes around two hours to complete and is challenging in parts but it’s well worth the hike.

Uig

Uig is a sheltered bay in Portree. With several excellent walking routes, the village has a dramatic landscape featuring a double waterfall in a deep glen and a few small lochs. Visit Caisteal Uisdein (a towering castle) which dates back to the 17th century, then head on a walk around the village to the waterfalls or woods, the latter of which is a more challenging route. Uig beach is another must-see, with its white sand and piercing blue waters.

Kyleakin

Home to the ruins of a 15th-century Castle Maol and a pretty harbour, Kyleakin is a great base from which to explore the Cuillin mountains and the surrounding countryside. A great place if you’re after a bit of R&R, the village feels particularly remote and there are several quirky holiday homes and Airbnbs to choose from, too.

Broadford

Broadford is the second largest village on Skye. Ideal for outdoorsy types, there are several good walking and hiking routes – Broadford to Marble Line is one of the most scenic. There are also a range of interesting restaurants and pubs to explore, too, most of which champion local produce and Scottish fare. During a trip, be sure to book a sea safari or head on a wildlife tour to see seals, otters, and even orcas.

STAY

House Over-By 

Attached to The Three Chimney’s restaurant, House Over-By is located on the edge of Colbost, a small village on the north coast of the island. A stylish place for a couple of nights, there are six luxury suites, all spacious and furnished with six-foot wide, king-size beds and lots of locally crafted design details. Each room also comes with a direct sea view and access to the garden and its pathway to the seashore. The en-suite bathrooms feature a large, double-ended bath and power shower, plus a selection of Temple Spa toiletries, warm bath towels, bathrobes and slippers. 

Rooms from £345 per night.

Visit ThreeChimneys.co.uk

Kinloch Lodge

This family-run hotel is in a truly spectacular location. Tucked away on the southern shores of the island, the lodge feels totally remote – you’ll need a car to reach the property, but it’s well worth the journey. Once a 16th-century hunting lodge, the Kinloch is now home to an impressive, stylish hotel that pays homage to its historic roots. Inside, bedrooms have been decorated in colours and textures chosen to reflect Skye's distinctive landscape, while a bar with boardgames awaits in a newly renovated wing. Guests can eat in the restaurant or dine al fresco beside a firepit looking over the nearby loch. Be sure to book a table for Sunday lunch where guests can feast on roast whisky-aged venison, Aberdeen chicken or Highland beef served with all the trimmings.

Rooms from £280 per night.

Visit Kinloch-Lodge.co.uk

Hillstone Lodge

Situated in the North West of Skye on the Duirinish peninsula, Hillstone Lodge is a stylish and modern B&B with panoramic views over Loch Dunvegan to Coral beach and Dunvegan Castle. There are three guestrooms to choose from, all of which have double beds with luxury linens and stunning views. A great place to relax after a day exploring the island, rooms have the kind of five-star touches you’d expect at a top hotel, like fluffy bathrobes and slippers, toiletries from Noble Isle, complimentary fresh fruit and cake. Breakfast is a continental buffet with hot and cold options, fresh juices and homemade yogurt, compote and bread, while the lounge is a great place to relax with a glass of wine in the evening.

Rooms from £280 per night.

Visit HillstoneLodge.com

Three Chimneys

Mint Croft

Mint Croft has two beautiful cottages with some of the best views on the island. Set on the Waternish peninsula of Skye overlooking Loch Snizort, each cottage sleeps two, with lovely antiques, custom furniture, local tweeds and designer linens. Ideal for a remote romantic getaway, book The Blackhouse Cottage which has a traditional turf roof and stone walls nearly a metre thick, an open plan living and dining area, a bathroom with a rain shower, and a spacious bedroom with a super-king bed and sitting room. Guests can relax on the outside patio to take in the views, then fire up the indoor wood burner during the evenings. The Loch Bay, Skye’s Michelin-starred restaurant is nearby, as is The Stein Inn, a lovely pub.

From £185 per night.

Visit MintCroftSkye.com

Kinloch Campsite

If you’d rather head on a camping trip, Kinloch has a great site the whole family will love. Set on the shores of Loch Dunvegan, it’s an ideal base from which to explore the island, or place to stop if you’re driving the North Coast 500. Dunvegan is a five-minute walk away, while Neist Point, the Coral Beach and the Fairy Pools are a short drive away, too. The site has spacious pitches for tents, as well as modern showers, laundry facilities, and a washing room. There’s also free Wi-Fi and the team can provide guests with maps and recommendations in the local area.

Pitches start from £11 per person.

Visit Kinloch-Campsite.co.uk

Supernova

Ideal for a romantic trip for two or solo getaway, Supernova is a beautiful house which overlooks Loch Harport. The property was once a chapel and has since been carefully restored with many of the original features intact, including two entrance doors and beautiful arched windows. It has a reversed-level design, so the living areas make the most of the views, while the king-size bedroom sits on the ground floor down a bespoke spiral staircase, complete with its own en-suite. Guests can fire up the barbecue during the summer months and enjoy the welcome hamper which includes a bottle of prosecco. 

Visit UniqueHomestays.com

Coruisk House

This adult-only property is a lovely guesthouse in the village of Elgol. The rooms are rustic and stylish with four-poster beds, whitewashed furniture, free-standing baths in the en-suite bathrooms, and stunning views over the Sound of Sleat to the mountains beyond. Guests are greeted with a glass of prosecco upon arrival to enjoy in the cosy sitting room in front of the wood burning stove. Coruisk House has an award-winning restaurant on site where guest can enjoy fresh locally-caught fish such as lobster and lemon sole. Book a boat trip to explore the surrounding waters and visit the harbour to spot wildlife like dolphins, puffins, and basking sharks.

Visit CoruiskHouse.com

Cowshed Boutique Bunkhouse

For something a little different, this property is a stylish hostel, ideal for a girls’ trip or family holiday. Overlooking the beautiful Uig Bay, with excellent views from the lounge, there are three types of accommodation to choose from – the Pods sleep two while the dorms sleep up to six in cosy bunk beds. The hostel even has mini pods for dogs if you want to bring along your four-legged friend.

Visit SkyeCowshed.co.uk

EAT

The Three Chimneys

One of the best restaurants in Skye, a meal at The Three Chimneys is a must. Housed in an original Skye croft house on the edge of Colbost, guests can gaze out over the sandy shoreline and towards Dunvegan Castle. Most of the kitchen’s ingredients are sourced from the crofters, foragers, fisherman and farmers living within a few miles of the restaurant, where diners can choose from set menus. Dishes include scallops with roe parfait, coast herbs and rapeseed oil; scorched Dunvegan langoustine with tempura oysters; Dunvegan crab with peas, smoked almonds and yoghurt; and smoked haddock ravioli with buttered leeks.

Visit ThreeChimneys.co.uk 

The Loch Bay

This award-wining restaurant is headed up by husband-and-wife duo Michael and Laurence Smith. Located in the fishing village of Stein, dishes are created using local seafood and ingredients, where diners can enjoy the likes of lobster with chanterelle mushrooms and picked apple, hake with razor clams and summer vegetables, and strawberry and iced whisky tart.

Visit LochBay-Restaurant.co.uk

The Stein Inn

For something more causal, make a reservation at The Stein Inn, a lovely pub with rooms. From light lunch options to hearty suppers, there’s something for everyone on the menu, including little diners who can enjoy smaller portions. Menu highlights include seafood chowder with homemade butter croutons, beer battered fish and chips, monkfish with salsa verde, and almond praline ice-cream. 

Visit TheSteinInn.co.uk

Scorrybreac

For Scottish fine dining, head to Scorrybreac, located above the harbour in Portree. Headed up by chef Calum Munro who uses French influences in each dish, the food is simple yet elegant. Expect dishes like hake with chicken beurre blanc, lamb with carrots and cardamom, Dunvegan Roe deer with smoked cauliflower, and rhubarb and lemon posset.

Visit Scorrybreac.com

Dulse & Brose 

Housed inside Bosville Hotel, a trio of 19th-century cottages, Dulse & Brose champions the best of Scottish produce. Once you’ve enjoyed dishes like slow-cooked lamb with buckwheat salsa, seafood chowder, and crispy brie salad, head to the hotel’s Merchant Bar for a glass of whisky or a Scottish G&T.

Visit PerleHotels.com

YURTea & Coffee

This seasonal pop-up yurt is located just outside Skyeskyns tannery and showroom, on the Waternish Peninsula. During the summer months, visitors can enjoy a cup of tea or coffee and a slice of homemade cake. Their scones are particularly yummy.

Visit SkyeSkyns.co.uk

THINGS TO DO

Spar Cave

Famously visited by Sir Walter Scott in 1814, Spar Cave is a must-see during a trip to Skye. Just east of Elgol, the cave is 80m deep and has intricate rock formations inside. You’ll need to plan your trip during low tide if you want to visit it on foot, but it can also be seen via a boat tour, too.

Coral Beach

Coral Beach is located in Claigan, a small coastal settlement just north of Dunvegan. A great option for a family walk, the beach is made from white coral-like seaweed that gives the sea the illusion of being a brilliant blue when the sun comes out. Take a picnic to enjoy on the beach, swim out to sea, and explore the coastline towards Lampay Coralline. 

Dunvegan Castle 

No trip to Skye is complete without visiting this castle. Dunvegan is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland and has been the ancestral home of the Chiefs of Clan MacLeod for 800 years. Visitors can take a tour of the grounds, walk through the beautiful formal gardens and take a boat trip to see the Loch Dunvegan seal colony.

Visit DunveganCastle.com

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SARA MEIER/UNSPLASH

Fairy Pools

The Fairy Pools are a collection of beautiful crystal-clear blue pools on the River Brittle. A great spot for wild swimming, it takes about 40 minutes to reach them on foot from the carpark, passing waterfalls and interesting rock formations along the route.

Armadale Castle Gardens & Museum of the Isles

This award-winning museum tells the story of Skye and its rich history. Kids will love the interactive children’s trail, while adults will appreciate the collection of battle weapons and instruments. 

Visit ArmadaleCastle.com

Torabhaig Distillery 

For a fun afternoon, head to Torabhaig Distillery to try a selection of Scottish malt whiskies. Over 200 years old, you can learn about the history of the site and sample a few tipples, including those from the new ‘Legacy’ series.

Visit Torabhaig.com

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