There is nowhere in Scotland, probably the World, quite like the 'Misty Isle' as the Isle of Skye is affectionately known. It has become one of the planet's best known holiday destinations, a tick on the bucket list for some, an immersive two week hike across her mountains for others. Somewhere in between lies the perfect compromise, a few days spent exploring Skye's treasures; walking her beaches, cliffs and hills, eating the fresh seafood in a old pub, fishing for trout in one of her lochs or for mackerel off the pier at Uig or Portree, visiting her ancient castles or going on a boat trip that you'll always remember, whatever you chose to do on this island will bring you closer to nature and you will come away at the end of it feeling like you have really been somewhere special.
Things To See & Do On The Isle Of Skye
Although Skye is one of Scotland's main tourist attractions please don't expect an island that is dedicated to tourism. The main thing that draws people back again and again is the scenery and the history of the place, from the longest continually inhabited castle at Dunvegan, a Viking canal, a lighthouse on dramatic cliffs designed by Robert Luis Stevenson's cousin and ancient Celtic churches at the end of peninsulas to natural wonders such as the magnificent Cuillin Mountain range and the Fairy Pools which run out of them, the polygonal basalt columns of Kilt Rock and the weird and wonderful rock formations on the hills of the Quiraing and many more which, combined with the constantly changing light and weather , all helps to create a unique and magical place.
Food & Drink On Skye
As you might expect of a large island in the North Atlantic, seafood is plentiful, fresh and generally quite good value on Skye, relative to city prices. Fishing and aquaculture is the largest source of employment on Skye, after tourism, and that means that you will be spoilt for choice for the fruits of the sea such as; langoustine, oysters, scallops, mussels, crab and lobster as well as fish like salmon, haddock, turbot, halibut and Monkfish. All of the bars and restaurants on the island will serve some of the above but it will depend on what the boats have landed that day but one thing you can be sure of is that it will be fresh.
You can wash down all of that seafood with beers and ales from one of Skye's two craft breweries, Skye Red is a particular favourite of mine, or how about a dram of whisky from one of the pair of island distilleries; new kid on the block 'Torabhaig' and old favourite 'Talisker', both of which are open to the public for tours and tastings, and there is a 'Misty Isle' gin as well for those prefer their spirits clear.
Best Time of Year To Visit Skye
Summer is seriously busy on Skye, when the resident population of 10,000 can treble in size and accommodation fills up very quickly, often weeks, if not months in advance. Peak season in Scotland is between the last week in June, when the Scottish schools break up, until the first week in September, when English schools return, so, if you can it is often worth avoiding this period to avoid over-inflated accommodation prices, being turned away from full restaurants and traffic jams. The Easter holidays, always the first two weeks in April in Scotland, can be just as busy.
Okay, so I got the bad news out of the way first! Skye is a wonderful island, with friendly people, wonderful seafood and views to die for. When you factor in that the best weather on Skye usually occurs in the Spring and early Summer then I would suggest that the best time to visit the Misty Isle is from late April until late June when the days are usually long and dry and the midges haven't quite built themselves up into man eating swarms by then. Once the Summer rain - by late June the Atlantic Ocean has heated up and its warm air condenses over the Cuillin Mountains to produce sporadic, and sometimes heavy, showers over much of the island in July and August - and crowds have dispersed, Autumn can be a rewarding time to visit. September , October and early November produces beautiful colours on the landscape from the forests and ferns in the south of Skye to the heather clad moorland across the north, and the soft golden light is a photographers dream - no need to get up at the crack of dawn or stay up late to catch that perfect light.
Winter can reap rewards for the Skye bound traveller too but travel in hope rather than expectation and you won't be disappointed. Storms rolling in off the Atlantic are common but the upside is you won't have to share the island with too many other visitors. In December and January it doesn't get light until 09.00 and is dark again by 16.00 so careful itinerary planning is required to see all of the sights that you have on your list. By February and March the days are longer and there are more clear crisp Winter days with the snow capped mountains of the Cuillins and the mainland framing your views. Many visitor attractions, restaurants and accommodation providers close in the Winter months but there are still enough to keep you entertained, fed and sheltered.