Top 8 Unforgettable Places to Stay on The Isle of Skye
Adventures don’t need to be to the depths of the American wilderness, or to the exotic waterfalls of Iceland, or days-deep in the backcountry for camping. Sometimes, you can simply visit a place full of history and natural beauty preserved through the ages.
A picturesque and fairytale-like wonderland, the Isle of Skye is one of the most gorgeous places to visit in Scotland. It’s the second-largest island in Scotland, and with 639 square miles of land to explore, there’s a lot to see and do. Moreover, as a place steeped in history and Scottish culture, it’s a unique and unforgettable experience to visit almost no matter where you stay.
That said, some places are definitely better to stay than others, either due to the amenities, their proximity to tourist destinations, or just the array of things to do in the area. Let’s talk about a handful of the best places to stay on the Isle of Skye in Scotland.
Cuillin Hills is perhaps the single most famous and most sought-after place to stay in all of Skye. Located in Portree, the capital settlement of the island, you’re centrally located to experience pretty much anything you could want. You can hit the town and immerse yourself in the history and culture of the area, or you can use the hotel as a home base and range further afield. Even if you spend all your time in the hotel, the gorgeous views and the mature grounds to explore are all beautiful.
This hotel boasts the best views of any hotel in Scotland, and honestly, they probably aren’t wrong. With views of the mountains, the sea, and the lush greenery all around, it’s a must-see for anyone who loves the combination of historic culture and mature landscapes.
If we know anything about our audience – and we do – it’s that many of you love outdoor adventures as much as we do. While exploring a historic old city and checking out the local culture is fun and enjoyable, it’s a diversion from the true goal of our adventures: seeing the raw, untouched beauty and majesty of nature.
Uig is a smaller town further to the north of Portree, and it’s not nearly as much of a cultural hub as Portree is. Instead, it’s a place to use as a home base while you explore the area, hiking to the waterfalls and lochs, watching the seabirds and keeping an eye out for dolphins, or taking more dramatic adventures on the boats, climbing the nearby cliffs, or cycling through the region.
When you first drive onto the Isle of Skye, you’ll be following the main road after crossing the Skye Bridge. Only about 15 minutes of driving later, you’ll come to your first larger village, Broadford. This is the first stop for many visitors, and it’s a place that has a little bit of everything you could possibly want out of a trip to Skye.
There’s wildlife watching, hiking, climbing, cycling, and all manner of other outdoor adventures. There’s enough history and culture in the area to give you something to do on your more restful days. There are views all around of the mountains, the sea, and everything in between, and while they aren’t all as individually impressive as some of the other locations on this list, they’re still wonderful.
Toravaig House has won numerous awards over the years, including “Scottish Island Hotel of the Year” several times. It’s an incredible and cozy place to return to at the end of a long day of adventuring in the highlands or on the coast.
Operated by the same network of hotels as Toravaig, Skeabost is an equally luxurious and cozy hotel to stay in, in a completely different location. Where Broadford is only a short distance from the entry to Skye, Colbost is located almost as far to the west as you can get and still be on Skye. For the tourists, Colbost has the Three Chimneys, an extremely high-quality restaurant and dining experience. For the adventurers, you’re located quite close to a number of wonders, including Dunvegan Castle, a bunch of different cliff walks, and more.
If there’s any downside to Colbost, it’s the expense. Since it’s so close to so many popular attractions, it’s a relatively expensive place to stay. Of course, if you’re already heading out to Scotland for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, why not go all out?
Located a bit to the south of Staffin and across the isle from Uig, Graelin is a small resort area near Culnacnoc. There’s a lot to see and do in the area, but it’s very much rural, and, while not quite backcountry, it can give you that same feeling. The Skye Eyrie is a cabin, not a hotel, a self-catering holiday cabin meant for the more self-sufficient couples or small groups. With stunning views, a lot of regional hikes, and plenty to see and do in the area, it’s a natural adventure you won’t soon forget.
If the Skye Eyrie is booked out, there are a variety of other holiday cabins in the area managed by other groups and companies, so check them out instead. There’s likely to be some accommodation somewhere for your party, some of which are even closer to the sea.
Edinbane is a small village known for both history and culture, and it’s one of the towns generally known as a hidden gem of the area. It’s less popular and less populated than some of the other entries on this list, but it’s no less spectacular for it. In fact, depending on the time of year you visit, you might feel like you have the whole place to yourself.
With two Michelin Plate restaurants in the area, using locally sourced fresh foods, you’re going to have an unforgettable dining experience in between your adventures.
The Greshornish House Hotel was once a manor house, and it has that historic, rustic feel to it. Combine that with the relatively calm and untouched surrounding area, and your hiking and other outdoor adventures are bound to be unique.
One of the smaller villages on the list, this is another holiday house and cabin-style getaway where you can spend time more or less on your own. Once a thriving fishing port, the sleepy village is gorgeous to experience, but there’s not really a ton to do in the town itself. Instead, your adventures will be focused on the hikes to the sea, the views, the lighthouse and the hidden island, and other bits of rustic scenery.
As a small and rural village, you aren’t going to be getting any of the tourist hotspots from Isleornsay, and if you wanted to see some of the more popular Skye attractions like the Fairy Pools, you’ve got a bit of a drive ahead of you. Those of us used to driving four hours for a day trip in the American backcountry aren’t going to think much of it, but if you aren’t fond of an hour or two to get to your destinations, you might want to look elsewhere.
Located far to the northwest in Stein, this rustic location is another relatively small village without much in the way of accommodations. You aren’t going to be taking part in a robust tourist economy here; instead, you’re visiting Stein for two reasons.
The first is the proximity to castles, meadows, and hills that make for an incredible exploration of the countryside. Dunvegan Castle is nearby, as are the clear waters of the Coral Beach, both of which are incredible sights to see on any trip to Skye.
The other is the night. The entire peninsula on which Stein is located is completely free of streetlights, and the starscape you can see just by walking a few hundred yards away from town is breathtaking. Seriously, even some of the dark sky parks in America are put to shame by this view of the stars. Just make sure you’re there when the weather is clear.
Are There Locations to Avoid on Skye?
Truthfully, not really. There are certainly some more rural areas with little or no support for tourists, and there are places you can end up that are far away from everything you might want to see, but none of that is a problem if you know it going into it.
Some people advise that you avoid Kyleakin, which is the small town right at the entrance to Skye across the bridge. It’s one of the more crowded and touristy locations on Skye, but that’s reasonable, being the gateway to the isle. As long as you’re fine with that, it’s a perfectly fine place to stay.
Other than that, your main concerns are generally just proximity to the things you want to see and do. Staying within a 15-20-minute drive of a destination is better than having to drive an hour to reach it, of course.
There are accommodations of all sorts and fitting all budgets all throughout Skye. Whether you want to spend time in an expensive luxury hotel, or if you’re fine with rustic camping, or anything in between, there’s a place for you on Skye.
Why Any Adventurer Should Visit Skye
Skye is an incredible place to visit for pretty much anyone fond of outdoor adventures. While the whole isle is laced with a history stretching back centuries – and in some cases eons, as you can find dinosaur footprints in the rocks in a few locations, along with incredible geology – the real draw is mostly the landscapes.
There’s a reason Scotland in general, and Skye in particular, is featured in so many pieces of media, you know? From the highland cliffs overlooking the lochs and the sea, to the beaches, the waters themselves, the hills, the mountains, the moors, there’s a little bit of seemingly everything on Skye. And, unlike so many other beautiful tourist destinations, the entire place is laced with small villages, usually with at the very least a handful of vacation cabins you can rent for a stay.
And, of course, you’re not devoid of culture at all. From the historic towns to the Michelin-endorsed restaurants, you can experience all the highs of a rich exotic vacation on Skye as well.
Can You Camp on Skye?
Many of our followers are fans of rustic camping and backcountry adventures, spending days at a time in the wilderness, exploring, setting up camp, and generally enjoying the experience. So, can you do that on Skye?
The answer is yes! Mostly.
Skye falls under the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. You can read all about the code whenever you want, but some of the key points include the following:
- You can camp pretty much anywhere as long as you aren’t causing problems for the locals.
- Avoid camping in enclosed fields and pastures.
- Keep away from roads, buildings, and historic structures.
- If you want to camp somewhere close to a building or facility, get the permission of the owner.
- Practice Leave No Trace by packing out litter, removing all traces of your campsite and any fires, and generally leaving the land as you found it.
- Stick to small groups and spend no more than 2-3 days in one place.
There’s also an array of official campgrounds scattered throughout Skye that you can book for more supported, less backcountry camping, and while it’s less of a free-form adventure, it removes some of the anxiety of negotiating with locals or stepping on toes.
Have You Been to the Isle of Skye?
If so, tell us all about your adventure!
We love hearing about the places our followers visit and the things they do. They can inspire our future adventures or the adventures of our other fans, and that’s the kind of community we love to foster here.