Skye is served by rural network of local buses, mostly provided by Stagecoach Highlands.
Fares rise by distance travelled, with a half-hour journey usually costing around £3. The only remaining special ticket of interest to tourists is the £8 Day Rider, which will normally make sense if you are using more than two buses in one day (although drivers will normally advise you if it is cheaper to buy that or singles).
Although they are listed alongside local buses in journey planners and at bus stops, passengers should avoid taking Scottish Citylink coaches for local journeys within Skye or across the bridge to Kyle of Lochalsh; fares are substantially cheaper on local services and the Day Rider is not valid on the Citylink buses. That being said, Citylink buses operate the most direct service from north to south and vice versa. As a guide, a return ticket from Kyle of Lochalsh to Sconser costs £6 as of 2013.
An area guide for Skye and Lochalsh lists all bus times, and is issued twice annually for winter and summer seasons. It can be downloaded in pdf format from Stagecoach Highlands by clicking on ‘Timetables’ and then scrolling down to ‘Skye and Lochalsh’ or picked up in paper form from buses and tourist information centres.
It is strongly recommended to check times in advance, paying special attention to any timetable notes relating to days when the bus runs or does not. Many buses listed above only run on schooldays; in addition none of the local buses operate on Sundays outwith the summer season. The Citylink services, on the other hand, operate on Sundays year-round.
In addition to Stagecoach services on the island, Uig Taxis operates a taxibus service between Portree and the Trotternish Peninsula – this service connects with the 1500 Citylink service from Glasgow. Timetables for the taxibus can be found on the Citylink website in the Glasgow – Fort William – Skye timetable.
Although substantial European and Scottish funding has been made available to improve and widen certain key routes (most recently the southern section of the Armadale to Broadford road), major roads are still quite narrow and can get congested in high season. However in low season driving in Skye is a delight with only the occasional sheep wandering onto the tarmac to concern you. On narrow single track rural roads pay attention to passing places and drive courteously, being ready to pull over to allow an oncoming vehicle to pass.
Car hire is available in Portree and Kyle of Lochalsh, but can be expensive. When travelling to the island in the high season, call ahead for availability.
Many of the roads in Skye make for good cycling, although traffic can be a problem in late summer. If you’re cycling, make sure you have good raingear; Skye is wet even by the drizzly standards of Scotland. The ferry from Mallaig accepts bicycles, and the ride from Armadale north to the bridge is pleasant.
Hitching is never one hundred percent safe, but residents of Skye are generally very open to giving rides in remoter areas (especially if you’ve missed the last bus of the day or it’s raining).
- Trotternish Peninsula, includingThe Old Man of Storr and The Quirang has a beautiful coastline with numerous viewpoints and the many interesting rock formations of the Trotternish Ridge. A minor road follows its coast from Staffin to Uig and offers some of the best scenery on Skye.
- Old Man of Storr– one of the famous sights. Expect a 2-3 hour walk, from the car park to the Old man and back down.
- The Quirangis an area of dramatic rock towers and ridges. You get great views even from the car park but to fully explore it set aside 3-4 hours.
- Dunvegan Castle & Gardens is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland and has been the ancestral home of the Chiefs of Clan MacLeod for 800 years. Experience an extraordinary castle and Highland estate steeped in history and clan legend, delight in the beauty of its formal gardens, take an exhilarating boat trip to see the seal colony, enjoy a meal at the MacLeods Table Cafe or browse in one of its four shops.
- TheClan Donald Centre at Armadale is set on a large estate and preserves the ancestral home of the MacDonalds at Armadale Castle. Facilities open to the visitor include the castle grounds (attractive gardens), several hiking trails, and a new museum, theMuseum of the Isles, covering the history of the area (extending back as much as 1500 years). The grounds and museum are open during the summer 7 days, 9:30-5:30; the grounds are open for outdoor visits year-round, while hours at the museum during the fall are Wednesdays only, 11-3, and it is apparently closed during the winter months. Admission £4.90 for adults, £14.00 for families; admission covers both grounds and museum.
- There are other castles on the island that are in a state of disrepair, if not outright ruins, but still scenic:
- Castle Moil (Caisteal Maol)near Kyleakin
- Dunscaith Castleon the wild west coast of the Trotternish Peninsula
- Duntulm Castlenorth of Uig; Duntulm Castle Hotel (see under “Sleep”) is nearby
- Kilt Rock and WaterfallOn the A855, about 2 miles south of Staffin, you can see a cliff that bears an amazing resemblance to a kilt, complete with tartan-like pattern. There is a good parking place and you can photograph both Kilt Rock and a small stream from Loch Mealt falling off the cliff into the sea.
- An Corrannear Staffin is known for its fossilized footprints of dinosaurs living there 160 million years ago. They can be seen at low tide.
- Loch Coruiskto many people the very finest loch in Scotland – surrounded by shapely peaks. Accessible by boat from the village of Elgol or by walks from Sligachan (long but not hard) or from Elgol via Camasunary (but this involves a ‘bad step’)
- MacLeod’s Maidens– Skye’s magnificent coast off the Dunvegan road is often forgotten in the allure of the Cuillin. The UK’s highest cliffs are to be found here. The ‘Maidens’ are very striking sea stacks and give a target for a walk.
- Neist Point Lighthousemarks the westernmost point of Skye. It is located on top of a stack of cliffs and offers wonderful views across the Minch over to the Outer Hebrides and is also a good place for spotting whales, dolphins and other wildlife. To get there head south from Dunvegan and turn west onto B884 towards Colbost and Glendale. The drive should take about 45minutes and it is then a short (but steep) walk to the lighthouse.
- Fairy Glenis a hidden but absolutely lovely small valley of cone-shaped hills with ambience that truly lives up to its name. It is on a very minor road branching off A87 just south of Uig and well worth the short detour. Please note it is not signposted so check directions before you go and watch out for the sharp uphill turn.
- Flora & Fauna– The fauna of Skye knows a great diversity as birds of prey like golden eagles, buzzards and hen harriers. On the coastline you will find rare sea eagles, shags and cormorants. The magnificent red deer and a great diversity of smaller animals like roe deer, the red fox or the weasel. Even smaller the rarely seen adder but also toads, frogs, lizards and insects as dragonflies, butterflies, slugs & caterpillars. Grey or common seals and otters can be seen on the shores and you may be lucky to observe porpoises, dolphins or even whales offshore.
- Visit Isle of Skye walks, a free and independent on-line guide to walks on the island.
- The Isle of Skye Music Festival is a mid-June event featuring popular music with both regional and international entries.
- Enjoycoastal treks.
- Go walking in theCuillins, Skye’s most famous group of mountains. Be warned that there are no natural sources of water on the ridge (except for winter snows and melt water): all water must be carried by the visitor.
- Walk/climb the Quiraing a landslip on the eastern face of Meall na Suiramach, the northernmost summit of the Trotternish Ridge. You can walk around the Quiraing following a quite easy path, 4 miles (7 km) in about 4 hours. Quiraing (Scotish Gaelic: Cuith-Raing) comes from Old Norse Kvi Rand, which means Round Fold.
- For the less adventurous, there are boat tours of the Cullins during the summer months leaving from the remote village of Elgol. The views are stunning and you’ll get to see some seals too.