The Mystically Beautiful Isle of Skye

Nearly all travelers to Scotland visit Edinburgh. Many get to Glasgow. Those going farther north get their dose of the islands by sailing to Mull and Iona from Oban, and their dose of the Highlands at Glencoe. And many head for Inverness just to check nearby Loch Ness off their bucket list. But the mystically beautiful Isle of Skye — just two hours from Inverness — is worth the extra drive.

While most people visit the Isle of Skye as a harried day trip from Inverness (which is certainly better than no visit at all), you really need a minimum of two nights (based in the major town, Portree) and an entire day to explore.

On Scottish mainland just before the bridge to Skye, the iconic Eilean Donan Castle seems to herald the coming of Scotland’s ultimate scenic experience. (I still get a charge out of visiting places that make the cover of my guidebooks.) My guide, Colin Mairs, and I couldn’t resist a selfie here, books in hand. Walking around day after day, earnestly carrying our books — through villages, museums, and roadside attractions — we felt like a couple of travel missionaries.

colin mairs and rick steves with books at castle
Scotland has about a dozen classic scenes that are always featured on posters and calendars. Eilean Donan is one of them. Two more are on the Isle of Skye: the bridge at Sligachan, and the windy road to the windy bluff (that’s windy, not windy) at the Quiraing.

sligachan bridge

The bridge at Sligachan.

road to quiraing

The road to the Quiraing.

A delightful part of travel in Scotland is staying in B&Bs. I’ve enjoyed good, old-fashioned B&B hospitality (not to mention great prices) throughout our trip.

rick steves at b&b with owners

And my go-to meal is fish and chips. At Portree harbor, the chippy’s picnic bench is forever empty, as seagulls are famously aggressive here. Hungry diners are forced to eat literally standing up against the wall…or else a gull will swoop down for a slab of cod.

people eating fish and chips

Photo: Colin Mairs

This is Day 94 of my “100 Days in Europe” series. As I travel with Rick Steves’ Europe Tours, research my guidebooks, and make new TV shows, I’m reporting on my experiences across Europe. Still to come: Germany, Switzerland, and more. Thanks for joining me here on my blog and via Facebook.