Crowds got you down? This post is part of a series of 10 European Discoveries for 2019 — off-the-beaten-path gems where you can escape the tourist rut and find a corner of Europe all your own.
Most visitors to the Scottish Highlands do a predictable two- or three-day loop, hitting Inverness, Loch Ness, Glencoe, Oban, and maybe a few Outlander sights. But adding another couple of days buys you time for dramatically scenic, fun-to-explore Skye. While not quite “undiscovered,” the Isle of Skye demands — and rewards — a little extra effort to reach.
Settle into the village of Portree, with its rainbow-painted harbor, and use it as a home base for road-tripping across the isle. The Trotternish Peninsula, with dragon’s-tooth mossy mountains that have inspired sci-fi movies, is speckled with sleepy crofting communities whose humble stone cottages face million-dollar sea views. Talisker Distillery offers tours and dispenses peaty drams of whisky. Dunvegan Castle provides an intimate peek inside the lived-in home of an aristocratic clan that’s seen better days. Peat bogs, iconic views of bald Scottish mountains, and hiking areas with names like “The Fairy Glen” and “The Fairy Pools” round out Skye’s appeal.
If I had to choose just one place to get an idyllic taste of the Scottish Highlands and Islands, Skye would win by a mile.
Planning a trip to Scotland? Here’s how to get ready:
1) Check out my top 10 tips for traveling in Scotland
2) Pick up a copy of our Rick Steves Scotland guidebook.
3) Watch Rick’s three brand-new TV episodes on Scotland: Glasgow and Scottish Passions, Scotland’s Highlands, and Scotland’s Islands.
And for nine more suggestions on where to get away from the crowds, check out my 10 European Discoveries for 2019.