The Isle of Skye is one of Scotland’s best destinations and a day spent here is simply not long enough. Basing yourself on the Misty Isle for an extended period is a great idea if you really want to off the beaten track.
There are plenty of great day trips from the Isle of Skye to suit all kinds of traveller, whether you’re on the hunt for the best whiskies, want to hike through beautiful scenery or simply dodge the crowds for a few days.
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- Roadtripping the Trotternish Loop, Isle of Skye
- Breathtaking Walks on the Isle of Skye, Scotland
- Amazing Hikes on the Isle of Raasay, Scotland
5 Great Day Trips from the Isle of Skye, Scotland
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Floating between the Isle of Skye and mainland Scotland, The Isle of Raasay makes for a great day trip. Only accessible via boat, the journey from Sconser takes around 25 minutes. Although much smaller than neighbouring Skye, the island’s terrain is hugely varied and the views on either side are breathtaking.
There are some beautiful walks on the Isle of Raasay and none of them are too difficult, meaning that most visitors should have no problems. The most popular hike in the area is the one up to Dùn Caan – this flat-topped hill is Raasay’s most recognisable landmark. On a clear day, the views extend out to the Cuillin on Skye and over to Applecross on the mainland.
If walking is not really your thing, there is plenty of other stuff to do on Raasay. Drive along Calum’s Road in the north of the island and learn the story behind its construction. History lovers won’t want to miss a visit to Brochel Castle and those in search of a wee dram shouldn’t miss a distillery tour and whisky tasting!
As Raasay is much less visited than other island destinations in Scotland, hospitality options are few and far between. Raasay House Hotel and Raasay Distillery are the most popular options but they can be a bit pricey.
Although this former fishing village is small and unassuming, Dornie sees its fair share of crowds. Home to arguably one of the most photographed castles in the entire world, Eilean Donan offers picture-perfect Scottish scenery, no matter the weather.
Perched on a tidal island and once a stronghold of Clan Mackenzie, these days the castle is owned by Conchra Charitable Trust. Officially the MacRaes are hereditary constables of the castle and it is still legally under their stewardship.
For most tourists, a quick photo stop at Eilean Donan is all the time that they are willing to dedicate to Dornie. However, the surrounding area is wonderful to explore on foot. In fact, some of the best views of the castle are the ones you have to walk for!
While you’re in the area, don’t miss a trip to the quirky yet cute Manuela’s Wee Bakery. This enchanting spot will be enjoyed by guests of all ages! They serve an excellent variety of pastries and bread, not to mention a good cup of coffee! The pizza is a definite must-try – you can thank me later!
The wee island of Canna is the most western island of the Small Isles archipelago and is perhaps best known for its few inhabitants – only 15 people live here permanently! The island is very small, only 4.3 miles long and 1 mile wide!
Despite its size, there is more to do on Canna than you would expect. Hike to Prison Rock and Black Beach or enjoy a picnic on Sanday Beach. You can also visit the Isle of Sanday to get a closer look at the puffin colony.
The easiest way to get to the Isle of Canna from the Isle of Skye is on a boat trip. AquaXplore runs day tours to Canna Island. Jump on the ‘Puffin Run and Small Isles Tour’ to head out for a spot of wildlife spotting. There is a chance of seeing puffins from April to July. You’ll pass by the Isles of Rum and Soay and get some time ashore on the Isle of Canna. The whole trip is both exhilarating and picturesque – probably my favourite day trip from the Isle of Skye.
Alternatively, if you want to spend longer on the Isle of Canna, book a place on the ‘Canna Maxi Day Xplorer Trip’. This trip visits the same locations as you’ll see on the first boat tour but you’ll have longer ashore on Canna to explore, around five hours.
Located just three miles from the Isle of Skye on the mainland, Balmacara is a must-visit for nature lovers and walkers alike. Although you might not generally associate the word rainforest with Scotland, the country is home to its own special type of woodland, known as the Celtic Rainforest. This rare woodland is the result of delicately balanced conditions which cover less than 1% of the world’s surface.
The Celtic Rainforest is not only rare and unique but also hosts a number of excellent walks. From short easy circular hikes to more challenging all-day adventures, this is a great place to come to experience a different kind of scenery to that available on Skye.
When visiting Balmacara, there will be the chance to spot a whole host of Scottish wildlife including pine Martens, red squirrels and even otters (if you’re lucky)! Although this place makes for an excellent day trip from Skye at any time of the year, the autumn really showcases the beauty of the trees when the leaves begin to change.
5. Lewis and Harris
Lewis and Harris is the biggest island in the whole of Scotland, divided in two by mountains. The northern half of the island is Lewis and the southern part is Harris. It can be reached from Skye by ferry, which leaves from Uig in the north of the island.
The boat trip to Harris takes around 1 hour and 40 minutes from the Isle of Skye. You will need to plan your journey because tickets need to be purchased in advance and there are not many sailings in a day. To do Lewis and Harris on a day trip, you would need to visit on a Saturday when you can arrive in the morning and leave in the evening.
There is plenty to do on the island, from chilling out on idyllic beaches to hiking along the dramatic cliff line. The island offers a refreshing break from the type of scenery you’ll see on the Isle of Skye, still beautiful but in an entirely different way.
Although Lewis and Harris can be done as a day trip from the Isle of Skye, there is so much to see and do there that I’d recommend spending longer if you can. Still, if you’re strapped for time, Lewis and Harris as a day trip from Skye make for a valuable addition to your Scotland itinerary.
Read more about the best things to do on the Isle of Lewis and Harris.
Day Tours on the Isle of Skye
If you’ve come to this article looking for the best day tours on the Isle of Skye, the Skye Bus service by Real Scottish Journeys comes highly recommended by visitors. This day trip will take you around the main sights on the island – an ideal option if you are visiting Skye without your own transport.
A boat trip to Loch Coruisk is arguably the top day trip on the island for people not looking for a whistle-stop tour. It is made even better if you are brave enough to tackle the hike back to Elgol via the Bad Step. Warning, this is not for the faint of heart!
If you’re looking for day tours to the Isle of Skye from other destinations in Scotland, the following organised tours come highly recommended. Personally, though, I’d recommend spending at least 3 days on this magnificent island. (I’ve been here for 3 years and still haven’t done everything!)
How many of these Isle of Skye day trips have you already done?