Top 12 Isle of Skye hikes

During my summer spent living on the Isle of Skye, I walked. A lot! Skye is a hikers paradise and with so many trails all over the island, it can be hard to know which ones to pick. To help you get the best out of your walking holiday, I’ve compiled my favourite Isle of Skye hikes.

The Isle of Skye is one of the best places to hike anywhere in Scotland, owing to its impressive natural landscape and varied trails. There is something to suit everyone, regardless of fitness ability. In this post, I will detail the best walks on Skye (in my humble opinion) and tell you everything you need to know about the duration, the terrain and most importantly, the wow factor!

Read more: (opens in new tab)

For those of you in a rush… check out the quick recommendations below.

The Best Isle of Skye Hikes: Quick Answers!

  • Best short hike: Oronsay Tidal Island
  • Best long hike: Loch Eynort and Glenbrittle
  • Best hike for views: The Quiraing 
  • Most unusual hike: Spar Cave 
  • Best hike for beginners: Fairy Glen
  • Best hike for experienced walkers: The Skye Trail 

A Note About Midges…

Highland midges are rife on Skye and can make a hiker very miserable. If you want to avoid getting bitten by these buzzy insects where you can, make sure you check out this guide to midges in Scotland. From the ideal time of day to trek, terrains you want to avoid and the best repellent, it’s all in here.

13 of the Top Isle of Skye Hikes

1. The Quiraing

  • Length: 6.5 km / 4 miles
  • Time: 3-4 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Top sights: The Prison, The Needle, and The Table rock formations.
Views from The Quiriang, Isle of Skye.
The Quiraing was formed by Britain’s largest landslip.

The Quiraing hike is probably the first of the Isle of Skye walks that you will have recommended to you. There is a good reason for this too, the scenery is some of the best that you will see on the island! 

Many visitors will know that the conveniently located car park means that you only have to walk a short way before seeing some of the incredible landscape, however, it is a wasted opportunity to ignore the hiking trail that passes through Britain’s largest landslip. 

The path here is easy to follow and well-beaten from the thousands of feet that have trodden before. You will need decent hiking boots to tackle the steep descent at the end of the trail. I would also recommend walking poles as well, it can be slippery when wet! 

As well as several different rock formations listed in the highlights, on a clear day you can see all the way over to the Isle of Raasay. The north of Skye is truly spectacular and this is one hike that should be included on any Skye itinerary! 

The Quiriang trail, Isle of Skye
The Quiraing is often touted as Skye’s most -must-see hike in terms of scenery.

How to get there: As the Quiraing is one of the most popular circular hikes on the island, you can simply enter ‘Quiraing car park’ into your satnav to direct you to the parking area. This is located on the Staffin – Uig road. 

2. Old Man of Storr

  • Length: 4.5 km / 2.75 miles
  • Time: 1.5 – 2 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Top sights: Needle Rock, Isle of Raasay, Applecross on the mainland. 
The Old Man of Storr rocks
The Old Man of Storr hike is one of the most popular hikes on Skye.

Located along the Trotternish Loop, the Old Man of Storr is one of the Isle of Skye’s most popular hikes. Considering how short the path is, it is more demanding than you would expect, especially up to the second viewpoint. The steep, muddy terrain can prove a challenge, in all but the best of weather. 

As one of Skye’s most famous attractions, the trail can get crowded, especially in the summer months. As a result, the Old Man of Storr hike is definitely best tackled first thing in the morning or around sunset (which can be as late as 11 pm in the summer)!

The view over the surrounding landscape is unforgettable and this scenery has appeared in a number of famous productions including ‘The Wicker Man’ and ‘Prometheus’.

Girl overlooks sea and islands in Scottish highlands
Looking out over some of the scenery at the Old Man of Storr.

How to get there: On a clear day, it is possible to see the Old Man from as far away as Portree, therefore it shouldn’t be too hard to find. The main Storr carpark is marked on most maps, although there is a cost to park there. All of this money is poured back into the cost of maintaining the trail. For those looking to save a buck, there is plenty of other parking a short walk from the start of the trail, just make sure you do not park in a passing space as this can impede traffic. 

3. Boreraig and Suisnish

  • Length: 16.5 km / 10.25 miles
  • Time: 5-6 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate 
  • Top sights: Loch Eishort, Highland Clearance villages, local wildlife. 
Old ruined building in Scottish highlands.
Boreraig and Suisnish now stand ruined after their people were driven out in the Highland Clearances.

One of the longer Isle of Skye hikes is this beautiful trail which goes through the deserted villages of Boreraig and Suisnish. The trail itself is fairly easy for the majority of the way, however, there are boggy sections which can make the route a little tricky. Make sure you wear sensible footwear. 

Although the path is visually stunning, the hike also has an eerie feeling to it and you will pass through two villages which fell victim to the Highland Clearances. See the ruined houses which remain and try to picture life before these communities were forcefully ousted from their homes. This is one trail that will certainly ignite your imagination.  

Whilst this walk is a moving experience in many ways, it does showcase some spectacular scenery, including the cliffs of Càrn Dearg (keep your eyes peeled for golden eagles) and the beautiful Loch Eishort. There is also a stunning waterfall on the cliff which is very impressive after a rain. 

Waterfall in Scottish Highlands, Isle of Skye
The beautiful cliffside waterfall on the Boreraig and Suisnish hike.

How to get there: Parking is opposite the ruined church of Cill Chriosd which is located on Strath Suardal. The church can be entered into Google Maps for location and stands right on the roadside. Be aware, there is only room for a few cars, so you are advised to do this hike out of season or arrive early. 

4. Loch Eynort and Glenbrittle

  • Length: 16 km / 10 miles
  • Time: 4-5 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Top sights: The Black Cuillin, Loch Eynort, Coire na Creiche. 
Forested trail at Loch Eynort, Isle of Skye
The Loch Eynort and Glenbrittle hike provide incredible forest scenery.

This was potentially my favourite Isle of Skye hike. The combination of forest meeting epic mountain scenery really is a walker’s dream. Although lengthy, the hike itself is easy enough, with only a couple of steep uphills. 

Intrepid hikers looking to extend this trail can follow the sign labelled ‘Link Loop’. The trail on the right goes down to Glenbrittle c where you can enjoy a dip before retracing your tracks and rejoining the trail at the same point. It is worth noting them this track down is very steep and should not be attempted in bad weather. 

Even on a sunny day, it is possible that you could complete the hike without seeing anyone else which only enhances its majesty. The trail weaves close to the fairy pools where you can observe the crowds of people and smile to yourself about your own solitude as you pass by, just a few metres from the designated parking area. 

Waterfall close to Loch Eynort, Isle of Skye.
Hidden gems on the Loch Eynort and Glenbrittle forest walk.

How to get there: You can either park at the fairy pools carpark (£5.00 or head further up the same road into a small forested car parking area. There is also parking for two or three cars at the entrance to Loch Eynort.

5. Neist Point

  • Length: 3km / 1.75 miles
  • Time: 1-2 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Top sights: The Outer Hebrides, Minke whales (during summer), Lighthouse. 
Neist Point Lighthouse
Neist Point is the most westerly point of mainland UK.

A hugely underrated walk on the Isle of Skye is that of Neist Point. The lighthouse which resides there is the furthest westerly point of mainland UK and offers spectacular views of the surrounding cliffs. 

The path itself is clear and easy to follow, although very steep at times. There is a handrail for the majority of the descent which makes this trail a little easier. It is not advised to visit Neist Point in severe winds. The path is very exposed and bad weather makes for a miserable experience. 

It is worth wandering around the grounds of the lighthouse but also to just sit and enjoy the scenery. This is one of the best areas on the island to see large sea mammals, including dolphins and Minke whales in the summer. 

In my opinion, the best time to visit is early in the morning or late in the evening. The site can get very crowded during the summer months and visiting at these times allows for more privacy and fewer people. 

How to get there: There is no public transport that goes to Neist Point so you will need to travel by car. Any SatNav will be able to take you to the parking area but plan ahead in the summer months as these spaces fill very quickly. 

6. Oronsay Tidal Island

  • Length: 5 km / 3 miles
  • Time: 2-3 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Top sights: MacLeod’s Maidens, South Uist, Fiskavaig. 
Oronsay Island sign
Oronsay Island is a great place to wild camp overnight!

One of Skye’s most frequently overlooked hikes is that of Oronsay Tidal Island. It is a short hike but one that easily makes it into this list. At low tide, you can walk straight out onto the island and take in the views of MacLeod’s Maidens as well as the islands of the Outer Hebrides. 

Make sure you check the tide times in advance or you could end up stranded. Saying that Oronsay is the perfect spot for an overnight adventure and it is virtually guaranteed that you won’t share the island with anyone, except maybe a few resident sheep. Be aware that there is a vertical cliff face so don’t stray too close to the edge.

The hike itself is easy, with only a couple of boggy areas to contend with. In fact, the worst part of this walk is probably passing by the large cows kept in the field close to the start point. Always give cattle a wide berth and don’t let your dog worry the animals. 

Oronsay tidal island walking trail
Oronsay tidal island straight ahead.

How to get there: The start point of this hike is located in Ullinish and ‘Path to Oronsay’ is signed off of the main road. There is a decent-sized parking area close to a kissing gate. The path is well signed to lead you onto the island but the hiking trails disappear once you reach Oronsay. This isn’t a bad thing though, use it as an opportunity to explore the island as you please, without a fixed plan. 

7. Spar Cave

  • Length: 0.75 km / 0.5 miles
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Top sights: Elgol coast, Spar Cave.
Girl walks in between cliffs.
The entrance to Spar Cave is initially hidden from view.

A true hidden gem known only to a select few is the tide dependent Spar Cave, located near Elgol. A visit to this tidal cave involves a little bit of planning but the trip is well worth it. 

The hike begins at the red phone box in Glasnakille. From there, follow the road until you come to a gate next to an abandoned house. From here, there will be a sheep trail through the fields which heads towards the coast. The path descends, where you can make your way down to the boulders which mark the meeting of the land with the sea. 

You will need to continue around a couple of cliff faces before you find the gorge that will take you to Spar Cave. If timed wrong, this area is completely inaccessible so you must check the tide times in advance. 

Spar Cave is located on the left. It is pitch black so you will need a decent head torch to explore. There are some icy cold pools inside where it is possible to swim, although I am not sure I would recommend this. The water is freezing! Plan your visit to Spar Cave using this detailed guide. 

Exploring Spar Cave: Skye's Best Kept Secret!
Spar Cave is the Isle of Skye’s most unusual hike for sure!

How to get there: Enter Spar Cave into your SatNav and park close to the red phone box. There is limited parking but owing to the secret nature of the cave, it is unlikely that you will struggle too much when searching for somewhere to park. 

8. Bruach na Frithe

  • Length: 13.5km / 8.5 miles
  • Time: 5-7 hours
  • Difficulty: Challenging
  • Top sights: Allt Dearg Mór River, Sligachan. 
Views over mountains in Skye.
Stunning views from the Bruach na Frithe hike.

Offering some of the best views that you can get from any of the Isle of Skye hikes, Bruach na Frithe is a must for walkers wanting to get their first taste of the epic Cuillin mountain range. For those not experienced in hill walking, the route is challenging and does involve both a steep ascent and descent through mountain scree.

Be careful to follow the directions exactly as a wrong turn can see you have to climb to reach the ridge. Find all of the directions, complete with accompanying photos on the Walk Highlands website. 

Perhaps the highlight of the trail is the beautiful walk alongside the Allt Dearg Mór River. If it is a hot day, bring your swimsuit and take a dip in the pools there. In my opinion, they rival that of the fairy pools and there are a fraction of the crowds!

It is hard to sum up the top sights on this route as you will be able to see for miles and miles once you reach the ridge. Do not attempt this route in poor visibility as it is easy to lose the trail. 

How to get there: Head towards the Sligachan Bridge and nearby hotel in the direction of Carbost. Around the corner, you will see a roadside lay-by where it is possible to park. From here, take the track signposted ‘Footpath to Glen Brittle’.

9. Dunscaith Castle

  • Length: 2 km / 1.25 miles
  • Time: 40 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Top sights: Tokavaig Bay, Dunscaith Castle, the Cuillin.
Dun Scaithe Castle on the Isle of Skye.
Dunscaithe Castle is a beautiful place to explore.

Offering much better value for money than other castles on Skye, Dunscaith Castle is a hike for the adventurous. Although short in distance, this must surely be one of the best walks on Skye. The ruined castle stands on a rock above Loch Eishort and is a playground for any history buff. 

The castle drawbridge has long been missing so there is undoubtedly risk with entering the castle. However, those brave enough will be rewarded with some of the best views on the island, not to mention the opportunity to be a child again in their very own castle. 

The trail itself is easy, albeit slightly boggy in places. From the road, it is easy to find, simply head out to the large rocky outcrop which looks like it could once have been a powerful castle. 

Girl stands on cliff edge, looking at islands.
Looking out at the surrounding islands.

How to get there: Head to Tokavaig Bay where there are a couple of parking spaces close to the cattle grid. 

10. Talisker Bay

  • Length: 3.5 km / 2.25 miles
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Top sights: Talisker Bay, Talisker House.
Talisker Bay, Isle of Skye
The hike to Talisker Bay is a great choice on a warm day!

An easy but stunning walk on a warm day is that of Talisker Bay. Just an hour of trekking will take you to one of the Isle of Skye’s best beaches. 

Take the sign close to the parking area which says ‘To the bay’. This trail will take you through the grounds of Talisker House, an impressive Stately Home dating back to the 1720s. The track continues through a gate and towards the sea. Watch out for the Highland Sheep which roam freely in this area.

Talisker bay is a black stone and sand beach which is beautiful at any time, however, visitors who arrive at low tide will be able to walk out to the sea stacks. Make sure to check the tide times in advance before you visit. 

How to get there: Head to the settlement of Talisker (not the big distillery in Carbost) and make your way to the end of the tarmac road. It is possible to park on the verges there. 

11. Fairy Glen 

  • Length: 2 km / 1.25 miles
  • Time: 1 hour+
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Top sights: Castle Ewen, Green spiral.
Girl walks towards Castle Ewen at Fairy Glen, Isle of Skye.
Get ready to step into a fantasy world at the Fairy Glen!

Probably the most magical hike on Skye is this jaunt around the Fairy Glen. The landscape immediately conjures up images of Hobbiton and you could be forgiven for thinking you spotted a fairytale creature out of the corner of your eye.

The Fairy Glen hike starts as soon as the landscape comes into view. There is a path on the left side of the road that you can follow for views of the surrounding conical hills. The path here is not well beaten as most people explore the Fairy Glen as a day trip and not as a planned hike, however, the faint path is easy to follow if you pay attention. 

Continue to make your way towards Castle Ewen, the rocky tower which stands atop the main hill. The trail will lead you into a beautiful grassy area with a charming spiral. There have been problems with visitors stacking stones on the spiral and the locals claim that this damages the area. Signs have been erected to warn visitors against doing this. 

From here, you can ascend to the top of Castle Ewen for some stunning views of the surrounding area. There is a surprisingly large platform at the top but do be aware that this can get tight when there are lots of people there. Return to the parking area by following the path on the left side of the loch.

The spiral at the Fairy Glen.
The spiral at the Fairy Glen.

How to get there: Head in the direction of Uig. You will need to take the side road off of the A87 close to the Uig Hotel. From there, follow the road and you will see the Fairy Glen once it comes into view. Parking here is in very short supply and it is not uncommon for tourists to use the passing spaces to leave their cars. Please don’t do this as it causes extreme congestion. Instead, aim to visit early in the morning to avoid the bulk of the crowds.

12. Fairy Pools

  • Length: 2.4km / 1.5 miles
  • Time: 40 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Top sights: Fairy Pools, The Black Cuillins.
Fairy pools at Isle of Skye
The crystal clear water of the Fairy Pools is well worth the hike (and the crowds)!

A visit to the Fairy Pools is a bucket list attraction for many on the Isle of Skye. However, this is a visit that involves a little hiking! 

Once you have parked up, you will need to walk to the beginning of the pools. After heavy rainfall, this can be messy and visitors are advised to wear hiking boots and even wellies when the rain has been particularly bad. 

There is a small stream that you will need to cross using stepping stones. This can be challenging but other than these small sections, the path is well marked and easy to hike. 

Of course, the obvious highlight of this Isle of Skye walk is the crystal clear waters of the pools themselves which are a haven for the bravest of swimmers. Be warned, despite their inviting waters, the pools are very cold year-round so you’ll need to be made of strong stuff to take the plunge! Although the Instagram photos are fantastic, don’t be fooled by the serenity of the scene. Close to the waterfalls, the underwater current can be very strong and dangerous. 

The Fairy Pools are also located at the base of the Black Cuillins so if you so desired, you could continue your hike into the mountains. 

Walking trail to the Fairy Pools
Crowds heading to the Fairy Pools on a cold September day!

How to get there: As one of the most popular places on the island, the Fairy Pools are easy to find in any guidebook and your SatNav is almost certain to know the way. They are located close on the road to Glenbrittle. There is designated parking for the pools that costs £5.00 per car. All of this money is funnelled back into the maintenance of this famous trail. There is also a smaller forested carpark just up the road for no charge. 

13. The Skye Trail

  • Length: 128 km / 80 miles
  • Time: 7 days
  • Difficulty: Challenging
  • Top sights: Rubha Hunish, Old Man of Storr, The Quiraing, Black Cuillins, Elgol.
Beautiful loch and mountains on Isle of Skye.
The Skye Trail showcases some of the island’s best scenery!

The Skye Trail is the only hike on this list that I didn’t do. Sadly, I never had enough free days in a row to tackle the journey, although the hike is definitely on the list for my return visit to Skye. 

The Skye Trail is the longest distance hike on Skye. It is not marked by waymarks and at times, the path is next to nonexistent. It is both difficult to navigate and challenging because of the terrain. At certain times of the year, it is near on impossible to complete owing to bad weather and should only be attempted by experienced hikers who can self navigate. 

Despite this, if you brave the hike, it will take you through some of Skye’s best scenery. Beginning at the most northerly tip in Skye, Rubha Hunish (Uig), the trail takes you along the coast and continues to showcase both the scenery at the Quiraing and the Old Man of Storr. 

The route will lead you through the island capital Portree, through to Sligachan where you can get an excellent view of the Black Cuillins and further to Elgol. The route finishes in Broadford where you can grab a great haggis and chips from Siaway Fish and Chip shop. 

Sheree on Skye
In my opinion, Skye is one of the world’s best places for hikers!

How to get there: Buses leave for Uig from Portree. You will need to disembark at the Duntulm Hotel. Although you can drive to the start point, amenities are few and far between and the only parking close by is the Duntulm Hotel. I would advise finding somewhere else to park and then heading to the area via public transport. 

What are your favourite Isle of Skye hikes?

Isle of Skye Hikes pin

Love it? Pin it! 🙂

2 thoughts on “Top 12 Isle of Skye hikes”

    • Hi Janice,

      Thanks for reading! 🙂 Unfortunately, I don’t have a map that has all of these walks. However, they are all on Walk Highlands with detailed route descriptions. Have a great trip to Skye!


Leave a comment