Are you thinking about visiting Scotland and wondering how to get to the Isle of Skye? We are here to help!
Skye is one of the largest islands in Scotland and is particularly famous for its rugged landscapes, unbelievably stunning natural landmarks and colourful towns.
Getting to Skye is actually fairly easy. More importantly, there are many ways you can get there which means that no matter what, you will get to visit!
In this article, we tell you exactly how to get to the Isle of Skye with ease!
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By car – Self-driving
If you have your own vehicle, driving will be the best and easiest way to get to the isle of Skye.
Not only will it give you more flexibility, but it will also allow you to do more and discover places a bit off the beaten path.
Also, as you can wild camp in Scotland, this can save you quite a bit of money.
Want to rent a car? Compare the fares here to find the best prices.
Driving is perfect for people who:
- Like to take their time
- Want to explore Skye beyond the famous sites
- Want to beat the crowds by getting up early
- Want as much flexibility as possible
That said, if it is your first time in Scotland and you don’t have much time, you may want to consider booking a guided tour (more on that below) as it will be much easier.
With a vehicle, you will get to see the island your way; however, you will also have to deal with the driving (which can be a bit of a hassle on Skye, especially when it’s busy).
When it comes to the actual “getting to the island”, you’ll be happy to know that Skye is the most accessible island in Scotland as there is a bridge but taking the ferry is also an option to consider.
The Skye Bridge is located near the small town of Kyle of Lochalsh. It’s very easily accessible as it’s part of the A87.
Best of all, it’s free!
That’s right, you do not have to pay to cross this bridge.
The bridge itself is pretty high, but it only takes a couple of minutes to drive from one side to another.
This is the best option if you are driving from Glasgow, Inverness or Edinburgh. Here are the driving times:
- Edinburgh to Skye: 4 hr 28 min (203.3 mi)
- Glasgow to Skye: 4 hr 13 min (183.6 mi)
- Inverness to Skye: 1 hr 50 min (81.8 mi)
Ferry from Mallaig
You can take the ferry to Skye from the small coastal town of Mallaig. The crossing is only 45 minutes, and you will arrive at Armadale, in the south of the island.
This is a good option if you already are in Mallaig or want to experience the ferry ride.
The ferries are operated by Calmac. This company runs all the ferries in the Scottish islands, including Isle of Mull, Arran and Islay.
There are crossings pretty often, but you need to make sure you book on their website beforehand.
This can also be a good option if you are visiting several isles as they offer island hopper tickets.
The process is relatively easy. You drive to the ferry terminal, and a member of staff will tell you where to park your car.
You have to go to the office to change your e-ticket for your actual ticket, and that’s it.
Once the ferry is ready, you will drive-in. Staff members will help you to park correctly.
You can then either stay in the car or go up to the platform and enjoy the views.
This ferry doesn’t have a cafe, so make sure you grab something at the one by the ferry terminal beforehand.
Once you reach Mallaig, it’s pretty straightforward as well. The harbour is tiny, so you just have to drive out of the ferry, and within a few seconds, you will be in town.
How to rent a car for Skye
Renting a car in Scotland is pretty easy and straightforward.
The best places to do so are Edinburgh and Glasgow. You will have more choice, and the chances are that you will start from there anyway.
To find the best deals, don’t hesitate to compare the prices.
Don’t forget to make sure you have insurance. If it’s included in your credit card, that’s perfect. Otherwise, you can take a 3rd party insurance which usually works out much cheaper than the one from the car hire company.
How to rent a camper for Skye
Renting a camper or a motorhome (RV) is an excellent way to explore Scotland in general.
You are allowed to camp pretty much everywhere, which means that this kind of vehicle gives you more flexibility and saves you money on accommodation and time.
For the isle of Skye, I would not recommend a motorhome as it can be a bit of a hassle on the small roads. A campervan like a VW Transporter is the perfect vehicle.
With a guided tour
Guided tours are an excellent way to discover the Isle of Skye, especially if you are a solo traveller, a first-timer or visiting during peak season.
There are some fantastic tour companies in Scotland such as:
- Rabbie’s (small groups)
- Haggis Adventures
- Timberland Bush
- Hairy Coo
- Highland Explorer Tours
- Discover Scotland Tours
Not only are the local guides very knowledgeable, but they always do their best to make your stay in Scotland unforgettable.
The great thing about booking a tour is that you don’t have to worry about a thing, just enjoy.
There is a lot of driving involved when you visit the Isle of Skye, which can be pretty tiring, even overwhelming for some people.
Most roads only have one lane and passing places to cross with other vehicles. During the peak season, this can quickly turn into a nightmare. Being on a tour means you don’t have to worry about this.
There are three places where you can start your tour from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness.
Isle of Skye tours from Edinburgh
Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland, and that’s where most visitors start their journey.
Three days is the ideal amount of time for a tour of Skye from Edinburgh.
It will allow you to see the main sites, including the Quiraing, Old Man of Storr and the Fairy Pools.
Alternatively, you can also opt for a longer tour which also includes other parts of Scotland such as:
- 5-day tour with Isle of Mull, Iona and Skye.
- Isle of Skye & Jacobite Steam Train 3-Day Highland TourIsle of Skye & Jacobite Steam Train 3-Day Highland Tour
Glasgow is also an excellent place to start your journey. It’s a bit closer to Skye, which means you will spend less time on the bus.
Also, the drive to Skye is stunning as you’ll go through Loch Lomond and Glencoe.
Again, a 3-day tour is ideal to discover Skye from Glasgow. It only includes the main sights.
Alternatively, you can opt for these:
- From Glasgow: 3-Day Isle of Skye, Highlands & Loch Ness Tour
- Glasgow Isle of Skye and Highlands 3-Day Sightseeing Tour
Inverness is much closer to Skye. It’s only a 1h30 drive. For this reason, you can opt for either a day tour or a 3-day tour.
Ultimately, you will need at least two days to see the best of Skye, so if you can book the longer ones, that’s highly recommended, but if you don’t have much time, a day trip is still very good.
With public transport
It is possible to get to Skye by public transport (bus or train + ferry) however before you read further, you need to be aware of the fact that this is not a great idea.
If you can avoid it, please do!
As a matter of fact, I would go as far as saying it’s barely worth visiting Skye with public transport, but ultimately, it’s your call.
Here are your options to get from the mainland to Skye:
- City Link buses. There are two buses you can take from Inverness (916 and 917). They both take over 3 hours to get from Inverness to Portree. From Glasgow, you can get the 914, 915 or 916. It will take you over 6 hours to get from Glasgow city centre to Portree.
- Train. You can book a train through Trainline to Mallaig (that’s actually a very nice train ride as you will be going on the Glenfinnan Viaduct) and take the ferry to Skye. See prices.
Once you reach the Isle of Skye, you can use the local buses. They are operated by Stage Coach. They are pretty limited as well as sometimes unreliable in terms of time, but they will get you around.
You can see the timetables here.
There are also a few taxis on the island if you need them.