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How to road trip from Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye, Scotland


This post may contain affiliate links. We may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase. Read disclosure. One of the most beautiful Scotland road trips you can take is to drive from Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye. The scenic drive passes through some of Britain’s most beautiful and scenic holiday destinations, so you certainly don’t want to drive it all in one trip. From Scotland’s mountainous and historic capital, Edinburgh, through the scenic region of Glencoe, all the way to one of the world’s most beautiful islands, Skye, this is perhaps Scotland’s best road trip. Although the drive can be completed in several hours, there are seven beautiful stops along the way that will make you fall in love with Scotland. But how do you make this road trip from Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye, Scotland and what are the top attractions to stop at? This guide will reveal everything. How to get from Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye The Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye The best way to get from Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye is by road. Of course, you can take a coach tour or the Stagecoach which departs from Edinburgh Bus Station, but these do not give you the flexibility and freedom to stay at each stop for as long as you like. If you can, we highly recommend that you rent a car and drive yourself. There is a train that takes you from Edinburgh to Inverness, after which you can take The Kyle of Lochalsh Line from Dingwall to Kyle of Lochalsh, then a ferry to the Isle of Skye. Or from Inverness, you can drive about four hours to the Isle of Skye through the Scottish Highlands, but frankly, you miss a lot of stations by taking the train to Inverness. The section between Edinburgh and Inverness has more than a few great places to stop at too. You can also get a direct bus with Citylink from Edinburgh or Glasgow to Inverness, then another bus from Inverness to the Isle of Skye. There is no direct bus from Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye. How long is the trip from Edinburgh to Isle of Skye? The journey from Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye (Portree) takes 6 hours if you drive through the Trossachs and Glencoe without stopping. However, you should definitely stop at Scotland’s top attractions along the way. You can spend several hours in the Trossachs National Park or you can spend several days, it is entirely up to you and your availability. However, we suggest allowing 3-4 full days to travel from Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye, and after that, you can explore more of the Isle of Skye. This amount of time will allow you plenty of time to see the highlights at the stops along the way. Before we introduce each stop, take a look at the map below to see how you can plan your itinerary. 13 Stops on a Road Trip from Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye Don’t just rush on this scenic drive! Be sure to take a break and enjoy the following stops on the way to the Isle of Skye from Edinburgh… 1. Calton Hill, Edinburgh Calton Hill While your Scotland tours begin in Edinburgh, I recommend spending some time on Calton Hill, especially at sunset. From there you can enjoy great views of the Old Town, the Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle and the volcanic Arthur’s Seats. Locals and tourists alike (and wedding photographers) come to enjoy one of the most beautiful scenery in the country. 2. Wallace Monument Perched atop 250-foot Abbey Craig, the Wallace Monument is an iconic structure dedicated to national hero Sir William Wallace. It was built in 1869 and adds a blend of historic charm in the picturesque surrounding landscape. Not only can visitors explore its rooms filled with interactive exhibits and historical artifacts, but you can also climb into some of its closed-to-day parts with private guided tours. Every year, more and more tourists visit this majestic tower for its wonderful views across the Ochil Hills, Stirling Castle and Trosach! 3. Cairngorms National Park It’s a bit of a detour, but Cairngorms National Park is not to be skipped. It is the largest national park in the United Kingdom and is known for its beautiful landscapes of bogs and lakes. It is also home to the Grampian Mountains, one of the most famous mountain passes in Scotland where Ben Nevis is located. Don’t miss Blair Castle, a magnificent stately home and ancestral residence of the Moray clan. It was used as the seat of the Duke of Atholl, though the current Duke, Bruce Murray. 3. The Trossachs National Park Nestled in one of the most beautiful regions of Scotland, The Trossachs National Park is full of history, activities and stunning landscapes. The park was designated a national park in 2002, although its cultural and historical roots go back much further. It has attracted visitors since the 18th century with its plentiful walks and stunning views along the shore of Loch Lomond. Visitors can wander through ancient forests and look for local wildlife, or even paddle a boat on the lake. 4. Buachaille Etive Mor, Glencoe Buachaille Etive Mor When you get to Glencoe, you will see the impressive Buachaille Etive Mor mountain in the distance (1022m). This is perhaps the most photographed peak in Scotland due to its impressive triangular shape. As you drive towards it, the excitement builds, as you know it is the beginning of a picturesque valley. And if you’re a James Bond fan, take a dead-end path at its foot called Glen Etive, to see some of the filming locations for Skyfall! 5. Etive Beag, Glencoe Etive Beag, Scotland Not much further than that is another stop with a great view of Glencoe. I wish I had the technology to take a 360 degree panorama for you. From there you can view many of Glencoe’s peaks. It is the starting point for many treks including the Munro Bagging options – as they say in Scotland (meaning climbing peaks over 3,000 feet – 915 metres). This is the perfect place to stop for a while on your road trip from Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye if you love hiking. 6. Loch Atriochtan Loch Atriochtan As you continue on your journey from Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye you drive by other popular stops such as 3 Sisters but I would recommend the often overlooked stop, the one near Loch Atriochtan. At this point the valley is narrow and the small lake provides a great view of the mountain wall. 7. Glenshiel Glenshiel To the north, between Glencoe and the Isle of Skye, the main road takes you through Glenshiel. There, the road cuts through the valley, follows the Shiel River and wedges between towering mountains. One of its most famous stops is the view of the Five Sisters at Kintil, a ridge rising to 3,505 feet (1,068 metres). You will also pass the famous Glenfinnan Bridge, the famous route to Hogwarts, as well as pass through Loch Duich. 8. Fort William Fort William in Scotland is an incredibly interesting historical place. It is located at the foothills of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Britain. The history of the city dates back to around 1690, when explorers heading north began using Fort William as a port and military defense. Nowadays, you can explore the fascinating history of the area by visiting the West Highland Museum, or go hiking in the nearby Lochaber Geopark. You might also want to take the Hogwarts Express Jacobite steam train, which runs between Fort William and Mallaig over the Glenfinnan Viaduct. 9. Loch Ness Scotland has plenty of lakes, but none are as iconic and mysterious as Loch Ness. Loch Ness is a large lake located in Inverness-shire that is known to be full of mysteries and secrets. If you visit Loch Ness, you will be able to take a Jacobite Cruise across the loch where you can learn about its interesting past or you can visit Urqhuart Castle which overlooks the mystical waters. While you’re there, take some time to take in the stunning scenery from all angles – both from land and from the tour boats. Not only that, but there is also a chance to see Nessie, the legendary monster! Whether you believe in its existence or not, exploring Loch Ness should definitely be on your Edinburgh to Isle of Skye itinerary. 10. Eilean Donan Castle Our last stop on our road trip from Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye is the famous Eilean Donan Castle. Built on a small island from the 13th century, it was supposed to provide protection against the Vikings at the meeting of 3 lakes. Abandoned in the 18th century, it was restored by a passionate man in the early 19th century and can still be visited today. One of the best views actually is not at the main parking spot but from the other side of the bridge. From there, you can take in the castle, its bridge, and the stunning Glen Shiel Mountains in the background. 11. Old Man of Storr Old Man of Storr When you arrive in Kyle of Lochalsh, you drive over Skye Bridge to get to the Isle of Skye. The road does not stop there because the island is bigger than you think. You still have to drive into the main town of Portree. And to finish off your seven stops on the route between Edinburgh and Skye, I recommend driving a little north of Portree to admire the Isle of Skye icon Old Man at Stour. Legend has it that the 48-meter (160-foot) peak is a giant’s thumb lying on the ground. 12. Kilt Rock Kilt Rock is one of the most famous rock formations in Scotland which has a height of 190 feet. This impressive sea stack rises from the waters off the Isle of Skye and forms part of the Trotternish mountain range. Geologists believe that Kilt Rock was formed by erosion and landslides that occurred thousands of years ago. It has since become one of Scotland’s popular tourist attractions and is known for its spectacle of colorful lichen and a seemingly endless waterfall cascading down from the summit – which looks like a folded kilt; Hence its well-known name. If you’re feeling brave enough, you can even try climbing a 300-foot-deep crevice! If you enjoy walking, head to nearby Quiraing, the pinnacle of Trotternish Peak, for a bit of hiking. 13. Dunvegan Castle Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye – Home to Castle Macleod in Macleod, Scotland Dunvegan Castle is a fairytale-like castle that has stood for over 800 years and is the ancestral home of Clan MacLeod. It is located on the north eastern side of the Isle of Skye and is one of the most famous and historic castles on the island. The castle gardens are just as beautiful, with stunning native plants. It’s also located on the coast, and you’ll find many sea caves nearby to explore. Or walk along the cliff paths and enjoy the stunning views. Before you take a road trip in Scotland, this is how you can travel from Edinburgh to the Ilse of Skye and as you can see, there is a lot to see along the way. Whatever you do, be sure to allow plenty of time to visit each stop, and don’t rush it. It’s a road trip that takes in the best of Scotland, and should be number one on any Scotland itinerary. Remember, high season is between April and October, so you’ll find a lot of people taking a road trip around this time of year – so be sure to book your rental car in advance. Click here for accommodation options in Edinburgh and here for the Isle of Skye. Read these tips from a local on things to do in Edinburgh, UK Travel Tips Planning to visit other parts of the UK? Then you might find the following resources helpful… save them on Pinterest:

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