Island getaways often conjure up the same images of subtropical climates, palm trees, and fruity rum-based drinks with umbrellas. They require minimal effort besides the walk from your hotel room to a lounger on the beach, and frankly that sounds perfect to us. But when wanderlust strikes and you need more adventure than leisure, grab an actual umbrella and head over to Skye, a fairytale-esque island off the coast of Scotland.
The best way to get to Skye is by 30 minute ferry ride from the mainland that drops you off in Armadale. Half a mile away is Sleat, otherwise known as the ‘Garden of Skye’ for its lush gardens and forests (thanks to the constant barrage of rain). Stay at the Eilean Iarmain hotel for beautiful views of the sound of Sleat in a charming historic setting. We recommend checking this area out for a few days, then moving on to another to take in all the island has to offer.
Portree is a small fishing village on the east side of Skye about an hour from Sleat that overlooks a sheltered bay. It is easily recognizable by the lineup of brightly colored buildings along the water’s edge. Just 7 miles outside of this town is the Skeabost hotel. Set on 23 acres of stunning woodland, this property has a river running through it where guests can fish for Salmon and Trout, or enjoy a round of golf at the 18 hole course.
Layers are your friend in Skye considering its temperamental weather. It’s often chilly and overcast with random rain showers, so expect more than one wet day on your trip. You’ll likely get hot during a hike and peel off a layer, only to add another on as a rain storm rolls through, and then add another when it gets colder at night. That being said, you should bring a backpack too or be prepared to do the ol’ tie around the waist trick.
Don’t let the chickens roaming in front of Loch Bay restaurant fool you, this Michelin-starred restaurant is serving up some seriously delicious local seafood. Go big and order the 5 course tasting menu to try all the best they have to offer. The terra-cotta tiled restaurant is quaint and homey, surrounded by, you guessed it, Loch Bay–the perfect place to walk off some calories after dinner.
The Three chimneys restaurant in northern Skye is consistently named one of the 50 best restaurants in the UK –pretty impressive considering most of the other restaurants are located in major cities–so make sure to book your table ahead. The self taught chef creates a seasonal menu based on the availability of local seafood and produce.
Remember what we were saying about it being like a fairytale in Skye? Well, here’s the castle. Perched on a hill overlooking a loch is Dunvegan Castle, replete with all the trimmings you’d expect from a 13th century castle. Make a day out of it and meander through the surrounding gardens and visit nearby ‘fairy ponds’–crystal clear pools of water fed by mountain runoff.
If you’d rather spend time outside, try hiking along the Cuillin Mountains in Sligachan. Craggy mountains peak through the clouds that provide hiking trails for novices and pros alike. If you’re not ready for the uphill trek, go to the 19th century stone bridge for some quiet time. The water that runs beneath it is said to have magical powers–fairies, sprites, and magic are popular parts of Scottish folk lore. Whether you believe in magic or not, the picturesque location is sure to stir your imagination.