When planning our Scotland road trip itinerary, the Isle of Skye was at the very top of our list of places to see in Scotland. With just over 3 weeks to explore around Scotland with kids, we knew we wanted to spend a big chunk of it exploring as many of the Isle of Skye highlights as possible.
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Traveling with two small kids, meant that our time on the Isle of Skye with kids would have be a balance. We had plenty of hiking on the Isle of Skye we wanted to do, but we had to make sure the kids had time to just be kids.
We planned a week on the Isle of Skye with kids so we would have enough time to fit in many of the top things to do on the Isle of Skye without having to push the kids too much.
Our list of things to see on the Isle of Skye was long and even with 5 and half days, we didn’t get to all of them. As is usually the case traveling with kids, the pace is slower and we are trying to keep everyone in the family happy.
Thankfully, we left the Isle of Skye feeling like we had done some of the best hikes on the Isle of Skye and still had plenty of time for the kids to have fun and just be kids.
Where to Stay on the Isle of Skye with Kids
The accommodations on the Isle of Skye come in all varieties: from hotels to glamping cabins. We often find that staying in an Airbnb apartment works best for our family. We get plenty of space and we can prepare meals to help with our budget. It was a great way to help save money on our Scotland family vacation.
We knew we wanted to stay close to Portree while on the Isle of Skye. This would allow us to easily get groceries throughout the week. We found a great Airbnb house near Staffin. It was quiet and had two bedrooms. We also had an incredible view.
Though we felt it was a little far for some of the Isle of Skye attractions, it was close to a large cluster of the Isle of Skye hikes we wanted to do. This allowed us to be there before the crowds in the morning.
Getting to the Isle of Skye
Our Scotland self drive tour took us from Fort William up to the Isle of Skye. The drive from Fort William to our Isle of Skye Airbnb was approx 3h30m, but it was a beautiful scenic drive.
We broke up the drive with an easy and very scenic hike at the mid-way point around Morvich, in the Kintail area of the Scottish Highlands.
The Falls of Glomach trailhead is about 20 minutes prior to crossing the bridge into the Isle of Skye. The hike begins along a quiet country road and the River Croe. Watch for a sign showing you where the actual hiking path begins – it’s next to a swing hanging from a tree branch.
Towering lush green mountains surround you as you walk along the valley floor. The trail follows the shores of the River Croe for most of the way; some of the trail is through deep forest, but most of it is in the open, allowing for some spectacular views of the Scottish Highlands at their best.
There’s lots of wildlife for the kids to enjoy on this hike. We saw frogs, slugs and tons of dragonflies. We also saw some Scottish Red Deer, Britain’s largest wild animal, along the shores of the river, so keep your eyes peeled and hopefully you will too.
The full length Falls of Glomach Circular Walk is actually a 13 mile / 21km long hike which circumnavigates A’ Ghlas-bheinn. But we only walked to where the trail becomes a loop. We walked a total of 3.7 miles / 6km with a mere 430 feet / 131m elevation gain.
After our short hike, we had lunch at a nearby pub then continued on our way. We stopped briefly for a pictures of the Eilan Donan Castle before crossing the Skye Bridge onto the Isle of Skye.
Driving on the Isle of Skye
Driving on the Isle of Skye is fairly easy, once we were used to driving our rental car on the left. If your Scotland road trip includes driving on the Isle of Skye, here are two things to be aware of:
- There are sheep everywhere and can often be found walking along the road or crossing. Drive with caution.
- A lot of the Isle of Skye has singletrack roads, meaning the road is only wide enough for one car. There are plenty of passing zones, that do become wide enough for two cars. At times you may need to reverse to the closest passing zone to let a vehicle by. We found getting out early in the morning made driving much easier with less traffic!
Best Things to do on the Isle of Skye with Kids
Old Man of Storr Hike
The Old Man of Storr is an Isle of Skye must see! While you can see it from the highway, we highly recommending doing the Old Man of Storr hike, even with kids. Our kids loved climbing on the rocks near the top.
This is one of the most popular hikes on the Isle of Skye, we recommend getting there early.
The Old Man of Storr hike starts on a gravel trail wide enough for two people. It starts uphill and stays uphill for basically the whole hike. The views ahead are great for distracting you from the work your legs are doing. If you need a break on the way up, you’ll have incredible scenery in all directions to take in while you catch your breath!
Even coming back down, you’ll be rewarded with more stunning views. This really is one of the Isle of Skye hikes not to be missed.
The Old Man of Storr hike has a one-way distance to the base of the Old Man of Storr of 1.1 miles / 1.7km.
Read more on hiking the Old Man of Storr hike on the Isle of Skye.
The Brother’s Point Hike
If you want more spectacular ocean scenery without the crowds, you’ll find it on the Brother’s Point hike.
After a short descent through a meadow, there’s a great spot to enjoy the ocean views and let kids explore in the tide pools. We were lucky to be there on a sunny day and the color of the water was incredible.
Continue on along the cliffs (stay away from the edge and keep kids close) and up the trail towards the end of the peninsula. There’s a hill to climb, but it’s more than worth it for the views!
The full round-trip distance of The Brother’s Point hike is 2 miles / 3.2km.
You can do both the Old Man of Storr and the Brother’s Point hike in the same day. They are very close to each other on Highway A855 and about 25 minutes from Portree.
Read more on hiking the Brother’s Point hike on the Isle of Skye.
The Fairy Glen
The Fairy Glen is a magical place for kids near the northern tip of the Isle of Skye. The Fairy Glen is an emerald green wonderland filled with small conical hills with wavy lines running all-around them. This produces a fantasy-like effect leading to the area being given the name, “Fairy Glen”.
Kids will love to run around the Fairy Glen to discover its many treasures. The cone-shaped hills are generally small enough for kids to climb to the top safely and the abundant choices of walking trails will leave your kids thinking this area is endlessly big (even though it’s quite small). There are many sheep grazing in the area, bunnies in the bushes and a large waterfall off in the distance.
The “official” trail around the Fairy Glen is approximately 1.2 miles / 2km long, but there are so many trails to explore, your distance may be more. All trails ultimately lead to the two main attractions at the Fairy Glen:
1) The large spiral in the ground, which you see in virtually every picture of the Fairy Glen. The spiral rests in the middle of a large grass meadow. Surrounded by all the otherworldly hills and Castle Ewan, it’s quite fun to see.
You will often see pictures of rock spirals, but these are strongly discouraged and locals will come and dismantle them. We didn’t see any rock spirals during our visit in the middle of the summer peak season, so this practice must be coming to an end.
2) “Castle Ewan” – is not actually a castle at all, but a large, flat topped rock pinnacle looming over the Fairy Glen. It’s possible to climb up to the top of Castle Ewan by walking along a narrow ridge, then a short rock scramble to the top.
The views of the Fairy Glen (and the spiral) are worth the slight effort to get up there. It’s pretty small up top, it’s windy and the drops are frightening, so keep hold of your little ones.
The Fairy Glen is on a narrow single lane road, so do yourself a favor and get here early. We arrived at 9:30am and the small road-side parking lot was nearly full.
We visited on a day when it was pouring rain and we felt it didn’t hamper the experience at all. The kids loved running around and didn’t care about the weather.
There are no vistas on this hike, so the clouds didn’t wreck anything for us. If anything, the gloominess of the day made the place feel even more magical, (although, to be fair, I hear it’s also pretty amazing in the sunshine). The Fairy Glen is a great rainy day activity on the Isle of Skye.
Dunvegan Castle and Gardens
Let’s get this out of the way first – we are outdoor enthusiasts and not really into castles. But on a day when it’s heavily raining, even we try to find something to do indoors.
The Dunvegan Castle sits dramatically on the coastline in the northwest corner of the Isle of Skye. It’s the oldest continually inhabited castle in Scotland. First built in the 13th century, it took its present form in the 1800’s.
The public is allowed to explore two levels of the castle. The walls are filled with historical artwork and the rooms with antique furniture and Clan MacLeod artifacts. To be honest, we found it all a bit boring.
In an effort to make the visit more fun for kids, the castle staff have hidden 16 keys throughout the castle for kids to find. We spent most of our time helping the kids look for the keys, but we only found 3! And that includes the one the greeting lady showed us on the way in – haha!
The search for the keys kept the kids entertained the entire visit, which we are grateful for. At least the greeting lady was still kind enough to give our kids their prizes anyway.
Your entry ticket into Dunvegan Castle includes admission to the gardens as well. Spread over 5 acres, these gardens are really quite beautiful with a wide variety of exotic and showy plants and flowers.
On a rainy day, the castle interior will be wall-to-wall people, so if you need some solitude, come to the gardens where you will likely find yourself alone.
Another of the most popular hikes on the Isle of Skye for families is the Fairy Pools. It’s a relatively easy hike that takes you along the River Brittle. As you walk upstream, there is waterfall after waterfall. Many of the waterfalls have large pools with brilliant crystal blue water at the base – the “Fairy Pools”.
Not only are the waterfalls well worth the hike, the views of the majestic Cuillin mountains provide the most stunning backdrop for this hike! Even on the most dreary of days.
Again, this is a very busy hike on the Isle of Skye so try to arrive early! Though it does have a large parking lot, so parking will be less of an issue.
Read more on hiking the Fairy Pools hike on the Isle of Skye.
The one-way distance from the carpark to the furthest waterfall is 1.3 miles / 2km.
On your way back from the Fairy Pools, there is a large playground just off highway A87 in Sligachan. This playground is especially fun as it has a small zip-line for the kids. Our kids loved the zip-line and did it over and over again. It also has traditional playground equipment like swings, slides, tire bridges, etc.
There is a hotel next door where you can buy a coffee. Also be sure to check out the cute, old bridge just across the street.
Our Staffin Airbnb was just up the road from Slipway Beach. We couldn’t stay that close to a beach and not go check it out. We’re so glad we did, it was a super fun outing for the kids.
This beach has it all – it has a huge area of black and tan sand with cliffs looming high overhead. It has a huge rocky area with tons of tide pools for the kids to explore and look for small oceanlife. But best of all, a section of rock along the beach has dinosaur footprints in it!
These Ornithopod footprints were created over 60 million years ago. There are a series of these dinosaur footprints, but they can be hard to find sometimes if they are covered by sand, seaweed or water. The sign at the top of the beach shows you where to look. We saw at least one extremely clear dinosaur footprint, and several others which we were pretty sure were footprints. It’s hard to tell for sure, but looking is half the fun!
If you find yourself driving around the Trotternish Peninsula and have a few minutes to kill, check out the ruins of the Duntulum Castle. It’s a very short and easy 0.25 mile / 0.4km one-way walk to the ruins; it follows along the top of a hill with sheep grazing on both sides of the trail. As with everywhere in Isle of Skye, sheep poop is everywhere, so watch your step.
The Duntulum Castle was built around the 14-15th centuries during the ongoing feuds between the MacLeod and MacDonald clans. It was abandoned in the 1700’s when a new MacDonald residence was built nearby using many of the stones from Duntulum, which now lies in ruins.
There are still a few remnants of walls, but the ruin sight is pretty small. There is a fence around it with a sign warning you not to go in due to concerns about the stability of the area. Our kids love exploring ruins of castles, but we didn’t feel it was worth the risk in this instance.
The ocean vistas are pretty amazing too – keep an eye out for Minke Whales who can apparently be seen from shore while they are in the area between July – September.
Wildlife Boat Cruise
The Isle of Skye is blessed with a natural beauty that takes your breath away at every turn. They are also home to a wide variety of marine life, so a great way to combine these two elements is a wildlife boat cruise.
We booked our Isle of Skye wildlife watching boat tour with Skye Cruises, as they offer the chance to see a colony of puffins, which we have always wanted to see. The 3 hour tour departs from Uig and circumnavigates Loch Snizort.
Skye Cruises has an excellent boat for wildlife viewing with a maximum of 12 passengers, there is plenty of room for everyone to get a good view.
You never know what you’ll get to see on any wildlife expedition. We were pretty lucky on our cruise with sighting of sea eagles, several colonies of harbour and grey seals and of course, the main attraction – the colony of puffins on the Ascrib Islands.
The puffins are really cute and much smaller than I’d expected. There is a healthy population of puffins here and the captain gives you lots of time to watch them and take plenty of pictures. Other, more rare local marine residents, which we unfortunately didn’t get to see on our trip include minke whales and dolphins.
Even without the wildlife component, we were grateful to have the opportunity to see the beauty of the Isle of Skye from the water. This is such a beautiful land with its towering cliffs, caves, forests and endless pastures of sheep.
Hiking the Quiraing with Kids
One of the most beautiful hikes we have ever done, the Quiraing has views you do not want to miss! It’s hard to describe in words how beautiful this hike is. So we’ll just say, if you are able to, add this to the very top of your list of things to do on the Isle of Skye.
Though this hike is technically a loop called the Quiraing Circuit, we did it as an out and back to avoid hiking up on the cliff on a very windy day with two kids.
Our kids are relatively good hikers at the ages of 6 & 3 years old, so they were easily able to complete the 5.1 miles / 8.2 km that we did on this out and back hike. This hike is actually not all that difficult since there is very little elevation gain, we just recommend keeping kids close as there are some steep drop offs.
Read more on hiking the Quiraing hike on the Isle of Skye.
Lealt Falls is a very popular roadside attraction 22 minutes north of Portree. There are two parking lots for this lookout – a roadside one and an upper one.
The trail from the upper parking lot leads to a viewpoint of the ruins of an old oceanfront tower. The tower is mostly gone now, but the views of the ocean (Sound of Raasay) and the mountainous islands beyond are quite good. There are four picnic tables in the upper parking lot if you are looking for a place to have lunch.
The trail from the lower parking lot goes to the Lealt Falls. There is a very short walk to a viewing platform which gives an excellent view of the falls. The Lealt Falls are actually three separate waterfalls flowing into the same river valley, which flows into the ocean.
The falls are quite beautiful and they are worth a quick stop if you can find a parking spot. I’d skip it if there was any difficulty finding a nearby parking spot.
Mealt Falls and Kilt Rock
Mealt Falls and Kilt Rock are also very popular roadside attractions which can be seen from the same viewing area. They are 6 minutes north of Lealt Falls, making them easy to see on the same outing.
Mealt Falls is a beautiful, single stream waterfall which flows from the top of a cliff directly into the ocean below. You can get really close to the top of the Mealt waterfall from the viewing area. Look in the parking area for the small loch and river that flow into the Mealt Falls.
Off in the distance, beyond Mealt Falls is Kilt Rock, a 300 foot tall (90m) cliff which oddly resembles a Scottish Kilt!
As with Lealt Falls, this is a fun little roadside attraction and is worth a few minutes of your time if a parking spot is available. I wouldn’t go out of my way to fight for a spot though.
Where to Eat on the Isle of Skye
We made most of our meals while on the Isle of Skye, but here are a couple of places we did eat at and would recommend:
Columba 1400 – Staffin
If you are looking for a place to relax and eat after a great hike, there is a small café just north in Staffin called Columba 1400, which is a charitable organization helping kids stay on track. We went there for a post-hike reward and loved their baked goods, especially their millionaire squares! They have huge windows with great views and are open for lunch and dinner.
We came here twice as a reward for some great hiking on Old Man of Storr and the Quiraing.
Sheiling & Ella’s Café – Uig
We were in Uig for a wildlife boat cruise and had found ourselves with 90 minutes to kill, so we thought we’d try The Sheiling & Ella’s Café after reading some good reviews online. This quirky place is half thrift store and half café. Beware, there are a selection of thrift store toys right by the front door, right where your kids will see them. Once you drag your kids away from the toys, you can find a seat in the small and simple café.
They have a full lunch menu, but they only serve hot drinks and cakes in the morning. We had delicious coffee made from a French press right at our table. They were kind enough to bring a selection of kids books to the table.
Twenty minutes after they opened, fresh fruit scones were ready fresh from the oven, so we tore into a few of them. Steaming hot, with melted butter and raspberry preserves on top… so good!
The owner of the café has some strong political views, which are prominently displayed around the shop. There is a TV playing material which supports his views, along with flags and interesting facts displayed all around. Don’t start any conversation with the guy unless you have time for a long ‘chat’ about his views.
The food and coffee were great, but we were very grateful that he started talking to another Canadian couple about his views on Brexit, leaving us to enjoy our morning treats.
Isle of Skye Itinerary
Here is our 6 Day itinerary for the Isle of Skye with Kids.
If you have less time available, we’d recommend skipping the Fingal’s Pinnacles hike we did and adding the rest from Day 7 onto to the day you arrive or at the end of one of the other days.
We drove past the Mealt Falls, Lealt Falls and Kilt Rock so many times and they took very little time, so we could have easily added them onto another day. We just saved them for the last day because we didn’t have much planned. We also saved them for first thing in the morning so we wouldn’t be searching for parking spots.
Day 1 on Isle of Skye
Arrive late afternoon. We grabbed groceries in Portree and checked-in to our Airbnb in Staffin. Since we had already completed a hike half way through our drive to Isle of Skye, we didn’t feel the need to do anything else.
Day 2 on Isle of Skye
The forecast was good that we planned to do two of the best Isle of Skye hikes right away: Old Man of Storr hike and the Brother’s Point hike. If we learned anything during our Scotland road trip, it’s to take advantage of every day that it’s not raining!
Columba 1400 in Staffin for a coffee and treats was the perfect way to end a beautiful day of hiking!
Day 3 on Isle of Skye
Making sure we checked off the Isle of Skye must see items from our list, we drove out to the Fairy Pools. Afterwards we stopped at the playground in Sligachan and finished up our day on Slipaway beach.
Day 4 on Isle of Skye
We couldn’t visit the Isle of Skye and not get out on the water. Our boat cruise was in the afternoon, so we stopped at Duntulum Castle along the way followed by Sheiling & Ella’s Café in Uig.
Day 5 on Isle of Skye
Again, taking advantage of a day without rain, we left early in the morning to do the Quiraing hike. Afterwards, we stopped at Columba 1400 in Staffin for coffee and delicious treats.
We ended the day by playing on Slipaway Beach.
Day 6 on Isle of Skye
It was pouring rain, but we still wanted to see the Fairy Glen. After being soaked through and wanting an indoor activity, we finished our day at Dunvegan Castle and Gardens.
Day 7 on Isle of Skye
Mealt Falls, Lealt Falls, Kilt Rock and a portion of the Fingal’s Pinnacles hike. We left in the afternoon to continue our Scotland self drive itinerary in Pitlochry.
The one thing we missed on the Isle of Skye was Neist Point, but you can read more about it in this 2 day itinerary for Isle of Skye.
Wondering what to pack for the Isle of Skye? See our full packing list for Scotland with kids (coming soon).