The Isle of Skye is the largest of Scotland’s Inner Hebrides, running 50 miles from tip to tail. It’s also one of the most staggeringly beautiful natural landscapes that Scotland – and, indeed, the whole of the UK – has to offer, so if you’re intending to visit, we’re very much not surprised. Unlike some of the other Hebrides isles, you’ll find villages and fishing activities here, as well as plenty of other signs of life, but it’s far from bustling, so it’s also a great place to escape for some quiet contemplation.
If you’re planning to visit the Isle of Skye, then one of the best bases of operations from which to do so is the city of Edinburgh, which also happens to be the capital of Scotland (not Glasgow, as, for some reason, many people persist in believing). However, getting to the island itself isn’t necessarily an easy process; there are several ways to reach it, and each of them may not be suitable for your purposes depending on your personal parameters. Here are the best ways to reach the Isle of Skye from Edinburgh.
It’s probably easiest to drive straight from Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye if you’re looking for the most direct route. You may choose either to use your own car for this purpose or to hire one, although naturally, if you’ve brought your own car with you, it makes sense to use that for the journey.
The trip from Edinburgh to Skye is going to take you a fair amount of time. As the crow flies, you’ll be spending around 4-5 hours on the journey, and that’s assuming you don’t run into traffic or need to stop off along the way. Trust us when we say that there’s plenty to see as you drive from Edinburgh to Skye, too, so not wanting to stop at all is probably a slightly unrealistic expectation!
As pointed out by the good folks at Wow Scotland Tours, driving from Edinburgh to Skye starts out easy on dual carriageway roads, and you’ll then shift to single carriageway roads for around an hour and a half. Following that, you’ll be contending with more difficult Scottish Highland roads, which can be treacherous and tricky, not to mention busy with other cars. If you do decide to drive, make sure that you exercise caution.
Bus or coach
Naturally, you won’t find any direct public transport routes that go from Edinburgh to Skye, given the length of the journey and the treacherous nature of the roads. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to just hop on a bus, pay your fare, and then head straight out to Skye.
With that said, the long-distance coach company Citylink does run a service from Edinburgh to Skye. You’ll probably want to pre-book your seats, as the service can get a little busy, but if you’re adamant on not driving or hiring a car and you want to get to Skye via the road, then this is the perfect way to do so. You will have to share the coach with other passengers, but they’ll probably be just as excited to see Skye as you are!
Skye itself is probably best experienced through driving or walking (although the 50-mile span might take you a while!), so once you’re there, a bus might not be the best way to explore. Bear that in mind when you’re building your itinerary, as you don’t want to be left high and dry without any options for seeing everything this majestic island has to offer.
The good people at UK Travel Planning have put together what amounts to a train route that you can use to travel from Edinburgh to Skye, although you won’t be able to complete the entire journey by travelling in this way, because there’s no train bridge across from the mainland to the Isle of Skye.
First, you should take the train from Edinburgh’s Waverley Station out to the Highlands station Mallaig, and from there, you’ll be able to book passage on a ferry that travels to Armadale, a village near the southern peninsula of Skye. As UK Travel Planning says, this whole journey is likely to take you around 7 to 9 hours, but it can be completed in a single day. Just be aware that once you arrive, you’re probably not going to have much time for sightseeing.
An alternative to this journey involves staying overnight at the beautiful Fort William, then catching either a bus or a ferry to Skye the next day. This has the advantage of allowing you to take your time and not needing to rush for all of your transport within a single day, and it also lets you take in the sights of the ferry or bus journey during the early morning, which is when Scotland is at its best.
There are many tours that will take you from Edinburgh to Skye, so if you don’t mind taking a guided experience, then this is the way to go. These tours will include transport, and they’ll also show you all of Skye’s most important and beautiful landmarks (provided you book the right one), so if you’re not sure where on Skye you want to explore or what you want to do, this is definitely your best option. Just be aware that breaking away from the pack might not be possible, so set aside some extra time for independent exploration if that’s important to you.