Best Things to do on a Day Trip to Skye from Mallaig

day trip to Skye from Mallaig - collage of photos of Skye

A day trip to Skye from Mallaig takes you into a world of mythical landscapes and quaint village charm. In this guide, we explore some must-visit spots you can include on your Isle of Skye in a day itinerary and some of my favourites.

From the eerie landscapes of the Quiraing to the enchanting waters of the Fairy Pools and the colourful village of Portree to the majesty of Dunvegan Castle and the delicacy of Carbost oysters, each spot promises its own unique experience.

Author's young daughter in a red polka-dot coat and pink wellies balances on stepping stones to cross a stream on the trail to the Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye. Heather and greenery flank the brook, with the adults in the background walking along the path, all set in a serene moorland landscape

Some of the must-visit spots on Skye below are contributed by other travel writers sharing their personal experiences from their time on the island and others are my own. In the final section, I cover how to get to Skye from Mallaig and how to get around Skye without a car.

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Best Things to do on a Day Trip to Skye from Mallaig

Dinosaur Footprints on An Corran Beach

A split image showing two different dinosaur footprints. On the left, a rock surface is covered with vivid green seaweed and a subtle, weathered dinosaur footprint. On the right, a clearer dinosaur footprint etched in a grey rock overlooks a pebbly beach and calm sea

Stand on An Corran Beach on the Isle of Skye and close your eyes. Imagine a dense subtropical forest with volcanoes in the background and dinosaurs roaming beside you. Picture the mighty creatures that once roamed these lands, leaving behind clues for curious adventurers.

165 million years later, 17 Megalosaurus footprints remain from Skye’s early inhabitants. Today, head to An Corran Beach to hunt for these three-toed prints along the shore. An information placard guides you to start your search down the slipway.

As you walk along the rocky shoreline, let your imagination transport you to a time when these creatures roamed freely.  An Corran Beach is not just a scenic escape but a journey through time, each step unveiling Earth’s history. You may uncover a piece of the past that leaves you in awe!

Expert tips: Footprints are visible at low tide but may be obscured by kelp or debris. Clear any debris for the next adventurer!

Located on the Trotternish peninsula’s northeast coast, reach An Corran Beach by Bus 57A from Portree (30 min) or a 15-minute walk from the coast. If driving, park by the roadside.

By Lannie of Lannie’s Food & Travel Adventures


A vibrant quayside scene in Portree, Isle of Skye, with a row of colourful houses in shades of pink, blue, and yellow. People are enjoying the waterfront, sitting on the sea wall, with a clear view of the calm bay waters, boats, and a bustling atmosphere against a backdrop of green hills and a bright blue sky.

If you’re doing the Isle of Skye in a day, the village of Portree is worth a stop The main town on the Isle of Skye offers a colourful glimpse into island life, set against a backdrop of rugged cliffs and serene sea views.

Wander around the village and along the harbour, Portree’s most photographed spot. On a sunny day, rows of brightly painted houses reflect brightly in the water, giving you the perfect travel shot for your holiday album. Even on a cloudy day, they brighten up the view.

Portree has some cosy cafes and excellent restaurants to stop off for lunch. If you love seafood, you’re in for a treat with restaurants serving fresh seafood straight from the sea. Next, head to the local boutiques to pick up some unique Scottish crafts and textiles.

You can walk off your lunch on the Scorrybreac trail just north of Portree. This easy walk has great views of the coast and across to Raasay. The start is near the Cuillin Hills Hotel.

If you follow the entire trail, it’s about 3 km (ca 1.6 miles). It’s not too difficult, but you can eaily turn back if it starts to get too hard if the incline or terrain gets too hard for you.

Portree is easy to get to as there’s a regular bus service from Inverness and Glasgow and local services stop here. There are also sight-seeing trips round the island by bus or car and boat trips from the pier. Seaflower offer luxury boat trips with great reviews and Stardust offer wildlife cruises. See more on tours from Portree under Getting around Skye without a car at the end.

Dunvegan Castle

Dunvegan Castle, a stately home with a robust and storied silhouette, stands proudly amidst lush greenery on the Isle of Skye. Its historic stone façade contrasts with the dense forest backdrop, while the calm waters of Loch Dunvegan reflect a peaceful Scottish landscape

Dunvegan Castle is an excellent place to include on an Isle of Skye day trip. The castle is located on a Rocky outcropping along Loch Dunvegan, providing dramatic views of the surrounding water. 

The castle has a fascinating history- it’s actually the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland, by the Clan Macleod, for the last 800 years. You can explore inside the castle, which has an impressive collection of artifacts, furniture, and artwork, from centuries and centuries ago. 

But outside of the castle may be even more fascinating, with a surprisingly lush botanical garden that dates back to the 18th century and sprawls across five acres. Additionally, the water around the castle is an excellent place to spot some of Scotland’s marine life, including seals, dolphins, and whales- there’s a number of boat tours that leave from Dunvegan Castle to help you spot these magical creatures. 

The town of Dunvegan is worth exploring as well, with a handful of cute restaurants, like The Old School, and quirky accommodations, like the Dunvegan Camping Pods

Located on the northwestern coast of Skye, you can access Dunvegan via bus from cities like Portree and Glasgow. The best time to visit is from July and August, when you’ll have the best chance of having clear and sunny weather to mosey around the gardens and of spotting marine life in the surrounding water.

By Jess of Uprooted Traveler

Oyster Shed in Carbost

Foreground focus on a styrofoam container filled with fresh seafood, including oysters and mussels, atop golden British chunky chips, with a blurry background showcasing a snowy landscape. A white house and vehicles are visible, with hills rolling into the distance by the waterside under a partly cloudy sky in Carbost, Isle of Skye

No trip to Skye is truly complete without a visit to the Oyster Shed in Carbost for a taste of locally caught and farmed seafood. The Oyster Shed, a rustic seafood kitchen, lures travellers with the promise of fresh seafood delights. From succulent oysters to plump scallops and meaty crab claws, every bite is a celebration of Skye’s rich maritime bounty.

Imagine indulging in a plate of freshly shucked oysters from Loch Harport, their briny sweetness awakening your taste buds. Or digging into a kilo of crab claws and chips, drizzled heavily with garlic butter.

It’s not just the food that captivates at the Oyster Shed; it’s the experience. Picture yourself seated at a wooden table, the scent of the sea mingling with the aroma of freshly cooked seafood. Outside, the rugged beauty of Skye’s landscape provides a breathtaking backdrop for your culinary adventure –  gazing out over the tranquil waters of Loch Harport, with the majestic Cuillin Mountains in the distance.

Whether you’re a seafood aficionado or simply seeking a taste of Skye’s coastal charm, a stop at the Oyster Shed is an essential part of your seafood adventures in Scotland.  Combine this with a visit to nearby Talisker Distillery.  

Located near Carbost village.  From Portree, take Bus 607/608 (35 min) to Talisker Distillery and walk 10 minutes to Oyster Shed.

By Lannie of Lannie’s Food & Travel Adventures

Neist Point Lighthouse

Neist Point Lighthouse perched on the edge of a cliff on the Isle of Skye, with a vast ocean expanse stretching to the horizon. A patchwork of brown and green fields dotted with grazing sheep leads to the white, picturesque lighthouse under a blue sky with wispy clouds

Located on the westernmost point, the Neist Point Lighthouse is a beautiful, historic site on the rugged Isle of Skye. Built in 1909, the 62-foot lighthouse is still active over the coast, but these days, the once-manned lighthouse is automated. The keepers used to live in the adjacent cottages (which are now empty). 

Getting to the lighthouse is an adventure on the roads. It is recommended that you make the trip when the weather is good (which is sometimes challenging in Scotland). You’ll need a car to get here, as public transportation is not an option. 

There’s a small car park where you’ll park before taking the last 7/10 of a mile hike out to the lighthouse. The walk is quite picturesque and you’ll witness plenty of sheep grazing along its edges. The area is one of the most beautiful and photographed spots on Skye. 

Be sure to dress for any weather. The area tends to be quite windswept so a windbreaker is highly recommended. Bring a raincoat instead of an umbrella, the winds make it tricky to navigate with an umbrella. Neist Point is located about 11 miles from Dunvegan, and with the driving and visiting we recommend budgeting at least 4 hours for your trip.

By Anwar of Beyond My Door

Old Man of Storr

The iconic Old Man of Storr rock formations stand tall against a dramatic and moody sky on the Isle of Skye. Verdant slopes stretch around the imposing rocks, with a view of the sea in the distance, as winding trails lead towards the stark silhouettes of the ancient, jagged pinnacles

The Old Man of Storr is seen as the poster child of the Isle of Skye, for good reason. It’s a 55-metre pinnacle of solid rock sticking out of the Trotternish Ridge – the most famous walk in the region due to its accessibility and breathtaking views.

Because of this, it’s one of the best places to visit on a day trip to the Isle of Skye! But how do you get there? 

Unlike a lot of rural destinations, having a car is not essential thanks to the 57A and 57C Stagecoach services that you can catch to the Old Man of Storr. A DayRider ticket costs £9.20 and that will get you on any Stagecoach bus in Skye, making it possible to visit additional attractions! Bear in mind that on Sundays, buses don’t operate. 

For those driving, it’s a short 15 minute drive from Portree and has plenty of parking space!

The best time to visit The Old Man of Storr is usually May and June, when it warms up and the days are longer. Even in the summer months it can be cold so only visit in the winter if you can brave it!

By Sean of Extended Getaway

Fairy Glen

A lush, green valley known as Fairy Glen on the Isle of Skye, with rolling hills and a distinctive spiral of stones on the valley floor. A singular figure in red provides a stark contrast to the natural hues as they walk a path toward a rugged, towering rock formation with two people standing atop.

Skye is well-known for its storybook landscape and one place that looks like something out of a fairy tale is the aptly named Fairy Glen. Located on the Trotternish Peninsula near the village of Uig, the Fairy Glen is characterised by rowan tree-covered hillocks dotted with mirror-like lochans and cone-shaped mounds. 

At its centre, a tall basalt rock column known as Castle Ewen overlooks the surrounding otherworldly landscape and you can climb to the top for spectacular panoramic views. The castle-like structure isn’t man-made. Just like its surroundings, it was formed by post-glacial landslides over 100,000 years ago. 

The only human-influenced feature of the Fairy Glen is the stone spiral at the base of Castle Ewen. It’s recommended that you don’t add to it as the local community clears stones and trinkets to keep the landscape as natural as possible. 

The Fairy Glen is reachable by car or bike and there’s a well-sized pay-and-display car park near the entrance. It’s a popular landmark so if you’re visiting during the summer months, try to get there early in the morning to beat the crowds. 

By Francesca of Little Lost Travel


A sweeping view of the Quiraing landscape on the Isle of Skye, with its distinctive rolling hills, craggy cliffs, and a serene loch nestled in the valley. The green hues of the grassy terrain are set against a soft, cloudy sky, conveying the tranquil and rugged beauty of the Scottish Highlands

The Quiraing is located north on the Trotternish peninsula on Skye. Its amazing scenery is the reason to include this on your itinerary. The best way to explore the area is on foot. Around the Quiraing is a scenic circular walk that takes 3-4 hours.

Driving is the easiest way to get to the Quiraing. There are two car parks. The first is on the mountain pass over to Uig and this is where the circular walk starts. The second is close to Flodigarry on the A855, the road that runs around the peninsula. Parking at the second car park means a longer hike since you first have to walk up to the starting point off the circular walk.

If travelling by bus, the bus stop closest to the start of the walk is a 10-minute walk from the car park in Flodigarry. The bus stop is called Flodigarry road end.

The scenery is beautiful at any time of year but try to visit on a clear day.

By Kristin of Scotland Less Explored

Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls

Mealt Falls on the Isle of Skye, where a slender waterfall cascades directly into the sea from a lush, green cliffside. The cliffs stretch into the distance, framing the vast ocean, under a grey, overcast sky, with faint patterns of underwater rocks visible through the clear water near the shore

Visiting Kilt Rock & Mealt Falls during a day trip to the Isle of Skye promises a breathtaking experience in Scotland’s natural beauty. To get there, you can drive (or take a guided tour) from Portree, the main town on the Isle of Skye, following signs for Staffin. The route offers stunning coastal views and takes about 30 minutes. 

Upon reaching Kilt Rock & Mealt Falls, prepare to be mesmerized by the sheer beauty of nature. The site features a stunning viewpoint overlooking the cliffs, where you can marvel at the 200-foot waterfall plunging into the ocean below. The combination of the dramatic cliffs, the cascading waterfall, and the turquoise waters creates a picturesque scene that’ll leave a lasting impression. It’s the perfect addition to a 12-day road trip through Scotland

The best time to visit Kilt Rock & Mealt Falls is during summer, particularly from May to September. This period offers more daylight hours and generally milder weather, making it ideal for exploring outdoor attractions like the waterfall and cliffs.

Arriving in the morning or late afternoon is best to avoid the crowds and have better lighting for photography. Honestly, do not let the weather stop you from visiting here.

The weather in Scotland is unpredictable and can change quickly. It might be foggy and rainy in the morning, but by the time you arrive, it could clear up! No matter when or how you visit Kilt Rock & Mealt Falls during your day trip, you won’t be disappointed! 

By Pamela Drager of The Directionally Challenged Traveler

Fairy Pools

A rugged landscape at the Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye, with a foreground of twisted rock formations and a serene pool of water, reflecting hints of orange from the iron-rich soil. Misty mountains rise in the background, their peaks shrouded in clouds, conveying the raw beauty of the Scottish Highlands

The Fairy Pools are a series of pools and waterfalls formed by River Brittle as it flows down from the Black Cuillin Hills. The scenery is absolutely beautiful, waterfalls cascading into emerald-coloured pools with crystal clear waters, surrounded by majestic mountains. Owing to its unique landscape, it is a very popular attraction on the Isle of Skye and is not to be missed.

The Fairy Pools are only accessed by car and the parking is paid (£6) with toilets, located right at the beginning of the trail. The trail is a 2.5-mile out-and-back hike that will take about one and a half hours and it is considered one of the best hikes in the Isle of Skye.

The path will lead you along the pools with some parts crossing the river, until you reach the biggest pool. The Fairy Pools can be visited any time of the year and are beautiful even in the snowy winter.

By Alina of The Luxury Travelers

Brothers Point

The dramatic coastline of Brother's Point on the Isle of Skye, showcasing lush green grassy terrain and rocky cliffs against the backdrop of a calm sea. The patterns of natural erosion are visible on the slopes, and a pebbly beach curves along the water's edge under a cloudy sky

The Brother’s Point, located on the east side of the Isle of Skye is an ideal stop on your day trip to Skye. This dramatic peninsula has beautiful cliff-side views which are unmatched on this side of the island; plus it gets nowhere near the footfall of other more popular spots! With spectacular views overlooking the sea, you might even get to see a few curious seals!

Brother’s Point is most easily accessed by car, parking at the Brother’s Point Parking lot near the entrance to the trail. From there, it’s a short walk down the hill towards the sea. The trail is much quicker and easier than Old Man of Storr making it easy to fit into a short day trip – though you should bring your walking boots as it can get boggy!

Sunrise at Brother’s Point is when it will be most beautiful, however, you can visit whenever as it’s usually quiet!

By Matt from Matt’s Next Steps

Eilean Donan Castle (over the Skye Bridge)

Eilean Donan Castle, a majestic 13th-century fortress, sits on a small tidal island where three sea lochs meet, under a heavy grey sky. Its reflection is mirrored in the calm waters, connected to the mainland by a graceful stone bridge, set against the backdrop of Scotland’s misty mountains

Eilean Donan is, of course, not on the Isle of Skye, however, with just a short drive over Skye Bridge, it’s worth visiting and one we’ve included on a day trip to Skye from Mallaig.

The iconic castle was constructed in the 13th century at the point where three sea lochs converge as a defensive stronghold for the Mackenzies of Kintail against Viking invaders.

In the 18th century its new role was as a garrison for Spanish soldiers allied with the Jacobites, however, the English army blew the castle up in their quest to overcome them. The restoration of Eilean Donan began in the early 20th century and it’s now managed by the Conchra Charitable Trust.

You can either just take a walk around to enjoy the scenic setting and history from afar or you can pay to go inside Eilean Donan Castle. If you choose to go in, bear in mind that the rooms are modern compared to the original age of the castle. If you’re on a day trip to the Isle of Skye, a quick visit to see it from outside is enough before heading back over the bridge.

The Visitor Centre near the car park is free and has toilets, a gift shop, a cafe and information on local places of interest.

As the most photographed castle in Scotland, it’s a popular spot, but even in August, peak tourist season, it wasn’t really crowded. Part of its fame comes from its appearance in over twenty films, including Highlander, The World Is Not Enough and The Princess Switch 3.

If you’re a romantic, a castle-lover or a photographer, add this on to your Isle of Skye itinerary from Mallaig.

While you’re there, you might like to add in this glass-bottom boat tour near Skye Bridge.

Armadale Castle and Gardens

Armadale Castle Gardens on the Isle of Skye, presenting a tranquil pond covered in water lilies, encircled by a lush assortment of flora including vibrant purple flowers in the foreground and a variety of green and red shrubbery. The garden exudes a peaceful aura beneath a partly cloudy sky,

Armadale for most tourists is a place to pass through quickly after getting off the ferry from Mallaig. However, it can be an ideal, and often-missed, spot to add to the end of your day trip to Skye from Mallaig if you want to be sure you’re in time for the ferry back.

You can spend a pleasant half hour to an hour wandering around the beautiful gardens of Armadale Castle and the Museum of the Isles and you can enjoy a picnic in the grounds if you wish. Children can play in the small adventure play park.

The castle is part of the Clandonald Estate and a few walking and wildlife trails start just outside the castle. Passing through woodlands, climbing up hills or ambling near the shore, you may spot deer, birds of prey and otters along these paths. See more information on the trails at Armadale.

The local gift shops allow for last minute shopping for souvenirs and gifts and local eateries offer somewhere to eat before getting back on the ferry. We had a tasty meal at Inn at Àird a’ Bhàsair before heading back to Mallaig.

Just a bit further down the road you can also go sea kayaking with South Skye Sea Kayak.

Getting to the Isle of Skye from Mallaig

Getting to the Isle of Skye from Mallaig is pretty easy as ferries sail to Armadale regularly. Until not so very long ago, when the bridge was built from Kyle of Lochalsh, it was the main route to Skye.

The 'Lord of the Isles' ferry, operated by Caledonian MacBrayne, is docked at Mallaig harbour on a bright sunny day. The vessel's striking black hull with the company logo is visible against the clear blue waters, while the red and black funnel proudly displays the company's lion rampant emblem

Although several ferries sail from Mallaig to Skye every day, you should book in advance if you have a vehicle. If you’re travelling to Skye without a car, you’ve got a reasonable chance of getting on last minute but it’s always better to book.

For foot passengers, the fare each way is £3.50 (half-price for 5-15 years) and for a car, £11.60. You can take your bike for free. The journey to the Isle of Skye from Mallaig takes approximately 45 minutes. Services may be disrupted in the event of bad weather so keep an eye on their website or social media.

Check the CalMac website for timings, rates for mobile homes, etc., conditions and to book.

If you are not travelling to Skye from Mallaig, you can also drive or take bus via Kyle of Lochalsh and across the Skye Bridge.

Visiting the Isle of Skye without a Car

Can you do Isle of Skye without a car? Yes, many people manage do that and although you might be a bit more restricted, you can still see many of the sights and get a good feel of the island.

Travelling from Mallaig, just take the ferry and then a bus from the port. If your starting point is elsewhere in Scotland, take the train to Mallaig or a coach from Glasgow or Inverness to Portree and Uig. The second route takes you to the Kyle of Lochalsh and over the bridge.

A serene harbour view of Portree, Isle of Skye, featuring a calm bay with boats anchored in the water. The shoreline is adorned with a quaint row of houses, painted in soft pastel colours, nestled among the trees and set against a backdrop of rolling hills and a cloudy sky

You can also board the bus at many places along the way like Loch Lomond, Glencoe and Fort William on the Glasgow route. See the bus route and 2024 timetable for Glasgow to Skye or Inverness to Skye.

If you’re opting for the train, you might choose to add in the Jacobite steam train but the regular Scotrail train is much cheaper and gives you the same great views and if you’re travelling from Glasgow, you won’t even need to change.

If you’ve got time to spare at the harbour, there are lots of interesting things to do and places to eat in Mallaig. You can also pick up tasty snacks for the journey.

Once you’re in Skye, you can choose one of several tourist bus tours or use the Stagecoach public transport to get to a few places, such as Portree, Armadale, Carbost, Fairy Bridge, Old Man of Storr and Dunvegan Castle. Some travellers also report success with hitch-hiking on the island with both locals and other tourists helping them out.

This 9-hour tour of Skye from Portree includes several of the sights mentioned above. For other options for private tours starting on the Isle of Skye, see listings on the island’s own website. Skye Geography Tours looks a really interesting one that I’ve bookmarked.

Finally, boat trips around the Skye coast are another great way to explore the island.

The rugged coast near Kilt Rock on the Isle of Skye, with towering basalt cliffs dropping steeply to a stony beach below. Lush green vegetation caps the clifftops, adding a dash of colour to the dramatic landscape, all under a subdued sky with the sea stretching into the distance

If you’d like to go on an organised tour to Skye, check this top-rated 3-day tour from Edinburgh including the Jacobite Steam Train or this 3-day tour going via Loch Ness. If you’re on the West Coast, this 3-day tour to Skye from Glasgow will be easier.

Best Time to Visit the Isle of Skye

If you have flexibility, the best time to visit Skye is outside the peak summer months when it can get busy at tourist spots. Both spring and autumn are beautiful in Skye and the weather is often good.

In spring, the countryside is coming to life with an array of colours and in the autumn, when it is getting ready to sleep again, the reds, oranges, browns and gold are provide for particularly stunning scenery. Personally, I’d opt for May to early June or late September to October.

Is 1 day in Isle of Skye enough?

Can you do one day in the Isle of Skye? Let’s put it this way, you can’t do the Isle of Skye all in one day but you can do one day in the Isle of Skye.

Although it’s not possible to see the whole of the Isle of Skye in a day or visit all of the sights, you can definitely fit a few things in. On our last day trip to Skye, we managed a quick trip to Eilean Donan Castle, lunch at Portree, a walk to the Fairy Pools, a drive near Carbost and around to enjoy the scenery, a photo stop at Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls and dinner at Ardvasar before getting back on the last ferry.

The others in our group headed off in their own cars to climb the Old Man of Storr after breakfast at Portree.

A picturesque view from a road on the Isle of Skye, with a vibrant range of wildflowers including pink heather and yellow gorse. In the distance, the calm sea meets the sky, framed by rolling hills and a small island, under a partly cloudy sky.

If you have more time, why not stay on the island for a few days. I recommend that you book well in advance but take a look at some options here from hotels to B&Bs and shepherd’s huts to luxury stays.

Wrap-up on best things to do on a day trip to Skye from Mallaig

With so many and scenic places to visit like the Fairy Glen and Dunvegan Castle and fun things to do like taking a wildlife cruise, hiking the Quiraing or eating fresh oysters on a day trip to Skye from Mallaig, it’s time to start planning! Book your ferry to the Isle of Skye well ahead of time too and if you plan to stay longer, accommodation books up fast, so don’t leave it too late.

Planning to do the Isle of Skye in one day is much easier than it seems and you’ll be surprised how much you can pack in. I’d love to hear your plans or experiences in the comments below!

These posts may be useful to help you in planning your trip to Skye from Mallaig

How to get to the Isle of Skye from Mallaig?

You can either drive or take a coach over the Skye Bridge via Kyle of Lochalsh or you can go by car, train or bus to Mallaig and then take the ferry to Armadale. You should book your vehicle in advance.

Can you drive to Isle of Skye?

You can drive all the way if you go by the Skye Bridge

Do you have to pay to go over Skye Bridge?

No, you don’t.

Can Isle of Skye be done in a day?

You can see lots of things but of course you won’t see everything in one day.

How long does the ferry to Skye from Mallaig take?

The Mallaig to Skye ferry takes 45 minutes each way.

Is it worth trying to do the Isle of Skye in a day?

Two or three days would be better but if you only have 1 day in Isle of Skye, it’s still worth visiting.

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