Traveling from Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye? Here’s everything you need to know, from which route to take, to where to stop along the way…
How to get from Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye by Car
While there are other methods of transport that will get you from Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye much faster than a car will, traveling by road remains our favourite way to make this trip, purely because it’s such a spectacular Scotland road trip in itself. Here’s how to do it:
- Take the A90 road from Edinburgh, heading northwest towards Perth.
- At Perth, continue on the A9 road, which will take you through the Scottish Highlands.
- Stay on the A9 until you reach Dalwhinnie, where you’ll take the A889 road towards Spean Bridge.
- In Spean Bridge, join the A82 road, which will take you all the way to the Isle of Skye.
The journey from Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye takes approximately 4-5 hours, depending on traffic, road conditions, and your desired stops along the way. On that subject, however, it would be a tragedy to take this particular road trip without at least stopping for a few photos (And, okay, maybe a coffee or three…), so here are some of our favourite places to stop en route:
This stunning valley is known for its dramatic landscapes and has been featured in numerous movies. It’s an excellent place for hiking, photography, and taking in Scotland’s natural beauty.
One of the most iconic sights in Glencoe is the Three Sisters, a trio of imposing mountain peaks that dominate the skyline. These majestic peaks provide a stunning backdrop for hiking and photography, offering a variety of trails for all skill levels.
For those interested in delving into the area’s history, meanwhile, a visit to the Glencoe Visitor Centre is a must. The center provides a wealth of information about the infamous Glencoe Massacre of 1692, a dark chapter in Scottish history. Through interactive exhibits and displays, visitors can learn about the massacre and its impact on the region.
Exploring the outdoor exhibits at Glencoe Visitor Centre
Glencoe is also a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. The valley is home to an array of bird species, including golden eagles, peregrine falcons, and ptarmigans. Additionally, red deer can often be spotted grazing on the hillsides. Taking a leisurely stroll along one of the many nature trails provides an opportunity to spot these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.
The Glencoe Lochan, a small freshwater loch surrounded by woodland, is another gem of the area. This picturesque spot offers peaceful walking paths, perfect for a leisurely stroll or a picnic. The reflections of the surrounding mountains in the calm waters create a mesmerizing scene that is truly captivating.
02. Fort William
Nestled at the foot of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles, Fort William is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. From here, you can explore the Nevis Range and enjoy activities such as hiking, mountain biking, and even skiing during the winter months. Known as the Outdoor Capital of the UK, visitors to Fort William can…
- Climb the Nevis Range. Ben Bevis is the highest mountain in the British Isles, but there are also numerous other hiking trails catering to all levels of experience. From the leisurely Glen Nevis trail to the challenging Aonach Eagach ridge, there’s a trail to suit everyone’s taste.
- Take a boat trip along Loch Linnhe. Enjoy the breathtaking scenery, spot local wildlife such as seals and porpoises, and learn about the area’s history and folklore from knowledgeable guides. Alternatively, you can hire a kayak or paddleboard to explore the loch at your own pace.
- Visit the West Highland Museum. Delve into the region’s past, learn about the Jacobite uprisings, and explore exhibits on local industries such as mining and fishing. The museum provides fascinating insights into the area’s heritage and traditions.
- Stroll along the Caledonian Canal or relax in the picturesque Corpach Basin. The area offers serene views and a chance to appreciate the beauty of the Scottish Highlands at a more relaxed pace.
These days, thus picturesque village is probably most famous for its viaduct, but Glenfinnan has plenty of other attractions to offer too: so much so that we’d recommend a longer stay in the area, if possible – it makes an excellent base from which to explore this part of the Highlands. Here are some things to do and see while you’re there:
- Glenfinnan Viaduct: Marvel at the iconic Glenfinnan Viaduct, famous for its appearance in the Harry Potter films. Capture stunning photographs of the viaduct and witness the Jacobite steam train (also known as the Hogwarts Express) crossing the bridge during its scheduled runs.
- Glenfinnan Monument: Explore the Glenfinnan Monument, a striking 18-meter-high tower erected in honor of the Jacobite clansmen who fought in the 1745 Jacobite Rising. Climb to the top for panoramic views of Loch Shiel and the surrounding countryside.
- Glenfinnan Railway Station Museum: Visit the Glenfinnan Railway Station Museum located in a beautifully preserved Victorian station building. Discover the rich history of the West Highland Line and learn about the construction of the railway.
- Loch Shiel: Take a leisurely walk along the shores of Loch Shiel, a picturesque freshwater loch surrounded by stunning mountain scenery. Enjoy the tranquility of the area, go fishing, or embark on a boat trip to appreciate the natural beauty of the loch.
- Jacobite Steam Train: Experience a memorable journey on the Jacobite Steam Train, a vintage locomotive that runs between Fort William and Mallaig. Enjoy breathtaking views of the Highland landscapes, including the Glenfinnan Viaduct, as you traverse this scenic route.
- Glenfinnan Circular Walk: a scenic trail that takes you around the glen. If you’re keen on walking, you might also want to venture onto the nearby Munros such as Sgurr Thuilm or Streap.
- Glenfinnan Visitor Centre: information about the area’s history, culture, and wildlife. Learn about Bonnie Prince Charlie, the Jacobite Rising, and the local flora and fauna through interactive exhibits.
4. Eilean Donan Castle
Situated on a small island where three lochs meet, Eilean Donan Castle is one of Scotland’s most iconic castles. Its dramatic setting and historical significance make it a must-visit location, and it also has an excellent restaurant which offers stunning views of the castle itself, as well as a range of freshly-prepared food, so even on the coldest and wettest of days (And remember, in this part of the world, most days are a mixture of both!), you can enjoy one of the most famous sights in Scotland without having to get soaked!
5. Kyle of Lochalsh
The gateway to the Isle of Skye, Kyle of Lochalsh is the last stage of your Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye Roadtrip, and offers beautiful views of the Skye Bridge and the surrounding scenery. Take a stroll along the waterfront and enjoy the charming atmosphere. You can also visit the Skye Bridge Exhibition Centre to learn about the construction and significance of the iconic bridge connecting the mainland to Skye.
Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye by other methods of transport
As the title of this site probably tells you, we love a road trip. If you’re intent on leaving the car at home and travelling from Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye by some other method of transport, however, you’ll find it tricky, but not impossible. As Skye is (obviously) an island, there are no direct train services from Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye. You can, however, take a combination of train and bus or ferry to reach the Isle of Skye from Edinburgh. Here are the typical routes:
- Train from Edinburgh to Inverness: You can take a train from Edinburgh Waverley station to Inverness. This journey takes around 3 to 3.5 hours, and there are frequent services available.
- Bus from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh: From Inverness, you can catch a bus operated by Scottish Citylink or Stagecoach to Kyle of Lochalsh. The journey takes approximately 2.5 to 3 hours, and buses run several times a day.
- Ferry from Kyle of Lochalsh to the Isle of Skye: Once you reach Kyle of Lochalsh, you can take a short ferry ride across the water to the Isle of Skye. The ferry operates regularly, and the crossing to the town of Kyleakin on Skye takes around 5 to 10 minutes.
It’s worth noting that schedules and services may vary, so it’s advisable to check the most up-to-date information from the train and bus operators. Additionally, you may consider renting a car in Inverness to have more flexibility and convenience for exploring the Isle of Skye and its surroundings.