Travel Guides

Portree | Adventure Destination Guide

Everything you need to know about the Isle of Skye's biggest town, and its surrounding area

The largest town on the Isle of Skye, Portree is an excellent place to base yourself if you find yourself adventuring in this spectacular corner of Scotland. With a population just over 4,500, Portree is probably not the biggest town you’ll visit in 2020 but it will almost certainly be one of the nicest.

How To Get There

Spoiler alert. The Isle of Skye is pretty remote. From London to Portree via car, for example, you’re looking at a journey time of just over 12 hours and that’s before you’ve even factored in pit stops and the like en-route. Even from Glasgow, Scotland’s second city, you’re looking at a drive time over five hours. Yes, the views from Scotland’s highland roads are second to none but if you hate spending long periods of time in a car this maybe isn’t the way to go. Although, that being said, it is worth underlining that road trip enthusiasts will be in their absolute element; experiencing some of the UK’s coolest roads as they go.

“The views from Scotland’s highland roads are second to none”

Inverness Airport is about a three hour drive from Portree. It’s serviced by direct flights from London, Belfast, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Jersey, East Midlands, and Dublin, as well as Amsterdam, Bergen, and Tuscany. The flight time between London and Inverness, for example, is about one hour and 40 minutes (so, obviously, much faster than driving).

Another option you might want to consider is getting the Caledonian Sleeper train to Fort William or Inverness and then a Citylink bus to Portree. Or alternatively, you could get a train to Glasgow and from there take another to Mallaig. From Mallaig, you’re able to get a ferry across to Skye. Worth underlining at this point, what with all this talk of a ferry, that Skye is also accessible via a road traffic bridge which was completed in 1995.

Things To Do In Portree / The Isle of Skye

Pictured: Old Man of Storr. Photo: Tim Swaan

Not only does Portree have a picturesque harbour and a pleasant array of pubs and shops to call its own, it also sits at the heart of one of the UK’s best adventure destinations (the Isle of Skye).

The largest island in the Inner Hebrides archipelago really does have it all; epic coastline, jaw-dropping lochs, and mountainous terrain which looks teleported in from outer space.

If you love the outdoors but feel like you need to travel abroad to experience the big, otherworldly, stuff then think again. Not only is the Isle of Skye ideal for everyone from hikers and mountain bikers right on through to sea kayakers, the rules around wild camping in Scotland means it’s also an awesome place to sleep beneath the stars.

“It will serve you up a breathtaking view over the Isles of Rona and Raasay”

In terms of absolute must-sees on the Isle of Skye, the legendary Old Man of Storr is right up there. Visible from miles around, the ‘Old Man’ is a large pinnacle of rock that watches over the east side of the island. From the road, it’s uphill all the way to the 165ft-high freestanding rock but, as that famous saying goes, it’s a “juice that’s worth the squeeze.” The hike should take about two hours to complete. It will serve you up a breathtaking view over the Isles of Rona and Raasay, and some next level photo opportunities.

From the town of Portree, it’s about a 15 minute drive to the base of the Storr. Alternatively, if you want to walk, it’s about three hours on foot. The ‘Old Man’ walk is quite possibly the Isle of Skye’s most popular one so if you are visiting in summer be sure to get there early to avoid the crowds.

Pictured: Views of the Quiraing

Another essential activity for visitors to Portree, and more broadly the Isle of Skye, is the Quiraing walk. A looped route, it covers a distance of 6.8km and can be completed in about two hours without stops.

Arguably the most photogenic thing in Scotland, and let’s face it there’s a lot of competition for such a label, the Quiraing, which makes up part of the Trottenish ridge, was formed by an enormous landslip; one that resulted in high cliffs, hidden plateaus, and stunning rock pinnacles. Hikers, bring your hiking boots. Photographers, bring your cameras (and, obviously, your hiking boots as well).

The walking route, which highlights include ‘The Needle’ and ‘The Castle’ starts at a carpark situated on the highest part of the single track road between the villages of Uig and Staffin. It’s about a 35 minute drive from Portree to the Quiraing walk’s starting point.

“Photographers, bring your cameras”

As we’ve briefly touched upon already, the Isle of Skye is also a great adventure destination for people who like mountain biking. If you’re looking for route recommendations, bike hire, and bike repair get yourself over to Skye Bike Shack. It’s about a five minute drive from Portree.

If sea kayaking’s more your thing, we’d recommend exploring the Isle of Skye with a group like Sea Kayak Plockton. They run three day and five day expeditions that provide plenty of sea kayaking opportunities, give you the chance to go wild camping. Their headquarters are about an hour’s drive from Portree.

Another good option if you’re in Portree, thirsting for adventure on the Isle of Skye but don’t really know where to start, is Skye Adventure. They organise a wide range of excursions including ones focused around wild swimming, coasteering, mountain climbing, and rock climbing.

Where To Stay

Pictured: Portree, with the Old Man of Storr behind

Whether you’re after luxury accommodation or something super basic, Portree and its surrounding area has got you covered.

The Skye Inn, for example, is a very decent shout. It’s situated in a quiet corner of Portree (it’s all pretty quiet to be fair), about a five-minute walk from the main square, and does double rooms with en-suite bathrooms for under £100 a night (breakfast included).

Other popular places to stay in Portree include the Bosville Hotel and the Portree Hotel. There’s also the Caledonian Hotel, the Tongadale Hotel, and the Royal Hotel. Throw in a number of very cosy bed and breakfasts, such as Gleann An Ronnaich and the Coolin View Guest House, into the mix and your options really do start to stack up nicely.

“You’re allowed to wild camp on the Isle of Skye so that’s always an option”

In terms of more “outdoorsy” places to stay (remember you’re allowed to wild camp on the Isle of Skye so that’s always an option), there’s the Torvaig Caravan and Camp Site. Open from the start of April to end of October, a tent pitch here costs £9 per person.

If you can’t be bothered to bring a tent, but still want to stay somewhere a bit more interesting than a hotel or bed and breakfast, you might be glad to hear that the Isle of Skye is also home to a number of funky glamping pods. Wigwam Holidays Portree and The Isle of Skye Pod are two places near Portree that offer this, but the island as a whole does have other options knocking about.

Eating and Drinking

Pictured: Kilt Rock Waterfall

After a long day outside on Isle of Skye, you might be in the mood for a some tasty grub. Fortunately for you, and your stomach, Portree and the area around it has numerous places that can sort you out.

The town of Portree isn’t short on fish and chips outlet but our local contact’s pick of the lot is The Chippy. Fish and chips fried in beef fat might not be to everyone’s liking but if you’re non-vegetarian, we’re told you’ll love every second of this “taste sensation.” And of course, this being Scotland it’d be rude not to wash it all down with a can of Irn-Bru.

About 20 minutes drive outside of Portree is the Edinbane Inn. An excellent pub menu combined with super friendly staff means it’s well worth seeking this place out. Another option about 20 minutes drive from Portree is the Uig Hotel, a friendly establishment and one that offers a variety of traditional Sunday lunches.

“Wash it all down with a can of Irn-Bru”

Be sure to check out Sligachan Inn, about 15 minutes drive from Portree, at the base of the Cuillin Mountains. Between April and October, there’s a menu on seven days a week here. What’s more, it’s also home to micro-brewery, a campsite, and a playground with zip wire. Brace yourself for some very tasty beers (just try not to hurt yourself on the zip wire afterwards).

Finally, no discussion of eating and drinking in this part of the world (particularly drinking) would be complete without a shoutout to the Talisker Distillery. If sipping on whisky’s your bag, you definitely need to get yourself on a tour of this place (prices vary between £10 and £45). Learn how they make the stuff and get tasting. It’s a 30 minute car drive from Portree (needless to say, make sure you have a designated driver on the soft drinks).

Check out our other adventure travel destinations for 2020.

This destination guide was brought to you in association with outdoor fashion retailer Blackleaf.

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