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
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.
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.