If you don’t have access to a car, how do you get to the Isle of Skye? That’s a question that’s continually asked by visitors striving to plan the perfect Scottish itinerary. In this guide, we consider the various travel options to visit the Isle of Skye without a car.
Whether you choose to take the train, coach or hop aboard a bus tour to Skye, the good news is that no matter how you decide to travel, the journey will be rewarded with stunning landscapes and jaw-dropping coastal scenery.
Isle of Skye by Public Transport
The two main ways to reach Skye is by either coach or train. Whichever way you choose, be sure to research your journey carefully and making seat reservations is highly recommended, as services can get busy, particularly during the peak summer months.
If you're planning a trip using public transport to get around the island you can get up-to-date bus service timetables by visiting the Traveline Scotland website.
The primary bus operator on the island is Stagecoach. They offer a DayRider Bus Pass, allowing unlimited travel on the island for one-day at a discounted price.
How to get to the Isle of Skye by Train
The Isle of Skye is served by two train routes - the West Highland Line and the Kyle Line. When considering travel by train, be aware that there is no railway service on the island, so the final part of your journey from the railhead to your destination will need to be by bus or taxi.
You can access the train timetable on the ScotRail website.
West Highland Line
The most popular route is from Glasgow (Queen Street) to Mallaig along the famous West Highland Line. Travelling by way of Rannoch Moor and Fort William, you’ll enjoy scenic views at every turn. The last part of the journey to Mallaig follows the same route as the famous Jacobite Steam Train, so you’ll cross the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct, known as the “Harry Potter Bridge”.
There is a connecting ferry from Mallaig across the Sound of Sleat to Armadale on the Isle of Skye. Stagecoach buses operate a limited service from the pier.
The Kyle Line
Departing Inverness, the 82 mile Kyle Line offers a scenic journey through Glen Carron and Plockton to Kyle of Lochalsh. The line opened in 1870 and was one of the engineering feats of the day.
There’s no Uber service currently on the Isle of Skye, so you should consider pre-booking a local taxi to meet you in either Kyle of Lochalsh or Armadale Pier for the final part of your journey.
Skye Taxi contacts:
Kyle Taxi Service - 01559 534323
Alan’s Taxi - 07900 453031
Portree Taxis - 01478 612444
Gus’s Taxis - 01478 613000
Citylink Isle of Skye
The best direct service to Portree is offered by the Scottish Citylink coach service. It’s a long journey (over 7 hours), but there’s no need to change once you’ve boarded the coach in Glasgow’s Buchanan Bus Station.
A comfort stop is made at Fort William, and most coaches are equipped with a bathroom.
Once over the Skye Bridge, the coach serves Kyleakin, Broadford, Sligachan and Portree. Additionally, some departures offer an onward service to Uig, connecting with the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry services to Harris or North Uist.
If you are spending time elsewhere in the Highlands, Scottish Citylink also offer service from Inverness to Portree and Uig.
Best way to visit Isle of Skye
Perhaps the best option to visit the Isle of Skye without a car is to take a Skye scenic tour. Not only does it provide transportation to and from the island, but it also takes you to many parts of the island. Ample time is provided at each destination for relaxed sightseeing before moving on to the next attraction.
As each tour is led by an expert driver/guide, so you’ll learn all about the history, nature and scenery as you travel from place to place.
Isle of Skye Tour Package from Edinburgh
If you are looking for a tour that showcases many of Scotland’s key attractions, the Skye and the Scottish Highlands Tour is hard to beat. In just 3 days, discover some of the most spectacular landscapes that Scotland has to offer.
Although Skye is the tour’s primary focus, there are also visits planned to Glen Coe, Loch Ness (where you can take an optional monster-spotting cruise) and Culloden Moor.
Guesthouse accommodation with breakfast for two nights is included. The tour is based in Inverness, the Capital of the Highlands. This tour also leaves from Glasgow, and you can choose to return to either city at no extra charge.
Tour from Glasgow to Isle of Skye
The Isle of Skye Explorer tour features a two-night stay on Skye, guaranteeing you an immersive island experience. Enjoy a full-day tour exploring the island’s many attractions, with the Trotternish Ridge, Old Man of Storr, Kilt Rock and Dunvegan Castle all being amongst the touring options.
Back on the mainland, there’s the chance to visit fairytale Eilean Donan Castle and tour through the beauty of the Cairngorms National Park. At Fort Augustus, there’s free time for a stroll along the banks of Loch Ness too.
The tour is centred in Portree, the main town on Skye. Guesthouse accommodation with breakfast for two nights is included in the cost. This tour also departs from Edinburgh.
Isle of Skye Tour Inverness
If time is short, why not explore the Isle of Skye on a day tour from Inverness. There are several options to choose from, but the only choice is The Ultimate Skye Tour if you want to do it all.
This all-embracing tour includes Eilean Donan Castle (photo-stop), Portree, Old Man of Storr, Kilt Rock and The Quiraing.
There is also time set aside to visit the picturesque Fairy Pools. These natural rock pools have become a real social media phenomenon and are on so many visitors to-do list.
Isle of Skye Tour from London
Including a visit to the Isle of Skye as part of your Britain vacation is so easy. The Edinburgh, Skye and the Highlands 4-day tour package uses high-speed trains to get you to and from Scotland, maximising your sightseeing time.
Explore Edinburgh, Scotland’s Capital City, before joining a local guide for a sightseeing tour of the beautiful Scottish Highlands, which includes a full day exploring the Isle of Skye’s stunning scenery.
One of the most in-depth London to Isle of Skye tours available, this creative itinerary has overnight stays in Edinburgh (1 night) and Inverness (2 nights).
Best Isle of Skye tour from Edinburgh
For many travellers, the best way to visit the Isle of Skye without a car is to take a trip on the world-famous Jacobite Steam Train. If that’s you, then the Isle of Skye and the Jacobite Steam Train 3-day tour might be your perfect choice.
This feature-packed tour includes a two-night stay on the Isle of Skye, a ferry crossing to Mallaig and a one-way trip on the Jacobite Steam Train, the real Hogwarts Express.
There’s a comprehensive sightseeing tour of Skye included, which will let you discover the unique landscapes of the Trotternish Peninsula, dramatic Dunvegan Castle and the mighty Cuillin Hills.
Accommodation in your choice of guest house or hotel accommodation with breakfast is included. The tour is centred in Portree for two night.
Discover the history and beauty of the Isle of Skye with Scottish Tours.
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