By Lisa Greggo
The Isle of Skye is a magical place. With landscapes that look other-worldy, cozy pubs and restaurants, charming shops, and stunning views, it’s no wonder that thousands of tourists visit each year. Skye’s tourist season generally runs May through September, but the magic is still there to be experienced in the winter months, too. And it’s my favourite time to go!
For starters, driving to Skye takes about 3 hours from Inverness airport. And the weather in winter might surprise you. It was 10°C (50°F) when we arrived on Boxing Day, and it stayed consistent the whole week, which meant for less bulky clothing and comfortable weather for hill-walking and exploring out of doors.
There are plenty of reasons to plan your winter holiday in Skye:
Lodging is more affordable
While not all hotels, B&B’s and inns are open during the winter months, many, many wonderful places are. And generally, the rooms are cheaper than they would be in the high season. The off-season represents a prime opportunity to upgrade your room, if you are so inclined, or to treat yourself to an upmarket hotel.
You have the roads to yourself
It’s no fun to go for a scenic drive in traffic! In the off-season in Skye, you can go out on a good, old-fashioned site-seeing drive around the island. Throughout Skye, you will find long, winding single-track roads where the views are utterly breath-taking. Try the A855 for some great coastal views, or take your time and traverse an unnamed road on the way to Glenbrittle beach. And bring your camera!There are less tourists at the tourist site.
There are less tourists at the tourist sites
The tourist sites are not at all busy during the winter months. We visited the Fairy Glen in late December and although my guidebook warned us that there might be “congestion on the single-track road” and that there was “limited parking”, we had no trouble at all. The beauty of visiting in the off-season is that there were only three other couples in the Fairy Glen with us. We climbed and explored at our own pace, didn’t feel rushed that someone might be coming up behind us to climb the same hill for the same photo op, nor did we have to step out of the way of anyone’s selfie.
You can experience restaurants and pubs like the locals
You don’t have to book your dinner weeks in advance in the off-season, nor will you have a long wait for a table at restaurants and pubs. Just like hotels and inns, not all restaurants and pubs are open, of course, but those that are open likely cater to the locals, which means the quality of the food and drink has to be consistently good, or else the locals won’t bother eating there. Portree is a great place to start, with lots of choices for fantastic eateries, but I’d also recommend going off the beaten path, too, for a real local experience. What a delight to stop into a pub that you’ve spotted from the road, especially one that is all aglow with fairy lights and a cozy fire within. There are lots of opportunities to grab a cheeky pint.
The magical landscape is even more magical in the winter months
Skye has it all: beaches, moors, mountains, streams, cliffs, sheep pastures, evergreen forests, and more than one red phone booth—we delighted in all of the sights. The winter provided a backdrop for some great photos.
With all that Skye has to offer, I don’t imagine there is ever a wrong time to go. But if you’d like the place to yourself, I can’t recommend enough that you check it out during the winter months. Happy travels!