Scotland is a lot bigger than world maps would have you believe! For drivers it can be pretty confusing with very few direct roads. Allow plenty of time, enjoy the scenery and please be a conscientious driver.
BEWARE! SatNavs often give directions via the Mallaig ferry. This has limited space and sailings. Many visitors get stranded or make massive detours because of this. The Skye Bridge is always open and free!
How to find us by car.
The Isle of Skye is situated in North West Scotland 5 to 6 hours driving from Glasgow and Edinburgh, 2.5 hours from Inverness.
Driving from Inverness (2-3 hours)
There are 2 choices that both involve some sections of driving on single track roads. They aren’t too scary but please do take 3 minutes to watch this video on how to use passing places.
The “North” road is favoured by many locals. It also avoids Inverness town centre if you arrive at the airport. Head north up the A9 to the Black Isle Roundabout. Take the A835 but only as far as Garve. Head west over the A832 to Achnasheen then A890 to Kyle of Lochalsh and the Skye Bridge.
The “Loch Ness” road has more traffic, particularly in summer. Go through the centre of Inverness following signs for A82 to Fort William. Follow this patiently along Loch Ness then turn right onto the A887 at Invermoriston. This joins the A87 before Cluanie and descends to Kyle of Lochalsh and the Skye Bridge.
Driving from England and Southern Scotland-
Most driving visitors cross the border on the M6/M74 in the west towards Glasgow. Fewer drive up the A1 on the east coast to Edinburgh.
North of the central belt of Scotland (Glasgow/Edinburgh) there are slight variations possible but, realistically, there are only 2 choices, commonly referred to as West or East. Often visitors opt to arrive by one route and leave by the other. The eastern option is favoured by locals as faster and less traffic.
The eastern option essentially takes the key A9 trunk road with many sections of dual carriageway. The scenery is still very stunning! Gain the A9 at Perth by the M90 from Edinburgh. If you are coming up the M74 be very careful not to miss the turning immediately after Hamilton services south of Glasgow. Stay in the left lane and follow signs for M80 Stirling through a series of confusing flyovers. Things become clearer shortly after as signs to Perth and Inverness finally appear.
The A9 is kept flowing with an “average speed camera” system. This seems to have improved matters and reduced accidents over the past couple of years but speeding tickets are common. Cross from Dalwhinnie to Spean Bridge (A889/A86) taking approximately 1 hour. Keep heading north by turning right up the A82 to Invergarry then A87 trunk road to Kyle of Lochalsh and the Skye Bridge. Favoured by locals as faster and less traffic.
The western option is the classic “road to the isles” starting over the Clyde west of Glasgow, past Loch Lomond, through Glen Coe, past Ben Nevis and finally “over the sea to Skye”. Passing close by mountains and lochs the road still has many sections of tight bends and slow (but beautiful) progress. From M74 follow M8 past Glasgow then signs to Glasgow airport and Erskine Bridge & A82 to Fort William. Generally slower and busier in summer!
Getting onto Skye
There are 3 access points to the island from the mainland.
- The Skye Bridge (no toll) is the cheapest and more reliable option for visitors with limited time or budget.
- The Mallaig to Armadale ferry (Winter timetable until March 2017) The majority of Sat Navs will suggest this route. Although a classic approach there is currently a huge problem because the powers to be have reduced the capacity of the ferry (Article here). With limited capacity and limited sailings it is essential to book in advance. This route is only recommended to those with the luxury of more time than less!
- The Glenelg to Kylerhea ferry is a beautiful turntable style ferry carrying up to 6 cars at a time. Again, a beautiful addition for those with time on their hands.
You will find it a lot easier to get around Skye if you have a car. Sadly public transport is currently an infrequent bus service that doesn’t reach many of the most beautiful locations. It is also sometimes possible to organise car hire on the island (book WELL in advance as limited availability) and day tours are available via minibus.
By Air– Fly/drive is very popular and is a good way to maximise your time in Scotland. Inverness airport is by far the closest to Skye with the drive being a pleasant 2-3 hours. The drive from Glasgow and Edinburgh is almost exactly twice as long and will seriously reduce your time on the island.
By Train– The train journeys are all classic routes through incredible scenery. Destination Kyle of Lochalsh (Skye Bridge) or Mallaig (Armadale ferry). Bus services should be studied carefully for onward travel to Broadford which is under 12 miles from both stations. Sleepers run daily from London to Inverness or Fort William with onward journeys both about 2.5 hours.
By Bus– All coach services pass right through the island as far as Uig. Direct services come from Glasgow & Inverness; Edinburgh is a bit more convoluted.
There are flights to Inverness from Bristol and London on EasyJet, Flybe and BA.