Edinburgh to Isle of Skye: Car, Train, & Bus Tour

Portree Colorful Houses in front of water on the Isle of Skye

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Are you planning a trip to The Misty Isle in search of dramatic landscapes, rural culture, folklore, and fairies? This guide explains exactly how to travel from Edinburgh to Skye by car for road-tripping, by train for comfort, by bus for affordability, and by day tour accompanied by expert guide. We’ve personally done the latter!

Note: While Skye is an island located in the Inner Hebrides in Scotland, you don’t actually have to arrive by water as there is a bridge. However, we will include ferry options below too.

You may also like our free 7-day Scotland itinerary.

Edinburgh to Skye by Car

The direct route from Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye’s capital, Portree takes around 5.5 hours (236 miles) without stops.

This itinerary follows the A90 over the Queensferry Crossing (Forth Bridges – image below), which connects South Queensferry with the Kingdom of Fife, and onto the M90 and A9 through Perthshire.

Next, the rural roads, which are referred to as “A” roads of the A86 and A87, lead the way to the Kyle of Lochalsh and over the Skye Bridge; Fàilte (welcome)!

Map of Edinburgh to Skye Direct Driving Route

This part of the journey takes around 4.5 hours (203 miles), with the winding scenic road to Portree remaining.

  • Edinburgh to Skye Driving Time: Approx. 5.5 hours
  • Pros: Flexibility, independence, scenic
  • Cons: Very long, driving single “A” roads can be daunting for first-time visitors, the weather
Queensferry Crossing Bridge framed by gree taken from North Queensferry in Scotland

Scenic Drive From Edinburgh to Skye

The trip to Skye is usually enjoyed at a slower pace over 2-7 days, taking in Scotland’s lively cities, rustic landscape, deep lochs, fresh food, and maybe a whisky dram or two!

There isn’t just one route, but the classic itinerary tends to include a sightseeing stop at the 100ft Kelpies in Falkirk (M90), through Stirling for its castle and the Wallace Monument, to Callander “the gateway to the Highlands” at the Trossachs National Park, joining the A82 to the majestic Glencoe and up to Fort William.

From here, there are two options.

The route either veers left to Glenfinnan, where, if you time it right, you’ll witness the Jacobite steam train, aka Harry Potter’s Hogwarts Express, chug over the viaduct.

Then it is back on the road to Mallaig to catch the ferry to Armadale in Skye.

Tickets should be booked in advance to avoid disappointment.

Or, the route veers right to Spean Bridge and up the rural roads to the Skye Bridge.

Spean Bridge is close to St. Augustus, south of Loch Ness, so if you want to go Nessie hunting, you could add a side trip to Loch Ness and Inverness before or after visiting Skye; this is very common.

We cover this route in detail during our free seven-day Scotland itinerary.

Map of Edinburgh to Skye Scenic Route with Ferry Crossing

Another lesser-known option that connects Skye to the mainland is the seasonal Glenelg to Kylerhea ferry.

Note: Many businesses in the Highlands and remote areas of the country shut down for winter, so plan accordingly by booking accommodation in advance, purchasing ferry tickets, packing meals/snacks, and topping up fuel/electricity when you can.

Glencoe from car window on Highlands day tour

Edinburgh to Skye by Train

If driving in Scotland and “on the left” sounds tricky, there is a train that departs Edinburgh Waverley and arrives in Mallaig about 6.5 hours later.

The journey requires one change: check the ScotRail app for the destination legs before booking so that you know where to depart and change over.

This train journey is special as it goes through some of the West Highland Way hike locations, such as Bridge of Orchy and Rannoch, and it goes over the Glenfinnan Viaduct, just like the Harry Potter train!

From Mallaig Station, you can walk to the ferry port and sail to Armadale Pier in Skye (30 minutes) and then ride the very scarcely operated bus to Portree (1.5 to 3 hours).

Use this journey planner to help marry up all of the stages of the journey.

If choosing this option, consider that you won’t see much of Skye’s highlights unless you have a tour booked like this one.

An alternative train route is Edinburgh to Kyle of Lochalsh.

It has three legs to the journey, which requires two separate changeovers, then a bus to Portree, which is a little more frequent than the bus from Armadale Pier to Portree.

The train takes anywhere between 6 hours 40 minutes and 7 hours 40 minutes, and the bus is just over one hour.

See Citylink for bus times.

It is not impossible to visit Skye by public transport; it is just a little challenging and has many moving parts!

  • Edinburgh to Skye Train Time 1: Approx. 6.5 hours, then onward ferry and bus approx. 2-3 hours
  • Edinburgh to Skye Train Time 2: 6.5-8 hours, then bus approx. 1 hour
  • Pros: No driving, scenic, seat reservations, electronic charging points, on-board restrooms, cafe
  • Cons: Room for error, very limited bus service, no flexibility/independence to travel on Skye
Portree Colorful Houses in front of water on the Isle of Skye

Edinburgh to Skye by Bus

The Edinburgh to Inverness and then Inverness to Portree bus takes around 7.5 hours with one changeover; however, this option is not very frequent.

If traveling from Glasgow is possible, there is a direct bus to Portree, which takes around 7 hours.

  • Edinburgh to Portree Bus Time: Approx. 7.5 hours with changeover
  • Pros: No driving, scenic, on-board restrooms, affordable
  • Cons: Room for error, very limited bus service, no flexibility/independence to travel on Skye, comfort restricted
Fairy Pools in Skye sitting in shadow of mountain in Scotland

Tours From Edinburgh to Isle of Skye

If all of the above options sound like a headache, consider letting someone else take control of the wheel on a multi-day Isle of Skye trip from Edinburgh.

This 3-day Isle of Skye tour includes a day traveling via Kelpies, Stirling Castle, Loch Lomond, Trossachs National Park, Glencoe, Glenfinnan Viaduct, Loch Ness, and Inverness, where customers have to reserve accommodation for two nights.

On day two, the tour visits attractions on Skye such as the Cuillin Mountains, Trotternish Peninsula, Portree, the Old Man Storr, Kilt Rock, and the Quiraing.

The final day features Culloden Battlefield, Cairngorm National Park, and whisky tasting in Dunkeld (Perthshire), before heading back to Edinburgh.

Alternatively, this 3-day Skye tour arranges accommodation for you, visits most of the tourist sightseeing spots above, and transports customers by Mercedes bus for comfort.

  • Edinburgh to Skye By Tour: 3 days
  • Pros: Guided tour with driver, lots of sightseeing opportunities
  • Cons: Lack of flexibility in itinerary, long days, groups of people
Kilt Rock flowing from mossy green cliff on Isle of Skye in Scotland

Final Words

Now that you know how to get to Skye from Edinburgh via car, bus, train, and coach trip, which option will you choose?

Tell us in the comments!

Whatever option you go for Skye is a gem that also has visitors hoping to return.

Haste ye back!

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