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Orkney and Isle of Skye in 3 days?

My friends want to do both Orkney and Isle of Skye and we are very limited by time. (Once in a lifetime so they want to do everything!). Is it possible to do both? Thoughts? 


  • HorizonsHorizons Member, VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭✭✭
    The answer is barely yes (with many conditions) and also depends on the definition of 3 days as well as how you plan to see the islands. If you're driving, it is simply too much driving for one person to do IMO (may need 2 or more drivers in rotation). It'll be much better if you spend the 3 days in either of these places to throughly explore & enjoy.

    I've done it in "3 days" in the following manner using public transport & day trips. You must be in Inverness before Day 1 and can potentially be back in Inverness by Day 3. If driving, find the itineraries of the tours and follow them.

    Day 1 will be spent on the Orkney bus day trip from Inverness (leaves at 7:15 am, June 1 - Aug 31 only).

    Day 2 will be spent travelling to Skye, this is the more "relaxing" day. Take the 1st train out to Kyle of Lochalsh & reach Kyle by 11:15 AM. Take a short taxi ride to Eilean Donan castle (alternatively you can take the 1st bus straight to the castle but the train journey is very scenic). You can then take the 3:30 PM bus to Portree / Skye accommodation of choice and walk around.

    Day 3 will be spent doing a Skye day trip. I personally have used Skye Scenic tours more than once and can wholeheartedly recommend them. Sligachan used to be the last stop on the tour and if that is the case, you should be able to catch the 5:53 PM bus back to Inverness to reach by 8:46 PM.

    Again, the tours are not as flexible as seeing things yourself, however watching the incredible scenery from the window and not having to drive is quite enjoyable. Plus the roads in Skye & some parts leading to Orkney aren't very well suited to someone who has not driven before in rural Scotland (single track, steep grade, etc). Hope you do have a trip of a lifetime, let me know if you have any questions.
    I'm Anirudh, an Indian travel blogger who has explored a lot of Scotland by public transport. My blog. Find me on Facebook | Instagram

    Best of Scotland in 1 week itinerary (fully by public transport)

    My Scotland travels (includes EdinburghSkye, HarrisMullArranOrkneyLoch Lomond, Islay, Oban, Speyside fest)

  • Samantha_GrantSamantha_Grant VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭✭✭
    edited March 2017
    @joyfullyjess Orkney has so much to see and do that I'd suggest a 3 day visit to Orkney and forget Skye but that's just my personal opinion.  I do like Skye but I also find it's a wee bit overrated.  It's my least favourite island but I know lots of people who love it.  

    Orkney is a fascinating place with history at every turn.  Skye is interesting and scenic but I'd take a trip to Orkney over Skye every time.  History favourites of mine on Orkney were the Tomb of the Eagles (you get to view and handle some 5,000 year old relics), Cuween Hill Cairn (claustrophobic and terrifying but exhilarating too), the Broch of Gurness and the WWII gun batteries and lookout towers at Hoxa Head - phenomenal.  

    The scenery is pretty special too and the colours of the sea have real wow factor.  Scenic must sees are Yesnaby Castle (a dramatic sea stack), The Gloup a collapsed sea cave and the stunning beaches by the Churchill Barriers.  White sand, turquoise water and sunken ships from WWI and WWII in the water to make access to Scapa Flow difficult.  An unreal sight. 

    The absolute best thing about Orkney though is the Orcadian welcome.  They are so kind and friendly and treat visitors like old friends. 

    I'm a Scottish travel blogger and freelance writer with an extensive knowledge of travelling in Scotland.  I'm always on the road exploring my wonderful country.  I love remote places, history and the great outdoors. 

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