Picturesque Portree is the main town on the Isle of Skye and its central location makes it the ideal location for exploring the rest of the island. It is the main hub for the local buses.

The focus of the town is the harbour, where fishing boats still land their daily catches (pictured left). Boat trips can be taken from here out to Rona, or to catch a glimpse of the nearby sea eagles (boat pictured right).

Portree has a good range of shops and is the ideal location for buying gifts. Over the Rainbow stocks a great range on the road down to the harbour.

Portee Knitwear stocks a variety of Scottish clothing and woolens including the local 'Isle of Skye' tartan.

Cafe Arriba, above Over the Rainbow, serves good breakfasts with great harbour views. It also operates as a bistro in the evenings.

The Isles Inn is Skye's top meeting place for backpackers, and has a great atmosphere and live music several times a week.

On the edge of Portree is the Aros Centre. This houses a cinema, and features theatre and regular music concerts, as well as an exhibition and audio-visual presentation about the Island. Remote cameras display live images from the nests of sea eagles.

Further south is the Braes district. This was the scene of the Battle of the Braes, reputedly the last battle fought on British soil. Local crofters, led by Nicolson women and engaged in the struggle for land rights, fought police from Inverness.

Skye is famous for its walking- see Isle of Skye walks. Two short walks in Portree are worth mentioning. The walk round Scorrybreac follows the coast north from the town, crossing land purchased by the Nicolson trust as a memorial for members of that clan.

In the centre of the town is the picturesque headland known as the Lump, site of the Portree Highland Games in the summer. It offers great views, especially from the top of the Apothecary's Tower, a nineteenth century folly recently restored by Iain MacLeod.

Why not search your ancestors in the old cemetery? Or visit Macnicol's aisle in the ruins of the Metropolitan Church on St. Columba's Isle, Skeabost, the seat of the founding of Christianity in the islands.

Visit the distillery at Carbost where the island's own malt whisky is distilled, or Armadale Castle ruins - the stronghold of the Macdonalds with it's beautiful gardens and the Museum of the Isles.

Visit Dunvegan Castle and gardens, the home of the chiefs of Clan Macleod since the 12th Century.

Book early to attend the Portree Highland Games in August.


The Independent Hostel Guide

Photographs and text copyright Portree Independent Hostel. Website Walk Highlands (Scotland)