It is a fact the road from Inverness to the Isle of sky will take you around 2.5 hours. Though it doesn’t really matter if you take the A82 or the A832, you will certainly enjoy wonderful views and a great landscape.
If you rather stop by a coastal town to have a bite, the A832 should be your option. If, on the other hand, you are keen on castles, the A82/A87 has to be your way. Urquhart and Eilean Donan castles are found along A82/A87 however, there are more than just castles on the A82.
Here is my guide to find all the hidden, and not so hidden spots on your way to Skye.
Spoiler alert: Most of them are FREE!
#1 Urquhart woods.
Leave Inverness and take the A82, which will take to Drumnadrochit after a 30-minute drive (15.91 miles, 25.6 km). Once you get there, ask for the cemetery. Park near there and take a short walk to Urquhart Woods. 15 minutes are more than enough.
# Loch Ness Exhibition Centre.
To be honest, the building is pretty impressive (from outside), and they have on display the original submarine that went deep down looking for Nessie (in the yard), but leaving that aside, I’ve heard visitors only move from one room to the other, watching videos which do not have subtitles, so if you do not speak English very well, just don’t assume you’ll get the Scottish accent this time.
My recommendation? Park in their car park. Take a photo of the submarine and the entrance, like I did, and then, keep going.
It is just 5 minutes (1.2 miles) from Loch Ness Exhibition Centre and it is worth every pound you pay (thought it should be cheaper hehe).
Walk through the ruins of Urquhart, which dates from the 13th to the 16th century, later destroyed to prevent the Jacobites from using it, back in the 17th century.
Enjoy the amazing view of the Loch Ness from the ruins of the Tower, take loads of photos of the castle and learn a bit of its history.
This detour will add at least 1.5 hour to your final estimation, though people say one hour is enough.
#Detour to Fort Augustus.
Instead of following the exact directions google map gave us, we decided not to take the A887 and to continue through the A82 until we arrived at Fort Augustus, where we had lunch.
Once in Fort Augustus, there are a couple options for you to choose:
- Look for All Na Criche; is a pine forest which houses a wee waterfall (people say one usually spends 30 minutes there).
- Enjoy the view of Loch Tarf; a wee loch with tiny islands inside about 7 minutes driving from Fort Augustus. To get there, you have to leave Fort Augustus and take the A862. According to the info we had, you can access Loch Tarf from a car park which is well marked. No more than 5 minutes are needed.
- Enjoy a well-deserved meal at Fort Augustus. We could have had lunch in a restaurant, but you know we are budget travellers, so we sat on the grass in front of the canal and we ate our food bought at Sainsbury.
# Eilean Donan Castle.
Go pass Aberchalder and take the A87, which will lead you to your next destination: the Eilean Donan Castle. You’ll be driving for about an hour (44 miles aprox, 70km). On your way there you’ll find a couple of viewpoints, some facing Loch Cluanie and others looking into Sgurr Fhuaran.
Walk the ground of this magnificent castle, which, to my understanding, is one of the most iconic places of Scotland. And, whatever you do, don’t leave without taking a photo from the parking lot.
I was told the coffee shop had delicious treats. I can’t tell, since we were carrying our own tea flasks and biscuits from Inverness. You know, budget travellers jeje.
# Glen Sligachan.
From Eilean Donan to Portree you have at least one hour, without making any stops. Anyway, there is one stop that’s mandatory. It will not take more than 5 minutes from the moment you park your car and it is totally free.
Glen Sligachan is a wee tight Glen which starts from the old bridge of Sligachan. You’ll love the view of the valley and the Cuillin Mountains behind.
This wee port is the capital of the Isle of Skye and our final stop.
To check my see-hike itinerary in the Isle of Skye, click here!
To know how to make Scotland a budget trip, click here.