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How Long Is The Ferry Ride To Isle Of Skye


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Audrye Henn



Welcome to the stunning and enchanting Isle of Skye, a place of breathtaking landscapes, rich history, and vibrant culture. Located on the west coast of Scotland, this idyllic island offers visitors a unique and unforgettable experience.


With its dramatic mountains, rugged coastline, and picturesque villages, the Isle of Skye has long been a popular destination for nature lovers, hikers, and photographers. From the iconic Fairy Pools to the majestic Cuillin Mountains, there is no shortage of natural wonders to explore.


But before you can immerse yourself in the beauty of Skye, you’ll need to plan your journey to the island. One of the most popular ways to reach Skye is by ferry, offering a scenic and memorable experience along the way.


In this article, we will guide you through the various ferry options available, the departure points, and the duration of the ferry ride to the Isle of Skye. Whether you’re seeking adventure or simply looking to relax and enjoy the stunning views, we’ve got you covered.


So, grab your map, pack your sense of adventure, and let’s dive into the world of the Isle of Skye!


Overview of the Isle of Skye

The Isle of Skye, also known as “The Misty Isle,” is the largest and most famous island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. It is renowned for its dramatic and untouched landscapes, making it a paradise for nature enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers.


The island boasts a diverse range of attractions, from towering mountains to cascading waterfalls, stunning lochs to iconic rock formations. Many visitors are drawn to the unmatched beauty of the Cuillin Mountains, which offer a truly mesmerizing backdrop for hiking and climbing.


Skirting the coast are rugged cliffs, sheer sea stacks, and picturesque fishing villages. The Trotternish Peninsula is a must-visit, featuring geological wonders such as the Old Man of Storr, the Quiraing, and the Fairy Glen. These otherworldly landscapes have been the setting for numerous films and TV series.


In addition to its natural beauty, the Isle of Skye boasts a rich history and vibrant culture. You can explore medieval castles, such as Dunvegan Castle, home to the MacLeod Clan for over eight centuries. The island also has many traditional Scottish Gaelic-speaking communities, which adds to its cultural charm.


When it comes to wildlife, Skye offers a fantastic opportunity for birdwatching, with species such as sea eagles and puffins calling the island home. You may also spot seals basking on the shores or dolphins playing in the surrounding waters.


With charming restaurants, cozy pubs, and local craft shops, the Isle of Skye promises a warm Scottish welcome and the chance to discover the region’s culinary delights, including fresh seafood, whisky, and traditional haggis.


Overall, the Isle of Skye is a destination that will capture your heart and leave you with lifelong memories. Whether you are a nature lover, history enthusiast, or simply seeking a peaceful retreat, Skye offers something for everyone.


Ferry Options to the Isle of Skye

When it comes to reaching the Isle of Skye by ferry, there are two main options available: the ferry from Mallaig to Armadale and the ferry from Glenelg to Kylerhea. Both routes offer stunning views and the chance to soak in the beauty of the surrounding landscapes.


The Mallaig to Armadale ferry is the most popular and convenient option for most visitors. The journey takes you across the scenic waters of the Sound of Sleat, offering magnificent views of the coastline and the Small Isles along the way. The ferry is operated by Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac), and it runs throughout the year, with more frequent sailings during the summer season.


The Glenelg to Kylerhea ferry, on the other hand, provides a more unique and off-the-beaten-path experience. This is the last manually operated turntable ferry in Scotland, and it adds a touch of nostalgia to your journey. The short crossing takes you from the mainland to Skye, traversing the Kylerhea Narrows, known for its strong tidal currents. It is operated by the Glenelg and Arnisdale Ferry Trust and operates from Easter to October.


Both ferries accommodate both pedestrians and vehicles, offering flexibility for travelers. It is advisable to book your ticket in advance, especially during the peak summer season, to secure your spot on the ferry.


Regardless of which ferry route you choose, each provides a memorable journey and the opportunity to enjoy the breathtaking scenery that surrounds the Isle of Skye. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a history buff, or simply looking to relax and soak in the beauty of the Scottish Highlands, traveling to Skye by ferry is an experience you won’t want to miss.


Ferry Departure Points

If you’re planning on taking a ferry to the Isle of Skye, it’s important to know the departure points for each route. Understanding the locations will help you plan your journey and ensure a smooth start to your Skye adventure.


Mallaig is the main departure point for the ferry to Armadale on the Isle of Skye. Located on the west coast of the Scottish Highlands, Mallaig is a charming fishing village with stunning views of the surrounding mountains and sea. It is well-connected by road and rail, making it easily accessible from various parts of Scotland.


Glenelg, on the other hand, is the departure point for the ferry to Kylerhea on the Isle of Skye. Situated in the remote and picturesque Glenelg Valley, this small village provides a tranquil and scenic setting for the start of your Skye journey. Access to Glenelg is primarily by road, and it is advisable to check the driving conditions as the route includes single-track roads and steep gradients.


Both Mallaig and Glenelg have facilities and amenities for visitors, including car parks, accommodation options, and places to dine. It is recommended to arrive at the departure point with some time to spare, especially during the peak tourist season when there may be queues or limited parking availability.


It’s worth noting that there are other nearby towns and cities where you can base yourself before heading to the ferry departure points. These include Fort William, Kyle of Lochalsh, and Inverness, which offer a range of accommodations, transportation options, and attractions to explore before embarking on your Skye adventure.


Whether you choose to depart from Mallaig or Glenelg, each offers its own unique charm and scenic beauty, setting the stage for an unforgettable journey to the Isle of Skye.


Ferry Ride Duration from Mallaig to Armadale

The ferry ride from Mallaig to Armadale is one of the most popular routes to reach the Isle of Skye. Not only does it provide a convenient connection to the island, but it also offers stunning views of the surrounding landscapes along the way.


The duration of the ferry ride is approximately 30 minutes. As you depart from Mallaig, you’ll sail across the beautiful Sound of Sleat, which separates the mainland from the Isle of Skye. The calm waters and breathtaking scenery make the journey a delightful experience.


During the crossing, you’ll have the opportunity to soak in panoramic views of the rugged coastline, pristine beaches, and rolling hills that dot the landscape. Keep your camera ready as you might spot marine life such as seals or dolphins in the waters surrounding the ferry.


The ferry service between Mallaig and Armadale is operated by Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac), a reliable and well-established ferry operator in Scotland. They offer regular sailings throughout the year, with an increased frequency during the peak summer season to accommodate the high demand.


It is worth noting that the ferry schedules are subject to change, particularly during adverse weather conditions. Therefore, it is advisable to check the updated ferry timetables before planning your trip to ensure a smooth and hassle-free journey.


As you disembark at Armadale, you’ll find yourself on the southern end of the Isle of Skye, surrounded by picturesque landscapes and stunning views. From there, you can continue your exploration of the island, whether by car, bus, or on foot.


The ferry ride from Mallaig to Armadale is not only a means of transportation but also a memorable experience that allows you to appreciate the natural beauty of the Scottish Highlands and the charm of the Isle of Skye.


Ferry Ride Duration from Glenelg to Kylerhea

If you’re looking for a unique and off-the-beaten-path experience to reach the Isle of Skye, then the ferry ride from Glenelg to Kylerhea is the perfect choice. This route offers a shorter crossing but is filled with charm and tranquility.


The ferry ride from Glenelg to Kylerhea takes approximately 5 minutes. It may be a short journey, but it’s one that you will remember for a lifetime. The ferry, known as the Glenelg-Kylerhea Ferry, is the last manually operated turntable ferry in Scotland. The ferryman expertly navigates the vessel across the Kylerhea Narrows, a stretch of water known for its strong tidal currents.


As you make your way across the narrows, keep an eye out for wildlife such as seals, porpoises, and even otters that are often spotted in the area. The surrounding scenery is breathtaking, with rugged coastal cliffs and stunning views of the Isle of Skye in the distance.


The Glenelg-Kylerhea Ferry operates from Easter to October, providing a unique and memorable experience for visitors. It is recommended to arrive early, especially during the peak summer season, to secure your spot on the ferry and enjoy a leisurely journey.


Glenelg itself is a picturesque village nestled in the Glenelg Valley, offering a peaceful and scenic starting point for your Skye adventure. The village has a quaint charm, with traditional white-washed cottages and a warm Highland welcome.


After a short but memorable ferry ride, you’ll arrive at Kylerhea on the Isle of Skye. This remote location is known for its rugged beauty and wildlife spotting opportunities. Take a moment to soak in the tranquility and appreciate the unspoiled nature that surrounds you.


From Kylerhea, you can embark on further exploration of the Isle of Skye by car or by foot, heading towards the iconic landmarks, scenic hiking trails, and charming villages that make Skye a must-visit destination.


The ferry ride from Glenelg to Kylerhea may be brief, but it provides a unique and enchanting experience that allows you to immerse yourself in the untouched beauty of the Scottish Highlands and the Isle of Skye.


Other Transportation Options to the Isle of Skye

While taking a ferry is a popular and scenic way to reach the Isle of Skye, there are also other transportation options available for those who prefer alternative routes or methods of travel.


By Car: Skye is easily accessible by road, making it convenient for those who prefer the flexibility and freedom of driving. There are various routes you can take to reach Skye, depending on your starting point. The Skye Bridge, which connects the mainland at Kyle of Lochalsh to the village of Kyleakin on Skye, is a popular option for drivers. The bridge offers stunning views and is a great alternative to the ferry, especially for those traveling with vehicles.


By Bus: Skye is well-connected by a network of bus services that operate from major towns and cities in Scotland. Companies such as Scottish Citylink and Stagecoach offer regular services to Skye, providing a convenient and affordable option for travelers. The bus journey to Skye often includes scenic routes through the Highlands, allowing you to enjoy the picturesque landscapes even before reaching the island.


By Train: Although there is no direct train service to Skye, you can take the train to major towns near the island, such as Kyle of Lochalsh or Mallaig, and then connect to a ferry or bus for the final leg of your journey. The train ride itself is a delightful experience, with stunning views of the Scottish countryside along the way.


By Air: Skye does not have its own airport, but you can fly into nearby airports such as Inverness or Glasgow and then travel to Skye by road or public transportation. Renting a car at the airport is a popular choice for those who wish to explore the island at their own pace.


Each transportation option has its own advantages, and the choice depends on your preferences, budget, and travel plans. Whether you opt for a ferry, drive across a bridge, or choose a bus or train journey, the Isle of Skye is waiting to welcome you with its majestic landscapes and captivating charm.



The Isle of Skye is a true gem of Scotland, offering a mesmerizing blend of natural beauty, rich history, and vibrant culture. Whether you choose to reach the island by ferry, car, bus, or train, the journey to Skye is an adventure in itself.


The ferry options from Mallaig to Armadale and Glenelg to Kylerhea provide unique experiences, allowing you to soak in the stunning landscapes and enjoy the charm of the Scottish Highlands. The ferry rides offer breathtaking views of the coastline, wildlife spotting opportunities, and a sense of tranquility as you navigate the waters to reach Skye.


If you prefer to drive, the Skye Bridge offers a convenient and scenic route, while bus services and train connections provide accessible alternatives for those traveling without a vehicle. No matter your chosen mode of transportation, each option allows you to enjoy the beauty of the journey and glimpse the captivating landscapes that await on the Isle of Skye.


Once you arrive on Skye, you’ll be greeted by a paradise of majestic mountains, rugged coastlines, and picturesque villages. Explore the dramatic landscapes, hike the iconic trails, immerse yourself in the rich history, and savor the local culinary delights.


Whether you embark on a short ferry ride or opt for an alternative transportation option, the Isle of Skye promises an unforgettable experience. So, pack your sense of adventure, embrace the beauty of the Scottish Highlands, and create memories that will last a lifetime on the magical Isle of Skye.