Lonely Planet Writer

Magical Isle of Skye asks visitors to use common sense and plan ahead for their visit

Scotland’s incredible Isle of Skye has long been known as one of the most picturesque corners of Europe. This summer, however, has seen a huge tourist boom and some locals are feeling a little overwhelmed from the attention.

The Old Man of Storr has been increasingly busy lately. Image by Chee Seong/Getty Images

Skye’s sparkling lochs and waterfalls, medieval villages and sweeping cliffs have long been a popular tourist draw in the summer months but interest in the island has been increasing in the last few years. A very successful campaign by VisitScotland, coupled with its appearance in movies, music videos by artists like Kanye West and Harry Styles and adverts has caused some crowding along the 50-mile stretch of island.

Skye's infrastructure is lacking to cope with the influx of tourists.
Tourists visit the Fairy Pools in Glenbrittle, Scotland. Image by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images.

While locals point out there are plenty of areas of the island to explore, a huge increase in day-trippers mean that the island’s infrastructure is not always up to scratch. Popular attractions like the Uig fairy glen, Man of Storr and the Fairy Pools are often extremely busy while the charming narrow roads can be jammed and there have been long lines for toilets and some struggle finding accommodation. A local campaign has been launched to start charging a small tourist tax of £1 per person to fund better infrastructure.

Tourist visit Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls. Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

The boom also caused local police to issue a warning after regular incidents of hapless visitors turning up at the station hoping the police could find them accommodation. “I would never advise people against visiting our beautiful island”, Sergeant Bruce Crawford said, “but I would ask people to use common sense before travelling, booking accommodation in advance if they intend to stay overnight.

“Like everyone else we want visitors to have the best experience possible but I would encourage people who travel from around the world to see Skye to plan ahead unless they want to spend a night in their car.”

Portree is filled with visitors at sunset. Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Accommodation owners have joined calls for a long-term sustainable tourism plan to ease congestion and ensure Skye’s beauty is protected, while continuing to give keen travellers a chance to experience the idyllic settings from themselves.