It isn’t real-life World of Warcraft, but Scotland’s Isle of Skye still makes one Here editor say “WoW.” The island’s cozy inns, delicious seafood, soaring mountains, and fanciful fairy pools have enchanted us enough to take a visit.
Today, I bare my soul to you all. Today, in front of God and the World Wide Web, I admit that I loved World of Warcraft growing up. A friend introduced it to me when we were in elementary school, kicking off a long history of nerdy guilty pleasures (see: my obsession with Tolkien, Legend of Zelda, The Elder Scrolls, Game of Thrones, and so on).
Was I any good at playing? Absolutely not. In fact, I was wretched.
But was I entranced by the magic, the storytelling, the world-building, and the idea of being a rogue elf traversing the mountains and plains of a beautiful but war-ridden fantasy realm? Absolutely.
Unfortunately, I have yet to find a real-world entrance to this fantasy realm—but Scotland’s Isle of Skye seems to come pretty close. Not to be mistaken for WoW’s Isle of Thunder, this island off Scotland’s west coast is a playground for fantasy geeks like myself. That being said: Onward to grassy knolls, otherworldly mountains, humble villages, and real-life fairy pools.
How to Get to the Isle of Skye
Start by flying into either Glasgow or Inverness. From there, the two main options are either to take a bus or rent a car and drive across the Skye Bridge or take a ferry over. Once you’re on the island, you can rent a car or use local buses to travel from place to place.
Where to Stay on the Isle of Skye
Isle of Skye hotels are often the spitting image of the warm, cozy taverns and inns artists spend months designing for games. One of these, The Three Chimneys, sits on the shore of Loch Dunvegan, where travelers can take boat tours, explore the nearby castle, and enjoy the peace and quiet in the bucolic village of the same name. Another, Kinloch Lodge, offers a similar luxe experience on the northern shores of the idyllic Loch na Dal.
What to Eat on the Isle of Skye
Seafood is the name of the game on the Isle of Skye, and you rarely need to go far for it. Conveniently, both Kinloch and The Three Chimneys are equally renowned for serving some of the island’s best food (both have earned Michelin stars). Complimented by fresh local meat, game, and vegetables, the restaurants each offer multi-course tasting menus to let guests sample the best of the Scottish Highlands.
What to Do on the Isle of Skye
Aside from hiking (aka pretending to be on an epic quest), wild swimming at the Isle of Skye’s Fairy Pools tops my to-do list. Found at the foot of the Cuillin Mountains, legend has it that fairies (known in Scotland as the “wee folk”) once frequented the crystalline blue lagoons and waterfalls. Reviews, on the other hand, have it that the water is freezing cold but worth taking a dip in, anyway.