This photography guide has been created to showcase the best, unmissable Isle of Skye photography locations for anyone who enjoys photographing nature and landscapes.
What you should know ahead of time is that Scotland is considered one of the premier destinations for landscape photography anywhere in the world. It says a lot, then, that many consider the Isle of Skye the most photogenic region of Scotland!
As this guide is intended to only showcase the absolute highlights, I recommend browsing some of our other Scotland travel guides if you are here planning a trip. In particular, you may find value in the following extremely detailed guides to traveling Scotland:
- 10 Days in Scotland Road Trip Itinerary
- Isle of Skye 2 Day Tour from Edinburgh
- Top 20 Scottish Castles You Need to Visit
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Top 10 Destinations for Isle of Skye Photography
10. Coral Beach
When to shoot: Afternoon is generally best.
Equipment: A drone is handy, but not necessary!
When you think of Scotland’s Isle of Skye, I am guessing white sand beaches are not the first landscapes that come to mind. However, there is an oasis called Coral Beach that is exactly that!
While I appreciate not everyone has access to the skies, this is a great place for some drone photography as it allows you to capture the entirety of the scene. If you don’t have a drone, don’t worry, it is still spectacular to see from the beach itself too.
Like many roads on the Isle of Skye, the road to Coral Beach is not well maintained and is fairly narrow for oversized vehicles.
When to shoot: Daytime is fine.
Equipment: Just a camera.
If you are not camping or traveling the Isle of Skye in a campervan, you will most likely want to make Portree your home base. As the capital of the Isle of Skye, it is fairly central to most of the places you will want to photograph. Additionally, it boasts plenty of charm and photographic allure of its own. Colourful houses adorn the waterfront of the harbour, surrounded by hills and cliffs, as little boats bob around in the water.
You will not want to waste peak shooting hours here, but consider carving out some time after breakfast or in the afternoon. We chose to explore Portree after an exhausting sunrise hike and photo session at the Old Man of Storr. It was nice to be able to go into the city, fuel up at a cozy cafe, and then wander about with cameras in hand.
8. Dunvegan Castle
When to shoot: Sunset and sunrise can both be special as the castle is photogenic from back and front.
Equipment: A drone is handy, but a camera is all you need.
Dunvegan Castle is inarguably the most beautiful castle to photograph on the Isle of Skye… mostly because it is the ONLY true castle on the island!
Even on a larger scale, we consider this castle to be one of the most photogenic in Scotland. In fact, it ranked 7th overall on our guide to the Best Castles in Scotland!
What makes it such a special place for Isle of Skye photography is the immaculate condition in which it has been kept, as well as the gorgeous scenery that surrounds it.
Pro Tip: Since you’re here already, you may as well shoot up to Coral Beach nearby!
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When to shoot: Golden hour or sunset.
Equipment: A tripod and an ND filter will help soften the water.
We drove into Sligachan thinking it might be a nice little stopover on our Isle of Skye photography road trip… Just a place to enjoy a craft beer brewed on-site at Cuillin Brewery and grab a bite at one of the many cafes and restaurants.
What we did not realize was how incredibly beautiful the views were from right in the center of town! Two bridges provide access to sweeping views of the Cuillin Hills that loom in the distance like something out of Middle Earth.
While Sligachan may not garner the attention of many other popular photography locations on the Isle of Skye, I promise you that any true shutterbug will find plenty of inspiration here.
6. Kilt Rock
When to shoot: North facing view, so golden hours for sunrise/sunset may provide some sky interest.
Equipment: Tripod/ND for soft water waterfall, and a drone* is VERY useful here.
In a frame, one could be forgiven for thinking the Earth ends where Mealt Falls spills over Kilt Rock into the ocean below. There are very few places where a waterfall of this size can be seen and photographed making that final plunge at the end of its journey.
Mealt Falls is a short drive north from the Old Man of Storr and is a must-see destination. There is no hike required, making it a good option to start or end your day as well.
If you have a drone, it will come in handy here as the viewing area is extremely limited. With access to the sky, however, you will discover a much wider range of opportunities to capture this incredible sight.
Personally, I also like the way this photographs with an ND filter to soften the flow of water.
While a drone is an incredible way to capture this landscape, please do be respectful of wildlife. Drones are not permitted during birds nesting season from February – July to avoid disturbing them at this vulnerable time.
5. Fairy Pools
When to shoot: Sunset & golden hour
Equipment: Tripod and Polarizing Filter for removing glare from the water.
Few places are more popular for landscape photography on the Isle of Skye than the Fairy Pools. This is also one of those places where the photos tend to be better than the actual visual experience.
What makes the Fairy Pools interesting is the deep-green and blue water that tumbles down the River Brittle. Some small waterfalls and cascades create appealing foregrounds, while the Black Cuillin Mountains fill the background.
In a frame, the right composition can bring these elements together very nicely. To your eyes, however, you should expect the scale of things to be a bit underwhelming… or maybe I just had mismanaged my expectations.
We were not able to get much of a sunset here (which is usually the case), but if you are lucky enough to get some color in your sky the scene really takes new life!
4. Neist Point Lighthouse
When to photograph: Sunrise or sunset, golden hours, twilight
Equipment: Just a camera
There is something about lighthouses that make for such great subjects. The resilience, the history, and the coastal scenery you tend to find them in all contribute to one great photograph. Neist Point Lighthouse has all this in spades!
While you can actually hike down to the lighthouse, most photographers prefer to photograph Neist Point from an adjacent overlook. This vantage point provides a linear view of the cliffs and ensures the lighthouse can be seen within the context of the landscape.
On our visit, we arrived for sunset hoping for some color, then made the mistake of going to bed. I later saw photos of the lighthouse at twilight and regretted that decision. Once some darkness has fallen, you can capture the light of the lighthouse and tell a more interesting story in your photograph.
Sunrise can also be a good time to visit as there will be no crowds and you might get a bit of reverse sunrise color.
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3. Fairy Glen
When to photograph: Partially cloudy day, golden hour
Equipment: Just a camera, but a drone can come in handy.
While I acknowledge that there are a few places more deservedly renown for photography on the Isle of Skye, Fairy Glen was one of my personal favorites.
The bright green landscape juxtaposed against the blood-red fern and interspersed ponds created a feeling of wandering through a fantasy land. Occasionally the sun would burst through the heavy clouds and really bring all that color to new life.
The reason I recommend photographing Fairy Glen outside of sunrise/sunset is that the colors of the landscape lose vibrancy without the direct sunlight. Golden hour is great to get some angular illumination, but as the sun drops, more and more of the Fairy Glen will be lost in shadow.
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When to photograph: Sunrise, morning golden hour
Equipment: Just your camera… and an alarm clock!
Many people confuse Quiraing for Storr as they are similarly remarkable landscapes for Isle of Skye photography. Both have similar textures, savage rock outcroppings, and both are best photographed at sunrise.
Both also require a pretty mean hike to get into place before the sun rises!
However, Quiraing photography tends to focus more on the distant painted hills. As the early light bathes the scenery in medleys of gold, red, green, and blue, the entire Earth seems to radiate a supernatural beauty.
You will genuinely lament the time you have to set your alarm clock for to be on location for your photoshoot in time to catch the best light. However, I personally promise it is 100% doing so if you truly love the craft. Quiraing is legitimately my second-favorite place in all of Scotland to photograph sunrise, behind only…
1. Old Man of Storr
When to photograph: Sunrise is usually best, but sunset can be good
Equipment: Just your camera… and an alarm clock!
The Old Man of Storr is the iconic, unmissable, cannot-be-ignored bucket list Isle of Skye photography destination. It is not only the best place to photograph sunrise on the Isle of Skye, nor even the best place in Scotland… But I contend it is the best sunrise photography destination in all of the UK!
And, ironically, the shot above was taken at sunset 🙂
I have folders full of sunrise pictures captured at the Old Man of Storr that I love, and only a couple photographs from sunset. However, we happened to get a spectacular reverse sunset on our visit and a fairly ordinary sunrise, so this ended up the favorite.
Be prepared for a lengthy hike at a miserable hour. The hike to the top is easy enough in the dark (with a flashlight, of course). When I say easy, I mean easy to navigate; it is a monster physically! It is also incredibly muddy more often that not!
As there are infinite photography guides to the Old Man of Storr already out there, I will keep this short and sweet. You MUST go there for at least one sunrise on your visit to Scotland’s Isle of Skye.
Camera Gear for Photographing the Isle of Skye
While it is possible to capture some great photos nowadays with smartphones, for the best possible photos you may want to consider a few key pieces of photography gear:
- Camera: We use the Sony a7riii and have been in love with it ever since the first photo we took with it. However, for beginners you may wish to consider an entry level DSLR. This will allow you to start getting to grips with manual settings and decide whether photography is something you enjoy enough to invest in.
- Lens: The lens we use most frequently is the Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS as the zoom lens allows for the most diversity. We also often use the Laowa 15mm F2 for shots that require a wider angle.
- Tripod: A tripod is essential if you are shooting in low light, at night or for any other long exposure photography. When traveling, we use the Manfrotto Be Free as it’s lightweight and easy to carry on longer hikes. For times when we require something more stable, we use the Artcise Carbon Fiber Tripod.
- Filters: A Circular Polarizing (CPL) filter (CPL) or Neutral Density (ND) filter are very useful for allowing slower shutter speeds and for cutting glare on reflective surfaces, helping to bring out the colors. The best CPL and ND filters we have found are the quartz line from Polar Pro.
Final Thoughts on the Top 10 Isle of Skye Photography Destinations
It should not be surprising if most of our Top 10 Isle of Skye photography locations were already on your radar. This has become the top destination in all of Scotland for tourism, so most of the best places have been revealed by now.
Whether you learned of any new places or not, I hope you have found some value or inspiration in the photos and information provided. If anything is inaccurate or missing, help us improve our guide by leaving your suggestion in the comments below.
Or, you know, just say something nice… We like that too 🙂