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The quality of the northern light and the sheer beauty of the landscapes add to the adventure. Above all, don't rush things. Multiple-journey ferry tickets—the Island Hopscotch, for example—can help you stay flexible. You could easily combine the itineraries here with forays into the Great Glen (including Inverness and Loch Ness) or even up to Orkney and the Shetland Islands.
If You Have 2 Days
If you only have two days, head to the fabled isle of Skye, whose mists shroud so many legends. Stay in towns with remarkable hotels, such as Broadford or Armadale, then tour the spectacular countryside, including the celebrated Cuillin Ridge near Glen Brittle. Be sure to detour to see Eilean Donan Castle once you're back on the mainland.
If You Have 5 Days
If the weather looks settled, head for Skye, and base yourself at Portree. The next day, visit Glen Brittle and the Cuillin Ridge. On your third day, take the ferry from Uig, in the north of Skye, to Tarbert, in the Western Isles, and visit the Calanais Standing Stones, the ArnolBlack House, and some deserted beaches. The next day, travel to Stornoway and catch the ferry to Ullapool on the mainland. On your fifth day, return to Inverness by way of the Corrieshalloch Gorge and Strathpeffer.
If You Have 8 Days
Tackle the coastal loop of the north of Scotland counterclockwise. Start at Ullapool, then take the ferry for Stornoway and the Western Isles. Spend your second day visiting Stornoway's harbor and museum, and on your third day, drive north to visit Port of Ness, the Butt of Lewis Lighthouse, the ArnolBlack House, and the Calanais Standing Stones. The fourth day, drive to Tarbert for a visit to the Seallam! Visitor Centre and Co Leis Thu? Genealogical Research Centre. The next day, take the ferry to North Uist, returning to Tarbert in the evening. On your sixth day, take the ferry to Uig on Skye and travel to Portree. Spend your seventh day visiting Glen Brittle, then move on to Broadford. On your last day, cross the Skye Bridge and return to Inverness.
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