The biggest and busiest town on the Isle of Skye, Portree is built around a colorful harbor where fishing boats still arrive to offload their catch of the day.
Skye’s capital and cultural center, the lively town of Portree is awash with seafood restaurants, shops, hotels, B&Bs and traditional pubs. Admire the row of pastel-colored houses lining the harbor, browse locally produced crafts in independent boutiques and embark on a wildlife-spotting boat trip from Portree Harbour.
Learn about the different theories regarding the origins of Portree’s name. Some believe it comes from “Port Righ,” Gaelic for “King’s Harbour,” referencing a visit made by King James V in the 16th century. Others suggest it may come from “Port Ruighe,” meaning “port of slopes,” referencing the hilly landscape.
Stroll around town and wander down to Portree Harbour, a picturesque area where fishing boats and pleasure craft moor. Go on a boat trip from the pier to the islands of Rona or Raasay. Seals, dolphins and golden eagles can occasionally be spotted out at sea.
Shops line the central Somerled Square and the streets branching off it. Purchase handcrafted cosmetics, carved wood crafts and locally made knitwear. Toward the south of the town is the Aros Centre, a cultural center that includes a theater, cinema and seasonal visitor center.
Choose from a range of dining options in town. Charming seafood eateries can be found down by the harbor with more restaurants and pubs scattered around town. The town is at its busiest during the annual Isle of Skye Highland Games, which features a program of events including traditional sports such as caber tossing as well as Scottish piping competitions.
With its proximity to the Old Man of Storr, the Kilt Rock and the Trotternish ridge, Portree is a popular base for travelers. Pick up maps and brochures in the town’s tourist office for more information.
Portree is located on the east coast of Skye. To get here, ride buses from Inverness, Glasgow and Edinburgh or drive. Local buses connect Portree to other spots on the island, but are infrequent. Driving or cycling is more convenient.