Skye's largest town and a charmingly friendly stop-off popular with all visitors.
Portree is the island's capital and main settlement. It's an attractive little fishing port, built around a natural harbour, with a row of brightly painted houses along the shorefront and the rest of the town rising steeply up to the central Somerled Square. (Somerled was a famous and powerful Lord of the Isles).
Phone code: +44 (0)1478
History of Portree
The town was so named (Port Righ means 'King's Harbour' in Gaelic) to commemorate a visit by King James V in 1540. He came with his fleet to quell a long-standing and bitter feud between the island's main clans, the Macleods and the MacDonalds. The town's other notable royal occasion, in 1746 - one of the most poignant moments in Scottish history - was when Prince Charlie bade farewell to Flora MacDonald in MacNab's hostelry, now the Royal Hotel.
Almost a quarter of a century later the town was visited by Dr Johnson and Boswell, who dined in MacNab's, believing it to be 'the only inn on the island'. That may or may not have been the case in those days, but today Portree offers a wide range of places to eat, hotels, B&Bs, pubs, shops and banks to cater for the huge numbers of tourists that come here in the summer.
The town's nightlife is mainly confined to eating and drinking. The bar of the Pier Hotel, Quay Street, Tel. +44 (0)1478 612094 by the harbour is a real fishermen's drinking den. Also popular is the Royal Hotel once MacNabs Hostelry, Bank Street, Tel. +44 (0)1478 612525. If you fancy a wild Friday night ceilidh, try the Portree Community Centre, Camanahd Square, Park Road, Tel. +44 (0)1478 613736. The Aros Experience (see 'Sights' above) has a theatre which shows drama, movies and live music. Call the box office for details of their monthly progr -amme; Tel. +44 (0)1478 613750. The swimming pool is at Camanahd Square, Tel. +44 (0)1478 612655. The island's annual Highland Games are a 1-day event held in Portree in early Aug.
Bank of Scotland and Clydesdale Bank, both on Somerled Sq. The Royal Bank of Scotland is on Bank St. All have ATMs.
Internet: At the Portree Independent Hostel , at the post office and at Portree Backpacker's Hostel on Dunvegan Rd. Post office: At the top of Quay Brae.
At the Portree Independent Hostel.
Local Sights & Activities for Portree
The Aros Experience, on Viewfield Road, half a mile from the town centre on the road to Broadford, is an exhibition and audio-visual display of the island's history and cultural heritage. The island's only theatre is housed here and features a varied programme of events, including drama, traditional music and movies (see 'Entertainment' below). There's also a restaurant serving good value snacks and main meals, a gift shop and a network of forest trails to explore. Info - Daily 0900-2100 (off season 0900-1800). Tel. +44 (0)1478 613649, aros@ demon.co.uk
If the weather's good, Portree offers many opportunities for a wide variety of outdoor activities. Boat trips can be made to the island of Rona, north of Raasay, with the MV Brigadoon. Trips leave from the pier (April-September) and cost from £10 per person. Full-day charters are also available for £75-200 (12 passengers). Tel. +44 (0)1478 613718, or ask for Peter Urquhart at the pier. For horse riding, Portree Riding and Trekking Stables are a couple of miles from the town centre, Tel. 582419. Follow the Struan Road (B885) for two miles, then bear right at the fork towards Peiness. Four miles north of Portree, at Borve on the road to Uig, is the Skye Riding Centre, Tel. 01470-532439.
Mountain bikes can be hired at Island Cycles, on The Green; Monday-Saturday 1000-1700, Tel. +44 (0)1478 613121.
Portree Hotels & Accommodation
There are numerous hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs in Portree, but accommodation can be hard to find in the busy summer season. For a small fee the tourist office will book accommodation for you. Prices tend to be slightly higher in Portree than the rest of the island, though B&Bs on the outskirts of town are usually cheaper.
Rosedale Hotel, Beaumont Cres, Tel. +44 (0)1478 613131. 23 rooms. Open May-Sep. Cosy little hotel by the harbour, converted from fishermen's houses.
Bosville Hotel, Bosville Terr, Tel. +44 (0)1478 612846, Fax. 613434, Bosville Hotel 18 rooms. Comfortable and stylish accommodation with friendly service. Boasts 2 award-winning restaurants (see 'Eating' below). There are also several guesthouses on Bosville Terr and many B&Bs on Stormyhill Rd and the streets running off it.
Viewfield House Hotel, on the road into Portree from the south, Tel. +44 (0)1478 612217, Fax. 613517, Viewfield House Hotel 9 rooms. Open mid-Apr to mid-Oct. Grand old country house full of antiques, set in 20 acres of woodland garden. Log fire adds to the welcoming atmosphere; great value.
Mr & Mrs Mathieson, Grenitote, 9 Martin Cres, Tel. +44 (0)1478 612808, on Viewfield Rd heading south out of town. Good value.
There are a couple of options for budget travellers. Portree Independent Hostel, Old Post Office, The Green, Tel. 613737. 60 beds. Right in the centre of town, with laundrette and email facilities. Portree Backpackers Hostel, 6 Woodpark, Dunvegan Rd, Tel. +44 (0)1478 613641, Fax. 613643. 26 beds. There's a campsite at Torvaig, just outside the town, Tel. +44 (0)1478 612209, open Apr-Oct.