Travel

Portree: a sleepy seaside getaway in Scotland

Enjoy unbeatable views from Scottish harbour town of Portree, surrounded by shimmering waters and beautiful mountains

My decision to plan a trip to a place often begins with a picture I have seen.

This time, it was an image of a calm harbour that beckoned me. Sailboats in the sun, with colourful buildings lined up on one side and fringed by gentle green mountains on the other.

Peaceful and understated harbour town Portree was indeed the highlight of my holiday in Scotland.

A fishing village and bustling port overlooking a sheltered bay, the capital town on the Isle of Skye is captivating in its superb natural setting, surrounded by highlands and cliffs.

The harbour is the focal point of the island, and the pastel buildings that line it form a beautiful contrast to the natural stone of the walkways and sparkling blue waters.

This unique view of the harbourside is the iconic image of Portree that you may have seen in various travel magazines and websites.

Having been there, it came as no surprise to me that it was recently listed as one of the most beautiful towns in Europe.

With the Cuillin mountains in the background and sailboats scattered across the shimmering water, Portree lives up to its reputation as one of the most scenic parts of Scotland.

Wentworth Street is home to plenty of cosy restaurants, pubs and cafes for you to grab a meal or take a break.

An array of fresh seafood is also on offer, and the best fish and chips I have ever had was in Portree - yes, even better than the famous versions from the UK and Australia.

Maybe it was the picturesque view I enjoyed while savouring the evenly salted, thick, fluffy chips or the soft cool breeze that made the piping hot fish even more delicious.

Whatever the reason, the meal was unforgettable.

Portree makes for an ideal stopover while you explore the Scottish rugged lands.

The accommodations - ranging from upmarket hotels to guest houses, hostels and campsites - will suit even the most discerning traveller.

WATERSIDE

Having an incurable weakness for any waterside lodging, I chose a cosy bed and breakfast called Marine House in one of the buildings overlooking the harbour.

From the room, I got to enjoy an exceptional, uninterrupted view that makes sipping hot tea by the window so appealing.

At sunset, the horizon seemed to be stitched with a line of gold, making for stunning photographs.

The owner, Fiona, was not only welcoming and warm, she spoilt the guests with her wonderful breakfast spread every morning.

It was more like the buffet you would get at a large hotel than a small bed-and-breakfast.

If you prefer bigger or more modern hotels, there are many to choose from just a few minutes' walk from the harbour.

In the Portree town centre, the hotels are mostly whitewashed buildings in natural stone.

Known to be a thriving cultural centre, some of these hotels also host free traditional musical entertainment in the summer.

One of the town's main attractions, the Aros Centre, runs regular theatre shows, concerts and film screenings.

For a change of pace, book a boat trip to see the variety of marine and bird life that thrive around the island, or explore the scenery of Trotternish Ridge, an area dominated by weird and wonderful rock formations.

There are many ways to get to the harbour town.

The nearest local airport is Inverness. If you are flying into Glasgow or Edinburgh, you can simply sign up for a three-day, two-night tour for a hassle-free trip.

If independent travel is your preference, there are buses that will take you to Portree from Inverness and Glasgow airports.

You can also rent a vehicle and plan a route from either city. The road trip will take about five to six hours.

tnp@sph.com.sg

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