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Portree harbour front 2016.jpg
Portree Harbour
Portree is located in Isle of Skye
Location within the Isle of Skye
Population2,480 (mid-2016 est.)[1]
OS grid referenceNG483454
• Edinburgh152 mi (245 km)
• London475 mi (764 km)
Council area
Lieutenancy area
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Historic county
Post townPORTREE
Postcode districtIV51
Dialling code01478
UK Parliament
Scottish Parliament
List of places
57°24′43″N 6°11′31″W / 57.412°N 6.192°W / 57.412; -6.192Coordinates: 57°24′43″N 6°11′31″W / 57.412°N 6.192°W / 57.412; -6.192

Portree (/pɔːrˈtr/; Scottish Gaelic: Port Rìgh, pronounced [pʰɔrˠʃt̪ˈɾiː]) is the largest town on, and capital[2] of, the Isle of Skye in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland.[3] It is the location for the only secondary school on the island, Portree High School. Public transport services are limited to buses.

Portree has a harbour, fringed by cliffs, with a pier designed by Thomas Telford.[4]

Attractions in the town include the Aros centre which celebrates the island's Gaelic heritage. Further arts provision is made through arts organisation ATLAS Arts, a Creative Scotland regularly-funded organisation.[5] The town also serves as a centre for tourists exploring the island.[6]

The Royal Hotel is the site of MacNab's Inn, the last meeting place of Flora MacDonald and Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1746.[3][7]

Around 939 people (37.72% of the population) can speak Scottish Gaelic.

The A855 road leads north out of the town, passing through villages such as Achachork, Staffin and passes the rocky landscape of the Storr before reaching the landslip of the Quiraing.

Map of Skye showing Portree


The current name, Port Rìgh translates as 'king's port', possibly from a visit by King James V of Scotland in 1540. However this etymology has been contested, since James did not arrive in peaceful times. The older name appears to have been Port Ruighe(adh), meaning 'slope harbour'.[8]

Prior to the 16th century the settlement's name was Kiltaraglen ('the church of St. Talarican') from Gaelic Cill Targhlain.


In the 1700s, the town was a popular point of departure for Scots sailing to America to escape poverty. This form of use repeated during the potato famine in the 1840s. Both times, the town was saved by an influx of boats, often going between mainland Scotland and the Outer Hebrides, who used Portree's pier as a rest point. The town also began exporting fish at this time, which contributed greatly to the local economy.

The town had the last manual telephone exchange in the UK, which closed in 1976.[9]


Portree (2018)

Portree is considered to be among the "20 most beautiful villages in the UK and Ireland" according to Condé Nast Traveler and is visited by many tourists each year.[10]

A report published in mid 2020 indicated that visitors added £211 million in a single year to the Isle of Skye's economy, prior to travel restrictions imposed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.[11] This was expected to decline substantially due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "Skye is highly vulnerable to the downturn in international visitors that will continue for much of 2020 and beyond", Professor John Lennon of Glasgow Caledonian University told a reporter in July 2020.[12]

In 2016, over 150,000 people stopped at the VisitScotland centre in Portree, a 5% increase over 2015.[13] Overcrowding during peak season was a problem however, before the pandemic, since it is "the busiest place on the island". One news item recommended that some tourists might prefer accommodations in quieter areas such as Dunvegan, Kyleakin and the Broadford and Breakish area.[14]

The 2020 reports did not cover tourism in Portree specifically but a December 2018 report by well-known travel writer Rick Steves had recommended the village as "Skye’s best home base" for visitors. He indicated that Portree "provided a few hotels, hostels and bed-and-breakfasts in town, while more B&Bs line the roads into and out of town".[15] The tourism bureau added that visitors would appreciate the "banks, churches, cafes and restaurants, a cinema at the Aros Centre, a swimming pool and library, (...) petrol filling stations and supermarkets".[16]


The town plays host to the Isle of Skye's shinty club, Skye Camanachd.[17] They play at Pairc nan Laoch above the town on the road to Struan.

Portree is home to two football clubs that play in the Skye and Lochalsh amateur football league called Portree and Portree Juniors.


Like most of the British Isles, Portree has an oceanic climate (Köppen: Cfb). The nearest weather station to Portree is located at Prabost, approximately 5+12 miles (9 km) north-west of Portree.

Climate data for Prabost (67 metres or 220 feet asl, averages 1981-2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 6.4
Average low °C (°F) 1.6
Average rainfall mm (inches) 211.2
Average rainy days (≥ 1 mm) 21.8 18.5 21.1 14.7 13.8 14.4 16.5 17.6 19.0 23.3 21.9 20.7 223.3
Mean monthly sunshine hours 34.2 61.1 93.0 138.6 195.9 155.9 128.6 115.2 97.5 68.7 37.7 34.0 1,160.4
Source: Met Office[18]

Portree shale[edit]

Portree shale is a geologic association in the vicinity of Portree, the existence of which is linked with potential petroleum occurrences of commercial importance.[19]

In fiction[edit]

  • 'The Portree Kid' was an amusing ballad sung by the Corries.
  • Portree is the home of a fictional professional Quidditch team in the Harry Potter universe called the 'Pride of Portree'.[20]
  • The film Made of Honor partially takes place in Portree. A sweeping shot of the town's main street is shown.


Boats in the harbour at Portree, Isle of Skye
  1. ^ "Mid-2016 Population Estimates for Settlements and Localities in Scotland". National Records of Scotland. 12 March 2018. Retrieved 30 December 2020.
  2. ^ "Portree, Raasay & Central Skye". A Guide. Retrieved 8 January 2019.
  3. ^ a b Murray, W.H. (1966) The Hebrides. London. Heinemann. Pages 154-155.
  4. ^ Portree Regeneration (15 September 2007). "Portree". Archived from the original on 17 November 2007.
  5. ^ "ATLAS Arts - bringing art and audiences together in Skye and Lochalsh". Creative Scotland. Creative Scotland. Retrieved 3 January 2016.
  6. ^ "Portree" Undiscovered Scotland. Retrieved on 15 September 2007.
  7. ^ Haswell-Smith, Hamish. (2004) The Scottish Islands. Edinburgh. Canongate. Pages 173-4
  8. ^ Mac an Tàilleir, Iain (2003) Ainmean-àite/Placenames. (pdf) Pàrlamaid na h-Alba. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  9. ^ BT History 1976
  10. ^ "THE 20 MOST BEAUTIFUL VILLAGES IN THE UK AND IRELAND, 20 October 2020". Retrieved 14 March 2021.
  11. ^ Year-long economic study finds Skye visitors boosted economy by £211 million pre-lockdown
  12. ^ Tourists generated £211 million for Skye pre-pandemic, finds study, 17 July 2020
  13. ^ Skye islanders call for help with overcrowding after tourism surge
  14. ^ 15 Tips to Avoid the Crowds on the Isle of Skye in Scotland, 15 July 2020
  15. ^ [https://www.seattletimes.com/life/travel/exploring-scotlands-majestic-isle-of-skye/ Exploring Scotland’s majestic Isle of Skye, 13 December 2018]
  16. ^ Portree
  17. ^ "Skye Camanachd" skyecamanachd.com. Retrieved 26 September 2007.
  18. ^ "Skye: Prabost UK climate averages". Met Office. Archived from the original on 25 January 2020. Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  19. ^ C.Michael Hogan, (2011) Sea of the Hebrides. Eds. P. Saundry & C.J.Cleveland. Encyclopedia of Earth. National Council for Science and the Environment. Washington DC.
  20. ^ Whisp, Kennilworthy (2001). Quidditch Through the Ages. WhizzHard Books. pp. 31–46. ISBN 1-55192-454-4.