Jump to content


Coordinates: 57°24′43″N 6°11′31″W / 57.412°N 6.192°W / 57.412; -6.192
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Portree Harbour
Portree is located in Isle of Skye
Location within the Isle of Skye
Population2,310 (2020)[1]
OS grid referenceNG483454
• Edinburgh152 mi (245 km)
• London475 mi (764 km)
Council area
Lieutenancy area
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
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; -6.192

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]

Portree has a harbour, fringed by cliffs, with a pier designed by Thomas Telford.[4] Attractions in the town include the former Aros Centre, now the Isle of Skye Candle Co. Visitor Centre,[5] which celebrates the island's Gaelic heritage. Further arts provision is made through arts organisation ATLAS Arts, a Creative Scotland regularly-funded organisation.[6] The town also serves as a centre for tourists exploring the island.[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.


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.

Prehistory and archaeology[edit]

Archaeological investigations in advance of construction of a housing development in 2006–2007, by CFA Archaeology, uncovered evidence of occupation of Portree from the Early Bronze Age to the Medieval period (the earliest radiocarbon date was 2570 BC, and the latest was AD 1400). They also found stone tools that indicated people were in the area in the Early to Mid Neolithic, possibly as far back as the Late Mesolithic.[9]

The archaeologists discovered the remains of timber roundhouses, a circular ditch-defined enclosure, miniature souterrains, probable standing stone sockets and an assortment of pits. While not many artefacts were recovered there was an assemblage of Beaker pottery. This was the first discovery of a site dating from the Later Bronze Age on the Isle of Skye.[9]

The archaeologists also found evidence of the shooting range that was created in the 1800s with the formation of the Rifle Volunteer movement, set up in 1859 to defend the country against a potential French invasion. The first official unit in Portree was the 8th Inverness-shire Rifle Volunteer Corps, formed in July 1867.[9]


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 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 Royal Hotel is the site of MacNab's Inn, the last meeting place of Flora MacDonald and Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1746.[10][3]

The town had the last manual telephone exchange in the UK, which closed in 1976.[11]


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.[12]

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.[13] 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.[14]

In 2016, over 150,000 people stopped at the VisitScotland centre in Portree, a 5% increase over 2015.[15] 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.[16]

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".[17] 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".[18]


Local news and television programmes are provided by BBC Scotland and STV North (formerly Grampian Television). Television signals are received from one of the local relay transmitters (Penifiler[19] and Skriaig[20]).

Portree is served by nation-wide stations, BBC Radio Scotland on 92.9 FM and BBC Radio Nan Gaidheal (for Gaelic listeners) on 104.7 FM. The local radio station Radio Skye is a community based station that broadcast to the Isle Of Skye and Loch Alsh on 106.2 FM and 102.7 FM. [21]


Portree is the location of the only secondary school on the Isle of Skye, Portree High School, and of Portree Primary School.[22]


The town plays host to the Isle of Skye's shinty club, Skye Camanachd.[23] 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.

Portree is now home to a new youth football club, Skye Young Boys.[24]

Skye Young Boys
Nickname(s)Young Boys, SYB
GroundPortree Astroturf
OwnerCallum Young
ManagerCallum Young
LeagueN/A (currently only friendlies)


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
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 6.4
Mean daily minimum °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[25]

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.[26]


Boats in the harbour at Portree, Isle of Skye
  1. ^ "Mid-2020 Population Estimates for Settlements and Localities in Scotland". National Records of Scotland. 31 March 2022. Retrieved 31 March 2022.
  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. ^ Isle of Skye Candle Company, Isle of Skye Candle Co. Visitor Centre, accessed 28 April 2024
  6. ^ "ATLAS Arts - bringing art and audiences together in Skye and Lochalsh". Creative Scotland. Creative Scotland. Retrieved 3 January 2016.
  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. ^ a b c "Vol 54 (2013): Excavation of post-built roundhouses and a circular ditched enclosure at Kiltaraglen, Portree, Isle of Skye 2006-07 | Scottish Archaeological Internet Reports". journals.socantscot.org. Retrieved 24 August 2021.
  10. ^ "Portree" Undiscovered Scotland. Retrieved on 15 September 2007.
  11. ^ BT History 1976
  12. ^ "THE 20 MOST BEAUTIFUL VILLAGES IN THE UK AND IRELAND, 20 October 2020". Retrieved 14 March 2021.
  13. ^ Year-long economic study finds Skye visitors boosted economy by £211 million pre-lockdown
  14. ^ Tourists generated £211 million for Skye pre-pandemic, finds study, 17 July 2020
  15. ^ "Skye islanders call for help with overcrowding after tourism surge". The Guardian. 9 August 2017. Archived from the original on 17 June 2023.
  16. ^ 15 Tips to Avoid the Crowds on the Isle of Skye in Scotland, 15 July 2020
  17. ^ Exploring Scotland’s majestic Isle of Skye, 13 December 2018
  18. ^ Portree
  19. ^ "Freeview Light on the Penifiler (Highland, Scotland) transmitter". UK Free TV. Retrieved 9 October 2023.
  20. ^ "Freeview Light on the Skriaig (Skye) (Highland, Scotland) transmitter". UK Free TV. Retrieved 9 October 2023.
  21. ^ "Radio Skye". Retrieved 9 October 2023.
  22. ^ Portree Primary School, Our School, accessed 28 April 2024
  23. ^ "Skye Camanachd" skyecamanachd.com. Retrieved 26 September 2007.
  24. ^ "Login • Instagram". www.instagram.com. Retrieved 17 January 2022. {{cite web}}: Cite uses generic title (help)
  25. ^ "Skye: Prabost UK climate averages". Met Office. Archived from the original on 25 January 2020. Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  26. ^ 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.