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Portree Travel Guide - Scotland

Portree, with a population of about 2000, is the largest town in Skye in the Scottish Inner Hebrides. The name comes from the Gaelic meaning "the King's Port" and takes its name from a visit here by King James V of Scotland in 1540 in an attempt to pacify the local clans. The harbour of Portree is very busy and it has become a very popular tourist destination. The houses are painted bright colours, which seem to give a festive air to the town.

The Royal Hotel is famous as the place where Bonnie Prince Charlie said his last goodbye to Flora MacDonald. At that time it was known as MacNab's Inn. Portree was one of the places in Scotland that saw many of its people leave for new homes in North America. It was not until Sir James MacDonald developed it into a fishing port in the late 1700's, that the fortunes of Portree experienced a turnaround with steamers stopping here from all parts of Europe. Thomas Telford built the pier here in the 1820's.

You can learn about the Gaelic heritage of the people of Portree with visits to the Aros Centre and the An Tuireann Arts Centre. At the Aros Centre you can see videos of the local sea eagle and heron nests as well as some of the beautiful Skye scenery on a large screen TV. The An Tuireann Arts Centre is an impressive art gallery where there are constantly changing exhibits.

The line of buildings along the waterfront of Portree is very picturesque as are all parts of the town. This is one place where you can enjoy a wealth of outdoor activities. Enjoy walking in the woodlands or along the coastal paths. You can also walk inland to MacLeod's Tables from which you will have the most stunning view. You can take a boat trip to the Sound of Raasay, where you can see all species of birds as well as porpoises playing in the waves. There are caves along the coast that the boats can actually go into and if you like fishing, this activity can be arranged beforehand. August is the month of the annual Isle of Skye Highland Games, which draws visitors from all over the country.

Portree is home to several famous restaurants, for which you will need reservations. There are many hotels, self–catering cottages as well as bed and breakfasts where you will be quite comfortable. There are craft stores where you can buy unique souvenirs of your visit to Portree. Why not take a look at some of the carved wood, jewellery and batik that comes from this area? These will make excellent souvenirs for those waiting at home.

Portree Harbour
Sunset on the Isle of Skye