Portree isn’t a very big town. It has a couple grocery stores, some bakeries, and the usual array of shops peddling local goods to tourists shopping for a piece of authenticity. It’s a town that capitalizes on it’s quaintness and, despite it’s size, being the the largest town on the Isle of Skye. Portree wasn’t the reason we visited the island. We were there to camp and spend our time immersed in the rugged scenery. It was the place we fled to when we needed a break from roughing it so it became our lifeline to comfort and convenience.

The beautiful waterfront of Portree, complete with colorful houses reflected on the bay.

Lisa and Jake walking through the square in the center of Portree.

Food & Shopping in Portree

Getting ready for a picnic at MacKenzies Bakery in Portree, Scotland

Our favorite bakery is called MacKenzies. It has sandwiches to pack for hikes and yummy desserts for picnics, all at a very very reasonable price. The clerks there are always super nice and always give Lisa a sweet treat on the house. Our favorite brunch place is Cafe Arriba. It gets busy on rainy days, so we tried to arrive early for a quiet and relaxed brunch with a beautiful view of the bay.

Most of the shopping is in the town center. The shops line a couple hundred yards of A855 and Wentworth Street, and a few little alleys that connect the two. You could look through every storefront window in fifteen minutes, but it’s worth spending an hour or two stepping into shops and exploring. Luckily for Lisa, a lot of the stores cater to children and parents who are looking for something cute and distinctly Scottish. When we shop for clothing for Lisa we like to let her pick her outfits – from acceptable choices that we pre-selected for her, of course… we’re not crazy! We showed her cute girl kilt dresses in three colors, and she chose a little red one, probably because she can say “red” better than purple or green. We also got her a white wool sweater with sheep on it after she saw it through a window and started yelling “bah bah! bah bah!” I also picked two wool scarfs for myself, but before we could leave the store one of them became Lisa’s. That seems to happen to a lot of my accessories.

The famous colorful houses on the Portree waterfront

A Portree Picnic

Enjoying a picnic by the waterfront.

We try to have a lot of picnics (check our our Eiffel Tower picnic, our Roman Aqueduct Picnic, and our Pont Du Gard Picnic) when we travel. We get to eat a meal out in the fresh air, surrounded by the city or countryside we are exploring. But the best part about picnics is that we can relax a little without feeling self conscious about the noise Lisa is making or fretting over every crumb she drops. Lisa loves it because we let her walk around with her food instead of sitting in one place (and because we let her help unpack the picnic basket).

The climate on the Isle of Skye makes picnics a little challenging. It’s rainy and windy a lot of the time. When the wind dies down the midges come out, and even when it’s not raining, the grass is permanently damp. But we lucked out with a warm and sunny day that allowed us to meander about town instead of dashing from one awning to the next. We stopped in MacKenzies bakery, and bought enough salty, savory and sweet pastries to make a meal out of (and then some). We went down to the row of colorful shops and ate our cupcakes while Lisa watched the boats.

Stuffed animals of Isle of Skye natives like puffins and highland cows, scene through a shop window in Portree.

Playtime in Portree

Finally, there’s the stop that we knew Lisa was always waiting for. On the outskirts of town there is a restaurant and visitor center called Aros. It was a favorite site of ours during our time on Skye because 1) it had an indoor soft play area for Lisa to enjoy when she couldn’t play outside and 2) it had free, reasonably fast wifi we could use to do internet work. We both goofed around with Lisa in the ball pit until she was tired out and ready for a nap. We tried our best to keep her awake so she could nap when we got back to the tent, but, of course, even on a great day nothing goes exactly as planned. She’d be out like a light. So we took the long way home and enjoyed a little conversation while she slept.

The sweater and kilt Lisa got for her birthday in Portree