A Guide to Dornie, Scotland

A guide to staying in this small Scottish village, the home of Eilean Donan Castle

Photo taken from the Dornie Community Hall.

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Year Visited : 2022

Time of Year: May

Dornie, Scotland

Chances are, you’ve never heard of Dornie, Scotland. And chances are you have heard (or at least seen pictures) of Eilean Donan Castle.

(And before you ask, no, this was not the castle they used in Monty Python).

So if you’re planning a trip to Scotland, here is everything you need to know about staying in the tiny little village of Dornie to see Eilean Donan Castle for yourself.

Eilean Donan Castle is #1 on my top 5 prettiest places in Scotland!

About Dornie

Downtown Dornie!

Dornie is a tiny little village at the western edge of mainland Scotland. It is just before the bridge to the Isle of Skye. The village is picturesquely situated along a loch.

It is famous as the home of Eilean Donan Castle, and is a great place to stay if you are visiting the castle, and especially for staying overnight to get sunrise/sunset photos of the castle.

There were some one lane roads in the downtown part of the village, like the one right in front of our hotel. But it is easily connected to larger cities by the A87 highway, and in the actual village there is not much traffic, so that is not something to worry about. The village is easy to walk through after you park at your hotel.

Because Dornie is so far north, it stays light out a lot longer than I expected, much like Alaska in the summer, where it doesn’t get dark at all. In May, the sun rose around 5 am and set after 9 pm.

Dornie is a quiet village, and was honestly one of my favorite parts of the whole trip.

How to Get to Dornie

The road from Fort William to Dornie.

By car:

The most convenient way to get to Dornie is by rental car. It’s a 4 hr. drive from Edinburgh, or only an hour and a half drive from Fort William and just over an hour and a half from Inverness.

We drove from Edinburgh to Fort William, and then from Fort William to Dornie. That beautiful drive was my favorite part of the whole trip.

By train/bus:

If you don’t want to rent a car, you can get to Dornie by public transportation. You will be able to enjoy the scenery instead of having to focus on (or worry about…) driving. Of course, this method will take you a lot longer to get there.

You can take a bus from either Glasgow or Inverness to Portree on the Isle of Skye. The bus will stop at Dornie Bridge on the way to Portree.

By tour:

If you’re the type of traveler who prefers to have everything taken care of for you, so you don’t have to worry about missing your train or driving on the opposite side of the road, there are many tour options that will bring you to Eilean Donan Castle (and other surrounding attractions) from the larger cities.

  • Check out Viator for some good tour options.

Where to Stay in Dornie

There are several local hotel options in and around Dornie:

Schoolhouse Dornie

We stayed at the Schoolhouse Dornie. The owners were very nice, and baked a whole loaf of bread for each room for breakfast. The breakfast was make your own in the communal kitchen. They had the bread, eggs to cook, yogurt, cereal, and of course a lot of tea.

Our room was spacious, comfortable, and had an ensuite bathroom. It was reasonably priced and felt pretty clean.

The Dornie Hotel

The Dornie Hotel is another nice place to stay right in downtown Dornie. They also have a restaurant which was not open when we were there in May 2022, but seems to be open for limited hours now (more information on that below).


You can also find a lot of good or unique choices on airbnb or a similar site. For example, this magic bus seems the perfect fit for the whimsical atmosphere of the area.

Other Options

There are a lot of choices for places to stay in Dornie. For more options, look up Dornie on Google Maps, and zoom in to find lots of hotels, B&Bs and guesthouses listed.

Where to Eat in Dornie

Our hosts told us to make sure we made reservations (which we didn’t…) because there are not too many places open for dinner in Dornie.

We didn’t arrive in town until almost 7 pm, so it was pretty late anyway, but there were only two places open, and one couldn’t fit us in till at least 8.

So it might be a good idea to book your table ahead of time, if you know when you will be in town.

Also be sure to check the days and times that places are open, as it’s not all week.

Pizza Jo’s

Thankfully, we found this wee pizza shop.

It’s not a sit down restaurant, but they do have picnic tables to use when it’s nice out. We took our pizza back to the communal kitchen at our hotel to eat.

This is the most adorable, whimsical little shop. Only the pizza shop was open when we were there, but there is also a wee bakery, a wee distillery, and my personal favorite, the “wee room” (AKA, the toilet).

They don’t have your normal US toppings (no pepperoni!), but the pizza we did have was delicious, and the whole area outside was just so much fun to explore. You can call ahead to order, or you can go up to the window and order, like we did.

  • Please Note: This site includes a pizza shop, a bake shop and a distillery.

The Clachan

The other restaurant that was open was The Clachan. It was a warm and cozy pub, with a traditional menu. This would be a good place to eat, but make sure to book ahead of time.

The Dornie Hotel

The Dornie Hotel restaurant was not open when we were in town in May 2022. It looks like (on their Facebook page) that they are currently open for limited hours.

All the Goodness Coffee & Bakeshop

All the Goodness Coffee Shop is located right next to the community hall, across the loch from the castle. They have artisan coffee and “modern Scottish baked goods.” They are only open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Eilean Donan Coffee Shop

There is a cafe at the visitor center for Eilean Donan Castle. According to their website, it is currently closed. The castle hours vary throughout the year so check the website for updates on the hours and what’s open.

Chocolates of Glenshiel

Chocolates of Glenshiel is an artisan chocolate and coffee shop on the way to Dornie, about 10 minutes from the village. We stopped here to use the bathroom on our way past Dornie to the Isle of Skye.

They have coffees, teas and baked goods, but they also have delicious local chocolates and souvenirs to buy.

Eilean Donan Castle

This is Dornie’s main attraction. We actually did not tour the inside of the castle (we did tour two other castles on our trip though), but we got a lot of beautiful pictures of the outside.

Click here for more information on touring the inside of the castle.

  • Please note: Backpacks are not permitted inside the castle. You can leave your bags in your car, or in a free locker available at the castle.

Where to Get the Best Pictures of Eilean Donan Castle

There are two good spots for pictures of the castle:

  • The Dornie Community Hall, just across the loch from the castle. You have to pay for parking during the day, but not after 8 pm (this is where we took photos). This is a good spot for sunrise photos. There are also public toilets available at the Community Hall.

  • The Eilean Donan Lookout point, for a view of the castle from above. This is a good spot for sunset photos.

Other Things to Do

Portree Harbor, Isle of Skye.

Dornie is close to several other famous attractions:

The Isle of Skye

It’s just a 15 min. drive from Dornie to the Skye Bridge, and about an hour to the main city of Portree on the Isle of Skye. We drove up to the Fairy Glen (an hour and a half) and then back to spend the night in Dornie.

Loch Ness

The famous Loch Ness is an hour and a half drive from Dornie. It also makes a good pit stop if you’re driving from Inverness to Dornie.

Urquhart Castle

Unlike Eilean Donan, Urquhart Castle is in ruins. But that also makes for some epic photos and fun explorations. This castle is about an hour and 15 minutes from Dornie.


The highland city of Inverness is about an hour and 45 minute drive from Dornie. There is plenty to see and do in and around the city. You could visit as a day trip from Dornie, or you could base yourself in Inverness and day trip from there around the area.

The Jacobite Steam Train

You can ride the famous Jacobite Steam Train from Fort William, an hour and half drive from Dornie. Or you can go a little further to the Glenfinnan Viaduct, and watch the train go by.

Any more questions?

Got any more questions about visiting Dornie, Scotland? Don’t hesitate to send me an email.

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