The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is a beautiful, open-world game with plenty of exploration and adventure. Even eleven years after its release, players enjoy deep-diving into its hidden locations, secrets, and exciting side missions.
Today, we’ve put together a list of the best things to do in Skyrim. Whether this is your first or fiftieth time adventuring in the northern reaches of Tamriel, there’s sure to be something for you on this list.
Let’s get started!
10 Best Things to Do in Skyrim
As a quick note, everything included on our list is available through vanilla Skyrim and limited expansions/DLC. There are countless mods out there offering new experiences, so we’ve tried to make our list as inclusive as possible in case you’re playing on console or don’t want to bog down your game with a lot of mods.
We’ve done plenty of roundups for the best mods in Skyrim, so check out our other guides if that’s more your speed!
1. Join the Dark Brotherhood
The Dark Brotherhood is an organization in Tamriel made up of deadly contract assassins. Joining the Dark Brotherhood gives you access to the group’s Sanctuary, new NPCs, and new quests to complete. Once the Dark Brotherhood questline is complete, the Night Mother provides no shortage of assassin contracts. They’re a great way to earn money if you’re looking for some extra gold!
To join, simply visit any of the inns in Skyrim and ask the innkeepers for gossip. You’ll eventually get a tip that Aventus Arentino is attempting to perform the Black Sacrament. Visiting the child’s home in Windhelm starts the “Innocence Lost” questline, which prompts the Dark Brotherhood to contact you after a time.
2. Study at the College of Winterhold
If you’re interested in becoming an expert Mage, studying at the College of Winterhold is a great way to start. Not only can you learn different kinds of magic, you can also explore the College and experience unique quests! If you’re interested in learning more about magic and Skyrim’s history, joining the College of Winterhold is a great idea.
The college is located in the northern part of Winterhold. Upon arrival, the gatekeeper Faralda will request you show some kind of magical ability. This usually means casting a spell, but you can also use your Thu’um (or just Persuasion) to get in.
3. Purchase or Build & Decorate a Home
There are many benefits to owning a home in Skyrim, from a warm and cozy bed to extra storage space. A home also provides easy access to stations for cooking food, enchanting gear, and brewing potions. Skyrim has several different housing options, and you can purchase as many of the available homes as you’d like. If you have the Hearthfire expansion, you can even purchase plots of land to build your own house!
You can purchase various upgrades for your home, letting you decorate to your heart’s content. If you’d like to purchase a home and want to choose the best one for your needs, you can check this list. For more options, check out our list of the best house mods!
4. Join the Thieves Guild in Riften
Joining the Thieves Guild is one of the best ways to earn gold in Skyrim. You can develop your Lockpicking skills, learn to bribe Riften guards, and even get access to unique weapons and armor! Chillrend (a special glass sword) and the Thieves Guild and Nightingale armor sets alone are worth the trouble.
To join, just travel to Riften and locate Brynjolf, a member of the guild. Accept his quest to begin the joining process. Once you complete the main Thieves Guild quest, you also get the Amulet of Articulation, which helps boost your Persuasion skill.
5. Explore the Dwemer Ruins & Visit the Dwemer Museum
Markarth is an ancient city left behind by the Dwemer. Here, you can visit the Jarl’s Palace Understone Keep and complete a number of quests. Learning about the Dwemer is one of the best things you can do in Skyrim. You’ll learn more about the ruins and the technology used by the Dwemer simply through exploring Calcemo’s Laboratory and the Dwemer ruins, completing quests, and reading books you find in the Understone Keep.
To enter the Dwemer Museum, you’ll need a key. You can either help Calcemo with some quests or pickpocket him to pick it up.
6. Defeat the Ebony Warrior
The Ebony Warrior is a boss you can fight once you’ve reached Level 80. You can find him outside the Hold Gates near Whiterun or by the Hall of Dead in Solitude. He claims to be looking for a challenge and a worthy opponent, and is one himself in turn. This Redguard warrior is a difficult adversary with various magical abilities, including Health Restoration and the ability to steal your health with his ebony sword.
He’s a foreboding enemy, but the challenge is worth it. Once you defeat him, you can collect all his armor and weapons!
7. View Auroras
Skyrim is filled with beautiful mountains, rivers, and cities, but did you know you can see the Northern Lights in the game? If the nighttime weather conditions are clear, you’ll be able to see an aurora. They appear in a few different colors, but blue and green are the most common.
Catching the auroras is an amazing way to pass time and relax in Skyrim. If you can find a good lookout point or an area where you can see the sky clearly, you can capture some really beautiful photos of the auroras. Coupled with the amazing soundtrack written by Jeremy Soule, you’re in for a wonderful treat.
If the sky is too cloudy, you can always use the Clear Skies Shout to help auroras appear. Don’t forget to check out our list of the best weather mods in Skyrim if you want a more immersive experience!
8. Create Potions to Help You in Battle
Potions are a vital item in Skyrim. You can enhance your health and stamina, become invisible, resist fire damage, and so much more. Taking the time to learn and brew new potions will help you become a better alchemist and give you incredible abilities in no time.
If you’d like to learn about ingredients for brewing potions, you can find a helpful book called The Herbalist’s Guide to Skyrim. This book will help you get acquainted with brewing potions, leveling up your potion brewing skills, and unlocking new perks.
Visiting Arcadia’s Cauldron is another great way to learn about potions and purchase various apothecary supplies. You can even train with Arcadia to learn different alchemy skills. Arcadia’s Cauldron is located in Whiterun near the market and is open from 8am to 8pm every day.
9. Train with the Greybeards
The Greybeards are an ancient order of monks that live in a monastery at the top of High Hrothgar, the highest mountain in Tamriel. The Greybeards can teach the Dragonborn about “The Way of the Voice” and what it means to be the Dovahkiin. They’ll also teach you more about the prophecy of the Dragonborn and Alduin, an ancient dragon also known as the World Eater.
Arngeir helps you locate new Words of Power that can be found while exploring Skyrim. If you wish to learn all the Shouts in the game, training with the Greybeards is a great way to find and practice them all.
10. “A Night to Remember” Quest
If you’re interested in a strange but fun quest that requires some patience, consider doing the “A Night to Remember.” To begin this quest, go to a tavern in any of the nine holds of Skyrim and proceed to get drunk.
At some point, you can engage in a drinking contest with a man named Sam Guevenne. Once you complete the quest, you will be rewarded a special weapon and discover the true identity of Sam Guevenne. The dialogue and nature of this quest are hilarious, and you can enjoy a break from the grind to experience something funny and receive an eccentric weapon.
Join the High Ground
That’s it for our guide to the best things to do in Skyrim — thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this list, subscribe to our newsletter for more content on Skyrim and your other favorite games.