You wont find the best Skyrim quests just by following story, for the most part at least. It's a big game and you're free to head off in any direction at any given time, meaning you can easily miss some really interesting things hidden away all over the map.
Because it's such a big open world, some of the best stories, things you can do, or discoveries are often off the beaten track. And it's not just little one hit things you can miss, there are entire quest lines and factions you might never see if you don't know where to look. With all that Elder Scrolls freedom it's easy to walk right past some great stuff without ever realising.
Obviously no one wants to do that. But if you also don't want to spend tens of hours walking back and for across the map double checking every corner we've picked out some of the best Skyrim quests. Coming up we'll break down where to go and what to do to unlock then - a few have some level requirements, or other prerequisites, for example. There's just some stuff that's too cool not to see in Skyrim (opens in new tab), which is where this list comes in. So prepare for some adventuring lollygagger.
A Night to Remember
How to trigger it: Get to level 14, then search the inns for Sam Guevenne
It's the get drunk and pass out mission! That’s really all you need to know. You’ll meet the ale-loving mage, Sam, in various inns around Skyrim, bent over his tankard and hellbent on getting into a drinking competition with you. Indulge him and, once you’ve supped your fill, you’ll wake up in the temple of Dibella faced with certain accusations about your raucous behaviour. Tut tut tut. Simply follow the trail of clues to its conclusion to experience one of Skyrim’s funniest quests!
Dark Brotherhood main questline
How to trigger it: Find Aventus Aretino in Windhelm, then join the Dark Brotherhood (duh)
The Dark Brotherhood is dedicated to assassination, if you've never met them before. Their main quest sees you murder your way up the ranks of this lethal guild. As you do deviously intriguing scenarios arise, as you get tangled in both national politics and the delicate hierarchy of the Brotherhood. It’s got a depth to it that’s largely absent from the rest of the game, and you’ll come to genuinely care for the killers you associate with. With a conclusion to make you experience some extreme emotions - no spoilers here - it’s not one you’re going to forget in a hurry. Hail Sithis!
Blood on the Ice
How to trigger it: Travel to Windhelm and explore the graveyard between 7pm and 6am. You’ll find a group of people crowded around a corpse - talk to them
This quest is just a great big detective mission for those that love a murder mystery as Blood on the Ice is a proper whodunnit, with you as the detective. Hunting down leads and finding evidence is thrilling, and makes me wonder why there’s not more quests like it in Skyrim. Sneaking, charisma, a bit of good old-fashioned deduction: this quest uses a wide variety of both in-game skills and real life ones. So get that magnifying glass ready...
The Mind of Madness
How to trigger it: Go to the Winking Skeever in Solitude and listen to the rumour about the man wandering Solitude’s streets
Time to delve into the history of Tamriel’s emperors - but this lesson isn’t going to be nearly as boring as your schooldays. Instead once you talk to a rather confused man wandering the streets, you’ll be pulled into an almost combat-free quest that’ll take you places you have never visited before. That much I can guarantee. As well as a chance to meet a Daedric Prince in the flesh, this quest proves how creative the minds behind Skyrim can be when they’re given free reign, as you’ll have to experiment with some new rules and challenge your problem-solving abilities.
How to trigger it: Travel to the Frostflow Lighthouse, on the coast east of Dawnstar
Like Blood on the Ice, this quest is a bit of a mystery. Throw in a shocking scene in the lighthouse plus journals with increasingly chilling entries and you get Frostflow Abyss. Entering the lighthouse for the first time is a disturbing experience, and it doesn’t let up even when you’ve got some answers. Shudder. Beware, though: if you’re low-level you might want to wait before trying this quest, as the enemies in question don’t hold back. You’ll be delving deep into the earth too, so stock up on potions before entering Frostflow Lighthouse or you might end up regretting it.
Laid to Rest
How to trigger it: Travel to Morthal and speak to the innkeep about the house that burned down recently
Laid to Rest takes in a burned-down house, a dead child, chills to last you a lifetime and I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s the saddest quest in Skyrim. Talking to the townspeople about the shock they got from the house burning down is just the start, and you’ll get the usual small-town gossip that’s often prevalent in real life too. But that’s where the similarities end, as the intrigue, horror, and devastation that come from the quest’s revelations are the stuff of nightmares.
Forgetting about Fjola
How to trigger it: Go to Mistwatch Fort, found between Eastmarch and the Rift, and enter the North tower, where you’ll run into Christer
After some twists and turns? Then Forgetting about Fjola is for you. What starts as the usual quest to clear a fort of bandits turns into a search and rescue mission, but I’m betting that you won’t be able to predict where it’s going. Look at Forgetting about Fjola through a certain lens and it’s a tale of empowerment, but however you think of it there’s the opportunity to fill bandits with a ton of arrows and dabble in a couple’s relationship. Don’t worry, though - this is no matchmaker quest. Cupid doesn’t exist in the Elder Scrolls... yet.
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