You can level up your character in Skyrim through quickly increasing your individual skill levels. However, while you can level up in a myriad of ways, some methods will be more conducive to your specific build than others.
Table Of Contents
Deciding Which Skills to Level Up
To decide which skills you want to level up, you’ll need to decide on your main goal. Technically speaking, the quickest way to gain character levels is to level up every individual skill. In Skyrim, gaining individual skill levels—such as Alchemy or Enchanting—is the only way to increase your overall character level. The higher your individual skill levels are, the longer it takes to gain a level. This is why leveling up every individual skill from their lower levels is the quickest way to gain character levels.
However, this won’t really be conducive to any specific build you’re going for. If you want to be a warrior, leveling up all the different types of magic won’t be of much help in the end. This will just result in you having a high character level with low Warrior stats for that level. That said, you do get to raise your Health, Stamina, or Magicka stats every time you gain a character level. Therefore, having lower individual Warrior stats may not have a huge impact on your gameplay if your Health stat is extremely high. In short, you’ll just need to weigh your options and decide what is most important to you.
General Tips for Leveling Up Quickly
There are numerous methods to level up your character quickly in Skyrim. However, there are also some general tactics you can use to make the process go faster, no matter which methods you ultimately decide to use for leveling up.
Utilize the Guardian Stones
The Guardian Stones are a group of stones found to the southwest of Riverwood. You can easily get to these right at the beginning of the game. There are three different Guardian Stones—the Thief Stone, the Mage Stone, and the Warrior Stone. Keep one of these stones active at any given time, and you will level up both your character level and individual skills quicker.
The Thief Stone
By activating the Thief Stone, you will learn all Stealth skills 20% faster. Stealth skills include Archery, Alchemy, Light Armor, Lockpicking, Pickpocket, Sneak, and Speech.
The Mage Stone
Likewise, by activating the Mage Stone, all Magic skills will then increase 20% faster. Magic skills include Alteration, Conjuration, Destruction, Enchanting, Illusion, and Restoration.
The Warrior Stone
Finally, by activating the Warrior Stone, all your Combat skills will increase 20% faster. Combat skills include Archery, Block, Heavy Armor, One-Handed, Smithing, and Two-Handed.
Use the Aetherial Crown
While the Aetherial Crown is equipped, you can retain the effects of two different Stones at one time. Though you could choose two different Guardian Stones, your best bet is to stick to one of those at a time. Instead, combine your chosen Guardian Stone with the effect of the Lover Stone. The Lover Stone grants you an extra 15% increase for all skills, giving you a total of a 35% increase for skills within your chosen Guardian Stone set. You can find the Lover Stone east of Markarth and north of the Kolskeggr Mine.
You can get the Aetherial Crown only by crafting it during the quest, Lost to the Ages. It can be started by reading a copy of the book, The Aetherium Wars. The Elder Scrolls Fandom page has a full list of all locations you can find The Aetherium Wars book. The quest can also be started by entering Arkngthamz and talking to Katria. The following are all the materials you will eventually need to craft the Aetherial Crown:
- 1 Aetherium Crest
- 2 Dwarven Metal Ingot
- 2 Flawless Sapphire
- 2 Gold Ingot
Though your character technically does not need to sleep, Resting in Skyrim provides useful bonuses that you’ll want to take advantage of. To take advantage of any of these Rest bonuses while you have the Lover’s Stone effect active with the Aetherial Crown, you will need to unequip the Aetherial Crown while sleeping and then reequip it after getting the Rest bonus.
To get the simple Rested bonus, you can sleep in someone else’s bed in Skyrim who has given you permission to do so. This will give you 5% more experience points for eight in-game hours after you’ve rested.
To become Well-Rested, you will need to sleep at an Inn or in a bed that you own. This gives you a slightly higher bonus with skills increasing 10% more quickly for eight in-game hours.
Getting married in Skyrim has more benefits than you might think. Among these benefits comes the Lover’s Comfort bonus. This Rest bonus is the best out of the three, granting you a 15% boost in skill points for eight in-game hours. All you must do is sleep in the same building as your spouse.
Pay for Experience
If money is not a problem for you, then paying NPCs to train you in certain skills can be a very fast way to up your levels quickly. Common trainers can train your skills up to level 50, Expert trainers can train you to level 75, and Master trainers can train your skills up to level 90. The higher level your skill is, the more money it’s going to cost to level it up. You should remove all equipment that buffs your skill levels because this will impact the cost of the training. The following is a full list of trainers for each skill that can be found throughout Skyrim.
|Common||Lami||Morthal, Jorgen and Lami's House|
|Expert||Arcadia||Whiterun, in Arcadia's Cauldron|
|Master||Babette||Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary|
|Expert||Dravynea the Stoneweaver||Kynesgrove|
|Master||Tolfdir||The College of Winterhold|
|Common||Faendal||Riverwood, in or near his house|
|Expert||Aela the Huntress||Whiterun, Jorrvaskr|
|Master||Niruin||Riften, Thieves Guild, Ragged Flagon Cistern|
|Expert||Njada Stonearm||Jorrvaskr in Whiterun|
|Master||Larak||Mor Khazgur in The Reach|
|Common||Runil||Dead Man's Drink in Falkreath|
|Expert||Phinis Gestor||The College of Winterhold|
|Common||Wuunferth the Unliving||Palace of the Kings in Windhelm|
|Master||Faralda||The College of Winterhold|
|Expert||Sergius Turrianus||The College of Winterhold|
|Expert||Gharol||Dushnikh Yal in The Reach|
|Master||Farkas||Jorrvaskr in Whiterun|
|Expert||Atub||Largashbur in The Rift|
|Master||Drevis Neloren||The College of Winterhold|
|Expert||Grelka||Riften, marketplace stall|
|Master||Nazir||The Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary|
|Expert||Majhad||Part of the Khajiit Caravans|
|Master||Vex||Ragged Flagon in Riften|
|Common||Amren||Wandering around Whiterun|
|Expert||Athis||Jorrvaskr in Whiterun|
|Master||Burguk||Dushnikh Yal in The Reach|
|Common||Ahkari||Part of the Khajiit Caravans|
|Expert||Silda the Unseen||Beggar in Windhelm|
|Master||Vipir the Fleet||Ragged Flagon Cistern in Riften|
|Common||Keeper Carcette||Hall of the Vigilant|
|Expert||Colette Marence||The College of Winterhold|
|Master||Danica Pure-Spring||Temple of Kyrnareth in Whiterun|
|Expert||Balimund||Riften, forge near market|
|Master||Eorlund Gray-Mane||Skyforge in Whiterun|
|Common||Khayla||Part of the Khajiit Caravans|
|Master||Delven Mallory||Thieves Guild, Riften, The Ragged Flagon|
|Common||Dro'marash||Part of the Khajiit Caravans|
|Expert||Ogmund the Skald||Markarth|
|Master||Giraud Gemaine||The Bards College in Solitude|
|Master||Vilkas||Jorrvaskr in Whiterun|
Find the Skill Books
In Skyrim, there are Skill Books littered across the land. By picking up and “reading” a Skill Book, you will gain an automatic skill boost. There are different Skill Books you can find around Skyrim to boost each individual skill. The Elder Scrolls Fandom page has the best comprehensive list of every Skill Book in Skyrim and the locations you can find them in.
Best Ways to Increase Character Level Quickly
Remember, you will want to choose methods from the following list that support the overall build you’re aiming for. If you’re a Mage looking to up your character level quickly, choose methods from this list that involve the types of magic you want to focus on. If you’re a Warrior, choose methods that involve heavy armor and One or Two-Handed skills.
That said, if your only goal is just to get the highest possible level overall, and you do not care about optimizing your stats, you will gain levels the most quickly by diversifying. In other words, you will want to use each of these methods, because the lower level each skill is, the faster it will level up. The faster your individual skills level up, the quicker you will gain character levels.
1. Take a Beating and Heal Yourself (Light or Heavy Armor and Restoration)
The very best way to increase your Light or Heavy Armor skill is by taking a beating. Depending on which Armor skills you’re looking to increase, you will need to equip Heavy or Light Armor accordingly. The more damage you take at a time, the more Heavy or Light Armor XP you will receive. Therefore, your best bet (once you’re strong enough to handle it) is to pick a fight with a Giant or Mammoth. Either of these will deal a good chunk of damage when they hit you, and you’ll gain Armor levels quickly.
Since you will obviously lose Health by doing this, you’ll want to equip a Healing spell as well. This is also a great way to simultaneously increase your Restoration skill level. If you’re very low on Magicka, you can also rely on Health potions. However, healing yourself with magic is more desirable, both because it will not cost you gold and because it will help raise your character level even faster. If you can, wear equipment that’s been enchanted with Regenerate Magicka effects to slow the depletion of your Magicka.
2. Balance the Equilibrium and Heal Spell (Alteration and Restoration)
This option is particularly good for those players who are certain they want to build a Mage. Equilibrium is an Alteration spell that drains Health to restore Magicka. Since Healing spells drain Magicka to restore Health, they act as a perfect balance. Because of this, you can easily switch back and forth between these two spells without having to waste any time or resources. Simply equip each of these spells in separate hands and switch off which spell you’re casting. Your Alteration and Restoration levels will start shooting up quickly, thus also increasing your character level.
The Equilibrium spell is found in the Labyrinthian Chasm in the room with the Arcane Enchanter. To reach this room, you’ll need to have gotten the Torc of Labyrinthian from Mirabelle Ervine through the Staff of Magnus Quest at the College of Winterhold.
3. Use Muffle and Sneak Everywhere (Illusion and Sneak)
Muffle is an Illusion spell that will allow you to move more quietly than usual for 180 seconds, or 396 seconds if you dual cast it. If you’re looking to build Mage but also want to sneak around, this may be a great option for you. The following are all the people you can purchase the Muffle spell from in Skyrim:
- Calcelmo at the Understone Keep in Markarth
- Drevis Neloren at the College of Winterhold (after you reach level 25 Illusion)
- Farengar Secret-Fire at Dragonsreach in Whiterun
- Wylandriah at the Mistveil Keep in Riften
Muffle works extremely well with Sneak, as it essentially makes your Sneak more effective. If you get into the habit of using Muffle and Sneak together everywhere you go, you will quickly start shooting up levels in both Sneak and Illusion. This will also make Sneak attacks easier to accomplish, and these attacks gain you a decent amount of Sneak XP as well.
4. Detect Life (Alteration)
If you’re just looking to increase your character level so that you can boost your Health, Magicka, or Stamina, this method is perhaps the easiest way to do so. The Detect Life spell time can be obtained from Stalleo after completing the quest Infiltration or found in Labyrinthian. Once you have the Detect Life spell, go to a very crowded area filled with non-aggressive NPCs. The amount of experience points you earn from casting the spell is dependent on how many lifeforms the spell detects, so you’ll want to cast it somewhere populated. Places such as Riften, Whiterun, and Solitude are most effective for this.
5. Make Gold Into Rings Into Enchanted Jewelry (Alteration, Smithing, Enchanting, Speech)
This method for gaining levels is a little bit more involved, but you get much more out of it. Follow these steps to quickly gain levels in Alteration, Smithing, Enchanting, and Speech. Note that if you don’t want to level up Alteration, or if you don’t have the skills or Magicka required, you can skip steps one and two by just mining the Gold Ore directly from the Kolskeggr Mine, south of the Lover’s Stone.
- Start by mining Iron Ore. To do this, you will need a Pickaxe, which you can get from most Blacksmiths in Skyrim. You can mine the Iron Ore from any of the Iron Ore Veins littered across Skyrim. Alternatively, you can purchase Iron Ore from most Blacksmiths or Merchants that sell miscellaneous goods.
- Use the Transmute Mineral Ore spell to turn your Iron into Silver and then your Silver into Gold. This will greatly increase your Alteration level. You can get the Transmute Mineral Ore spell from the Halted Stream Camp, on the Bandit Chief’s table in the mine, or from the Ansilvund Burial Chambers. You’ll want to build up a big collection of Gold Ore for the next step.
- Next, you will need to take all your Gold Ore and smelt them into Gold Ingots. Once you have your Gold Ingots, it’s time to get Smithing. Smith all your Gold Ingots into Gold Rings and watch as your Smithing level shoots up.
- After you’ve created a bunch of Gold Rings, the next thing you’re going to want to do is Enchant them. (If you do not desire to raise Enchanting, you can skip this step and go straight to selling the Rings, but note that they will sell for less). Note also that you will need filled Soul Gems to enchant your Rings. To get these, you can buy empty Soul Gems from places around Skyrim or collect them through numerous dungeons or steal them from shops. Once you have these, fill them by using the Soul Trap spell on an enemy before killing them or by killing an enemy with a weapon enchanted with Soul Trap. The better the enchantment you put on the Rings, the higher they will sell for.
- The final step is to sell your Gold Rings. Selling numerous Gold Rings will both make you richer and increase your Speech level. By the end of this process, you will have increased your Alteration, Smithing, Enchanting, and Speech levels, drastically raising your character level. You can repeat this process as many times as it takes to reach your desired character level. Note also that wearing Fortify Speech equipment will get you more gold from your sales.
6. Provoke Giants or Mammoths (Block)
The method used for gaining Block levels is the same as the one used to gain Light or Heavy Armor levels. Since Block XP is also determined by the amount of damage you’re taking, you’ll want to pick a fight with something that can deal a good amount of damage at a time. Giants and Mammoths are both great for this method. This time, instead of just letting them hit you, you’ll simply block their attacks with a Shield. You will still take damage this way, but you’ll take less. You can still use Heal spells in this process to raise your Restoration levels, but note that you will not gain nearly as much XP at a time, since your Shield will be blocking much of the damage.
7. Create the Highest Value Potion Recipes (Alchemy)
If you want to level up through Alchemy, you’ll want to know what all the highest value potions are. Making a ton of low-value potions will make leveling up take longer, so it’s worth it to go out and collect the ingredients required for the better potions. The two highest value potions inclduing ingredients that are straightforward to get are Fortify Health and Regenerate Health Potions. The following are the different recipes for Fortify Health potions:
- Giant’s Toe, Bear Claws and Hanging Moss
- Giant’s Toe, Creep Cluster, and Wheat
- Giant’s Toe, Blue Butterfly Wing, and Mountain Flower
To make Regenerate Health potions instead, use the following ingredients:
- Emperor Parasol Moss
- Juniper Berries
- Luna Moth Wing
- Namira’s Rot
- Nordic Barnacle
- Vampire Dust
Some other combinations of ingredients that will give you a good amount of Alchemy XP include:
- Giant’s Toe, River Betty, and Large Antlers
- River Betty, Deathbell, and Creep Cluster
- Luna Moth Wing, Vampire Dust, and Hawk Feathers
You may want to consider maximizing your Enchanting level first, as creating and wearing equipment that fortifies Alchemy effects will give you even more XP when crafting potions.
8. Summon and Banish (Conjuration)
This method is yet another good option for aspiring Mages, and it’s exactly what it sounds like. All you need to do is use the Conjure Familiar or Conjure Flame Atronach spells. Once you’ve done this, cast the Banish Daedra spell. This will return the Familiar or Atronach to where they came from, so you can immediately summon them again. You will want to wear equipment that has been Enchanted with Magicka Regeneration effects for this to maximize efficacy. With this method, your Conjuration levels should shoot up quickly and will increase your character level.
9. Break Your Lockpicks on Purpose (Lockpicking)
It sounds counter-intuitive to purposely break your lockpicks, but you actually get more experience this way. Though you get more XP from successfully picking a lock, you then must find other locks to pick. If you purchase a huge amount of lockpicks ahead of time and fail at the same lock repeatedly, your Lockpicking XP will shoot up quickly. The best place to do this is the Thieves Guild in Riften. There is a room full of chests to practice on, so no NPCs will get angry with you for trying to pick their locks.
10. Beat Your Horse (One-Handed, Two-Handed, Archery, Destruction)
Since attacking friendly NPCs can lead to them turning on you and enemies will fight back, getting a horse to level up your Combat skills is the best option. You can buy any horse, though the one you get through doing the Dark Brotherhood questline (Shadowmere) is the most effective one with its higher Health. A horse you own will not turn aggressive or run away, making it the best option to up your Combat levels. You can attack the horse with a One-Handed weapon, a Two-Handed weapon, a Bow, or Destruction magic to increase those individual skill levels respectively. Additionally, you can quickly level up your Sneak skill by performing sneak attacks on your horse. Note that you will want to turn the difficulty to Legendary when doing this, so your horse has more Health. You can also heal your horse with the Healing Hands spell to speed up the process.
11. Buy and Re-Sell Strange Amulet (Pickpocket)
In general, pickpocketing items of higher value will give you more Pickpocket XP at a time. That said, higher-value items are more difficult to steal. Since weight also plays a part in how difficult it is to steal items, jewelry will be your best bet for leveling up. Jewelry is both valuable but also light, making it easier to steal and rewarding a higher amount of XP.
The most effective way to level up Pickpocket is to start the Blood on Ice quest and find Calixto Corrium. To start this quest, enter Windhelm between 7pm and 7am and head to the graveyard. Upon seeing the crime, the quest will start. Calixto is located in Calixto’s House of Curiosities in Windhelm. Calixto is carrying something called the Strange Amulet. This is a relatively valuable Amulet that will gain you a good amount of XP through pickpocketing it. But more than that, you can actually sell this Amulet right back to Calixto for 500 gold and repeat the process again. This way, you will see your Pickpocket levels rise quickly.
12. Sneak Through Forts (Sneak)
As stated earlier, sneaking everywhere will generally increase your Sneak level quickly. Performing sneak attacks on an owned horse will also accomplish this. However, if you want another way to maximize your Sneak XP, you’ll want to sneak around in a place where there are lots of enemies. Going to one of the Forts that are occupied by bandits or Thalmor is a great way to up your Sneak level quickly. This will then level up your character in turn.