We may earn a commission when you buy through links in our articles. Learn more.

Skyrim races guide

Discover Skyrim races as you journey through every corner of Tamriel, and here we take a look at each race's unique traits, personalities, and best roles.

Skyrim races - a Skyrim Nord male standing in front of a mountain river background

Many different Skyrim races litter the wide-spanning continent of Tamriel, each with its own unique history, traits, and proficiencies. From the arcane affinities of the Altmer to the powerful combat capabilities of Nord warriors, each has its place in the game’s intricate world. As such, choosing the right class to fit your race of choice has a big impact on the tide of your tale.

So let’s take a look at each of the races, along with a brief overview of how they fit into Skyrim’s lore and what roles they are most adept at. If you’re after even more of a deep dive, take a look at everything we know about the iconic Skyrim logo as well as our guides on both Skyrim Lydia and Skyrim Serana. Then, our Skyrim houses guide means you have somewhere to lay your head after a long and weary day of being the Dragonborn.

Here’s a list of all Skyrim races and their defining traits:

Skyrim races - a male and female high elf

Skyrim High Elf (Altmer)

Originating from their homeland of Summerset Isle, Altmer are High Elves and are the most gifted in the arcane arts of all the Skyrim races. They’re best suited to mage-based classes due to their magical affinities and ability to call upon their highborne power to regenerate magika quickly, so if you want to be an all-powerful wizard, a High Elf is the way to go.

Skyrim races - a male and female Argonian

Skyrim Argonian

As reptilian humanoids, the Argonians have scaled skin, natural resistance to disease, and the ability to breathe underwater. This, of course, makes them well-suited to their homeland in the treacherous swamps of Black Marsh, and pretty effective when exploring spider-infested caves. In addition, they have increased sneak and lockpick skills, making them a brilliant fit for the thief class. The only real downside is that their underwater breathing ability is only very rarely useful and that the people of Skyrim aren’t necessarily the most fond of Argonians, since they tend to live on the edges of society.

Skyrim races - a male and female wood elf

Skyrim Wood Elf (Bosmer)

The elven people of Valenwood, Bosmers (more commonly known as wood elves), prefer a simple existence, living in harmony with the natural environment around them. They have the ability to command wild creatures for a short period of time, and are known to be the best archers in all of Tamriel. Their increased stealth and light footing makes them a great fit for scout or thief roles, or any build that makes use of speed.

Skyrim races - a male and female Breton

Skyrim Breton

Descended from humans and elves, Bretons are talented mages who populate the province of High Rock. They’re generally very intelligent, are well known for their proficiency in abstract thinking, and have high resistance to magic.Skyrim races - a male and female Dark Elf

Skyrim Dark Elf (Dunmer)

Dunmer are grey-skinned elven folk, often referred to as dark elves, who hail from Morrowind. Following the eruption of Red Mountain, many Dunmer fled to Skyrim, where they’ve since experienced extreme prejudice and have been shunned by the Nords in particular. However, through their wits and strong resolve, many Dunmer have found a place in the northern parts of Tamriel, proving themselves to be skilled mages and merchants. Dunmer embrace fire and destruction magic, making them masters of annihilating their opponents through the use of Magika.

Skyrim races - a male and female Imperial

Skyrim Imperial

Well-educated, eloquent, and wealthy, the Imperials are natives of Cyrodil and have dominated Tamriel for over two thousand years. They’re well known for their discipline and vast, well-trained citizen armies. They have a balanced skillset and, as such, are a versatile race well-suited for hybrid and custom classes… and finding money wherever it’s least expected.

Skyrim races - a male and female Khajiit

Skyrim Khajiit

A beast race like the Argonians, Khajiit have a feline-like appearance, often facing racism and a negative public image as a result. They’re the rarest race in Skyrim, and are usually only found in small caravans of their kin as they journey across the land selling their wares with their smooth persuasion. Khajiits excel in stealth roles due to their special abilities and high sneak level, making them excellent archers, thieves, and assassins.

Skyrim races - a male and female Nord

Skyrim Nord

Known for their incredible resistance to cold and frost, the Nords are tall, fair-haired humans with pale skin. They originate from Atmora, but were led to Skyrim by Ysgramor. They specialize in one-handed and two-handed weapons, benefit from light armor, and their battle cry makes enemies flee for 30 seconds, making them a strong choice for melee combat roles such as warrior, barbarian, or scout. So if you’re looking to bonk some heads, the Nords can do it in spades.

Skyrim races - a male and female Orc

Skyrim Orc (Orsimer)

Native to the Wrothgarian and Dragontail mountains, Orsimer, more commonly known as orcs, are powerful fighters. There’s some contention over whether the Orsimer are a variant of elves, or another race of beastfolk like Khajiits and Argonians. Regardless of where they land in the ethnicity argument, their skills and stats make them extremely strong warriors, best suited to heavy armour and tank or blademaster roles.

Skyrim races - a male and female Redgard

Skyrim Redguard

The Redguards hail from the deserts of Hammerfell, and are the descendants of a long line of warriors and mystic seers. Excelling in the handling of sword and shield, they’re adept at defensive combat and have a natural resistance to poison. They also have a stronger grip on the magic arts than other warriors like Nords or Orsimer: from a combat perspective, they’re brilliant all-rounders.

And that’s all of the Skyrim races. If you’re looking for someone to accompany you on your adventures, check out our Skyrim followers guide, and if you decide they’re your forever companion, we explain everything you need to know about Skyrim marriage. Or, for a change of pace, head over to our complete Pokédex, featuring every ‘mon you can manage.