10 Places to see and Things to do in Aviemore and the Cairngorms
Visiting Aviemore and Cairngorm National Park
Britains biggest national park needs no introduction. This really is a place of towering mountains, freshwater streams, and rivers, with hidden glens and deep forests. In actual fact, to give you an idea of the size of the Cairngorms National Park, you could fit two Lake Districts into it, though we love both equally.
The wonders of this magnificent park are made up of fantastic scenery, history, wildlife, activities, towns, and people. Visit the park at any time of year and you'll be amazed by all its spectacular scene changes depending on the season. All of which are on an open invitation for anyone to come and enjoy, there'll always be a warm welcome that awaits.
Aviemore is central to the thousands of visitors to the Cairngorms both Summer and winter and is packed with places to stay, eat, drink, and things to do. A small friendly town at the foot of the Cairngorm mountain surrounded by picturesque lochs and forests. It's relatively easy to get to and makes for the ideal base to get out and about and explore all that's on offer. Aviemore and the cairngorms is an ideal location for all age groups for both long and short breaks.
Getting to Aviemore and the Cairngorm National Park couldn't be easier, with numerous ways to travel -
The easiest way to get to Aviemore and travel around is by car via the M90/A9 from the south and A93 from the east. Though take care as there are limited passing points where the road becomes twin-track A9. CityLink, Stage Coach, and National Express coach companies all run services from south to north that has stops in Aviemore.
Sit back and relax on the train, as Aviemore has its own train station. From anywhere in the South, trains run to Inverness with Aviemore being a stop on all train services. The nearest airport is Inverness and takes around 45 minutes from the airport to Aviemore.
Things to See and Do
Aviemore and the surrounding area is packed with literally tons of things to do, places to see and visit. Here is just a snapshot to help you on your way when you come to visit -
The 6th highest mountain in the UK, at 1245m (4084 feet), Cairngorm, which overlooks Strathspey and Aviemore, offers a whole host of activities you can take part in. From beautiful scenic walks, hill walking to hiking to winter and summer sports plus a whole lot more in between. If photography or filmography is your passion, then look no further, the scenes here are truly breathtaking.
The mountain base station, which is around 11 miles from Aviemore and at 635m high, has three large car parks, cafes, toilets, and is where you can access the mountain railway which will transport you to the summit. Here you will also find the equipment hire shop, ski school as well as being the main point for information.
Note - At the date of updating this blog, the Cairngorm mountain train (Funicular Railway) is out of service, undergoing a period of extensive maintenance. Further delays now mean the reopening is planned for the second half of 2022. (Information source HIE)
Out & About - Not sure where to start? How about a guided tour by professional park rangers, who have all the experience and knowledge you can trust in. The surrounding area is vast and to get the best out of your time here, it's often the best use of your time to book a tour with an itinerary, ensuring you don't miss out.
Skiing - As Scotland's most popular winter sports destination, it's the ultimate playground for sledgers, skiers, and borders as well as other winter sports. With 30km of ski runs, 12 lifts, and 32 runs, there's something for all levels of experience. A day pass will cost around £28 for an adult and £17 for a junior. Other price options are available.
If you've never tried skiing or boarding before but would love to give it a go, there are three local ski schools you can use. There are various options offered by all three. Group lessons cost around £40 for two hours or a private lesson would cost around £110. Or, you can go for an all-inclusive package of lift pass, equipment, and lessons that would cost £87 for an adult or £76 for a child.
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Highland Wildlife & Birdwatch Safaris
Whilst in the area, why not go on an adventure of discovery. A treasure trove of wildlife is just waiting to be explored on the remote mountains and glens of the highlands. Guided experts with over 25 years of experience can transport you in the comfort of Landrover discoveries to all the known sighting locations. You'll see Golden Eagles, Osprey, Red Squirrels, Reindeer, Rabbit, Mountain Hare, and Seals to name but a few.
You can book a 4 hour tour ideal for families with young children or a whole day, plus they can prepare an itinerary to suit your requirements. Binoculars, guides, materials, hot drinks, shortbread, hot cooked breakfast are included depending on the chosen tour. Prices start around £14 pp per hour. Find Out More
The award-winning Aviemore-based brewery has been running since 2001. This working brewery produces around 6500 litres of beer per day in a range that includes those popular labels such as - Wildcat, Black Gold, and Trade Winds. You can visit the award-winning brewery and find out all about the history of the brewery whilst enjoying a tasting session with beer made using the fresh Cairngorm mountain water. Tasting sessions take around 45 mins. Find Out More
Landmark Forest Adventure
For more than 50 years, the Landmark Forest Adventure Park has played host to generations of families, who have come from far and wide to enjoy all it has to offer. The park is open all year with the exception of Christmas and New Years Day. Winter opening Nov-Mar is from 10am - 4pm and adult entry cost £10 with children costing £8. Find Out More
Want to get out and about by bike, but don't have your own? Why not consider hiring an electric bike for a full or half-day. Electric bikes are just like normal push biles with all the same features, except you will get the assistance you need when it might get a little bit difficult. So when you find you're facing that up hile climb, you will have the power to get you to the top. Electric bikes can be ridden on all-mountain bike/cycle paths and routes. Plus if you're new to the area you can book an electric bike tour with Aviemore Bikes. You'll be lead by an experienced member of the team, on routes created specifically for you to get the best out of your hire plus taking in all the amazing sights. Find Out More
Strathspey Railway was brought back to life in 1978 and has been run by a dedicated group of volunteers for over 40 years. The volunteers allow us to take a trip back in time to an era of long ago, with puffing smoke, steam whistles, and the clicking of the wheels rolling along the rails. Travel along this ten-mile stretch of Highland Railways and take in the beautiful scenery. There are normally two services per day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
You can book first-class for you and your family or simply standard class if you prefer. There are different catering options available for your journey, you can add on a light lunch or afternoon tea. Plus other catering options available. It may be better to book catering options in advance to avoid disappointment.
Dogs are welcome to travel on the train, though they must travel in a dog-friendly carriage. Find Out More
Highland Wildlife Park
From the Arctic Fox to Bukhara Deer, Camels, Bison, Tigers, and Polar Bear, the park is teeming with wildlife for all the family to enjoy up close. Education-based talks help us understand more about all the animals from the experienced keepers. Drive through the main reserve in your own car or take a guided tour in one of the parks Landrovers. A raised walkway allows those who prefer to travel on foot to see all the animals in the main reserve. Find Out More
If sporting activities are your thing, what a treat, the National Park has so much to offer you. From summer to winter, there's something for everyone.
The Cairngorm Mountain is home to one of the best Ski/Snowboarding resorts in the UK with a great range of runs and uplift. There are shops and cafes on-site as well as excellent car parking. Climate depending, you can sometimes ski here up to the month of May. Find Out More
Hill Climbing, Hiking, Cycling, Walking
- Around Aviemore and beyond there are many fantastic walks suitable for most levels. You can also take part in organised group walks and hill-climbing in the Cairngorms - Find Out More
- Cycle Hire is also available in Aviemore at Aviemore Bikes and Bothy Bikes
Where better to participate in water sports activities than the beautiful setting of Loch Morlich. You can take part in Paddleboarding, Sailing, Windsurfing, Kayaking, and Canoeing supplied by Loch Morlich Watersports. Plus, they also offer mountain biking. Find Out More
Dog Friendly - Eats/Drinks
Finding places to eat and drink with our dogs is so important to the enjoyment of our trips away and Aviemore has a good range of dog-friendly eateries. Here are just some of the places you can find out and about -
- The Boathouse Restaurant
- Cairngorm Cafe
- The Winking Owl & Bothy Bar
- Mambos Cafe/Bar
- Macduis Pub/Restaurant
Places to Stay
Finding great Dog-Friendly holiday accommodation can sometimes be quite tricky. dogfriendlyscotland.com is a dedicated dog-friendly website with a beautiful range of accommodations. All accommodation listings are verified, and when you book direct with the owner, you won't pay any agency or booking fees.
First Published - 19/06/2020. Updated - 19/11/2020 - 28/01/2022.
NOTE - Information contained in this article was accurate at the time of publishing and should be used for guidance only. Whilst we make every effort to keep our information up to date, public information is constantly changing, and therefore, no responsibility will be accepted if this information becomes out of date or which warrants this information to be inaccurate.
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