Overnight Breaks, Travel

Things To Do In Aviemore

red squirrels aviemore

Looking for things to do in Aviemore? Right this way, I’ve got all the good stuff here!

I’ve been going to Aviemore in the Scottish Highlands on holiday on a semi-regular basis since I was a little girl. Needless to say, it’s one of my favourite parts of Scotland.  We were most recently there in late autumn last year, where we spent a week fitting in all of our favourite things to do in Aviemore, and it never disappoints.

I had actually started to put this post together after we got back. However, I completely ran out of steam (thanks pregnancy!) and the post has sat in my drafts folder since November.  Time to turn this ship around!  There are a ton of things to do in Aviemore, most of which are family-friendly. So today I thought I’d (finally!) share some of my favourites.

My Top Things to Do In Aviemore

Here are some of my very favourite things to do or visit in Aviemore.

The Mountain Cafe

Let’s kick this guide off starting with food, because what’s a holiday without knowing where the best places to eat are?!

Our all-time favourite place to eat in Aviemore (maybe the whole of Scotland!) is the Mountain Cafe.  They are only open until 5 pm or 5:30 pm depending on the day (best to check their website before you visit). Therefore, it’s only good for breakfast or lunch, but my, the lunches are delicious.  As vegetarians, we were really well catered for, with bountiful options (I went for a halloumi flatbread this time, which was delicious, but their veggie burgers are highly recommended!).  Meat eaters are also well catered for, as are vegans and those that are gluten intolerant.

It’s not just the lunches. The cosy atmosphere also really attracts us to the Mountain Cafe.  The Mountain Cafe has one of the best selections of homemade cakes I’ve ever seen – think 20 plus delicious cakes to choose from!  We are always too full from lunch to manage cake afterward, but we always get some to take away to enjoy later!  Portion sizes are very generous too, and we always find a slice lasts two days (and from someone who loves cake then this is saying something!).  I’ve even been known to swing past the Mountain Cafe to grab some takeaway cake before boarding the train home to Edinburgh, ’tis that good.

Inshriach Nursery

Inshriach Nursery

Another favourite for tea and cake is the Potting Shed at Inshriach Nursery (sadly both now closed).  They, again, have an amazing selection of delicious homemade cake (my absolute favourite is the peanut cake!).  

And while the cake would be a big enough draw in itself, the Potting Shed has an amazing viewing area that overlooks an array of squirrel and bird feeders.  It’s definitely one of life’s great pleasures, sitting eating your cake and observing the birds and red squirrels feeding.  We saw two red squirrels on our most recent trip there, which most impressed my daughter.

To burn off the cake, you can then have an amble around the nursery.  It sells a vast array of hardy alpine plants, and it’s always a joy to walk around this beautiful nursery.

Rothiemurchus Centre

Another Aviemore favourite is the Rothiemurchus Centre.  We always make a point of walking there and enjoying a steaming mug of hot chocolate and a slice of homemade cake in the cosy cafe. However the lunches do look very very good!  Whilst you’re there you can also visit the farm shop for some locally produced and organic food and drink. You can also book any activities held on the Rothiemurchus Estate that take your fancy.  Quad biking anyone?

My daughter said she enjoyed the Rothiemurchus Centre most, out of all the things we did in Aviemore on this trip, which is quite the compliment!  I think it was the hot chocolate, cake selection, and very friendly staff that swung it for her!

The Old Bridge Inn

We didn’t do any drinking on our last trip to Aviemore on account of me being pregnant. However, somewhere we always make a point of visiting is the Old Bridge Inn.  It’s a really cosy bar, with a friendly laid back atmosphere.  We’ve spent many an evening in the past, meeting up with friends and having a few drinks in front of their log fire, and occasionally caught the odd live band.  They do serve food as well, but we’ve yet to give this a go!

I’ve also heard from friends in the area that the Cairngorm Hotel is good for a drink, and that the buffet at La Taverna is pretty good!  Next time we’re in Aviemore both are on our list!

Landmark Centre

Landmark Centre Carrbridge

We visited the Landmark Centre in Carrbridge (a few miles from Aviemore) this time around. I’d been a couple of times to this forest fun park as a kid and had such fond memories of the place. However, I hadn’t been back in well over 25 years.  Visiting again as an adult did not disappoint.

It’s fantastic for families: there’s so much for kids to do, and for adults to enjoy too.  We all enjoyed the red squirrel trail (above) and my daughter loved all of the play parks, mazes, and more.  We went off-season where it was only £6.25 entry per adult (under four’s get in free), which was incredibly good value.  The rollercoaster, aerial assault course, and water ride were all closed. However, my daughter wasn’t tall enough to go on those rides, and I wasn’t able to go on them either because of pregnancy. Therefore, the fact that they were closed made no difference to our trip (and saved us £11 each off high season prices).

Walking & Cycling In Aviemore

things to do in Aviemore

You’re really spoiled for choice when it comes to walking and cycling in and around Aviemore.  There are so many stunning walks and trails that it’s impossible for me to list them all here.

The very photogenic Loch An Eilein is very highly recommended for walking or cycling around.  This stunning Loch is about 4.5 miles in circumference, so makes for a good short walk/cycle.  I’ve walked it a few times, and mountain biked it and both were really enjoyable.  I am not a mountain biker by any stretch of the imagination (I’m an A to B cyclist, or a leisurely cyclist) but the trail is very gentle and ideal for beginners (or leisure cyclists like me!).  

There are heaps of bike rental companies in and around Aviemore offering competitive prices on bike hire. Either by the day or for longer periods of time. This means you don’t have to bring your own bike to enjoy the trails in and around Aviemore.

We’ve done a few walks in Glenmore, which offered stunning views, as well as around Loch Morlich and Loch Insh.  We’ve also done a few walks/cycles on the Old Logging Way.  Try the Walk Highlands website for other suggestions/routes.

Water Sports

Loch Insh Aviemore

Water sports are not my bag, but if they are yours then you’re spoiled for choice in Aviemore.  Try Loch Insh, where you can sail, kayak, canoe, and windsurf, and Loch Morlich, where you can do all of the above as well as mountain bike if you’ve had your fill of water!

Red Squirrel Spotting

red squirrels aviemore

You can’t go to Aviemore and not go red squirrel spotting.  Thankfully it’s not that hard to spot our native furry friends, but always a treat!  Spend any amount of time in any woodland in or around Aviemore and I promise you you’ll see a squirrel!  I’ve always found early morning or late afternoon best red squirrel spotting time.

Outside of Aviemore

Leakey's bookshop Inverness

If you find you’ve had your fill of Aviemore, the bright lights of Inverness aren’t far away.  When in the city I always make a point of heading straight to Leakey’s Bookshop. This is Scotland’s largest (and I’d say best) secondhand bookshop.  

If you love old books, old maps, and antique prints, then this is the place for you.  Situated in a converted church, this charming bookshop is stocked floor to ceiling with secondhand books.  A wood burner in the middle of the shop adds to the ambiance, and the upstairs cafe serving tea, cakes, and lunches means you could easily spend the best part of a day in Leakey’s.

Of course, it goes without saying that Loch Ness isn’t far away either, and the charming Fort Augustus. However, you don’t have to stray too far away from Aviemore to have a varied and fun-packed holiday.  We’ll certainly be back soon.

Have you been to Aviemore?  What are your favourite things to do in Aviemore? I’ve also got more Scottish holiday ideas this way, in case you are looking for more inspiration.

Day Trips, Travel

The Kelpies, Falkirk

the kelpies
the kelpies

If you live in Scotland, or are planning on visiting Scotland this summer then I heartily recommend a trip to see The Kelpies, in Falkirk.  We headed over to The Kelpies at the start of this year, and I’ve been meaning to share some photos from the trip ever since!

What Are The Kelpies?

The Kelpies are giant horse head statues. They stand at an impressive 30 metres high and are such a thing of beauty.  

We visited on a sunny afternoon in late winter but you can also visit at night when they’re bathed in coloured light.  You can even book a tour and go up inside the Kelpies. We were with our three year old and didn’t think she’d be too into that, but it’s definitely something I’d like to do!

the kelpies falkirk

Where in Scotland Is The Kelpies?

The Kelpies are situated in Falkirk’s Helix Park, on the banks of the Forth and Clyde Canal. Here you can stroll along the canal and enjoy the views, and there’s a network of footpaths and cycleways connecting the Kelpies to other parts of Helix Park.

forth and clyde canal
wendy graham moral fibres

(ps: my Orla Kiely tea dress is from People Tree)

What Can You Do There?

As well as marveling at the statues, and perhaps having a cup of coffee or a pizza from one of the nearby cafe, there are lots of things to do at the Kelpies. Once you’ve had your fill of the Kelpies you can walk from the Kelpies Hub through the rest of Helix Park.  If you’re with kids, then there’s a fantastic playground for kids age two and up that we had a blast in, playing with our nipper. There is also a splash park in Helix Park for cooling off on hot days, which is a lot of fun.

The Park also has some lovely nature walks along the lakes and marsh lands, which we also really enjoyed.

swan frozen lake

You can tell how early on in the year we went because the lake is frozen over!

Are The Kelpies Free?

Yes, it’s free to get into the Kelpies and to Helix Park, which is an added bonus!

How Do You Get There?

If you’re travelling there by public transport, then from Glasgow or Edinburgh then you can easily get a train from either Queen Street Station in Glasgow, or Waverley or Haymarket Station in Edinburgh to Falkirk High Station.  From the station, there’s a frequent bus service that serves all the attractions in Falkirk, including the Falkirk Wheel.

Don’t make the same mistake we did – we assumed the Falkirk Wheel was next to the Kelpies, and in actual fact it’s over 2 miles away.  We didn’t factor in enough time to visit the Falkirk Wheel, but that’s for our next trip!

PS: other places to visit in Scotland – Burntisland and Falkland, and the Kinghorn Earthship.