Things to do

14 Amazing Things to do in Cairngorms National Park

Cairngorms National Park

Scotland’s Cairngorms National Park is a fantastic location for walking since it has three rivers, several mountains & hills, and a lot of heather moorland. The Cairngorms National Park is likely to be ideal for you if you like long hiking paths, breathtaking mountain views, and lots of adventure. The rainy, typically British weather I encountered there did not diminish the beauty or fun You had in this UK National Park.

We will share with you the top locations to stay in the Cairngorms, the top activities to do in the Cairngorms National Park and the best adventures in this travel guide to the park. Along with 55 Munros, or mountains exceeding 3,000 feet, the UK has five of the six highest mountains in the world.

The top attractions and activities you should take part in while visiting the magnificent, beautiful Cairngorms National Park. There are many things to do in the Cairngorms, including historic forts, wildlife, distilleries, and some of the top tourist sites and museums.

The closest city to the park’s north is Inverness, which is around 30 minutes away. On the park’s east side, Aberdeen is just about an hour away. The park spans sections of Aberdeenshire, Moray, the Highlands, Angus, and Perthshire, among other locations.

The lovely old area of Badenoch, which is located just south of Aviemore, is a real hidden gem. Explore the National Park’s breathtaking beauty and some intriguing tales that have been inspired by the mountains & rivers there.

Cairngorms National Park

The Cairngorms National Park stands out because, in addition to having a lot of wild areas, it also has a tonne of amazing places to visit, many of which have won awards. Suppose you wish to explore a castle or an outdoor museum. You can enjoy a drink during a distillery tour, feed wild animals that are roaming freely, or ride a rollercoaster!

The Cairngorms National Park welcomes about two million visitors annually from all over the world and has a lot to offer travellers. There are 29 activities in the Cairngorms National Park listed here, so there is something for every member of the family.

You may round off a day of adventure-seeking activities like bungee jumping & rollercoaster rides with a tiny tot of whisky taken from one of the Scottish distilleries.

Teeming with species, breathtaking scenery, and countless adventure options. Here is a list of activities to do in the Cairngorms to help you plan your visit to the national park, from hiking on all difficulty levels to visiting picturesque Highland settlements. The peaks are beckoning to you!

The Cairngorms National Park, the biggest national park in Britain, is located high in the highlands of the northeastern part of Scotland. Its staggering 4,500 square kilometres are twice as large as Loch Lomond & its Trossachs National Park. The park receives close to 2 million visitors each year. As a result, there is a vast area to discover, making it challenging to arrange a trip that is enjoyable but doable.

1. Location of the National Park

Scotland’s northeast is where the Cairngorms National Park is situated. It is the biggest national park in the UK, encompassing numerous mountain ranges and glens. It covers an area roughly bounded by Dinnet inside the Royal Deeside in the east and Laggan in the west, and by Blair Atholl, Glenshee, as well as the Angus Glens in the south and Grantown on Spey & Glenlivet in the north.

 Cairngorms National Park
Image by Heather Hunter from Pixabay

The largest town in the Cairngorms National Park is Aviemore, which is located near Glenmore and the mountain that gives the park its name. The Angus Glens, the Royal Deeside, the River Spey, Tomintoul and Glenlivet, Atholl & Glenshee, & the Strathspey region from around River Spey are other noteworthy areas in the park.

2. How long should you plan to stay at the National Park

You could spend literally a week or two touring the Cairngorms because there are so many activities to enjoy and places to discover. Pick a certain place and spend more time there if you just only have a few nights or a long weekend.

You could, for instance, spend three nights inside the Angus Glens, a week in the Royal Deeside, or a number of days touring the area around Aviemore & Glenmore. Even while you don’t need to be a Munro bagger fully enjoy the Cairngorms National Park, We do suggest that you set some time aside for shorter hikes so that you can fully appreciate the surroundings. Even some trails are completely accessible.

Although the roads in the national park are beautiful, you must leave the road in order to truly understand this area. Fortunately, many scenic locations are within a short stroll of parking lots and vistas that you may drive to. Therefore, no, you are not required to be a hiker to enjoy the Cairngorms. However, a dash of adventure never hurt anyone!

3. Accommodations in the Cairngorms National Park

Around the Cairngorms National Park, there are lots of fantastic hostels that are reasonably priced and appropriate for hikers. For instance, the youth hostels in Aviemore, Cairngorm Lodge in Glenmore, Ballater, Braemar, Fraoch Lodge near Boat of Garten and the Lazy Duck Hostel close to Nethy Bridge.

The Loch Kinord Hotel in Dinnet, the Glen Clova Hotel in Angus Glens, the Woodland lodges by Macdonald Hotel in Aviemore, the Davaar B&B in Dufftown (north of the park), and the Lodge at Lochside near Kirriemuir (all in the Angus Glens) are other fantastic lodging options. Book a stay at the opulent Fife Arms Hotel in Braemar if you really want to spoil yourself.

4. How to navigate the Cairngorms National Park

The most flexibility is provided by driving yourself around the Cairngorms. Nevertheless, there are excellent bus and train links to certain locations within the Cairngorms National Park. Aviemore receives trains from Glasgow and Edinburgh. From there, it’s simple to catch a bus up to the Abernethy Forest or down Glenmore towards Loch Morlich and a number of hiking routes.

You can ride the bus from Aberdeen all the way to Braemar along the Royal Deeside, passing through a number of charming towns and beautiful landscapes.

Things to do at Cairngorms National Park Authority

1. Travel to Aviemore for a While

The Cairngorms National Park’s principal town, Aviemore, is a well-liked destination for tourists. It is a year-round vacation spot where summer activities include hiking, biking, and climbing, while winter activities include snow sports. If you’re searching for a place to stay inside the Cairngorms National Park, this place is fantastic because it has a tonne of cafes, bars, restaurants, shopping, and outdoor activities to choose from.

You may keep busy in Aviemore as well as the surrounding area by doing anything from riding the Strathspey Steam Railway to climbing Cairngorm Mountain, or by going to the Cairngorm Reindeer Center or touring the Rothiemurchus Estate.

2. Explore one of the many Trails

Among the best places to go walking in Scotland, if not the entire UK, is the Cairngorms National Park because there are so many different walks and excursions there. It’s enjoyable whether it’s raining or shining because of the amazing mountain views, stunning moorland, and magical woods!

Whether you’re a novice hiker or seeking a greater challenge, there are several walks and treks in Cairngorms National Park for you to undertake. (If you’re a novice hiker, see my best hiking advice here.).

 Cairngorms Mountains
Image by julian Phillips from Pixabay

Additionally, it boasts more than half the remaining Caledonian forest, 60 lochs, and numerous lochans (small lochs). There are a variety of landscapes in the Cairngorms National Park, so whether you prefer hills or woodland, rivers or heather moors, this place has something for you. It should come as no surprise that walking and trekking are among the top activities to do in Cairngorms National Park with all that is available.

3. Take a trip to Rothiemurchus Forest

In the Cairngorms National Park, one of Scotland’s most beautiful natural landscapes, there is no shortage of woods. What’s remained of the Caledonian Forest inside the Cairngorms is the Rothiemurchus Forest. If you want to spend some time hugging a tree and breathing in the clean forest air, there are several walking trails nearby.

Rothimurchus is a great location for hiking in the Cairngorms and is also the centre of a wide range of outdoor pursuits. Some of the top activities in the Cairngorms include pony trekking, quad biking, animal viewing, and river sports like tubing, rafting, and kayaking.

4. In the Cairngorms National Park, go Waterfall Chasing

Visiting the waterfalls in Cairngorms National Park has to be among the top things to do there. They are stunning beyond words! Furthermore, despite the myth that evil spirits couldn’t cross flowing water, waterfalls maintain a unique position in Gaelic culture because they are frequently thought to be the locations of magical creatures.

5. Spend a wild night camping in the Cairngorms

There are many fantastic locations to go wild camping within Cairngorms National Park if you enjoy the seclusion of a “wild camping” experience and a night beneath the stars. The Land Reform Act 2003, Scotland’s access law, allows camping on the majority of unenclosed land. This kind of camping is simple, limited in scope, and only lasts for two and three nights in a single location.

Keep in mind that if you wish to camp in a campervan, the laws are different, and you must have a permit or parking permission.

6. Visit Cairngorms National Park and go Skiing

The park offers a variety of snowsports for you to attempt, such as skiing, snowboarding, sledging, and even dog sledging. Even though you would not consider going skiing, hitting the slopes is one of the most well-liked winter activities in the Cairngorms National Park. More people visit this area of the UK for skiing than any other.

Three ski areas are available in the Cairngorms National Park: Cairngorm Mountain in Aviemore, Lecht near Tomintoul, & Glenshee near Braemar. Each resort provides ski equipment rental and lessons if necessary. If you’re an expert skier, the National Park also offers the chance to go off-piste or cross-country skiing.

Don’t overlook the adorable settlements if you’re seeking attractions or lodging in the Cairngorms. As you stroll the streets, stop for a cup of tea or a pub meal, and strike up a conversation with some of the locals, take in a little of Scottish culture. The neighbourhoods are rich in diversity, culture, and personality.

Renting a bike and exploring the cycle lanes or mountain bike trails in the Cairngorms is the best thing to do if you like cycling or mountain biking. The Cairngorms provide something for every serious biker, whether they choose to bike down peaceful village roads & stop for a cup of tea, tackle one of the more difficult mountain biking paths, experience a cliff top challenge, or spend a calm day in the countryside or forest.

7. Take the North East 250 or the Snow Roads

From Blairgowrie to Grantown-on-Spey, there is a 90-mile path known as The Snow Roads. The path is breathtaking, providing lovely scenery and connecting a number of natural, cultural, & historical monuments. Instead of being a fast route, it’s a slow, picturesque path that’s best experienced if you’re prepared to stop and take in the scenery. And some sections of the path may become inaccessible during the winter. Take snow chains with you for sure!

 Cairngorms National Park
Image by Linton from Pixabay

The Cairngorms are linked to Aberdeen and the communities along the east coast by the North East 250 route. A loop around the Moray Firth departs from Glenshee inside the Cairngorms National Park. You can see Glenshee, the Cairngorm mountains, Balmoral Castle, and other sights inside the park.

The Snow Roads between Edinburgh and Inverness are a fantastic picturesque route to take if you intend to drive the North Coast 500 while in Scotland.

8. Try the Whisky produced Nearby

In the Cairngorms National Park, there are numerous sites to go on a distillery tour where you can find out how Scotch whisky is made and then sample the renowned beverage. Some distillery excursions in the Cairngorms even let you create your own concoction.

9. Climbing is something you may try in the Cairngorms National Park

Trying your hand at climbing is one of the coolest things to do in Cairngorms National Park. The Cairngorms are among Scotland’s top climbing locations, according to Mountaineering Scotland. Lessons from a certified teacher will be helpful for individuals who want to start climbing, but for the more seasoned climber, there are many alternatives for bouldering, multi-pitch classical routes, bolted sport climbing, and winter classics.

There are several peaks to pick from among the Cairngorms’ 55 Munros. The southern Cairngorms’ Creag Dubh Loch & Lochnagar, as well as The shelter stone Crag in the northern Cairngorms, are some of the best locations in the park for climbing.

10. Observe the Stars

Visit Cairngorms National Park in Scotland while you’re there to observe the stars. Imagine yourself relaxing on some grass and admiring the stars with your unaided eye. If you own a telescope or a set of binoculars, you can see even more.

Some of the biggest dark sky regions in Europe are found in Scotland. The absence of urban light pollution in rural locations results in the presence of dark skies. With the naked eye, you can only see less than 100 stars from the centre of a city, but in a clear night sky, you can view more than 1,000 stars, including the Milky Way!

Taking under the starry skies and cuddling up under the stars is one of the nicest things to do in Cairngorms National Park. The Cairngorms’ Tomintoul and Glenlivet region. In addition to having some of the UK’s darkest sky, Cairngorms National Park is also the world’s most northern Dark Sky Park. And among the UK’s darkest sky! If you wish to learn more about astronomy, the National Park frequently hosts dark skies programmes in collaboration with professionals.

11. Enter the Water

Despite not being on a shoreline, Cairngorms National Park has 60 lochs, More rivers for you to splash in and smaller lochs called lochans! Whether you wish to go white water rafting, river tubing, sailing, canyoning, gorge trekking, windsurfing, or another activity… The top activities in Cairngorms National Park include watersports. Get in & give it a try for yourself—this area has some of the cleanest water in all of Europe!

Watersports, one of the most well-liked pastimes in the Cairngorms, are the ideal outdoor pastime for a good time with the family. There are numerous watersports facilities and lochs to explore, as well as a wide variety of watersports to try out, such as canoeing, kayaking, white water rafting, and paddle boarding.

For a variety of activities, including raft building, pedal boats, windsurfing, and more, head to Loch Insh. Alternatively, try some land-based activities. Afterwards, have a delicious supper in the Boathouse or pack a picnic to enjoy while taking in the breathtaking views.

Image by Zbigniew Pawlak from Pixabay

Spirit of Spey open canoeing allows you to indulge in a little luxury. Combine watersports and distillery tours, historical sights, luxurious lodging, and delectable food on this trip package for a distinctive Highland vacation.

Try wild swimming if you’re a skilled swimmer and want the flexibility of swimming whenever you choose. You have a wide selection of lochs to choose from if you decide to go swimming in the Cairngorms because there are so many of them. Please read the safety recommendations beforehand, and carry the appropriate gear & equipment with you.

12. The Strathspey Steam Railway

Travelling back in time to a time when steam whistles sounded, carriage doors banged shut, and there was a recognisable click-clack rhythm of the wheels is one of the best things to do in Cairngorm National Park.

From Aviemore, located in the Cairngorm mountains, trains depart. The train travels parallel to the Speyside route through heather-covered moors and woods before reaching the Boat of Garten & Broomhill.

13. Visit the castles to learn about Scottish History

Among the best things to do while visiting the Cairngorms is to discover Scottish history at the several historical monuments and castles that are located inside the Cairngorms National Park. There are many places to visit in Cairngorms National Park if you are interested in seeing historical sites like Kindrochit Castle, Castle Roy, or Drumin Castle, conserved and restored castles like Braemar Castle, Corgarff Castle, or Blair Castle, or the grounds of the active Balmoral estate.

14. Cairngorms excursions and Walks

1. Lochans, Uath

This trail winds through the Glenfeshie pine forest, passes through four tiny lochs and climbs to the top of Farleitter Crag for breathtaking views. The hike is uncomplicated and rather simple. It is just over 3 miles long and therefore is finished in around 2 hours. Here is a description.

Glenmore or Glenfeshie are good starting points for hikes to many of the Munros inside the Cairngorm Mountains of Aviemore. The majority of these routes are difficult and lengthy. For instance, Braerich, Scotland’s third-highest peak (16 miles), Cairntoul, a 22-mile loop that includes four Munros, Beinn Bhrotain & Monadh Mr, an 18-mile trek that includes two Munros, or Bynack More (14 miles).

2. Glenmore Corbetts

The round trip to Meall a’ Bhuachaille, a Corbett close to Glenmore Lodge, is one of the most well-liked hikes in the Cairngorms for first-timers. By the way, a Corbett is a mountain higher than 2,000 feet. The Cairngorm plateau and the gorgeous green loch, An Lochan Uaine, are both accessible via this climb. It takes about 4.5 hours to finish the little over the 5-mile climb.

The approach to Creag Mhr and Loch Avon from Glenmore is another fantastic Corbett circuit. It’s a lengthy journey (18 miles), but you may break it up by spending the night at the Fords of Avon’s primitive shelter. Bring a sleeping bag, a mat, and lots of clothing to stay warm.

3. Bruar Falls

On the southern border of the national park, there are several waterfalls known as The Falls of Bruar. To trek up the forest paths along the river gorge, park your car in the House of Bruar retail centre, which is a terrific place to find foods, clothing, and home decor that are manufactured or inspired by Scotland.

Final Note

From taking on strenuous day treks to participating in water sports and winter sports, from wild camping beneath the stars in Scotland to discovering some of the charming towns. There are more mountains, forest trails, rivers, lochs, wildlife hotspots, welcoming settlements, & distilleries than you can possibly think of in the Cairngorms National Park.

There are many things to do in Cairngorms national park, like visiting the Scottish highlands, highland wildlife park, Stunning scenery, Native Scottish wildlife watching, Polar bears, Cairngorm mountain railway, Cultural heritage, lake district, historic sites and many more.



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