$59 per night
Expected price for:Mar 6 - Mar 7
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Whether its whisky tasting, wildlife-watching or simply marvelling at the incredible scenery, there’s more to Scotland’s winter sports capital of Aviemore than skiing and snowboarding. Nestled in the breathtaking Cairngorms National Park, Aviemore makes a great base for exploring the central Highlands, characterized by rich history, rugged mountains, unspoilt glens and lonely lochs. Brimming with hotels, guest houses and self-catering accommodation, the town is well-served by Inverness Airport, the A9 road and a railway station on the scenic Highland Main Line, offering services to Inverness, Perth and London on the overnight Caledonian Sleeper.
Lovers of the great outdoors will be in their element in Aviemore. The stunning landscape of the surrounding Cairngorms National Park is filled with wildlife-rich upland plateaus and mountains that attract winter skiers, snowboarders, climbers and walkers alike. Scotland’s supply of snow can be unreliable, prompting many winter sports devotees to hunt for late hotel deals to coincide with the unpredictable winter flurries. When the powder does come, the national park boasts three of the top five ski resorts in Scotland and many of them enjoy the country’s longest-lying patches of snow. Cairngorm Mountain ski resort is the closest to Aviemore, where there are also shops hiring and selling skiing gear and outdoor equipment. Cairngorm Mountain boasts ski-lifts and a funicular railway, the highest railway in Britain, taking passengers up the slopes. The views of the surrounding peaks are also superb. Alternatively, Britain’s largest winter sports resort, Glenshee Ski Centre, is about a two-hour drive away. The usually quieter Lecht Ski Centre is about an hour’s drive away.
If you prefer walking or climbing up mountains to skiing or snowboarding down them, then Aviemore won’t disappoint when the snow has melted. Nearby are some of Scotland’s best-loved walks through remote mountain passes rich in wildlife and spectacular scenery all year round. Those with a head for heights can strap on their walking boots and try some Munro-bagging. This curious Victorian pastime was started by Sir Hugh Munro, who listed every Scottish mountain above 3,000 feet. There are 282 so-called Munros, including nearby Ben Macdui, which is Britain’s second highest peak at 1,309 metres. Queen Victoria herself “bagged” this Munro in 1859 when her party reached the summit.
Aviemore’s hinterland is abundant with British wildlife and birds of prey plus some more exotic species. The fast-flowing River Spey, which flows through the town, is famed for fishing and whisky production, but it’s also the backdrop for one of nature’s finest sights. Along stretches of the river, autumn visitors might glimpse salmon leaping as they swim upriver to their breeding grounds. At the Highland Wildlife Park, a short drive south-west of Aviemore, there’s an eclectic mix of animals from the colder regions of the world. Siberian tigers, polar bears, vicunas and wolves are on display at the safari park and zoo. Up on the Cairngorms plateau, birdwatchers can see rare birds like golden eagles, ptarmigans and red grouse in their natural semi-tundra habitat. Meanwhile, picturesque Loch Garten, near Aviemore, boasts a population of breeding ospreys. Don’t miss the area around Glenmore Forest Park, which is home to a freely-grazing herd of reindeer and indigenous species like roe deer and red squirrels.
Further afield, visitors can see marine life off the coast near Inverness, about an hour’s drive north of Aviemore. The narrow spit of land extending into the Moray Firth at Chanonry Point offers an unrivalled viewpoint for spectacular displays of bottlenose dolphins catching fish and playing in the strong currents, especially in the summer. Porpoises, grey seals and minke whales also make cameo appearances. For an even closer look you can book boat trips. Heading inland, beautiful and mysterious Loch Ness also hosts boat trips. Located about an hour’s drive from Aviemore, the murky depths of this freshwater loch, which is 230 metres deep, are rumoured to be the home of the apocryphal Loch Ness Monster, described by eyewitnesses in 1933 as a “most extraordinary form of animal”.
Filled with historic sites, remote castles and whisky-producing hotspots, the Highlands represent the very essence of Scotland, and Aviemore’s surrounding area is no different. History buffs won’t want to miss Culloden Battlefield, near Inverness, the capital city of the Highlands. The Battle of Culloden, which took place in April 1746, was the final clash between forces loyal to the Hanoverian King George II and the Jacobite forces of Charles Edward Stuart, known as Bonnie Prince Charlie whose bid for the British throne was ended in a decisive defeat. The battle site is now commemorated by a visitor centre and memorial cairn. Another historical highlight in the region is medieval Urquhart Castle near Drumnadrochit village on the shores of Loch Ness.
If a wee dram of Scotch whisky is your thing, the world-famous distilleries of Speyside are easily reached from your hotel in Aviemore. Taking its name from the Gaelic uisge beatha, meaning “water of life”, whisky has been produced in Scotland since at least the 15th century. Situated at the boundary of the Speyside and s regions with their distinctive peaty and smoky tastes, Aviemore is perfect for visiting distilleries, some of which offer tastings and tours. Well-known distilleries nearby include Glenfiddich, Dalwhinnie and Tomatin.
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