What Are the Best Aviemore Activities?
Set in the Cairngorms National Park and surrounded by forests, mountains and lochs, Aviemore is an outdoor enthusiasts dream. After making a name for itself as a prominent ski resort in the 1960s, the town is now one of Scotland’s most popular tourist hubs. From watersports and skiing to family theme parks and whisky tasting, here’s a look at the best Aviemore activities on offer.
The River Spey runs alongside Aviemore and offers rafting, tubing, canoeing and kayaking. In 40 minutes you can also drive to the River Findhorn, which boasts up to grade five rapids. Many visitors use Aviemore as a base to take part in the following watersports:
- White water rafting – the main rafting section on the Spey begins at Ballindalloch and ends at Knockando, an 11km trip with grade two rapids. The Findhorn offers a more exciting rafting experience with up to grade five rapids and sections to suit various skill levels. ACE Adventures is the only rafting company to offer trips on the Findhorn, including family and full-day rafting trips combined with cliff jumping.
- Kayaking and canoeing – the Spey is perfect for canoeing and kayaking trips, with plenty of calm stretches of water and stunning Highland scenery. If you’re a beginner, consider hiring an inflatable canoe or kayak for the trip. You can also take trips on nearby lochs such as Loch Morlich or the Findhorn.
- Canyoning – if you fancy immersing yourself in nature, sliding down water chutes, plunging into pools and abseiling down waterfalls, then canyoning is one of the top things to do in Aviemore. Trips take place around Aviemore in locations such as Laggan, Upper Bruar and Dundonnell Canyon. ACE Adventures runs canyoning trips at the Allt Aireimh, which feeds into the River Findhorn.
- Tubing – this gentler sport involves floating down a river in an inflatable tube, cruising over occasional waterfalls, slides and rapids. Tubing trips from Aviemore take place on the Spey, or you can travel to a quieter spot on the River Findhorn, which is only used by ACE Adventures.
Kids will love the Strathspey Steam Railway, which runs from the center of Aviemore. The trip takes you to Broomhill via Boat of Garten, with views of the River Spey and Cairngorms National Park. Head to Cairngorm Mountain for a ride on Scotland’s only funicular railway, which provides panoramic views of the mountain range. Have a meal at Ptarmigan, the UK’s highest restaurant at 3,500ft, before you travel back down.
The Landmark Forest Adventure Park
This theme park is one of the top things to do near Aviemore with kids. Ride a roller coaster through the forest, enter the butterfly house, or whizz along water slides. Located at Carrbridge, The Landmark Forest Adventure Park also boasts high rope trails, a mini skydive and magical maze. Don’t miss Bamboozeleum, which is full of fun illusions and puzzles for the whole family.
Aviemore lies close to some incredible Scottish lochs which are great for hiking and biking around, picnics and watersports. For sailing, windsurfing and kayaking, Loch Insh is ideal and lies less than 10 miles from Aviemore. Loch Morlich also has watersport hire, as well as a yacht club and golden curved beach set against a backdrop of the Cairngorm Mountains. Aviemore’s closest gem, Loch an Eilein, has a 13th century castle at its centre and was the former hideaway of cattle raiders like Rob Roy MacGregor. Today, it has been voted the UK’s top picnic spot and is surrounded by cycle and walking tracks.
Beer and Whisky Tasting
Established in 2001, the Cairngorm Brewery has become one of the most popular Aviemore attractions, particularly with stag groups. The award-winning company uses traditional Scottish recipes as well as new ones to create unique brews. Take a tour to sample their craft beers and ales. If you’re more into whisky, Aviemore lies near the Malt Whisky Trail, the largest concentration of whisky distilleries in the world. Glenlivet is one of the closest to Aviemore and produces some of the world’s top whisky brands, visit for a tour and tasting session.
The Rothiemurchus Estate
A visit to this beautiful estate is one of the top things to do in Aviemore. Located just three miles from the town, Rothiemurchus covers over 10,000 hectares of Caledonian Forest dotted with lochs, mountains and glens. The estate has been run by the Grant Family for nearly 500 years and today offers a range of outdoor activities for visitors, including:
- Treezone – this aerial adventure course features thrilling zip wires, balance beams, dizzyingly-high bridges and hanging platforms.
- Clay pigeon shooting and archery – Rothiemurchus has one of the UK’s best clay shooting facilities.
- Quad bike treks – explore trails on a quad bike, led by a guide who’ll take you to key points of interest and viewpoints around the estate.
- Fishing – Rothiemurchus has a host of small lochs for fishing, stocked regularly with fish such as rainbow and blue trout. There’s also a dedicated fly fishing loch.
- Pony treks – are available for all ages and abilities, covering varying distances. Roam the grounds on horseback, heading through forests and fields of heather.
- Biking – there are three circular cycle routes in Rothiemurchus, suitable for all the family. You can bring your own bike or hire one from the estate.
Skiing and Snowsports
Cairngorms National Park is Scotland’s favourite ski destination, with three resorts: Glenshee, The Lecht and Cairngorm Mountain. The resorts feature ski runs totalling a combined 90km and 44 ski lifts. Snowboarders can head to the snowboard fun park on Cairngorm Mountain to hone their skills before hitting the slopes. There’s a shop, restaurant and bar, as well as cross country skiing through magical forests in the lower ranges of the park. Visit the Cairngorm Sleddog Centre for a dog sleigh ride in the snow, the sleds have wheels so they can also be used in the summer.
Top Aviemore Activities – Paintball
Paintballing is one of the top activities in Aviemore Scotland for stag dos and there are plenty of nearby sites to enjoy a game. ACE Adventures has its own on-site woodland paintball zone, which offers a range of natural tree and tyre cover. Safety gear and cammo overalls are provided, as well as Tippmann marker guns which run on air rather than CO2, offering a better paintball experience.
The Highland Folk Museum
If you’re a history buff and are wondering what to do in Aviemore, head to the Highland Folk Museum. Explore Highland life through the centuries with costumed staff and tour a traditional township with thatched-roof homes, farms, classrooms and workshops. The Highland Folk Museum was famously used as a set in the hit TV series Outlander.
The area around Aviemore and the Cairngorms National Park is a hotspot for Scottish wildlife where you can find many of Britain’s threatened species, including wildcats and golden eagles. For wildlife adventures near Aviemore, check out the following:
- Highland Wildlife Park – this is one of the top Aviemore family activities and lies just seven miles from town. The park is home to native Scottish animals as well endangered species from around the world, including the UK’s first polar bear cub to be born for 25 years. You can see everything from Scottish Wildcats to Red Pandas and Amur Tigers.
- Cairngorm reindeer centre – take a guided tour up to the hills in Cairngorms National Park to meet herders and spot gentle reindeers grazing. You can also visit the reindeers in their paddocks and get a chance to stroke them.
- Loch Garten Osprey Centre – the centre is run by the RSPB and is open during the summer months when Ospreys frequent the Abernethy Forest. The centre has great telescopes and binoculars that you can use to view the birds, as well as TV monitors with live nest footage.
Golf Near Aviemore
If you’re a fan of golf, there are several excellent courses near Aviemore. Check out the 18-hole Boat of Garten Golf and Tennis Club, which is rated as one of the best in Scotland. There’s also the Abernethy Golf Club, a traditional Highland course which has been running since 1893.