Beautiful Badenoch: Insider tips on one of the best short stays in Scotland

Fuelled by local knowledge, we’ve put together a three-day itinerary for the perfect short break in Badenoch. This region of mountains and myths, found to the southwest of the Cairngorms National Park in the Highlands of Scotland – yet only two and a half hours by car from Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh – is the perfect place for a long weekend or midweek break. Base yourself in or around the traditional towns of Newtonmore or Kingussie and discover Badenoch’s culinary, cultural and historical secrets. Many of our suggestions are dog friendly, so it’s the perfect mini break for your pup too. 

Our Badenoch The Storylands app helps you spend less time planning and more time exploring. It has tour itineraries, cycling and walking routes, music and stories celebrating Scottish culture, as well as interactive augmented reality (AR) experiences for local historical sites. Wherever you see the Ⓑ symbol, open up the app to delve deeper.

Day 1 – Scottish history and striking landscapes around Badenoch

Ruthven Barracks, an ancient meeting place

Ruthven Barracks

Kick off your trip at the site of Badenoch’s main settlement in medieval times Ⓑ. You can wander the remains of these 18th century barracks, which were built to house government troops in the Jacobite era and now stand guard over Insh Marshes Nature Reserve. Centuries prior, the Picts lived here, and Iron Age hill forts, Pictish stones and underground chambers await discovery across the region. 

Less than 10 minutes away is the open-air Highland Folk Museum in Newtonmore, where you can experience life in the Scottish Highlands from Jacobite times onwards. 

Eat and explore in Newtonmore

Newtonmore from the air

After absorbing all that local history, recharge at the cafes, restaurants, pubs and shops scattered throughout this lovely traditional village.

Get some air at Laggan

Laggan Wolftrax Trail Centre

Next, work off your lunch and get the blood pumping by heading down the A86 to Laggan Wolftrax, a purpose-built trail centre for mountain bikers of all levels. If you’re keen to continue exploring local history, head up to the Pictish hill fort of Dun da Lamh Ⓑ by e-bike or on foot. Then, instead of doubling back to return north, take the A889 and stop at the Centre of Scotland stone and its magnificent views over the Spey valley. 

The home of shinty, Scotland’s iconic game

Kingussie and Newtonmore teams. Image: Fiona Young

If you’re visiting Badenoch on a Saturday, you may be lucky enough to catch a game of the Scottish sport of shinty. The towns of Newtonmore and Kingussie are home to record-breaking rival teams, so you’ll be treated to exemplary matches at either of their grounds. 

Day 2 – Stories, sculpture and scran in Glen Feshie and Kincraig

Wilderness walks and cycles in Glen Feshie 

Short Stay in Badenoch
Frank Bruce Sculpture Trail

Start your second day in Badenoch with a head-clearing blast of fresh Highland air, heading towards wild Glen Feshie for near-limitless walking and cycling options Ⓑ. Be sure to include a stop at the arresting (and accessible) Frank Bruce Sculpture Trail. 

Loch Insh Church

This pretty white church on a hillock overlooking Loch Insh has hosted continuous divine worship for at least 13 centuries. While you’re here, listen to the story about its magic bell and learn why it’s rung no longer.  

Kincraig and the Old Post Office Cafe Gallery

Toni Vastano enjoying one of his coffees at the Old Post Office Cafe. Image: Ed Smith Photography

Ann Vastano is a celebrated local artist who, along with her family, has opened a welcoming cafe in the pretty village of Kincraig. Browse beautiful artwork while filling your belly with delicious food, including cakes from the famous Inshriach Potting Shed baker. 

Loch Insh Outdoor Centre

places to stay in Badenoch
Loch Insh Outdoor Centre

Back across the water is Loch Insh Outdoor Centre, with its park, cafe and huge range of activities. It’s also the venue for the Storylands Sessions, a monthly open mic event that lets novices try their hand at sharing music or storytelling with a friendly audience. It’s well worth going along in person, but if you miss it, you can always listen to the recordings Ⓑ. If you happen to be visiting in September, check out the Badenoch Heritage Festival for even more local events. 

Day 3 – Incredible eats and prehistoric treats in Alvie and Kingussie

Duke of Gordon Memorial and Torr Alvie

Short Stay in Badenoch
Duke of Gordon Monument

Day three of your visit begins at Dalraddy Holiday Park. From here, a pleasant meandering climb will take you to the Duke of Gordon Memorial Ⓑ situated on the top of Torr Alvie Ⓑ, once a Pictish hill fort. It’s not the only prehistoric site in the area – as you head south later in the day, you could detour to Easter Delfour, a fascinating Bronze age ring cairn Ⓑ. 

Food van delights

Short Stay in Badenoch
Alvie Forest Food

You won’t be able to leave the Dalraddy Holiday Park car park without being tempted by the appetising aromas from Alvie Forest Food. This up-market food van is run by a chef who prioritises local suppliers and often serves up foraged ingredients. 

Kingussie, the capital of Badenoch

Highland Wildlife Park

En route to Kingussie, you’ll pass the Highland Wildlife Park, which warrants at least half a day. Once in the bustling and attractive town, you’ll be spoilt for choice when browsing for a memento of your short break. Try adventurer Ed Smith’s photography gallery, Chapel House Arts gallery and the artist-run Iona Gallery

For your last meal before heading home, you’ll struggle to beat The Cross, an AA three-rosette restaurant featuring the highest quality fresh, local, and seasonal produce, all complimented by a 300 bin wine list and around 40 specialist malt whiskies. 

Listen to Wild for Scotland’s Podcast: ‘The Land of Stories’ – Badenoch The Storylands

Let award-winning Scotland travel blogger Kathi Kamleitner (Watch Me See) take you to Badenoch, a hidden gem in the heart of the Scottish Highlands and a cultural cradle of Scotland that is full of fascinating stories, folk tales and legends.

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