Eat & Drink

Best outdoor spaces to drink or dine in (whatever the weather)

One of the few silver linings of Covid is that many cafes and bars in the Cairngorms National Park have revamped their outdoor spaces, creating more room and a better experience for visitors quenching their thirst.

Not only that, al fresco eating is becoming part of the Cairngorms culture now, with the many new covered areas meaning that even rain doesn’t stop your enjoyment of dinner!

Here are a few suggestions of where a beer in the sun is now even more fun.

1. The Pine Marten Bar + Scran, Glenmore

The Pine Marten Bar + Scran, Glenmore
The Pine Marten Bar’s new outdoor seating area, Glenmore

Run by the characterful Scott and Katie (to see what we mean you can follow on Instagram here!), The Pine Marten Bar sits at the fantastic location just at the side of the road, between Loch Morlich and Glenmore Campsite. Over lockdown, the dynamic duo has built a cosy, comfy wooden shelter, housing benches, tables and even a fire pit. You’ll be safe and dry here, even if the Cairngorms delivers four seasons in one day!

2. Braemar Lodge Hotel

This small, charming hotel in the heart of Braemar village used to be a Victorian shooting lodge and dates back to 1870.

It has a pleasant space to sit outside which is peppered with stag and lion statues (stags heads are a theme inside, too) and also has painted ale barrels to lean your drink on, as another atmospheric touch.

3. Old Bridge Inn, Aviemore

The Old Bridge Inn Aviemore
A beer in the sun at the OBI, Aviemore

This is favourite place to head for a drink or meal outdoors because the large outdoor seating area perches just on the banks of the River Spey (there’s even a small sandy area, if you fancy a paddle or swim!). It’s also away from the hustle and bustle of the Aviemore main street and this, coupled with its riverside setting, gives it a very relaxed atmosphere.

The owners have constructed a substantial wooden shelter which means visitors can enjoy the view, come rain or shine (and we are reliably informed that even when the rain pelts down, it’s very cosy and warm in there!). Alternatively, there is plenty of room uncovered, too and there’s also an outside bar and firepits to warm your hands up on if it gets chilly.

There’s often live music at weekends, too. Follow the OBI on Facebook to keep up with plans.

4. The Steading Bar, Strathdon

The Steading Bar Forbestown
The Steading Bar, Strathdon

This gem of a pub in Strathdon, Upper Donside, opened its doors in 2019 after a transformative renovation. Its courtyard is sprinkled with pretty fairy lights which gives it a relaxing, cosy vibe. The Steading team, like many in the Cairngorms, has also been hard at work in lockdown a creating a wooden covered area in the courtyard, as well as adding a fire pit for extra warmth. There’s also extra parasols/gazebos on hand for rainy days.

The pub is open from Friday – Sunday currently, but check its Facebook page for the most up to date announcements.

5. The Cairngorm Hotel, Aviemore

People eating and drinking outside the Cairngorm Hotel, Aviemore, Highlands of Scotland. Picture Credit : Paul Tomkins / VisitScotland

Known affectionately by locals as ‘The Cairn’, this is a popular choice, especially if you want to be in the thick of it and watch the Aviemore world go by. In light of the restrictions, the Cairn has created a partially covered space outside, in addition to its plentiful outdoor seating without cover.

6. The Winking Owl

There are many options, out front and back, to enjoy a drink outside at The Winking Owl

The Winking Owl is also in the heart of Aviemore, just off its high street, but there are many options for where to sit and enjoy an outdoor drink here. Out front it has a substantial seating area where you can also watch Aviemore go by, or if you want something quieter you can head to the back where there’s a newly constructed canopy area.

Known for its quirky approach, you’ll find its new bespoke tables and chairs are made out of beer barrels and it has found an inventive way for you to stow your bike while you stop, too!

7. Glen Clova Hotel

Glen Clova Hotel

How’s this for an (outdoor) room with a view? If you are hankering for a breathtaking beer in a beautiful setting, away from the crowds, then this is the place for you. Even better, why not earn your beer by hiking Corrie Fee first?

The hotel has a bar and a restaurant (booking is advised) and you can eat inside, or outside in the covered decking area. If you don’t fancy the drive back, then the hotel also has 9 luxury self catering lodges with hot-tubs and saunas.

8. McInnes House Hotel

The McInnes Hotel has views over the hills from Kingussie
The McInnes Hotel has views over the hills from Kingussie

The McInnes Houe Hotel has undergone a significant refurbishment in the last couple of years but the latest addition to its offering is its outdoor summer garden, which is a lovely place to sit outside to enjoy a drink and/or something to eat while taking in the views of the hills just beyond Kingussie.

The existing beer garden was already spacious, but the new improved one has been spruced up with new furniture and colourful plants and pots about the area.

9. The Boat Hotel, Boat of Garten

The Boat Hotel has a great outside seating area, perfect for watching the world go by

The Boat Hotel is situated in the charming rural village of Boat of Garten and its beer garden, with parasols for cover, is out the front of the building. It’s also next to the railway, which means you can see the majestic steam train chuffing its way past, too. You can order your food and drinks via the hotel’s app, just remember to book your table in advance. For the most up to date information, follow the hotel on Facebook here.

It’s also just next to the village’s acclaimed golf course, so why not head here for a drink after a round?

If you’ve got a furry friend with you, this is a good choice as dogs are welcome in, not only the beer garden, but the restaurant and bar too.

10. The Loch Kinord Hotel

This characterful hotel is very near Muir of Dinnet

This characterful, small hotel is situated in the village of Dinnet, between Ballater and Aboyne. It has beautifully manicured lawns in its garden where you can sit and enjoy a drink, as well as a covered area too.

It’s the perfect place to head for refreshments after you’ve had a walk at the very nearby Muir of Dinnet Nature Reserve.

The best place to keep up with its news is its Facebook page here.

11. The Garth Hotel, Grantown on Spey

The Garth Hotel

The Garth Hotel offers a very warm welcome, and is run by Peter Macnab – Scottish Restaurant of the Year 2019 Winner who ensures you will have a great dining experience. The Hotel sits on the edge of the traditional town square overlooking the gardens and is a great place to watch the world go by after a day exploring the Cairngorms.

Follow the hotel on facebook to keep up to date with their new menu’s and offerings.

Share this article?

Join our Mailing List

Sign up to get notified of the latest deals, news and all the latest information direct to your inbox.