Grantown on Spey Winter Wonderland Experiences

Just a 20 minute drive north of Aviemore, on the banks of the River Spey sits the aptly named town of Grantown on Spey, the capital of Strathspey.  Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventure in the great outdoors or a peaceful getaway from the hustle and bustle this winter, the twinkling streets of Grantown on Spey has much to offer.

Make it Cosy…

There is a wide range of accommodation to choose from, the Grant Arms Hotel is about as central as it gets, a grand building dating back to 1765 which sits on the main square. An absolute haven for those with an interest in bird & wildlife watching with evening talks held throughout the winter months but also great for couples and you can bring your 4 legged friends too. Whisky Lovers might fancy a night or two at Culdearn House, not only do they stock a number of fine malts to choose from, there are at least 50, yes FIFTY, whisky distilleries within a 25 mile radius of the hotel. Picture yourself on a cold crisp winter’s evening, relaxing in a hot tub gazing up at the stars at Hollies Highland Lodges THIS is the way to relax in winter!  Courtyard Bothy is in a great location, just a 2-3 minute walk from the centre of town, close to the bars & restaurants.

Muckrach Country House

Make it Memorable…

The River Spey supplies water for almost half of Scotland’s whisky distilling and right on your doorstep, on its banks, sits the newly opened Cairn Distillery choose the tour that suits your taste buds afterwards, sit back and take in the views in The Gathering restaurant which has a number of smoked & cured items on the menu. On the flip side there are not one but two gin distilleries nearby, meet the gin geniuses at Balmenach Distillery producers of Carounn Gin and just a few minutes away is the home of award winning Cairngorm Gin, the question is – a twist of lemon or an apple slice?

The Cairn Distillery

Surrounded by woodland there are plenty of waymarked routes for you to enjoy, perhaps one of the best is the circular walk to Grantown Viewpoint which takes you through the ancient caledonian pine forest and your reward, a spectacular view of the Cairngorm Mountain Range when you get to the top.

There are plenty of mapped routes for those on two wheels too, Bike Glenlivet nearby has something for everyone, including a red route for the daring and a blue route which is great for a family ride. You can also book a winter guided ride exploring the surrounding forests and glens with Rideaway Bikepacking, to give you a taste of a winter adventure on two wheels.  Grantown sits on the route of the Speyside Way which is great for walking or cycling.  

For something quite unique, try forest bathing with Highland Quietlife, they offer sunrise, daytime and full moon experiences- a great way to immerse yourself and be at one with nature.  Did you know the Cairngorms National Park is home to 25% of the UK’s endangered species and some of them LOVE winter? (P.S. – there are no midges at this time of year!)  Book an experienced guide for the day with Speyside Wildlife who will create an itinerary for you or, discover the rich heritage & history of Grantown on a guided walk of the town with Strathspey Tours who also offer stargazing experiences in the most northerly Dark Skies park in the world close by. On the perfect night you can catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights & the Milky Way!

Forest Bathing with Highland Quietlife

You can shop till you drop on the high street which is brimming with many independent retailers, Bookmark is a bibliophile’s dream, crammed from floor to ceiling with books of all genres, there’s simply nothing they don’t know about books in here.  The newly opened Spey Bank Studio, as well as being a gallery and shop, holds classes and events throughout the year. If throwing your own pot is on your bucket list, now’s your chance! A visit to the Speyside Centre is a must, think –  restaurant, wildlife viewing area, garden centre, toddlers play area and gift shop all rolled into one and you’ve got it.  Make sure you try their homemade clootie dumpling and, their award winning clootie dumpling shortbread is to die for – yum!

Spey Bank Studio

Make it Delicious…

On a cold winter’s day, fuel up… and we’re not talking about a trip to the petrol station.  There are a number of different sit-in or takeaway options available in Grantown, choose from Fish & Chips, Italian, Indian and Thai cuisine, to the more traditional Scottish Fayre.  The Grant Arms hotel has a breakfast, lunch and dinner menu available, their Sunday Roast menu is very popular with locals and visitors alike.   Culdearn House has received many awards and accolades for their food over the years and has an extensive wine menu to match.

KJ’s Bothy Bakery is the be all and end all of deliciousness, fresh cakes, savory bakes, fresh bread …just a few of the items on the menu, chances are if you visit here once,  you’re going to want to go back! If you’re thinking, hotdogs, hamburgers and “holy smokes I’m hungry”, check out the menu at Grantown Diner which offers both sit-in and takeaway. 

KJ’s Bothy Bakery. Image Catriona Parmenter

Festivities & Events

Did you know Grantown is the perfect base if you want to try out some snowsports?  It sits at the centre point between Lecht Ski Centre and Cairngorm Mountain,  if the snow conditions are better at one than the other, you’re in the perfect location to pick and choose where to enjoy your snowsports! It’s also a great base to explore the SnowRoads.

You can also visit for more itinerary ideas to plan your stay.


Check this video for a taster of Grantown life

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