Nestled amidst the stunning Cairngorms National Park in the heart of the Scottish Highlands, Aviemore transforms into a captivating winter wonderland. With its snow-covered landscapes, friendly surrounding villages, and a huge choice of activities, Aviemore beckons visitors to experience the magic of the season. From thrilling outdoor adventures to cozy indoor escapes, here’s a comprehensive guide to the best of Aviemore in winter.
Make it Cosy
In Aviemore, there is a huge variety of accommodation to choose from ensuring a cosy escape. For those seeking a home away from home, there is a cracking choice of self-catering options, offering the freedom to create your own cozy retreat. Igloo.Scot, Hidden Highland Retreats at Rothiemurchus and Seasgair Lodges offer high end self catering where everything and more has been thought of making for a really relaxing stay.
Chocolate box chalets and lodges, nestled in the picturesque surroundings, provide a charming escape with their warm interiors and rustic charm. Pinebank Chalets and Great North Lodges have a great choice of chalet type accommodation with log burning stoves to create that coorie vibe.
Guest houses, exuding Scottish hospitality, invite guests to unwind in intimate settings, often adorned with roaring fireplaces and snug lounges. Ravenscraig, Eriskay and Ardlogie pride themselves on their warm, welcoming hospitality and delicious breakfasts. Eriskay also offer a glamping pods experience if you fancy somthing a little different.
Aviemore also boasts hostels that are perfect for budget-conscious travelers, fostering a communal atmosphere where adventurers can share stories of their day’s escapades. Aviemore Youth Hostel and the Aviemore Bunkhouse are centrally located.
And for those desiring a touch of luxury, hotels in Aviemore offer refined comfort, complete with plush furnishings and amenities. The Cairngorm Hotel offers a very traditional Scottish welcome and has a busy bar with evening entertainment. Macdonald Aviemore Resort boasts a selection of hotels as well as some brilliant facilities such as a pool, spa, retail experience and cinema too. The Rowan Tree Country Hotel and Restaurant sits in an idyllic setting overlooking Loch Alvie and is reknown for great food.
Make it Playful
We are incredibly lucky to have so many exciting things to do in Aviemore even in the midst of winter! The village is known for its links to Cairngorm Mountain and is a haven for skiers and snowboarders. The Aviemore Adventurer bus runs hourly up to Cairngorm Mountain so you can get to the slopes easily or you can drive and park there. You can hire equipment on the mountain or in the village and can book lessons with Freeski too.
The alpine themed Aviemore Ice Rink is open every day offering skating and curling sessions. You can also enjoy their legendary ice discos with snow and under ice disco lights! No matter what the weather you can enjoy a wintery activity with hot drinks and snacks on offer too. Bob-skates are available for little ones as well as Penguin and Polar Bear skating aids.
Rothiemurchus on the edge of Aviemore have a fantastic choice of activities to fill your days. Have a go at quad biking, feeding the deer, visiting the hairy coos, clay pigeon shooting or Treezone aerial adventure centre. The estate also boasts some beautiful walks. Walking around Loch an Eilein in winter conditions is just magical and you can reward your efforts with lunch or cake at the Barn cafe afterwards. Keep an eye out for signs of wildlife on your walks – you never know when a magical encounter is just around the corner. Climbing Craigellachie, the small hill behind Aviemore will reward you with fantastic views of the Cairngorm Mountains and to the south, the view across Loch Alvie and Loch Insh, the Storylands.
We are incredibly lucky to be home to the Cairngorm Reindeer Herd, (Britain’s only free ranging herd), which you can visit at their centre at Glenmore or out on the hill daily. This is a must do experience as the reindeer are incredibly friendly! (They close throughout January for a rest after working so hard over Christmas).
Night Zipping on a magical flight through the forest, lit up with colouful lights, makes for an unforgettable experience. Available October through to the middle of January or outside this time you can zip daily taking in the views by daylight!
When we are blessed with snow not just on the mountains, sledging is great fun and we have lots of great spots to enjoy the thrill of the downhill.
Landmark Forest Adventure Park, 10 minutes north of Aviemore in Carrbridge is a playground for kids of all ages. Visit the life sized dinosaurs or take in the Ancient Forest Twi-LIGHTS for a magical winter walk through the forest at night.
If the weather is not playing ball we have some great indoor options too. Aviemore offers escape rooms that challenge your wit and problem-solving skills. Gather a group of friends or family and immerse yourself in a thrilling race to make your escape! Macdonald Aviemore Resort has a cinema with new films every week and their fantastic pantos during the holidays. Or for a tranquil experience check into their spa. The Strathspey Steam Railway whisks you through the countryside in vintage style and is a really relaxing way to take in the landscape.
Make it Delicious
Aviemore boasts a variety of restaurants, cafes, and bars offering diverse culinary experiences. Warm up after a day of outdoor adventures on front of the fire at the Balavoulin or Old Bridge Inn. Sample local Cairngorm Brewery ales or a Spey or Dalwhinnie whisky. Cairngorm Gin is also served locally and have their very own gin bar in the Ptarmigan Restaurant, the highest restaurant in the UK at the top of Cairngorm Mountain. Or for a really special tasting experience get along to Kinrara Gin, Cairngorm Brewery or Speyside Distillery’s ‘The Snug’.
The Rowan Tree Country Hotel and Restaurant is known for its quality food offering where you can enjoy a fine dining experience in a cosy setting. The Old Bridge Inn describes themselves as Aviemore’s gourmet kitchen party where you are guaranteed great food, occasional live music and a cosy atmosphere. The Cairngorm Hotel serves hearty Scottish fair with a really friendly atmosphere. You can enjoy live music here most nights of the week. The Balavoulin serve food every day and pride themselves on using local suppliers. They also rustle up a fine cocktail! The Pine Marten Bar at Glenmore are a great spot for warming up after a day on the mountain with their log burner and fun atmosphere. Speaking to the locals and staff in all these places will give you the inside knowledge you need to make your visit extra special.
La Taverna offers an italian dining experience and Pizzariach a takeaway pizza option. There are some fantastic cafes too for a warm drink or delicious piece of home baking. The Barn Cafe at Rothiemurchus and Day Lodge Cafe at Cairngorm Mountain both have log burners that offer a warm welcome after a blast from the cold. The Route 7 Cafe at the North of Aviemore just off the Speyside Way offers the ‘best breakfast in Aviemore‘ ‘and some great baking too. Cobbs Cafe is brillinatly placed on the main street and opens nice and early with a warm welcome for people getting up and out for an all day adventure.
The Winking Owl is a great place to go for a dance with live music at the weekend. Also catch their Street Market every Wednesday. If you have a sweet tooth, a visit to Miele’s Gelateria for hot waffles and Italian Coffee is a must or to the Kilted Fudge Shop for some sugary treats for your walks. The Scottish Steak House at Spey Valley Resort is a great spot for dining too. Finally for delicious street food served outdoors you have to get along to Alvie Forest Food at the Dalraddy Caravan Park just outside Aviemore. There is a yurt onsite with a wood burner where you can sit in and keep cosy.
Aviemore in winter offers an amazing choice of activities, from outdoor thrills to indoor escapes, making for a really memorable Scottish Highland break. Embrace the magic of the season, explore the wonders of the Cairngorms, and create cherished memories in the UK’s original winter destination.