Aviemore is located in one of Scotland's national parks - Cairngorms National Park. A two-hour drive from Edinburgh, known as Scotland's Lapland. It is a place of immense beauty with the Cairngorm Mountains, loch, wildlife, and the ancient Caledonian Forest. Here is more and why you should visit Aviemore in Scotland.
Aviemore, Scotland In Winter
Getting To Aviemore
Aviemore is easily accessible by train (Scotrail), Citylink bus, or by car. The bus journey from Edinburgh takes 3 hours and an advance single ticket can be as low as £18. Though I would recommend a car if possible, as it does give you much more flexibility, to stop and enjoy places en-route and outside of the main centre of Aviemore.
Accommodation In Aviemore
I've stayed in a guesthouse/bed & breakfast, hostel, lodge and 4* hotel all of which are great options. There is accommodation to suit all budgets and needs.
The location of each option is slightly different and might mean jumping in the car to go for dinner or a short walk down the stairs to the hotel restaurant.
To find out more about different accommodation options and how you can save money before you book check out my book - How To Get The Best Travel Deals.
What Not To Be Missed During Winter In Aviemore
The annual husky race takes place in January. 2022 celebrated its 38th race around the trails of Loch Morlich. From teams with just two dogs or up to eight, on a four to a seven-mile trail. If no snow, the teams use a three or four-wheeled rig.
I traveled to Aviemore with two friends for this event many years ago and wow, has it grown! We stayed at a guest house/bed and breakfast just around the corner from the starting line it was incredible to see all the dogs (Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, Samoyeds, Greenland Dogs, and Canadian Eskimo Dogs) lining up, jumping around, and barking with excitement. Did you know the Canadian Eskimo Dog (also known as the Canadian Inuit Dog) was the first bred to pull sleds in Arctic conditions thousands of years ago?
Cairngorm Reindeer Centre
Did you know Aviemore is home to the UK's only wild reindeer herd? There are two magical experiences you can enjoy with the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre - a visit to the paddock or/and a hike in the Cairngorm Mountains. A hike in the Cairngorm Mountains to see the reindeer has been on my list for a while and back in 2013, we made the car day trip. Gosh, it was a white wonderland! Very beautiful but we weren't quite prepared. Sometimes the best things need to percolate away till it's the right time. Finally, this was the year. It was worth the wait to see these incredible animals in their own habit, get up-close, hand-feed them, and learn more. Did you know that antlers are naturally lost each year and re-grow again?
Highly recommend it for all the family. It's so much fun.
In winter there are a few essentials needed and are also compulsory to be able to go on the hike. One is adequate footwear, a good pair of waterproof hiking boots are a must. The terrain is uneven and in areas very boggy. The other is a good waterproof and warm jacket/coat. It can be blowing a hoolie (very windy) up in the mountains. Hat, scarf, and gloves are also a must. The weather can change very quickly. We arrived moments before a heavy rain shower flowed by a snow blizzard. Then as quickly as they both came and went the skies cleared and the sun was out. Though not quite t-shirt weather, it was a blessing to have been up the mountain in such beautiful weather. The light for taking photographs was also amazing!
If you are planning on taking photographs and are a bit concerned like I was about the SLR Camera. A dry bag (waterproof bag) is perfect for keeping your camera safe, dry, easily accessible, and lightweight. I purchased the Karana Ocean 5 litre Dry Day Kayak Bag in black and it's still brilliant after eight years. The other piece of kit I have invested in is a waterproof pouch for a mobile phone. I love it! No need to worry about water damage, losing it, or trying to find it in your bag/pocket. The little pouch is secured by an adjustable string that comfortably sits around your neck. Always accessible and the photo quality is still good too. Just one drawback, If taking a selfie, you will need to remove the string from around your neck. They are available from a selection of stockists at a range of different prices. We ended up with two from different brands and I must say one is definitely much better than the other. Well worth the investment.
Highland Wildlife Park
After many visits to Aviemore, this was the first time to the Highland Wildlife Park. I wasn't quite sure what to expect as I had read about there being both a walk and drive route around the park. On arrival, it was really easy to see how it all worked. You just drive up to the ticket/entrance gate, once booked in you can either take the drive-through option first or go park the car and explore on foot/cafe/toilet/giftshop.
The weather was amazing so we opted to have a picnic lunch first, explore the walking route, and just before 3.30pm (last admission to drive-route), we jumped in the car to see the other animals. There is a large play park for children and a variety of eating options available from the small cafe with an eat-in/dine-out or an onsite takeaway van. You can also take your own food in with you and sit at one of the picnic tables.
The Highland Wildlife Park was acquired by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland in 1986. Today it is home to 200 animals from the world's mountain and tundra regions, including polar bears, wild cats, red pandas, arctic foxes, snow monkeys, and more.
It was a fun afternoon out and incredible to see the interaction between the zookeeper and the two male polar bears during feeding time.
Throughout the year you can travel onboard Strathspey Railway with either the vintage train carriages pulled by a steam or gala diesel engine. There are also special events such as a light lunch or afternoon tea.
Aviemore Train Station is easily accessible, located on the main street in Aviemore. If arriving by car there is a small car park to the front and a larger one at the back.
We thoroughly enjoyed traveling via the gala diesel engine round trip from Aviemore to Broomhill. The scenery out the window was spectacular. Though the windows could get a bit steamed up, paper tissues were readily available. There was also a snack service at the beginning of the service and again at the first stop - Boat of Garten.
I hope you have enjoyed reading and are inspired to visit Aviemore in the Scottish Highlands. As always, I would love to hear from you with any comments/questions you may have. You can get in touch via email at enquiries@MDHardingTravelPhotography.com, Facebook, and Twitter.
Until next time...