As well as being famous world-wide as the location of the renowned Speyside malt whisky region, Moray Speyside also offers plenty of great attractions and activities that will make your visit really memorable.
Located east of Inverness in the Highlands, Moray Speyside encompasses the area around the River Spey, with the glittering waters of the Moray Firth to the north and the rugged peaks of the Cairngorms National Park to the south.
There are lots of fantastic things to do in Moray Speyside. Visit historic places, hike to stunning viewpoints, try an adrenaline-pumping outdoor activity and tuck into delicious food and drink.
Try these 12 suggestions on your visit:
1. Explore Elgin
Discover Elgin’s past and present as you explore its historic streets. Dating from the early medieval period, Elgin has been a bustling town for centuries, with stories and history around every corner. Visit the site of Elgin’s long-gone castle, which was destroyed in 1308 shortly after the death of William Wallace, and see majestic Elgin Cathedral which dates from 1224.
Head to Castle to Cathedral to Cashmere to find out more about Elgin’s history and places you can visit.
2. Browse beautiful woollen and cashmere gifts at Johnstons of Elgin
Johnstons of Elgin has been producing beautiful woollen and cashmere products in the town since 1797. Book a free tour of the 220 year old mill to see the process for transforming raw cashmere into gorgeous clothing, including dyeing, spinning, carding and weaving. Afterwards, shop for lovely, authentic souvenirs and enjoy a tasty lunch or decadent afternoon tea.
Open: all year
3. Soak up the views from Nelson’s Tower
Climb to the top of Cluny Hill in Forres and enjoy the views out across Moray Speyside from the top of Nelson’s Tower. Built in 1806 as a memorial to Admiral Nelson, the top deck of Nelson’s Tower offers stunning panoramic views. To the north you’ll see the glittering Moray Firth and the distant hills of Caithness.
Open: April – September
4. Hike along the Moray Coast Trail
Beginning in Findhorn and ending in Cullen, the Moray Coast Trail is one of Scotland’s beautiful long-distance walking routes. The 50 mile (80 km) route traces the coastline of Moray Speyside and is split into sections, so you can choose between tackling the whole route (3 – 5 days recommended for this) or picking a section for a day walk.
Along the way you’ll come across cliffs, caves and sandy beaches and will pass stunning natural features, such as Bow Fiddle Rock, which is said to resemble the tip of a bow. You may even spot dolphins playing in the waters of the Moray Firth too.
5. Look out for wildlife
Moray Speyside is home to a wide variety of habitats, and there’s plenty of iconic wildlife to see. As well the Moray Firth’s pod of famous resident dolphins, some of the species you should look out for are elusive pine martens, mountain-dwelling ptarmigan, shy deer and curious seals, which sunbathe on the coast of the Moray Firth.
6. Tour the rooms at Ballindalloch Castle
With castle tours, walking paths, a tearoom and a distillery, plus an outdoor children’s play area, Ballindalloch Castle and the surrounding estate offers plenty of activities to fill a fun day out.
Take a tour of the castle to discover its history since its construction around 1542, and find out more about its owners, the Macpherson-Grant family.
Out on the estate, stroll along the walking paths, enjoy the beautiful floral displays in the walled garden and nip into the tearoom to taste freshly home-made soups, sandwiches, baking and more.
If you have an interest in whisky, book a tour of Ballindalloch Distillery, which was constructed in 2014, or, if you have children with you, head to the playground where they can have plenty of fun in the fresh air.
Open: Easter – September
7. Step inside Balvenie Castle
Built in the 1200s, Balvenie Castle, near Dufftown, is one of the oldest stone castles in Scotland. Step inside to see the medieval curtain wall – an imposing example of 13th century military architecture – as well as the Renaissance features of Atholl Lodging, which were added in the centuries after the castle’s initial construction.
Fun fact – in the 1300s the castle’s rent was one red rose per year!
Open: April – September
8. Explore the ruins of Duffus Castle
Located on top of a round mound, Duffus Castle, near Elgin, is one of Scotland’s best examples of an ancient motte and bailey castle.
Common in Scotland in the 1100s and 1200s, mottes were early strongholds, consisting of a wooden keep on top of a man-made mound. The second part of the castle complex – the bailey – was an enclosed courtyard which was surrounded by a ditch and contained more wooden buildings, such as workshops, stables and barracks.
Pack a picnic and explore this ruined castle to get a feel for what life was like in the medieval period.
Tip – entry is free.
Open: all year
9. Head out on a mountain biking adventure
Feel the adrenaline rush as you zoom along an off-road mountain bike track and explore some of Moray Speyside’s most beautiful areas.
With routes ranging from fun tracks for beginners to extreme tests for advanced mountain bikers, Moray Speyside’s mountain biking trials offer lots of unique features to test out.
10. Test your fishing skills on Moray Speyside’s rivers
If you enjoy fishing you’ll have plenty of beautiful beats to choose from in Moray Speyside. The area’s four rivers are teeming with Scottish salmon, trout and more:
- River Spey – known for salmon and sea trout.
- River Findhorn – known for salmon, grilse and sea trout.
- River Avon – known for salmon and sea trout.
- River Livet – known for brown trout and salmon.
11. Relax and enjoy a round of golf
If you love golf and are looking for a course that’s a little more off the beaten path for your next round, then Moray Speyside’s enchanting golf courses are worth serious consideration.
Play high-quality links courses along the Moray Firth or beautiful parkland courses, such as Rothes Golf Course, further inland.
Find out more about golf in Moray Speyside.
12. Sample Moray Speyside’s delectable food and drink
With rich, fertile land, Moray Speyside produces plenty of fantastic food and drink. You’ll find lots of tearooms, pubs, restaurants and more to visit, and you can stock up on tasty produce at Brodie Countryfare near Forres which offers a huge range of gourmet food.
While you’re in the area look out for deliciously buttery Walkers shortbread. It’s famous throughout the world and produced right in the heart of Moray Speyside, at the Walkers factory near Aberlour. Head to the Walkers Shortbread Factory Shop in Aberlour to browse their vast range of shortbread, cakes, biscuits and oatcakes.
Of course, no visit to Moray Speyside would be complete without visiting a whisky distillery too. This is the famous Speyside malt whisky region after all! It’s home to half the whisky distilleries in Scotland. Follow the Speyside malt whisky trail itinerary or browse distilleries in Moray Speyside to find a tour.
Ready to plan your visit to Moray Speyside?