Things to Do in the Cairngorms National Park
1. Snowroads Scenic Route
The Snowroads Scenic Route is an incredible way to experience the Cairngorms. Stretching for 90 miles, the route is a popular adventure for those looking to get outdoors in the Highlands and encompasses some of the highest public roads in Britain. Starting at Blairgowrie and heading north to Grantown-on-Spey, stop off along the way and admire the stunning views that surround you. Make sure you look out for the three scenic route installations placed along the route that will entice you to discover new perspectives - they also make for a great photo opportunity.
Explore more of the Snowroads Scenic Route.
2. Lesser-known towns and locations
The Cairngorms National Park is a popular spot for family holidays and adventure weekends away, but the park is also home to many hidden gems, including rural towns, quaint villages and more. Head off the beaten track to explore Badenoch - a historic part of the Cairngorms filled with ancient ruins, castles, distilleries, real Highland culture, wildlife and more to explore. Visit the smaller towns of Kincraig, Kingussie, Newtonmore, Dalwhinnie and Laggan where you'll be met with some of the UK's best attractions and museums.
Explore the stories and more with #BadenochTheStorylands app.
It wouldn't be a trip to the Cairngorms without a spot of walking! With hundreds of walking routes, trails and paths across the park, you won't be lost for places to explore on foot. There are walks for all abilities and ages too, whether you fancy a lochside stroll or an adventurous mountain climb, you'll find something here.
If you'd rather have the knowledge and experience behind you, why not choose a guided walk or ranger-led guided tour? You'll be in experienced hands, as they know all the top places to soak up amazing views.
When you do head out into the great outdoors, it is essential to come prepared with the right equipment, and leave only footprints. Check out our guide to safety outdoors in Scotland.
Find more walks and hikes in the Cairngorms.
4. Dark sky parks and experiences
The magic doesn't stop at night. The Cairngorms is lucky enough to have low levels of light pollution which creates the perfect conditions for you to try a spot of stargazing.
Bless your lucky stars at the recognised Tomintoul & Glenlivet - Cairngorms Dark Sky Park, the most northerly Dark Sky Park in the world, and the darkest in the UK - which has been awarded an 'International Dark Sky Park' status. There are many amazing vantage points and vast horizons throughout the park, and with such low levels of light pollution, the Cairngorms is easily one of the best places in Scotland to star gaze! There is also a range of star gazing and astronomy events held throughout the year too - so keep an eye out for more information.
You don't always need fancy, expensive equipment to see a wealth of stars, constellations and the Northern Lights, the naked eye or a pair of binoculars work just fine too.
Sometimes can experiences the dark sky from your accommodation too! Easter Corrie boasts a secluded location in the National Park - creating the perfect conditions for a night of star gazing.
Find out more about dark skies in the Cairngorms.
5. Mountain biking & cycling
A great way to get outdoors and explore the Cairngorms is on two wheels. There are dozens of cycle paths that loop around stunning scenery and past iconic landmarks, that are ideal if you want to cover a lot of ground in one day. The Cairngorms boast a variety of mountain biking centres, cycle trails, and bike hire shops across the park.
Find out more about mountain biking and cycling in the Cairngorms.
One of the most popular activities in the Cairngorms, watersports is the perfect outdoor activity for a fun family day out. There is a huge range of watersports to try out, including canoeing, kayaking, white water rafting and paddle boarding, and dozens of centres and lochs to visit.
Head to Loch Insh for an array of watersports, including raft building, pedalos, windsurfing and more. Or try out some on-land activities if you'd rather keep your feet dry. Afterwards, tuck into a hot meal in the Boathouse, or bring your own picnic to enjoy with immense views.
Immerse yourself in a spot of luxury with Spirit of the Spey open canoeing. On this journey package, combine watersports with distillery tours, historic sites, indulgent accommodation and delicious dining for a unique Highland holiday.
If you're an experienced swimmer and fancy the freedom of taking a dip whenever you please, why not try wild swimming? The Cairngorms is home to hundreds of lochs so you're spoiled for choice if you decide to head for a swim. Before you do, please check out the safety advice first and bring the correct clothing and equipment with you.
Explore more about Cairngorm watersports.
7. Skiing and snowsports
One of the best places in Scotland for enjoying the snow, the Cairngorms is the ideal location for a skiing or snowboarding holiday. With mountains a plenty and guaranteed heavy snowfall, you'll have the perfect conditions to hit the slopes this winter. The Cairngorms is home to three ski centres; the Cairngorm Mountain, Glenshee Ski Centre, and The Lecht. Each boast their own unique features, but all equally offer an excellent experience on the slopes, with lessons, beginner slopes, and equipment hire available too.
Try your hand at winter snowsports in the Cairngorms.
8. Horse riding and pony treks
One way of exploring the Cairngorms that you may not have thought of is on horseback. With miles of paths and trails, dense woodlands, and open country roads, it's a great place for a pony trek. There are many horse riding centres dotted across the park that cater for all ages and abilities.
If you're not confident in heading out into the landscape, you can always take a lesson in an enclosed school first. Many centres have native Highland ponies which are hardy horses more than capable of taking on Scotland's rugged landscapes. Here are a few centres you could add to your itinerary:
Explore the Cairngorms on horseback.