The Cairngorms National Park is one of the top 20 places to visit in the world, according to National Geographic Magazine. It is the UK's largest national park and the largest area of arctic mountain landscape in the UK, providing a home to 25% of the country's endangered species, four of Scotland's highest mountains and Britain's favourite picnic spot so there really is something for everyone here.
Whether you are hoping to escape and relax, thrill seeking or simply want a fun family holiday, the Cairngorms and Aviemore are the place to be.
Here are just a few of our favourite places to eat and things to do, to give you a taster of what there is on offer:
Old Bridge Inn
The Old Bridge Inn is a traditional country pub by the River Spey in Aviemore, with a fantastic locally-sourced menu and a huge whisky selection. They often have live music and dogs are allowed in front of the fire in the bar area.
La Taverna is a family-owned Italian Pizzeria with buffet in Aviemore. Perfect for the kids! Very popular with locals and visitors alike.
The Druie is located on the Rothiemurchus Estate, serving great lunches with fish, venison and beef from the estate. Also great for coffee and home baking. Dogs are welcome in their outdoor seating area.
The Carrbridge Kitchen is a fantastic Scottish fusion restaurant serving delicious lunches, dinners, coffee and cake.
Muckrach Country House Hotel
Muckrach Lodge is a stunning example of a Victorian shooting lodge that underwent a total renovation and now offers a stylish brasserie-style restaurant near Carrbridge which serves simple, stylish and delicious dishes made using local ingredients sourced from the Scottish Highlands.
The High St Merchants
This gem of a cafe and gallery in Grantown-on-Spey is a firm favourite with local and visitors alike. Pop in for a delicious scone, tasty lunch or pint of Two Thirsty Men beer (brewed right next door!). Also open for dinner on Friday and Saturday evenings.
The Sugar Bowl
The Sugar Bowl in Kingussie is a lovely little coffee shop which also sells some great gifts. Breakfast, lunch, drinks and coffee are served every day other than Monday.
The Winking Owl
The Winking Owl is located in the centre of Aviemore. This lovely gastro pub is owned by the Cairngorm Brewery and has an impressive selection of real ales to sample.
The Mountain Cafe in the centre of Aviemore is a must for a hearty breakfast and also great for lunch. This multi-award winning cafe has a selection of cakes like you've never seen before. Be prepared to queue for a table but it is worth the wait!
1896 Gallery and Coffee Shop
1896 is a lovely family-run coffee shop in Boat of Garten. They serve delicious soup and scones as well as a good selection of home baking.
Andersons is a relaxed and informal bistro style restaurant in Boat of Garten. It's a great choice for some good home-cooked Scottish cuisine. It is recommended by Nick Nairn!
The Cross is a smart restaurant in Kingussie, the perfect setting to celebrate a special occasion or simply to enjoy some deliciously prepared local produce.
The Wild Flour
The Wild Flour is a lovely wee cafe in Newtonmore that serves homemade treats in a relaxed atmosphere.
The Craigellachie Speyside
A 40-minute drive north on the A95 from Nethy Bridge, this stylish small hotel is the perfect spot for a relaxed lunch or dinner. The Copper Dog pub downstairs serves quality local fare, with live music on summer evenings, and the Quaich bar is home to more than 900 whiskies!
A delightful little cafe with home cooked food and fantastic coffee in the heart of Nethy Bridge.
Mambos is the place to be on a Saturday night in Aviemore. This is a lively bar with music and dancing until the wee hours.
The Cairngorm Hotel is a traditional hotel pub, very popular with locals and holiday-makers. Live music is often heard here, they also support many local events.
The Cairn Hotel
At the Cairn Hotel in Carrbridge, you can enjoy a country pub atmosphere with a real log fire on a chilly day or outdoor seating on a sunny day. They serve great pub lunches and suppers, always with some friendly banter and maybe some real ale or a wee dram.
The Old Bridge Inn
The Old Bridge Inn is a traditional country pub with a great selection of beers, whiskies and other beverages. A cosy, comfy and popular pub which on occasion throws a great party with live folk/pop music.
An apres ski bar in the heart of Aviemore that's fun in all seasons. Popular with locals and holiday makers.
The Grant Arms Hotel
You will find The Grant Arms Hotel in the heart of Grantown. They offer draught beers as well as locally brewed guest ales and they have a great selection of Speyside single malts.
There are several lovely paths and tracks throughout Anagach Woods, a beautiful pine forest in Grantown on Spey, great for walking and biking, popular for dog walking and perfect for a family picnic.
Cairngorm Mountain is Britains premier ski destination, funicular railway and Britain's highest restaurant. Perfect for snow sports, biking, walking, climbing and only 14 km from Aviemore. Kids love the ride on the funicular.
Landmark Forest Adventure Park
Landmark in Carrbridge is fun for all the family offering everything from a roller coaster, high ropes, indoor and outdoor play areas to a new butterfly enclosure. They are event rides and attractions specically for toddlers.
A wide range of activities are on offer at the Rothiemurchus Estate, including fishing, land rover tours, high ropes, shooting and gorge walking. The Visitor Centre will be able to give you all of the information and make all of the bookings that you need. Babies and toddlers really enjoy feeding the fish at the fishery and visiting all of the animals around the estate.
Loch Insh Outdoor Centre
A fantastic selection of water sports on Loch Insh including lessons and full activity holidays. There are also two great play parks there for the little ones and lots of fun watching the ducks on the loch.
Highland Folk Museum
Have a wander back through the way we used to live at the Highland Folk Museum. Perfect for kids of all ages. Educational and lots of fun. There is a great play park for the little ones here too.
Highland Wildlife Park
The Highland Wildlife Park is home to a huge selection of animals from sub-arctic climates including 3 polar bears and a wolf pack! You can enjoy a walk around the enclosures then get up close and personal with a drive around the safari park.
Craggan Outdoors offers a large variety of outdoor activities specialising in organised group activities including gorge walking, golf, shooting, high wires and team building activities.
Open to the public from Easter to the end of September, Ballindalloch Castle has all you need for a lovely family day out. Just a 30-minute drive north of Nethy Bridge, there you will find llamas, donkeys, a children’s playground complete with many ride-on tractors, a grass labyrinth, beautiful gardens perfect for hide-and-seek, a great cafe and even its own golf course!
Loch Insh has perhaps the area’s widest variety of watersports on offer. Everything from stand up paddleboarding, windsurfing, kayaking and canoeing to sailing is available for hire or for lessons - plus some land based activities such as ski and snowboard lessons on their dry slope. There is also a bar and restaurant on site for breakfast, lunches and evening meals. They have a good kids playpark on site too.
Shinty (or Camanachd in Gaelic) is played regularly at Newtonmore and Kingussie. Games are held regularly on weekday evenings or at weekends and all spectators warmly welcome! It’s a fast paced and thrilling traditional Highland sport and is a huge part of the Highland culture particularly in these two villages, who are fierce shinty rivals! See their websites/facebook pages for match details.
Aviemore and the surrounding area is perfect for golfers with a huge selection of courses to choose from for all abilities. From the beautiful Boat of Garten, Abernethy and Carrbridge courses to the impressive 18 hole Spey Valley Championship Course now in the top 100 of UK golf courses.
Paint-balling in the heart of Scotland's ancient pine forest.
Full On Adventure
Full On Adventure offers extreme adventure on the River Spey during the summer months, from paddle boarding and kayak touring to river tubing down the Spey!
G2 Outdoors offer thrill seeking adventure for all ages and abilities. From ski touring in the winter to white water rafting and gorge walking in the warmer months. G2 also run a zip park with over 2 km of lines zipping through the ancient forest.
Alvie Estate is home to Clan Warfare and the Zip Park, this beautiful estate near Kincraig also offers clay shooting, highland pony trekking and gorge walking.
Blair Castle is home to the UK's only private Army. Blair Castle and its garden is a stunning example of Scottish history.
Cairngorm Reindeer Herd
Visit the UK's only wild Reindeer Herd that roam Cairngorm Mountain. If you don't fancy a trek up the mountain there are always a few reindeer grazing at the visitors centre. Santa normally comes to visit at Christmas time too.
Loch Garten Osprey Centre
Loch Garten is the largest fresh water Highland loch and home to many Osprey and also Capercaillies, Red squirrels, Wood Peckers and many more. The Osprey Centre offer a fantastic facility to spot these rare and beautiful birds. The loch is also a wonderful place to walk and explore for all ages.
There are endless options for walks across the Cairngorms National Park from low and easy loch walks to extremely strenuous hikes up Munros. A great place to look for and plan the right walk for you is Walk Highlands.
A great wet weather option, this friendly ceramic painting studio conveniently located on the High Street in Grantown-on-Spey provides the opportunity to create your own souvenir of your Cairngorm holiday – or whatever you like! There is a wide selection of white ceramic ware for all ages to paint and enjoy.
Over 20 miles of purpose-built mountain bike trails, from easy greens up to extremely tricky blacks. Access trails wind upwards through the forest, rewarding you with stunning views at the top, as well as the fun of the descent! There’s a bike shop for sales and rentals, plus a friendly cafe, as well as hot showers in case you get just too muddy to get back into the car!
Highland Horse Fun in Kingussie
Can organise pony treks of any duration from an hour up to a full day - an inspirational way to see the landscape at a leisurely pace on their lovely Highland ponies. If you are a more experienced rider, hacks are also possible.
Loch Morlich is a beautiful loch surrounded by pine forest at the foot of Cairngorm Mountain with a stunning beach with cafe and water sports.
Loch an Eilein
Loch an Eilein was voted Britain's No.1 picnic spot and with its own castle ruin on a small island in the centre, this is not one to be missed.
Step away from it all and unwind the minute you walk through the doors of the Thai Lodge. Their full Thai massage is highly recommended but they also offer various other treatments.
Strathspey Steam Railway
Step back in time and admire the stunning scenery through the valley as you enjoy some local Scottish treats. There are special children's trains with Santa and Peppa Pig visiting at certain times of the year.
Macdonald Highland Hotel Shop
The shop at 'the centre' sells luxurious and stylish Scottish products mixed with a large selection of high end merchandise and clothing.
Rothiemurchus Farm Shop
The farm shop on the estate sells a delicious selection of Scottish food products including fish, highland beef and venison from the estate.
Balliefurth Farm Shop
Balliefurth Farm Shop in Nethy Bridge is an award winning family run business selling the very finest in local meat, poultry and game.
Elephants in the Pantry
You will find Elephants in the Pantry on the main street in Grantown on Spey, it is a modern deli where you can choose from a great selection of food and drink including locally sourced products, fine wines, artisan spirits and homebaking.
If it's convenience you are after there is a Tesco in the centre of Aviemore. Sainsburys, Asda and Tesco provide home delivery to most properties in the area too.
A local deli in Aviemore with a deli counter, fresh bread, take-away coffee and a great selection of other local produce.
A family owned business with a bike shop in Aviemore, you can buy or hire bikes as well as all the best gear. They will even drop off and pick up bikes from your Handpicked Lodge.
Located in Grantown on Spey, BaseCamp Bikes is an ideal cycle shop to aim for for any help you need with your own bike or to hire a high quality bike, they offer a very helpful delivery service to your holiday home.