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Royal Deeside

Royal Deeside: Our most recommended tours and activities

Dunnottar Castle and Royal Deeside 1-Day Tour from Aberdeen

1. Dunnottar Castle and Royal Deeside 1-Day Tour from Aberdeen

You travel straight from Aberdeen to one of Scotland’s archetypal structures, Dunnottar Castle. It’s a stunning fortress set on a cliff by the sea. It’s seen more battles than you’ve had cups of tea and is an essential Scottish destination. Your next stop is the Falls of Feugh. These cascading falls are mesmerising; and if you’re lucky, you may even spot a salmon jumping up the river. It’s now time for lunch in Braemar, a lovely little village in the Cairngorms National Park with royal connections and plenty of local delicacies to try. You then head to the Muir of Dinnet Nature Reserve and get the opportunity to go for a stroll. Keep your eyes peeled for otters, birds, and adders on this quintessential woodland walk. You leave the Cairngorms National Park and arrive in Aberdeen in the early evening.

From Aberdeen: Balmoral Castle Estate and Royal Deeside Tour

2. From Aberdeen: Balmoral Castle Estate and Royal Deeside Tour

Balmoral Castle & Estate Balmoral is a treasured family home for the Royal family since 1850, when Queen Victoria and Prince Albert chose this beautiful region to create their great escape. A landscape with stunning views of the hills and mountains, fields of heather and the majestic river Dee that flows through it. The estate was the late Queen Elizabeth's private country retreat in Scotland and a beloved home. King Charles III has a great affection for the castle and grounds and often spends time walking through the estate. We highly recommend listening to the audio tour. The audio will share stories and guides you around the estate. (Pre-booked Balmoral entry tickets will receive the audio tour free!) The Ballroom is only room open to visitors within the Castle. The objects in the Ballroom are from within the Castle, and are all objects that belong to the Royal Family. Note: ***Balmoral Castle & Estate usually closes on the 11th of August 2024. This tour stop will be changed to the National Trust for Scotland's- Crathes Castle thereafter. Village of Ballater The Victorian village of Ballater sits in the heart of Royal Deeside, at the eastern gateway to the Cairngorms National Park, making it one of Scotland’s most scenic visitor spots. A stroll around the village reveals an interesting range of specialty shops and good selection of restaurants and cafes to enjoy some of the local food & drink. Be sure to visit the beautiful Victorian Railway Station and the tourist information centre which has more information about the village. Cambus O’May Suspension Bridge The Cambus O' May suspension bridge spans the river Dee and is a legacy from the estate of Alexander Gordon. Built in 1905, the footbridge is 50 m long and carries visitors to the other side. Footpaths from the bridge lead to Torphantrick wood and the Muir of Dinnet nature reserve, popular spots for visitors who enjoy woodland walks and wild swimming in the river. Tomnavarie Stone Circle Tomnaverie is a recumbent stone circle, a kind of monument found only in north-eastern Scotland. The stone circle surrounds a burial cairn dating to about 4,500 years ago. Relatively little is known about why we have these structures, there are several theories which you’ll discover on your visit. Migvie Kirk and Pictish Carved Stone Migvie Kirk is a deconsecrated church on the Tillypronie Estate. In the centre of the kirk is group of stone chairs, carved with biblical texts, Pictish symbols and Ogham scripts. The three stained glass windows, illustrate the integration of Christianity into the Pictish practices. The combination of Pictish symbols and Christian ones illustrates a time when the two cultural traditions were melding together. The Queen’s View Just outside the village of Tarland is the Queen's View. 'The Queens View' gained its name from Queen Victoria who fell in love with the view of the lower valley of the Howe of Cromar which includes a view of the peak of Lochnagar.

From Edinburgh: Speyside Whisky Trail 3-Day Group Tour

3. From Edinburgh: Speyside Whisky Trail 3-Day Group Tour

Day 1 You head north through the Kingdom of Fife, to your first distillery; Lindores Abbey. This is a modern Scottish distillery built on the site of the first-ever recorded distiller in the country in 1494. Visit this site to discover the historic legacy of the area blended with innovation and sustainable practices all captured in their fine whisky. Continue north towards the UK's largest National Park, Cairngorms National Park. This will be a stunning drive, so keep your cameras ready. You stop in Braemar and have some time for lunch and a little explore. A bite to eat is a good idea though because your next stop is the Whisky Castle. This whisky emporium has been selling the finest malt whiskies for over 120 years and is stocking over 600 malts. Savour three Speyside whiskies to get familiar with a distinctive taste of this region. Once you’ve warmed with this dram of “the gentle spirit”, you continue through the Cairngorms National Park before reaching Grantown-on-Spey, your base for two nights. Day 2 Today you spend the whole day exploring Scotland’s most famous whisky region. Your first stop is Cardhu Distillery*,which is the first distillery pioneered by a woman, Helen Cumming. Today, Cardhu is the most important whisky in Johnnie Walker Black Label. After lunch in nearby Aberlour, you travel along the Spey River to Craigellachie for a visit to the Speyside Cooperage**, where you see another aspect of the whisky making process. After a scenic drive towards the coast, you head to Glen Moray, where you can try whisky matured in a wide selection of casks. Time permitting, your driver-guide might stop in at Sueno's Stone for a quick photo, where you can admire this incredible Pictish standing stone. From here you travel back to Grantown-on-Spey. Day 3 In the morning get ready for a whisky and chocolate tasting at Dalwhinnie Distillery, set in splendid mountain scenery at the heart of the Cairngorm National Park. You then leave the Highlands and journey south to Perthshire. Lying in the heart of Scotland, Pitlochry is a beautiful little town with plenty of shops, restaurants, and cafes. The time is yours to explore and have some lunch. Next, you stop for a walk among towering Douglas firs in the Hermitage, a lovely forest with a roaring waterfall. From here the route south takes you to the stunning wee village of Dunkeld, where you've got some time to explore before heading to your final whisky experience of the tour. You then over the Firth of Forth, take in the magnificent South Queensferry bridges, and head back into Edinburgh. *Itinerary and distillery visits are subject to change.

Royal Highland Braemar Gathering, transfer from Edinburgh

4. Royal Highland Braemar Gathering, transfer from Edinburgh

Famous for its hospitality, The Royal Highland Braemar Gathering is held annually on the first Saturday in September. It is a spectacle of fun and games, featuring Scottish pipers and Highland dancers on heather clad hills. Your transfer from Edinburgh will be in comfortable coaches. You will cross the River Forth as the drive takes in the stunning Forth Bridge, before heading through Perthshire. Known as the “Heart of Scotland,” watch in wonder as magnificent scenery unfolds as you pass the skiing capital of Scotland at Glenshee. Keep an eye out for pheasant and wild deer as you drive, and before the dip down into Royal Deeside for the Gathering. Here you are free to explore on your own throughout the day. While there have been Gatherings of one sort or another since the days of King Malcolm Canmore, 900 years ago, the official festivities that are held today date back to its inauguration by the Braemar Royal Highland Society in 1832. Large crowds gather every year to proclaim their Monarch as “Chief of the Braemar Gathering.” Join them on this memorable occasion, where international athletes take part in the "heavy" and "track" events. Pipers and dancers will be of the highest standard expected of Scotland, as teams from H.M. Forces compete the Inter-Services Unit Tug of War Championship and Services Medley Relay Race. Watch a thrilling Hill Race up Morrone, as Scottish Pipe Bands come forward for the customary Massed Pipe Bands appearance. Meals, snacks and light refreshments will be available throughout the day, as you stroll at your leisure. You might even get to see the Queen, as her loyal subjects pronounce “Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the First of Scotland.”

Speyside Whisky Trail 1-Day Tour from Aberdeen

5. Speyside Whisky Trail 1-Day Tour from Aberdeen

You leave Aberdeen in the morning and travel through the vast hills of Cairngorms National Park to Corgarff. Here, you go for a little walk towards the Corgarff Castle, once a noble residence that in the 18th century was turned into a military base. Invigorated by the walk, you head deeper into the national park, as you travel past Cockbridge and Tomintoul. This legendary stretch of road regularly sees the first of the snowy winter weather and crosses the mountain pass known locally as the Lecht. You’ll have plenty of time for photo opportunities on this unforgettable route. Then you delve into the home of whisky, the Speyside region. Here, you stop at the Whisky Castle for an optional tutor whisky tasting and lunch. This whisky emporium has been selling the finest malt whiskies for over 120 years and is stocking over 600 malts, so it’s a real treasure trove for whisky lovers. Next, you travel to the Speyside Cooperage where you get to know the history of Scotland’s oak casks. Then you head to Cardhu Distillery, the first distillery pioneered by a woman, Helen Cumming. Today, Cardhu is the most important whisky in Johnnie Walker’s Black Label. You leave Cardhu full of appreciation for whisky and arrive in Aberdeen in the early evening. It’s now up to you whether you continue the whisky tasting into the night. *Itinerary and distillery visits are subject to change.

Edinburgh: 5-Day Outer Hebrides and Highlands Tour

6. Edinburgh: 5-Day Outer Hebrides and Highlands Tour

Day 1 Your tour will begin as you depart the cosmopolitan city of Edinburgh and travel into the Highlands. Your first stop of the day is in the village of Dunkeld. There you can stretch your legs and admire the cathedral’s unusual mixture of architectural styles, before you venture through the shadows of the great and gorgeous Grampian Mountains and stop for lunch in the charming town of Aviemore. After you’ve satisfied your taste buds, you drive out to Rogie Falls and take a short walk out to see this lovely sight. Next up is Corrieshalloch Gorge, a lesser-known Scottish sight, but it’s sure to be one that you’ll also love. Then you’re off to Ullapool for a short visit before you jump on the ferry to Stornoway, where you will be spending the night. Day 2 After breakfast, set off for the Butt of Lewis, the northernmost point of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. Hold onto your hats as it's one of the windiest spots in the UK. Explore the island with your driver-guide, passing through traditional crofting towns and seaside ports. Beach enthusiasts will enjoy a walk at Port of Ness, while history lovers can visit Arnol Blackhouse* to experience traditional farming life. After lunch in Stornoway, explore the west side of Lewis to Uig Bay before returning to Stornoway for the night. Don't miss trying Scotland's delicious black pudding while in this port town. Day 3 On your third day, it will be time to enter the region of Harris. Harris boasts the highest mountains in the Outer Hebrides and is home to one of the most beautiful white-sandy beaches in Britain, Luskentyre. After a morning of exploring the breathtaking landscapes, enjoy lunch. Depending on the weather, a beach picnic might be on the agenda, so don't forget your sunglasses. Return to Stornoway in the late afternoon Day 4 First up today is a visit to the Calanais Stone Circle*, so prepare yourselves for the possibility of time travel. This prehistoric sight still mystifies archeologists today. Continue your exploration with Dun Carloway Broch – these unique ruins sit atop a mound of rock on the Isle of Lewis. Following lunch in Stornoway, you’ll jump back on the ferry to the mainland. We head straight for Inverness, our final overnight stop. Day 5 This morning, we leave Inverness, tracing Loch Ness's shores, cameras ready for a glimpse of Nessie. Then to Tomintoul, Highland's highest village, nestled in Cairngorm National Park, exemplifying planned village architecture. Continuing to Royal Deeside, following River Dee from mountains to Aberdeenshire coast. Relax over lunch in Braemar, Cairngorms National Park's heart, a remote village cherished by the British Royal Family. Surrounded by majestic mountains, peat-colored rivers, and dark forests, it's a Highland retreat. Heading south, we cross Scotland’s highest mountain pass, traversing Highland Perthshire before reaching Scone Palace, home to Scotland’s legendary Stone of Destiny. From here it’s a short journey back to Edinburgh.

Aberdeenshire Private Half Day Castle & Historic Areas To

7. Aberdeenshire Private Half Day Castle & Historic Areas To

This is a private tour for your group only. Scotland has many treasures to explore and a lot of them are in Aberdeenshire. We will take you on a tour to areas that are as stunning as they are interesting and you will learn about the attractions and their history and have a great day out. You can also choose your own itinerary. Our example itinerary includes - Old Aberdeen - A step back in time to see amazing ancient buildings including St Machars Cathedral and Kings College. - Dunnottar Castle- One of the worlds most iconic castles impregnably built on a sheer headland. - Drum Castle - A stunning 13th Century Castle dating back to Robert The Bruce. - Crathes Castle - A 16th Century masterpiece on Royal Deeside. Most castles are free to visit, but charge for interior tours. Attractions are subject to seasonal opening times and please contact us for details. Itinerary may be altered your hotel location.

Scottish Highlands 4-Day Castle Tour From Edinburgh

8. Scottish Highlands 4-Day Castle Tour From Edinburgh

Day 1 Embark from Edinburgh, journey north, and cross Queensferry Crossing to the historic Kingdom of Fife. Explore Falkland Palace, once a royal hunting lodge, where Mary Queen of Scots played tennis on the world's oldest court. Wander the medieval village seen in Outlander. Head to St Andrews for lunch and discovery of its cobblestone streets and ancient university. In the afternoon, venture further north to Dunnottar Castle, a majestic cliff-top ruin featured on travel magazine covers. Capture breathtaking views and sharpen your photography skills. You spend your night in Aberdeen. Day 2 Explore Royal Deeside, renowned for its castles. Begin at Castle Fraser, a grand Scottish tower house. Enjoy a stroll in the 18th-century walled garden. Head to Ballater, a royal-associated village, for lunch. Afternoon at Crathes Castle, a fairytale-like fortress with a haunted history. Wander freely through the house and gardens. Marvel at the June Borders for stunning castle views. You return to Aberdeen for another overnight. Day 3 Venture north to Fyvie Castle, dating to the 13th century, housing a remarkable collection of arms, armor, and 17th-century tapestries. Travel through scenic landscapes to Elgin for lunch. Explore the intricately carved Pictish stone at ruined Elgin Cathedral. Afternoon visit to Culloden Battlefield, the poignant end of the Jacobite Rising. Walk the tragic landscape, honoring those who fell in the last battle on British soil. You continue to Nairn for your overnight stay. Day 4 Travel south through Scotland's breathtaking landscapes. Visit Cardhu, the pioneering distillery by Helen Cumming. Pass Kingussie for a quick stop at Ruthven Barracks. Explore Blair Castle, rich in history and adorned with a ballroom featuring 175 antlers. Wander the 9-acre Georgian garden and enjoy lunch. Journey through Perthshire's lush woodlands, pausing in picturesque towns. Return to Edinburgh over the Firth of Forth in the evening.

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What people are saying about Royal Deeside

I was hesitant to book a pricey tour but very much wanted to learn more about whisky. Turns out it was worth every bit of the money! The tours were fabulous and the whisky tastings taught me what I like and dislike. It lead to lots of purchases but it's a big year for my family and we'll be celebrating with some of the best Scottish whisky. Our guide Chris was fabulous! So entertaining and he really went out of his way showing us sites aside from the distilleries. I've taken several tours with Rabbie's and the quality is always outstanding. If you're on the fence, rest assured this one is worth it!

Fun trip, good guide. Learned a lot. Weather didn’t cooperate and we didn’t get to go inside Donnatar because of the wind, but it’s Scotland. Lunch stop was closer to 2, so if you’re a hangry type, maybe bring a snack. Glad I went and highly recommend for anyone looking for easy-going small group trip.

What a fantastic and beautiful day Trip! Huge Thank You to Jim, Our Guide! Beautiful spots that we got to See and Since it was a small group you really get to know the other people. 10/10 would reccommend!

we were most lucky with a guide who showed us and told us about so amazing places, who knows and loves Aberdeenshire ❤️

The guide was really good. I can’t think of anything that could have been changed to make it better.