Ballater in Scotland sits nestled at the base of the Cairngorms National Park and is a highly picturesque Victorian village. It is one of the most famous scenic spots to visit and acts as a gateway into the Cairngorms National Park, with many other things to do in Ballater.
The region of Royal Deeside is stunning, and the mighty River Dee is the lifeblood that runs along with many of the beautiful cities in Aberdeen-shire. It’s the ultimate place for road trips, attractions, and things to do and see.
The fascinating range of ecology, historical importance, and cultural significance all over Ballater is a joy to explore and will offer an incredible holiday to anyone passing through.
Things to do in Ballater
Ballater is stocked full of things to do: hill walks, skiing locations, and many other activities are just the beginning. Even if you’re visiting Royal Deeside for a day, weekend or a week-long trip, you will be spoilt for choice.
It’s easy to be overwhelmed with you’re in this region of the highlands of Aberdeen-shire. See our list of the top things to do in Ballater.
Cairngorms National Park
If you fancy a change of scenery, Ballater is the eastern gateway to one of Scotland’s most famous national parks – the Cairngorms.
There are boundless opportunities for sights and activities when you visit the Cairngorms. It is a hill walker’s dream, boasting over 55 Munros, and it is a popular spot for those who want to ski down the Scottish slopes at Glenshee Ski Centre. No matter what you’re looking for, the Cairngorms are a delightful attraction in Aberdeen-shire.
Loch Muick is a stunning loch located within the Balmoral estate. You can enjoy breathtaking views of Broadcairns and the White Mounth Munros, all just a short drive or cycle from the estate!
For those who visit and are extra energised, why not continue to Lochnagar and go hiking? No pressure, though. The views and wildlife around Loch Muick are certainly enough of an attraction!
Stunning corries, beautiful lochans (small lochs), and views of the rest of the White Mount Munros are only a few of the fantastic sights that visitors will be treated to here.
Lochnagar is not the easiest of Munros, so pack the right gear and know-how to use it. Also, please take care during Winter, early Spring and late Autumn as the weather can change quickly on the Scottish hills.
Glen Tanar contains part of the largest area of the native Caledonian Forrest. This glen has spectacular woodland walks, mountain biking, trout fishing, and more!
There is a whole host of wildlife here, and if you are lucky, you could spot red squirrels, otters and Scottish wildcats that make their home in the hills of Aberdeen-shire.
Mount Keen is an absolute right of passage for Aberdonians. However, those lucky enough to be on the Ballater side of Mount Keen can start the hike from Glen Tanar and consider themselves honorary members of Aberdeen-shire.
It is a 9-hour hike in normal conditions, and proper hiking gear is essential. That being said, Mount Keen is one of the more accessible Munros to undertake, so pack your bags and tackle it head-on!
Follow Queen Victoria’s footsteps after visiting the Old Royal Station and head straight to one of Scotland’s most famous sites – Balmoral Castle.
The British Royal Family had had ownership of Balmoral Castle since 1852 when it was purchased privately by Prince Albert for his wife, Queen Victoria. Queen Victoria has called this summer residence her ‘dear paradise in the Highlands’.
The Balmoral Estate is stunning and is undoubtedly one of the best attractions you can see in Ballater.
Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve
The Scots are known for their legends and stories of pastimes filled with mysticism, making the Muir of Dinnet a perfect place for storytellers.
The Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve is just a stone’s throw away from Ballater Village. Those visiting can get lost in one of Scotland’s most secluded heaths and even dip their feet in the surrounding lochs.
It’s challenging to resist undertaking the walking tours of this woodland area and admiring the sculptured rock walls that nature has created. You’ll find that there’s magical energy in the atmosphere.
Ballater is full of outdoor mini-adventures, but the Burn O’Vat is one of the best.
Located within Muir of Dinnet Reserve, the walk to Burn O’Vat is a lovely woodland walk with a decent path most of the way. The Burn O’Vat is a geological marvel of a pothole that you can also delve into and explore.
It’s also said that it’s one of the many hiding places used by notorious Scottish outlaw Rob Roy; why not come and find out for yourself?
Another one of the outdoorsy things to do in Ballater, The Balmoral Cairns, is a brilliant walk that treats you to unparalleled views of burial cairns erected for members of the Royal Family.
Amongst serene woodlands, the Balmoral Cairns are a peaceful and easy trek that takes you to see some of the most intricately decorated cairns and the wildlife surrounding them.
Old Royal Station
It all started in Ballater with a railway station. This small station near Balmoral Castle leaves a significant mark on Scotland’s royal history as it hosts Queen Victoria’s waiting room.
The Old Royal Station still has its famous replica Royal Carriage, which complements its tearoom, which The Prince’s Foundation runs. There’s even a bus station where you can depart from the Station and explore the town.
Royal Lochnagar Distillery
Time for a dram? Discover how scotch malt whisky is made in the heart of Royal Deeside and see the art of whisky-making in action.
You can tend to the distillery’s traditional gleaming copper stills and fill casks at the beautifully historic Royal Lochnagar Distillery.
Craigendarroch hill sits at the back of Ballater and can be scaled in under 2 hours in normal conditions, giving you some gorgeous views of Aberdeen-shire.
Set amongst stunning oak trees, this hill gives excellent views of Ballater, and there’s even a little bench up the top to rest your legs after the hike.
Cambus O’May is beautiful, and each season brings forth new, wondrous woodlands for you to explore.
If you’re lucky, you may be able to spot golden eagles flying and nesting among the tall trees – one of Scotland’s most extraordinary wildlife. There’s no better place for an outdoor adventure.
Ballater Highland Games
If you are looking for things to do in Ballater, check and see what week the Ballater Highland Games are on.
Ballater Highland Games have it all – bagpipes, royal family members, hammer throws, highland dancing, the list goes on! Ballater Highland Games are held every year on the second Thursday in August.
The beautiful Crathie Church sits humbly along the tranquil River Dee just west of Ballater and is said to be the Queen’s favourite church to visit while she’s in residence at Balmoral Castle.
The inside is just as pleasing, with an atmosphere that brings peace to the soul. The grounds around Crathie Kirk are just as resplendent, making this attraction a great choice to see.
It makes sense that Ballater would grace one of the most beautiful parts of Scotland with an art gallery, and Larks Gallery makes sure to fulfil your artistry cravings.
With an ever-rotating selection of artists and artworks, the Larks Gallery is different every time you visit. The Gallery features beautiful portraitures of Scottish landscapes, people, sculptures, ceramics, and jewellery design too!
The Ballater Gallery
Situated on Bridge Street in the town of Ballater is the enthralling Ballater Gallery, home to some of the most remarkable artworks from talented artists in Scotland.
Although the gallery hasn’t been around for long, opening in 2019, its polished interior and atmosphere give off the impression that it’s been a staple for generations. The incredible artistry here at the gallery bars none, and it’s well worth a trip to visit.
Ballater Golf Club
With spectacular views of the Upper Deeside, Ballater Golf Club grants one of the best golfing experiences in Ballater, Aberdeenshire.
With 18 medium-length golf courses, the Ballater Golf Club sits right next to the River Dee, and although there have been many golf balls that have been lost, it’s a stunning set of courses that is sure to entertain any golfer.
The Balmoral Bar
One of the best places to enjoy a drink or a meal is the Balmoral Bar in the fair town of Ballater.
Suppose you’re looking to enjoy excellent Scottish foods, fish and chips, mushy peas, and some of the finest ales and drinks of Ballater, Balmoral Bar is your best bet. Many tourists often check out the Balmoral Bar before their adventures in the Royal Deeside.
Glenmuick sits in the middle of Ballater, and its bell tower is a striking sight no matter where you are in the town of Ballater.
Not only is the exterior a stunning sight to behold, but the interior is even more so and has beautiful depictions of stained glass windows, magnificent organs, and pleasant architecture.
Other Things To Do in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire & Moray
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- Things to do in Royal Deeside
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