Things to do

We are lucky to be located in a beautiful part of the world. Here are some of our favourite walks and places to visit in the region.


Scolty Hill Banchory 

Glen Tanar Estate – has some beautiful walks.

Falls of Feugh – you may see salmon leap.

Breamar Highland Games Visitor Centre – just a 50 min drive away.

Burn o’ Vat and Loch Kinord – has a visitor centre and walks.

Cambus o’ May – it’s worth a visit to the Cambus o’ May Cheese Centre opposite after your walk too.

Loch Muick – a lovely 8 mile walk around a loch in the shadows of Lochnagar, the highest mountain in the Grampians.

Linn of Dee – great walks just a 10 minute drive from Braemar

Stonehaven Harbour – a nice walk from the harbour around to Dunnottar Castle.

Bennachie – take in the breathtaking views when you get to the top. Nearby Pittodrie House Hotel is also worth a visit whilst you’re there.

Clachnaben – a fine walk to a wee peak.

Balmedie Beach

St Cyrus Beach

Aberdeen Beach

Steam train from House of Dun to Brechin

Whisky Distilleries

Royal Lochnagar Distillery, Balmoral

Glen Garrioch Distillery, Oldmeldrum

From cafes to fine dining, there’s lots of good eateries we can recommend nearby. Here are some of the places we like to go:

Banchory Lodge Hotel on the River Dee – restaurant and bar food: 5 min drive.

Boat Inn Aboyne by River Dee – bar food: 20 min drive.

The Cowshed Restaurant – also does great take away fish and chips: 5 min drive.

Falls of Feugh Restaurant – 10 min drive

Buchanan Bistro, Woodend Barn, Banchory – open some evenings: 10 min drive (pictured). The bistro’s wooden barn has a little hidden lake around the back and a boat on the grass that children can sit in.

Birdhouse Café, Banchory – cute little café for coffee/lunch/tea – 5 min drive.

Tease Coffee Bar, Banchory – perfect for brunch/lunch and great selection of coffee – 5 min drive.

Finzean Farm Shop and Restaurant, Finzean – lovely café and farm shop.  A firm favourite with us! 10 min drive.

Duncans of Banchory’s Coffee Shop does nice cakes and lunches. It has some children’s play equipment outside and books and games inside.

Learney Arms, Torphins – drinking bar and Indian Restaurant plus take away: 5 mins drive.

India Gate, Aboyne – good take away Indian: 20 min drive.

Rothesey Rooms, Ballater – great a la carte restaurant owned by Prince Charles: 40 min drive.

Douneside House, Tarland – a la carte restaurant: 25 min drive.

Potarch Café and Restaurant –  10 min drive (not open all evenings or days).

The Tolbooth Seafood Restaurant, harbour Stonehaven – 30 min drive.

Marine Inn and Ship Inn – nice pubs in the harbour at Stonehaven, 30 min drive.

The Bay, Stonehaven – quite simply the best fish and chips! 30 min drive.

Fife Arms – fine dining in Breamar, 50 min drive.

Crathes Castle and Drum Castle are both very close to Woodend of Glassel.

Craigievar Castle is a favourite with little ones who like exploring. It has a children’s quiz and family trail to keep youngsters entertained during a visit to this fairy-tale castle. 

Balmoral Castle – the Queen’s  summer home features some great walks around the estate.

Dunnottar Castle is a stunning ruined castle where your little ones can let their imagination run wild.

Castle Fraser provides regular family events, quizzes and trails.

Aberdeen Science Centre has lots of fun and hands-on science activities for all ages.

The Grampian Transport Museum has Guy Martin’s speed machines, themed quizzes and Climb aboard vehicles. There’s also lots of interactive activities, a family-friendly tea room and outdoor play area. In the summer there is a kids train that runs from here to Haughton Country Park (our kids loved this when they were little).

Outdoor fun & activities

Go Ape at Crathes Castle.

Battle Scotland in Banchory.

Formartine’s Visitor Centre has woodland trails and an outdoor adventure playground as well as a restaurant and shop. It’s located on the Haddo Estate.

Easter Anguston Farm in Peterculter has free admission (they just ask for a small donation to support the VSA charity who run it). 

Stonehaven Open Air Swimming Pool has fun sessions for kids and a paddling pool for under-8s.

Stonehaven Boardwalk links the beach to the harbour. You might spot a seal and maybe some dolphins; and little ones can get up close to the sculptures dotted along the path. 

Knockburn Sports Loch is the perfect place for kids to try Stand Up Paddle-boarding. 

The Deeside Way is a good place to take children cycling as it’s quite flat. Cycle Highlands in Ballater offers cycle hire.

Kids absolutely love visiting Burn O’Vat. It’s a glacial pothole that was once a hideout for a notorious Scottish outlaw!

Aberdeen beach has Condona’s fun fair and mini golf.

All the local parks in Royal Deeside have fantastic facitilies for everyone – Banchory, Torphins, Aboyne, Ballater, Braemar, Strachan. A visit to any of these can be tied in with a walk, and most of them have woodlands that kids love playing in too.

Finzean Farm Shop has a little play park outside; whilst Raemoir Garden Centre in Banchory has a play park and there’s a kids play area in the cafe too.

Soft play and trampolining

Tick Tock Play at Alford is a great local soft play suitable for little ones.

Bigger kids love having a bounce at Skyline Trampoline. and at Jump In Aberdeen.

Innoflate in Aberdeen is a giant inflatable experience for all ages.

Wynford Farm Park Play Barn in Peterculter has indoor soft play and a role play village.

FOR the skiers & Snowboarders

Glenshee – it’s a 1 hour and 15 min drive, but worth it (especially if it’s snowing, you can go for a ski).

The Lecht – the other ski resort is 1 hour away.

For the golfers

9 hole courses:

Torphins | Lumphanan | Inchmarlo | Banchory | Tarland

18 hole courses:

Banchory | AboyneStonehavenBallaterBraemar (the highest course in Britain) | Deeside | PeterculterHazelhead, Aberdeen | Royal AberdeenTrump International | Cruden Bay (a great Links course)

There are many other golf courses around. If you’re up for an early start Carnoustie is an hour away and St Andrews is a 1 hour 30 mins journey.

for the gym enthusiasts

There are two gyms close by so you can carry on with your fitness routine during your holiday in Aberdeenshire:

The Unit, Banchory and The Sports Centre Banchory.

for the mountain-bikers

You can hire mountain bikes from Cycle Highlands in Ballater. There are lots of trails to explore in the area:

Scolty hillGlen TanarTarland Trails | Birse Woodlands | Pitfichie

for water sports

There are two resorts to choose from nearby:

Knockburn Loch for canoeing, windsurfing and SUP (stand up paddleboarding) or Stonehaven Paddleboarding.

for the swimmers

Outdoor Salt Water Swimming Pool, Stonehaven | Banchory Sports CentreAberdeen Beach Leisure Centre | Open Water Swimming: Knochburn Loch 

for the anglers

Raemoir Trout Fishery Banchory or Trout Fishery Ballater.

go karting and quad biking

Deeside Activity Park or Lochter Activity Centre in Inverurie.


Glen Tanar Estate or Pony trekking at Balmoral.


Deeside Gliding Club Aboyne.


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