The Highland villages of Dunkeld and Birnam, which are neighbouring villages in the heart of Perthshire, are charming places to stop and explore, or you can stay here and use them as a base to discover the rest of beautiful Perthshire. There are so many lovely things to do in Dunkeld, Birnam and the surrounding area that it’s the perfect spot to spend a few days, eating in the fantastic cafes, doing some shopping in the wide range of independent shops, and taking strolls down by the river.
The two villages are situated on either side of the River Tay and are connected by a picturesque bridge which was built in 1809 by Thomas Telford. Thomas Telford not only designed a huge amount of bridges all over the U.K. but also constructed the Caledonian Canal. The villages are around 15 miles north of Perth, just off the main A9 road into the Highlands.
This village guide will tell you everything you need to know if you want to visit Dunkeld and Birnam so you can make the most of your trip. Find the best things to do in Dunkeld, Scotland, a little bit of history, what the village is like today, how to get there, Dunkeld weather, the best restaurants, cafes and shops and places to stay.
This post contains affiliate links, which I may make a commission from.
Are you planning to visit Aviemore and the Cairngorms on your trip to Scotland? There is more to the area than skiing, although the skiing is pretty fantastic I admit. If you are looking for things to do in Aviemore and the surrounding Cairngorm National Park then look no further. This extensive list will help you plan all your adventures and give you plenty of choices to add to your Scottish Travel Itinerary.
The Cairngorms is home to four out of five of the UK’s highest mountains. It’s also the UK’s largest national park. During the summer months the area is a mecca for outdoor sports with 1750 square miles to explore. Whether you prefer a hike, a cycle, horse riding or canoeing anything is possible in this stunning part of the Scottish Highlands. If you are still looking to book accommodation Aviemore is the ideal town to base yourself in. At the foot of the famous Cairngorm mountain itself, surrounded by mystical lochs (60 of them!), ancient forests and breathtaking scenery it’s a town containing everything you need. There are independent shops, a supermarket, lovely little cafes and a massive range of accommodation of all types.
I’ve put this blog into my Perthshire section as the road I take to get there goes through Perthshire (the A9) but the Cairngorms are so huge the boundaries actually stretch into Aberdeenshire, Moray, Angus and the Highlands.
This post contains affiliate links, which I may make a commission from
The most obvious activity to do in theCairngorm Mountain Range is of course skiing and here there are over 30km of ski runs on the Cairngorm mountain to keep you busy. If you prefer to snowboard there is a snowboarding fun park too. You can hire equipment, take a class at the ski school or go cross country in the forest below.
The Cairngorms Mountain Range isn’t the only ski centre in the Cairngorms, there is also Glenshee which is home to one of the most challenging black runs available - The Tiger or The Lecht which is brilliant for beginners and families with lots of nursery slopes and lots of jumps and runs for skiers and snowboarders.
Sir David Attenburgh once said Rothiemurchus was one of the glories of wild Scotland and his is definitely an opinion I’d trust. It’s a place where you could easily spend the day, if not longer, exploring. If you are looking for things to do in Aviemore and have the whole day this one is for you. Beautiful scenery, walks, wildlife and a massive range of activities such as Segway, archery, pony trekking and fishing. The jewel in the crown of Rothiemurchus is the incredible Loch An Eilein. Take a leisurely walk around the Loch and take in the Highland Castle on the island. Look out for an abundance of wildlife such as Ospreys, Otters, Roe deer and Pine Martins. You can take a photography tour or head to the hides with Speyside Wildlife for a close up look.
Looking for things to do in Perthshire?
**Updated November 2018**
Perthshire has so many attractions - castles, walks, mountains; I could go on and on...
Over the years, during family holidays and while travelling the region for my Scottish travel blog I've fallen head over heels in love with the area so I thought I'd write one huge post, detailing all the things to do in Perthshire, to help you while you are planning your itinerary. I'm sure, once you are there, among the rolling hills, standing on top of a mountain or by a loch watching the sunset you will love it just as much as me. I've split the list into parts, so each covers a main village or town and the surrounding area.
This blog contains affiliate links which I may make a commission from
The Beatrix Potter Exhibition
Long summers spent in Birnum and Dunkeld provided Beatrix Potter with the inspiration for her tales of Peter Rabbit, Jeremy Fisher and Mrs Tiggy Winkle and in this delightful centre you can learn all about her upbringing while the kids put on puppet shows, experience a Victorian classroom and find the characters hidden in the gardens.
Open daily from 10am-4.30pm, entry £3 per person, up to £12 per family.
10 Station Road, Birnum, Dunkeld PH8 0DS
A grand and beautiful Cathedral said to hold the relics of St Columba after they were removed from Iona during the Viking raids, half is now owned by Historic Enviroment Scotland whilst the Church is still in use today. It’s easy to see why this is known as the most romantic Cathedral in Scotland, the gothic architecture and the ruined nature of the older half, with its ground now layered with grass is extremely atmospheric.
Open April-September 10am-5.30pm, October to March 10am-4pm, free entry
10 Cathedral Street, Dunkeld, PH8 0AW
Walks in Perthshire at any time of the year can be spectacular if you find the right spot.
Each season changes the landscape dramatically. Autumn brings crunchy leaves underfoot and a palette of burnt oranges and chestnut browns. In a region so abundant in stunning forests and woodland you can imagine the spectacular colours the season brings. and people flock to the area to witness it. Summer brings an array of colourful flowers and luscious greenery and villages hang colourful bunting and hold fayres. Winter caps the surrounding mountains with a layer of white and the gateway to the Highlands fills with fans of the snow who are heading north into the mountains. When spring arrives the fields, forests, villages and hills shake off their winter coats and step into the sun with blinking eyes. Spring flowers such as daffodils, tulips and bluebells tentatively emerge and grand houses and castles open open their doors ready for visitors.
Some of Scotland's most important historic events have taken place in Perthshire, from the crowning of Scottish Kings to the Battles of Killiecrankie (1689) and Dupplin Moor (1332). The city of Perth itself was once the capital of Scotland and was the inspiration behind Sir Walter Scott's "The fair maid of Perth". Known as the gateway to the Highlands Perthshire is also home to some of the tallest and oldest trees in Britain. It's a fantastic region to explore and base yourself if you want to travel further afield. It's also a region I've spent a lot of time in, I love how green and lush it is in the summer and can't get enough of the colours in the autumn. If you are in Scotland and history fascinates you as much as it does me then here at 10 ways to discover some Scottish history in this stunning region.
Sitting on the banks of the River Tay sits "Scotland's most romantic Cathedral". The site has been holy ground since 730 AD and the cathedral you see today was built over a period of 250 years from 1260 until 1501 resulting in a beautiful mish mash of architectural styles. Dedicated to Saint Colomba, it's said his remains were kept here after leaving Iona, until the reformation. The Cathedral was burnt down in 1689, along with much of Dunkeld itself, during the Battle of Dunkeld, when the government forces supporting William of Orange were attacked by the Jacobite Highlanders who were jubilant after their win at Killiecrankie. There are many famous burials here including "The Wolf of Bedenoch" Alexander Stewart who's tomb can still be seen, Richard de Inverkeithing, chamberlain to King Alexander II of Scotland, and Charles Edward Stuart, grandson of Bonnie Prince Charlie.
Not only is this romantic ruin stunning but it's location on the riverbank in the pretty village of Dunkeld makes it a must see. Entrance is free too which is always a bonus.
Drummond Castle gardens in Perthshire doubled as The Palace of Versailles in Season 2 of Outlander and the steps were used in the promo photos and trailer. Film crew visited the site several times over the course of 2015 and the stunning French Renaissance gardens can be seen a lots of scenes including when Jamie first sees Black Jack Randall again.
Loch Leven's Larder, Kinross
Loch Leven’s Larder, with it’s stunning panoramic views of Loch Leven, is a family run farm in Kinross-shire, in the east of Scotland. With a restaurant serving top Scottish produce, which is also sold in the delicatessen, a retail shop and a nature trail it’s a popular stop off for lunch or a day out.
Gaining popularity year after year they have won several awards, including National winner at the Scottish Thistle awards, and they are well deserved. This is a family favourite of ours and when I was given the chance to spend the day with the chefs, learning the art of bread making while learning more about how they use Scottish produce I jumped at the chance.
Faskally Caravan Park, near Pitlochry
We have been going to Faskally every summer for the past few years and while we took our tent the first few times my aunt now has a caravan there that she lets the family use so now we no longer have to chase after flying pillow cases and argue over tent pegs, thank god. It has made a big difference, now we can go up and stay for a couple of nights if we have nothing else on, it’s a perfect little retreat in the quieter months, very peaceful and relaxing. In the summer it gets a lot livelier and busier, although because it’s spaced out and not cramped at all like some campsites it still doesn’t feel busy.
It is situated two minutes from Pitlochry, in Perthshire, not far from the famous Queen’s View. If you carry on along the road it takes you also to Loch Tummel and Loch Rannoch.
House of Bruar, Perthshire
To be honest, this is a place I had passed umpteen times on the way up the A9 but never went in thinking it would just be another tourist stop, but on the way up to Dornoch a couple of months ago my mum dragged me in for a coffee and i couldn’t have been more wrong. Located ten miles north of Pitlochry in Scotland and standing proudly at the foot of the Bruar Falls, House of Bruar it turns out, is the perfect stop off if you are travelling up north. It stands out from miles away due to its beautiful white washed turret, and the grounds around the building are spotless and very well kept.
Not only is it a thriving independent retailer selling country tweed and Scottish country clothes, it also has the biggest collection of Cashmere anywhere in Britain, as well as a world renowned food hall, an award winning butcher, a large country kitchen style restaurant and it’s very own art gallery.
Founded in 1995 by Mark Birkbeck, who came north from Yorkshire because of his love of fishing in the Highlands, the visitor numbers have risen steadily over the years, welcoming more than 1 million last year alone. There is also now a very successful online site selling all over the world, earning it the nickname “The Harrods of the Highlands”.
The food hall is fantastic, chock full of quality Scottish food and drink, all locally produced, and fresh, and delicious!
When I knew I wanted to write about Whisky in Scotland, I thought what better way than by taking a tour of where it is made, and what better distillery to visit than where the number one whisky in Scotland is made – Famous Grouse. Whisky is definitely Scotland’s national drink, Scotch Whisky to be precise. In order to be called Scotch Whisky it has to be wholly distilled and matured for at least three years in Scotland, and every bottle made at Glenturret is true Scotch Whisky. Not only is it number one in Scotland, it is now sold in over 100 countries worldwide.
Situated in the hills and glens of Highland Scotland, The Glenturret Distillery is Scotland’s oldest working distillery , and still uses traditional methods and traditional equipment to give their whisky it’s distinctive taste. In fact it has been proven that whisky has been made on this site as far back as 1717, nearly 300 years!