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.
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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
Of all the things to do in Perthshire this is my favourite. It's right at the top of my list of things to do in Perthshire. Walk among some of the tallest trees in Britain, the towering Douglas Firs, on this beautiful forest walk. The colours are spectacular during autumn; I absolutely love this walk. Visit the roaring Black Linn Falls which can be deafening if it’s been raining. If you are there during salmon season you can watch the fish leap out of the tumbling waters.
Open daily all year round, free entry, car parking £2 per car, National Trust members free
2 miles west of Dunkeld, OS Ref NN008417 Find out more at National Trust for Scotland
Loch of the Lowes
The Loch of the Lowes Wildlife Reserve have a pair of breeding ospreys as it's star attraction which you can watch from the hides or the visitor centre with the binoculars and the telescopes they provide. You can also spot red squirrels, wood peckers and beavers as well as a whole host of other wildlife throughout the year. There is a lovely, cosy area in the centre to watch the bird feeders while you have a cup of tea if you don't fancy a chilly walk.
Open daily March-October 10am-5pm, November-February Friday-Sunday 10.30am-4pm
Adults £4, concession £3.50, members free, children 50p
Dunkeld, PH8 0HH
The Crannog Centre
This reconstructed ancient roundhouse is a museum allowing visitors to see what Iron Age life was like. The award winning dwelling is on stilts above the water of Loch Tay and contains exhibits including artifacts from 2500 years ago. You can also try out several ancient crafts including fire making.
Opening times vary, you can check here, adults £10, children £7 (5-16), students (17+) £9, families £32
Kenmore Loch, Aberfeldy, PH15 2HY
Another Munro, and this one is highest in the Southern Highlands. From the summit you can see Glencoe and the Cairngorms and down onto Loch Tay. The mountain is a National Nature Reserve due to the amount of rare alpine plants: the type of rock is exactly the right height to provide perfect conditions for the plants to grow.
Open all year round, free entry but please check the weather and be prepared.
Aberfeldy, FK21 8TY (nearest postcode)
The Fortingall Yew is thought to be the oldest tree in Britain and sits in a churchyard in the village of Fortingall in the geographical heart of Scotland. It’s thought to be between 3000-5000 years old and leading up to the tree are paving slabs charting the stages the tree has lived through such as the Bronze Age and the Stone Age.
Open all year round, free entry
Fortingall, PH15 2DD
When it comes to things to do in Perthshire searching out some stunning castles is often on the top of people's lists. Castles Menzies may not be as well known as some of the others but it's well worth a visit. The Seat of the Chiefs of Clan Menzies for over 400 years, the castle was restored in the twentieth century by the Menzies Clan Society. Once hosting Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Duke of Cumberland during the second Jacobite Rising it has a turbulent history and eventually fell into ruin. Now that it has been restored though, the Castle is open as a museum and clan centre and visitors are able to tour the castle at their own pace, without a guide.
Opening times vary, please call +44 (0)1887 820982, Adults £6.50, children £3, family £15, concessions £5.50
Weem, Aberfeldy, PH15 2JD
Dewars Aberfeldy Distillery
This distillery in Aberfeldy is the only Scotch whisky distillery built by the Dewar family. Building began in 1896 by John Dewar's sons when they needed more single malt whisky to use in it's blend and they chose an area three miles from where their father was born. Take a tour, guided by a bespoke app, taste the whisky in the whisky lounge and relax in the cafe. The distillery offers four tours with tasting, three of which also include an engraved glass.
Open April-October Monday-Saturday 10am-6pm, Sunday 12 midday-4pm, November-March Monday-Saturday 10am-4pm, closed Sunday. Tours can be booked onlinehere
Aberfeldy, PH15 2EB
Not just any cinema, and not a big multi national one either, this small community owned rural cinema only seats 100, has a great up-to-date programme, state of the art technology all wrapped up in a gorgeous original art deco building.
Opening times and prices depends on which films are showing which can be found here
1 Dunkeld Street, Aberfeldy, PH15 2DA
Master Chocolatier and Truffle specialist Iain Burnett works his magic in his chocolate kitchen in Grandtully. Take a guided tour, learn about the history of cocoa and indulge in a hot chocolate in the adjoining chocolate lounge. Also, try the award winning truffles - they are amazing! With all these things to do in Perthshire these little beauties would round off your trip perfectly.
Open daily 10am-5pm, entrance free,, audio guided tastings £15
Grandtully, Pitlochry, PH9 0PL
Known as the smallest traditional distillery in Scotland Edradour is as cute as a button whose stunning peaty but sweet whisky really hits the spot. The white washed buildings with bright red doors sit in a wee valley, and the burn running through the grounds and the neatly cut grass make it extremely photogenic. Despite it's pretty appearance and small size Edradour produce over 30 whiskies and offer tours during the summer months
Open November 2018-12th April 2019 Weekdays 10am-4.30pm, closed weekends, 15th April 2019-25th October 2019 Monday-Saturday 10am-5pm, closed Sunday. Adults £12, Children 12-17-£5,, under 12's not permitted
Pitlochry, PH16 5JP
Another gorgeous stretch of woodland that really shows off if you visit in autumn. The wooded gorge marks where the Highlands meet the Lowlands and at the section called the Soldiers Leap you can see where a Redcoat leapt 18 feet over the river to escape from a Jacobite! Although its now a beautiful and peaceful walk it was once the scene of a gory Jacobite battle which you can find out about in the visitor centre.
Free entry, visitor centre open 30th March-24th December
Visitor centre, Killiecrankie, Pitlochry, PH16 5LG
Overlooking Loch Tummel, Queen's View is said to have been named after Queen Victoria who loved the view here, it's also said though that it was in fact named after King Robert the Bruce's wife, Isabella. Whichever it was they both had splendid taste as this view is one of the most photographed in Scotland. Loch Tummel is surrounded by the Tay Forest Park and its topped off by an excellent view of the conical peak of Schiehallion.
Pitlochry, PH16 5NR
Pitlochry Festival Theatre
“Scotland’s theatre in the hills” is a gem in the heart of Pitlochry. If you are looking for things to do in Perhshire but can only choose a select few I'd highly recommend seeing a show at the Festival Theatre. They produce a range of plays and what’s really special is that they perform them in rotation so whether you are visiting for a weekend or a week you can see a different one each night! Special Christmas and winter shows recently have included The Steamie and Miracle on 34th Street.
Port-Na-Craig Road, Pitlochry, PH16 5DR
Explorers, the Scottish Plant Hunters Garden
Situated right next to the Festival Theatre this is a new discovery for me. This garden celebrates the lives of some of Scotland's most successful plant hunters and has lots of different areas including a Japanese garden, a North American garden, gardens from Australia, New Zealand and the Himalayas as well as beautiful viewpoints, pavillions, bridges and rivers.
Pitlochry Salmon Ladder
One of the most popular things to do in Pitlochry this salmon ladder was specially created to allow the salmon to pass the dam and power station and swim upstream to breed. The ladder consists of 34 chambers linked together which the salmon swim through. There is an observation chamber and interactive displays explaining their journey. Next door is a brand new visitor centre and cafe, opened in 2017, with a superb viewing balcony and scrummy menu.
Port-Na-Craig Road, PH16
During the months of October and November Faskally Woods near Pitlochry transform into a wonderland of music and lights. This is a must visit if you are in the area at the right time and the tickets sell like hot cakes so book as far in advance as you can. It’s a magical experience set in a beautiful forest and will leave you with some fantastic memories.
Loch Dunmore, Faskally Wood (Park in Pitlochry only)
When the above mentioned Enchanted Forest isn't on Faskally Woods are a fantastic place to go for a walk. Gentle trails around Loch Dunmore look especially beautiful during the autumn, as do most things to do in Perthshire actually. Created by the owners of Faskally House in the 19th century as a "model forest" this is the perfect afternoon activity to burn of lunch.
The fairytale look of Blair Castle, with its white-washed walls and pretty turrets, can be seen from the main route through the Highlands and was once the ancestral seat of the Clan Murray. You can tour the castle and gardens during the summer months to learn about the castle’s 700 year history and remember to take time to explore the gardens, there is so much to see.
Blair Atholl, PH18 5TL
Blair Atholl Watermill + Tearooms
After visiting the attractions nearby I love nothing more than stopping here for a cuppa and a bowl of soup, served with bread made in the mill using their own stone ground flour and oatmeal. You can also have a nosy around the mill which was restored in 1977 and now produces several types of oatmeal and flour in a traditional manner.
Ford Road, Blair Atholl, PH18 5SH
Blair Atholl Distillery
There has been a distillery here in the heart of Pitlochry since 1798. The current distillery was closed during the wars and extensively refurbished and reopened in 1949. It's loved by many for it's inclusion in the popular Bell's blended whisky. The crystal clear water that is used in the production of their 12 year old Blair Atholl comes from the Aldour burn which flows through the grounds from nearby Ben Vrackie, giving their whisky a smooth, rich and sweet taste. The team offer 7 different types of tours, each with a tasting of their delicious malt at the end.
Perth Road, PH16 5LY
House of Bruar
Situated just north of Pitlochry this classy shopping experience is a must visit on your way into the Highlands. There are so many things to do in Perthshire that a little stop off at the House of Bruar is the perfect opportunity to take a breather and enjoy a bite to eat. With the biggest collection of cashmere in the UK, luxury clothing, a country living department and an art gallery, as well as gourmet artisan food to buy as well as an award winning butcher and delicatessen this place is a day out in itself.
Pitagowan, Blair Atholl, PH18 5TW
Black Watch Castle and Museum
Visit the ancestral home of the Black Watch, Balhousie Castle. Find out more about the regiment that formed in 1725 and is still in operation today. See original uniforms, read diaries, look at photos and fine paintings and learn more about weapons and military equipment. You can also browse the shop and have a bite to eat in the onsite cafe.
Balhousie Castle, Hay Street, Perth, PH1 5HR
Named after Sir Stanley Norie-Miller, an influential civic leader of Perth, this lovely park is a nice escape from the city centre. The new Heather Collection section has over 950 species and there is also an art trail with sculptures themed to represent Perth and it’s people and achievements. The park plays host to Light Nights on special occasions such as Valentines Day and Christmas, which are free to attend.
1 Riverside, Perth, PH2 7TR
This is the place where Scottish kings were crowned for centuries including MacBeth and Robert the Bruce. It once housed the Stone of Destiny and if you are interested in Scottish history this is one Palace you'll want to include in your itinerary. There are so many grand rooms to tour, filled with private collections of everything from porcelain and ivory to clocks and paintings, you could easily spend half a day here, leaving you the second half of the day to explore the beautiful gardens.
Perth, PH2 6BD
This castle has an intriguing shape with two tower houses placed closely together. You can climb up the spiral staircase to the rooftop for amazing views and see the delicately painted ceiling in the first floor hall. Mary Queen of Scots and her husband Lord Darnley stayed here during the Chaseabout Raid and while you are there you might even meet their resident ghost! Find out more at Historic Environment Scotland
Perth, PH1 3JR
This isn't a castle with a remarkable history like some of the others in the area but what it does offer is a fantastic chance to see how a Laird and lady would have lived in the 16th century. It's extremely well preserved considering it was built in 1560 so you can explore the kitchens, the spiral staircase, the grand main hall and see the views over Perthshire from the rooftop.
Perth, PH2 8QQ
And don't forget these...
Outlander filming locations
For Outlander fans there are several areas which were used for filming in Perthshire. One of the main sites is the small village of Kinloch Rannoch, 18 miles west of Pitlochry, where the team were based for several weeks. Nearby you can find the hill where the standing stones were (unfortunately they weren't real). The gardens of Drummond Castle (Crieff, PH7 4HZ) were used as the Palace of Versailles and Tibbermore Church (Perth, PH1 3JZ) was used for the witch trials.
One of five Munros in Perthshire, this is actually one I’ve climbed, actually the only one I’ve climbed. Surrounded by Loch Tummel, Loch Rannoch and Loch Tay you can imagine how stunning the views are from the summit and the walk itself is not too demanding, at least for the first half. A great website to find out more about climbing mountains in Scotland is Walk Highlands
Braes of Foss, Near Tummel Bridge, PH16 5QE
A brilliant and rare opportunity to see how textile mills worked and how life was for the people who worked there. For over 200 years this mill produced textiles using the power of the River Tay. Now run by Historic Environment Scotland there is an excellent visitor centre with interactive displays as well as several buildings to explore including the Bell Mill which is one of the world's surviving factories.
4QE, Mill Brae, Stanley, PH1
Cultybraggan Camp 21
The last remaining WWII Prisoner of War camp in the UK sits near the village of Comrie. Covering over 13 acres there are over 80 Nissan huts, a nuclear bunker, a firing range and sports fields. The camp was recently bought over by the Comrie Development Trust so now some of the camp is filled with artisan workshops, orchards and allotments but it's still well worth a visit. You can pick up a self guided tour leaflet from the first hut or Heritage tours are run regularly.
Comrie, PH6 2AB
Famous Grouse experience
Scotland’s oldest working distillery, Glenturret, is based in Crieff and is the spiritual home of the Famous Grouse. Discover how the famous blend is made during their small and intimate tours and taste their delicious Glenturret single malt.
The Glenturret Distillery, The Hosh, Crieff, PH7 4HA
Ardoch Roman Fort
An archeological site near Crieff, which is part privately owned and part owned by Historic Scotland, is said to be one of the most complete Roman Camps in Britain. Although no buildings remain the earthworks are clearly visible and impressive considering they have been there since the 2nd century.
Dunblane, FK15 9PZ
Have you been to Perthshire? What do you love to do while you are there? Or if you haven't been what are you looking forward to the most? Let me know in the comments below.