Greater Speyside – Our favourite things to see and do in this amazing area of Scotland (2023 Guide)

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Greater Speyside is an area of Scotland that you'll often hear people refer to, but there is much confusion about where this area actually is, and what there is to do in the area. You might be surprised to learn how much of the country is within the Greater Speyside area, and how much there is to see and do here. We wanted to highlight this area to show you where it is and what there is to do there, let's get into our guide:

Where is Greater Speyside?

Greater Speyside covers a vast area of Scotland, ranging from Inverness all the way to Pennan, and down to Dalwhinnie (a fantastic Whisky region). The entire area stretches for around 94 miles East to West.
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What is there to see and do in Greater Speyside?

Ok, so you can probably tell from our above image that there is a huge amount to do in this area of Scotland, and we couldn't possibly cover all of it in this guide! So to begin with, let us give you some resources to check out so you can learn about things to see and do in these specific areas of Greater Speyside:



But to try and make things easier for you, we're going to outline the best and most popular things to do in the Greater Speyside area for 2022. Let's get into the guide:

Culloden Battlefield

The Battle of Culloden is one of the most famous battles in the history of Scotland, and also one of the most tragic. Despite only lasting for 40 minutes, it was a bloodbath for the Jacobites, with 1250 of them dying. Visiting the battlefield is both an interesting and eerie experience - the site itself has a remarkably sombre feeling to it, and the visitor centre there fills in the gaps of your imagination. There is a roof garden there which provides you with panoramic views of the area, and you can find artefacts from the battle in the centre. It's a memorable and fascinating visit, learn more here -

Clava Cairns

Visiting the remains of an old cemetery might not sound like a must-do activity, but Clava Cairns is different - within a woodland above the River Nairn, these remains date back to the Bronze Age and are fascinating to visit. The site itself is much more than just a pile of rocks. You can explore passage graves, ring cairns, kerb cairns, standing stones, and burial monuments, all of which date back more than 4000 years. Since being featured in the popular programme 'Outlander', Clava Cairns has become a popular tourist attraction. But even if you're not familiar with the show, we think you'll still really enjoy a visit to Clava Cairns. Learn more here -

Inverness Botanic Gardens

For many visiting Inverness, the Botanic Gardens will be a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of the city and the often emotionally draining experiences at the historical sites. We feel that the botanic gardens in Inverness are an underrated attraction - opened in 1993, the gardens feature ponds, a tropical house, a cactus house, wild flower meadows, and more. The cafe is also brilliant. Learn more here -

Cawdor Castle

Urquhart Castle is the best-known castle in this area, and has a well-earned reputation for being a great castle to visit. But - whisper it - we think Cawdor Castle is just as good, if not better. It's a 5-star attraction, and is extremely well-preserved. The building is so impressive, particularly the medieval tower which was been constructed around a legendary holly tree. But many visitors say that the real highlight for them is the 3 gardens, each with their own history and style. This castle is also famous for being the home of Macbeth in Shakespeare's play. Learn more here -

Dulsie Bridge

This bridge is actually about 14 miles from Nairn, but we've included it in this section because it's a great trip from the town (plus it is still in the Greater Speyside area). With amazing views of the river below and the land beyond, we think Dulsie Bridge is well worth a visit. One of the reasons we love the bridge is that it isn't too well known, and remains a bit of a hidden gem. If you're willing to make the trip here, you'll be rewarded with incredible views which are sure to stick with you.

Ardclach Bell Tower

This 17th-century building is quite unassuming, but trust when we say it has a fascinating history attached to it. 9 miles to the south of Nairn you'll see a small, slightly strange-looking building standing alone on a hill above the parish church of Ardclach. It was believed to have been built by Alexander Brodie as a watchtower. The building itself is very interesting to visit, particularly if you're interested in architecture, but we'd say it is worth a visit as much because of the surrounding area as the tower itself - the church and graveyard at the bottom of the hill are great to wander around, and the river plus the walk around the cliffs is great. Learn more here -

Strathspey Railway

There are some incredible railways to check out in this area of Scotland, and the Strathspey Railway is definitely one of our favourites. The station itself is within the Greater Speyside area, but a trip on the train will take you through the heart of the Scottish Highlands, right through the Cairngorms National Park. The trains are immaculately well-kept, and the staff onboard are really friendly and all wear traditional uniforms. This train will allow you to enjoy some great views, but it is more about the onboard experience. Learn more here -

Walk some of the Speyside Way

The Speyside Way is a walking route which runs between Aviemore and Buckie, taking your through some of the most beautiful parts of the Greater Speyside area. It's one of four official Long Distance Routes in Scotland, and is approximately 65 miles long. We'd obviously not expect you to walk the entire distance, but one of the great things about this route is that you can dip in and out of it as you please. The route has been split into 9 sections, and we'd probably say the toughest section on the main route is between Ballindalloch and Grantown. It's well worth following part of this route if you're in Greater Speyside, learn more here -

Visit some of the distilleries

We've got an entire guide about the best Scottish distilleries, many of which can be found in the Greater Speyside area. Glenfiddich Distillery is probably the most popular, but we're also big fans of the Balvenie Distillery (both of which can be found near Dufftown). Tours at these distilleries are great if a little expensive, but to be honest if you've visited half of the recommendations we've included in this guide then you definitely deserve a dram!
There are many routes throughout Scotland, but if you're an art lover then the Gallery Trail is one of the very best to follow. Although only parts of it are technically within the Greater Speyside area, we had to include a mention. of this trail. Scotland isn't often associated with great art (at least, not as much as we feel it should be), so seeing something like Scotland’s Gallery Trail reminds you how much excellent art and talent there is within the country. The trail takes you past 6 galleries within the Grampian area (East of the Highlands). It was originally 8 but sadly 2 have closed - The Milton Art Gallery of Crathes, Larks Gallery of Ballater, The Lost Gallery of Strathdon, Logie Steading Art Gallery of Forres, Leap Studio & Gallery at The Elgin Marble Company of Elgin, and Country Frames Gallery of Leslie. Not only will you get to enjoy the art along the trail, but you'll also be treated to some spectacular scenery. Visit the gallery websites for more information.

Things to be aware of before visiting Greater Speyside

As we've mentioned already, this is a huge area of Scotland and there is so much to see and do that you could easily spend months exploring all of it - the chances are, you won't have that much time to spare. We've tried to highlight a mix of well-known and lesser-known activities to give you a variation on what you mind find elsewhere online.
If you enjoyed this guide about Greater Speyside, then why not check out our other guides about areas of Scotland including Argyll, the Banffshire Coast, and Skye. You could also explore our guide about the Scottish Munros, the North Coast 500, and the Borders Abbeys Way. There are so many incredible things to see in do in Scotland!

Finn is the editor of You Well and has been writing about travel, health, and more for over 10 years.

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