Royal Deeside – visiting this amazing part of Aberdeenshire in 2023


Royal Deeside is a stunning and historically significant area located in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. The name Royal Deeside is given to this area as Queen Victoria visited the area in the 19th century and loved it. As she famously wrote about the area:

“All seemed to breathe freedom and peace …”

Nestled along the River Dee, this picturesque region offers breathtaking landscapes of rolling hills, lush forests, and majestic mountains. Royal Deeside is renowned for its royal connections, as it has been a favored retreat for the British royal family for generations. Visitors can explore iconic landmarks such as Balmoral Castle, the summer residence of the royals. The area's charming towns and villages, outdoor activities like hiking and fishing, and rich cultural heritage make Royal Deeside a beloved destination for nature enthusiasts, history buffs, and those seeking tranquility amid Scotland's natural beauty.

Where is Royal Deeside?

As we mentioned in our introduction, the Royal Deeside area is situated in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, and stretches along the River Dee from the eastern edge of the Cairngorms National Park to the city of Aberdeen. It is bordered by various towns and villages, including Ballater to the west, Aboyne to the east, and Braemar to the south.


What is there to see and do in Royal Deeside?

Royal Deeside is a large area, so you've got plenty to see and do. We thought it would be useful to break down the highlights based on the popular villages and towns in the area.


We'd say that if there is 1 place to visit in the Royal Deeside area it would be Ballater, because surrounding this village is where you'll find a number of locations which the Royals loved and still love. Royal Lochnagar Distillery is famous for inviting Prince Albert and Queen Victoria to visit, and they enjoyed their time so much that they bestowed a By Royal Appointment warrant.
The village is also very close to Balmoral Castle, and if you want to get a sense for why Queen Victoria was so smitten by this part of Scotland then a trip to this castle should give you an idea.
The village offers stunning views of the Cairngorms, and you're perfectly placed for outdoor activities like hiking and cycling.
With its historic buildings and boutique shops, Ballater is a delightful destination for nature lovers and those seeking an authentic Scottish experience. Learn more here -


Tucked within the Cairngorms National Park, Braemar offers picturesque landscapes, stunning mountains, and access to outdoor activities like hiking and skiing. The Braemar Gathering is considered to be one of the best Scottish events of the calendar year, and if you can time your trip to Braemar to coincide with this event (the first Saturday of September) then we highly recommend you attend.
Braemar captivates visitors with its rich history and rugged beauty. Learn more here -


This Scottish village sits on the edge of the Cairngorms National Park and offers a tranquil retreat, surrounded by rolling hills, glistening rivers, and ancient woodlands. With numerous hiking trails and opportunities for wildlife spotting, Strathdon appeals to nature enthusiasts and those seeking a peaceful escape in the heart of Scotland's natural beauty. The nearby ski centre Lecht 2090 is very popular with advanced skiers and snowboarders, and if you're confident on the snow then a trip to this centre is highly recommended.
The Lonach Gathering is held here every August, and although the event isn't as well-known globally as the Braemar Gathering, it is still lots of fun and worth visiting if you're in this area during August. The event starts with the Clansmen of the Lonach Highlanders walking through the village, which is a really impressive (and slightly terrifying!) sight.


Banchory is the biggest village in the Deeside area, and there is plenty to see and do here. The village has an idyllic setting along the River Dee, offering a perfect blend of natural beauty and cultural charm. From here you can enjoy scenic walks, stunning views of countryside landscapes, and access to nearby castles and historic sites. This includes Crathes Castle and Drum Castle. With its vibrant community and outdoor recreational opportunities, Banchory provides a delightful Scottish getaway for visitors of all interests. Learn more here -


Aboyne is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, with a number of things to see and do in the and around the village. Visitors can hop onto The Deeside Way, a 41 mile route which extends from Aberdeen to Ballater. There is a Mountain Bike Park in Aboyne which is lots of fun for more advanced riders. If you've got your golf clubs with you then you should visit Aboyne Golf Club, which is the oldest 18 hole golf course on Royal Deeside. The annual Aboyne Highland Games are held in August and showcase a wide range of Scottish traditions and culture, making it a unique and memorable experience for visitors. You'll also find some really lovely boutique shops, cafes and delicious local produce in the village.

Royal Deeside Railway

This heritage railway takes you through the heart of Royal Deeside, and a trip on this railway is a great way to experience the area. Starting from a Victorian train station at Milton of Crathes, the return journey only lasts for about 20 minutes but it takes you through some really stunning scenery. If you don't fancy the train journey then you can visit the train station for free, which in itself is very interesting. Learn more here -
We hope this guide has inspired you to visit this brilliant area of Scotland. If you're interested in visiting a nearby location, check out our guide to the Banffshire Coast and to Greater Speyside. We also have a guide about Inverness.

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

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