Local Area Things to See & Do

With rolling hills, open farmland and towering mountains in the west and sweeping beaches, coastal cliffs and panoramic skies in the east, Aberdeen & Aberdeenshire has plenty of room for you to relax and breathe.

Speak to locals and hear the traditional local accent, Doric, visit the stately castles like Royal Deeside and take in the splendour of the vast Cairngorms National Park.

Aberdeenshire is famous for its granite - a silvery-grey rock that is packed with tiny sparkling crystals. In the city you'll see lots of stunning buildings made of this sparkling stone - just one of the qualities that makes Aberdeen unique.

Stretching from the Banffshire coast in the north all the way around to St Cyrus National Nature Reserve St Cyrus National Nature Reserve in the east, Aberdeenshire's beautiful coastline is dotted with pretty seaside towns, rugged cliffs and sandy bays. The Aberdeenshire coast is home to plenty of swooping seabirds and it's one of the best places in Scotland to spot dolphins - they play in the waters of Aberdeenshire harbour and all along the Banffshire coast. 

Don't miss Royal Deeside - home to Balmoral Castle, the summer residence of the Royal Family - and the Cairngorms National Park - full of peaks, deep glens, waterfalls and other natural wonders. Look out for red deer, golden eagles and red squirrels too. Huge salmon and trout are regularly caught on sparkling rivers, including the River Dee and River Deveron, while Aberdeenshire's links and parkland golf courses are simply stunning.

As you explore you'll find more castles per acre than anywhere else in the UK. Golden hued whisky is hand crafted at centuries-old distilleries and fantastic open air events bring everyone together, including the Highland games and traditional festivals.

Walking - We recommend Loch Kinord which is 4-6 miles long and is made up of walking paths. It is located at Dinnet. This is easy/moderate with small inclines. Another great place is Burn’o’Vat which is on the road to Ballater, AB34 5NB. It is open from 10am everyday but do check online for holiday opening hours.  Whilst walking your dog, we advise keeping them on a lead. A very useful website is www.walkhighlands.co.uk which has GPS co-ordinates and handy route maps for more great walks!

Shopping - There’s a small convenience shop in Tarland which is 2 miles away, they stock the very basics for you. For a bigger weeks shop, there is a well stocked CO-OP located in Aboyne (AB34 5GR) and Ballater (AB35 5RE), both about 20 mins drive. The nearest Tesco superstore is located in Banchory which is about 35 mins away (AB31 5QA). For butchers, gift stores, hairdressers and the like, we recommend Ballater or Aboyne. Ballater also has fashion boutiques.

Cycle hire - The nearest cycle hires are located in Ballater. Cycle Highlands 01339 755864 (The Pavilion, AB35 5QQ) and Bike Station 01339 754004 (Station Square, AB35 5RB). There is a great cycle and walking path from Ballater along the River Dee.

Garage for fuel - There is one in Ballater and another in Aboyne. Both approx. 20 mins away from the cottage.

Eating out - The nearest is in Tarland, and we highly recommend The Commercial Hotel 01339 881922 (19 The Square, AB34 4TX). They serve delicious food and at a very reasonable price. The Loch Kinord hotel at Dinnet 01339 885229 (Ballater Road, AB34 5LW) is also fabulous! In Ballater, you also have the Alexander Hotel for bar meals and the Craigendarroch Hotel (also known as the Hilton) for fine dining. They have recently been refurbished and booking is essential. Call them on 01339 755858, located on Braemar Road, AB35 5XA. You can also visit for drinks in the day or evening in the luxurious bar.

Swimming/leisure facilities - There is a lane swimming pool in Aboyne, Bridgeview Road, AB34 5JN. 01339 886222. We advise to call them before visiting as they often close for school swim sessions etc. For a more luxurious option, there is a fabulous pool at the Hilton in Ballater (info in above paragraph). They do not allow the general public to use the pool but they currently have a “dip and dine” package offer which includes either lunch/dinner and swimming for £24.50 adults and £12 child. We recommend calling them before visiting to check availability as they usually only offer this out of season.

Fishing - There is various fishing opportunities around Scotland but you will need permits. Please check local availability at visitor centres in the town of your choosing.

Flying - Deeside gliding club (Aboyne Airfield, Dinnet, AB34 5LB) They are a great, friendly local club which has been operating for more than 50 years. Please visit www.deesideglidingclub.co.uk for more info.

Bird watching - The north-east  corner of Scotland is home to a very wide range of habitats. We recommend visiting www.rspb.org.uk and www.birdguides.com for detailed information.

Sightseeing - There are many historical castles and museums, please refer to the leaflets provided for information.

Horse riding - The nearest to our cottage is Glen Tanar Equestrian. Visit www.glentanar.co.uk for costs and opening times.

Pubs - There are pubs in Tarland, Ballater and Aboyne. The Commercial in Tarland allow dogs in the public bar. In some of the local pubs there are pool tables, game machine and darts etc.

Day trip to Aberdeen - Driving to Aberdeen takes approx. 45 minutes and there are plenty of shops, restaurants, cinema, bowling and other recreational facilities. There’s also a beach with plenty to do and see in the immediate vicinity. Children might like to visit Storybook Glen, AB12 5FT. It is a magical world of make-believe and fun for all the family. Set amongst 28 acres of stunning scenic beauty on Royal Deeside.  www.explore-aberdeen.com.

There are also a couple of “Escape rooms” in Aberdeen which is the very latest hype in entertainment for both adults and teens alike. Please google ESCAPE ROOMS ABERDEEN for info and to book.

Events to be noted - “The Tarland Show” lands on the second Saturday of August, which is a great day out! The location of the show will be on posters in the village leading up to the event.  The show is made up of classic cars, funfair, stalls, vintage tractors and locamotives as well as agricultural show including horses and ponies. You are welcome to take your own picnic but there are food stands and an operational bar. Part of the day includes a flower, fruit and vegetable show in the McRobert Hall which is located in Tarland village. “Ballater Highland Games” is held on the second Thursday in August, and for more info on this event please visit ballaterhighlandgames.com. “Aboyne Games” takes place on the Aboyne Green on the first Saturday in August from 10.30am, plenty of parking available. Visit www.aboynegames.com. “Victoria Week” is also held on the same week as the Ballater Highland Games, and is in the centre of Ballater. 9 days of fun for all the family!

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