Visiting Perthshire in winter is a truly magical experience. Mention a winter retreat in Scotland and it conjures up visions of wintry landscapes, snowy peaks, and cosy retreats.
During the colder months, Highland Perthshire has many accessible attractions including walks, outdoor activities, cosy spa retreats, and several historical and heritage sites.
So if you’ve been thinking of planning a midwinter escape to Scotland’s beautiful big tree country, take a look at our suggestions of places to see, activities to do, and where you can cosy up to escape the cold.
1 Winter Walks
A visit to Perthshire wouldn’t be complete without a walk in some of the most stunning areas of the UK. Even amid the colder months, there are plenty of beauty spots where you can enjoy the Scottish countryside.
The Hermitage in Dunkeld is a favourite with the option to follow a short or long circular trail through woodlands and along the River Braan. The star attractions being the 18th-century folly which looks out over the Black Linn Falls.
Another excellent walk from Dunkeld Village is the Dunkeld House Tree Trail which follows the majestic River Tay through the old Duke of Atholl’s woodland estate. From here you can either stop in at Dunkeld House Hotel for a spot of lunch or afternoon tea or pick up one of several trails on the estate where you can sometimes spot deer.
A bit further afield you can retrace the steps of Scotland’s national poet Robert Burns. The Birks of Aberfeldy, named after Burns famous poem takes walkers on a circular route through Moness Gorge and around its impressive falls.
2 Outdoor Activities
Adventure lovers can also get their fix of the outdoors on a chilly day. Land Rover Experience Scotland offers thrill-seekers the chance to navigate off-road trails behind the wheel of a Land Rover.
Or if you want to experience something more traditional visit County Clays in Dunkeld. They offer experience sessions in clay pigeon shooting, archery, air rifle shooting, and falconry.
If it’s Perthshire’s wildlife you’re keen to see, stop by Loch of Lowes Wildlife Visitor Centre and Reserve. Open Friday to Sunday in the low season, the reserve covers 130 hectares where you can see red squirrels, wildfowl and deer.
3 Highland Viewpoints
Wintertime in Perthshire’s highlands often means wintry landscapes with snow-covered hills. But if you don’t want to climb a mountain to take in the views, just visit one of the easily accessible viewpoints.
The Queens View near to Kinloch Rannoch looks out across Loch Tummel. Here you have a fine view of Scotland’s popular Munro Schiehallion and on a clear day catch a glimpse of Glencoe’s distant mountains.
Close to the Hermitage in Dunkeld is a trail which will take you up to Pine Cone Point. A picturesque folly perches over the River Tay and looks out to the mountain range behind Dunkeld.
To see Perthshire’s largest loch, Loch Tay, head to the quaint little village of Kenmore. The small beach on the banks is a perfect place to relax and enjoy views of Ben Lawers.
4 Spa Retreats
Cosy spa retreats are a fantastic way to relax throughout the colder months. Dunkeld House Hotel Spa and Health Club set within the peaceful surroundings of a 280-acre country estate is the perfect setting for a day of indulgence.
Spa treatments include a range of massages and facials using Ishga’s Hebridean seaweed products and Made for Life Organics. You can spend the rest of the day unwinding at the health club’s pool, jacuzzi, sauna, and steam room, or the hotel’s bar and restaurant.
5 Whisky Tasting
When it’s frosty outside there’s nothing like a whisky to warm you up. Blair Athol Distillery in Pitlochry has been distilling whisky since 1798. Take a tour to learn how whisky is made and sample a range of the unique malt whiskies.
The Dunkeld Whisky Box is also a terrific place to find a wide range of Scottish whiskies and craft beers. Their small tasting room gives you the chance to try before you buy so you can take your favourite tipple away with you to enjoy at home.
6 Historical and Heritage Attractions
Many historical and heritage sites in Perthshire close during the depths of winter, however, there are still several interesting attractions to visit.
Dunkeld Cathedral dates back to 1318, and although partly in ruins the parish church still serves the community with regular services. Visitors can see the charming interior of the main church and view the ruined part of the cathedral from the surrounding grounds.
Birnam Arts have a Beatrix Potter Exhibition which provides details on the writer’s connection to Perthshire and displays collection items inspired by the Beatrix Potter stories.
The Black Watch Museum in Perth is a must for those interested in Scotland’s military history and Black Watch regiment. Also in Perth is the Perth Museum and Art Gallery which displays archaeological and historical collections from the Perth and Kinross region.
Learn about Scotland’s Hydro history at the Pitlochry Dam Visitor Centre. Read about how the dam was built and how hydroelectricity changed the lives of many in the highlands. Then walk along the dam for a first-hand glimpse and to see the famous Fish Ladder. *Check reduced winter opening hours before arrival.
7 Theatre and Cinema
Spending an afternoon or evening at the arts is a nice way to escape a chilly day. Birnam Arts Centre in Dunkeld offers a fantastic programme of stand-up comedy shows, opera, live music, and theatre.
Pitlochry Festival Theatre is another great option to see star performances with musicals, theatre shows, short films, comedies, and talks.
If you are more of a film buff, then the Birks Cinema in Aberfeldy should be top of your list. This community-run cinema shows some of the latest releases along with opera screenings and interesting documentary films.
8 Retail Therapy
House of Bruar is the go-to destination to shop for premier Scottish brands. Traditional tweeds and luxurious cashmere apparel can be found along with Scottish textiles and homewares. Plus, they have a food hall and delicatessen filled with delicious gourmet food and drink from local artisan producers.