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My favorite things to do in Pitlochry reflect a microcosm of Scotland at large. Whisky, epic vistas, standing stones, history, walks, castles…Pitlochry has it all! I recommend you visit Pitlochry for an ideal addition to your Scotland travel itinerary, especially if this is your first visit to the country.
Planning a trip to Scotland can be overwhelming with so many options. But I can tell you from personal experience living in Scotland and traveling around to various areas that there are so many typically Scottish things to do in Pitlochry. You’ll love it!
I’ve been an American expat in Scotland for years and I love exploring my adoptive home!
Quick Overview of Pitlochry
Pitlochry is filled with stunning natural beauty, intriguing history, and locally-made products galore, making it the perfect spot to maximize your Scottish experience.
A small town resting in a valley about 70 miles north of Edinburgh, Pitlochry has been on the map as an ideal stop between the highlands and the capital since the Victorian Era.
There are plenty of things to do in Pitlochry itself, while the surrounding area offers even more depth.
Both a major highway (motorway, in Scottish-speak) and a rail line run directly into Pitlochry. So whether you’re driving, taking a tour, or hopping on board the train, you’ll enjoy handy convenience from major points in Scotland.
If you’re starting off your Scotland trip in Edinburgh, I recommend you plan for a night or two in Pitlochry.
You could do a day trip from Edinburgh, but I think Pitlochry has too much to offer for just a few hours!
Pitlochry is a typical small Scottish town. There’s a main street running the length parallel to the railway line, plus multiple smaller side streets branching off.
A walk from one end of town to the other won’t take too long, unless you stop at every shop and cafe along the way!
As it is well-established with both local and foreign tourists, you’ll find ample accommodation options in Pitlochry. Small hotels and bed & breakfasts abound, while rental homes and Airbnbs are also plentiful.
I’ve stayed with friends and in B&Bs in Pitlochry during my multiple overnight stays. I’ve also done day trips from where I live just outside of Edinburgh. I just can’t get enough of visiting Pitlochry!
Find your own Pitlochry accommodations on booking.com.
You’ll also find plenty of restaurants and cafes in Pitlochry, though don’t anticipate a lively night scene. This is a small town, after all.
There are traditional pubs and you’ll find plenty of places to enjoy a drink. But this is more of a quiet holiday town than one for a late night out.
Why Visit Pitlochry During a Scotland Trip
This town encompasses much of what makes Scotland so incredible. There are just so many things to do in Pitlochry!
Easy access by rail or road makes it accessible and convenient. But Pitlochry is also enviably located at the doorstep of the famous Scottish Highlands. Stopping here between Edinburgh and the Highlands is an ideal itinerary option, in my opinion!
In Pitlochry, you can tour distilleries, sample local fare, buy locally-made products, and walk around the whole town easily. You can get just outside of town for castles, epic vistas, and ancient standing stones.
I think expats make the best tourists. We love exploring our new homes, delving deeper than tourists possibly can.
You can also enjoy some of Scotland’s famously stunning scenery without having to travel far at all!
There are so many things to do near Pitlochry, from castles to bagging munros to extreme sports and more.
With a river running through town and the largest national park in the British Isles on its doorstep, there are countless outdoor, fun things to do around Pitlochry.
Just a short drive from the town center brings you to the Queen’s View, Blair Castle, Soldier’s Leap at Killiecrankie, or the Hermitage.
All of these are beautiful locations with interesting history to offer.
Pitlochry is far enough from the urban centers of Glasgow and Edinburgh to feel more rural, without being desolate. It boasts amenities and natural beauty in spades.
And, if that’s not all reason enough to visit Pitlochry, this town is right on the doorstep of the Cairngorms National Park!
That makes Pitlochry the ideal stopping point if you’re headed to the park for more outdoor adventures. Think: hillwalking, skiing, and traipsing around castle hunting!
Fun Things to Do in Pitlochry
The main draw to Pitlochry is its convenient location paired with its stunning natural beauty.
You can do plenty of easy walks along the water or into the hills, or go bag a munro just up the road!
“Bagging a munro” means summiting one of the tallest mountains in Scotland. A munro is anything over 3000 feet, while a corbett is between 2500 and 3000 feet.
Grab all the trail details you need for walks in and around Pitlochry, then grab your hiking boots to manage the terrain!
One of the other fabulous things to do in Pitlochry is right in the heart of town. Walk along the River Tummel for some pretty views, as well as an opportunity to learn about Scotland’s emphasis on Green Energy.
Walk towards the Pitlochry Dam – built in the 1940s – to start a nice, easy stroll along fairly flat ground.
Before crossing over the dam, pop into the Pitlochry Dam Visitor Centre to learn about how and why this dam exists.
I love Scotland’s focus on hydroelectricity and wind energy – this beloved expat country of mine is making positive changes!
On the other side of the dam, take a look down at the fish ladder along the side. You might spot salmon making their way from box to box to reach the other side of the dam.
Not much farther along the river, you can cross back toward town via the green suspension bridge.
Distilleries to Tour
You can also walk to two distilleries in Pitlochry: Edradour Distillery and Blair Athol Distillery.
We did the Edradour tour and loved learning from this tiny distillery – one of the smallest in all of Scotland! The scenery was enchanting and the education was admirable. The walk there from Pitlochry was also a stunner!
Edradour is now our go-to whisky cream, replacing the more famous Bailey’s (and I’m married to an Irishman, so that says something!).
I’m genuinely working on my acceptance of whisky. As an American adopted by Scotland, I feel it’s my duty to at least try!
Until I get to that stage, those whisky creams are delightful.
2021 edit: I can now happily say that I have several different whiskies I enjoy these days! That enjoyment certainly makes distillery tours much more fun. And there is no shortage of those here in Scotland!
I personally love Heathergems, a jewelry production center where local heather (and other flowers of Scotland) is pressed into beautiful gem-work.
You can visit and watch the actual production in this headquarters location. You’ll also likely spot plenty of Heathergems being sold in shops all around Scotland.
There are loads of other shops in Pitlochry, some offering local produce or artwork, others being a bit more generalized. Puddles & Sun is a super cute, independent shop for all the kiddos in your life!
I recommend you purchase locally-produced items to make your trip extra special. While the big shops in Edinburgh might be cheaper, they also are mostly imported items that don’t support Scottish artists, producers, or entrepreneurs.
If you’re traveling to experience another culture and place, you can be a better tourist by supporting local industries. Shop local, think global!
Things to Do Near Pitlochry
There are also plenty of things to do near Pitlochry! Some are accessible by bus while others might require a taxi or day tour.
For a customized tour, I highly recommend you book with Highland Travel and ask for Jurgen. He was my driver during my DIY writing retreat nearby and offered a wealth of knowledge and adoration for this country.
There are so many things to do around Pitlochry. It’s an area that boasts beautiful vistas plus many points of historical significance. I am particularly fond of the epic Queen’s View.
Located just outside of Pitlochry, Queen’s View is not, in fact, named for Queen Victoria (although she did admire and love this spot).
The lookout point is a popular one, so try to get there in the off-hours (or low season) to have a little more tranquility to accompany your sprawling vista.
Another thing to do near Pitlochry bears astounding historical significance.
You know all those standing stones that make Scotland popular among Outlander fans? Well, they may not be famous, but you can find some small standing stones remaining from Pictish times just up the hill from the River Tummel in Pitlochry.
They’re in a quiet spot so no tourist crowds will bother you.
Another beautiful place with standing stones is the Isle of Arran. I *highly* recommend you spend a weekend there, too!
Further outside of town, but still a great thing to do near Pitlochry, is one of Scotland’s most prominent castles.
Blair Castle boasts extensive grounds and a large estate home to explore. The walled garden offers a lovely place to stroll and you can even enjoy a picnic out on the grounds to pretend like you own the castle!
Another popular thing to do near Pitlochry is to visit Killiecrankie and the Soldier’s Leap spot, where a Redcoat jumped 18 feet to escape his Jacobite pursuers.
From Pitlochry, you can also easily access Cairngorms National Park for hillwalking, animal sightings, and winter sports.
This is the largest national park in the British Isles with stunning topography to explore!
South of Pitlochry, en route from Edinburgh, you could opt to stop into the Hermitage near Dunkeld for a beautiful wooded walk.
This is best done by car or on a private tour from Edinburgh, like this option with Rabbie’s.
Visit Pitlochry for Events
Pitlochry also boasts several fabulous annual events that you won’t want to miss.
The last weekend in May is a bank holiday weekend in the UK and, conveniently, Memorial Day Weekend in the US, too.
That’s when you’ll see the Highland Games at Blair Castle. These are some of the most popular games in the whole of Scotland.
The Atholl Highlanders Parade and Gathering is a spectacle you don’t want to miss, so be sure you plan to visit Pitlochry during this time if you can.
If you miss those games, head to the Pitlochry Highland Games in September instead! We did a quick day trip to enjoy this spectacle. It was my first Highland Games and quite a fun day out despite the dreich weather.
During the autumn, visit Pitlochry for The Enchanted Forest. It’s an event I absolutely adored and hope you will all get to see someday! It takes place each year for most of October, so try to book a weekend in Pitlochry to coincide with this fun event.
Tips for Traveling to Pitlochry
Traveling to Pitlochry from Edinburgh is easily done by train. The journey is around 2.5 hours and offers both pretty views and glimpses of various towns and cities along the way.
Don’t forget to get your Two-Together Railcard if you’ll be taking several train journeys with the same person!
While a day trip from Edinburgh is certainly an option, I recommend taking longer to really enjoy all that Pitlochry has to offer.
Stay at least one night to maximize your opportunities. The town itself has plenty to do, but the surrounding area is also lovely to explore.
If you are traveling by public transport, you can take buses to several of the locations outside of town. You could also book a private guided tour with Highland Travel.
Quick Tips For Visiting Pitlochry
Where to Stay:
Things to do in town:
- Edradour Distillery
- Blair Athol Distillery
- Moulin Bar and Hotel
- Heathergems Jewelry
- Pitlochry Dam Visitor Centre
And these are nearby:
How to get there and around:
- Visit Scotland
- ScotRail Train
- Highland Travel guided tours
- Rabbie’s tours that visit Pitlochry: Loch Ness, Inverness and the Highlands or Highland Lochs, Glens & Whisky
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