Known as the “Heart of Scotland”, “Gateway to the Highlands”, and “Big Tree Country”, within Perthshire lies a world of wonders waiting to be explored. Whether you’re drawn to its natural beauty, historic sites, or charming villages, this region has something to offer every traveller. As you explore the enchanting landscapes set among the towering trees, you’ll fall in love with Perthshire’s unique charm and leave with memories that will last a lifetime.
Read on to discover some of the best things to do around Perth, Scotland, so you can make the most of your visit to this gorgeous region.
While Perth itself is a vibrant city with many great things to do, there’s even more to discover in the countryside.
Nestled amidst beautiful rolling hills and lush woodlands, Pitlochry is a quaint town that has evolved from its Victorian tourist roots. You’ll feel refreshed when strolling along charming streets lined with boutique shops, cosy cafes, and traditional pubs. There is an excellent visitor’s centre at the town’s iconic hydroelectric dam and fish ladder where you can learn all about its history and the journey of the salmon that use the ladder. If you want a taste of culture, the Pitlochry Festival Theatre offers an excellent selection of shows. And whisky connoisseurs will enjoy visiting the historic Blair Athol Distillery.
Although slightly outside of town, a visit to The Highland Chocolatier is a must for any chocolate lovers. This artisanal chocolatier is renowned for its craftsmanship, using the finest cocoa beans and locally sourced ingredients to create masterpieces that enchant both the palate and the eye. Spend a decadent afternoon in their Chocolate Lounge, sampling a Chocolate Tasting Flight and soaking in the atmosphere.
Each autumn, the Enchanted Forest experience is held in Faskally Wood near Pitlochry. This sensational event transforms the usually serene forest into a breathtaking canvas of light and sound. If you want to attend this mesmerising autumn experience, make sure to plan ahead as tickets can sell out months beforehand.
Aberfeldy is an excellent example of the many Scottish towns that perfectly blend community, shops and nature. Visitors can explore the town’s narrow streets adorned with independent shops, art galleries, and cafes, each contributing to the town’s quirky and distinctive character. The Aberfeldy Distillery, founded in 1896, offers a taste of Scottish whisky-making tradition and history. And you can browse a book and relax with your favourite hot drink at the Aberfeldy Watermill Bookshop & Cafe before setting out again.
Just on the outskirts of town lies the enchanting Birks of Aberfeldy, a natural wonder that has captured the imagination of many, including Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns. These wooded trails provide an idyllic setting for hikers and nature enthusiasts to lose themselves outdoors. Don’t miss the statue of Robert Burns, whose poem about the area is why it is named the Birks of Aberfeldy today. And while the Moness Burn’s cascading waterfalls are worth visiting in any weather, if there’s been any rain recently, the thundering sound they emit is truly remarkable.
Whether you love walking, water sports, or wildlife, there are plenty of things to do in Perthshire to keep even the most enthusiastic nature lover happy.
An area that demonstrates Perth’s identity as “Big Tree Country”, the Hermitage is a nature lover’s haven. Initially designed in the 18th century for the Duke of Atholl, this picturesque woodland area beckons with its tranquillity and towering trees. Witness the Douglas firs that shoot up into the air to become some of the tallest trees in Britain. And behold the beauty of the copper beech trees planted decades ago by Victorians, who knew it would be generations before they fully developed. These trees create a canopy of serenity as you follow the winding paths and are truly spectacular to see in the autumn when warm and rich colours fill your view.
Walking through the trees will lead you to the captivating Black Lin Falls. You will also come across Ossain’s Hall, a beautiful Georgian folly built in the 18th century when wealthy landowners would construct purely ornamental architectural structures on their land. Ossain’s Hall was erected to frame the Black Lin Falls perfectly, and a few hundred years later, it is still the best place to enjoy a view of the falls.
Whether seeking a serene escape or a moment of connection with the natural world, The Hermitage in Perthshire offers a retreat into the heart of Scotland’s wilderness.
Nestled amidst the breathtaking landscapes of Perthshire, Loch Tay stands as a captivating gem that reflects the soul of Scotland’s natural beauty. This freshwater loch stretches over 14 miles and is fringed by lush woodlands and picturesque villages, creating a scene straight from a postcard. A refuge for wildlife enthusiasts, Loch Tay hosts a thriving ecosystem that supports diverse flora and fauna. As you explore its tranquil shores, you’re likely to encounter a variety of bird species, including ospreys and golden eagles. These majestic creatures gracefully soar above the water or dive in search of their aquatic prey, providing a captivating display of nature’s artistry.
Venturing deeper into the loch’s surroundings, you may spot red deer grazing on the verdant hillsides. Their presence, alongside smaller mammals like red squirrels and voles, adds to the tapestry of Loch Tay’s rich biodiversity. Fishing enthusiasts can cast their lines to engage with the underwater residents, which include brown trout, pike, and perch.
Aside from wildlife viewing, Loch Tay also beckons adventurers. You can rent a kayak or a paddleboard and glide gently across its reflective surface. Or explore some of the historic sites adorning the lake’s edge, including the Crannog Centre, an excellent visitor experience you can read more about in the historical gems section of this article.
Glen Lyon is another place of captivating beauty within Perthshire. “Scotland’s Longest Glen,” Glen Lyon is a testament to the timeless allure of the Scottish Highlands. The glen is characterised by its rolling hills, meandering river, and tranquil surroundings, making it a peaceful nature retreat.
As you wander, stop by Fortingall to visit the Fortingall Yew. The Fortingall Yew is a yew tree estimated to be 5,000 years old, making it one of the oldest living things in Europe. This ancient yew is shrouded in myth and legend, and its presence has long been a source of wonder and reverence. Its gnarled branches and enduring presence are a silent witness to centuries of history.
Near the Fortingall Yew, you can also see the Carn na Marbh or “Cairn of the Dead.” This ancient burial cairn is believed to date back to the Bronze Age and was used in the 14th century to bury victims of the Plague. It used to be the centre of local Samhain celebrations, and although it is no longer used for this purpose, the cairn is a poignant reminder of the generations that have left traces of their lives and legacies behind.
Perthshire boasts a rich history stretching back to the Iron Age, and its historic sites are a testament to the region’s past. There are plenty of things to do in Perth to keep history buffs happy.
The Crannog Centre on Loch Tay offers a captivating journey into Scotland’s ancient past. Crannogs are ancient and ingenious structures found in Scotland’s lochs. The oldest of these artificial islands were constructed during the Iron Age using timber, stones, and wooden stilts driven into the lakebed. They served as defensive positions and centres of daily life.
The Crannog Centre allows visitors to step back in time as they learn about the lifestyle and culture of our ancestors who built the structures. Through interactive exhibits, demonstrations, and guided tours, the Crannog Centre provides a hands-on understanding of the ingenious construction and daily activities that shaped the lives of those who inhabited these unique structures. Although the meticulously reconstructed crannog on the site was destroyed in a fire in 2022, the museum is in the process of building another reconstruction. It’s a fascinating window into a distant era, inviting visitors to connect with the roots of Scottish heritage.
Scone Palace, steeped in history and regal significance, stands as a testament to Scotland’s past. Its roots date back 2,000 years to when Romans placed a camp here. Once they retreated behind Hadrian’s Wall, the area was used by Picts and monks before becoming the crowning place of Scottish kings in the 9th century, including figures such as Macbeth and Robert the Bruce. Scone Palace boasts stunning architecture, lush gardens, and a rich collection of art and artefacts.
Within the walls of Scone Palace, the Stone of Destiny, also known as the Stone of Scone, held a sacred role in Scottish coronation ceremonies for centuries. In 1296, it was removed to England during one of their occupations of Scotland. Once there, it became part of the Coronation Chair in Westminster Abbey and has been used for many English and then British coronations since. After over 700 years, and one partially successful attempt at stealing it by a group of Scottish students in 1950, the Stone of Destiny was finally returned to Scotland in 1996, rekindling a sense of national pride. Although the stone doesn’t rest here now, its first known origins were at Scone Palace, and you can learn all about its history and mysterious journey on your visit.
Step back in time with a visit to Castle Menzies, an impressive 16th-century castle with a storied past that echoes through the annals of Scottish history. In 1746, Bonnie Prince Charlie stayed here on his way to Culloden just days before the Duke of Cumberland garrisoned it for the government troops. Since then, the castle descended into ruin until it was bought by the newly formed Menzies Clan Society in 1957, and they began gradually restoring the castle to its former glory. Today, you can explore its chambers and learn how the castle connects to Scotland’s past and the enduring spirit of its people.
Perthshire, a land of rugged beauty and timeless charm, has played a captivating role in the world of Outlander, bringing the magic of the series to life against its stunning backdrop. If you like getting the perfect picture of yourself in a famous TV location, Perthshire has plenty of things for you to do!
Doune Castle, a fortress steeped in history, takes on the mantle of Castle Leoch, the ancestral home of Clan MacKenzie. As you explore its towering walls and spiral staircases, you can almost hear the echoes of Jamie and Claire’s tumultuous journey.
Drummond Castle Gardens, a horticultural masterpiece, transforms into the opulent Palace of Versailles in the show. These meticulously designed gardens, complete with terraced lawns and vibrant flowerbeds, transport visitors into the lavish world of the French court, where intrigue and romance intertwine.
While exploring Perthshire, you’ll find Tibbermore Church, an unassuming yet intriguing location that served as the backdrop for the harrowing witch trial scenes. The church’s ancient ambience lends an air of authenticity to the series’ historical portrayal, connecting visitors to the characters’ challenges and triumphs.
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