Located In the highlands of Scotland, the stunning county of Perthshire incorporates many famous Scottish towns including Crieff, Pitlochry, Dunkeld and Aberfeldy.
Whether you love outdoor activities, history, culture or festivals, Perthshire is almost guaranteed to have something for you! I’ve visited more times than I can count and I have always found something new and exciting to do on every occasion.
In this article, I’ll walk you through the best things to do in Perthshire so you can plan the perfect trip to this incredible part of the Scottish Highlands.
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- About Perthshire
- History of Perthshire
- Best Things to do in Perthshire
- Is Perthshire Worth Visiting?
- Expert Tips for Visiting Perthshire Scotland
Perthshire is located in central Scotland, in the eastern part of the Scottish Highlands. The area is famous for its towering mountains, lush forests, lochs, and rich history.
Located around 64 km and around 1 hours drive to the north of Scotland’s capital city of Edinburgh, Perthshire is easily accessible by road and also by train or bus.
Perthshire is a very popular destination for outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, fishing, boating and golfing. For the history buffs, there are many amazing castles to visit such as Blair Castle and Drummond Castle with its famous gardens.
Perthshire also puts on some great events such as the Pitlochry Highland Games which is a traditional Scottish festival and the Perthshire Amber Festival which is a famous music festival founded by the Scottish folk musician, Dougie MacLean.
Scotland is, of course, famous for its whiskey and no trip to Perthshire would be complete without a trip to visit the famous Edradour micro-distillery in Pitlochry.
History of Perthshire
People have been living in Perthshire for at least 10,000 years, from when the area was covered in dense forest and home to tribes such as the Picts. The Picts famously defended their lands against the great Roman empire’s attempts to invade Scotland.
During the Middle Ages, Perthshire became important both politically and economically. Perth was granted city status and became a key trading hub in Scotland. In 1689 the famous Battle of Dunkeld took place during the Jacobite uprising which was a significant victory for the government forces and helped to consolidate their control over Scotland.
In the 18th and 19th century Perthshire played a key role in the Industrial revolution with its growing textile manufacturing, papermaking, and whisky distilling industries.
In modern times Perthshire has become a popular tourist destination with around 2.5 million visitors per year which generates around £380 million in tourism revenue.
Best Things to do in Perthshire
After numerous visits to Perthshire, I’ve tried out many of the activities in the area and haven’t had a bad experience with any of them! That being said, I do have my favourites and I’m excited to share them with you!
Here are my favourite things to do in Perthshire.
#1 Admire the Famous Queen’s View
The British Royal Family have a strong affinity with Scotland and visit regularly, often staying at Balmoral Castle, located in Aberdeenshire. During one of these visits in 1866, the late Queen Victoria took a trip to what is now know as Queen’s View in Perthshire and was said to be enthralled with the incredible panoramic views across Loch Tummel, the Tummel Way and the mountains of Glencoe and Glen Lyon.
Queen’s View is located within Tay Forest Park on the north shore of Loch Tummel.
The Queens View has its own carpark and a great little cafe and visitor centre which is open from 10am to 5pm. They do a fantastic selection of cakes which I’d thoroughly recommend. It’s always worth checking current opening times before visiting as they can be affected by weather conditions.
The Queens View itself is a short 5 minute walk from the carpark and is well signposted. Don’t forget to bring your camera as the panoramic view is truly incredible – I’ve never seen anything quite like it before in the UK!
Once you’ve finished admiring the view, there are lots of great walking trails in the area if you fancy a longer hike.
#2 Visit The Oldest Tree in Europe
In a small church yard in Perthshire sits a yew tree which has been growing for thousands of years. Experts haven’t been able to gauge the exact age of this incredible tree but it’s thought to be somewhere between 3,000 and 9,000 years old!
This ancient tree, known as the Fortingal Yew, may have seen the end of the last ice age and been around when Stonehenge was built. Even at its younger estimates, it would have been around when the Egyptians were building pyramids!
The tree is so old it’s even begun to transition from male to female during its lifetime. I must admit I didn’t realise trees had sexes before my visit, however, upon visiting the Fortingall Yew I discovered some species of tree do.
The Fortingal Yew started as a male tree which is evidenced by the way it produced small spherical cones that release pollen. In the last few years one of the branches has started producing red berries which only occurs on female Yew Trees. Whilst very rare, there have been other reports of yew trees changing sex like this!
You might be expecting the tree to be massive given its age. However, over the years, due to its reputation, the tree has sadly suffered a lot with people taking away parts of it as souvenirs, and there was even a report of a large part of the trunk being removed to make drinking cups.
The tree is now protected by a wall around it to prevent further damage. When the tree was first measured it was over 55 feet (17 meters) wide, however, due to vandalism and natural causes, the Fortingal Yew now has the appearance of several smaller trees but they all share the same root system.
The Fortingal Yew is free to visit and is open 24/7 with a car park on site. I’d recommend combining your visit with seeing the Queens View which is just down the road.
#3 Walk Through the Birks of Aberfeldy
The Birks of Aberfeldy is quite possibly my favorite walk in Perthshire. However, it does require a basic level of fitness as there is quite a bit of climbing during the walk which takes around two hours to complete.
The circular trail takes you around the Falls of Moness which is a stunning cascading waterfall. The walk gives spectacular views of the water crashing into the gorge below and was very popular with the famous poet Robert Burns.
The start of the walk is just outside the town of Aberfeldy and there is ample free car parking.
#4 Wander Through the Ancient Castle Menzies
In the village of Weem near Aberfeldy, sits an imposing Scottish Castle with a rich heritage dating back to the 15th Century.
Castle Menzies was home to the Menzies clan until the 20th Century and fell into wrack and ruin before being purchased for £300 by the Menzies Charitable Society in 1950. Most of the castle was restored to its former glory, although some parts were in such bad condition that they had to be demolished to preserve the rest of the castle.
The castle is a classic Scottish Z-shaped castle and played a significant role in the Jacobite Rising with Bonnie Prince Charlie taking shelter in the castle during his retreat to Inverness. The castle has been extended and altered over the years and features a grand Victorian wing.
I found my visit to the Castle Menzies fascinating and learnt a lot about its history from the friendly team who look after the castle today. Unlike other old houses, you are given free access to wander around pretty much the whole castle! Once you’ve finished exploring, which takes around an hour or so, you can visit their tea rooms for a locally made cake and some tea.
You can visit between April and late October with opening times being: Mon-Sun: 10.30am until 4.30pm, Sun: 2.00pm until 4.30pm.
#5 Visit Pitlochry Dam & Fish Ladder
Pitlochry Dam is a hydroelectric dam nestled within the town of Pitlochry, upon the River Tummel.
On a visit to the dam (which is free of charge) you can watch thousands of gallons of water rush out of the dam. You can also stroll over the top of the dam which is a working power station.
The dam features a fish ladder which allows the thousands of Atlantic salmon to return to the place where they were spawned so that they can lay fresh eggs. The salmon are best seen between April and August as they pass through the fish ladder.
There is a dam visitor centre which gives information on the history of the dam and cafe with wonderful views over the dam.
#6 Rent a Boat on Loch Tay
Loch Tay is the sixth largest Loch in Scotland at about 15 miles (24 kilometers) in length and one of my personal favourites. It’s incredibly scenic, flanked by forest-coated hills and is dotted with a couple of small islets.
At the southern end of the loch is the idyllic village of Killin with a history dating back beyond the 17th century, and to the north is the tiny village of Kenmore with its famous Taymouth Castle.
There are many activities to do around Loch Tay but one of my favourites is hiring a small boat from Loch Tay Boat Centre on the shores of Loch Tay in Kenmore and setting off on an adventure across the Loch.
Hiring a boat is a great way to fully appreciate all the views from Loch Tay, not to mention it’s very relaxing. There’s a small cafe next to the boating centre so you can enjoy some snacks and drinks after your adventure.
#7 Tour a Whisky Distillery
Perthshire, Scotland, is a whisky lover’s paradise, home to a variety of distilleries that showcase the region’s rich whisky heritage. One standout is Glenturret, Scotland’s oldest distillery. Located near Crieff, Glenturret offers guided tours where you can explore the traditional whisky-making process, from malted barley to copper stills. Afterward, indulge in a tasting session and savor their award-winning single malts, including the renowned Glenturret 10-year-old.
Another gem in Perthshire is Edradour Distillery, nestled near the charming town of Pitlochry. Despite being Scotland’s smallest distillery, Edradour exudes charm and character. Join a guided tour to witness the entire whisky-making journey, from mashing to maturation. Edradour’s limited annual production makes their handcrafted single malts highly sought after.
For a taste of history, visit Blair Athol Distillery on the outskirts of Pitlochry. Established in 1798, this distillery maintains its traditional methods and offers well-preserved facilities to explore. Discover the mash tuns, copper stills, and aging warehouses on a guided tour. Blair Athol’s signature expressions are known for their gentle complexity.
Is Perthshire Worth Visiting?
Yes! It offers stunning landscapes as well as history and culture to explore. Whether you enjoy the great outdoors or want to learn more about Scottish history and culture, Perthshire is a beautiful and diverse destination that has something for everyone.
Those are some of my favourite activities to do in Perthshire! Have you been to Perthshire before? What are your favourite things to do?
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Last Updated on June 14, 2023