Planning a trip to Scotland? Then you need to visit Pitlochry!
I’m a big fan of Pitlochry. It’s the perfect place to enjoy stunning Scottish scenery. From gorges, waterfalls, and mesmerising hilltop views, it has it all – but without the six hour drive into the depths of the highlands. Pitlochry is also very well connected to other places worth exploring. You can spend time in equally charming towns and villages such as Aberfeldy and Strathtay (more on that later) or you can choose to stay in Pitlochry and enjoy a more in-depth experience in the town. There’s definitely enough to do, trust me. You could probably be there for a fortnight and still be busy!
Another thing I like about Pitlochry us that you can choose what kind of experience you have there. There are a number of lovely hotels in Pitlochry to choose from (McKays looks rather swish) so you can stay amongst the bustle or you can go more rural and fend for yourself at one of the many self-catering lodges or Airbnbs nearby in the depths of the Scottish countryside. There really is something for everyone, whether you’re looking for a luxury spa break or something a little more stripped back.
Let’s take a look at my favourite things to do in Pitlochry…
Explore the Linn of Tummel
Wooded gorge the Linn of Tummel is absolutely stunning and is one of the best walks in Pitlochry. When we were there the mist was coming off the river in the morning. It was crisp, cold, and just beautiful. The place isn’t just aesthetically beautiful either, it’s also packed with Scottish history. When you walk along the trail you’ll come across Soldier’s Leap. This is the famous spot where a redcoat soldier is said to have leapt five metres across the River Garry while being chased by Jacobite clansmen.
It’s quite a distance, so it really has to be seen to be believed. There’s also a stunning railway viaduct further on. If you keep on going further you’ll also come up to the famous Pass of Killiecrankie.
Take a walk from Strathtay to Pitlochry (or from Pitlochry to Strathtay!)
This walk is the last part of the famous Rob Roy Way, which is a 128km walk finishing off in Pitlochry. As we were staying in Strathay, it made perfect sense to start there and finish in Pitlochry. Do more in one day if you dare, but for us that was quite enough – truth be told I was exhausted by the end of our 10km walk. All that fresh air just really takes it out of you!
You should also note that when you start at Strathtay there’s a lot of uphill walking right at the start. You’ll probably have to strip off approximately 90% of all the layers you’ve put on, but it will even out eventually.
“Stock up on drinks and snacks before you head out on your pack – or pick them up at the Spar in Strathtay. A banana, a pack of oatcakes will all serve you well.”
It’s also a good shout stop off at the Spar in Strathtay before you head out. You want to be well equipped with drinks and snacks – a banana, a pack of oatcakes, or a protein bar will all serve you well and are all stocked here. Even the man serving chuckled at all the layers I was wearing. He must have known about the steep hill climb coming our way!
What you will enjoy about this walk are the beautiful views. You can see the surrounding countryside once you get to the top and it’s pretty breath-taking. Although that could have just been me panting for breath of course! There’s also leafy forests, a charming waterfall that the pup naturally decided to throw himself in, and even a stone circle. All in all, this walk is a great way to enjoy some fresh air and the best of the Scottish countryside.
Grab some lunch in Café Biba
One of the best things to do in Pitlochry is to stop by some of the local cafes and restaurants. You’ll be positively spoiled for choice in the town centre.
By the time we got into Pitlochry we were dead on our feet from walking from Strathtay. Café Biba has the distinct advantage of being pretty much the first place you get to on the main street in Pitlochry.
With all the welcoming signs and colourful flower baskets outside it was pretty hard to walk past it. It also had the advantage of being dog friendly. I’m all about the dog friendly places in Pitlochry so this is a distinct advantage to dog lovers out there!
“Café Biba has the distinct advantage of being pretty much the first place you get to on the main street in Pitlochry – it’s also dog friendly.”
I have to say the interior of Café Biba didn’t quite match up to the charming exterior but it was sufficient for what we were after. It also had a lovely courtyard you could sit in if you wanted to enjoy your lunch al fresco. We kept inside as after our walk we were more than happy to be out of the elements for a while.
Now onto the food. I ordered a brie and cranberry toastie on brown bread and it was possibly the best brie and cranberry toastie I’d ever had. Creamy brie and sharp, sweet cranberries are such a heavenly combination.
There’s a great selection of simple lunch food on offer, too. You’ll find soups, sandwiches, baked potatoes, and mini bites – my boyfriend ordered the haggis bites for a real Scottish experience!
Go white water rafting in Pitlochry
I can sometimes be a little bit lazy on holiday, but I wanted to do something a bit more energetic this time. White water rafting is one of the best things to do in Pitlochry as it enables you to enjoy the stunning scenery and surroundings, while also being a bit adventurous than going for a walk.
If you feel a bit nervous about white water rafting then this is definitely the place to come. The guys running it will put you at ease straight away. You start off with a run through of health and safety and how to put on our wetsuits safely, but it was it was like a stand-up comedy routine and I was chuckling throughout. So that definitely put any nerves to bed.
My expectation was that we would be flinging ourselves down steep waterfalls at every turn. However, it wasn’t as wild as that, which was probably a good thing. There were a few bumpy moments but it wasn’t too rough. It’s perfect for beginners or anyone who felt a bit apprehensive.
There was plenty to keep ourselves entertained at the more still sections of the river. We did some balance and trust activities, which led to most of us ending up in the water. Me included! The other boat even did ‘wheelies’ in the water, which also ended up with most of them in the water. So it was lots of fun and perfect for families and adults alike.
“My expectation was that we would be flinging ourselves down steep waterfalls at every turn. There were a few bumpy moments, however, it wasn’t too rough, which made it perfect for beginners.”
I think if I did it again I might see if there were some steeper rivers to get a bit more of a jolt of adrenaline. However, this was spot on for the first time. The guides were so friendly that it just made the whole experience really enjoyable. It took around three hours in total, so definitely leave some time aside for it. I would also make sure you can pop home afterwards to have a hot shower. You’ll definitely have a bit of a chill afterwards, trust me!
It’s a little tricky to find. Drive past the Inn on the Tay (on your right) in Grandtully and keep going past a bunch of trees until you get to a left hand turn and drive up the path. If you see a bunch of ambulances parked up that’s the right place – the entrance is to your left.
We booked our rafting experience through Free Spirits Online outdoor activities – you can take a look at their website right here.
Eat pie at the Inn on the Tay
This was a recommendation from Kurt who was our guide on the white water rafting experience. I asked where we could go that would be cosy and warm and serve up delicious hearty food nearby. He recommended the Inn on the Day. And it was a delight. We headed over straight after the river rafting for a quick drink and I clocked the wood-burner straight away. Always a good sign, right?
Looking for dog-friendly places in Pitlochry? The Inn at the Tay is one. If you’re looking for somewhere to warm to cosy up after a long walk in the cold then this is the perfect place to stop by.
We headed back the next day for dinner and this was just as charming. From the tree twinkling with fairly lights outside to the mood lighting inside to our seat with great views of the river outside, it was all lovely.
Now for the food. I’d definitely recommend the pie of the day to anyone visiting here. The version that was on sale when we were there was pulled pork with Chinese five spice… which to be really honest when I heard I wasn’t altogether sure of. I was after something a little more traditional, and so I opted to have the cod instead. Also amazing FYI!
“I’d definitely recommend the pie of the day to anyone visiting here. It came in proper shortcrust pastry – none of this puff pastry lid nonsense – and it was delicious. A shame I didn’t order it!”
However, the joke was on me as everyone else ordered the pie and when I had a little taste it was just wonderful! It also came in proper shortcrust pastry – none of this puff pastry lid nonsense – it’s a proper pie. I want to go back just for that. Suffice to say everyone cleared their plates.
We also ordered desserts – sticky toffee pudding and the cheesecake of the day (which was mocha) which were just as sumptuous as the main courses. I couldn’t recommend this place more. You can view the menu here.
Enjoy the wildlife, especially the squirrels!
I was so impressed with the wildlife in Strathtay. The scene was set right from the start when we were driving along the road only a few moments from our Airbnb. A red squirrel darted across the road like it had a death wish. I’d never seen a red squirrel ever in my life before but that was just the start. We saw about ten more of them over the course of the holiday.
My boyfriend also got a ton of lovely photographs of them, including this great one above of a squirrel having a cheeky nibble on a nut. Squirrels weren’t the only wildlife we saw over the course of the break either. We saw rabbits in the garden of the Airbnb, we saw partridges, too many pheasants to mention, and the usual highland cows, sheep and horses. And then there was the incredible swimming dog, Casper, too.
If you’re a nature lover then this is the perfect place to come. Make sure you’ve got a decent camera so that all the critters can all get their close up.
Visit the Black Spout Waterfall
Looking for a nice short walk that is within walking distance of Pitlochry? This is it. The good news about Black Spout Waterfall in Pitlochry is that it’s really not an epic hike; it’s a short, brisk walk and from when you park up to when you get to the waterfall. You start off walking through Black Spout Wood, which is well signposted so there’s no chance of getting lost. Once you get to the waterfall there’s a lovely viewing platform so you’re well catered for if you want to get some nice photographs. Say cheese!
You can carry on the walk afterwards if you fancy, which we did. We followed the signs to Edradour which takes you directly to the Edradour distillery, another great tourist attraction if you’re into your whiskey. We simply carried on however and the path loops back around some farmland and talks you right back to where you started. If you need a quick walk with minimal effort and gorgeous scenery I’d definitely recommend this one.
Where to stay in Pitlochry
We stayed in an Airbnb in Strathtay, which is a 20-minute drive from Pitlochry and absolutely charming and lovely. It was a cute country cottage set up a short driveway and surrounded by a lovely garden and surrounding countryside. We chose it because it was dog friendly, it had a hot tub, and it had three bedrooms, which were perfect for our stay. There was a lovely cosy living room with a wood-burner (truly, my idea of heaven), a large dining room with an indoor picnic bench which was perfect for eating, chilling and playing board games, and a kitchen with lovely views of the garden. Perfect for keeping an eye on the pup!
You’ll also find a ping pong table and a chest full of board games upstairs that you can play to your heart’s content. We brought our own board games but it was definitely still good to have a back-up supply. There’s also two bathrooms, one with a shower and the other with a bath, so if you need to get ready in a hurry you’re not queuing for one bathroom.
Oh, and have I mentioned the hot tub? The hot tub was a highlight of the holiday, and being able to sit out with a glass of fizz in the pitch black was an experience for sure! As far as accommodation in Strathtay goes it was great! All in all, it was a great airbnb choice for staying with friends.
Our stay at the airbnb cottage in Pitlochry
Our Airbnb host was called Richard and was he was great. He messaged over check-in instructions – which had been updated due to Covid restrictions – messaged once we arrived to make sure everything was OK, and, the best bit, there was a goodie bag of snacks on arrival. Comprising crisps, oatcakes, and chocolate, it didn’t take us long to munch through it.
The cottage is walking distance from Strathtay and Grandtully if you want to stock up on ( albeit limited) supplies at the Spar, although it’s probably better to stock up on the way. You can also visit the Highland Chocolatier or grab some food at the Inn on the Tay. However, I would recommend having a car if you stay here. We had to walk back after our dinner and it was a long, wet and very dark walk home. Not recommended!
How to get to Pitlochry
As I mentioned we drove to Pitlochry this time around, however, I have caught the train to Pitlochry before. You can get a direct train to Pitlochry from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee so it’s very accessible. The train station is in the centre of town and there is a taxi rank (or office) right next to the station. When we tried to order a taxi, however, there wasn’t anything available for around 45 minutes. You might have to do what we did and just google local taxi services and book your own.