Skip to main content

A Scenic Day Trip Through Royal Deeside in Scotland (Including Balmoral, a Holiday Home of the British Royal Family)


The writer visits her family who live in Aberdeenshire as often as possible. This article is based on an outing during a recent visit.

View from the bridge on the private road leading to Balmoral Castle

View from the bridge on the private road leading to Balmoral Castle

The Stunning Route From Aberdeen to Perth Passes Through Royal Deeside

In 1848 Queen Victoria and her consort, Prince Albert visited Deeside and fell in love with the landscape. They built Balmoral Castle as a holiday home that is still a favourite private residence of the British Royal family. The area between the villages of Banchory and Braemar, which are 40 miles apart, has been known as Royal Deeside since Balmoral was built.

What Attracts Visitors to Royal Deeside?

Visitors are attracted to Royal Deeside by the natural beauty of the landscape, opportunities for golf, river canoeing, walking, deer stalking, shooting, horse-riding, climbing, and winter skiing. For fishing enthusiasts, the River Dee is renowned as one of the world's greatest rivers for salmon fishing. And naturally, when Balmoral Castle is not occupied it is a magnet for tourists eager to see where members of the British Royal Family spend their holidays.

Balmoral Castle Estate

  • Balmoral Castle, the British Royal Family summer holiday home built by Prince Albert in the 19th century, is open to visitors when the family is not in residence.
  • Access to the interior of the castle is restricted to one room (the ballroom, where the annual gillies’ ball is held).
  • The extensive grounds include a sunken garden in front of the castle, a small museum in a former coach house, a restaurant and a gift shop.
  • Marked paths through the woods lead to the kitchen gardens, which are open to visitors.
  • Audio guides to the grounds are included in the entrance fee (£15 adults, £7 children in 2021).

A Glimpse of the Annual Gilles Ball at Balmoral

Beautiful Ballater in Royal Deeside

Ballater is a pretty village with deserved conservation status. There is something here to please every visitor—many shops with beautiful facades, a rebuilt Victorian railway station, an impressive bridge over the river, the Royal Lochnager Distillery (open to the public all year round), and lots of restaurants.

The Rothesay Rooms, a Michelin Star Restaurant established by HRH Prince Charles in 2016 to help regenerate the village after disastrous floods, has now relocated to the former railway station.

Read More from WanderWisdom

Ballater is only six miles from Balmoral, and members of the Royal Family sometimes visit during their summer holidays. Local stores provide goods to the Balmoral Estate, evidenced by shops that bear a Royal warrant of approval.

Braemar Village in Royal Deeside

Braemar, a picturesque small village, is the most westerly settlement in Royal Deeside. The feeling of remoteness and the purity of the air are remarkable characteristics of the settlement. Situated at an elevation of 213 metres (699 feet), it is immediately east of the Cairngorm Mountains and is a centre for hikers and for winter sports.

Braemar is famous for the annual Braemar Gathering, which dates back hundreds of years, and which is graced by British royalty during their annual holiday at Balmoral Castle, less than 8 miles away.

We ate lunch at the Bothy Cafe, which champions local produce -Scottish smoked salmon and locally-made cream cheese, served with salad and a croissant.Our clutch of children loved the pancakes served with Scottish raspberries.

Travelling South From Braemar Through the Cairngorms

From Braemar, the A93 road heads south through the Cairngorms National Park, following Clunnie Water through Glen Shee, on to Blairgowrie, and finally to the city of Perth. A spectacular and memorable journey completed in one day, or at a more leisurely pace incorporating stays at fabulous locations along the way.

Further Information for Visitors to Royal Deeside

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Glen Rix

Related Articles