Scotland is a country of endless charms. From the dramatic highlands to the exciting capital Edinburgh, the Scots know how to combine the ancient and the modern into something exquisite. The Scottish countryside, dotted with burghs, smaller towns, and villages, holds just as many charming surprises and fun adventures - and the whiskey-famous burgh of Aberfeldy is a prime example of it.
Better known for its liquor production and for being the muse to Robert Burns's famous poem The Birks of Aberfeldy, this captivating town in the Perthshire Highlands is brimming with fun attractions, impressive monuments, fascinating history and scenery, and amazing food - its everything any traveler could have to want from a UK exploration trip.
What to see and do in Aberfeldy
Aberfeldy was built on the shores of River Tay, the longest river in all of Scotland. Crossing it is Wade's Bridge, after General George Wade, who ordered its build, a beautifully done 16th century arched stone bridge. Initially built for military purposes, Wade's Bridge was largely responsible for the earliest developments of this charming market town. The bridge cuts across the river, connecting lush green fields perfect for picnicking on a sunny day.
Walking down one such field, visitors will find the Black Watch Memorial, an 1887 monument honoring the Black Watch, looking out into the magnificent Castle Menzies a bit down the valley Appin of Dull. Once the stronghold of the Clan of Menzies, the castle has a long history of battles, occupations, and sieges, including by the Jacobite army and Scotland’s beloved Bonnie Prince Charlie, who occupied and stayed in the castle for two nights before heading for his eventual defeat at Culloden. The room he stayed in is still marked as “Prince Charlie's Room” and it's open for visits.
Throughout the centuries, the castle changed hands many times, even serving as a medical center for the Polish Army in World War II, and marks of the different eras and owners were left in the myriad of renovations it went through, leaving it a truly unique structure. Architectures from 1500s Scotland, the Victorian age, and even a Polish memorial all exist together.
For history buffs, Loch Tay also has the Crannog Centre, an amazing prehistoric village where travelers can learn about the life of people who inhabited Scotland since the Iron Age.
The poetry-famous Birks of Aberfeldy
Robert Burns wrote about the lovely Birks of Aberfeldy in 1787, and it seems the path is just as beautiful today. A long, scenic trail amidst the woodland and up the mossy hills, with plenty of singing streams and waterfalls along the way make it easy to understand how they became the bards’ muse. For more enchanting waterfalls, travelers can trek their way to the stunning Falls of Moness.
Another place that must make the list for the outdoor adventurers is Cluny House Gardens, a beautiful expanse of woodland gardens with exotic flowers, squirrels running all over the place, and the widest tree in all of Britain, the 130 years old redwood.
Aberfeldy’s proximity to River Tay is more than scenic! Canyoning, river boating, river rafting, and river bugging are all popular sports around Aberfeldy, and fun activities tourists can enjoy.
The town center
Aberfeldy organizes itself around its main road, and town center, at The Square. The Square offers a wide variety of shops, restaurants, amenities, and attractions.
An old watermill turned café, library, and art gallery, The Watermill, offers triple entertainment. And speaking of art - Aberfeldy has a bustling art scene, several galleries dotted around town, including the Keltneyburn Smithy Gallery, a garden dotted with iron sculptures offering a great day experience.
The Birks Cinema, a 1930s cinema theater reformed and reopened in 2013, is a wonderful place to visit, often showing a variety of movies and with a widely beloved café.
Food & Drinks (and Whisky)
In Aberfeldy, eating is simply a part of experiencing the burghs’ culture. Beyond the café and art hubs like the Watermill and the Birks Cinema, The Fountain Bar at Aberfeldy offers delicious traditional Scottish food right beside a staple of the town, the Drinking Fountain.
The Glenlyon Tearoom is a lovely, family-run tea parlor by a mossy hill that makes for the perfect afternoon cap, and the restaurant at the gorgeous local hotel The Townhouse is a favorite.
But by far the most popular and famous food, or rather, drink program in the Aberfeldy itinerary would be a visit to the Dewar’s Aberfeldy Distillery. Built in 1898, the Dewar’s Distillery is where the Dewar family spent over a century perfecting the honeyed notes of one of the most famous scotch whiskeys in the world, right at the heart of the Scotting Highlands.
Visit the interactive exhibits, tour the distilleries and warehouses, enjoy a whisky tasting right from the barrels, and cozy up at the excellent café. Dewar’s Distillery is a top-tier Aberfeldy experience.