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Glencoe Tourism And Travel Guide
5.5° C / 41.8° F
May to September
2 to 3 Days
Glasgow International Airport (133 kms)
Fort William (26 kms)
Glencoe is a small village located in the northwest end of the valley in the Lochaber region of the Scottish Highlands. This U-shaped valley has been carved out through glaciers and volcanic eruptions over a span of centuries and today, most of it is managed by the National Trust for Scotland. Glencoe is extremely popular among adventure sports enthusiasts and those interested in hikes and mountaineering. The scenic beauty of the valley is complemented by deep gorges, sparkling rivers and intimidating waterfalls, which offers numerous opportunities to all thrill-seekers to try their hand at the exploration of this mystical valley. Most of the tourism in this region is driven by such adventure-junkies and nature-lovers who usually visit Glencoe as part of a tour of the Highlands. Here is a brief travel guide listing out all you need to know about planning a trip to Glencoe.
How to Reach
The nearest airport from Glencoe is the Glasgow International Airport located around 130 km away. The Inverness Airport is the next closest one at 146 km away, with Prestwich and Edinburgh airports also potential options for those wanting to fly into the region. Travellers will find suitable transportation available at all terminals to reach Glencoe via train or road.
If you plan to reach Glencoe by rail, catch a train from Glasgow Queen Street to Fort William, followed by a road journey to Glencoe. You can also choose to get down at Crianlarich, Tyndrum or Bridge of Orchy if you have other travel plans apart from Glencoe. A local train service also runs from Mallaig to Fort William.
Glencoe can only be reached via road after a certain point. Travellers can choose buses, taxis, or rented cars to drive down to Glencoe. The CityLink bus service is available from numerous points in Glasgow, which takes you to Glencoe in just around 2 hours. The A82 highway is the most commonly used route that takes you to Glencoe directly. If coming in from Oban, take the A828 first; take the A830 from the North West Highlands. Once you reach Fort Williams, Glencoe is just a 20-minute drive away.
Weather & Best Time to Visit
Summer (June – August):
Summer is the busiest time of the year in Glencoe. Not only is it peak season for tourists, but it is also the time for summer school holidays; which means even the local families tend to spend most of their time enjoying the lovely outdoors. The main highlight of summers is the number of daylight hours in a day; the sun remains out till 10 pm or even longer, which will be one of the most unique experiences for those not used to the phenomenon. Since it is peak season, hotels and other accommodation options will be costlier and even packed with tourists.
Autumn (September – October):
Autumn season lasts for just a couple of months and is a great time to be in Glencoe. The weather is warm and enjoyable in September and the fall colours add a touch of serene beauty to the spectacular scenery. The tourist crowds are much lesser in autumn and the accommodation rates go down considerably as well.
Winter (November – March):
Winters are not a popular time to visit Glencoe. The weather is crisp and quite cold, which means most tourists tend to avoid any trips to the region during this time. However, skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts would find great opportunities to indulge in their favourite activity during the snowy months of the season.
Spring (April – May):
Spring is also a good time to visit Glencoe. Just like the autumn season, the crowds are much less and the hotel rates are quite low during springtime. The vibrant colours of the season make the amazing weather of spring even more enjoyable. The wildlife and local birds are also widely observable during this season, which will be a treat to all animal enthusiasts.
Things to Do
Hiking and Nature Walks:
Within the scenic natural beauty of Glencoe, hiking through its many trails is one of the best things to try for all those who visit the region. You don’t need to be a seasoned hiker to enjoy the place either; there are several routes that are simple enough to embark on even with your families like the An Torr-Signal Rock and Glencoe Lochan. If you want to challenge yourself a bit more, try the difficult trails like Lost Valley, Pap of Glencoe, and Ballachulish Horseshoe.
Indulge in Water Sports:
There are more water sport activities in Glencoe than you could possibly want to try. The local tour agencies like Vertical Descents offer activities like canyoning, while Active Highs is known for organising white water rafting and even kid-friendly tours. Sea kayaking and canoeing are other thrilling activities you can try while in Glencoe.
Skiing in Glencoe Mountain Resort:
If you are in Glencoe during the winters, skiing is one of the best activities to try here in the Glencoe Mountain Resort. The Resort is also Scotland’s oldest ski region. Whether you’re an expert or a beginner, there are different areas demarcated for everyone. Skiing lessons are also available from instructors at the resort. Visitors are free to bring their own equipment or rent some at the resort itself. The resort is one of the finest accommodation options with a café and a restaurant within the premises.
What to Eat
Eating in Glencoe means indulging in amazing locally sourced food in the pubs and cafes here because that is where some of the best food in the region can be enjoyed. Clachaig Inn is the oldest and finest spot in Glencoe. Try delicacies like venison pastrami, game pies and the famous haggis here to get a real taste of the local cuisine. The Boots Bar in Clachaig Inn is a fun place to hang out with friends and family while enjoying a wide range of ales and whiskies. For seafood, try the Loch Leven Seafood Café where fresh fish, oysters, lobster, crab and clams are served in simple yet delicious forms. Glencoe Café is another great place to enjoy local snacks and meals for breakfast and lunch, which is the only time of the day when it's open.
The Laroch is a Michelin starred restaurant in Glencoe; one of the very few fancy eateries in the region. It specialises in serving dishes made from local ingredients that are in season and does not usually carry a menu.