There are several counties which can claim to be the heart of Scotland.
But look at Perthshire on the map, and it’s not hard to argue that this destination is right at Scotland’s centre. Not only is it smack-dab in the middle of the country, it’s even earned the nickname the “big county” due to its geographical roundness.
With a landscape that spans agricultural flats to the soaring peaks of the Southern Highlands, if you’re looking for the real Scotland, you’ll find it here.
(And plenty more besides…)
3 must-see sights in Perthshire and the Southern Highlands
1. The Grampians
If you’re a fan of windswept flatlands, towering peaks, rolling hills, lochs and glens, then you’ll feel right at home in Perthshire and the Southern Highlands.
The area is dominated by the Grampian Mountains, with the centrepiece being Ben Lawers — Scotland’s fourth highest peak. In the south east of the county, you’ll discover hidden glens and luscious forests which deliver the pure magic of Scotland.
2. Ben Nevis and Fort William
Ben Lawers may be more central than other Grampian mountains, but it’s certainly not the biggest. Ben Nevis is the UK’s highest peak. Its summit, at 1,345m, takes around 4 hours to climb and another 2-3 to come back down — and you’ll want to add on a couple of extra hours if you’re travelling with kids.
But you don’t need to hike to enjoy the area; the town of Fort William in the Glen Nevis valley is well worth a short stay, too. Kids will love the Jacobite Steam Train, while mum and dad can sample some Scotch at Ben Nevis Distillery.
Visiting during the winter? The Nevis Range Mountain Resort has enough ski runs and forest trails to keep you busy for days.
3.Cairngorm Reindeer Centre
An unforgettable up-close-and-personal wildlife spot to round off our list, the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre is the only place in the UK to spot free range reindeer. An absolute must-see if you’re visiting Scotland during the Christmas holidays.
Stick around town for the Hogmanay celebrations, and that’ll be one winter to remember!
3 must-do family activities in Perthshire and the Southern Highlands
1 Walk in the footsteps of the Highland’s oldest Regiment
Balhousie Castle, located in Perth, was the site of many battles across the generations. In 2009 it was bought by The Regimental Trustees of the Black Watch, and today it hosts The Black Watch Castle & Museum.
The castle, museum, cafe and shop are open seven days a week all throughout the year, and it’s a fantastic place to learn about local history, from ancient times up to modern day.
2. Go boating on Loch Tay
If you’re not afraid of a chilly breeze, we’d highly recommend a boat safari on Loch Tay. Setting off from Kenmore, the safari takes you on a circuit across the Loch (they’ll even throw in a free glass of prosecco for those 18+!).
With ice-covered peaks in the distance, it’ll be hard to keep your eyes on the water — but you must, these mysterious dark waters have many folklore stories to tell!
3. Experience “Nae Limits”!
For parents who aren’t faint of heart, Nae Limits adventure park has over 14 different land and water activities suitable for the whole family. There’s even a family package, lasting three hours with all the necessary equipment included.
There’s often discounts on the family passes, too. Convinced yet? The kids will be!
The best time to visit Perthshire and the Southern Highlands?
There’s simply no getting away from it: Scottish weather is, at best, inconsistent.
This is part of the country’s charm, of course, but you should be prepared for any (or all) weather each day. While, broadly speaking, it’ll be warm in summer and icy in winter, there are simply no guarantees.
Flip that on its head, and you could say that Perthshire and the Southern Highlands are a year-round family destination! So what’s stopping you?
What to pack for Perthshire and the Southern Highlands
With the weather as unpredictable as it is in this part of the world, you’re going to want to pack well for your visit. You might not need all of these things, but if the weather turns you’ll be glad you had a pair of wellies, a raincoat, an umbrella, and a bottle of suntan lotion.
If you’re feeling adventurous, (and who wouldn’t in this stunning area?), you’ll find plenty of use for a pair of sturdy hiking boots, too.
Getting around Perthshire and the Southern Highlands
Public transport is a little scarce once you’re in this wild region, so the best way to get around is via car, taking the winding roads through the Grampians and soaking in those breath-taking views. Or you can go via rail using the Highland Main Line.