More commonly known as Royal Deeside, the land stretching west from Aberdeen along the River Dee revels in its connections with the Royal Family, who have regularly holidayed here, at Balmoral, since Queen Victoria bought the estate. Eighty thousand Scots turned out to welcome her on her first visit in 1848, but some weren’t so charmed: one local journalist remarked that the area was about to be “desolated by cockneys and other horrible reptiles”. Today, most locals are fiercely protective of the royal connection.

Deeside is undoubtedly handsome in a fierce, craggy way, and the royal presence has helped keep a lid on unattractive mass development. The villages strung along the A93, the main route through the area, are well-heeled, with an old-fashioned air, and visitor facilities are first-class. It’s an excellent area for outdoor activities, too, with hiking routes into the Grampian and Cairngorm mountains, good mountain biking, horseriding and skiing.

Balmoral Estate

Originally a sixteenth-century tower house built for the powerful Gordon family, Balmoral Castle has been a royal residence since 1852. The Royal Family traditionally spend their summer holidays here each August, but despite its fame it can be something of a disappointment even for a dedicated royalist – only the ballroom, an exhibition room and the grounds are open to the public.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Scotland features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

8 alternative UK winter breaks

8 alternative UK winter breaks

The UK gets pretty grim during the winter, with its dark, early nights and splutteringly cold weather. But if you can’t wait until spring to start having fun …

06 Nov 2017 • Greg Dickinson insert_drive_file Article
Sipping Speyside: on the whisky trail in Scotland

Sipping Speyside: on the whisky trail in Scotland

Whisky is much more than Scotland’s national drink – it’s blended deep into the country’s history and culture. Donna Dailey learns more and discovers th…

18 Oct 2017 • Donna Dailey local_activity Special feature
The most beautiful places in Scotland – as voted by you

The most beautiful places in Scotland – as voted by you

It was only a matter of time before word got out. That Scotland, with its full-figured glens, heathery hills and castle-topped crags, is one of the most beautif…

04 Oct 2017 • Mike MacEacheran camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook