Discover the ultimate guide to ski destinations in Scotland, whether you're skiing with friends, with your family or looking for the adventure of a lifetime. Grab your skis, and let's go.
Scotland is a spectacular part of the world which does not get the credit and recognition it deserves. The country is blessed with endless amounts of natural beauty, such as famous Lochs, impressive coastlines and the Highlands which boast the highest mountains in the United Kingdom. But have you ever considered Scotland for skiing? Let alone the best locations to ski in Scotland or how they compare to skiing on the continent. That’s why we put together the ultimate guide to skiing in Scotland.
People flock for the hikes and biking opportunities, but what gets forgotten is the winter sports potential. There is a long-standing tradition of skiing and snowboarding in the Scottish highlands but mainly with the locals. It’s a lesser trodden path by international ski and snowboard enthusiasts, so we’re here to put it on the map with this ultimate guide to skiing in Scotland. We have the top resorts for off-piste, for apres-ski, but whichever resort suits you best, these ski resorts will have you packing your ski jackets and ski pants immediately.
Getting to the Scottish highlands from mainland Europe requires a few modes of transport, but it is worth it once you get there. The main airports to access the ski resorts are Aberdeen and Inverness with transfer times ranging from 30 minutes to 2 hours. Although these airports have limited international flights, so you may find it easier to fly to Edinburgh or Glasgow, with slightly longer drive time.
The best way to travel to Scotland and to experience its beauty is by driving, it’s not a big country so nowhere takes too long. The towns and villages are small and the actual pistes are not within walking distance to the amenities, so driving is also the preferred way to get you from door to door.
Where: Cairngorms National Park, Aberdeenshire, North East Scotland
Getting there: The nearest airport is Inverness and around a 30-minute drive away. There are plenty of bus services and private and shared transfers from the airport.
Ski-Able Terrain: 32km 11 lifts
Elevation: 537m – 1245m
The Cairngorms mountain range is at the heart of The Highlands and part of the largest national park in the UK, The Cairngorms National Park. Base yourself in the local town of Aviemore where you can experience true Scottish culture, with lots of cosy pubs and traditional eateries, whilst also being able to have a good boogie with the rest of the snow enthusiasts.
On the mountain, there is a mountain railway which gets you to the slopes in 6 minutes and this new facility in the resort means that it can stay open even when the winds are high. As with most resorts here, the snow can be hit and miss, but when the snow is good the terrain makes for fun riding. The beginners and intermediates will have the most opportunities here to enjoy the pistes, whilst the experts may need to find the park and backcountry to get their thrills.
Ridestore recommends: The apres-ski and nightlife in the local town of Aviemore is a fun way to wind down.
Where: The Highlands, Highland, North East Scotland
Getting there: The nearest airport is Glasgow which is 64 miles away and only a 90-minute drive.
Ski-Able Terrain: 24.3km 8 lifts
Elevation: 60m and 1,070m
Glencoe may not be the biggest resort in Scotland, but it is the original. It has been a firm favourite for locals for 64 years. People have found the terrain in Glencoe to be pretty unique, so after a few snowstorms which fills in the gullies and covers the rocks, the pistes are fun and diverse. There is also a great mixture of pistes for all abilities, with as many runs for the beginners to enjoy as there are black slopes for the experts to master. Glencoe is very well funded and is often upgrading and adding new facilities to make the resort run like clockwork, come sun or snow.
Take note that there is little accommodation at the foot of the pistes, so it is recommended to stay in the nearby villages or go old school and hire a campervan.
Ridestore recommends: The transceiver park, which is set up to practice avalanche rescue training in a safe and controlled environment.
Where: Aberdeenshire, North East Scotland
Getting there: The nearest airport is Aberdeen which is around 1 hour and 45 minutes away, but Edinburgh is only around 2 hours so also easily accessible. The nearest train station is Perth which is 90 minutes away, so either way, a car or transfer is needed.
Ski-Able Terrain: 40km 21 lifts
Elevation: 650 and 900 m
Glenshee is the largest ski resort in Scotland which caters to anyone and everyone who loves the mountains. The area is spread out over 3 valleys and 4 mountains, which makes each run a different experience. The resort prides itself on how versatile the slopes are, with even the advanced skiers and boarders being able to test their skills. There is a famous thigh killing mogul field, aptly named ‘Tiger’. The Glas Maol area is also great for the seasoned snowsports lovers, which on good snow years, can rival some runs in the Alps!
You have to stay in the nearby villages and towns to get a full option of accommodation, restaurants and bars, but that also means you get the awesome local experience and atmosphere.
Ridestore recommends: The ski touring routes.
Where: Torlundy, Fort William
Getting there: Inverness is the closest airport, only 2 hours drive away and you can also get the train from Glasgow or Edinburgh in a few hours.
Ski-Able Terrain: 20km 12 lifts
Elevation: 655 and 1,221 m
The Nevis Range is the highest ski resort in the country which means when the snow comes down, this will be your best and thickest snow in the country. The high altitude also means that the views from the summit are pretty incredible, with sights of Ben Nevis all the way to the sea. Nevis caters to the more intermediate and advanced skiers and boarders, with steeper run and than the other destinations in the country and the best freeride and backcountry.
Base yourself in Fort William which is a traditional hikers town, although busier in the summer months is still a vibrant hub for your ski break. Fort William will also be your main point for the eating, drinking and merriment, as unlike the Alpine resorts, there are not that many mountain bars and restaurants.
Ridestore recommends: The Back Corries is off-piste and unpatrolled areas accessible from the main ski area.
Where: Aberdeenshire, Strathdon, The Cairngorms
Getting there: Aberdeen is the closest airport to resort and the local town of Aviemore is the closest train station.
Ski-Able Terrain: 18km 14 lifts
Elevation: 635 and 780 m
The Lecht is one of the smaller Scottish resorts, but has some good pistes to have a play around on. There is a great range of pistes to cater to all abilities, but especially good for those who are just starting out on their winter sports adventure. The actual snow itself can be temperamental, especially given the low altitude, but what Lecht lacks in altitude it makes up for in state of the art snowmaking facilities.
At the base, there is an awesome new hub with a bar, restaurant and your equipment hire, but stay in the local village of Tomintoul for cute B&Bs and pubs.
This can be a fantastic resort for a day trip, whilst exploring the national park and the other local resorts.
Ridestore recommends: Explore The Cairngorms National Park
There may not be many ski resorts in Scotland, and the altitude may not rival that of the Alps. But these resorts are still must-visit destinations because of their traditional charm, where you can enjoy cute restaurants and vibrant pubs. The Scottish atmosphere may even be a welcomed change to the classic Alpine affair. Although, the snow is not as guaranteed as in other countries, when the snow does come down, the awesome slopes and the backcountry fun are some of the best and dare we say rival the Alps. As soon as the snow comes down, Scotland is well and truly on the ski and snowboard map.
Scotland has got to be on the bucket list and whilst you are there you must experience all of its wonders. We suggest making it an adventure with day and weekend trips to these resorts, whilst visiting the Lakes and seaside towns. We will see you there!