Braemar is a village in Aberdeenshire, standing at the point where the road leaves the Dee valley to climb over Cairnwell into Glenshee. It’s in the eastern part of Cairngorms National Park and surrounded by mountains, scenic or louring depending on the weather.
A93 runs north from Perth via Blairgowrie, and east from Aberdeen via Ballater.
Getting here by public transport means first reaching Aberdeen, which has UK and European flights, trains from England, Edinburgh, Dundee and Glasgow, and long distance coaches.
Stagecoach North Scotland Bus 201 runs from Aberdeen Union Square via Crathes Castle, Banchory, Ballater, and Crathie (for Balmoral) to Braemar. It runs every hour or two M-Sat and every two hours on Sunday, taking 2 hr 20 min. You may have to change buses at Banchory but it’s a through service.
You need your own car to reach the ski slopes or the upper Dee valley, which are the two main reasons to come here. There’s no car hire here, and the nearest taxi service is 17 mi (27 km) away, Ballater Taxis Tel 013397 55548.
- 1 Braemar Castle, Braemar AB35 5XR. Apr-Oct W-Su 10:00-17:00. Built in 1628 as a hunting lodge but ruined after the Jacobite uprisings, then re-built, and embellished to entertain the next door neighbour Queen Victoria. It’s a five storey L-shaped tower within a star-shaped curtain wall. Adult £8.
- Kindrochit Castle in the village was the predecessor to Braemar Castle. It's now just a few masonry stumps.
- For Balmoral Castle see Ballater.
- The River Dee rises high on the Cairngorm plateau and cascades down into the valley above Braemar. At Linn of Dee it passes through a scenic 300 yard rocky gorge.
- Braemar Games and Highland Gathering are held on the first Saturday in September. The 2020 event was cancelled so the next are Sat 4 Sept 2021. There's a junior version in mid-July.
- Glenshee ski area is ten miles south on A93, see Cairngorms National Park.
- Braemar Highland Safaris do wildlife-spotting tours.
- To climb Lochnagar, the standard route is from Glen Muick above Ballater. There’s a longer route starting just south of Braemar. Park at Crathie church and follow the track up Glen Gelder. From there ascend to the corrie, then join the standard route at Meikle Pap to the summit at 1155m. There’s an even longer trail further south following Feindallacher Burn and over Carn an t-Sagairt Mor (1047 m), Carn an t-Sagairt Beag (1044 m) and Carn A' Choire Bhaidheach (1110 m) and so to Lochnagar.
- Lairig Ghru is a tough 20 mile hike through the mountain pass between Coylumbridge near Aviemore and the Linn of Dee above Braemar. It’s usually done in that direction, going east to have the wind and sun behind you, and you need to have transport set up at each end. The trail is obvious but it’s rugged terrain, the weather can be harsh any time of year, and it’s a bleak place with no shelter, amenities or bail-out options.
There’s a gift and souvenir shop on Mar Rd.
- The Hungry Highlander in village centre serves fish & chips and similar solid fare, daily 10:00-20:00.
- Gathering Place Bistro in village centre serves up grills and burgers Tu-Sun 17:30-23:00.
Braemar doesn’t have a stand-alone pub, try the hotels or bistro.
- Braemar Youth Hostel, Corrie Ferragie Lodge, off Glenshee Road at the south edge of the village. It’s open Feb-Sept, reception 08:00-10:00 and 17:00-21:00. Bunk £24 ppn, private room sleeps six £130, breakfast £6..
- Rucksacks Hostel. in village centre has dorms in the Cottage and the Cabin, £13 ppn, plus two private rooms, and an Alpine hut if you’re hardcore.
- Braemar caravan park. is south edge of town. They’re open year-round and take tents, touring & camper caravans, and have glamping pods.
- Braemar Lodge. is a small 3-star on the main road, B&B double £80.
- Moorfield House Hotel. is on Chapel Brae, £100 / night.
- Lots of other self-catering and small B&Bs in the village.
- Splurge at 1 Fife Arms, Mar Rd, Braemar AB35 5YN. If only the Victorians had had pizazzy designers they’d have made places like this. Reopened in 2019, Fife Arms is now an upscale stylish place with an excellent restaurant. B&B double from £300.
- Invercauld Arms. on the main road has been bought by the new owners of Fife Arms and closed for refurbishment. It’s expected to re-open in summer 2019.
- South to Perth or east to Aberdeen are the obvious choices.
- You need your own car to reach the western part of Cairngorms National Park centred around Aviemore. Either go south and cut across from Bridge of Cally to Pitlochry and Drumochter Pass, or wind northeast via Tomintoul towards Grantown on Spey. These roads are often blocked in winter.