Aberdeenshire holiday cottages

Aberdeenshire is a wonderful place for a holiday - mountains in the west, sandy beaches on the coast and castles, golf courses and distilleries in between - there is something for everyone here. It is also easy to reach with Aberdeen airport offering connections to UK and international airports, a great rail network and only two and a half hours drive from Edinburgh or Glasgow.

Royal Deeside has a special place in the hearts of the British Royal family. It captivated Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1848 and since then the Royal family have spent many holidays on the Balmoral estate. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip traditionally spend August to October at Balmoral Castle for their summer holiday, and it is closed to the public then. The castle's ballroom, stable block (with exhibitions) and gardens are open to the public at other times of the year and there are also some holiday cottages to rent on the Balmoral estate. The Victorian Heritage Trail wends its way through many of the places associated with Queen Victoria in the area and many which are mentioned in her diaries - they are many great spots for picnics or walks, as well as some fascinating buildings too.

Aberdeenshire beaches

Braemar is a very pretty village close to Balmoral and is a popular tourist destination - it has its own castle too! Ballater is said to have more Royal warrants then any other village, and many of the shops display them above their entrances. The Braemar Gathering is held on the first Saturday in September and Her Majesty the Queen and many other members of the Royal family attend the highland games. The games feature pipe bands, highland dancers and athletes who compete in tossing the caber, throwing the hammer and many other traditional highland game events. If you are staying in Ballater self-catering then be sure to visit Loch Muick, Craigendarroch hill and Lochnagar Distillery. Ballater also has a great antique shop, antiquarian book shop and several art galleries - its range of independent and family owned shops adds to the charm of the village.

The Royal Deeside Railway Preservation Trust was formed in 1996 to bring back to life some of the railway track from Aberdeen to Deeside that was closed in the 1966 cuts. Just 3 miles from Banchory, tourists can enjoy a ride in restored carriages pulled by a steam engine and also enjoy the interesting exhibition in the Visitor Centre which is housed in two railway carriages.

The Deeside Way is a long distance path (41 miles) following the former railway line and runs from Aberdeen to Ballater, passing through Aboyne, Kincardine O'Neil and Banchory. It is popular for those on a walking holiday or cycling holiday in Aberdeenshire and there are stunning views over the River Dee towards the Cairngorms.

Aberdeenshire is famous for its castles - there are over 300 castles, stately homes and ruins in the county and 19 of them form Scotland's Castle Trail. The castles are to be found all over Aberdeenshire and include Craigievar Castle, Duff House, Castle Fraser, Huntley Castle and Haddo House. The National Trust for Scotland cares for many castles in Aberdeenshire. Crathes Castle has one of the finest gardens in Scotland and if you are on holiday in Aberdeenshire in June then don't miss the world famous border in the walled garden. Drum Castle is another NTS castle near Banchory - started as a tower house in the 14th century it has been added to over the centuries. The beautiful rose garden is a must as is the medieval chapel.

highhland heather in bloom

Aberdeenshire has some of the finest salmon rivers in Scotland: River Dee, River Don, River Deveron being the most famous. There's also loch fishing and top quality brown trout rivers too. Cottages with fishing rights to smaller rivers offer a chance to enjoy the sport and you can buy day permits on some of the beats on the bigger rivers too. There is also some great opportunities for sea fishing along the beautiful coastline.

Renting a cottage on the Aberdeenshire coast opens up a totally different part of the county. There are pretty coastal villages to explore, unspoilt beaches, dramatic cliffs and dolphins and seabirds too. Traditional fish smoking is alive and well here and you can enjoy some fabulous local produce. The Aberdeenshire Coastal Trail takes in many of the fantastic attractions and scenery on the 165 miles of this spectacular coast. Start in southern Aberdeenshire at St Cyrus, visiting the magnificent Dunnottar Castle and Stonehaven. Moving north of Aberdeen you can see Slains Castle, the pretty town of Cruden Bay and miles of gorgeous sandy beaches. On the north coast of Aberdeenshire, between Fraserburgh and Macduff, lie three of the prettiest seaside villages in Scotland. Pennan is a small fishing village which was the location for the film Local Hero. The tiny hamlet of Crovie nestles beneath the cliffs and has some excellent holiday cottages to rent. Most Gardenstown holiday cottages look out onto the sea where dolphins swim and it's a great place to stay whilst exploring the area. RSPB Troup Head nature reserve is a huge attraction in the area - the high cliffs are home to Scotland's large gannet colony, as well as many other seabirds who breed there, including puffins. Wildflowers adorn the grassland above the cliffs and it's a spectacular sight when the birds are nesting in the cliffs.

Glenshee and The Lecht are premier ski areas in Scotland - and there are lots of great places to stay near Glenshee. The skiing and snowboarding facilities cater to all standards and there are beginners lessons as well as advanced training (very good value compared to European resorts!). In the summer it's a great place to walk and mountain bike - the views from the top of the chairlift are spectacular in winter and summer and exhilerating days are enjoyed here all year round.