Royal Deeside: Loved by Royalty, Walt Disney, and You…?

Posted: February 26th 2021

Everyone who visits Royal Deeside falls in love with the grand River Dee, enchanting castles, and magnificent scenery – even Queen Victoria! Live like royalty on your next staycation and enjoy all that Royal Deeside has to offer…


Royal Deeside is where Aberdeenshire meets the Cairngorms, following the River Dee from the mountains to the sea of Aberdeen. The area is between the villages of Banchory and Braemar, spanning 40 miles.

Queen Elizabeth II is said to be her happiest on Royal Deeside which is home to Balmoral Castle, the summer residence of the Royal Family. Queen Victoria was the first royal to fall in love with the area. She wrote “All seemed to breathe freedom and peace.”, when describing the landscape.

Royal Deeside offers activities for adventure seekers and Saturday-afternoon-strollers alike. A large portion of Royal Deeside is part of the Cairngorms National Park, Britain’s Largest National Park.  The Cairngorms is home to a vast species of wildlife and an array of activities including hiking and skiing.


Banchory is the largest town on Royal Deeside, and it’s an excellent base for your trip. Banchory is also home to Banchory Lodge Hotel. The Lodge provides somewhere to eat, drink, sleep and escape – and the perfect destination to reconnect with this magical area.

At the Lodge, you can fall asleep in comfort and let the sound of the River Dee help you drift off to a wonderful night’s sleep. Each room is individually designed with modern Scottish interiors and all the creature comforts you could want.

Without doubt, we can assure you that the food at the Lodge is divine – supporting Scottish farmers, fishermen, and local producers. The Restaurant at the Lodge provides food to nourish the soul. What more could you want after a day filled with activities? Remember to book direct for the best rates.

Banchory Lodge, Royal Deeside

Whether you are looking to enjoy the scenery, explore some historic castles or take on new cycling routes, fishing and walking, Royal Deeside has it all and more. Let us share some inspiration for your next staycation…


Royal Deeside is set among rural countryside, home to a diverse range of walks for all abilities. Scolty Hill, situated near Banchory, is a fantastic short walk with a steep incline to the summit. You can even climb to the top of the tower to admire the panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.

If you’re looking to experience more of Royal Deeside, Cairngorms National Park offers plenty of options. There’s something to suit everyone, from 15-minute low-level walks to longer hikes through the woodlands.

Why not bag a Munro? Munros are Scottish mountains that are at least 3,000 feet high. Cairngorms National Park has the widest range of mountains in the whole of the UK.  Mount Keen is a cone-shaped summit that can be scenically accessed via Glen Tanar. Mount Keen is said to be one of Scotland’s easiest Munros – a great way to test your walking skills!

reindeers in Royal Deeside


Aberdeenshire is Scotland’s ‘Castle Country’, with Royal Deeside offering an outstanding collection of castles steeped in history.

Crathes Castle is a traditional Scottish tower house situated just minutes away from Banchory Lodge. You’ll be fascinated with the rich history of Crathes Castle and gardens, and the incredible artwork and antique furniture.

Certainly, all of the family will enjoy a fantastic day out at Crathes Castle Estate. Plus, you might meet red squirrels, woodpeckers, or herons – so keep an eye out for wildlife!


Drum Castle is one of Scotland’s oldest tower houses with 700 years of history to discover.  The High Hall of the castle tower remains in its medieval state with impressive views of the battlements.

Additionally, the grounds offer three way-marked walks and an arboretum. As well as that, you can enjoy the Garden of Historic Roses. The garden, divided into quadrants, shows how roses were cultivated from the 17th to the 20th century.


Balmoral Castle, the Scottish home of the royal family since 1852, is a must-see whilst on Royal Deeside. Queen Victoria first visited Scotland in the autumn of 1842 and was so struck by the area that she knew she must return.

Balmoral Castle makes the perfect day out, with a range of activities from luxury safari tours to exhibitions soaked in history. Above all, the gardens of Balmoral are an impressive site. They were started under the supervision of Prince Albert and expanded and improved by successive members of the Royal Family.


In fact, it’s not just the Royals who loved Royal Deeside.  Even Walt Disney wanted to check it out for himself. Craigievar Castle is rumoured to be the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Cinderella Castle. You are sure to be struck by the unique charm of this iconic pink castle!

Craigievar Castle, Royal Deeside


The Deeside Way is a path running from near the centre of Aberdeen to Ballater. The path is suitable for both cyclists and walkers. It follows the line of the Old Royal Deeside Railway from Aberdeen to Banchory, through woodland and farmland to Kincardine O’Neil, the oldest village on Royal Deeside. Then, the path re-joins the old line from Aboyne to Ballater. The total distance of the route is 41 miles. Although there are some steeper more challenging sections, overall the route is suitable for family cycling.


As you can see, there is a huge amount to explore in Royal Deeside, making it an ideal staycation spot for all the family. With this in mind, why don’t you come and enjoy Queen Victoria’s “dear paradise in the Highlands”?


Subscribe to our newsletter to receive exclusive offers and inspiration straight to your inbox!

Other News

View All Posts

Glamping? It doesn’t get any better than this

Posted: March 31st 2023

If you ever wanted to try glamping, then it doesn’t get any better than this. Enjoy a unique and luxury…

Schloss Roxburghe joins Staycation Scotland

Posted: March 25th 2023

Schloss Roxburghe is part of Destination by Hyatt. Formerly owned by the Duke of Roxburghe, the estate has been part of…

Holidays in 2023

Posted: February 12th 2023

By Janet Christie for The Scotsman (4 Jan 23): Holidays in 2023: Staycation Scotland set to top the travel trends…