Plan your Trip
So you’ve decided that you want to visit CairnGorm Mountain in the Scottish Highlands? It’s an excellent choice – but how can you be sure you’re well prepared?
Here we take a look at the trip planning process before you begin your journey to CairnGorm Mountain, Aviemore.
Firstly, think about how long you want to stay for and when you want to visit. Do you want to travel during the winter season so you can capitalise on the skiing and snowboarding conditions? Do you prefer walking or climbing and therefore are happy to visit during the summer? Do you want to stay in Aviemore or at least within the Cairngorms National Park, or will your visit to CairnGorm Mountain simply be part of a larger tour of Scotland? Once you have answered all these questions you can start the planning process.
CairnGorm Mountain is in the heart of the Scottish Highlands, around 2.5 hours by car from Glasgow and Edinburgh and approximately 1 hours drive from Inverness. Aviemore is only 9 miles from CairnGorm Mountain and is well connected to the road, rail and bus networks. The overnight sleeper from London stops in Aviemore en route for Inverness and both CityLink and Stagecoach operate regular bus timetables for the area. Travelling around by private car offers more flexibility but we always ask visitors to consider car sharing whenever possible.
Think about how you’ll get here. For most visitors, travelling by road will be fine. In winter roads can sometimes present difficult driving conditions. Main roads are generally kept well clear of snow but it is always prudent to carry a shovel in the boot. Snow chains are a handy back up and as always leave plenty of space between you and the car in front and be patient – particularly in cold and snowy conditions. When skiing conditions are good the mountain car parks can fill up quickly (by 9.30am sometimes) and the best option is definitely the local bus service from Aviemore which brings you straight up to the ticket office entrance. However, you may prefer to use public transport or to fly to a neighbouring airport.
Consider whether you want to stay within the Cairngorms National Park or close to it. Our ‘where to stay’ section will point you in the right direction of some of the best accommodation in the area. While it’s important to stick to a budget, also consider what you’re getting for your money – for example, is the accommodation self-catering and what star rating does it have? Are you simply looking for a place to sleep at night or do you want to spend more time in your accommodation? Aviemore and the satellite villages in the area offer accommodation for every budget from camp sites and hostels through to B&B. Guest houses and luxury lodges. There is everything from traditional stone built hotels to modern self catering lodges.
To ensure the trip runs smoothly it’s worth booking some of those holiday extras in advance. For example, do you have your own ski/snowboard equipment or will you need to hire? You may also want to book your passes for the mountain railway and your ski and snowboard classes in advance, to ensure you are not left disappointed.