Aviemore is Scotland's outdoors capital and a gateway to the Cairngorms National Park, an atmospheric mountain region that's home to Britain's only area of Arctic tundra. Visitors flock to these heather-covered hills all year round to cycle, hike and ski, giving the village a lively feel despite its small size. You'll find plenty of outdoor shops and friendly bars selling beers and whisky. Don't be surprised if someone pulls out a guitar for a singalong.
Aviemore hostels have communal kitchens and social areas where you can hang out in the evenings, and some even have on-site bars selling locally brewed beer. You can spend the night in an Aviemore hostel surrounded by woods a short stroll from the town centre or a former shooting lodge in the hills. Choose a dorm to meet other travellers or book a private room to unwind after a day's hill walking.
Grampian Road runs through the centre of Aviemore. The train station is at the southern end, with residential areas to the north. The rest of this busy little high street is packed with restaurants, bars and shops serving the mountain crowd. Follow the B970 road south into the Cairngorms National Park to reach Glenmore and Loch Morlich (the adventure sports base) or continue uphill to the ski station. To immerse yourself in Scottish scenery, take a trip to Feshiebridge and swim under the historic bridge or stroll through the riverside forest.
The main attraction here is the mountains, for skiing in winter or hiking in summer. Experienced walkers can try the 30km Lairig Ghru route through the granite heart of the plateau, or you can jump on the funicular Cairngorm Mountain Railway to a restaurant with stunning views. Head to Glenmore Lodge for paddle sports on Loch Morlich and mountain biking trips in summer. A 20-minute drive from Aviemore you'll find the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre, where you can take a tour onto the hills to meet (and maybe even stroke) the UK's only wild reindeer herd.
Aviemore train station connects to Edinburgh (3 hours), Glasgow (just under 3 hours) and Inverness (40 minutes), all of which have airports. Buses run from outside the train station to local towns and Scotland's major cities. There's also an hourly bus service to Glenmore and Cairngorm Mountain car park (the starting point for the Cairngorm Mountain Railway). The village itself is very compact, so you can walk from the train station to the shops in a few minutes.