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14 Best Things To Do In Glencoe [2024]

14 Best Things To Do In Glencoe [2024]

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We visit Glencoe several times a year, and it never fails to take my breath away. I remember my first drive through the glen, and how I couldn’t peel my eyes away from the window as the dramatic filmroll unfurled in front of me; towering mountains beatened and blackened by the elements, the only colour a haze of purple heather sashaying in the wind. Glencoe is just one of those places that will never leave your soul. I encourage you to visit the glen, where beauty meets tragedy, and I hope this list of things to do in Glencoe turns into some of your greatest memories.

In my guide on things to do in Glencoe, I’ve included my favourite hikes, activities and attractions, as well as the best locations to take some iconic photos of the area.

I also include suggestions for accommodation, places to eat, book recommendations, and at the conclusion of this article you’ll find map with all the locations.

Read more: The Perfect 2-day Glencoe Road Trip

Things to do in Glencoe

River Coe Waterfall

1) Drive through the valley

Undoubtedly, the best activity in Glencoe is the drive along the A82 through the glen. The best way to approach it is from the south, cutting your way across the Rannoch Moor before being greeted by the towering cone-shaped mountain of Buachaille Etive Mòr. The drive commences once you reach Glencoe village.

The 20-minute drive along the A82 is an experience itself- and is best done in a car. You can also experience Glencoe on a group tour with a tour company like Rabbies. They will stop at many of the major scenic points.

Many of the attractions you can see along this drive are included below.

If you are looking for a private tour to Glencoe, our tour company Kiwi and Haggis Tours also has a Glencoe day trip from Edinburgh!

2) Meeting of the Three Waters

The Meeting of the Three Waters

The Meeting of the Three Waters is an impressive waterfall where water collects from three different sources. The waters then tumble down into the River Coe.

The waterfall has been featured in Monty Python and the Holy Grail; it was used as The Bridge of Death and The Gorge of Eternal Peril. It’s also a popular wild swimming spot!

The waterfall is located very close to the A82- you actually drive right past it. If you want to get out and view the waterfall, there is limited roadside parking. Make sure you are extremely careful when crossing the road to the viewpoint; there is a bend in the road and drivers may not see you.

The Meeting of the Three Waters is also marked on Google Maps as ‘Glencoe Waterfall’- they’re the same thing!

3) Hike to The Lost Valley (Coire Gabhail)

glencoe road trip 2 day itinerary

Looking back to Aonach Eagach

Time: 2-3 hours
Length: 4 kilometres / 2.5 miles long
Ascent: 335 metres
Difficulty: Moderate

The hike to The Lost Valley (sometimes called The Hidden Valley) is one of my favourite hikes in Glencoe. It’s a fun moderate-level hike, that follows a dried-up riverbed and involves some scrambling.

The Lost Valley (Coire Gabhail in Gaelic) is where the MacDonalds of Glencoe would hide their stolen cattle. It was also the place many of the MacDonalds escaped to after the Glencoe Massacre, however many died due to the harsh winter conditions at the time. The valley is tucked between two of The Three Sisters– some of Scotland’s most iconic mountains.

It is a surreal experience to walk in the footsteps of so much history- how the MacDonalds guided cattle up the river bed is unbelievable!

The hike culminates at the valley where the path widens, transitioning from rocky to grassy terrain. The valley reveals itself as you crest a small hill, offering a view of immense rocks and scattered trees in the natural amphitheatre below.

The Haggis and I enjoyed a picnic when we reached the summit- it was a great way to soak in the views and the mystery of the valley.

The views don’t stop there; there is a lovely view of Aonach Eagach, Britain’s narrowest ridge, as you make your way back down.

What was the Glencoe Massacre?

In the late 17th century, King William III of England extended a pardon to the Highland clans who had opposed him or engaged in raiding activities, on the condition that they swore their allegiance before a magistrate by January 1, 1692. Alasdair MacIain MacDonald, the clan chief of the MacDonalds of Glencoe, reluctantly took the oath but inadvertently went to Inverlochy in Fort William instead of Inveraray near Oban.

Arriving at Inveraray on January 6, MacDonald believed his clan was safe after swearing allegiance. However, the King, seeking to set an example due to the delay, ordered the Campbells to annihilate the clan, led by Captain Robert Campbell of Glen Lyon. Disguised as discussing clan matters, the Campbells were hosted by the MacDonalds for 10 days, only to receive orders on February 13 to execute all MacDonalds under seventy years old.

The MacDonalds were slaughtered in their homes, including MacIain and his wife, leading to many fleeing into the harsh highlands, facing death from exposure. The treacherous act, considering the friendly relations between the MacDonalds and Campbells, resulted in the shunning of the responsible Campbells once the truth emerged.

MacIain was laid to rest on Eilean Munde in Loch Leven. Following their return to Glencoe, the surviving MacDonalds witnessed the decline of clan life after the Highland Clearances, marking the end of their dominance over the land.

The first road was constructed through the glen in 1785, and to preserve Glencoe from commercial exploitation, the National Trust for Scotland acquired the land in 1935, explaining the scarcity of hotels, restaurants, and structures in the glen, allowing it to remain unspoiled.

4) Visit the Clachaig Inn

glencoe road trip to clachaig inn

The Clachaig Inn

Located in one of the most spectacular places in Scotland, the Clachaig Inn is a famous hotel known for being popular with climbers and hikers. It is now a popular stop for tourists to fill their bellies with locally sourced Scottish cuisine and wash down the days activities with a dram.

Imagine relaxing by the fire, enjoying some live music with a dram in hand. Literally the perfect way to spend an evening in Glencoe!

The three bars have a large range of Scottish craft ales, a collection of almost 400 malt whiskies, over 150 Scottish gins- something to satisfy everyone.

After dinner and drinks, stumble back to your accommodation, just a few steps away. The Clachaig Inn offers basic, comfortable accommodation, including rooms with mountain views. It’s a great wee place to spend a night or two- the atmosphere at the Clachaig is electric!

Scotland Travel Tip

I love staying at the Clachaig Inn during the winter; accommodation is cheaper, and it is much quieter- you feel as though you have the whole glen to yourself! I think the mountains look their best dusted with a bit of snow, and the dead bracken gives the hills an orange tinge. It’s the best time to take photos.

5) See the filming location for Hagrid’s Hut

Hagrid’s Hut filming location

Overlooking Torren Lochan from the lower slopes of Sgorr nam Fiannaidh in Glen Coe. The rocky outcrop on the left of the picture was used as the location for Hagrid’s Hut in the film “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”. The clump of trees on the right were used as the edge of the Forbidden Forest, where Harry and Hermione hid and threw stones at their earlier selves to warn them of the approach of the Executioner.

The filming location used for Hagrid’s Hut is located a short walk from the Clachaig Inn.

While the hut is no longer there, it’s fun to see where Hagrid once lived (even if it’s only in our minds!). There is a path that takes you up a small hill to where the hut once stood- today you’ll recognise the location as there are large rocks dotted around the spot. It’s also marked on Google maps (and my map at the conclusion of this article).

There is a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains and a lochan from this spot.

6) Photograph Buachaille Etive Mòr

Buachaille Etive Mòr

I’ve mentioned the mighty cone-shaped mountain, Buachaille Etive Mòr several times already- but it is a crime if you visit Glencoe and don’t take a photo of this magnificent mountain.

One of my favourite places to get a photo of the Buachaille is the layby at Altnafeadh. You get an excellent shot with the wee white hoose in the foreground. I’ve marked this location on the map at the end of the article.

You can also hike the Buachaille, but it is a very difficult mountain to summit. I highly suggest that you have a few Munros under your belt (mountains in Scotland over 914 metres / 3000 ft) before attempting this hike. Here is a guide I recommend if you’re interested.

Fun Fact: Buachaille Etive Mòr is 1021.4m tall and the English translation for the mountain is the ‘great herdsman of Etive.’ I like to think this mountain is the gatekeeper to Glencoe.

7) Marvel at The Three Sisters

three sisters glencoe

Two of the Three Sisters

One of the most iconic views in Glencoe is the view of The Three Sisters.

The three brooding mountains of Beinn Fhada, Gearr Aonach, and Aonach Dubh, rise up to meet you as you make your way through the glen- an extraordinary experience you’re not likely to forget.

There are two car parks where you can get an amazing view of the mountains- The Three Sisters car park and the Hidden Valley car park. Both are almost always full, so my advice is to arrive as early as you can, or visit in the early evening.

8) Visit the Glencoe Visitor Centre

The Glencoe Visitor Centre. Photo credit: National Trust For Scotland

The award-winning Glencoe Visitor Centre is a wonderful place to visit and in my opinion, a must-see when you visit Glencoe.

Join one of their daily free tours to learn about the geology of the glen and the people who lived there. You can also see how the MacDonalds of Glencoe would have lived in the Visitor Centre’s reconstruction of a 300-year-old turf and creel house.

You can book guided tours here, as well as Land Rover Tours of the glen.

There is also a gift shop (with a wonderful selection of books), cafe, and toilets. You can find more information about the opening hours on the National Trust for Scotland website.

9) Eilean Munde

Eilean Munde island, Glencoe Scotland

The wee island of Eilean Munde

Eilean Munde (burial island) is a wee island within Loch Leven, and is the final resting place for many members of highland clans that lived in the area, including the Stewarts of Ballachulish, the Camerons of Callart and the MacDonalds of Glencoe.

Chief MacIain of Clan MacDonald was buried here after his murder at the Massacre of Glencoe in 1692.

You can only access the island by boat, but you can get a great view of the island from the Isles of Glencoe Hotel (exact spot is marked on my map). Take some binoculars with you, and you’ll be able to see some of the gravestones poking out over the long grass.

10) Take ‘that’ Skyfall photo

Recreating the iconic Skyfall scene

Okay, this spot is technically in Glen Etive, but it’s well worth visiting when you are in Glencoe.

Did you know James Bond is Scottish? In the film Skyfall, James Bond and M flee to his childhood home in Scotland. They use the Glen Etive Road to depict that scene of the Aston Martin driving down a long, winding road to Bond’s Highland home.

If you have time, follow the road to the end where you’ll reach Loch Etive. From the turnoff down Glen Etive Road, it’s a 1.5 roundtrip in total. If you just want to drive to the spot where the iconic scene of Bond and M standing beside the porshe was filmed, allow 25 minutes.

11) Hike the Devil’s Staircase

View of Buachaille Etive Mòr from the Devil’s Staircase

The Devil’s Staircase earned its name from unhappy soldiers involved in General Wade’s road building programme. The workers found the hike up the slope carrying building materials laborious.

This moniker became permanent when laborers from the Blackwater Dam project decided to visit the nearest pub after receiving their wages. The journey from Kinlochleven to the Kingshouse Hotel turned out to be more daunting than they had expected, and the return trip proved even more grueling!

If you can hack it, follow the path just high enough to snap an excellent photo of Buachaille Etive Mòr.

12) Hike to Signal Rock

Signal Rock

Time: 1 hour
Length: 2.5 kilometres / 1.5 miles
Ascent: 91 metres
Difficulty: Easy

The hike to Signal Rock is one of my favourite easy walks in Glencoe. I love this walk because it’s extremely tranquil; you truly feel immersed in the natural surroundings.

The walk begins next to the River Coe, before the trail merges into woodland. The rock, now tucked inside woodland and hidden from view, is rumoured to be where the signal was raised to begin the Massacre of Glencoe. This is likely a myth, as there’s no direct evidence for this.

Here is a good guide to the walk.

13) Glencoe Lochan Trails

Beautiful views on the Glencoe Lochan Trails

The Glencoe Lochan Trails are three easy, scenic trails around Glencoe Lochan (a smaller loch) and the surrounding woodland.

This is the perfect hike for anyone, with easy and moderate options available. The easiest trail of the three is the Lochan Trail, with the toughest being the Mountain Trail. Allow 1.5 hours to explore the trails, and be sure to take a photo of the lochan (my favourite location is marked on the map at the end of this article).

The trees surrounding Glencoe Lochan are all native to Canada and were planted in 1890 by Lord Strathcona for his Canadian wife to remind her of her homeland.

If you’re new to hiking, unfit, or you’re just looking for a relaxing stroll in nature, add the Glencoe Lochan Trails to your itinerary.

14) Black Rock House

Blackrock Cottage

One of the most iconic photographs of Glencoe is that of Blackrock Cottage, a famous climbing hut located next to the Glencoe Mountain Resort.

The hut is owned by the Ladies’ Scottish Mountain Club.

The backdrop of Meall a’ Bhuiridh and Buachaille Etive Mòr make this an absolutely stunning image to capture, and should be on every photographers bucket list.

Recommended accommodation in Glencoe

While accommodation in Glencoe may come with a higher price tag, the breathtaking beauty of the area is worth every penny. When faced with the choice between Glencoe and Fort William, I recommend staying in Glencoe without hesitation. The experience of spending a night in Glencoe is a memory you’ll treasure!

👉 My top recommendation: Clachaig Inn

👉 Affordable hotel: Ballachulish Hotel

👉 Luxury: Glencoe House

👉 Self-catering: Bluebell Cottage

👉 Hot tub accommodation: Riverbeds

Recommended places to eat in Glencoe

Rather than bombard you with a lot of options, here are my top places to eat in Glencoe:

  • Clachaig Inn
  • Highland Coo Cafe at the Glencoe Visitor Centre
  • Crafts and Things
  • Kingshouse Hotel

Book recommendations

Before I visit anywhere in Scotland, I like to read a mixture of fiction and non-fiction based on each area. Here are my recommendations for books about Glencoe.

👉 Witch Light by Susan Fletcher

👉 Glencoe: The Story of the Massacre by John Prebble

👉 Walking Ben Nevis and Glen Coe by Ronald Turnbull

Things to do in Glencoe map

To make locating each of these attractions easy, I’ve included them below on the map. I’ve also included some of my favourite photo spots, viewpoints, and car parking.

What is your favourite thing to do in Glencoe?

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