Bordered by steep, waterfall-threaded mountains, this dramatic glen is the stuff of Scottish postcards. Though it has historical significance—it was the site of the 1692 Glencoe Massacre of the MacDonald Clan—and its very own ski resort, Glencoe Mountain Resort, the valley’s main draw is its spectacular scenery.
Soak up Glencoe’s stunning scenery during a drive along the A82 road, which cuts through the glen. More active travelers may want to explore on foot, taking advantage of the area’s excellent hiking. Organized day and multi-day tours from Edinburgh and Glasgow often go through Glencoe, passing by locations featured in films such as Skyfall, Braveheart, and the Harry Potter series, as well as other notable beauty spots. Some organized tours stop for photos or even embark on guided walks in the scenic valley before continuing to other destinations in the Scottish Highlands such as Fort William, Ben Nevis, and Loch Ness.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Glencoe is ideal for outdoor lovers and scenery-seekers.
- Wear layers and sturdy shoes, and bring a waterproof jacket as the weather can be unpredictable.
- Rangers at the Glencoe Visitor Centre can offer advice and recommend suitable walking routes.
- The Glencoe Visitor Centre, which features a viewing platform, is accessible to wheelchair users.
How to Get There
Glencoe is situated in the Scottish Highlands along the A82 highway. The road runs from Glasgow to Fort William to Inverness, passing by Rannoch Moor, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, Loch Ness, and the Great Glen. If you don’t have a car, numerous sightseeing tours frequent the area. The Glencoe Visitor Centre is 17 miles (27 kilometers) south of Fort William.
When to Get There
Each season in Glencoe brings its own majesty. Summers are best for hikers, with long days, mild weather, and carpets of purple heather. Spring brings bluebells and rhododendrons, autumn yields a palette of fiery rust, and winter is good for skiing. Summers are peak tourist season, but with so much space, Glencoe never feels overrun. That said, get there in early morning to avoid the midday rush.
Getting Active in Glencoe
Glencoe offers a wealth of activities for visitors. Search for red squirrels, deer, and golden eagles; admire the rushing Glencoe Gorge Waterfall; tackle a Via Ferrata climbing route; or summit a Munro (a mountain over 3,000 feet/914 meters). Lots of gentler hiking trails can be found too, such as the woodland walk to Signal Rock. Glencoe Mountain Resort has a 12-minute chairlift that carries sightseers up to a height of 2,200 feet (670 meters).