Scotland is known for its rain, but on higher ground, this rain turns to snow for much of the year. At lower elevations, the rain gives the country its wonderful waterfalls, lochs and fresh water for whisky, but the snow allows people to ski and snowboard for several months each year. For the best places to hit the slopes, check out our guide to Scotland’s five ski resorts – from Glenshee to Cairngorm.
Accessed by the only mountain gondola in the UK, the slopes of Aonach Mor provide a range of options for beginners and experts alike. The Nevis Range Mountain Resort has 32 different runs, from green ones and blue ones all the way up to black. Thanks to the gondola, and because the access roads to the car park are mostly coastal, the resort is often accessible when the others further inland are cut off by snow on the roads. The snow is best in February and March, but it sometimes accumulates earlier. With exciting backcountry ski options, the Boardwise terrain park and even sledging on offer, this resort has something for everyone. For somewhere to stay, take your pick of these cosy Airbnbs in nearby Fort William.
The Lecht is surrounded by beautiful views and outstanding roads to drive, with the Cairngorm National Park stretching out in each direction. The first runs here opened more than 40 years ago, and in that time, the resort has gone from strength to strength. Now there are 20 runs and 14 lifts in operation, and the resort prides itself on its ski and snowboard teaching facilities. If you want to learn how to handle the slopes, this is definitely worth considering. In summer, it is also possible to take your mountain bike up to the tops on the ski lifts. When you’re done, rest your aching limbs in one of Cairngorm National Park’s many Airbnbs.
Scotland’s oldest ski resort, Glencoe, is surrounded by stunning views and some of the best scenery in the UK. There are 20 runs, including the steepest black route in the UK, known as the Flypaper; an avalanche training centre; a free sledging area; and an excellent beginner’s plateau area. It is often possible to ski into late April and even May at Glencoe, and there is a wealth of summer activities available once the snow has finally melted. No matter the time of year, a stay in one of these nearby cute cabins, cottages or chalets will keep you cosy.
Even the village’s name, Spittal of Glenshee, sounds exciting, and the ski and snowboard conditions here are exciting too. Glenshee means “steep valley of the fairies” in Gaelic, which perhaps tells you all you need to know. Known for its wide variety of natural runs and terrain, Glenshee Ski Centre has an impressive 36 runs stretching over 40km (25mi), making it the largest ski resort in the UK. For the boarders among you, or those who like different lumps and bumps, the terrain park is definitely worth checking out. The best snow is often in January. Book your accommodation in advance to make sure you can take full advantage.
This is the resort with arguably the most snow, and the team that runs the pistes certainly knows how to make the most of it, with excellent skiing lasting into March and April. This is a busy and beautiful resort, with Scotland’s only funicular mountain railway to get you to the 38 runs (and Scotland’s highest restaurant). The longest run measures 3.3km (2mi) and is close to the almost-Alpine town of Aviemore. There is often a wealth of off-piste powder too, if you are experienced enough. The conditions on the tops can change quickly, so do keep up to date with the weather forecast and heed the warnings. Cairngorm may feel remote, but there’s a great selection of Airbnbs on the borders of the national park, meaning you won’t have to travel far.