The 5 Best Ski Resorts in Scotland

The 5 Best Ski Resorts in Scotland - UPDATED 2020/21
Tim Lambourn
Written by Tim Lambourn / Photos by Tim Lambourn
Last updated May 26, 2020
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Castles, whisky and Nessie; Outlander, kilts and bagpipes – Scotland is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations for a variety of reasons. But skiing? You might be surprised to learn that the Scottish Highlands are home to no fewer than five ski areas, each unique in character.

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Known for

Being the oldest ski center in Scotland, it may be small but perfectly formed

Highlights

  • Amazing views from the summit
  • Consistent snow and the best natural terrain in Scotland
  • Varied, interesting slopes cater equally well to beginners and experts
  • Small car park can get full during weekends

Closest airports

Glasgow Airport - 72 mi (1.5 hour drive)
views from the top of Glencoe Mountain
Spectacular views from the top of Glencoe Mountain

Glencoe also known as White Corries is the oldest ski area in Britain. The upper third of the mountain is basically a freeride playground with natural half-pipes and jump features. The steepest runs are never groomed and include Scotland’s gnarliest black: the Flypaper. Gentle beginner slopes cover the plateau below, with long runs returning to the base when there’s enough low-level snow. It’s not a big ski area, but packs in a lot of variety, and lots of people mention the relaxed vibe. Scottish ski resorts don't get better than this.

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Known for

Scotland's largest ski area, spread over three valleys with an ever-improving lift system

Highlights

  • Great beginner-friendly slopes for families
  • Excellent intermediate cruising runs
  • Lift system generally copes well with crowds
  • Close to Edinburgh and the Central Belt can mean weekend queues

Closest airports

Edinburgh Airport - 82 mi (2 hour drive)
glenshee easy access means big queues on weekends
Glenshee has excellent snow but its easy access sees big queues on weekends

Glenshee is Scotland’s biggest ski area – though don’t come expecting another Park City or Vail. Runs spread across three valleys with the most interesting skiing at either end. Stand at the top of Glas Maol and it feels like you’re on the edge of a vast wilderness. In the middle, there’s a decent amount of easier ski terrain, though not much for absolute beginners. Since Glenshee is in the southern part of the Cairngorms National Park, the opportunities for walks are endless. It's a fantastic way to explore Scotland's stunning nature and a great add-on to your ski trip.

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Known for

Scotland’s newest ski area serving legendary terrain and offering fabulous views

Highlights

  • Expert off-piste terrain is what sets this resort apart
  • Spectacular “high mountain” views from the summit
  • Notable lack of queues on all but the busiest days
  • Beginner slopes are low and can suffer from poor snow

Closest airports

Inverness Airport - 71 mi (2 hour drive)
Glasgow Airport - 105 mi (2.5 hour drive)
nevis range scotland newest ski area
Nevis Range is Scotland's newest ski area

Nevis Range only opened in 1989, at the top of Scotland’s only mountain gondola. From the top, there are sensational Scottish views of Ben Nevis and Loch Eil. For experts, the back of the mountain is where it gets really interesting: the yellow itineraries marked on the trail map are epic, ungroomed runs. And just a short drive away from the ski resort is the base town of Fort William where there are plenty of things to do. Skiing the newest ski resort in Scotland should definitely be on your list if you're headed out this way!

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Known for

Historically Scotland’s most popular ski resort, with snowsure top bowls

Highlights

  • Most reliable snow in Scotland
  • Plenty of activities to do in the area on bad weather days
  • Decent tough terrain in the underused Ciste sector
  • Long queues during Christmas and school holidays

Closest airports

Inverness Airport - 49 mi (1 hour drive)
drag lift to beginner bowls cairngorm mountain
Take the drag lift to the top beginner bowls; you're bound to find snow!

Cairngorm Mountain has been welcoming skiers and snowboarders to its snowy Scottish slopes since the 1960s. The mountain splits into two parts with exposed but snowsure beginner bowls at the top. The right side serves mostly intermediate terrain whereas over to the left, you’ll find the steeper Ciste sector for advanced skiers. Cairngorm Mountain is also not far from Speyside where you can sample a dram of whisky, and just 10 minutes away from Britain’s only free-ranging reindeer herd. With so many nearby non-skiing activities nearby, it's no wonder why Cairngorm is a popular Scottish ski resort.

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Known for

The best beginner slopes and learning facilities in Scotland

Highlights

  • Family-friendly resort for kids and beginners
  • A reasonable selection of trails for all abilities
  • Often quiet even when nearby CairnGorm is crowded
  • Low altitude can mean poor snow quality

Closest airports

Inverness Airport - 50 mi (1 hour drive)
Aberdeen Intl. Airport - 50 mi (1 hour drive)
lecht 2090 beginner area
Got beginners in the group? Lecht is known for its fantastic beginner area

Lecht may be one of the smallest Scottish ski areas but it is a quite popular choice for families, especially because of its low lift ticket prices. Additionally, this family-orientated resort has focused its attention on developing the country’s best beginner facilities, with a row of sheltered magic carpets and drag lifts right next to the restaurant and Day Lodge. Although the short runs can lack variety, most of the longer runs are great for intermediate skiers and riders. If you want to avoid crowds, Lecht is definitely a better pick over Cairngorm Mountain.

The 5 Best Ski Resorts in Scotland
Glencoe Mountain
Glenshee Ski Centre
Nevis Range
CairnGorm Mountain
Lecht 2090
Glencoe Mountain