Despite its size, there’s a surprising amount of things to do in Beauly. Take some time to explore its charming shops and cafes before visiting its historical attractions or heading out into nature – whatever you choose to do while visiting, Beauly won’t disappoint!
The picturesque village of Beauly is located in the Scottish Highlands about 20 minutes west of Inverness (12 miles drive) following the banks of the Beauly Firth and marks the start (or end) of the North Coast 500. Upon visiting the town back in 1564, Mary Queen of Scots supposedly proclaimed “C’est un beau lieu”, French for “beautiful place” , hence the name “Beauly” (although apparently the name was actually given by the French monks who founded the priory). There’s a pretty square in its centre which is surrounded by charming independent shops, restaurants, cafés as well as the ruins of Beauly Priory.
Things to do in Beauly
Read on for a comprehensive list of activities and attractions to visit in Beauly.
Visit Beauly Priory
The ruins of the 13th century Priory are located right in the heart of town and are well worth a visit. The priory was founded by French monks from Val-des-Choux in 1230, but was almost destroyed in years following the Reformation. Today, visitors can explore what remains of this impressive building and learn about its long history. The grounds surrounding the priory are also beautiful. There was even one of the oldest trees in Europe in the grounds but sadly the 800 year old Wych (Scots) elm tree succumbed to Dutch Elm disease at the start of 2023.
Take a Stroll Through the Shops and Cafes
Beauly’s High Street is lined with quaint boutiques and traditional shops, perfect for finding unique gifts for friends and family back home. There’s also a variety of cafes where you can grab a bite to eat or just relax with a cup of coffee and watch the world go by. If you’re looking for something more substantial, there are also several excellent restaurants offering traditional Scottish fare as well as international dishes.
Go On an Outdoor Adventure
The area around Beauly is full of stunning scenery and outdoor activities for all levels; from gentle hikes along riverside trails to more challenging climbs up nearby hills. For those who prefer something less strenuous, simply exploring local nature reserves or strolling along one of Scotland’s famous whisky trails can be just as rewarding!
Head down to the river and follow the 5 mile circular walk. Click on this link for details of the walk.
From the town centre, head to the Primary school on Croyard Road and you’ll reach the start of the Cnoc-na-rath trail where you’ll find a gate and a footpath on your left. This walk is about 3kms long and takes you through a wooded glen, open countryside and a covered well known as the “Beauly spa”.
Dubbed as one of the most beautiful glens in Scotland, Glen Affric is an absolute must if you’re staying in Beauly. It’s a fairly short drive to reach this nature reserve and you’ll be spoilt for choices when it comes to walks in the area. In just over half an hour, you’ll reach Dog Falls with its wonderful riverwalk or viewpoint walk. Carry on further down the glen to Loch Beinn a’Mheadhain and River Affric.
We’ve written a very detailed guide on walks in Glen Affric. Click here to read it.
TIP : if you’re visiting during the summer, make sure you head to Beauly’s village square on a Thursday evening as you’ll be rewarded with a pipe band and Highland dancing performance at 7:30pm. You’ll also be spoiled with some stunning floral displays which draw the crowds during the warmer months.
Whisky Tasting at Glen Ord Distillery
Jump in the car and head to the neighbouring town of Muir of Ord (3 miles away) for a wonderful whisky tasting experience at the Singleton Whisky Distillery.
Places to shop in Beauly
As mentioned above, Beauly is home to a number of award-winning independent shops. Here’s a selection of must-visit shops:
One of our favourites and a must if you’re visiting Beauly! Housed in a former Victorian Primary School next to Beauly Priory, this shop is full of nook and crannies and is something of a tardis. You’ll find an amazing array of products beautifully displayed in the various former classrooms ranging from homeware, books, clothing (women + children), children’s clothes, music, Scottish gifts and more. You can even buy a takeaway coffee in one of the back rooms.
This is another gem of a shop! You’ll feel as though you’ve been transported back in time when you enter Campbell’s. Established in 1858, this family-run business holds a royal warrant to HM The Queen & HRH King Charles. You’ll find fabulous countrywear, timeless classics, rolls of tweed fabric from which to choose a tailored outfit. The quality is exceptional, rare in today’s world of fast fashion. The good news is that you can also order from them online if you’re unable to go in person.
The new kid on the block, this store opened its doors in 2022 in the former Bank of Scotland building on Beauly’s High Street. Interior designer, Petra Palumbo, shares her creations and carefully curated high-quality products in her “flagship” shop. Sustainability and environmental conscience is at the heart of what Petra does.
Located just on the outskirts of Beauly as you leave the town heading north, you’ll find the wonderful Robertson’s Farm and Shop. This is a great place to pick up a variety of locally-sourced produce, hampers and Scottish gifts. Another bonus is you’ll have the chance to see some of their farm animals including their two adopted Highland cows (Katie Morag and Jamie Mackenzie Frazer), alpacas and goats. Definitely a great place to stop if you have kids or if you’re after that Highland coo selfie.
Yet another quirky independent shop lining Beauly High Street. If you’re into antiques, this is the place for you. Established in Beauly since 1975, you’ll discover a wide range of fine antiques, lots of silverware and incredibly knowledgeable owners. Make sure you check out this treasure trove! You can also visit their shop online if you’re unable to purchase in person.
Places to eat in Beauly
A taste of Italy in the Scottish Highlands! Located on the High Street, a few doors down from “Corner on the Square”, Biagotti serves some wonderful homemade Italian breads (focaccia, ciabatta), pasticceria (pastries), sandwiches, cakes and more. Run by two passionate sisters of Italian origin, this café opened its doors in 2016 and has been serving authentic Italian food and the best coffee around since then. You can even order their antipasti, homemade pasta or breads to have at home (local collection only).
As the name suggests, this café and deli is located on the corner of the town square. Prices are a little on the high side so you may wish to just stop off for a coffee and cake rather than a meal. Although a nice touch includes being given a carafe of cucumber and mint infused water on arrival.
This is another gem of a place. You could easily walk right by and not even realise it was there bar the fairly discrete sign displaying ‘tasting history’. Located just next to Campbell’s of Beauly, you’ll find the wonderful award-winning Downright Gabbler. This family-run restaurant offers a dining experience with a difference – unique foodie events combining an evening of storytelling and delicious, home-made quality food. Garry, the owner, is a gifted storyteller and will entertain you with his ‘Living the Dram’, ‘Super Scot Suppers’, ‘Tipsy Afternoon Tea’ soirées. An absolute must is you’re looking for a foodie experience with a twist or if you’re celebrating a special event.
Places to stay in Beauly
Discover this very popular beautiful bed and breakfast located on Station Road. The owner, Isobel, will give you the warmest of welcomes along with a first-class cooked breakfast.
Apartments at the Gabbler
As well as being a wonderful place to eat, you can also stay at the Apartments at the Gabbler. They have converted an 1830s coaching inn into four modern, high-end self-catering apartments. They’re beautifully decorated with quirky touches in each individually styled unit which sleeps a maximum of two people.
Beauly Station Apartments
The owners of Downright Gabbler have another offering up their sleeve. Located in the Old Beauly train station, a short walk out of town, choose either the Lord Lovat’s Waiting Room (sleeps 2) or the Stationmaster’s Apartment (sleeps 6).
The Priory Hotel is an employee-owned hotel with 38 rooms on offer. The decor is slightly dated but it’s more than made up by the friendliness of the staff, great location and fantastic food.
Highland Premier Glamping Pods
How about something a little quirky? Located a 15 minute drive south of Beauly, you’ll find three luxury glamping pods, each with their own private hot tub, stunning views, access to a BBQ hut and deluxe barrel sauna.
Hope you’ve enjoyed our post on things to do in Beauly. The village may be small, but it packs plenty into its picturesque streets and surrounding countryside. Whether you’re looking for relaxation or adventure, there’s no shortage of things to do in and around this charming Highland village.