The Out About Scotland complete guide to the Glencoe Visitor Centre in the Highlands
Category: Exhibition, Historic site, Landscape, Walk or cycle route
Suitable for ages: 5 to 10 years, 11 to 18 years, 18+ years, 65+ years
Ideal for: Couples, Families, Groups, Solo travellers
I rate it: 8 out of 10
About the Glencoe Visitor Centre
The Glencoe Visitor Centre should be on everyone’s list of must-see attractions in the Highlands. Set in the breathtaking and dramatic landscape of Glencoe, the centre aims to educate visitors not only about the geology and nature of the region but also about its fascinating history.
While the Glencoe Visitor Centre is essentially free to visit there’s a small per-vehicle charge that’s well worth paying to learn about the history of the area and the story of the gruesome Glencoe massacre. But there’s more to this remarkable place than tales of the past.
The surrounding area of Glencoe is arguably the most famous in Scotland, and with good reason. It’s gob-smackingly beautiful and is consistently ranked as one of the most beautiful places in Scotland – a country that has already been ranked as one of the most beautiful in the world.
Within easy reach are dramatic mountain slopes like Bidean Nam Bian which you’ll find on Glencoe’s south side (you can learn about this majestic mountain range in my Complete Guide to Bidean Nam Bian) and Buachaille Etive Mor which dominates the wonderfully desolate expanse of Rannoch Moor.
You’ll also find lots of hiking trails to give your boots a good battering with The West Highland Way meandering its way to Fort William and several woodland walks heading out from the National Trust for Scotland visitor centre.
Glencoe offers a huge number of family-friendly activities in a truly gorgeous setting, and a visit to Scotland wouldn’t be complete with taking the time to see it for yourself.
Things to do at the Glencoe Visitor Centre
It was close to the site of the NTS visitor centre in 1692 where 38 men, women and children of the MacDonald clan were massacred by government troops in one of the bloodiest scenes that the Highlands has ever witnessed.
The exhibition aims to educate visitors about the events leading up to the massacre, the details of the event itself, and explain the politics and clan structure of the time through a series of static displays and videos. If you’ve ever been interested in this troubled part of Scottish history then the Glencoe Visitor Centre is definitely worth a visit.
The exhibition also examines the ecology and geology of Glencoe through interactive displays that will be of interest to children as well as mums and dads.
The long history of the area as a hotbed of Scottish mountaineering is also explored in detail thanks to the efforts of the National Trust for Scotland, and the exhibition goes to great lengths to explain the modern-day challenges that the NTS faces in caring for and maintaining this beautiful part of Scotland’s wilderness.
The eco-friendly visitor centre was built in 2002 at a cost of £3 million and is designed to exist in harmony with the surrounding area. The buildings are laid out in the style of an ancient settlement, built just above ground level and sat on top of stilts which minimizes the potential damage to the surrounding birch woodland.
Inside the complex you’ll find a first-class cafe with indoor seating and if the weather permits you have the option to enjoy your meal outside while taking in the spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.
As you explore the Glencoe Visitor Centre you’ll discover the Glencoe lookout station which shows live webcam feeds from the surrounding countryside, while the lookout point gives fantastic panoramic views of the glen.
There’s also a shop that sells the usual pocket-money gifts and toys, and there’s a picnic area so you can enjoy the fresh mountain air with your own packed lunch – perfect for relaxing after a long walk!
Speaking of which, there are walks-a-plenty from the visitor centre through the surrounding woodland at Inveriggan that are well worth exploring with easy-access paths and miles of unspoilt scenery.
As either your start or end point for an excursion into the dramatic landscape of Glencoe, I think the NTS visitor and exhibition centre is a great place your entire family will enjoy.
What I liked about this attraction
- The exhibition is genuinely interesting
- It’s located in one of the most beautiful places in Britain
- The visitor centre is very eco-friendly
My top tips
- You can save a bundle on membership to places like this with a National Trust Scotland membership
Address and map
Glencoe Visitor Centre,
Prices and opening times
There’s a £4 per vehicle admission charge to the Glencoe visitor centre and car park. NTS members enter for free.
Visitor Centre, Exhibition, Shop and Café
- 1 Mar–7 Apr: closed
- 8 Apr–27 Oct: daily, 09.00–18.00
- 28 Oct–29 Feb 2020: daily, 10.00–16.00 (closed 24–26 Dec and 31 Dec–2 Jan 2020)
Getting there: Car park on-site
Getting around: Disabled access, Easy-access paths, Pushchair access (in the visitor centre); Uneven paths (around Glencoe)
On-site conveniences: Gift shop, Hot drinks, Picnic area, Restaurant or cafe, Snacks, Toilets
Planning a trip to Scotland?
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