Glencoe Visitor Centre

By Craig Neil
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Summary

Glencoe Visitor Centre, set in the breathtaking landscape of Glencoe, contains a café, shop, and an exhibition about Glencoe and the infamous massacre.

Discover Glencoe and the visitor centre in this handy guide which includes an overview and visiting advice.

Glencoe
Address:Glencoe,
Ballachulish,
PH49 4HX
Opening Hours:2 Jan–3 Apr, daily, 10.00–16.00
4 Apr–4 Nov, daily, 10.00–17.00
5 Nov–23 Dec, daily, 10.00–16.00
24–26 Dec, closed
27 Dec–30 Dec, daily, 10.00–16.00
31 Dec–1 Jan 2023, closed
Admission Price:Free
Parking:Paid car park on-site £4
Contact:01855 811307
Facilities:Toilets, gift shop, disabled access, cafe, baby changing, hearing loop, walking trails

The highlights

1: The exhibition is great. It’s very interesting and is one of the best ways to learn about the history of Glencoe.

2: The visitor centre is located in one of the most beautiful places in Britain. Words honestly cannot do Glencoe justice.

3: The visitor centre is very eco-friendly which is great to see in such a fragile environment.

Glencoe

Visiting tips

1: You can save a bundle on entry to places like this with a National Trust Scotland membership. Joining NTS allows free admission to hundreds of sites across Scotland.

2: If you’re visiting Glencoe it’s essential you have a map of the area. The last thing you want to do is set off on a hike and get lost. I recommend Ordnance Survey maps.

Buy OS Explorer Maps direct from Ordnance Survey.

3: One nearby place that I thoroughly recommend is Glen Etive. You’ll find it on the south side of Bidean Nam Bian.


Overview

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 one of the most beautiful in the world.

glencoe

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 without taking the time to see it for yourself.

Glencoe

Tourist information

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.

Glencoe

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.

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 café 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.

Glencoe

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 – a perfect place for a cheese sarnie 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.

Discover more places to visit in the Scottish Highlands with: The Best Places to Visit in the Highlands – Ultimate Visitor Guide.

Explore this area with a detailed paper map from Ordnance Survey:

Glen Coe & Glen Etive – 384 Explorer.

Ben Nevis – 41 Landranger.

OS Explorer Maps: Best for walking, mountain biking, and finding footpaths. 1:25,000 scale (4cm = 1km in real world). Buy OS Explorer maps direct from Ordnance Survey.

OS Landranger Maps: Best for road cycling, touring by car, and finding attractions. 1:50 000 scale (2 cm = 1 km in real world). Buy OS Landranger maps direct from Ordnance Survey.


Things to do nearby

Glencoe Folk Museum. Ballachulish PH49 4HS. 3-minute drive. A museum that serves to celebrate the rich local heritage of Glencoe. The museum is housed in a traditional 18th-century heather-thatched cottage.

Loch Achtriochtan. A82, Ballachulish PH49 4HX. 4-minute drive. A small loch at the foot of Bidean Nam Bian that is often visited by tour buses due to the relatively large car park.

The loch is very photogenic as it is located centrally within the glen. The car park is the main departure point for walks up Bidean Nam Bian.

Bidean Nam Bian. Ballachulish PH49 4LA. 4-minute drive, 2-hour walk. Stunning 3,770-foot mountain in Glencoe that is part of the ‘three sisters’ ridge. Easily accessed from Loch Achtriochtan on the A82. The climb to the summit is steep but there are multiple level sections along the trail.

Loch Leven Panoramic Viewpoint. Ballachulish PH49 4HR. 3-minute drive. A large sea loch that joins Loch Linnhe on its western side.

Loch Leven is 9 miles in length and almost 1 mile in width in places. A recommended sightseeing route takes drivers on the B863 from this viewpoint to North Ballachulish on the western end of the loch.

Ballachulish Peninsula. Ballachulish PH49 4HL. 5-minute drive. An attractive peninsula in Loch Leven that offers panoramic views of the Highland landscape. The village of Ballachulish has a shop, a café and a pub within walking distance.


Frequently asked questions

How do I get to Glencoe Visitor Centre?

Address: Glencoe, Argyll, PH49 4HX

Directions map: Google Maps

What is Glencoe Visitor Centre?

The Glencoe Visitor Centre is managed by the National Trust for Scotland to offer visitors facilities during their visit to Glencoe.
The centre features a café, information point, viewing platforms, a shop, and an exhibition about Glencoe.

Is Glencoe Visitor Centre dog friendly?

Dogs are allowed in the Glencoe Visitor Centre as long as they are kept on a lead. Dogs are not permitted in the café.

What visitor facilities are there at Glencoe Visitor Centre?

Visit the facilities page for updated information on available facilities.

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