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11 activities to try in Aberdeenshire, Moray and the Highlands to kickstart 2024

Ring in the new year with an itinerary of activities.

The NC500 awaits. Image: Steven Gourlay Photography Ltd
The NC500 awaits. Image: Steven Gourlay Photography Ltd

It’s almost time to ring in 2024 and to dust off our list of resolutions.

There’s no harm in getting a headstart, so why not start compiling your itinerary now?

Bag a Munro

What better way to kickstart the new year than by channeling your inner adventurer.

In total, there are 30 Munros in Aberdeenshire to conquer, including Ben Macdui and Carn Aosda.

It is essential that all hikers plan accordingly prior to setting off and ensure they are fully equipped with appropriate clothing, gear and snacks to keep up their energy throughout the day.

Stunning views. Image: Andrew Anderson.

Spot the dolphins

Spend the day relaxing by Chanonry Point – one of the best locations to spot dolphins in the natural habitat and take in the sights of the Moray Firth.

However, Chanonry Point can often be populated by many tourists with the same intention. But there are plenty of other areas around the north-east to spot dolphins, including Spey Bay, Greyhope Bay or Kinnaird Lighthouse.

Nonetheless, you’ll be in for a treat regardless of where you decide to set up camp for the afternoon as the dolphins can sometimes be seen close to the shores.

Spot the dolphins. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson.

Set off on a cycling trail

There’s no time like the present to get the bikes out of the shed ahead of the new year.

And the best part about cycling? You can quite literally do it anywhere at any pace.

Take your pick from local parks, family-friendly trails or set aside a challenge for yourself and take on lengthy loops or popular routes like the Deeside Way or through the Cairngorms National Park.

Take on the Deeside Way. Image: Chris Sumner/DC Thomson.

Explore a nature reserve

There are plenty nature reserves, woodlands and trails for avid and amateur birdwatchers to catch sight of the region’s wonderous wildlife.

Start at the Donmouth Local Nature Reserve in Aberdeen, which is home to an impressive range of birds like waders and terns as well as seals, before embarking on a trip to Forsinard Flows in Caithness, where you will spot the likes of the golden plover and native greylag geese during the warmer months.

What can you find at the Donmouth Nature Reserve? Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

Pick up the camera

Pick up a new hobby for yourself over the holidays and hone in on your photographic abilities to impress friends and family.

First things first is finding a subject, whether that’s friends or the local scenery – or both. Experiment with lighting, props and perspective, and take full advantage of the region’s natural wonders such as Johnston Gardens or create a portfolio of landmarks like the Inverness Cathedral.

Inverness Cathedral in Inverness
Inverness Cathedral. Image: Shutterstock.

Dive into watersports

There are a number of water-based activities, including scuba diving, paddleboarding and surfing, across the region on offer for beginners and more skilled individuals.

Try out Oban’s Puffin Dive Centre, Scot’s Surf School in Aberdeen, or take on paddleboarding down the River Dee with The Loch.

Campbell Scott welcomes all to the Scot Surf School. Image: Scott Baxter.

Embark on a heritage trail or visit historical landmarks

Start off the year by uncovering the fascinating history of the north and north-east.

Landmarks like the Glenfinnan Viaduct, which featured in fantasy franchise Harry Potter, and Eilean Donan Castle, featured in blockbusters such as Highlander, are frequently populated by tourists throughout the year.

Both are surrounded by stunning views of the local scenery and are definite must-visits for the sight alone – plus, you can take all the time in the world to explore the area on a self-guided tour.

A popular tourist location. Image: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

Venture around the North Coast 500

The ultimate road trip around Scotland is ideal for anyone looking for a relaxing escape.

Travel along the coastlines, through the mountains and into quaint fishing villages to uncover hidden gems across a 500 mile distance.

Some of the best views on offer. Image: Judith Mcintyre.

Tee off at the golf course

Compete with friends or set your own personal challenge at one of the fantastic golf courses around the area.

Most courses boast incredible views of the surrounding woodlands and nearby coastlines, letting you bask in the scenery whilst completing the 18-hole greens.

Try the Kings Links or the Cabot Highlands for starters and you might find yourself ready to join the club!

The Kings Links awaits. Image: Darrell Benns/DC Thomson.

Have a dram on a whisky trail

There’s a wealth of distilleries around the region for you to tour and perhaps even go for a tasting experience to find the perfect drink for you.

From Royal Lochnagar Distillery to the Glen Moray Distillery, it’s unlikely you’ll be disappointed by what’s on offer.

Try out a new sports activity

Going to the gym is a classic resolution, but rather than making a firm commitment, why not try something that’s out of the box?

There are various rock climbing, archery, axe throwing and paintballing workshops to take part in – Wildwoodz Adventure Park being a prime example of an excellent multi-purpose venue that encourages you to get involved with teambuilding and socialisation.

Visit Wildwoodz. Image: David Whittaker-Smith.