For our purposes Perthshire covers the Perth & Kinross unitary council area. It occupies a large chunk of the centre of the country and extends from the Pass of Drumochter on the A9 in the north to beyond Loch Leven in the south, and from Meigle in the east to Loch Lyon at the remote head of Glen Lyon in the west. For accommodation in Perthshire see the links in the "See and Stay" menu above. See the map below for an outline of the area and links to surrounding areas.
At the hearty of Perthshire is Perth, which became Scotland's seventh and latest city in 2012. Perth's potential was first recognised by the Romans, who built a fort nearby. Sited on the banks of the River Tay, Perth developed as a major trading centre based on its port and its strategically significant location at the lowest bridging point of the Tay.
Visitor attractions in Perth include St John's Kirk of Perth, dating back to medieval times; St Ninian's Cathedral; the Black Watch Museum and nearby 51st Highland Division Memorial; Perth Museum and Art Gallery; the Fergusson Gallery celebrating the work of John Duncan Fergusson; Greyfriars Burial Ground, home to one of the finest collections of early gravestones anywhere in Scotland; and Branklyn Garden, cared for by the National Trust for Scotland. Overlooking the parkland of South Inch and near the railway station is The Parklands Hotel.
The area around Perth is especially rich in old graveyards. Three of particular note are Kilfauns Churchyard, just north of the A90 three miles east of Perth, St Madoes Churchyard, just south of the A90 five miles east of Perth, and Rhynd Churchyard, on the south side of the River Tay. Another is at St Martins Church, four miles north of Perth.
Two miles north of Perth is Scone Palace. The palace is sited in extensive parkland and there are rare pine trees, a maze, and a replica of the Stone of Scone or Stone of Destiny in the grounds. This where many Scottish monarchs from 843 were invested. The village today known as Scone dates back to 1805 when it was built to rehouse residents cleared from Old Scone, in the grounds of Scone Palace. On the south side of Scone is Scone Old Church, in whose grounds is the David Douglas Memorial.
Carry on up the A93 and you come to the world's longest and tallest hedge, the Meikleour Beech Hedge. Nearby is the very attractive village of Meikleour. East of Meikleour you enter the broad and fertile valley of Strathmore. Here you find Coupar Angus, an important agricultural centre. A little to its east is the Keillor Symbol Stone, a prominent Pictish stone which still stands where it was erected over 1200 years ago. Further along the A94 is the village of Meigle. This is home to one of the finest collections of Pictish Stones in Scotland.
If you had stayed on the A93 you would have come to the town of Blairgowrie, one of the main accommodation centres for the Glenshee ski resort. It is a busy place with a good range of shops which extend into Blairgowrie's twin community of Rattray. Blairgowrie developed in the 1800s when flax mills were built on the banks of the River Ericht. It prospered further when the commercial growing of raspberries was introduced to the area. Travelling north from Blairgowrie along the A93 takes you into the heart of the Cairngorms, en route passing the remote settlements of Bridge of Cally and Spittal of Glenshee. East of Blairgowrie is the pretty and historic village of Alyth.
Four miles south east of Perth, on the south bank of the River Tay, is Elcho Castle, easily one of the best castles to visit in Scotland. A marked contrast, further south and near the village of Glenfarg, is provided by the high and lonely location of Balvaird Castle. Further east you come to the ancient village of Abernethy, home to the remarkable Abernethy Round Tower and the Museum of Abernethy.
The area to the south of the Sidlaw Hills east of Perth is known as the Carse of Gowrie. One of the main settlements is Errol, while on the edge of the hills to the north is the attractive village of Rait, complete with the ruined Rait Church. Further east is Abernyte. Abernyte Church stands in another very interesting churchyard. The southern end of Perthshire is marked by Loch Leven, complete with Lochleven Castle on Castle Island, and the nearby town of Kinross. Close by is the village of Milnathort, while just to its east is Burleigh Castle.
On the A85 Crieff road out of Perth you will find Huntingtower Castle, a fascinating glimpse of the way buildings are altered to meet the needs of their occupants: and another key part of the backdrop to Scotland's history. Crieff stands some 15 miles west of Perth. En route you pass the turn off for Fowlis Wester, home to a superb Pictish symbol stone. In the eighteenth century Crieff was a busy market town with farmers coming down from the highlands and from as far away as Skye to trade their livestock. In Victorian times the town developed as a spa resort around what is now the Crieff Hydro, which today offers a wide choice of hotel and self catering accommodation and a huge range of activities.
The town boasts the oldest (legal) distillery in Scotland, Glenturret Distillery, founded in 1775. Just north of the distillery is Glen Turret and some of the best hillwalking in the area: including the Munro, Ben Chonzie. On the River Earn to the west is Comrie, a settlement whose origins date back at least to the Romans, the earthquake capital of the UK where you find The Earthquake House. Following the A85 still further west brings you to St Fillans, at the east end of Loch Earn, where you also find the excellent Four Seasons Hotel.
Drummond Castle Gardens, south of Crieff, are open to the public. They were laid out by John Drummond, second Earl of Perth, in 1630. The Drummond family also had links with two rare surviving collegiate churches in the area, Innerpeffray Chapel south east of Crieff and Tullibardine Chapel north west of Auchterarder. South of Drummond Castle is the village of Muthill, complete with its Old Church and tower from the 1170s. Muthill is, like Comrie, on the route of the Coast to Coast Walk from Oban to St Andrews. Near the village of Braco is Ardoch Roman Fort, one of the best preserved forts in the Roman Empire.
The attractive village of Blackford, just off the A9 three miles south west of Auchterarder is home to Tullibardine Distillery, with its excellent visitor centre and tours. Overlooking the other end of the village is the ruin of Blackford Old Parish Church. Meanwhile, accessed by a minor road from the mouth of Glen Eagles and a mile south of Gleneagles itself, is Duchally Country Estate, offering hotel and self catering accommodation.
Auchterarder is an 800 year old Royal Burgh. There is a heritage centre in the town and the long High Street has a range of interesting shops. On the outskirts of Auchterarder is the town's best-known attraction: the internationally famous Gleneagles Hotel with its four golf courses.
East of Auchterarder is the historical village of Dunning, complete with St Serf's Church, built in 1200, now home to the magnificent Pictish Dupplin Cross. A little under a mile west of Dunning, a gap in the stone wall and some steps give access to one of Scotland's spookier monuments, the memorial to Maggie Wall, who, it says, was burned here in 1657 as a witch.
Six miles north of Perth on the west side of the River Tay is the village of Stanley. On a nearby loop in the river is the enormous complex of Stanley Mills. Also on the bank of the river a few miles further north east is the superb Ballathie House Hotel.
Dunkeld lies twelve miles up the A9 from Perth and is well worth a visit. It developed as a religious community and in 850 was proclaimed Scotland's ecclesiastical capital in place of Iona. Razed to the ground in 1689, it was rebuilt and is now one of the area's most picturesque places. The partly ruined Cathedral lies on the bank of the Tay on the western side of the town. Close by is the Atholl Memorial Fountain. Immediately to the west of the village and the cathedral are the extensive grounds of the Hilton Dunkeld House Hotel. Another very good hotel, at the south end of the village, is the strikingly white Atholl Arms Hotel.
Nearby Birnam is linked to Dunkeld by Telford's seven arch bridge built in 1809. The town is famous for its association with Shakespeare's Macbeth and for the Birnam Oak. At its heart lies the Birnam Arts & Conference Centre, an excellent arts and community centre. Within the centre, and behind it, is the Beatrix Potter Exhibition and Garden. Not far from Birnam is the Hermitage, a spectacular series of paths and other features on the north side of the valley of the fast flowing River Braan.
Carry on up the A9 past Ballinluig and the Tynreich Stone Circle, and you come to Pitlochry, a popular tourist destination and an excellent base from which to explore a large part of the Central Highlands. The town is set on the eastern side of the River Tummel. It is surrounded by hills, with the most striking being Ben Vrackie, to the north east. Beyond Ben Vrackie is a vast area of wilderness rising to the Cairngorms.
Pitlochry is home to two distilleries. The Edradour is Scotland's smallest, and can be found just to the east of the town. Bell's Blair Athol Distillery, at the southern end of the town, is a very much larger operation. Both have visitor centres. A mile south of the town is the Dunfallandy Stone, a Pictish cross slab. In a prominent raised location at the southern end of Pitlochry is the magnificent Atholl Palace Hotel. Pitlochry has also been established as the destination of the Rob Roy Way unofficial long distance path from Drymen.
Four miles north of Pitlochry is the Pass of Killiecrankie, a deep wooded gorge that was the site of the Battle of Killiecrankie in 1689. On a minor road on the opposite side of the river is Tenandry Kirk, built in the 1830s.
Three miles further on is the attractive village of Blair Atholl. Here you find the Atholl Country Life Museum, though a better known attraction is Blair Castle, a magnificent white-harled castle just to the north of the village. Also well worth visiting are the Blair Castle Gardens, and the ruined St Bride's Kirk in the castle grounds. For four days each August, the grounds of Blair Castle are the venue for the Blair Castle Horse Trials. Three miles west of Blair Atholl is the House of Bruar, a shopping emporium now well established as a stopping off point on the A9. Behind the House of Bruar a path leads up to the spectacular Falls of Bruar.
Kinloch Rannoch is a little village at the eastern end of Loch Rannoch. It is a popular destination for backpackers as a base for local walks and cycling trips. There is good fishing in the rivers and lochs in the area. It is also home to two attractive churches, All Saints Episcopal Church and the Old Church of Rannoch. Close to the west end of the Loch Rannoch it is worth watching out for a third church in the area, the small Braes of Rannoch Church.
An excellent viewpoint for the whole area is the summit of Schiehallion, the Fairy Hill of the Caledonians, a Munro reaching a height of 3,552ft which dominates Kinloch Rannoch's south east skyline. This is a popular mountain and its distinctive shape is visible from many far distant mountains. Access is from Braes of Foss by a well-worn path up to the summit ridge.
Eighteen miles west from Kinloch Rannoch by minor road is Rannoch Station, a remote stop on the Glasgow to Fort William line. Rannoch Station may not be the end of the line, but it is the end of the road. If you have come this far, just about the only way out is via the 38 miles back to the A9 at Pitlochry. The scenery beyond Rannoch Station, on Rannoch Moor, is magnificent; a vast boggy plateau at an altitude of 1,000ft covered with lochs and lochans, surrounded by distant mountains. A magical place in summer sunlight: but brooding and moody on a dismal day and forbidding in winter.
In the next major east-west glen to the south, the Appin of Dull, you find Aberfeldy. This is the site of General Wade's Tay Bridge, built in 1733 in the aftermath of the 1715 Jacobite uprising. The town also has associations with the poet Robert Burns who wrote the lyrics to the Birks of Aberfeldy having been inspired by walks along the Moness Burn and through the birch woods. Modern Aberfeldy is a bustling tourist town. The restored water mill is open to the public and the Dewars World of Whisky also welcomes visitors. On the southern edge of the town is Moness Resort, offering hotel and self catering accommodation. A mile to the north west is the small village of Weem, home to the magnificent Castle Menzies, and the Old Kirk of Weem. A little to the east of Aberfeldy is St Mary's Chapel, Grandtully, with its remarkable painted ceiling.
Six miles west of Aberfeldy, at the end of Loch Tay, lies the beautiful village of Kenmore, home to Kenmore Church. The Rob Roy Way unofficial long distance footpath from Drymen to Pitlochry passes through Killin and Aberfeldy, and close to Kenmore. In the remote uplands to the south of Aberfeldy is the scattered settlement of Amulree, home to Amulree and Strathbraan Church.
North of Kenmore is Glen Lyon, 25 miles long and well worth exploring. About half way along is Glenlyon Church. In the east the glen emerges from steep sided rocky jaws close to the beautiful village of Fortingall. This is a village with an ancient history, though most of what you see today arrived at the end of the 1800s, including the attractive Fortingall Church. In the churchyard is the Fortingall Yew, a tree believed to be 5,000 years old and possibly the oldest living thing on earth. Nearby is the excellent Fortingall Hotel. Glen Lyon is also an excellent centre for exploring the surrounding mountains such as Ben Lawers, Meall nan Tarmachan and Meall Buidhe.