Killin is one of those places in Scotland that you don’t hear about so much. I’m in a lot of groups on social media about Scotland, and I only see it pop up occasionally, and often from locals rather than those coming from abroad.
But Killin is the perfect place to visit for both locals and visitors alike!
It’s just a small town situated at the western end of Loch Tay and is surrounded by beautiful hills and mountains, and complete with a waterfall running through the centre of it. It’s very picturesque and just what you might imagine a Scottish village to look like. Let’s just say they don’t all look that way!
Once you’re there it’s so easy and small to get around you won’t need your car, or you can travel here by public transport and enjoy it just as much.
One of the main attractions of Killin is the Falls of Dochart, a series of rapids and waterfalls located in the middle of town, literally. You can walk along the riverbank to get a closer look at the falls, and there are several restaurants and cafes in the area with views of the falls.
Killin has a vibrant local culture with several traditional events throughout the year, including their very own Highland Games, which takes place in August and features traditional Scottish games such as caber tossing and tug of war.
Killin is also a popular destination for those that love the outdoors. It makes a great base for many hiking trails in the area, including the popular Ben Lawers trail, which offers stunning views of Loch Tay and the surrounding mountains. The area is also popular for fishing, kayaking, and other water sports.
History of Killin
Besides these things, Killin has a rich history, and there are several historic sites in the area, as it’s thought to have been inhabited for thousands of years.
One of the most notable is the ruins of Finlarig Castle, a 17th-century fortress. There are also several ancient standing stones and burial mounds not far away.
In the 17th century, Killin was a bustling hub for the wool trade and a number of mills were built in the area. It was also during this time that the area was the site of several battles between rival clans, including the Battle of Killiecrankie in 1689.
By the 19th century, Killin had become a popular tourist destination thanks to its stunning natural scenery and the presence of these notable historical sites. The Falls of Dochart in particular became a popular attraction and were visited by many famous figures of the day, including Queen Victoria.
Today, Killin continues to attract visitors from around the world who come to explore its rich history, enjoy its natural beauty, and experience its vibrant local culture.
Things to do in Killin
Although Killin is a small place, there are several things to do in the village itself and plenty in the surrounding area within a half-hour or so drive.
View the Falls of Dochart
The Falls of Dochart are a stunning waterfall that can be seen from the centre of Killin. The waterfall is particularly impressive after heavy rainfall, when the water rushes over the rocks dramatically.
It’s possible to go down and walk on the rocks around the falls but you wouldn’t want to do so when the river is high.
Explore Finlarig Castle
Located on a hill just outside of Killin, Finlarig Castle was once a stronghold of the MacNab clan. The castle is now in ruins, but its atmospheric remains are well worth exploring.
It was built by ‘Black’ Duncan Campbell of Glenorchy, who had several other castles built also, and it was even visited by the Highland outlaw Rob Roy MacGregor in 1713.
Take a walk along Loch Tay
Loch Tay is a beautiful freshwater loch that stretches for over 15 miles. It’s particularly lovely in autumn when the leaves on all the surrounding hills change colour. There are several scenic walks along the loch, including the Rob Roy Way, which passes through Killin.
Go hiking or bag a munro
A munro is a mountain in Scotland with a height of over 3,000 feet (914.4 m), and at the nearby Ben Lawers National Nature Reserve, you’ll find two! Both Ben Lawers and Beinn Ghlas can be climbed (or “bagged”) in one day.
The mountains offer stunning views of the surrounding area but are a challenge.
There’s also the short but very steep Sron A’ Chlachain walk that gives an iconic view down Loch Tay.
Visit the Scottish Crannog Centre
The Scottish Crannog Centre is a fascinating museum that explores the lives of the Iron Age people who lived in Scotland over 2,500 years ago.
Sadly the reconstructed crannog (a type of ancient dwelling built on stilts in the water) that was built over Loch Tay burnt down in 2021, but the museum is in the process of rebuilding an even bigger reconstruction of an Iron Age village. You can now visit again!
Killin and the surrounding area are known for their excellent fishing opportunities. Loch Tay is particularly popular for trout and salmon fishing, while the River Dochart in Killin is a great spot for fly fishing.
Explore Glen Lyon
Glen Lyon is a stunning glen (a narrow valley) that is often referred to as the “longest, loneliest and loveliest” glen in Scotland. It is home to several historic sites, including the ruined church of St. Mary and the ancient standing stones of Carnbane.
How to get to Killin
If you’re looking at a map, Killin is located between Glencoe and Pitlochry and just a little further south. It’s actually approximately an hour from each, so if you want to drive further afield from there to visit either of those locations, you can.
As you can also imagine, it’s quite accessible from Glasgow and Edinburgh.
From Edinburgh: Take the M90 north towards Perth, then follow the A9 north towards Stirling. From Stirling, take the A84 west towards Callander and then follow the signs for Killin. The journey takes approximately 2 hours and covers a distance of around 83 miles.
From Glasgow: Take the M80 north towards Stirling, then follow the A84 north towards Callander. From Callander, follow the signs for Killin. The journey takes approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes and covers a distance of around 66 miles.
By Public Transport
From Edinburgh: Take a train from Edinburgh Waverley Station to Stirling, then change to a bus from Stirling bus station to Killin. Alternatively, you can take a direct bus from Edinburgh bus station to Killin. The journey takes approximately 3 hours.
From Glasgow: Take a train from Glasgow Queen Street Station to Stirling, then change to a bus from Stirling bus station to Killin. Alternatively, you can take a direct bus from Glasgow bus station to Killin. The journey takes approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes.
Please note that public transport options and schedules may vary depending on the time of day and day of the week, so always check schedules before making too many plans.
Best time to visit Killin
The best time to visit Killin depends on what you’re looking for. I’ve been in both spring and autumn. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect throughout the year:
Spring (March-May): Spring in Killin can be mild and damp, with average temperatures ranging from 5-10°C (41-50°F).
Summer (June-August): This is the peak tourist season in Killin. The weather is generally mild and pleasant, with average temperatures ranging from 15-20°C (59-68°F).
The longer days and warmer weather make it an ideal time for outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, and kayaking.
However, it’s also the busiest time of year, so be prepared for crowds and higher prices.
Autumn (September-November): The autumn season in Killin is generally mild, with average temperatures ranging from 10-15°C (50-59°F).
The changing colours of the leaves and the quieter atmosphere make it a great time for hiking and exploring the local countryside.
Prices and crowds tend to drop off after the summer season.
Winter (December-February): Winter in Killin can be cold and snowy, with average temperatures ranging from 0-5°C (32-41°F).
The area comes to life with blooming wildflowers and the return of migrating birds
Prices and crowds tend to be lower than during the summer months.
However, the area’s natural beauty is particularly stunning when covered in snow, and winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding are available at places like Glencoe.
Be aware that some attractions may be closed during the winter months.
Overall, the best time to visit Killin is largely a matter of personal preference, depending on what you want to do and see.
If you prefer warmer weather and don’t mind crowds, summer is a great time to visit. If you’re looking for a quieter time to explore the countryside, fall and spring can be great options.
And if you’re a fan of snow-covered scenery, winter can be a magical time to visit if luck is on your side with snowfall!
Where to stay in Killin
Dall Lodge Country House – A Victorian country house that is now a cosy B&B in the perfect location for exploring Killin. Rates start at around £60 per night and include a generous breakfast. My parents stayed here and loved it!
The Courie Inn – This cosy inn offers a range of room options, including doubles, twins, and family rooms, as well as a bar and restaurant serving local produce that’s very highly rated. Rates start at around £90 per night.
The Killin Hotel – This historic hotel is located in the heart of Killin and offers comfortable rooms and a restaurant serving traditional Scottish cuisine. Rates start at around £80 per night.
The Falls of Dochart Inn – This charming inn overlooks the Falls of Dochart and offers a range of room options, including doubles, twins, and family rooms. Rates start at around £100 per night.
Killin Log Cabins – For those looking for a more self-catered option, these cosy log cabins are a great choice. They offer fully equipped kitchens, private decks, and stunning views of the surrounding hills. Rates start at around £50 per night.
Please note that rates and availability may vary depending on the time of year and other factors, but this should give you an indication at least.
Killin is such a lovely Scottish village and one I’d definitely recommend getting off the beaten track to see. It’s easy to reach from lots of popular places. At the very least, it makes a great pit stop for lunch, but if you can, stay and soak in the calming atmosphere for awhile too!