Cairngorm Mountain Ski Resort

Located above the resort town of Aviemore in the Cairngorms National Park, Cairngorm Mountain is perhaps Scotland’s best-known resort.

Sadly the funicular railway that accesses the upper mountain will not run in 2019 due to engineering defects, but this does not mean the resort will be closed. £1 million has been spent on an all-season artificial snowfactory and numerous snow machines to ensure that snowsports can run using surface lifts only. These lifts will provide access to 30km of varied slopes, including steep challenges in Ciste Gully.

The town of Aviemore is the resort’s base, a short drive or bus ride away. It can be easily reached from Edinburgh or Glasgow by train and there are numerous accommodation options, ranging from campsites and hostels through to traditional hotels. The town has Scotland’s most “resort-like” feel and there is also a decent selection of pubs and restaurants.

As with all Scottish resorts, conditions can at times be unreliable, but on a good day, skiing in Scotland can rival the world’s best – and you’d be certainly hard pushed to find more spectacular scenery. For this reason stay as flexible as possible and be prepared to drop everything and dash to the mountains when conditions are good!

Our Cairngorm Mountain Resort Ratings

  • Beginner ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ (reduced due to funicular closure)
  • Intermediate ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
  • Advanced ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
  • Lift System ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ (reduced due to funicular closure)
  • Snowmaking ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
  • Off Snow Activities ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
  • Accessibility ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Pros

Varied slopes ranging from winding greens to steep reds and blacks

Stunning scenery in Cairngorms National Park

Aviemore is a great base and has a good resort-town feel

Very accessible by train or by car from Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow

Cons

Funicular closure is a huge issue and its future is not guaranteed

Best beginner slopes can be cold and exposed at the top of the hill

Removal of lifts in Coire na Ciste limits terrain for advanced/expert skiers and boarders

Access road from Aviemore prone to closure due to drifting snow

Cairngorm Mountain Skiing and Snowboarding

30km of north-facing slopes are located in two corries – Coire Cas and Coire na Ciste. The funicular served both, but as this is out of action, surface lifts are required to get to the top. The easiest terrain is in the Ptarmigan and Ciste Bowls at the top of the hill or in the Sheiling area at the base, whilst the toughest terrain can be found in Ciste Gully. There are also excellent touring opportunities on the Cairngorm Plateau and beyond.

  • Total Pistes: 30km
  • Green: 31%
  • Blue: 29%
  • Red: 31%
  • Black: 9%
  • Snowmaking: 1 snowfactory & 12 snow machines
  • Lifts: 10 (with funicular closure)
  • Altitude: 640m – 1096m

For Beginners

Arguably the best and most snowsure beginner slopes in Scotland are located at the top of the funicular, but as this is closed, beginners in 2019 will have to rely on the Car Park and Sheiling slopes at the base of the mountain. The big snowmaking investment should help ensure adequate snow cover, but from here progression very much relies on the Coire Cas t-bar further up the hill being open. Those that find t-bars difficult will struggle.

For Intermediates

In decent snow, there are some good options for intermediates. The blue rated M2 is a good, winding cruise from the summit and the slopes of the Fiacaill are often underused. If pisted, the White Lady is in the grasp of most intermediates, as is the adjacent M1 Racetrack. In very good conditions, most intermediates should be able to tackle the Ciste Gully.

For Advanced/Expert & Off Piste

The removal of the West Wall and Ciste chairlifts has reduced the offering for advanced and expert skiers and boarders. The long gully runs in Coire na Ciste rely on there being sufficient snow for the West Wall Poma lift and even if complete, there are often huge queues for it. A pair of touring skins will make a big difference to your day here.

Cairngorm Mountain Piste Map

The local area map can be downloaded here.

Cairngorm Mountain Ski Pass Prices

Day tickets are the way to go (there’s no discount for multi-day tickets) and note that prices are 25% lower in 2019 due to the closure of the funicular. A Scotland-wide season pass costs £550 and can be purchased via the Snowsport Scotland Website. Cairngorm only adult season passes cost £400 and junior passes can be bought for £102. Note that these prices may change, so check with the resort’s website for the latest or give the Ski Club’s expert info & advice team a call on 020 8410 2009.

Category

Day Ticket

Season Ticket

Adult

£27.75

£400.00

Junior (under 18)

£17.00

£102.00

Student (with valid ID)

£22.00

£320.00

Senior (65+)

£20.45

£295.00

Cairngorm Mountain Season Dates

  • Opening: approx. early December
  • Closing: approx. end April

Season dates in Scotland are very variable and shutdowns can occur even in the middle of the season. The dates listed above are only indicative so for full details see the resort's website. The Ski Club’s expert info & advice team are also on hand to help – call 020 8410 2009.

Cairngorm Mountain Resort

Most visitors will stay down in the town of Aviemore, a short bus ride or drive below the mountain. It has a good ski resort feel to it and is home to a variety of ski rental shops, pubs and restaurants. Access from Edinburgh and Glasgow is very good, either via the recently upgraded A9 or via the railway – the station is right in the heart of town.

We would recommend trying the locally brewed beer from the Cairngorm Brewery or exploring the many whiskey distilleries in Spey Valley – the river itself runs right past the town of Aviemore.

For Families

There is lots of family-friendly accommodation in Aviemore itself, ranging from great-value hostels to family-run B&Bs and from campsites to large hotels. Away from the slopes there is more to do here than at the other Scottish resorts – there are ample sledging opportunities and you can visit the only reindeer herd in the UK.

For Après

Don’t expect anything like Alpine après, but Aviemore is home to a good selection of pubs, most of which also serve good local food. Our top picks would be the Winking Owl or the Old Bridge Inn. If you’re really looking for a big night, then you can end your evening in the only nightclub in town – Vault.

How to get to Cairngorm Mountain

Aviemore is very easy to get to by car or by train. The drive up from Aberdeen takes just over two hours, whilst Edinburgh or Glasgow sit around two and a half hours away. From Aberdeen and Edinburgh the train takes a little over three hours but the ride from Glasgow is quicker – the journey takes around two and three-quarter hours.

  • Aberdeen: 2 hours (driving) or 3 hours (by train)
  • Edinburgh: 2.5 hours (driving) or 3.5 hours (by train)
  • Glasgow: 2.5 hours (driving) or 3 hours (by train)

Cairngorm Mountain Contact Details

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