See all stories

8 amazing things to do in Glenfinnan

A red steam train travels across the Glenfinnan Viaduct
Glenfinnan Viaduct
Glenfinnan is a wee community with a big history, made extra famous after featuring in the Harry Potter films, where the ‘Hogwarts Express’ is seen crossing the Glenfinnan Viaduct, and the loch view doubles as a dramatic setting for the famous wizarding school. However, there’s more to Glenfinnan than Harry Potter, so here’s our guide to eight things you mustn’t miss when you visit.

1. Arrive or leave by train

A poster showing a train going over the Glenfinnan Viaduct with the mountains and lochs in the background.
A Scotrail poster advertising the West Highland Line

Make the same journey Harry did over the imposing 21-arch railway viaduct – a marvel of Victorian engineering and ambition, framed by high hills and a deep glen. The local Scotrail service between Fort William and Mallaig gives you the chance to enjoy the incredible views for an affordable, car-free day out, all year-round.

2. Watch ‘The Jacobite’ steam train puff across Glenfinnan Viaduct

A close-up shot of a black steam train making its way across a tall stone viaduct, with mountains in the background. Huge clouds of steam are coming out of the funnel.

This is a popular spectacle to see from a variety of viewpoints around the village, several times a day, spring to autumn.

3. Discover the story of the ‘Raising of the Standard’

A close-up view of a model in a visitor centre, showing lots of miniature Jacobite figures gathered in Glenfinnan.

Glenfinnan’s most celebrated moment came back in 1745, when Charles Edward Stuart (or ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’) gathered the Jacobite clans here to raise the Royal Standard, beginning his daring attempt to regain the throne for the Stuarts. What started with great optimism in Glenfinnan ended in defeat less than a year later at the Battle of Culloden.

This story is shared in a fascinating Jacobite exhibition in our free Visitor Centre, as well as remembered at the Glenfinnan Highland Gathering – a traditional sporting and cultural event that takes place every August around the anniversary of Charles’s visit.

4. Climb the steps to the top of Glenfinnan Monument

Two people stand at the top of Glenfinnan Monument, looking out across the blue Loch Shiel on a sunny day.

Cared for by the National Trust for Scotland since the 1930s, this 60ft tower was built in memory of the clansmen who lost their lives in the ’45 Rising.

You’ll emerge high above the shoreline for a 360° panorama of Glenfinnan, one of the most exhilarating experiences the Highlands has to offer and a must-do for any adventurous traveller.

5. Soak up the sights on a wander around the village

A small church stands in a clearing in a village.
Church of St Mary and St Finnan

Discover the historic Glenfinnan Railway Station, now an award-winning wee museum dedicated to the West Highland Line, and the Gothic masterpiece of the Church of St Mary and St Finnan. This church was designed by Edward Pugin, the son of the architect who built London’s Houses of Parliament.

6. Immerse yourself in nature

A view from the front of a boat of a calm loch, with tall mountains rising either side.
Loch Shiel Highland Cruises

Paddle your toes or go swimming in the loch, climb mountains up the glen, or take a boat trip with Loch Shiel Cruises for a chance to spot nesting eagles and other wildlife.

7. Refuel with tasty treats

The station building beside the railway line at Glenfinnan.

There is a choice of cafés, restaurants or hotels, including our own Viaduct View Café or the historic Glenfinnan Dining Car.

Take home a local souvenir, like the evocative scents of Glenfinnan Candles, from our gift shop.

8. Stay longer

The sun sets at the far end of Loch Shiel, with silhouetted mountains either side and snowy ground in the foreground.

Make the most of the opportunity to have Glenfinnan to yourselves after the crowds leave and witness the sunset between the mountains at the far end of Loch Shiel.

From loch-side pods and sustainable bothies with wood-fired hot tubs, to a railway sleeping car and luxury historic hotels, there is something for every overnight budget.

Glenfinnan is a very popular place, especially in the summer, so please check out our top tips for making the most of your visit when it’s busy.

Explore Glenfinnan Monument

Visit now