Cafes & Tearooms
Tea and coffee are staples of Highland life. Aside from enjoying a cuppa in and of itself, coffee and tea are central to the social life of the Scottish Highlands, at least as much if not more so than fine whiskies and ales. Neighbours and friends all over the Highlands gather on a regular basis to share a hot drink, a biscuit or two, and a chat. From this hub of Highland sociability has grown the ubiquitous café and tearoom. The circle has widened and now visitors can enjoy the same kind of Highland hospitality the locals have been sharing for ages. Cafes and tearooms can be found all over the Scottish Highlands, some in the most unlikely of places. Even in the remotest of areas, you are liable to come across a cosy café serving up delicious coffees and teas as well as good food. For example, if you are touring the Northwest Highlands Geopark, which covers all of the northwest coast of Scotland, you may think you are miles from anywhere—and essentially, you are. But never that far from some good old Highland hospitality! Be sure to stop by the Elphin Tearoom, overlooking the rugged peaks of Suilven and not far from Knockan Crag, a National Nature Reserve. While you have a cup of hot coffee or tea, you can enjoy the view, have a browse in their gift shop, or admire the gallery of art by area artists. Nearby Ullapool offers The Gallery Café, a lovely little eatery with a photographic gallery attached. Serving up hot sandwiches and paninis, homemade soups, coffees and teas, and homemade cakes, The Gallery is a favourite with locals and visitors alike. Away up in the far northwest of the Scottish Highlands, you will find a unique little coffee shop called Cocoa Mountain. In actuality, it is a chocolatier serving up its famous hot chocolate, or perhaps a coffee with a freshly-made chocolate truffle. Cocoa Mountain is a not-to-be-missed stop for refreshment located in the tiny village of Durness.
Thurso and Wick also offer a variety of cafes and tearooms for when you just want a bit of refreshment after a day of shopping or touring, or perhaps a light lunch. The Tempest Surf Café in Thurso is part of the Tempest Surf Shop. Thurso is Britain’s northernmost town, and believe it or not, it’s a favourite with surfers. Be sure to check out the surf scene and enjoy a cuppa with those on a quest for the perfect wave! Stop by the Harbour Café in Wick for excellent home baking. And if you’ve come up this far, you can’t miss John O’Groats, the famed destination of cyclists and hikers throughout Britain. Perhaps you are headed across to Orkney on the John O’Groats ferry. While you are waiting, pop into the Journey’s End Café and enjoy some light refreshment.
Farther down the east coast of the northern Highlands, you can find a delightful little place called the Laidhay Tearoom. It is part of the Laidhay Croft Museum in Dunbeath. It’s the perfect stop if you want to take in a few sights while having your tea. The Laidhay Croft Museum and Tearoom are right on the A9. Keep heading south and you will find the Timespan gallery and museum. It is home to the River Café which serves up a tantalizing variety of homemade soups, breads, sandwiches, and baked goods. It’s another delightful stop combining something to do with something to eat—a great place for a delicious lunch or afternoon tea, situated right on the River Helmsdale. Be sure to visit Dunrobin Castle in Golspie, and enjoy their themed tea rooms serving homemade meals and snacks from locally-sourced produce. Dunrobin is the family seat of the Sutherlands, and is an excellent day out for the whole family. Tearooms and cafes abound all over the Highlands and not just in the far north. Towns which especially cater for tourists and visitors, like Aviemore, Fort William, Grantown-on-Spey, and of course, Inverness are blessed with a wide range of cafes and tearooms from which to choose. In the heart of the Cairngorms, why not take the funicular railway to the top of Cairngorm Mountain, Cairngorm Ski Area near Aviemore. While is operates as a restaurant, for lunches and afternoon teas, it is basically a quintessential Highland café—with a spectacular view! The Glencoe Visitor Centre also offers a lovely tearoom with homemade soups and sandwiches made fresh daily. They are home to a secret shortbread recipe as well, so be sure to sample their home baking. Cafes and tearooms provide the perfect option for lunches, light snacks, and afternoon teas. Generally, menus will be centered around a variety of coffees—latte, cappuccino, mocha, Americano, espresso—different teas, including herbal and chai drinks, and delicious baked goods. Expect to find excellent scones, shortbread, tray bakes (bar cookies), and other types of teacakes. You will also be offered hot and cold sandwiches, paninis, and excellent homemade soups. A café or tearoom in the Scottish Highlands is the ideal place for a spot of refreshment any time of the day, any time of the year. Cafes and tearooms do not usually stay open late, many of them closing by 5 o’clock, and quite a few done serving by 3 o’clock. Be sure to stop by early to enjoy your cuppa and some delicious Highland food. While you’re there, you just might make a new friend or two as you share in this age-old Highland tradition of tea or coffee and a chat!
Within the Scottish Highlands are a wide selection of Cafes and Tearooms offering Coffee, Tea, Soft Drinks, Homemade cakes and pastries and light lunches. Many Tearooms and Cafes are incorporated into other businesses such as Craft or Gift Shops. Scottish Highlands tearooms are a welcome rest for a drink, snack or lunch between shopping or touring the area.
Tearooms in the Scottish Highlands can offer you a taste of the finest local produce for you to sample so you can be sure you are experiencing a taste of the Scottish Highlands. The regions tearooms vary greatly from place to place; some tearooms in the Scottish Highlands are quaint, rural affairs that you can call into while you are out and about enjoying the sights and sounds of Scotland, others are more lavish affairs where you can settle down with friends and family over a selection of cakes, scones and other treats, smothered with local jam and clotted cream while you enjoy your tea.
The Scottish Highlands is home to many different types of cuisine but the tea shops and cake shops have to be experienced first hand to be believed. Nothing hits the spot after a mornings walking in the mountains and hills than a refreshing cup of tea and selection of sweet treats to satisfy your appetite and set you up for a long afternoon. Scottish Highlands tearooms are one of the delights of Scotland and we urge you to call in and enjoy the comfortable surroundings and excellent grub!
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