Aberdeenshire Coastal Trail

Duff House, Banff
Aberdeenshire Coastal Trail ››

Download a FREE pdf of the Aberdeenshire Coastal Trail leaflet and discover the great attractions you can visit.

Balmoral Castle and the River Dee
Victorian Heritage Trail ››

Follow in the footsteps of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert on this picturesque route through Royal Deeside.

Craigievar Castle
Scotland's Castle Trail ››

Follow Scotland’s dedicated trail to discover dramatic stories behind 18 of Aberdeenshire’s castles.

Discover 165 continuous miles of dramatic clifftops, enchanting coves, paradise beaches, charming towns and marvellous wildlife on the Aberdeenshire Coastal Trail.

This four day itinerary features just a few of the great attractions you can visit on Scotland’s famous north-east coast. Download the Aberdeenshire Coastal Trail leaflet to find out about all the amazing things there are to see and do along the trail.

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  • View of the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses, Fraserburgh
    A sunny day at the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses, Fraserburgh
  • View of Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven, on a sunny day
    Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven
  • View of Findlater Castle, near Sandend, Aberdeenshire
    Findlater Castle, near Sandend, Aberdeenshire
  • Kitesurfing at Fraserburgh with Synergy Kitesports - copyright Synergy Kitesports
    Kitesurfing at Fraserburgh with Synergy Kitesports - copyright Synergy Kitesports
  • Scottish Traditional Boat Festival, Portsoy - image Allan Robertson
    Scottish Traditional Boat Festival, Portsoy - image Allan Robertson

Montrose – Aberdeen

The impressive ruins of Dunnottar Castle, StonehavenYou can start your journey anywhere on the trail but why not begin at  St Cyrus in southern Aberdeenshire where you’ll be rewarded with miles of golden sand dunes and cliffs? Visit this stunning National Nature Reserve for the chance to see peregrine falcons circling overhead, rare wildflowers, butterflies and moths.

Make the most of the rest of your day and head along the increasingly rugged coastline to Dunnottar Castle (pictured), one of Scotland’s most iconic castles. Perched on a rocky outcrop overlooking the North Sea, this once impregnable fortress was visited by legendary historic figures including William Wallace, Mary Queen of Scots, Oliver Cromwell and in more recent times Mel Gibson in the film Hamlet.

A couple of miles north of Dunnottar is the attractive fishing town of Stonehaven. Stop for a delicious meal at one of the cosy inns by the harbour and enjoy freshly caught seafood. Afterwards treat yourself to an indulgent ice cream at one of Stonehaven’s wonderful ice cream shops, such as Aunty Betty's or Giulianotti's.

Other great coastal attractions in this area include RSPB Fowlheugh, Stonehaven open air swimming pool, Stonehaven Harbour and Tolbooth Museum.

Aberdeen – Peterhead

Sand dunes at Forvie National Nature ReserveTravel north from Aberdeen to Balmedie where you’ll be greeted with epic sand dunes and a pristine stretch of beach, perfect for a leisurely morning stroll. Stop at the nearby Forvie National Nature Reserve (pictured: credit Aberdeenshire Council) and Ythan Estuary to watch paddling eider ducks and seals basking at the mouth of the estuary.

Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, often holidayed in Cruden Bay, and the pretty coastal town is a lovely place to stop for a bracing walk along the beautiful beach before enjoying a cup of tea or coffee. Keen golfers can even take time out to play a round of golf at Cruden Bay Golf Course, one of the finest link courses in the country.

Situated not far from Cruden Bay is the ruined Slains Castle, widely believed to have inspired Bram Stoker to pen his horror classic, and the Bullers of Buchan, a remarkable natural phenomenon that just has to be seen. Watch the sea rushing through the archway of this 30 m deep chasm created from a collapsed sea cave where rare birds like mainland puffins can sometimes be seen nesting. Take care when walking along the path though as it is very close to the edge of the cliffs.

Other great coastal attractions in this area include Torry Battery at the mouth of Aberdeen Harbour, where you can spot dolphins, Aberdeen Fun Beach, just a short walk from Aberdeen city centre, and Peterhead Bay.

Peterhead – Macduff

A child studies a display at the Fraserburgh Heritage CentreTravel north along the coast to the RSPB Loch of Strathbeg reserve, where you might spot gulls, terns and wading birds raising their chicks in spring and summer or thousands of pink-footed geese in autumn and winter. While you’re in the area be sure to stop off at Rattray Head beach and lighthouse, where you can explore the extensive sand dunes and spot old shipwrecks on the beach.

Head on to the town of Fraserburgh and pay a visit to the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses  where you can take a tour of 18th century Kinnaird Head Lighthouse. This was the first lighthouse to be built on mainland Scotland and it was built on top of 16th century Kinnaird Castle.

During your time in Fraserburgh, be sure to pop along to Fraserburgh Beach, where you can enjoy surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing with Synergy Kitesports, or pop into the Fraserburgh Heritage Centre (pictured) to learn more about the fishing heritage of this important port using the fun, interactive exhibits.

Continue west onwards along the Banffshire coast, also known as Scotland’s ‘Dolphin Coast’ for the chance to see these magical creatures from the shore or from the historic harbours of the area, alongside whales and porpoises. Along this part of the trail you’ll also encounter some delightful fishing villages like Crovie which consists of a single line of houses by the water’s edge, and Pennan which featured in the classic Hollywood film Local Hero.

Other great coastal attractions in this area include Arbuthnot Museum, New Aberdour Beach, Pitsligo Castle, Sandhaven Meal Mill, Maggie’s Hoosie and Inverallochy.

Macduff – Cullen

Exterior of Portsoy Salmon BothyBegin your final day at Macduff Marine Aquarium where you can get up close to marine life and learn about the creatures that live in the Moray Firth, from tiny barnacles and mussels to octopus, lobster, jellyfish and beautifully patterned flatfish. Stop off at the touch pools for the chance to handle an array of amazing creatures and see the feeding frenzy in the central kelp reef tank when the divers jump in to feed the fish.

Travel on to Banff and stop for some lunch before you visit the exquisite Georgian mansion, Duff House. Designed by esteemed Scottish architect William Adam, Duff House is home to a splendid collection of paintings and fine furniture on loan from the National Galleries of Scotland. Marvel at the lavish interiors, take a walk in the sprawling grounds and let the kids blow off steam in the play park.

Bring your journey to a close at Portsoy, home to one of the oldest harbours in Europe and also part of the Banffshire Coast Harbour Trail. Stop off at the Portsoy Salmon Bothy (pictured) and discover Portsoy’s salmon fishing heritage in this wonderfully restored building. Portsoy also hosts the annual Scottish Traditional Boat Festival where traditional vessels from Scotland and beyond gather in the harbour to celebrate the region’s rich maritime and cultural heritage. This popular and busy festival also includes lots of boating activities, live music and delicious local food and drink stalls.

Other great coastal attractions in this area include RSPB Troup Head reserve, renowned Portsoy ice cream, Banff Links beach and Sandend Beach which are popular surfing spots, Glenglassaugh Distillery and Cullen Beach.