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Things to do in Aberdeenshire

The 800 year old Fyvie Castle in Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Fyvie Castle

Aberdeenshire is situated in the north east corner of Scotland, with a great diversity of scenery, including coastlines to the North Sea in the east and the Moray Firth in the North.

Inland are the Grampian Mountains and part of the Cairngorms National Park.

Visitors can explore the County following Castle trails, Whiskey Trails and the Victorian Heritage Trail.

Aberdeenshire Tourist Information Centres can supply details of these trails and help you plan a visit to this historic county.

Crovie, Aberdeenshire

Visitors to Aberdeenshire often begin in its capital Aberdeen, the granite city with a long history is today a cosmopolitan centre, with many attractions, good shopping, entertainment and dining facilities.

In the south of the county, on the coast, lies the town of Stonehaven.

On a peninsula high above the sea is Dunnottar Castle. A fortress with a fascinating history, where the Crown Jewels of Scotland were hidden from Oliver Cromwell. The Castle is open to the public from Easter to October.

View of the river Dee in the Scottish Highland town of Braemar near Balmoral Castle
River Dee at Braemar

Looking towards wickerman willow sculpture at Archeolink in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, UK
Wickerman at Archeolink

From Stonehaven's picturesque harbour, boat trips are available from May to July to visit the largest Seabird Colony in mainland Britain at RSPB Fowlsheugh.

In the south of the county, the village of St Cyrus overlooks a beautiful bay. St Cyrus National Nature Reserve lies between the village and the sea. The lava cliffs are home to butterflies, rare wildflowers, stonechats, fulmars and a breeding colony of terns. A national cycle route runs from St. Cyrus northwards along the coast.

Bennachie - Aberdeenshire - Scotland

Inland, the Kincardine and Mearns district encompass north east Scotland's finest agricultural land. The fertile area known as the Howe of the Mearns is an area of tranquil beauty, well worth exploring.

From Laurencekirk, in the heart of the area you can take a circular tour of the Mearns. There are villages and townships, such as Fettercairn with its own Whisky Distillery producing the single malt 'Old Fettercairn', tours and tastings are available from May to September.

The village of Arbuthnott, associated with Lewis Grassic Gibbon, author of "A Scots Quair", has a visitor centre dedicated to the life and times of the author.

Crathes Castle in Scotland
Crathes Castle in Scotland

The south west region of Aberdeenshire is known as Marr, can be found in Ballater, Banchory and Braemar.

The River Dee, one of Scotland's most famous salmon fishing rivers flows from its source high in the Cairngorm Mountains through Royal Deeside, passing land marks such as Braemar Castle, and Balmoral Castle and Crathes Castle.

Braemar Castle was built in 1628 by the Earl of Mar and is renowned for the annual Royal Highland Games, held in September and attended by members of the Royal family.

Balmoral Castle in Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire
Balmoral Castle

Balmoral Castle has been the Scottish holiday home of the Royal Family since Queen Victoria's reign. The 16th century turreted fairytale Crathes Castle with its beautiful walled garden, is situated near the historic town of Banchory.

The area contains the remaining Caledonian woodland and is rich in wildlife, such as red deer, golden eagles and red squirrels. There are nature reserves at Muir of Dinnet, Glen Muick, Glen Tanar and Morrone Birkwood.

Baronial Craigievar Castle in Pink, Scotland
Craigievar Castle

In the north of Marr, in the valley of the River Don is Cragievar Castle, a fine example of the best of Scottish Baronial architecture.

A few miles north is the town Alford, from where you can take a trip on the Alford Valley Railway. Alford is also home to the Grampian Transport Museum.

Huntley is a good base for exploring the north of Marr. In a beautiful setting in Huntly is the remains of Huntly Castle, with impressive architectural details. Nearby is Lieth Hall a beautiful house and extensive grounds, with wildlife trails and waymarked walks.

In the Garioch area, tourist information is available in Inverurie, an attractive town on the River Dee. Garioch is home to the award winning attraction Archaeolink Prehistory Park, a fascinating experience for all ages.

Reconstruction of an Iron Age hut or house at Archeolink in Aberdeenshire

The Formartine district's main towns are Ellon in the south and Turriff in the north.

On the coast is Forvie Sands National Nature Reserve, twelve miles north of Aberdeen. The reserve is home to the largest colony of breeding eider duck in Britain.

Attractions in the Formartine area include Pitmedden Garden and Haddo House, near Ellon. Fyvie Castle, near Turriff, houses a fine art collection well worth visiting.

To the north is the Buchan area, whose principal town is Peterhead, where the largest catch of white fish is landed in Europe. The coastline is spectacular and quite unspoiled. Inland the area is largely agricultural.

Kinnaird Head lighthouse, an original Stephenson Scottish lighthouse, now part of the Scottish Lighthouse Museum in Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire
Kinnaird Head Lighthouse

The Banff and Buchan district on the Moray Firth is the main fishing area of Aberdeenshire.

Along the coast are old fishing villages with picturesque harbours, sheltered bays and sandy beaches. Fraserburgh is home of the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses, containing the history and largest collection of lighthouse lenses and equipment in Britain. To the west is Banff, where you can visit Duff House, designed by William Adam, now open as a "Country House Gallery" of the National Gallery of Scotland.

Days out in Aberdeenshire

  • Aberdeen Art Gallery
    Housed in Neo-Classical building, purpose built in 1884, Aberdeen's splendid Art Gallery houses an important fine art collection with particularly good examples of 19th, 20th and 21st century works.
    Aberdeen Art Gallery
  • Alford Valley Railway
    Alford Valley Railway operates from the restored station yard which once marked the terminus of the branch line linking the villages of upper Donside with Kintore junction and hence to Aberdeen.
    Alford Valley Railway
  • Balmoral Castle
    In the heart of Scotland lies the magnificent valley of the River Dee. Rising high in the Cairngorm Mountains and running east to its mouth at Aberdeen the river flows through some of Scotland's finest scenery.
    Balmoral Castle
  • Balvenie Castle
    Balvenie is a castle of enclosure, with a massive 13th century curtain wall.
    Balvenie Castle
  • Blairs Museum
    Blairs Museum has a stunning collection of fine and decorative art spanning more than 500 years.
    Blairs Museum
  • Braemar Castle
    The impressive fortress of Braemar Castle was built in 1628 by the Earl of Mar on the site of an even older habitation.
    Braemar Castle
  • Castle Fraser
    A visit to Castle Fraser is a great day out for the whole family. The castle is one of the finest in Aberdeenshire and is the largest, most elaborate Scottish castle built on the traditional 'Z' plan.
    Castle Fraser
  • Craigievar Castle
    This fairytale-like castle, which exemplifies some of the best Scottish Baronial architecture, seems to have grown naturally out of the beautiful rolling hillsides of Aberdeenshire.
    Craigievar Castle
  • Crathes Castle
    An ideal place for the whole family to visit for a fantastic day out on Royal Deeside. The castle, with its fairytale turrets, is a superb example of a 16th-century tower house
    Crathes Castle
  • Drum Castle
    This castle, one of the most beautiful in Royal Deeside, was owned by the Irvine family of Drum for 653 years.
    Drum Castle
  • Duff House
    Duff House is a magnificent early Georgian mansion, designed by William Adam for Earl Fife, and acknowledged to be his masterpiece.
    Duff House
  • Fyvie Castle
    Undoubtedly one of the finest castles in Scotland, Fyvie can trace its royal connections back to 1211 and William the Lion.
    Fyvie Castle
  • Grampian Transport Museum
    A treasure house of transport history with lots to see and do. Dramatic displays, push button exhibits and video presentations trace the history of road travel in the locality.
    Grampian Transport Museum
  • Haddo House
    Haddo House is unusual for Aberdeenshire in that it is not a castle - yet it is one of the most beautiful stately homes open to the public in Scotland.
    Haddo House
  • Huntly Castle
    Remarkable for its splendid architecture, Huntley Castle served as a baronial residence for five centuries.
    Huntly Castle
  • Kinnaird Head Castle Lighthouse & Museum
    This fine 16th century castle built for the Fraser family was altered to take the first lighthouse built by the Commissioners of the Northern Lighthouses in 1787.
    Kinnaird Head Castle Lighthouse & Museum
  • Leith Hall
    There are 286 acres of scenic estate land to explore. The formal and informal gardens are noted for their colour and diversity.
    Leith Hall
  • Museum of Scottish Lighthouses
    Kinnaird Head was the first lighthouse to be built on top of a fortified castle. The Museum of Scottish Lighthouses has the largest and best collection of lighthouse lenses and equipment in the U.K.
    Museum of Scottish Lighthouses
  • Pitmedden Garden
    A visit here offers an experience as rich in history as any country house or castle. The Garden was originally laid out in 1675 by Pitmedden's first baronet, Sir Alexander Seton, and was re-created by the NTS in the 1950s.
    Pitmedden Garden
  • Storybook Glen
    Visit Storybook Glen the spectacular Family Theme Park.
    Storybook Glen
  • Tolbooth
    The Tolbooth is one of the oldest buildings in Aberdeen and one of the best preserved 17th century Scottish gaols. Now a museum, The Tolbooth focuses on the history of crime and punishment within the city.

Places to Visit in Aberdeenshire

  • Aberdeen
    Aberdeen is quintessentially northern, a maritime city with a story going back to its foundations as a royal burgh in 1124. In olden times, the city had strong trading links with Scandinavia and the Low Countries across the North Sea.
  • Banff
    Architecture buffs, sailing enthusiasts and those in search of a quiet place for some R&R will find Banff is just the tonic they have been searching for!
  • Braemar
    The award-winning village of Braemar is nine miles west of Balmoral at the base of the Cairngorm Mountains in Aberdeenshire.
  • Cock Bridge
    The tiny hamlet of Cock Bridge is in Aberdeenshire, about 53 miles west of Aberdeen and a similar distance east of Inverness.
    Cock Bridge
  • New Pitsligo
    Founded in 1787 by Sir William Forbes, a descendant of Alexander Forbes, the last Lord Pitsligo, who was Lt. Colonel to Bonny PrinceCharlie in the 1745 uprising
    New Pitsligo
  • Pennan
    Pennan is the Jewel of the Morayshire coast. It's picturesque beauty and charm make it a favourite place for visitors from all over the U.K and all around the world.
  • Peterhead
    Peterhead is the easternmost town in mainland Scotland, located 31 miles north of Aberdeen and overlooking the North Sea.
  • St. Cyrus
    St. Cyrus is a small village in the NE of Scotland mid-way between Aberdeen & Dundee with 3 miles of glorious sandy beaches and the area adjacent to the beach is a Nature Reserve.
    St. Cyrus
  • Stonehaven
    The popular coastal town of Stonehaven lies in the Northeast of Scotland and despite being only 15 miles from the bustling city of Aberdeen - Stonehaven is a little slice of tranquillity.

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