Often associated with the neighbouring villages of Pennan and Crovie, Gardenstown is the largest of the three, yet shares many of the features that make these coastal settlements distinctively picturesque. Built at the base of steep cliffs, a huddle of houses mingles just yards from the water’s edge around a large harbour. The first were built at sea level when Gardenstown was founded in the early 18th century as a fishing village, with later additions tiered, theatrically, in niches up the steep hillside. Whereas Crovie is distinct for its single row of seaside cottages, Gardenstown is more substantially developed, although the character of the western end, at Seatown, is certainly reminiscent of its neighbour.

The houses perched at the summit of the village enjoy an unrivalled panorama of the harbour, where colourful creel boats bob around on the water. From most parts of Gardenstown, the ruins of the Church of St John the Evangelist are visible on a hill to the west. Said to have been founded as early as 1004, the kirk is a sharp contrast to the quaintness of the harbour, the scene of a brutal battle against the Danes. The skulls of three Danish fighters were reputedly exhibited inside the church, hence its previous name ‘The Kirk of Sculls’.

From Gardenstown, the coastal path connects the village with Crovie, offering delightful walks, a first-hand sight of wildlife, and breathtakingly photogenic sunsets. 


Arriving by car

Gardenstown is situated one hour north of Aberdeen, via the A90 and A948.

Parking and public toilets are available.

Arriving by bus

Gardenstown is served by Stagecoach 273 from Banff (28 minutes).


  • Explore the history of the fishing community at Gardenstown Heritage Centre, which is staffed by local volunteers, many of whom have lived their entire lives in the village, offering a uniquely personal insight into life in Gardenstown.
  • Witness Scotland’s only mainland gannet colony at RSPB Troup Head, a delightful clifftop nature reserve with thousands of nesting birds in spring and early summer.
  • Enjoy the pleasant walk to Crovie (2.75 miles), for superb views of the villages and the chance to see dolphins swimming in the sea.


Situated in the harbour, Eli’s Crafts, Cakes and Coffee is a hidden gem, serving hot and cold drinks, homemade cakes and pastries, and light meals such as soup. You can also browse paintings and crafts for that special souvenir to take home.

For a more substantial meal, The Garden Arms Hotel serves locally sourced fish and steak, while a fine selection of whiskies is available from the bar.


Dracula author Bram Stoker completed the world-famous horror during a stay in Gardenstown.

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