Stonehaven

Stonehaven is a charming harbour town south of Aberdeen that is a popular destination on the Aberdeenshire coastal trail. Drawn by the imposing ruins of Dunnottar Castle, many visitors are surprised to discover that the town has much to offer too.

Nestled snugly by hills that rise to the north and south of the town, Stonehaven sits behind the crescent-shaped Stonehaven Bay, where shingle and sand fringe the water’s edge. Protected from the gusty westerlies on one side, and the surging North Sea on the other, Stonehaven enjoys a sense of calm in a turbulent world. Steeped in history, the old town and harbour radiate charm and curiosity, a delightful way to spend a day simply exploring at leisure.

Approaching along the coastal road from the south delivers a superb view of the town and harbour. Once you arrive, there’s much to see and do: the Tolbooth Museum is a particularly memorable attraction, charting not only the heritage of the town but also the building’s history as Stonehaven’s former gaol. Look out for the instruments of torture that were routinely used on criminals and rebel Jacobites.

From rugged coastal scenery and tranquil woodland to fascinating heritage and a tantalising food scene, Stonehaven offers much to discover during a stay in Aberdeenshire.

GETTING THERE AND OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Arriving by car

Stonehaven is located 16 miles south of Aberdeen via the A90. There are several public car parks in the town centre.

Arriving by public transport

Unlike many destinations in Scotland, it’s not necessary to have a car to travel to Stonehaven!

The town is on the main East Coast railway, so direct services from Edinburgh (2 hours), Glasgow (2.5 hours), and Aberdeen (25 minutes) are plentiful, with additional options available if passengers change at Dundee.

Stagecoach operates direct bus services to Stonehaven from Aberdeen (40 minutes) and surrounding towns.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO NEARBY

  • Perched precariously on 160-foot-high cliffs, it’s a miracle of medieval engineering that Dunnottar Castle was ever built. Once the most impregnable fortress in Scotland, the castle’s evocative ruins are incredibly romantic yet eerily haunting, a delight for history aficionados and a dream for amateur photographers.
  • Wildlife lovers will love the spectacular cliffside setting for RSPB Fowlsheugh, the site of the largest mainland seabird colony on Scotland’s east coast. Guillemots, kittiwakes, razorbills, and puffins assemble in their tens of thousands during spring and summer, while dolphins and grey seals also make an appearance.

PLACES TO EAT AND DRINK

Located on the picturesque seafront, The Bay Fish and Chips is a highly acclaimed, award-winning eatery that sources nearly 90% of its produce from the local area. You can’t get fish that is much fresher than the stocks caught daily in the North Sea!

Another establishment that isn’t to be missed is the Tolbooth Seafood Restaurant, which is reputed to serve some of the finest seafood in the world. Daily specials are determined by the fishermen’s catches, so there’s always something new to savour. The extensive selection includes halibut, plaice, squid, lobster, and langoustine.

Aunt Betty’s, situated on the beach promenade, is a treasure trove of sweet treats, serving homemade ice cream, Scottish chocolates, luxury coffees, and hot chocolate, for a tempting spot of self-indulgence.

DID YOU KNOW…?

While historic visitors to Stonehaven included Mary Queen of Scots and William Wallace, the oldest known land animal on Earth, Pneumodesmus newmani, a type of millipede, was also discovered to have frequented the bay, the fossil of which was discovered in 2004.

Stonehaven Scotland GB
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