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If you are looking for a short day trip from Aberdeen, look no further than the trip down to Stonehaven. Easily accessible by car, bus, or train. Stonehaven is a charming harbor town, only 13 miles south of Aberdeen along the northeast coast of Scotland. It is home to the famous Dunnottar castle and Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve) fireball ceremony. I will outline below a timeline on how we spent our day in beautiful Stonehaven!
8:00 am – Since we do not have a vehicle in Scotland, we decided to take the train from Aberdeen to Stonehaven. We got into Stonehaven around 8:45 am after a twenty-minute train ride. There is a bit of a walk down to the harbor, which took about twenty-five minutes, but it was a super easy walk, and the streets were so quiet and beautiful in the morning light.
9:00 am – If there is one thing I have learned about Scots, it is that they do not usually get up too early. Especially on the weekends. Since we had not eaten or gotten a coffee in us yet, we scoped out the only available coffee shop that was open. The Pier is a quaint little café that has beautiful views of the harbor. The coffee was great, and they offered a delicious breakfast!
9:45 am – From the Pier, we set off on the 1.7-mile coastal walk to Dunnottar castle. The walk itself takes about 40 minutes and is generally a relatively easy walk. There are some steep hills at the beginning of the trail, and it is not a paved walk. However, it is a very well-marked trail. Just look for the walking signs for Dunnottar castle. You can also walk alongside the road to the Castle, but the coastal walk is a must, in my opinion. It offers some fantastic views of the dramatic cliffs, crashing sea, wildlife, and you can see the stunning outline of the Castle as you get closer.
When you first leave the town and get up the steep ascent, make sure to take a look at the beautiful sight of the town behind you. Along your way, take a detour to the war memorial on the summit of Black Hill. There will be a gate to your right that will take you up the hill, and then you can continue towards Dunnottar.
The Castle’s best views are from the top of the steps just before you descent towards the main gate. The car park is also a short walk from this vantage point.
10:30 am – There is a charge to get into Dunnottar, but it is highly worth it. Especially if you just took the time to walk to it. The Castle is mainly just the shell of the once-great fortress it was, but they do have some areas done up, and it is fun to imagine what life was once like so long ago. The Castle has appeared in movies like Disney’s Brave, Hamlet, and Victor’s Frankenstein. It took us about an hour to see the whole grounds and to take a walk along the beach at the bottom of the Castle. We then headed back towards town.
12:00 pm – We decided to hit up the Seafood Bothy for lunch down on the pier. They run their little restaurant out of a converted horse trailer and have the best fresh-caught seafood. We decided to share the seafood platter that comes with a variety of seafood and cold salads. In the summer, I have heard that it can get lined up, so make sure to check out their opening times to get there early!
1:00 pm – The day we went we went was quite cool and windy, so we decided to stop at the Pier café again for an afternoon tea to warm up.
1:30 pm – Next, we took the short walk down to the Tolbooth Museum. This quirky little free museum has a rich history and is in one of Stonehaven’s oldest buildings. The museum is on the first floor, and there is a restaurant on the second floor. They are a volunteer ran organization, so sometimes they said they could be closed at random.
2:00 pm – We decided to head back up into the center of town to look around at some of the shops. We stopped for a deep-fried mars bar at the supposed birthplace called The Carron Fish Bar. According to some of our colleagues, they also have some of the best fish and chips (Will have to test this out at a later date).
Some of the cute local shops we stopped at were; All Wrapped Up, My Beautiful Caravan, and A Wee Bawbee. They all offered local flair that would make for some great souvenirs.
3:00 pm – After some shopping, we decided to walk down the beach towards the famous Aunt Betty’s. This is supposed to be the place to get the most delicious ice cream. There is always guaranteed to be a line-up, even in the wintertime.
Unfortunately, due to the pandemic still happening at the time, things were closing early, so we decided to head back to the train station and head back to Aberdeen. Nevertheless, we will be back to try out some of the ice cream! I hope you enjoyed this timetable on how to spend a day in the beautiful Stonehaven. If you are in a time crunch, you could easily spend a half-day here. Especially if you are traveling by car or decide not to do the coastal walk.
If you have any other Stonehaven favorites that we may have missed, let me know!