Car-free adventures aroundAberdeenAberdeenshire

Scotland’s third biggest city makes a great hub for car-free adventures near and far. With its maritime heritage, medieval colleges, two picturesque rivers and miles of sandy beach, granite Aberdeen has plenty to see without leaving the city. But hop on a train or bus and you can explore all kinds of landscapes, from the clifftop castle of Dunnottar to the long slopes of Loch Ness.

  • County: Aberdeenshire
  • Great for: boats | castle | churches | maritime heritage | museums |
  • Refreshments: pubs, cafes and restaurants
  • Please note: researched/updated in March 2019. If anything’s changed or you have more tips to share, do get in touch: features@goodjourney.org.uk
  1. 3. Dunnottar Castle

    A visit to this atmospheric clifftop ruin combined with a stroll around Stonehaven makes a great day out. Dunnottar Castle, on a rugged peninsular above the North Sea, is one of the most dramatic castles even in Scotland, a country that’s famous for them.

    • The short train ride from Aberdeen along the cliffs to the village of Stonehaven is an adventure in itself. An off-peak return ticket on the train is £6.70 and the walk along the cliffs from Stonehaven to Dunnottar castle, a couple of miles south of Stonehaven, is spectacular. The castle’s car park is only small so Dunnottar actively encourages car-free visitors (no discount yet, though!).
    • From Market Square in Stonehaven, walk past the clock tower over Allardice Street and along little Market Lane to the sea, following signs for castle. Keep going around the harbour and up onto the cliffs, past the viewpoint at Bervie Braes.
    • Follow the road and then a path along the cliffs, with the war memorial on Black Hill above, and stunning views of Dunnottar Castle soon ahead.
    • Alternatively, hourly bus X7 runs direct from Aberdeen via Stonehaven and stops on the main road not too far from Dunnottar castle.
    • Stonehaven is famous for having one of the best fish and chip shops in Britain so you can reward yourself when you get back to the village; stroll along the beach with the sea on your right until you reach The Bay.
    • And – if you’ve still got room – have some ice cream for pudding from Giulianotti, a charming old-fashioned sweet shop on Evan Street, with a great line in unusual flavours.
  1. 4. To Inverness and beyond

    Stately Inverness, its wide river flanked by churches and spanned by an elegant suspension bridge, is the largest town in the Highlands. Trains link Aberdeen and Inverness every couple of hours. They take a lovely route round hills, through woods and fields of sheep, and finally along the Moray Forth to Inverness.

    • Soon after Insch Station, look out for the dramatic stone arch of a ruined fort on the Hill of Dunnideer to the right of the track. The train goes on past Leith Hall and through hilly Strathbogie, running alongside a meandering river for several miles.
    • There are more pretty sections after the town of Huntly: the railway runs between the River Deveron and Kinnoir Wood and then beside the little, winding River Isla.
    • Inverness makes a great base for exploring the Highlands. There are buses along the Great Glen past Loch Ness (like the 919 Citylink to Fort William), which stops at Urquhart Castle.
    • Rabbies, a friendly tour agency with an environmental conscience, takes groups all over Scotland and beyond. It’s a good way for car-free travellers to reach several sights in a day; they have tours daily from Inverness and are also running new routes out of Aberdeen.

Look out for the Good Journey Mark – where car-free visitors are welcome and enjoy a discount

Visit car-free in 2019!