From its rugged coastline to lush forest and mountains, Aberdeenshire has plenty to appeal to outdoor lovers.
Travellers making their way to the fertile northeastern corner of Scotland are rewarded with beautiful stretches of coastline, charming fishing villages, rugged cliffs, ancient castles, historic whisky distilleries and more. Several long-distance walking routes travel through Aberdeenshire, including the Deeside Way and the Aberdeenshire Coastal Trail, which forms part of the multi-country North Sea Trail. Wildlife lovers can spot dolphins in the Moray, puffins in the cliffs and red deer in the woodlands. While most campers explore Aberdeenshire in the sunny summer months, when days are long, a visit in the dark, chilly winter has the appeal of potentially spotting the northern lights.
Most likely your starting point for Aberdeenshire adventures, Scotland’s third-largest city is best-known for its gleaming granite buildings and easy access to beaches and coastline. In recent years, it’s also become a hub for street art, thanks to the annual NuArt festival, imported from twin city, Stavanger, just over the North Sea. Camping options around the city include well-maintained caravan parks and glamping pods.
Lying on the doorstep of Cairngorms National Park, Banchory offers plenty of opportunities for hiking and biking up hills and through forests. The town is famed for the Falls of Feugh, which provide a spectacular sight when salmon return to swim upstream in the fast-flowing waters of the River Dee and River Don. Camping options include small, friendly sites in the valley of the Feugh.
In the heart of the Royal Deeside, and within Cairngorms National Park, Ballater is famed for Balmoral Castle (summer getaway for the Royals) and its opportunities for hiking, skiing and climbing Lochnagar, one of Scotland’s most popular Munros (mountains over 3,000 feet tall). Visitors can set up camp in a quiet site close to the village centre.
Perched on the north coast, Banff has a well-preserved historic town centre and access to sandy beaches, including Inverboyndie Beach, one of the best places in Scotland to go surfing. Your options here include setting up camp next to the beach. From here, walkers can set out along the 44-mile (70-kilometre) Moray Firth Coastal Trail.
Just south of Aberdeen, the coastal town of Stonehaven has a bustling working harbour and is gateway to the dramatic ruins of Dunnottar Castle, perched on high cliffs two miles south of town. Nearby camping options include a site next to the art deco Stonehaven Open Air Pool, as well as camping pods and lodges with hot tubs.