Planning a Visit to Stonehaven Scotland? (Read This First!)

Stonehaven Scotland

Stonehaven is a beautiful town to visit on the northeast coast of Scotland. It’s a place filled with history, nature walks, and a scenic harbor to spend a sunny afternoon. Here’s all the best things to do in Stonehaven and why it should be on every travelers itinerary!

Our Trip to Stonehaven Scotland

After an amazing May traveling through Greece, we were looking for a spot to relax the following month. We chose Stonehaven for a couple of different reasons.

First off, we had never been to Scotland before. Stonehaven looked like the perfect place to relax and work remotely from. There are so many incredible areas to explore in this country, but we were drawn to Stonehaven for its quiet atmosphere on the coast.

We planned a road trip to the Scottish Highlands for early July after our month in Stonehaven. That way when we were done enjoying the gorgeous coastal town, we would be able to see Scotland’s great castles, mountains, and lakes. You can check out our full 10 day itinerary in the article below!

10 Day Scotland Road Trip Itinerary: Our Epic Highlands Adventure

Stonehaven in Scotland

Why Should You Visit Stonehaven?

After fully experiencing this town for a month, we couldn’t believe we’d never heard of it! The beauty of Stonehaven Scotland is something out of a storybook. From your very first stroll on the boardwalk you’ll be in awe of the picturesque traditional buildings that hug the coastline.

The way the outdoor activities blend with the historical sites make it a great destination for families and couples. Here’s everything you need to know about the town, and the best things to do in Stonehaven on your visit.

Why Should You Visit Stonehaven

Where to Stay in Stonehaven Scotland

Stonehaven has a great mix of accommodations when looking for where to stay. Although it’s a small town, there are options to fit every budget.

If you are planning to visit Stonehaven just make sure to book as far in advance as possible. It’s mostly small boutique inns and bed & breakfast style stays so they can sell out fast.

Also, know that Stonehaven is just 20 minutes from the city of Aberdeen. You can always stay there and make the easy day trip by train or bus.

Harbor – The Ship Inn –  One of the most famous spots in town as the charming inn doubles as a popular restaurant and pub. 

Guest House – The Marine Hotel – Just next door to The Ship Inn, the Shorehead overlooks the harbor with its stunning location. You’ll enjoy modern sea view rooms, a great restaurant, and fun pub downstairs. 

Ocean View- Bayview Bed and Breakfast – Bayview B&B is located along the main stretch of the Stonehaven boardwalk. The small balconies are the perfect place to relax with a view of the North Sea. 

Where to Stay in Stonehaven Scotland

Where & What to Eat in Stonehaven 

You’ll find plenty of great places to eat around town. From the local bakeries to the fish n’ chips spots and traditional restaurants, there’s no shortage of great food in Stonehaven! Here’s a few of our favorite things to eat along with some restaurant recommendations. Also, be sure to read our blog about the best food in Scotland before your visit.

Fish n’ Chips

This popular meal can be found all over the United Kingdom, and especially in the coastal towns of Scotland! While you can find fish n’ chips at many Stonehaven restaurants, there are two places we can highly recommend.

The first is at The Bay Fish n Chips which is located on the very end of Stonehaven Beach. Here you can enjoy the seafood meal with a view.

The second place is called The Carron and tucked just back from the beach. This local spot is also famous for its deep fried Mars bar if you’re up for a wild dessert. 

Stonehaven Scotland Fish and Chips

Stonehaven Bakeries & Sandwich Shops

Stonehaven is filled with a number of great bakeries to stop into. This can be a fun option in the morning if you’re on your way to the beach!

Some of our favorite things to try are the meat pies, bacon rolls, and sweets. The Red Red Robin was our go-to bakery in the morning.

Traditional Scottish Meal

When you’re ready for a more hefty meal, Stonehaven has you covered! There are so many delicious restaurants to enjoy for dinner or a late lunch. They serve traditional meals such as haggis and angus steak, or you can dive into the seafood from Stonehaven.

Many of the very best restaurants in town are located in Cowie Harbor. Be sure to try the Tolbooth Seafood Restaurant, Marine Hotel Restaurant, and the Ship Inn. Also, it’s worth exploring some of the eateries and pubs in the main area of town back from the beach.

Stonehaven Local Seafood

Stonehaven Cafes 

Cafes are a regular sight in Scotland, and there are some wonderful ones in Stonehaven. Our personal favorite is called the Molly’s Café Bar right on the boardwalk. 

Another one we stopped into quite often was the Old Pier Coffee House in Cowie Harbor. Be sure to try the espresso brownie here! Also, keep an eye out for the SeafoodBothy on the end of the pier. They serve a range of snacks and drinks from this small snack stand.

Once you head back into town, you’ll see plenty of places for a coffee dotted around the Stonehaven Streets. If you’re in the mood for something different stop into The Cool Gourmet tea room.

Stonehaven Cowie Harbor

Drinks in Cowie Harbor

We’ve already mentioned Cowie Harbor multiple times in this blog, and for good reason! We actually stayed just around the corner from here on our visit so we passed through multiple times a day. 

The bars which sit on the harbor are quite lively in the summertime. On a sunny day in June, it was common to see patrons with large glasses of beer sitting right on the water across from the bars.

Be sure to check out the Ship Inn, Marine Hotel, and Six North. As we’ve said, some of these traditional taverns double as hotels and also some of the best restaurants in Stonehaven Scotland.

Cowie Harbor Stonehaven

Ice Cream in Stonehaven Scotland

Don’t worry… We didn’t forget the most important part about eating in Stonehaven! If you’re up for a sweet treat after your meals you’ll have no problem finding a good ice cream. Two of the best places are Bucket & Spade and Giulianotti E. 

We also loved Aunt Betty’s which is on the far end of the beach. They serve some amazing cakes in addition to their ice cream.

7 Best Things to Do in Stonehaven Scotland

Now that you know a few general tips it’s time for the best things to do in Stonehaven! From historical sites to fun outdoor activities, you’re sure to be impressed with all there is to see. Here’s 7 fun things to do in Stonehaven Scotland and more tips from our month around town. 

1. Walk the Stonehaven Boardwalk

The boardwalk in Stonehaven Scotland is the place to be in the summertime! We took a stroll along the sea almost daily during our visit. The long wooden pathway stretches along the Scottish coastline and by the traditional architecture.

It starts near Cowie Harbor and goes all the way to the open air swimming pool. This is an area that bird watchers will love and is easy to walk with the whole family. Also, keep an eye out for dolphins playing in the North Sea! 

Stonehaven Boardwalk

2. Hike to Dunnottar Castle

Dunnottar Castle is one of the most famous in all of Scotland and somewhere that brings many travelers to Stonehaven in the first place. The historic site has hundreds of years of history and is totally worth visiting on your trip.

Honestly, the hike from Stonehaven to the Dunnottar Castle is worth it in itself! The walk will take you up from town and then along the stunning Scottish Coastline.

As soon as you turn the corner and get your first glimpse of this legendary fortress, you’re sure to be amazed. Once you complete the 30 to 45 minute hike you can go inside for a small fee.

On the way to Dunnottar make sure to stop at the WWI memorial. This will give you panoramic views of the castle, Stonehaven town, and the gorgeous Scottish countryside. 

How to Visit Dunnottar Castle & Magical Stonehaven Coastal Walk

Stonehaven Hike to Dunnottar Castle

3. Festivals & Saturday Farmers Market

If you’re in Stonehaven on a weekend don’t miss out on the farmers market! This is an opportunity to buy some local products or gifts to bring home with you.

On our visit, we were lucky enough to be there for the first Saturday in June. The fun festival had street food carts, beer vendors, and live music. We also happened to be there for the RW Thomson Memorial Rally. This is a vintage car show is held yearly to celebrate the inventor of the pneumatic tire who hailed from Stonehaven Scotland.

We would eventually find out that the farmers market isn’t open in June (or January) which we were bummed about. However, we were happy to get a small taste of these local events in Stonehaven.

Stonehaven Scotland Festivals

4. Kayak or Stand Up Paddleboard 

By now you know that some of the best things to do in Stonehaven are outdoors activities! Just around the corner from Cowie Harbor is one of our favorite little beaches. This is a fun place for a swim and where you can enjoy all kinds of water sports.

The most popular is the Stand Up Paddleboard. You can also rent kayaks or even small sailboats from here!

Many of the groups we saw headed out to sea were floating their way around the corner towards the castle. So once you’ve made the hike to Dunnottar you can get a different and amazing perspective from the water.

Things to do in Stonehaven Scotland

5. Nature Stroll in Dunnottar Woods

After the castle hike and strolling the boardwalk, we have one more incredible place in nature to show you! The Dunnottar Woods is a collection of hiking trails that starts just a few minutes from Stonehaven town.

Specifically in the summertime is when you’ll truly see the forest and wildflowers come to life. Apart from various birds, be on the lookout for roe deer and red squirrels.

You should know that the Dunnottar Woods also has an interesting history to explore. It was once home to the Kennedy Family of Scottish folklore. Stop by the mysterious Shell House, Lady Kennedy’s Bath, and Gallow’s Hill on your nature walk.

Stonehaven Scotland Dunnottar Woods

6. Visit the Stonehaven Tolbooth Museum

If you’re up for a bit more history you can stop into the Tolbooth Museum. Like many of the best things to do in Stonehaven, it’s located right in Cowie Harbor.

The museum is inside the oldest building in Stonehaven and thought to have been constructed in the 16th century. Here you’ll find some interesting artifacts showcasing Stonehaven’s great history.

Its first use was as a storage house, but eventually it turned into the town prison. Right above the museum is the Tolbooth Seafood restaurant which we recommended earlier.

Stonehaven Tolbooth Museum

7. Dip in the Open Air Swimming Pool

Not up for a swim in the North Sea? Well, we don’t blame you. Even on the warmest summer days in Stonehaven Scotland the water is freezing cold! 

Luckily, there’s another option for you to take a dip. Stonehaven is home to an open air olympic sized pool that’s great for all ages. 

First opening in 1934, the colors and art deco style make it a unique swimming spot. And yes, it’s heated! 

Stonehaven Swimming Pool

Have any questions about this article or want to share more of the best things to do in Stonehaven Scotland? Leave us a comment below!

Safe Travels,
Brigitte & Jake

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Stonehaven

Scotland Travel Planning

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 Rental Car: Having a car is the best way to get around Scotland! We always use Discover Cars when traveling in Europe and have found some great deals by booking in advance.

Transportation: Omio is a great place to search for trains, buses, and transfers while traveling through Scotland.

 Tours: Check out Get Your Guide for activities all over Scotland. You can find everything from a Scottish Highlands tour from Edinburgh to a Loch Ness boat cruise, Harry Potter Magical Guided Walking Tour, and even chocolate making class.

 Flights: We always find cheap flight deals using Skyscanner and Kayak. That’s how we got flights from London to Aberdeen for $30 USD and Edinburgh to Budapest for less than $80! 

 Accommodation: Compare multiple sites for the best prices such as Booking.com and Agoda. Also,  Hostelworld should be your go-to if you’re traveling on a budget. 

 Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without protection. We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.

 Packing Lists: Find all the inspiration you need with our Amazon packing lists. Including our electronics and camera gear, must-have medical items, and long flight essentials

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