Scotland may be well known for it’s wet and windy weather, but trust me it has some absolutely stunning beaches. When the sunshines, these beaches could easily transform you to a Caribbean island.

The clear waters and golden sands are very attractive on the eye but a wee word of warning, the water is still absolutely freezing, even in Summer!

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Unmissable Beaches on the North East 250 - Best Beaches in Aberdeenshire

Scotland has so many beautiful beaches to choose from and we were lucky to visit a good selection of them on our trip around the NE250. In this guide, we will share with you our favourites, one of them being for a bit of a different reason than you may think.. 

  • Cruden Bay
  • Collieston
  • Cullen Bay
  • Newburgh Beach
  • Rattray Head Lighthouse
  • Preparing for your trip on the NE250.
Cruden Bay drone shot

Cruden Bay

Cruden Bay is a gorgeous white sandy beach on the eastern coast of Scotland. It is very popular for tourists to visit the beach in the summer months.

The beach is 2.5km long and is accessed from a small footbridge in the village. Parking is available at the harbour, this can get very busy throughout the day if the weather is nice.

There is also a small beach at the harbour which is perfect for a sheltered swim or to launch your paddleboard or other water activity.

Toilet facilities and picnic benches are available at the harbour. If you are lucky you might even be able to see seals out at sea! 

We would recommend staying the night here, especially if you are in a van. You can stay at the harbour and have a view looking out to see and it is well worth the donation.

couple waling on cruden bay

Collieston

Collieston is a small fishing village located on the eastern coast just north of Aberdeen. During the 19th century, breakwaters were introduced, building up the sediment and creating Collieston Beach. 

The beach is protected by the harbour wall and is a very calm and sheltered beach. 

There is parking available along the harbour wall, however if you are in a larger vehicle, we would recommend you park on the other side of the harbour in the small car park as there is more space.

Collieston Bay

Cullen

If there is one place you cannot miss visiting on this NE250 itinerary, it’s Cullen. This little town was the highlight of our whole trip. We would even go as far to say it’s become one of our favourite places in Scotland!

This beautiful seaside fishing village is situated on the Moray Firth and is surrounded by the Cullen viaduct which adds to the incredible scenery. Cullen beach is one of the most beautiful we have seen as well so we can’t recommend enough that you visit.

The beach itself is a wide expanse of golden, soft sand sheltered by the surrounding cliffs. There is free car parking underneath the viaduct and toilet facilities beside the golf clubhouse.

Make sure you look out for dolphins too as you might be lucky to spot some.

If you are in a campervan, you can park up down at the harbour and hopefully you will be blessed with a beautiful sunset.

Cullen Beach drone photo

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Newburgh Beach

Newburgh Beach was a real highlight on our NE250 road trip. I had heard that this beach was well known for seeing seals but I had expected this to be a “you had to be lucky to see them” experience. It is absolutely far from that.

There is a car park beside the golf course at the beach, however if like us you have a larger vehicle that won’t fit through the 2metre height barrier, you will need to park in the small town and walk around 10 minutes. 

Follow the path way down to the beach and you will see a tidal river that you can walk along. We could have sat on the beach all day and watched the seals swimming up and down the tidal river, there were so many of them. 

This is definitely a stop you don’t want to miss out on.

newburgh seal beach

Rattray Head Lighthouse

This is one of those places that you visit not having any expectations and it just wows you. After driving down a rather bumpy off road track for around 1.5km, you will reach a small, muddy parking area.

Follow the grassy path through the gate and take the path that heads to the right. From here you will be immersed between sand dunes and walking through soft sparkling white sand. Eventually, you will see the lighthouse out at sea and an endless white sandy beach. The lighthouse, which sits offshore can be reached at lowtide.

There are no facilities at this beach.

Rattray Head Lighthouse drone

Before You Leave on the North East 250

Before you head off on your trip around the NE250, there are certain things you will need to get organised to ensure a smooth trip. These include how to get around the route, including being aware of single track roads, etc., what to pack for Scotland, where to stay along the route and what travel insurance to book.

How Do I Get Around the NE250?

Given the reasonably remote location of the NE250 and the majority of the sights along the route, the best way to get around this road trip is by driving. There are of course other methods that are still popular, such as cycling and hiking, however, if you have a short amount of time on the route, neither of these are very suitable.

As for public transport, this isn’t completely impossible, it is just a lot more difficult.

If you are looking to rent a cosy, reliable and luxurious campervan for your trip around the NE250, we highly recommend hiring through Bunk Campers. We toured with these guys around the up-and-coming Heart 200 road trip in Scotland’s central highlands and could not believe the comfort and customer service we experienced with their vans.

Browse the full range of vehicles on offer at Bunk Campers over here.

Cullen view from Castle Hill

What Should I Pack for the NE250?

When it comes to packing for a trip along the NE250 there is one item of clothing that you are going to need all year round: a waterproof. It rains in Scotland on average 250 days a year, meaning that during your 7-day NE250 road trip you will probably experience at least a drizzle of rain. Due to this, the number one item on any Scotland packing list is a good waterproof jacket.

As for the rest of the year, the temperature in Scotland and the central heartlands is reasonably mild for most of the year. During the winter months, you will most likely experience snow, however, temperatures usually sit around freezing, so it is not too cold. For your reference, the average temperatures in Scotland are listed below during each season.

Spring (March, April, May) – 5-10 degrees C

Summer (June, July, August) – 15 degrees C

Autumn (September, October, November) – 5-10 degrees C

Winter (December, January, February) – 0-5 degrees C

As you can see, the weather never really gets above the teens, with anything over 25 degrees C considered a heatwave. The best way to pack for your trip to the highlands is with layers that can be added and removed as you need them. You will definitely need a hat and gloves during the colder months and will most likely need sunscreen to protect you on the long days in the open.

For our full list of items that we pack no matter where we go in the world, check out our full packing guides over here.

Given the beautiful sights and scenery that you are no doubt going to see around Scotland, we highly recommend packing a good camera for your trip. If you want to read more about the cameras we use and why we love them, check out the link below.

You can read what else we keep in our camera bag over here.

Photography Equipment

Main Photography Camera – Sony A7iii Mirrorless Camera

Main Lens – Sony FE 16-35 mm f/2.8 GM 

Zoom Lens – Tamron 70-180mm f/2.8

Camera Stand – Neewer Portable 177cm

Vlogging Camera – Sony HX90v

Action Camera – GoPro Hero 8 Black

Drone Camera – DJI Mavic Pro 2

Camera Bag – Lowepro Flipside 300 AW

Where Should I Stay in Aberdeen?

LuxuryResidence Inn by Marriott Aberdeen is a luxury hotel in the city of Aberdeen. It is within 20 minutes walk of the beach front and has free wifi, a gym and laundry facilities on site. The best things about this hotel might just be that it was rated highly for the comfort of the beds!

Book your stay at Residence Inn by Marriott Aberdeen here.

Mid-range – The Jurys Inn Aberdeen is located a stones throw away from the city centre shops, bars and restaurants. All rooms have air conditioning, a TV, hairdryer and most importantly, a comfortable bed.

Book your stay at the Jurys Inn Aberdeen here.

BudgetThe Station Hotel sits opposite the train station in Aberdeen and is a fantastic budget option for your trip to the city. Each room is equipped with a TV and tea/coffee making facilities as well as having it’s own private bathroom.

Book your stay at The Station Hotel here.

Cruden Bay drone shot

What is the Best Travel Insurance?

No matter what type of adventure you are heading on, whether it is a mountain adventure or a relaxing beach destination, one thing we all need to be aware of is that accidents can happen. The last thing you want is for an unexpected medical emergency to ruin your trip of a lifetime. Luckily, that is what travel insurance is for.

Whenever we travel abroad, we get covered with World Nomad’s Travel Insurance, a reliable, friendly and extremely affordable method of covering yourself on any adventure. With years of experience working for backpackers around the globe, the service they provide is perfect for whatever type of trip you have planned.

Get covered for your next trip and get a quote from World Nomad’s right here.

So there you have it, the best beaches on the NE250, including castles, cliff views, and beaches. If you have visited the NE250 recently, let us know what you thought of the sights listed above, or if you have any suggestions let us know in the comments below.

As always, sharing is caring so make sure to share this photo guide with your family and friends and inspire them to head off on their own North East 250 adventure. If you are planning the trip for yourself, make sure you have a look at the rest of our Scotland content for more inspiration to our beautiful home country.

When you set off on your own adventure, be sure to tag us in your photos on Instagram and we will share them with the rest of our community. In the meantime, why not follow us over there to see what we are currently up to and keep up with us on our Instagram Stories.

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