The North East 250 is Scotland’s circular route that combines coast and countryside for the perfect road trip. Running through Aberdeenshire, Speyside and Moray, this route offers a blend of picturesque landscapes, quaint towns and villages, and an abundance of rich Scottish culture. Winding through Royal Deeside, Aberdeen, Speyside, the Cairngorms, the east and Moray coast, you can start this circular route at three main points, Aberdeen Airport, Ballindalloch or Glenshee.
With so much to see and do on this iconic Scotland driving route, we’ve listed some of the top things to expect along the way.
This route is rich in history and heritage just waiting to be uncovered. Packed full of museums, castles, and royal connections, the region has a number of attractions and unique experiences that are definitely worth adding to your itinerary.
As Scotland’s Castle Country, Aberdeenshire is filled with ancient castles and ruins that offer an enchanting addition to your road trip. Known as the ‘Pearl of the North’, discover Ballindalloch Castle as your first stop with a tour of the interior as well as the beautiful gardens and meadows that surround the baronial building.
For a royal connection, stop off and explore the beauty of Royal Deeside, home to Balmoral Castle, the known holiday home to Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Family. The entire estate is worth exploring, from the castle grounds and immaculate gardens, to the woodland surroundings and river walks, this provides a good day’s worth of adventure. Following a day of royal activities, you can retreat to our traditional inn in Ballater that offers a warm, friendly atmosphere, award-winning menus and character-filled guest rooms.
Pair a castle adventure with a visit to some of the museums along the way, and your trip will be filled with interesting and exciting Scottish history and heritage. Be sure to stop off in Fraserburgh on the north east coast to visit the fascinating Museum of Scottish Lighthouses where you’ll learn about Scotland’s maritime history.
The North East 250 is home to some fantastic distilleries which all produce their own unique Scottish whiskies. From Royal Lochnager to world famous Glenlivet and more, take a tour of some of these impressive distilleries across Aberdeenshire and even enjoy a wee dram of Scotland’s national drink.
Along the north and east coast stretch of the North East 250, take your time to drive along the beautiful coastline, take in the fresh sea air and explore the endless stretches of sandy beaches and picturesque fishing villages dotted along the way.
The cliffs of Portnockie boast impressive views across the Moray Firth and the renowned Bow Fiddle Rock. This is a great spot for a coastal stroll and if you’re lucky you might even catch a glimpse of the resident pod of dolphins!
Mountains & Countryside
When you head further inland, the iconic Cairngorms National Park, is a hub for outdoor activities and adventure around some of Scotland’s mountain peaks and rolling countryside. Whether you want to bag a few munros, kayak through the valleys or get your adrenaline pumping with some mountain biking, there are so many outdoor activities to undertake along the North East 250.
Or if you prefer a more leisurely stroll meandering through the countryside or along various river banks, Aberdeenshire provides the perfect backdrop to experience the very best of Scotland.
For more road trips and drives like the Argyll Coastal Route and fun things to see and do, take a look at some of our other Scotland travel blog posts to start planning more Scottish adventures. And, to make it easier, discover our selection of hotels and inns across Scotland that provide an ideal base when exploring the west coast and the Highlands.
For a North East 250 map and options for sending the driving route to your sat nav, find this on the My Route App North East 250 route page.