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11 of the best Aberdeenshire beaches for a day trip

St Cyrus sandy beach Aberdeenshire
One of the many picturesque Aberdeenshire beaches you could visit this summer.

Come rain or shine, Aberdeenshire beaches are some of the most picturesque in Scotland.

Looking for some fun ideas to make a day of it in the north east? There are lots of things to do and see in Aberdeenshire, but surely nothing can beat a good ol’ beach trip.

Family races and ball games, ice cream, picnics, sunbathing, daring each other to brave the cold water – what’s not to love about the beach? And the great news is, you’re spoilt for choice in the north east. Here are some options, to help you plan your next beach trip.

11 of the best Aberdeenshire beaches

Balmedie Beach

Balmedie Beach in Aberdeenshire
Balmedie Beach at sunrise, Aberdeenshire

At Balmedie Beach, you’ll have glistening water in front of you and picturesque sand dunes and grassland behind you. Balmedie Country Park has 1700 metres of boardwalk to help you explore the dunes and soak up the views.

Balmedie Beach is also one of eight Aberdeenshire beaches to be crowned a Scotland’s Beach Award winner in 2022. 

Collieston Beach, Ellon

Collieston beach, Aberdeenshire
Collieston Beach in the sunshine.

You’ll find a sandy beach and small village sheltered by a quaint pier at Collieston. It’s only 15 minute drive from Ellon, so well worth a wee look – especially for the ice cream at Smugglers Cone!

From Scottish tablet to cotton candy and Turkish delight, there’s an ice cream flavour to suit everyone.

Cruden Bay Beach

One of many Aberdeenshire beaches, Cruden Bay
Cruden Bay with Slains Castle in the distance.

Another 15 minutes up the coast from Collieston and you’ll find Cruden Bay Beach, a designated bathing water area that boasts a 2.5 km long beach. If you’re looking for a coastal walk in Aberdeenshire, you won’t find a much prettier or dramatic scene than Cruden Bay.

Towering above the beach is New Slains Castle. Its dramatic ruins are said to have inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula!

Cullykhan Beach

Cullykhan pebbled beach.
The pebbled beach of Cullykhan Bay.

Just near Pennan (a pretty coastal town set down in its own little bay, made famous by the film Local Hero) is Cullykhan beach. Climb up to Castle Point, on which lies the remains of an ancient fort, for a stunning photo op of the cove and Pennan.

Fraserburgh Beach

Couple walking on Fraserburgh beach
The golden sand at Fraserburgh Beach.

When it comes to Aberdeenshire beaches, Fraserburgh’s golden sand and dunes have to be visited! Check out available water sports (like paddleboarding and surfing), Kinnaird Head Castle Lighthouse and the fishing harbour during your visit.

You may be lucky enough to spot dolphins and even Orcas from here!

Links Bay Beach, Portsoy

a seal on Portsoy beach.
Locals named this regular visitor to Portsoy beach Sindy the seal.

The popular village of Portsoy attracts visitors thanks to its charming 17th century harbour and traditional boat festival. It also boasts a small but perfect beach. It’s the ideal place for a trip to the seaside – and for spotting seals, like Sindy (pictured above)!

Newburgh Beach

Seal colony on Newburgh beach.
The seals resting up on Newburgh Beach, Aberdeenshire.

Speaking of seals, Newburgh Beach (about 20 minutes drive from Aberdeen) is one of the best for spotting these adorable creatures and other marine life! There’s a large colony of seals, which you should be able to see resting on the other side of the estuary.

Peterhead Lido Beach

Peterhead Lido caravan park.
Peterhead Lido caravan park. By Darrell Benns/ DC Thomson.

Peterhead Lido is a thin, sandy and sheltered stretch of beach within Peterhead Bay Marina. Enjoy a stroll along the sands, have fun with water sports like windsurfing and sailing, before heading into Peterhead for a bite to eat.

St Cyrus

Sunrise at St Cryus beach, Aberdeenshire.
The sun rising over the beach at St Cyrus.

Not many Aberdeenshire beaches can compete with St Cyrus when it comes to nature! The St Cyrus National Nature Reserve has it all. You’ll discover beautiful beach, pretty wildflowers, a variety of birds (like falcons), volcanic cliffs, sand dunes and grasslands – not to mention marine life.

The likes of humpback whales have even been sighted. Check out the visitor centre in the old lifeboat station for further information. The wide-open expanse of the beach makes this one of the best dog-walking locations in Aberdeenshire.

Sandend Beach, Banff and Buchan

Sandend beach and village, Aberdeenshire.
The historic harbour and village of Sandend.

Seaside villages don’t come much prettier than the charming Sandend. With its quaint fishing cottages and historic harbour, it’s the ideal picnic location. In fact, it dates back to the 1600s and is one of Aberdeenshire’s oldest fishing communities.

The sandy beach is a must-visit for surfers, with the crashing waves classed as some of the finest in the country for surfing!

Stonehaven Beach

Blue skies at Stonehaven beach.
Blue skies over Stonehaven Beach.

Harbour town Stonehaven is a must for fans of water sports, including swimmers. It’s another designated bathing water site, if you fancy braving the cold with a dip in the sea.

If you prefer a different way to cool down then Stonehaven Beach Promenade offers some of the best ice cream in Aberdeenshire.

Plus, around a six-minute drive away is the spectacular ruins of Dunnottar Castle (or you can walk it, to get your steps up).

Aberdeenshire beaches are sure to be a hit with the whole family, but there are lots of other ways to make a day of it in the north east this summer. Discover more things to do and places to visit in Aberdeenshire.