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Best Cruise Ship Excursions From Aberdeen

Hi! Love thoughts on which of these shore excursions to choose while in Aberdeen for a day. I love exploring nature, especially during our trip to Scotland. THANK YOU!

  1. Pitmedden Gardens
  2. Crathes Castle and Gardens
  3. Dunnotar castle and Stonehaven
Posted by
1986 posts

What time of year is this?

They are three very different trips...

Pitmeddan Gardens are described as one of the great formal gardens of Scotland and were very much a C17th status symbol for Sir Alexander Seton, 1st Baronet of Pitmedden. The walled garden with its neatly clipped hedges surrounding flower beds is wonderful. From memory, the museum was a collection of old farm equipment with a C19th farmhouse kitchen. There is a good cafe but the house isn't open. There is a daily guided heritage estate tour at mid day, and also a woodland walk around the estate. This is very much an outdoor day. There is more information and pictures here.

Crathes Castle and Gardens - you get a C16th castle to visit as well as the gardens. It looks like a real castle with turrets and contains a good range of nicely furnished rooms. Like all good castles, it even has a ghost. There is a lovely walled garden with a lot of herbaceous perennials as well as topiary hedges. It is surrounded by estate and woodland and there are six nature trails. The Red Squirrel trail at 4.25 miles is the longest. There is also a cafe. This gives you both gardens, and stately home plus walks. More information and pictures here.

Dunnotter Castle and Stonehaven - Dunnotter is a ruined castle, standing on an outcrop of rock high above the sea. It is a dramatic site and the website describes it as 'once seen, never forgotten'. There are however about 200 steps to climb to reach the castle. (This picture will give some idea of access.) Once inside, it is ruined - standing stone walls only. There are no gardens and apart from birds and may be wild flowers, there isn't a lot of nature to explore and limited walking as the castle fills the top of the rock. This is all about location, location, location... Pictures and some information here. You need a good day for this as if it is raining there is no shelter. The castle can also be closed if there are very strong winds.
Stonehaven is a rather nice small town with a harbour and beach. The museum in the Tollbooth gets good reviews on Trip Advisor.

I'll leave the final choice to you!

Posted by
2 posts

Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply! We will be there mid august 2023.

So helpful!

Posted by
27360 posts

I don't know that part of Scotland at all, but I'd be tempted to go to ViaMichelin.com and plug in each tour's list of destinations to see the estimated driving time. You know a tour bus (with the unloading and reloading time) is going to take longer than a private car. I might favor the tour that gives me more time not sitting on the bus.

Posted by
275 posts

Crathes Castle and Gardens would be my choice and not just because they are practically on my doorstep :-)

Posted by
6473 posts

By then this brand new Cruise port, at the South Harbour, should be well into it's stride. The port isn't even on UK road maps yet.
Stonehaven and Dunnottar Castle is so close that you don't, to me, need an organised excursion, as you can so easily do it by yourself.
If doing an excursion I try to do something I would find it hard to do myself.
I would find it a straight toss of a coi between Pitmedden and Crathes, but if this is the full range of tours being offered I am underwhelmed.

Posted by
6839 posts

I was just walking through Pitmedden gardens yesterday, as I stayed in Dumfernline last night. They were quite lovely and I really enjoyed the time I spent walking through them, but I am much more of a history buff so I would pick one of the castles. But that’s me. And there is history there in the gardens admittedly.

That said, if you go with Pitmedden, it has the added bonus of sitting right next Dunfermline Abbey, which is well worth a visit. You can also stop in the church while you’re there and see the tomb of Robert the Bruce.

Posted by
1986 posts

Mardee, Pitmeddan Gardens are 120 miles north of Dunfermline and a stone's throw from Aberdeen. Are you thinkingof Pittencrieff Park?

All of them are less thasn 45 minutes drive from Aberdeen, so I don't think you need worry about long hours sitting in a coach.

Posted by
6839 posts

Oh, duh. I guess I was, wasleys. It’s been a long travel day. 🙄

Posted by
6473 posts

Note that when a Cruise Ship is in this new port there is now a frequent shuttle bus #CS1 into port with a day rover transit ticket included in the return fare of £10.

This has come to light while I was planning a trip to Aberdeen, not connected with a cruise, and looking at transit to that part of the city for a lighthouse visit.