Experience a spectacular journey on the highest public road in Britain as you travel through the incredible landscape of the eastern Cairngorms Mountains, with huge forests of ancient native trees, cascading waterfalls and an abundance of wildlife.
Discover an amazing array of marine wildlife in the Moray Firth, such as bottlenose dolphins, grey seals, harbour porpoises, minke whales, and maybe even orca!
Speyside is home to the world famous 70-mile Malt Whisky Trail. This area is the heart of the whisky industry, and concentrated within a few miles are more distilleries than any other area in Scotland.
Visit the Queen’s stunning Scottish ‘holiday home,’ a royal retreat since the 1850s, where you can enjoy the extensive castle grounds, gardens, and exhibitions of artwork and royal tartans.
Explore the brooding ruins of Dunnottar Castle, the dramatic cliff top fortress once home to one of the most powerful families in Scotland: the Earls Marischal.
Follow the dramatic North Sea coastline, past quaint fishing villages, towering cliffs and scenic bays such as Cruden Bay, home to a sweeping expanse of pink sand and dunes.
The North East 250 might just be Scotland’s best-kept secret, encompassing everything Scotland is famous for in one unique road trip. The circular route begins and ends in ‘the Granite City’ of Aberdeen, and offers an unforgettable drive through a breathtaking variety of landscapes in Aberdeenshire, Speyside and Moray.
You’ll discover the awe-inspiring castles of Royal Deeside, such as Crathes Castle and Drum Castle, and the Royal residence of Balmoral Castle Estate.
As you continue, wind through the dramatic mountain passes of the Cairngorms, Britain’s largest and wildest National Park. Stop off at the world famous malt whisky distilleries of Speyside, the beaches and seaside villages of the Moray Firth, and delight in the rugged coastline of Aberdeenshire.
This self-drive itinerary showcases some of the best places to spot Scotland’s impressive variety of marine wildlife, as well as the highest concentration of whisky distilleries and castles in the country. The route links charming villages and coastal towns, replete with historical and archaeological interest.
There are countless outdoor activities to enjoy in this region, from hillwalking to taking an exhilarating boat trip on the coast, and it is home to some of the most beautiful and oldest golf courses in the world, such as the Cruden Bay Golf Club.
This is our suggested itinerary for our North East 250 self-drive tour. We design each itinerary around your interests, so think of this as a starting point which can be tailored into something completely unique to you.
We love the opportunity to use our first-hand knowledge and experience to design and deliver the perfect, bespoke holiday experience for you.
Your journey begins by leaving ‘The Granite City’ behind and travelling to Royal Deeside. Why not take a short but worthy detour to visit Dunnottar Castle? This dramatic cliff top fortress was once home to one of the most powerful families in Scotland: the Earls Marischal.
As you travel to Royal Deeside you could take the opportunity to visit some of the most charming castles in the country, such as Crathes Castle and Drum Castle.
Overnight – Royal Deeside
Royal Deeside is unmatched in the richness and diversity of its castles, and Scotland’s Castle Trail brings together some of the most splendid examples of castellated architecture on a clearly signposted tourist trail.
This stunning region has been a holiday destination for British royalty ever since Queen Victoria began visiting in the 1850s, and you can visit Balmoral Castle – the Queen’s Scottish ‘holiday home’, and enjoy exploring the castle grounds, gardens, and exhibitions of artwork and royal tartans.
Overnight – Royal Deeside
Travel north through the Cairngorms – Britain’s largest and wildest National Park – following the spectacular Snow Route to Tomintoul. The village lies at a height of 345m and is popular with visitors to the surrounding whisky distilleries, as well as the Lecht Ski Centre.
Visit nearby Glenlivet Estate, which has an information centre offering maps of local walks and cycle trails. From here, you could begin your Speyside whisky experience by paying a visit to the wonderful visitor centre at Glenlivet Distillery.
Overnight – Speyside
There are countless distilleries to visit as you wind your way through the charming towns and villages of Speyside. As you journey towards the whisky capital of Dufftown, you could visit Ballindalloch Castle situated in the magnificent Spey Valley.
In Dufftown, we recommend the Explorer’s Tour at Glenfiddich Distillery where you can see how the world’s best-selling single malt whisky is made. You could also arrange an exclusive tour of the Balvenie Distillery. The Speyside Cooperage at Craigellachie is a vital part of whisky production and also well worth a visit.
Overnight – Speyside
Continue northbound towards the breathtaking Moray Coast. Why not go on a wildlife adventure boat trip with North 58 ̊ Sea Adventures in Findhorn? Look out for bottlenose dolphins, seals, porpoises, minke whales, and maybe even orca!
Overnight – Moray Coast
Enjoy a leisurely day at stunning East Beach in Lossiemouth or visit nearby Elgin Cathedral. Even as a ruin, the 13th century cathedral is one of Scotland’s most ambitious and beautiful medieval buildings.
Travel to the Scottish Dolphin Centre at Spey Bay to spot bottlenose dolphins, and don’t forget to make a stop in Cullen to taste a hearty Cullen Skink – a local delicacy.
Overnight – Moray Coast
As you continue your journey around the North East 250, you will drive along the rugged and dramatic North East coastline with its secret bays, scenic viewpoints, and lovely villages. Pass through Cruden Bay, home to a sweeping expanse of pink sand and dunes.
Nearby you will find New Slains Castle – an atmospheric ruined castle built in 1597. It is often said that this magnificent courtyard palace provided Bram Stoker with the inspiration for Count Dracula’s castle when he stayed in the area in 1895.
Overnight – East Coast
Step back in time today to explore Scotland’s heritage as you continue your journey on the Castle Trail. Travel inland and visit a stunning example of Scottish baronial architecture – 13th century Fyvie Castle & Gardens, and for some contrast you could travel to the picturesque ruins of Tolquhon Castle at Tarves.
The East Coast is also home to some of the most beautiful and oldest golf courses in the world, such as Cruden Bay Golf Club.
Overnight – East Coast
From the East Coast it is a short drive back to Aberdeen, where your unique journey on the North East 250 will come to an end.
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We know that after a busy day of sightseeing an exceptional place to stay makes all the difference. That’s why all of the accommodation we select is hand-picked using our first-hand knowledge of the best places to stay.
Our discerning team has a wealth of experience, and we extensively research and regularly review all of the accommodation we select for our clients.
Please choose from one of our accommodation categories below. If you wish to combine these categories or perhaps upgrade for a special occasion let us know in your enquiry.
Our Premium category includes a unique collection of luxurious and stylish boutique Guest Houses and small 4* Hotels. These are wonderfully charming and intimate and run with great flair by their owners.
It also comprises larger 4* Hotels selected for their high standard of accommodation, exceptional service, and great location. These range from traditional luxury to contemporary Hotels.
A collection of quality 4* Guest Houses and 3* Hotels often located in beautiful locations which provide an excellent standard of accommodation.
Tastefully decorated and furnished, these properties are generally owned and operated by locals who have a genuine passion for their region which they are keen to share with you. Their warm hospitality is sure to be a highlight of your Scottish experience.
A collection of 3* B&Bs and Guest Houses offering comfortable accommodation close to local attractions. Your accommodation is great for the little personal touches.
A chat with your warm and friendly hosts and fellow guests over breakfast will arm you with local knowledge and tips for the day ahead.
From award-winning luxury Hotels to unique country retreats, all of which offer exceptional accommodation with superb facilities and outstanding service.
These are truly magical places and amongst the best Scotland has to offer. The perfect choice when you would like somewhere really special which can be a treat for the night or for your entire holiday.
Our packages include car rental and comprehensive insurance for the duration of your holiday. Absolute Escapes has an excellent relationship with a number of car hire operators and we are able to offer quality vehicles and great value for money.
If you plan to bring your own vehicle, we are also able to offer this itinerary without a rental car.