North East 250 Itinerary: Your Scotland Road Trip Guide

NE250 Map

After spending more than 10 days driving the famous North Coast 500 in Scotland, Tom & Anna decided that they wanted to carry on exploring the rest of the country, which is how they ended up driving Scotland’s lesser-known driving route, North East 250. Read the full itinerary and guide below.

Unlike its counterpart in the North which largely focuses on nature, this scenic drive takes you through castles, distilleries, and seaside towns — everything that Scotland is known for.

As most people know, the NC500 spans 500 miles, and as you might’ve guessed by its name, this North Eastern route spans 250 miles, allowing you to complete it anywhere from three to five days.

This makes it the perfect campervan road trip for those who don’t have a lot of time in Scotland.

While this is a five-day itinerary, you could most definitely spread this out longer as there is just too much to see and do along the way!

We decided to do this trip straight from our North Coast 500 campervan journey in a Bunk Camper, so we started our trip from Dornoch. However, the three main starting points are usually Glenshee, Ballindalloch, and Aberdeen.

Regardless of where you opt to begin the trip, you can just follow the itinerary below and our recommended things to do.

How to Get Around: Scotland in a Campervan

NE250 - Aero

By the time we reached the North East 250, we had been living in our Bunk Camper, “Bunkaroo” for about 10 days. Now more than ever, we are convinced that traveling by campervan is the best way to see and explore Scotland.

We did the math and worked it out to be CHEAPER than renting a car and staying in hotels as the campervan runs as your transportation, kitchen, and mobile home. We traveled around in the Aero from Bunk Campers which comfortably sleeps two people.

The roads in the North East 250 are all pretty easy to drive and are relatively straightforward, allowing us to easily navigate, drive, and park around, despite driving a large vehicle.

If you are traveling as a family, Bunk Campers also offers campervans for four to six people, making it an ideal option for family vacations.

The freedom to park up anywhere was incomparable and really made our trip so much more fun!

Scotland’s North East 250 5 Day Itinerary:

Day 1: Dornoch – Glenlivet Estate
Day 2: Glenlivet Estate – Portsoy
Day 3: Portsoy – Cruden Bay
Day 4: Cruden Bay – Aberdeen
Day 5: Aberdeen – Edinburgh

Day 1: Dornoch – Glenlivet Estate

Estate

Coming from Dornoch, we drove around 98 miles and made our way to the Glenlivet Estate.

The estate is located right by the Cairngorms National Park, making it an ideal stop for nature lovers like us. We arrived at the estate and immediately decided to go on a few hikes as they had a number of marked trails spread all over the estate.

If you are interested in doing a couple of hikes, you can check out their website which has information on the different trails and the distances for each path. Most of the trails have designated parking spots right by the trailhead, which means you can drive straight up to your hike of choice.

After our hike, we decided to park up for the night and walk towards the Glenlivet Distillery for a whiskey tour. We parked by a local community hall which was around 10 minutes away from the distillery. Although you can technically wild camp anywhere within the park (as long as you do it responsibly), we were happy with our location. If you book in advance, you can stay and also use their facilities for £10 a night.

Alternatively, if you are not drinking or if you opt to take away your whiskey in a driver’s container, there is a small campsite with electrical plug-ins by the Tomintoul Bowling Club Caravan and Camper park.

Day 2: Glenlivet Estate – Portsoy

After a hearty breakfast in our van, we set off and made our way towards the coast. This particular drive has loads of pit stops along the way, taking you through Drumin Castle, Ballindalloch Castle and Gardens, Elgin Cathedral, and more.

If you are a big whiskey fan, there are heaps of distilleries along the way that are worth visiting!

The cool thing about driving the North East 250 is that the entire place has loads of brown signposts, making it easy to spot attractions along the way. You can literally fill your day visiting all the different attractions along the route.

After we drove through the middle, we found ourselves along the coast of The Moray Firth where we were treated to stunning beaches and rocky cliffs. We stopped by Lossie Beach and walked along the coast before making our way to the Scottish Dolphin Centre.

The Moray Firth is home to a large dolphin population and the Scottish Dolphin Centre is a great stop along the way to learn about these gorgeous creatures. If you are lucky, you might get a few dolphin or seal sightings while you’re there.

Before heading to Portsoy Links Caravan Park, we stopped by Bowfiddle Rock to admire this unique land formation before parking up for the night.

Day 3: Portsoy – Cruden Bay

NE250 - Aero internal

Portsoy Links Caravan Park was one of our FAVORITE sites during the entire trip. We opted not to plugin which meant we could park up right by the beach, allowing us to open up our doors, giving us incredible views of the beach.

We decided to have a slow morning and enjoyed the sunshine as we watched the wildlife around the sea. For lunch, we recommend backtracking a little bit and driving to Cullen to have some of the famous Cullen Skink soup which is made of smoked haddock and potatoes.

From Portsoy, take the coastal road and reward yourself with some stunning coastal views. This was probably one of our favorite driving days as the views are pretty incredible.

Recommended stops along the way include St. Drostan’s Well, The Museum of Scottish Lighthouses (yes, it’s a thing), the town of Fraserburgh, Buchaness Lighthouse, and Slain’s Castle.

Day 4: Cruden Bay – Aberdeen

NE250 - cows

From Cruden Bay, start making your way down to Aberdeen which is a port city in the North East. There are so many beautiful beaches along the way, and we recommend stopping in all of them, even if it is just to stretch out your legs.

If you fancy seeing some wildlife, head over to Newburgh Seal Beach where you can see loads of seal colonies lapping up the sun across a nearby island. Be warned that the parking by the beach cannot accommodate campervans as there is a maximum height limit.

We recommend parking by the nearby pub or by the main road and just walking towards the beach as it is a narrow single path road leading to the car park.

Balmedie Beach is another stop along the way that is worth viewing as the windmills by the water make for a pretty interesting photo. Parking here also has a height limit but they have a separate lot for coaches which we used.

After this, we headed into Aberdeen where you can park alongside the esplanade and walk along the coast. There are loads of different restaurants and attractions by the city so it’s up to you if you want to spend some time here.

From Aberdeen, we drove for about 15 minutes until we reached Deeside Holiday Park where we stayed the night.

Day 5: Aberdeen – Edinburgh

On the last day, we got on the highway and made our way back to Edinburgh to return our camper van to Bunk Campers. If you have a little bit more time on your hands, we recommend exploring more of Cairngorms National Park.

Overall, we absolutely loved our time driving the North East 250!

It’s an ideal trip for those who don’t have as much time to see the North Coast. This itinerary can be shortened to a three-day trip, as the driving distances between each location actually aren’t that long.

If you are looking to do a road trip to see the highlights of Scotland, we cannot recommend the North East 250 enough. Our little home on wheels was everything we wanted and more, giving us the freedom to explore and see what Scotland has to offer.

How to book?

For more information on hiring a campervan in Scotland and booking, simply use Bunk Campers’ online booking engine, email [email protected] or call +44 (0) 2890 813057.

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