Next in our guide to great Scottish road trips, we take the eastern coastal way and follow Scotland’s cliffs and coves between two historic cities, Dundee and Aberdeen. Known as the Angus Coastal Route, this road trip covers 68 miles (109km), almost all of them following the contours of the coastline.
Read why you should take a Scottish road trip.
Why drive the Angus Coastal Route
The sea views for a start since lovely vistas of the sea accompany you and your car almost every mile of the route. This is also one for nature lovers – birds of prey circle above you most of the way and there are some lovely beach walks along the finest sands in this part of the country.
Scotland’s hallmark castles pop up too and the route takes in several fortresses, all with an equally noble and coloured past. The Angus Coastal Route also gives you the chance to discover two of Scotland’s lesser known cities. Dundee and Aberdeen don’t feature quite so highly in tourist guide books as Edinburgh and Glasgow, but both are well worth a stop and this road trip allows you to do just that.
And if the scenery, nature and history weren’t enough, there’s the weather. This is Scotland’s driest and sunniest corner. Taking the record for both least rain and most sunshine is Dundee so prepare for a Scottish road trip (perhaps) without an umbrella.
Highlights of the Angus Coastal Route
Perched on the River Tay estuary, one of the lesser known Scottish cities, Dundee, is now making a big name for itself on the tourist map. Lonely Planet included the city in 2018’s Top 10 Best in Europe for its art and culture, and vibrant city scene. Dundee is also a UNESCO City of Design and home to several excellent museums.
The children on your road trip will love the Science Centre where it’s definitely ‘please do touch’ with lots of hands-on experiments and exhibits. If you arrive in the evening, don’t miss the Mills Observatory – the telescope offers extraordinary views of an unpolluted night sky.
Dolphins and art
Just up the coast from Dundee lies the city’s seaside resort, Broughty Ferry. Enjoy a stroll along the sands and tuck into some traditional fish and chips and/or ice cream before you visit the historic 15th-century Broughty Ferry Castle. It’s home to the impressive Orchar Collection, containing stunning Victorian art. Keep a firm eye on the sea for the resident dolphin family who often delight visitors with their leaps and turns.
Golf and kippers
Back on the Angus Coastal Route and heading north, you come to Carnoustie, host of The Open in 2018. Famed as the most difficult golf course in Scotland, its 18 holes provide more than a challenge. For something more relaxing, carry on to town of Arbroath where traditional Smokies and an atmospheric ruined abbey await you.
Best beach in the east
Stop off at the 4km of golden sands at Lunan Bay and you’ll see why this beach is famed as the best on the east coast. Allow time for at least some of the 3-hour trail along the shoreline taking in sea caves, the ruined Red Castle and lots of dunes and cliffs. If the tide is low, don’t miss the rock arch next to the caves.
Much of the Angus Coastal Route hugs the coastline as it meanders up to Aberdeen from Dundee. Apart from a few stunning sandy coves, this is a land of cliffs, often plunging and always dramatic.
Dunnottar Castle, famous for holding out against William Wallace and safeguarding the Scottish crown jewels from Oliver Cromwell, has one of the loveliest locations of any Scottish castle. Set on a headland on lofty cliffs, the sea and coastal views rival those anywhere in the world.
Allow at least a day to explore your destination city because Aberdeen has plenty to see and do. The city has a unique position on the coast and River Dee with the stunning Cairngorms National Park to the west. Famed for its exceptional light, Aberdeen is also home to lots of historic architecture, mostly built in granite that sparkles in the sunshine.
By the sea, visit Aberdeen Harbour with a fascinating triple role as fishing port, ship building base and offshore oil rig hub. Look out for the dolphins here too. In complete contrast are the lovely sands on the beach, perfect for a stroll. Don’t miss the traditional fishing quarter of Footdee, packed with cottages and small kitchen gardens.
Discover secret malts
Aberdeenshire boasts plenty of big names in the whisky world and is also home to some lesser-known distilleries making wee drams with a unique taste. Follow the secret malts of Aberdeenshire route and discover a traditional distilling style that produces whiskies quite unlike any others.
Where to stay on the Angus Coastal Route
At the northern end of the route and within easy reach of Aberdeen and the coast is a stunning stately home to call your very own during your stay. Set in no less than 20 acres – with rolling croquet lawns and woodland, all walled – the house showcases the best of Scottish hospitality. Living quarters come with lots of sofas to sink into and open fires to curl up next to in the evenings and ample room for entertaining in style. Upstairs are a succession of spacious bedrooms (all 11 of them) and even bigger bathrooms. Royalty has stayed here in the past so why not treat yourselves to a right royal stay when you do the Angus Coastal Route?
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