town in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, UK

Banff is a small fishing port in Aberdeenshire in northeast Scotland. It stands on the west bank of the mouth of the River Deveron, with the village of Macduff on the east bank; in 2020 each had a population of about 4000. The main reason to visit is the scenic coastline, dotted with little coves and harbours, and for Duff House which is nowadays a branch of the National Galleries of Scotland.

Sir George Steven (1829-1921), founder president of the Canadian Pacific Railway, was born in Dufftown in Aberdeenshire, and named Banff, Alberta and Banff National Park after this Scottish town. The name "Banff" originally meant a stream, or a holy woman, or a piglet . . . they've no idea frankly.

Get in edit

Duff House

Stagecoach Bus 35 runs from Aberdeen to Macduff and Banff, taking two hours, and continues to west to Portsoy and Elgin. It runs M-Sa every 30 min as far as Banff, with an hourly onward service to Elgin.

Watermill Bus 273 runs every two hours M-Sa between Banff, Macduff and Gardenstown. Bus 271 runs once M-F early morning from Fraserburgh.

Banff lost its railway in 1964. The nearest stations are Huntly and Keith but these lack onward public transport; Elgin is a better option. These stations are all on the line between Aberdeen and Inverness, with trains each way every two hours.

By road the usual approach from the south is via Aberdeen, reached by M90 / A90. The direct route is then A947 cross-country. A scenic coastal route is to stay on A90 to Fraserburgh then take A98 west to Banff.

You can also approach via Inverness: follow A96 Aberdeen road to Fochabers roundabout then A98 east to Banff.

Get around edit

Map of Banff (Scotland)

Buses 35 and 273 link Banff and Macduff.

Taxi firms are B&G (+44 7710 589626) and Glendeveron (+44 7388 868894).

See edit

  • Banff town centre has many attractive 18th / 19th century buildings.
  • St Mary's Church on High Shore was built in 1790. It's set in the medieval graveyard of its predecessor.
  • 1 Duff House, Banff AB45 3SX, +44 1261 818181. Apr-Oct Th-Su 09:30-13:00, 14:00-17:00, Nov-Mar F-Su 11:00-12:00, 13:00-16:00. A magnificent house designed by William Adam in 1735, and now housing artwork from the National Galleries of Scotland. Morning visits are by guided tour, afternoon is free-flow. Adult £10, child £6, concessions £8.    
  • 2 Museum of Banff, High St, Banff AB45 1AE. Local history museum founded in 1828, housed in the library which was built in 1902. Exhibits include the burgh cross dating from the 1400s and a claymore from the early 1300s.
  • 3 Macduff Marine Aquarium, 11 High Shore, Macduff AB44 1SL, +44 1261 455775. Apr-Oct M-F 10:00-17:00, Sa Su 11:00-17:00; Nov-Mar Sa-W 11:00-16:00. Small but absorbing display of Scottish marine life. Adult £8.10, conc £6.70, child £4.90.
  • 4 Whitehills is another small fishing village 3 miles west of Banff. The old harbour and centre is attractive, pity about the modern sprawl around it.

Do edit

  • 1 Banff Castle. A mansion house designed by architect John Adam, built in 1750, now used as a community arts venue. Its 12th century predecessor was demolished and only a few scraps remain.    
  • Beaches: the sandy beach is Inverboyndie a mile west of Banff. East from Macduff is a series of little rocky coves and groynes.
  • Golf: Duff House Royal GC is in the grounds of Duff House; white tees 6043 yards, par 68. Royal Tarlair GC is east side of Macduff, white tees 5897 yards, par 71.
  • Cornhill Highland Games are held in May / June on Cornhill playing fields, 8 miles southwest of Banff. The next are on Saturday 3 June 2023.

Buy edit

Banff market cross
  • 1 Co-op Food, Bridge Rd, Banff AB45 1HE. Daily 07:00-22:00. Near the river bridge so it's also reasonably handy for Macduff.
  • 2 Tesco Metro, Carmelite St, Banff AB45 1AF. M-Sa 07:00-22:00, Su 10:00-18:00. Small supermarket.
  • There's also a Scotmid on Duff St (B9026) at the south edge of Macduff, open daily 07:00-21:00.
  • The Farmers Market is held last Saturday of the month 09:00-12:30 in the Fishmarket, Macduff.

Eat edit

  • Macduff has a cluster of fish & chips shops, and Knowes Hotel restaurant.
  • Banff has more choice, including Lemon Grass, Indian Garden, and Ali's Kitchen.
  • Kelpie Cafe is a fun place on Castle St in Banff, open Tu-F 10:00-16:00.

Drink edit

  • In Banff are Ship Inn, Castle Bar, Aul Fife, Market Arms, Central Bar and Railway Inn.
  • In Macduff is The Old Moray.
  • Macduff Distillery produces malt whisky. No tours.

Sleep edit

Banff Castle
  • 1 Banff Links Caravan Park, Inverboyndie, Banff AB45 2JJ, +44 1261 812228. Clean peaceful site on beach, open Apr-Dec. Tent £14, Tourer pitch £27.
  • County Hotel, 32 High St, Banff AB45 1AE, +44 1261 815353. Georgian townhouse showing its age but a pleasant stay. B&B double £95.
  • Carmelite House is a friendly B&B at 30 Low St.
  • Trinity Manse is a B&B at 21 Castle St, B&B double £70.
  • 2 Banff Springs Hotel, Golden Knowes Road, Banff AB45 2JE, +44 1261 812881. Slick comfy modern hotel with 36 rooms and restaurant. B&B double £80.
  • 3 Fife Lodge Hotel, Sandyhill Rd, Banff AB45 1BE, +44 1261 812436. Comfy friendly place, good value for money. B&B double £100.
  • 4 Knowes Hotel, 43 Market St, Macduff AB44 1LL, +44 1261 458000. Bright place with good restaurant in an 1870s schoolhouse. B&B double £95.

Connect edit

As of March 2023, Banff, Macduff and their approach roads have 4G from EE, O2 and Vodafone but no signal from Three. 5G has not reached this area.

Go next edit

Routes through Banff
Cairngorms Keith (junction  ) ←  SW   NE  ENDS AT   between Portsoy and Banff

This city travel guide to Banff is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.