GrampianRegions of Scotland

Banff Heritage Trail Visitor Guide

Take a walk through the historic harbour town of Banff in Grampian with this heritage trail which leads you through the historic town centre as well as along the coastline and the harbour. There’s a huge amount of history in this wee town including a pre-reformation market cross, a tollbooth, the gorgeous 18th-century Duff House, and of course, the lovely harbour which now mainly serves leisure craft.

Duff House


Craig Neil in Banff, Scotland

Banff, a charming town in Scotland, is renowned for its stunning coastal scenery, historic architecture, and cultural heritage. Nestled by the Moray Firth, it boasts of a picturesque harbour, unique local shops, and the impressive Duff House, a Georgian estate turned art gallery. Banff offers a tranquil retreat for nature and history enthusiasts alike.

The town of Banff is situated on Banff Bay in the northern part of Aberdeenshire. There’s a huge amount of history in this town including a pre-reformation market cross, a tollbooth, the attractive 18th-century Duff House, and a fishing harbour which is still in constant use by fishing boats as well as leisure craft.

Although the boom years of the herring trade are over there’s still a thriving fishing community alive and well in Banff with lobster creel boats sailing in and out of the harbour throughout the day.

For tourists who’d like to see the highlights of this pretty wee town, the Banff Heritage Trail is worth following as there are cafés offering refreshments near each historic site and the views across Banff Harbour are worth the journey alone. The trail isn’t particularly long, but it’s full of history and you’ll find several points of interest along the way.

St. Andrews Aquarium

The Highlights

1: The trail is a great way to explore Banff and the surrounding coastline. If you’d like to explore the area further, there’s a picturesque nature reserve a few miles east at RSPB Troup Head.

2: Banff has lots of cafés and restaurants on the high street and the beachfront has a good pathway with accessible car parking.

3: Banff is a lovely coastal town but there are lots of other quaint villages nearby including Portsoy and Cullen.

Visiting Tips

1: Banff town centre is close to Duff House so it’s easy to combine both attractions in one day.

2: The coastline in this part of Scotland is worth a day trip even if you don’t fancy walking the Banff Heritage Trail. Head to the seaward side of the town, park up and walk west towards the lengthy stretch of golden sand at Inverboyndie Beach.

3: The next biggest town is Elgin which is a 45-minute drive west on the A98. Elgin has an impressive cathedral so read the Guide to Elgin Cathedral before heading there.

Banff Beach

Tourist Information

There’s plenty to see in this wee town as you follow the heritage trail including the community-run Banff Museum and the quaint harbour as well as a couple of first-class golf courses. The town’s trail offers a nice walk, but to be honest, the Banff Heritage Trail is quite short so you’ll complete it in around one hour. On the plus side, that gives you more time to explore the magnificent Duff House that’s located on the outskirts of Banff.

If you can, try to visit Banff on a sunny day and take a walk from Scotstown – which has a few quaint fisherman’s cottages – to the golden sand beach at Banff Links. This is a lovely walk that nicely complements the Banff Heritage Trail so you’ll get to see both the countryside and urban parts of the town in just a couple of hours.

Another nice attraction in the town is the community-run Banff Museum which showcases a collection of memorabilia from the town’s past. While Banff is known for its fishing in modern times it was once famous as a trading centre for soap makers and weavers and it had some of the most talented silversmiths in the country.

You can see some fine examples of this long-vanished silver industry at the Banff Museum where they exhibit some of the oldest surviving silver teapots in Scotland. If you have the time I recommend visiting the museum and supporting the work of the volunteers who work there.

banff harbour

Walking Route


This 2-mile walking route should only take around one hour to complete.


Easy. The Banff Heritage Trail is perfect for a nice stroll and anyone of any fitness level should be able to complete it without any problems. The walk is comprised of well-constructed urban pavements so it’s accessible at all times of the year.


Starting from Telford View at the northern end of the town, follow the road south as it hugs the shoreline past the marina. This is a great place to stop and take a photo of the fishing boats before continuing south to the junction of the B9142. Turn west and then take the road north onto High Shore Road.

There are two points of interest to take a look at here. The first is the medieval Kirkyard of Banff, and the second is Old St. Mary’s Church a little further on. After viewing both sites double back to the B9142 and take the Back Path road onto Castle Street.

The majority of the rest of the trail runs through the town centre on this road, but the next point of interest to view is the Museum of Banff which houses a fascinating exhibition about the history of the town. Further on you’ll see the old townhouses of the High Street with their distinctive red and oatmeal-coloured paintwork as well as traditional stone buildings like the early 18th-century Old Brewery building which is remarkably well-preserved.

Heading back in the direction of the marina you’ll arrive at the junction of Clunie Street. Follow this road west, then turn north up Fife Street and east along Battery Green. Points to note in this section are Clunie Street where you’ll see the old Chalmers Hospital and Fife Street where you’ll walk past the old fishing cottages. Battery Green, meanwhile, was once the location of 18th-century cannons that were installed due to the threat of French invasion during the Napoleonic Wars.

The very last section of the Banff Heritage Trail will lead you back to your starting point at the northern spit of the harbour.


Things to Do Nearby

Duff House. Banff AB45 3SX. 11-minute walk.
A grand Georgian country house set in magnificently manicured grounds. The house is under the management of Historic Environment Scotland and also the National Galleries of Scotland which look after the extensive collection of portraits that are on display. Visitors can explore the house and grounds on a self-guided tour.

Portsoy Harbour. Shore St, Portsoy, Banff AB45 2RX. 11-minute drive.
A small but historically significant harbour that was originally built to service the export of marble which Portsoy became famous for in the 1700s. Today, the harbour is a popular recreation spot and the location of a major annual sailboat festival.

Macduff Marine Aquarium. 11 High Shore, Macduff AB44 1SL. 5-minute drive.
An aquarium that features a collection of different marine habitats including deep sea, shallow water and coastal. There is also a kelp reef exhibit which is the only one of its kind in Britain.

Museum of Banff. High St, Banff AB45 1AE. 5-minute drive.
Founded in 1828, Banff Museum is one of the oldest museums in Scotland. There is a large collection of silverware on display as well as exhibits that inform visitors about the history of the town.

Boyndie Bay. Banff AB45 2JJ. 5-minute drive.
A sweeping bay that is very popular due to Inverboyndie beach which is regarded as one of the best surfing beaches in north-east Scotland. There are coastal footpaths in both directions and dolphins are frequently seen in the bay.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Banff come under Aberdeenshire?

The historic town of Banff is part of the Banff and Buchan area situated in the county of Aberdeenshire.
Address: Aberdeenshire, AB45

Directions map: Google Maps

Is Banff Scotland nice?

Banff is a pretty wee town located in a region of Scotland that has few tourists compared to many parts of the country, leading to it being an ideal place to escape from Scotland’s summer crowds.

There is a long golden sand beach at Boyndie Bay to the north and lots of pleasant walks along the coastline in both directions.
The town centre has lots of coffee shops, there is a golf course and a museum, and there is the Banff Heritage Trail which takes visitors on a circuit to view the town’s most historic sites.

What does Banff mean in Gaelic?

The origin of the name Banff is unknown. Banff is ‘Banbh’ in Gaelic, which translates to ‘suckling piglet’. It has been theorized that the name originates from ‘bean-naobh’ which is Gaelic for ‘holy woman’.

What visitor facilities are there at Banff?

Banff town centre has public toilets, restaurants, pubs, cafés, gift shops and car parking. Visit the official website for updated information on available facilities.

Craig Neil

Craig Neil is the author, photographer, admin, and pretty much everything else behind Out About Scotland. He lives near Edinburgh and spends his free time exploring Scotland and writing about his experiences. Follow him on Pinterest, Facebook, and YouTube.