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Living in Banff: The local area guide

Culture, good food, rich history and the arts are celebrated in the charming northern coastal town of Banff. It was once a commercial fishing port and, after considerable regeneration, has become a hub for leisure and private fishing boats, as well as those looking to enjoy the fruits of the sea in contemporary cafés and restaurants.

A walk through Banff will mean spotting pretty town houses, a local museum that’s open to the public, a golf course, and Banff house, with its beautiful Georgian rooms and grounds. There’s also Banff castle, a former royal residence that’s now used as a community and arts space to offer everything from fortnightly movie nights, to cultural talks, yoga and mindfulness classes.

There’s lots to keep the outdoorsy kind entertained too – Suds Surf School runs local lessons in everything from paddle and body boarding to surfing. And if long walks and wildlife are more your thing, there are plenty of tours and trails in and around the locale. Popular 6-11km routes lie in Glenlivet, often culminating in a tour of the world famous distillery that owes its name to the valley.


Banff has a population of just over 4,000 and has been home to noteworthy painters, sculptors and authors in its time. It’s a popular place for those looking to settle down or spend their later years, with the primary age group around 45-64, and 25-44 year olds coming a close second.

Social and council housing still plays a part in Banff’s homes and it’s not uncommon for locals to live on their own, or as part of a married couple.

The manufacturing and construction industries are very important to the locals, many of whom work locally or in the nearby towns of the area. Golf, walking the local tours and trails, sailing and watersports are just some of the pastimes locals enjoy most.


There’s a huge choice of highly commended state schools to choose from, including the local options of Banff Primary and Macduff School. Along the coast lies Whitehills School and slightly more inland is King Edward School.

Secondary options include Elgin Academy, Troup House and many more that are all within a short commute from Banff. There’s also the local Banff Academy, which takes students entering secondary school and currently has over 800 pupils.


With little in the way of nearby train stations, cars are part and parcel of life in Banff. They’re the best mode of transport for getting to and from local destinations.

Huntly and Keith rail stations are almost 20 miles way, so if a car isn’t an option, the variety of buses from Banff town centre is the second best method of getting around. Stagecoach and Deveron Coach services transform Banff’s northern, almost remote setting, to one that’s highly accessible. Routes run to Aberdeen, Macduff, Portsoy, Turriff, Elgin, and there’s also a route that serves Banff Academy.

Amenities and shopping

The arts and crafts scene is thriving in Banff. On the last weekend of May, Banff and neighbouring Macduff hold the COAST festival of the arts. Locals and tourists are encouraged to join workshops while music and a variety of events take place all over both towns.

Seafood restaurants and cafés are scattered around the district, with The Galley Waterfront Café in Whitehills harbour a popular choice for both its food and faultless service.

There are also plenty of places to stop for snacks or for lunch. Scott’s Coffee Shop on Castle Street is loved for its soup, cake and friendly staff, though you might want to visit the ‘famous’ Spotty Bag Shop – an award-winning café that serves homemade Scottish fare and has a rather peculiar gift shop.

All the usual services are central and present in Banff town centre. You’ll quickly discover it has everything from banks and several supermarkets, to small convenience and charity shops, as well as a petrol station and more than one post office.

Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure the above information is up to date, some inaccuracies may occur. If you notice any inaccuracies please contact

All information was correct at time of publication and is provided in good faith.

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