- For other places with the same name, see Elgin (disambiguation).
Elgin is the county town of Moray in northeast Scotland, best known for its ruined cathedral which made it a "city". Together with nearby Lossiemouth it's the service town for two nearby RAF bases, with a population in 2016 of 24,760.
Ornithosuchus was one of the beasts that dragged its slithery tail across the Triassic sands that became the bedrock of Elgin: imagine a 2 m tall crocodile walking on its hind legs. (Towards you, quite rapidly, with a glint in its eye.) This and other strange local reptiles are exhibited in the Elgin museum. But the later value of that sandstone was to provide something to build upon and with, originally on higher ground 5 miles south. A town grew on the present site from the 12th century, under the patronage of Alexander II, and the cathedral foundations were laid. It would become one of the most serially-wrecked cathedrals in the country: sometimes "wyld, wykked Heland-men" were the culprits, but pretty much everyone had a go at it except the walking crocodiles.
The "Elgin Marbles" have only a tenuous connection with the town. It was the 7th Earl of Elgin who in the early 19th century removed (or looted or legally purchased or rescued from destruction, take your pick) many friezes and sculptures from the Acropolis in Athens - they're now in the British Museum in London. But the family residences were in Fife and elsewhere, and none of the Earls of Elgin lived here.
Tourist Information is in the library near the cathedral, open M-F 10:00-20:00, Sa 10:00-16:00.
Trains run every couple of hours from Aberdeen via Dyce, Inverurie, Huntly and Keith, taking 80 min to Elgin and continuing west to Forres, Nairn and Inverness (another 50 min). A single from Aberdeen (as of Aug 2021) is £12 in advance or £20 for a walk-up fare.
Elgin 1 railway station is just south of town centre. It has step-free access, toilets, a ticket office and ticket machines. No left luggage or cafe but there's a vending machine.
Stagecoach Bus 10 runs hourly from Aberdeen Union Square, via Inverurie, Huntly and Keith, taking 3 hours to Elgin and continuing to Forres, Nairn and Inverness, another 90 min.
Bus 35 takes a roundabout route from Aberdeen, four hours via Dyce, Oldmeldrum, Fyvie, Turiff, Macduff, Banff, Portsoy, Buckie, Cullen, and finally Elgin. Alternate buses turn back at Banff, so to Elgin they're hourly M-Sa and every two hours on Sunday.
Bus 33 runs every 30 min between Elgin, Lossiemouth and the RAF base.
Bus 32 runs hourly M-Sa between Elgin, Duffus, Hopeman and Burghead.
Elgin 2 bus station is right in town centre on A96 Alexandra Rd.
By road follow A96 between Aberdeen and Inverness, which runs through town, there's no bypass.
You can walk around town and take the bus for places along A96, but you need your own wheels for other outlying sites.
Taxi operators include C & R +44 1343 546546, Elite +44 1343 544555, and A2B +44 1343 556655.
- 1 Elgin Cathedral, King St, Elgin IV30 1HU. Daily 10:00-16:00. Ruins of a cathedral dating from 1224. Over the following years it proved ever-so-combustible, needing rebuilding after 1270, 1390 and 1402. It was abandoned after the Reformation in 1560 and fell derelict; only from the 19th century did stabilisation and preservation begin. Adult £9, conc £7.20, child £5.40.
- Biblical Garden is a peaceful spot east side of the cathedral, open daylight hours, free.
- 2 Elgin Museum, 1 High Street, Elgin IV30 1EQ, ☏ . Apr-Oct W-Su 1PM - 4PM. Old-fashioned but informative museum of local history. Donation.
- The Monument on Lady Hill west end of High St is a 24 m column for the 5th Duke of Gordon (1770-1836), aka Marquess of Huntly. The spiral staircase within leads to the statue atop but is rarely open. Nearby is the ruins of Elgin Castle, built in the 12th century, captured by the English and then destroyed by Robert the Bruce in 1308.
- 3 Moray Motor Museum, Bridge St, Elgin IV30 4DE, ☏ . Apr-Oct daily 11:00-17:00. Collection of antique vehicles in a former mill. Adult £7, conc £6, child £3.
- 4 Spynie Palace, Elgin IV30 3QG (Off A941 two miles north of town). Apr-Sept Su M 10:00-16:00. Ruin of a fortified Bishop's residence from the late 12th century. The cathedral church was here until it moved to Elgin town in 1224. Adult £6, conc £4.80, child £3.60.
- 5 Duffus Castle. is a ruin off B9017 towards the coast. A wooden motte-and-bailey was built in 1140, wrecked around 1300, then replaced by a stone castle in the 14th century. That in turn was abandoned in 1705. It's free to access anytime.
- See Lossiemouth for points further north, which include Gordonstoun School and the small ports of Hopeman and Burghead.
- 6 Fochabers is a village 10 miles east of Elgin, now bypassed by A96. The main attraction is the walled garden of Gordon Castle, open daily 10:00-16:00. Admission costs adults £7, concs £5, children £3; half-price Nov-Mar; the castle itself isn't open for tours but is used as an event space. The 18th century Duke laid out Fochabers village on a grid pattern; Fochabers Folk Museum on High St is open F-Su 10:00-16:00. See also St Mary's Church (RC) and Gordon Chapel (Anglican), both with impressive stained glass windows.
- Cinema: Moray Playhouse on High St shows mainstream releases.
- Watch football: Elgin City play soccer in Scottish League Two, the fourth tier. Their home ground is Borough Briggs, capacity 4500, just north of town centre.
- Golf: Elgin GC is on Birnie Rd a mile south of town centre. White tees 6458 yards, par 71, visitor round £80. There's a handful of other courses by the coast around Lossiemouth and Burghead.
- Speyside Way is a hiking and cycling trail along a former railway trackbed, from Aviemore to Grantown-on-Spey then down the valley to Ballindalloch, Craigellachie, Fochabers and the Spey estuary.
- Burning of the Clavie is a New Year's custom in Burghead, but by the former Julian calendar, so it's on 11 Jan. (When the 11th is Sunday, it's held on the 10th - this next happens in 2026.) The clavie is a burning barrel of staves carried around town then set up on Doorie Hill, site of the Pictish fort.
- Highland Games are held at Gordon Castle in May, with the next on 21 May 2023.
- "I commissioned something about seventy pair of shoes and brogues, which might come to 3 shillings or three shillings and sixpence each . . . "
- - the Earl of Kilmarnock, awaiting execution after the 1745 Jacobite rebellion, sought to settle his debt to the Elgin shoemakers.
- St Giles Shopping Centre is the town centre mall on High St.
- Aldi is just north of A96, open M-Sa 08:00-22:00, Su 09:00-19:00. Asda and Lidl are next the railway station.
- Johnstons of Elgin are a knitware chain. Their mill shop is 400 yards east of the cathedral, open daily 09:00-17:00.
- Pattaya Restaurant, 54 High St Elgin IV30 1BU, ☏ . Tu-Sa 12:00-14:30, 17:00-23:00, Su 17:00-22:00. Good Thai food, spice levels just right.
- Qismat Tandoori, 204 High Street, Elgin IV30 1BA, ☏ . M-Sa 12:00-14:00, 17:00-21:30, Su 17:00-20:00. Reliable choice for South Asian, Indian and Pakistani food.
- Pizzeria Toscana, 20 Thunderton Place, Elgin IV30 1BG, ☏ . M-Sa 12:00-14:00, 16:30-21:00, Su 16:30-20:30. Relaxed small place for pizza and other favourites.
- Drouthy Cobbler, 48A High St IV30 1BU, ☏ . Su-Th 12:00-00:30, F Sa 12:00-01:30. Cosy relaxed place.
- Granary, 14-18 Thunderton Place IV30 1BG, ☏ . Daily 09:00-01:00. Part of Belhaven chain, family-friendly place with good grub.
- Diceys Bar, 185D High St IV30 1DW, ☏ . M-Sa 11:00-23:00, Su 12:00-23:00. This popular place can get really busy.
- Joanna's Nightclub on High St next to Diceys is open Saturday night to 03:00.
- The Muckle Cross (JD Wetherspoon's), 34 High St IV30 1BU, ☏ . Daily 08:00-22:30. Standard Spoons pub with decent food, drink and service.
- Others in town centre are Victoria Bar, Against The Grain, White Horse Inn, Midas and Ionic Bar.
- 1 Glen Moray Distillery, Bruceland Road, Elgin IV30 1YE, ☏ . M-F 09:00-17:00, Sa 10:00-16:00. This was founded in 1897; it was closed 1910-20 but re-opened by the owners of Glenmorangie, who were acquired by LVMH. In 2008 it was sold to La Martiniquaise, who expanded whisky production to 5.5 M litres annually. The company has a wide portfolio of spirits and most is blended, eg into Cutty Sark, Glen Turner and Label 5. Unlike LVMH they aim at the budget market, and their impressive capacity is why single-malt Glen Moray is available at discount supermarket prices. There are tours four times a day, which you should pre-book. Standard tour £7.
- Other distilleries line the Spey valley. The main concentration is higher up around Dufftown and Grantown, but those near Elgin include Benriach, Longmourn, Mannochmore, Glenlossie[dead link] and Glen Elgin.
- 2 Gordon & MacPhail, 58-60 South Street. M-Sa 11:00-17:00. Opened as a grocer in 1895, Gordon & MacPhail is an independent bottler of rare whiskies. Although the bottling is now done elsewhere, the original shop offers whisky tastings.
- 1 Laichmoray Hotel, Maisondieu Rd, Elgin IV30 1QR (opposite railway station), ☏ . Clean convenient small hotel. B&B double £90.
- The Mansefield, 2 Mayne Rd, Elgin IV30 1NY, ☏ . Good central hotel and restaurant. B&B double £110.
- 2 Southbank Guest House, 36 Academy St, Elgin IV30 1LP, ☏ . Comfy central B&B in a Georgian town house, with a friendly host. A shared kitchenette with fridge and microwave enables limited self catering. One of several B&Bs and small hotels in the streets between the station and the High St. Double (room only) £65.
- 3 Sunninghill Hotel, Hay St, Elgin IV30 1NH, ☏ . Old-style hotel in a Victorian villa. B&B double £120.
- 4 Mansion House Hotel, Haugh Rd, Elgin IV30 1AW, ☏ . Baronial pile, comfy but showing its age. B&B double £120.
- 5 Eight Acres Hotel, Morriston Road, Elgin IV30 6UL (west edge of town), ☏ . Poky and in need of refurbishment.
- 6 Premier Inn, 15 Linkwood Way, Elgin IV30 1HY (On commercial park one mile east of centre), ☏ . Good budget chain. B&B double £60.
- 7 Travelodge, 5 Coxton Park, Elgin IV30 8AZ (on A96 two miles east of town), ☏ . Reliable budget chain hotel. B&B double £50.
Elgin has 4G from all UK carriers, though the coverage in Lossiemouth and Burghead is patchy. As of Aug 2021, 5G has not reached this area.
- Elgin is a good base for exploring the many distilleries of Moray and Speyside whisky.
- It's also midway between the cities of Inverness and Aberdeen, each around an hour's drive away.
- On the Moray Firth coast there are opportunities for dolphin-watching, and you can visit the offbeat Findhorn Foundation - a 1960s new age community which has become an ecological living centre, with self-built houses, circular meditation room, and wind turbines.
- Lossiemouth is a few miles north on the coast.
- Forres to the west has a Pictish stone and a monument to Nelson, but the star attraction is Brodie Castle 5 miles west.