The small harbour, begun in 1817 and once busy with the herring fishing, is now mainly used by pleasure craft.
The village specialised in the export of smoked haddock and had at one time three large curing houses. The local delicacy Cullen Skink, is a delicious fish soup of smoked haddock, potatoes, onions and milk.
The most striking feature of the town is the series of railway viaducts, one of the great achievements of nineteenth-century railway engineering, which divide the sea town from the upper town. They were completed in 1886 by the Great North of Scotland Railway.
Cullen's long-standing popularity with holiday makers is based on its fine long sandy beach, which is one of only seven beaches in Scotland never to have failed the European Community test of bathing waters.