Visiting Aberdeen - What to See and Do
(Aberdeen Airport ABZ, Scotland)
Scotland's third-most populous city, Aberdeen
, may lie slightly off the beaten path from any other Scottish city, but those who travel the extra distance to this 'flower of Scotland' will be rewarded with a bustling waterfront, complete with a centuries-old early morning fish market and streets lined with unique granite buildings.
A recent poll named Aberdeen as Great Britain's 'Happiest City', but this 'Granite City' also ranks among the country's most prosperous communities thanks in large part to the booming offshore North Sea oil industry, which has earned the city yet another nickname, 'Oil Capital of Europe
Visitors who choose to come to Aberdeen for pleasure instead of business will find an equally large number of riches and attractions to enjoy, especially along its picturesque harbour and peaceful white beach. Old Aberdeen and Castlegate, the city's two oldest neighbourhoods, are packed with historic buildings, the oldest of which is the Castlegate Tolbooth Tower, all that remains of the castle which once stood guard over the city.
Ten things you must do in Aberdeen
- Take a leisurely 45-minute guided cruise around Aberdeen Harbour, among Great Britain's busiest ports. The city's iconic clock tower was the first sight that visitors saw centuries ago when entering this bustling port.
- Participate in the 50 or so fascinating hands-on attractions offered at the Satrosphere Science Centre, which first opened in what used to be the city's main tram station in 1988. Although this interactive museum is especially geared towards children, visitors of all ages can learn something from the museum's live science shows.
- Stroll or jog along the city's long sandy beach, which extends more than 3 km / 2 miles from the Don River to the former fishing village of Footdee. Although the North Sea waters may be too cold for comfortable swimming and the weather is often too cool for comfortable sunbathing, Aberdeen Beach is nonetheless a popular windsurfing and surfing spot, and also makes for a romantic walk in the evenings.
- Watch for the dolphins who frequently frolic in the harbour mouth next to Footdee, once a small fishing village at the former foot of the Dee River. Although Footdee is now part of the Greater Aberdeen area, it remains a charming area filled with unusual outhouses and picturesque homes.
- Learn about this port's proud history at the Aberdeen Maritime Museum, a five-star rated facility where the most unusual exhibits include a spectacular oil rig model and its surrounding spiral walkway. Many of the various exhibits are situated in historic buildings linked by medieval-style corridors.
- Relax among the tropical flora attractions at the Winter Gardens in Duthie Park, one of the biggest winter gardens in all of Europe. Although most of the garden's rare and exotic plants grow inside greenhouses, the exterior Japanese gardens also provide a fair bit of tranquility when the weather cooperates.
- Enjoy a coffee in the cellar café of Provost Skene's House. This picturesque home, originally constructed in 1545 as the home of Aberdeen's city governor, is the city's oldest surviving family home. The house's rooms are now accurately furnished and decorated in the manner of typical Scottish homes during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.
- Learn how to ski or snowboard without snow at the Aberdeen Snowsports Centre, where visitors do not have to wait for the white stuff to fall before soaring down its unique dry slopes.
- Enjoy a show at His Majesty's Theatre, the largest in all of north-east Scotland. The acoustics in this beautiful dome-shaped theatre, which first opened in 1906, are ranked among the best quality in the entire United Kingdom. Theatrical, musical and operatic companies from across Scotland regularly perform at Aberdeen's 1,400 seat theatre.
- Walk around the charming medieval campus of King's College, first founded in 1495. Although the King's College Chapel and its towering spire are the most dominant landmarks, the 17th-century Cromwell Tower and observatory is also worth a closer look.