Your Aberdeen holiday
Founded in the 8th century, Aberdeen’s growth as a town can be primarily attributed to its fishing, shipping, and trading industries. During the Middle Ages, most inhabitants were fishers, tanners, or saddlers.
In 1306, the people of Aberdeen aided the Scottish hero Robert the Bruce in defeating the garrison staked out in the Aberdeen castle that supported Edward I for the English throne. The town’s motto “Bon Accord” was supposedly the password used to storm the castle, and is written on the City Coat of Arms that is said to have been a gift from Robert the Bruce himself. In 1336, Edward II burned Aberdeen to the ground but it was soon rebuilt as New Aberdeen.
Throughout the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, Aberdeen expanded despite struggling with epidemics such as the plague. Two universities were established, the Catholic King’s College and the Protestant Marischal College, which eventually merged to become the renowned University of Aberdeen in 1860. As Aberdeen’s port grew, so did the city’s whaling and export industries. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Aberdeen saw the arrival of hospitals, railways, canals, a sewer system, gas street lighting, and harbours.
In 1970, oil was discovered in the North Sea and major oil companies established headquarters in Aberdeen. The city has become known as the Oil Capital of Europe, though as oil deposits dwindle this may change. With a current population of around 200,000, Aberdeen is Scotland’s third most populated city.
Take a flight to Aberdeen for a peaceful weekend in this quaint Scottish town. Perched on the North Sea and sandwiched between the Dee and Don rivers, Aberdeen was once a centre for fishing and ship making, but today is better known for its modern oil industry. With granite buildings that sparkle in the sun, it is called the silver or “Grey City”, depending on the weather.
So book an Aberdeen hotel today, sample whiskies in a traditional pub, tour breathtaking castles, and be immersed in the mystique of Scotland’s Celtic culture.
For those who enjoy malls or who like to rife through collectibles, Aberdeen has some great shopping destinations. Main streets to hit are Chapel, Thistle, George, and Union. Packed with fine brand name stores and restaurants are complexes such as Union Square, The Academy Shopping Centre, and The Bon Accord.
Antique lovers will want to head to Colin Wood on Rose Street for their Elizabethan and Victorian maps and prints, or Grandad’s Attic for antique pine furniture.
Check out the Aberdeen Indoor Market on Market Street for a mix of local food and shops. For local farmers’ produce, Scottish whisky, and handcrafted goods, every last Saturday of the month The Aberdeen Country Fair is held on Belmont Street. You can also find your Scottish lineage at the Aberdeen Family History Shop on King Street.
Hike Bennachie Hill
Just a 50-kilometre drive from town is the Bennachie Hill, offering both easy and challenging hiking routes and spectacular views of the countryside from various tops.
Climb to the Oxen Craig summit, a 3.5 to 4.5-hour feat of fairly steep terrain, and take in breathtaking panoramic views.
For a medium 2.5-hour hike climb, try neighbouring Millstone Hill and spot red squirrels, Roe deer, grouse birds, and even osprey.
Those wanting a low-key walk should try the waymarked trails that offer the same wilderness without the intensity. Before heading back, stop by the visitor centre to learn more about the nature and history of Bennachie.
Enjoy the Aberdeen International Youth Festival
Coordinate your holidays in Aberdeen with this renowned international cultural event, which generally takes place in late July and early August each year.
The Aberdeen International Youth Festival brings together thousands of young performers and performing arts companies from around the world for a two-week artistic exchange. Aberdeen venues and streets are flooded with dance and musical performances ranging from the traditional to the experimental, from ballet and opera to jazz and contemporary.
Top Aberdeen attractions
St. Machar’s Cathedral
Make your way to the St. Machar’s Cathedral in Old Aberdeen, where headstones line the pathway to this granite 15th century church, complete with a twin towers, eight bells, and a stunning 16th century wood ceiling adorned with 48 shields of clergy and monarchs.
As the legend goes, Machar, a friend of the famous Gaelic Irish missionary St. Columba received a message from God to build a church where the river bends like a bishop’s staff. The River Don seemed to bend like so, and somewhere around 580 AD Machar founded the church.
Castles of Grampian
Take a tour of Scotland’s majestic castles. A 30-minute drive from Aberdeen will take you to the Castle Trail, a route that leads to fourteen castles built between the 13th and 18th centuries.
Some, like the Balvenie Castle are well-kept estates with expansive gardens, ballrooms, gift shops, and cafes. Others, like the Dunnottar Castle that sits on a cliff over the North Sea are haunting ruins of medieval times.
The 18th century Duff House is an impressive Georgian-style home now a part of the National Galleries of Scotland, holding art exhibitions that consist of paintings, tapestries and furniture.
Aberdeen Art Gallery
Right in the heart of town is the largest public gallery in Scotland, The Aberdeen Art Gallery. Opened in 1885, the granite columned halls contain French Impressionist and post-Impressionist works from artists such as Monet and Renoir, as well as pieces by the Scottish Colourists of the 1920s and 30s. Also on display is a collection of ceramics, jewellery, textiles, and metalwork. The gallery is open from Tuesday through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4:50 p.m. and on Sundays from 2 p.m. to 4:50 p.m.
Aberdeen Maritime Museum
Opened in 1997, this digitally interactive and educational museum details the maritime history of Scotland’s North Sea. The museum contains exhibits on fishing and shipping and uses a nine-metre high oil platform to illustrate the process of offshore oil drilling.
Tip * Booking your Tours, Transfers & Airport Parking before you go will save your money & time and ensure a stress free start to your holiday
Where to stay in Aberdeen
Located in the heart of Aberdeen is The Caledonian hotel, a four-star hotel with a Victorian style and modern amenities. Overlooking the Union Garden Terrace, each room at the Caledonian’s is equipped with sky television, wireless Internet, a coffeemaker, bathrobes, and a hairdryer. The Caledonian is also ideal for business meetings as it features four large meeting rooms and free on-site parking.
Traditional charm meets great service at the Copthorne Hotel, one of Aberdeen’s premier places to lodge and only a short walk to all major shopping areas. The hotel owns a ballroom, banquet, and a bar. Other standard features include wireless Internet access, 24-hour room service, laundry, and dry cleaning services.
Originally built in 1849, the Aberdeen Douglas hotel is a granite treasure of the city on the outside and stylish and hospitable hotel from within. Just off Union Street, the hotel is steps from the Aberdeen Rail and Bus station. Rooms are comfortable and include a wireless Internet connection, a TV, a hairdryer, and an ironing board and iron. The Aberdeen Douglas also owns the restaurant Molly’s Bistro and Malone’s Irish Pub.
Set amidst 30 acres of beautiful countryside, less than 5 kilometres out of town is the Mercure Aberdeen Ardoe House Hotel and Spa, a 19th century mansion with 109 traditionally decorated rooms. All rooms come with wireless Internet service and satellite TV. The hotel also features a heated indoor pool.
How to move around in Aberdeen
Transportation from the Airport
From the Aberdeen Airport in Dyce, there are regular buses that will take you to the city centre. One is First Bus # 27 that runs Monday thru Friday and takes about 45 minutes.
Another is Stagecoach Bluebird #10, which runs between Aberdeen and Inverness via the airport. Taxis from the airport are run by Comcab, cost about £15 and take 25 minutes.
To both enjoy the city and the countryside of the region, consider car hire in Aberdeen Traffic drives on the left and seatbelts are mandatory. Make sure to bring a map of Northeast Scotland and respect speed limits, which are usually 48km/h in town and 80km/h on highways.
The A90 highway connects Aberdeen, Dundee, and Edinburgh, while the A96 will get you to Elgin and Inverness.
If your car breaks down, call the Automobile Association (AA) at 0800-887-766.
Aberdeen taxis are the most expensive in Scotland, however there are many public transportation options.
Bus service is run by First and is extensive in town. Weeklong passes can be bought at post offices and daylong ones once aboard.
For long-distance travel, the ScotRail has various routes from cities such as Edinburgh and Glasgow into Aberdeen. If coming into town by train, get yourself a Plusbus ticket that serves for travel on local buses.
Castle Trail Tour
Download a copy of the Visit Scotland’s Castle Trail guidebook that includes a map, descriptions of each of the 14 castles, along with other suggested sights, restaurants, and hotels.
Cafe Boheme (23 Windmill Brae) is an intimate French restaurant in the centre of town, which offers a welcome break from a day of sightseeing. With its charming French decor and friendly staff, Cafe Boheme serves up a small menu of classic and modern French dishes such as fole gras, crepes, and duck leg confit. Pair lunch or dinner with a fine French wine and sample a cheese plate or creme brulée to finish the evening.
Sip on great regional ales and malt whiskies at Ma Cameron’s Pub, the oldest pub in Aberdeen, centrally located just off of Belmont Street (6-8 Little Belmont Street). With its cosy wood and brick decor and intergenerational crowd, Ma Cameron’s is a laidback place to rest your bones. Pub eats include burgers, steak and ale pie, haggis, and even tikka masala.
Just a short drive from the city, Eat on the Green (Udny Green, Ellon) is an award-winning gourmet restaurant with a view of the sprawling green Scottish countryside. With its rustic exterior and relaxed vibe, this place is perfect for a romantic evening or birthday celebrations. Main dishes include the local Aberdeen angus, baked salmon, fillet of lamb over pesto risotto, and a spice broccoli and almond pancake. Savour an orange and dark chocolate tart for dessert or the banana and toffee shortbread.
For fresh local fish battered and fried and served with chips, head to the Ashvale Fish Restaurant (42 Great Western Road), a 20-minute drive from the city centre. The large portions, mussels, mushy peas, and a dozen kinds of fish to choose from make this joint a local favourite.
Health & Safety
For medical attention the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary on Foresterhill Road is just a mile from the end of Union Street. The number is 0845 456 6000. Nearby clinics include the Bridge of Don Clinic on Cairnfold Road (01224 825712) and the Airyhall Clinic on Urquhart Road (01224 825712).
If not part of the UK’s National Health Service, a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will ensure that medical consultations are free of charge. There are also many pharmacies or chemists located in Aberdeen centre for medication needs.
Dial 999 in case of an emergency. For non-emergency police phone calls, call 0845 600 5 700.
While there are no vaccination requirements for a visit to Aberdeen, diphtheria and tetanus are recommended.
Though Aberdeen has relatively low crime rates, always remain alert. Do not walk alone at night or in poorly lit areas and keep jewellery and electronics out of sight.
Do not leave valuables in parked cars and try not to carry large amounts of cash on your person. Always keep a copy of your travel documents on you and store the originals in a safe place.
The possession and consumption of drugs is illegal and punishable by law, and those under 18 years of age may not purchase or consume alcohol. Prostitution is also illegal.
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Aberdeen Holiday Packages
10-14 Union Terrace Map
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The four star hotel, The Caledonian, is located right in the city centre , near Aberdeen Rail Station and Union Terrace Gardens. Immediately near St Nicholas Academy and Robert Gordon University,... More
Choose the contemporary Holiday Inn Express Aberdeen City Centre hotel, seconds from lively Union Street and close to major transport links. Holiday Inn Express Aberdeen City Centre is located in... More
Skene House Holburn has an enviable location where the west end meets the city centre, minutes walk from Union Street - offers guests a hotel experience, a welcoming environment and a... More
2 Whitehall Place Map
FREE WiFi and Guest Parking
Skene House Whitehall is situated in a quiet residential part of Aberdeen, yet only 5 minutes walk from the city centre, with its own private garden exclusively for guests use. The gardens lend... More
Based in the heart of the city, Jurys Inns hotel in Aberdeen is perfectly situated for anyone looking to stay a night in the city centre. Located on Guild Street, our hotel in Aberdeen has free... More
The hotel offer 185 bright and modern guest rooms along with excellent meeting facilities making it the perfect base for business and leisure travellers.Located in the city centre, the hotel is an... More
31 St. Andrew Street Map
Complimentary wired and Wi-Fi Internet Access
Set in the heart of Aberdeen - the oil capital of Europe - the Hilton Garden Inn Aberdeen City Centre is only minutes from the city's train and bus stations. Scotland's 3rd largest city features an... More
Skene House Rosemount is situated on Rosemount Viaduct in the heart of the city only a few minutes' walk away from Union Terrace Gardens, His Majesty's Theatre, Art Gallery and the Trinity and... More
Serviced apartments in the heart of Aberdeen city centre offering a home environment that is inviting and comfortable, making short and long stays a very enjoyable experience.11 GOLDEN SQUARE,... More
Luxury serviced apartments in the heart of Aberdeen city cent-re. With free continental breakfast, free Wi-Fi & free welcome hamper. Every apartment has a separate bedroom(s), a modern fully... More
Set in the heart of Aberdeen City Center, contemporary, iconic building opened its doors in November 2009. located very close to union street, the hotel provides easy access to the city's shops,... More
The Station Hotel is located in Aberdeen city centre, opposite the railway station, with onsite parking available. Part of the Cairn hotel group, we offer spacious and comfortable bedrooms and an... More
The Copthorne Hotel Aberdeen, Aberdeen's premier hotel, is located in the city centre within easy walking distance of the main shopping area. Behind the granite facade of this historic building one... More
Carmelite is a boutique hotel with free WiFi in public areas, set amongst the nightlife of Aberdeen's centre. It has a stylish bar and restaurant with relaxing sofas, cocktails and a creative... More