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For other places with the same name, see Aberdeen.
Marischal College on Broad Street, formerly part of the University of Aberdeen but now the headquarters of Aberdeen City Council

Aberdeen is the third-largest city in Scotland, United Kingdom, with a population of over 220,000. It is a harbour city located on Scotland's north-east coast, approximately 120 miles (190 km) north of Edinburgh and 400 miles (650 km) north of London, where the Rivers Dee and Don meet the North Sea. It is an important sea port, regional centre, and the hub of the North Sea oil industry.

Although remote by UK standards, this is no backwater; Aberdeen is a prosperous and cosmopolitan city (partly due to North Sea oil) and is characterised by its grand and ornate architecture. Most buildings are constructed out of granite quarried in and around the city, and as a result, Aberdeen is often referred to as The Granite City. It is also known for its many outstanding parks, gardens and floral displays throughout the city, as well as its long, sandy beach. Aberdeen also boasts the title of Oil Capital of Europe and has been voted in several polls as the happiest place in Britain, with a 2006 poll citing access to large areas of greenery and community spirit. It has won the Britain in Bloom competition 10 times.

Aberdeen does not attract as many tourists as other Scottish destinations such as Edinburgh or St Andrews, and can feel more authentic. It is a great place to stop for a couple of days on a tour of Scotland, and especially good as a base for exploring the wider region to take advantage of the castles, golf, whisky distilleries, scenery, mountains (including skiing and snowboarding), coast and other attractions in Aberdeenshire and Royal Deeside. Alternatively, Aberdeen's remoteness yet comforts and cosmopolitan nature makes it an interesting destination for a short city break if you really want to get away from the stress.


  • Understand 1
    • Orientation 1.1
    • Background 1.2
    • Read 1.3
    • Climate 1.4
    • When to go 1.5
  • Talk 2
  • Get in 3
    • By plane 3.1
      • Destinations 3.1.1
      • Getting to/from the Airport 3.1.2
    • By train 3.2
      • Station Facilities 3.2.1
      • Parking, Taxis and Buses 3.2.2
    • By bus/coach 3.3
    • By sea 3.4
    • By car 3.5
      • Main roads into (and out of) the city 3.5.1
      • Driving conditions 3.5.2
  • Get around 4
    • On foot 4.1
      • Pedestrian Maps 4.1.1
    • By bus 4.2
    • By taxi 4.3
    • By bicycle 4.4
    • By train 4.5
  • See 5
  • Do 6
    • Festivals 6.1
    • Sports 6.2
    • Theatre/Concerts 6.3
  • Learn 7
  • Buy 8
    • Markets 8.1
    • Supermarkets and Food Stores 8.2
  • Eat 9
    • Cafes (suitable for lunchtime or a snack) 9.1
    • Restaurants 9.2
  • Drink 10
  • Sleep 11
    • Budget 11.1
    • Mid-Range 11.2
    • Splurge 11.3
  • Stay safe 12
  • Connect 13
  • Cope 14
    • Work Out 14.1
    • Post Offices and Mailboxes 14.2
    • Banks 14.3
    • Places of Worship 14.4
      • Christianity 14.4.1
      • Islam 14.4.2
  • Get out 15
    • Castles 15.1
    • Golf 15.2


Busy day outside the Town House (i.e. city hall) on Union Street

Aberdeen is a city of 220,000 people - smaller than Glasgow and Edinburgh, but larger than other Scottish cities. By UK and even Scottish standards it is remote and often the subject of "far away" jokes (the nearest city is much smaller Dundee 70 miles away). Despite this, Aberdeen is surprisingly easy to reach and is a modern and prosperous city. British visitors are often surprised to find a such a vibrant city so far north. Partly due to oil wealth and its status as the only large regional centre, it has the facilities of a much larger city. Together, all this gives Aberdeen an air of self-sufficiency found in few places in Britain today.

Aberdeen is one of the most prosperous places in Scotland, due primarily to the North Sea oil industry, and has low unemployment (just over 2% in February 2012), leading to a low crime rate compared to other UK cities. Immigration due to the oil industry and the universities gives the city a cosmopolitan air that often surprises visitors, and when out and about in the city languages are heard from all over the world.


Aberdeen has a seemingly-random mediaeval layout common for cities in Britain. The city-centre is divided by the mile-long Union Street which runs north-east/south-west (named after the 1800 "union" between Great Britain and Ireland). At the north-east end is the main square - the Castlegate - while leading off Union Street are important roads such as (east to west) Broad Street, Shiprow, Market Street, St. Nicholas Square, and Union Terrace. The Tourist Information Centre is located on Union Street, at the corner with the Shiprow. Running parallel to Union Street are Guild Street (where the railway and bus stations are located) and Upperkirkgate, which leads into Schoolhill. East of the Castlegate, roads lead to the beach and the sea, while at the other end of Union Street, roads lead to the West End (where many millionnaires live). Unusually, the harbour is in the city centre and is rapidly reached from the Shiprow, Market Street, Guild Street and Marischal Street. The River Dee does not flow through the city centre but a little to the south. The River Don flows through the north of the city, about two miles (3.2 km) north of the city centre.


Crocuses at Victoria Park

While the location has been inhabited for over 8000 years, a city did not develop until the middle-ages. The modern city was formed by two settlements which grew together - Old Aberdeen close to the mouth of the River Don (home to the University since 1495), and New Aberdeen, about two miles south where a stream, the Denburn, met the River Dee (the Denburn is long built-over by a road and railway but its route is crossed by bridge on Union Street).

Much of the city's prosperity came from the sea and its harbour - until the mid-20th century fishing and mercantile trading were mainstays of the economy, along with granite quarrying and carving, local agriculture and manufacturing (e.g. paper and cloth). Then, these industries declined while Aberdeen's location made it perfect as the main base for North Sea oil. Today, most people work for one of the many oil-related companies or know someone who does, and these jobs are well-paid. Many work offshore on the North Sea platforms and commute for shifts of two weeks or so by helicopter, which are conspicuous in the city's skies. However, a section of the population did not benefit from North Sea oil and still experiences poverty and deprivation. Aberdeen has two universities with a total of 30,000 students: the University of Aberdeen, which was founded in 1495 and is one of the oldest in the world; and Robert Gordon University (RGU).

Granite buildings at Schoolhill, Aberdeen. Domed building in foreground was constructed in 1901 as the Aberdeen Academy school; today it houses the Academy Shopping Centre, with Jack Wills clothing store under the dome.

During the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, growing prosperity led to grand civil engineering projects, including Union Street (much of which is actually bridge) and the construction of many large and ornate buildings. Grand architecture is one of the city's distinctive features, particularly Neoclassical, Gothic Revival and Scottish Baronial styles. The mediaeval buildings had been made of wood, and following several disastrous fires, the city's leaders resolved to rebuild only in stone. The local stone they had, quarried in the city and throughout Aberdeenshire, was granite, which was used to make nearly all pre-1960s buildings and gives the city the name "The Granite City". On a sunny day the granite sparkles in the sunshine, although on "dreich" (grey and cloudy) days the grey granite buildings can give the city a much more gloomy atmosphere.

As technology improved, granite could be worked more cheaply, allowing later buildings to have ever more ornately-carved stonework such as at Marischal College (pronounced like "Marshall"). Granite began to be exported by sea, particularly to London where many buildings are constructed of Aberdeen or Aberdeenshire granite (e.g. the fountains at Trafalgar Square). However, highly-carved granite was still expensive and demonstrated the owner's success and status, with side and rear walls left in cheaper, unworked stone as in Bath. Many of these buildings (particularly in the city centre) are now in need of restoration and have an air of faded grandeur. Buildings are no longer constructed in granite but it is still used extensively as a facing material and granite chippings are heavily used in the concrete of modern buildings.

After the discovery of North Sea oil in the 1960s, the city grew from an elegant but declining backwater dependent on fishing, to a thriving centre of the energy industry. Today, in addition to the growing population, large numbers commute to Aberdeen from exurbs and outlying towns, with heavy traffic at rush hour. Despite this, some areas of the city retain the feel of a village. Perhaps the best examples of this are the line of suburbs stretching towards Royal Deeside, including Cults and Peterculter (pronounced Petercooter).


Johnston Gardens

Aberdeen in poetry

Mica glittered from the white stone.
Town of the pure crystal,
I learnt Latin in your sparkling cage,
I loved your brilliant streets.

Places that have been good to us we love.
The rest we are resigned to.
The fishermen hung shining in their yellow
among university bells.

— excerpt from Aberdeen by Iain Crichton Smith.

The sea birds cry wild things above, in
the tender and the stainless sky.
Oh! that's a city to learn love in,
where sea-birds cry.

— excerpt from Aberdeen by Rachel Annand Taylor.

Two daily local newspapers serve Aberdeen: the tabloid Evening Express and the more serious Press & Journal (often referred to by Aberdonians as the "P&J", it also publishes editions specific to other areas in the North of Scotland). There is an urban legend that the Press & Journal once ran the headline, "Aberdeen Man Lost at Sea". It was April 1912 and the story referred to the sinking of the Titanic. Whether this is true or not, reading these can give an interesting angle on developments and life in the city and surrounding towns. You can buy them at any newsagent, supermarket, convenience store, street news-stand, and other places throughout the city.

Aberdeen and the north-east of Scotland also feature in fiction. Lewis Grassic Gibbon's trio of novels tell the story of a young woman, Chris Guthrie, growing up and living in the north-east of Scotland. The first, Sunset Song (1932) tells her story of growing up in a rural area just south of Aberdeen, at a time of change in society and the rural way of life. Sunset Song is regarded as one of the most important Scottish novels of the 20th century and many Aberdonians have studied it in school. The other works of the trilogy are Cloud Howe (1933) and Grey Granite (1934), which feature her life continuing in a north-east city that may or may not be Aberdeen.

Numerous crime novels by Scottish author Stuart MacBride are set in Aberdeen. His best-selling thrillers featuring Detective Sergeant Logan McRae portray a fictional darker side of the city and its environs, but make frequent reference to real-life city locations. These include Cold Granite (2005), Dying Light (2006), Blind Eye (2009) Shatter the Bones (2011), Close to the Bone (2013) and The Missing and the Dead (2015). These novels often feature prominently in bookstore displays in the city. Iain Banks' 2012 novel Stonemouth (adapted by the BBC into a 2015 drama serial) follows a man returning to a small seaport town north of Aberdeen after leaving due to a sexual scandal. Its name is adapted from Stonehaven, a town a few miles south of Aberdeen, and many scenes of the TV show were filmed in Macduff on the north coast of Aberdeenshire.

In addition, there is an anthology of poems about Aberdeen called Silver: An Aberdeen Anthology (2009) edited by Alan Spence and Hazel Hutchison. Also insightful is historian Ian R. Smith's reflections on his hometown and life there, after having moved away, published as Aberdeen: Beyond the Granite (2010). If you are interested in books about Aberdeen or by local writers, call into Waterstone's bookstore (Union Street/Trinity Shopping Centre) or WH Smith (in the St. Nicholas Centre). Each store has a local interest section with a surprising range of relevant books about Aberdeen and life in the city. Also, the city's public Central Library on Rosemount Viaduct has a local section just inside the doorway and is free for all to browse. Most insightful about the city's architecture are Aberdeen: The Illustrated Architectural Guide by W. A. Brogden (4th edition, 2012) and The Granite Mile: The Story of Aberdeen's Union Street (2010) by Diane Morgan, among others. There are a wide range of books published about the city's history, architecture, local life, and other topics.


 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Daily highs (°C) 6 7 9 11 13 16 18 18 16 12 9 7
Nightly lows (°C) 0 0 2 3 5 8 10 10 8 6 2 1
Precipitation (mm) 75 54 61 59 55 56 59 62 73 84 84 79

See the 5 day forecast for Aberdeen at BBC Weather

Despite the northerly latitude (the same as Riga, Gothenburg, Juneau, Alaska and slightly further than Moscow), because of its coastal location Aberdeen's climate is relatively mild although a few degrees colder than much of the rest of Britain. Contrary to expectations, sunny days are frequent and it does not rain often but when it does it tends to be heavy. Aberdeen weather is highly changeable, with a sunny day possibly changing rapidly to cloudy or even rain (and vice versa). At other times, weather may remain constant for days and the changes are often unpredictable so dress in layers. It gets surprisingly warm in the sun (especially if the wind is light) so be prepared to remove layers as well. An umbrella isn't usually helpful because rain is often accompanied by strong winds which will turn your umbrella into an impromptu sail or else just turn it inside-out. All year round, a sea mist called the Haar not infrequently appears during the evening or night but usually dissipates in the morning. Air pollution is low compared to the rest of the UK.

Super Puma helicopter in sky over Aberdeen, transporting workers to/from North Sea oil rigs
In summer, days are long: at midsummer (21 June) dawn is around 3am and dusk around 11pm, while nautical twilight lasts the entire night. There are many sunny days and while often warm, the temperature rarely exceeds 25C (77F). There are also cooler summer days. These sunny yet cool days increase in Spring and Autumn.

Conversely, winter days are short with sunrise in late-December not till after 8.30am and sunset around 3.30pm. Days are equally often sunny and cloudy, but strong, biting winds off the North Sea are common and it can feel bitterly cold even in the sun. Snow is not frequent and there is lying snow only a couple of weeks in most years, but if you'll be in Aberdeen for any significant time in winter, take your snow boots or be prepared to buy some.

When to go

Southern end of esplanade at Aberdeen Beach, at high tide. Building shown is Harbour Control Tower, while Footdee lies at end of the path

The best time is during the summer months. Days are long (reaching 18 hours at the summer solstice) and most days are warm and sunny. The granite sparkles in the sun and is at its most impressive against the (surprisingly frequent) blue skies which last late into the evening. Most of the festivals occur in summer and it's also the best time to visit attractions in the surrounding region. Alternatively, late spring and early autumn are also good times to visit. Autumn in Aberdeen can be pretty, particularly in the many parks and green spaces, but be prepared for cooler weather and possibly chilly winds. In odd-numbered years (e.g. 2013) avoid early September, when the giant Offshore Europe oil convention takes place and every hotel room in the region is booked up months in advance, with hotels charging extortionate rates. Unless you're interested in skiing or snowboarding in the mountains, winter months are best avoided. These tend to be dark, cold and windy, while the grey granite can appear depressing on the many overcast days and there is less happening of interest to visitors.


Scottish English is the everyday language. Unlike the highlands and islands, Scottish Gaelic (pronounced "gallic" not "gae-lic") is not widely spoken and is rarely heard. You will also hear other languages spoken on the street by many Aberdonians who have come from other places, with Polish, Russian, Mandarin and numerous other European languages heard often. However, the local dialect is called Doric, now spoken primarily by middle-aged and older people and those from lower social classes. Doric can be more confusing at first than other Scottish dialects. This includes for native English speakers - while Scots accents are frequently heard on TV and radio around the UK and other places, Aberdeen accents are not.

Gallowgate, looking toward Broad Street and corner of Marischal College

Oil in Aberdeen

Although Aberdeen is the UK's oil city, and the most significant oil city in Europe, no oil is actually drilled on land here, nor is oil from the North Sea brought ashore in Aberdeen. Instead, Aberdeen is the North Sea oil industry's supply and engineering base. This is the city where oil rig crews, engineers, oil services companies and businesses, and other services are based. Crews live here or in the region and take a helicopter from Aberdeen to the North Sea platforms, supply ships dock at the harbor, and major oil services companies are based here. There is a huge ecosystem of oil companies, ranging from small operations to multinationals, that provide services of all sorts for the oil industry on a contract basis. Oil comes ashore via pipelines at Sullom Voe on Shetland (where it is loaded onto tankers), and at Grangemouth in Fife where there is also a refinery.

With time you quickly pick up what people mean, which is often clear from the context anyway. In fact, most people speak in a standard Scots accent similar to that elsewhere which is easy for most visitors to understand. However, you are likely to hear Doric spoken by some while out and about, particularly if you travel by taxi or bus. Few young people speak it today, or may speak it only with close family or other Aberdonians and switch to standard Scots English when around others.

Here are a few commonly used words and phrases:

  • "Fit like?" - A greeting, essentially, "Hello, how are you?".
  • "Nae bad, yersel?" - "Not bad, yourself?".
  • "Fit?" - "What?".
  • "Fa?" - "Who?".
  • "Far?" - "Where?".
  • "Fan?"- "When?".
  • "Aye" - "Yes" (as used throughout Scotland).
  • "Na'" - "No" (usually, an n sound followed by a vowel constitutes "no".
  • "Wee" - "Little", though this famous Doric word has become common throughout Scotland and in other areas worldwide.
  • "Dinnae ken/Da ken" - "Don't know".
  • "Hay min" - "Excuse me good sir?"
  • "far aboot ye fae?" where are you from?
  • "ben a/eh hoose" - "Through the house/in the other room"
  • "gie" - "give"
  • "tea" - can be used to mean an evening meal, i.e. supper, as well as the beverage.
  • "Foos yer doos?" - A less common way to say "how are you?", literally translated to "how are your pigeons?". The proper Doric response is "aye, peckin awa'".

If you politely suggest you don't understand, almost all Doric speakers will be able to switch to more standard English to converse with you, particularly if you are from outside the UK.

Get in

Although Aberdeen is remote by UK standards, do not be put off as with modern air and rail transport links it is remarkably easy and fast to get to. Journeys by bus or car to the city can be long so many travellers coming from outside Scotland arrive by plane (a flight of an hour or so from London) or by train.

By plane

Aberdeen International Airport, main passenger terminal, showing bus stop where buses arrive and depart for the city centre

Aberdeen International Airport (IATA: ABZ) [1] is at Dyce, 7 miles (11 km) from the city centre. Airlines fly to/from European cities as well as UK destinations. It is operated by BAA (the same company which runs London Heathrow, Stansted and Glasgow Airports) but operations are smoother than at Heathrow. Many Aberdonians rely heavily on the airport when travelling outside Scotland and it is also one of the world's largest heliports, serving the offshore rigs in the North Sea. Helicopters are everywhere at the airport (and in the skies over Aberdeen) and can be seen from the terminal building windows.


Major hub destinations (several times a day) include London-Heathrow (with British Airways), Paris-CDG (with Air France), Amsterdam (with KLM) and Frankfurt (with Lufthansa). There are also international flights from Dublin (with Aer Lingus), Copenhagen (with SAS), Bergen, Groningen, Stavanger, Oslo, Gdansk in Poland and Baku in Azerbaijan (another oil city). UK destinations include London City (with Flybe), London-Gatwick (with easyJet), London-Luton (easyJet), Belfast, Birmingham, Norwich, Newcastle, Manchester, Leeds, Bristol, East Midlands, Exeter and Southampton, as well as Stornoway (on the Isle of Lewis in the Western Isles), Wick (in the far north of Scotland), Orkney and Shetland (all these are mostly operated by BMI Regional, Eastern Airways or Flybe). Other routes cater to the oil industry, including Scatsta on Shetland. Occasional longer distance holiday and charter flights also operate on a seasonal basis.

Getting to/from the Airport

To travel between the airport and city centre, the bus is the quickest and most convenient option. The 727 bus route (branded "JET") operates distinctive blue buses which run every 20 minutes on weekdays during the day and every 30 minutes at evenings and weekends. These buses arrive and depart from the bus station at Union Square on Guild Street and also call at Broad Street. In June 2015, a single ticket costs £2.90 and a return (good for 28 days) costs £4.80 (you can also get a "day return" ticket for £3.60 but it's only valid for that day). Dyce has a railway station, but it is the wrong side of the runway from the terminal and inconvenient to get between station and airport terminal, although there is a bus link (number 80, operated by Stagecoach Bluebird). Unless you are going to another destination on the railway line, the 727 bus is the best choice. Info and timetables are available at the bus company's website: [2]

Getting to/from the airport by taxi is also popular (there can be large queues at the airport if a flight was busy). Taxi is a good option if you need to get to or from somewhere other than the city centre, or if you have a lot of luggage. Allow approximately £20 for a one-way trip between the airport and city centre. If you need to arrive at the airport early in the morning, do not count on finding a taxi in the street; book your taxi with the taxi company the night before. Hire cars are also readily available from major international companies at the airport.

By train

Wikivoyage has a guide to Rail travel in the United Kingdom.

Sign at Aberdeen Station
Aberdeen Railway Station is located in the city centre on Guild Street, one block from Union Street. It is part of the Union Square development, which also includes the Bus Station. Aberdeen is the busiest railway station north of Glasgow and Edinburgh, with inter-city, regional and sleeper train services provided to and from all parts of Great Britain - you can get to Aberdeen quite easily by train from most places. The section of railway from Montrose and Stonehaven to Aberdeen is one of the most scenic in Britain, as spectacular cliffs soar below into the North Sea. This view is especially impressive at sunrise.

When arriving by train, do not throw your ticket away as subway-style ticket barriers are used. If you are travelling with luggage, board the train early at your departure station as luggage racks fill up very quickly, especially on inter-city services. A useful left-luggage facility can be accessed from the plaza outside. Ticket machines on the concourse and in the travel centre allow you to collect any tickets purchased on the internet (you need the payment card plus the confirmation number, but can use any train company's machine as they are all part of the same system).

Plaza outside Aberdeen Railway Station, early morning
Train companies serving Aberdeen are:
  • Virgin Trains East Coast operates inter-city trains 3x a day to/from London (King's Cross) via major east-coast cities such as Edinburgh (via the iconic Forth Bridge), Newcastle upon Tyne, York and others. InterCity 125 trains are used which travel at 125 mph (200 km/h) south of Edinburgh, reaching London in just over 7 hours.
  • CrossCountry [3] operates a few inter-city services a day via eastern Scotland to the English north-west, midlands, west and south-west of England, including Carlisle, Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol. Some services stretch to Penzance in Cornwall in South-West England - the UK's longest train journey. Voyager trains are used which travel at up to 125 mph (200 km/h).
  • ScotRail is currently operated by Abellio. ScotRail trains run frequently between Aberdeen and all Scottish cities as well as many intermediate destinations, including Glasgow, Edinburgh (via the Forth Bridge), Dundee and Inverness. Services also reach north-west into Aberdeenshire and Moray and these are popular with commuters. Inter-city services typically use Turbostar trains travelling at up to 100 mph (160 km/h), reaching Edinburgh in about 2-and-a-half hours and Glasgow and Inverness in three hours. Local services often use Express Sprinter trains which can reach 90 mph.
  • The Caledonian Sleeper overnight train (operated by Serco) to/from London (Euston), leaves every night except Saturdays at around 20.30. Twin-berth cabins are provided (with bunk beds), which you often have to share with a same-sex stranger if travelling alone. The cabins are cramped but a great deal of luggage can be carried (although not in your cabin). A lounge car with bar also sells snacks. Alternatively, you can reserve a seat. Having only a seat is very much less comfortable on the 12-hour journey but cheaper than a bed, although "bargain berths" can be available through the website when booking in advance.

Station Facilities

There is a Travel Centre with ticket office and information (e.g. timetables), open M-F 06:15-21:30, Sa 06:15-19:15 and Sunday 09:00-21:30. There are also automatic ticket machines in the concourse, which can be accessed at any time: Tickets purchased in advance (e.g. on the Internet) can also be collected from any of these machines (you'll need your payment card and booking reference). The first-class lounge is inside the Travel Centre. Luggage trolleys are provided without charge and a left-luggage facility is available from the front plaza. A waiting room is on the main concourse, as is a WH Smith store selling books, magazines and snacks. There is also a café. There are toilet facilities (30p charge applies), in addition to those in Union Square (free to all).

Many other shopping and eating facilities are located in the Union Square complex which can be accessed directly through the concourse and is integrated with the station. These include the Boots pharmacy, Costa Coffee, Starbucks, Marks & Spencer Simply Food and many other shops and restaurants. Facilities at Union Square open late into the evening and also include ATM machines, through-access to the city's bus station, and a hotel.

Parking, Taxis and Buses

Medium-term parking is available in the adjoining College Street Car Park (access only from College Street) and a small number of free spaces inside the station which offer parking for 20 minutes only. Taxis are available from a stand within the station concourse, and are popular with travellers carrying luggage. Regional and national bus services (including buses to Aberdeen International Airport) depart from Aberdeen Bus Station, which is located on the other side of the adjoining Union Square complex. It is possible to walk directly from the concourse, through Union Square and to the bus station without entering the open air. This option is useful in winter and periods of bad weather.

By bus/coach

Sign at Aberdeen Bus Station, Union Square, seen from Guild Street
Aberdeen Bus Station is at Union Square, on Guild Street, just next to the railway station. Bus station users can make use of all facilities at Union Square and the railway station, such as the left-luggage facility (see above).

Route 727 buses to/from the airport operate from here. Regional buses operated by Stagecoach Bluebird also arrive and depart for towns and villages all over Aberdeenshire, including stops in Royal Deeside. Inter-city bus/coach services run direct to most cities in Scotland, operated by Scottish CityLink [4] and Megabus [5] (the latter at low fares, though they are part of the same company). They connect to major destinations but not as many as by train and are significantly slower and less comfortable. However, they are usually cheaper than train travel. If travelling to/from Glasgow (3.5 hours away) or Edinburgh (3 hours away), the CityLink Gold [6] luxury service provides a very comfortable journey several times each day. However, there is no direct bus/coach service to/from Edinburgh other than the CityLink Gold, and on Megabus or regular CityLink services a change must be made at Dundee bus station or Perth park-and-ride (these locations can be unappealing at night).

If coming to/from London or Manchester, day and overnight coach services (one of each per day) are also available to/from London (operated by National Express [7]) and calling at intermediate destinations such as Milton Keynes (day coach only), Carlisle and Glasgow. These seated coaches take 12 hours from London Victoria Coach Station and are by far the least comfortable way to arrive from the south of the UK, but fares are economical. Recently a sleeper bus has begun to from Aberdeen operate to/from London, operated by Megabus Gold [8]. It provides a bed and makes for a surprisingly pleasant journey (certainly better than seated), yet tickets are still cheap compared to the train. These sleeper buses have toilets, Wi-Fi and power sockets by each bunk bed to allow mobile devices to be charged.

By sea

Aberdeen Harbour seen from a ship around 2008, showing Regent Quay (foreground) and Trinity Quay (left). Harbour Clock also shown (i.e. clock tower of the Harbour Board offices)

Aberdeen Harbour is located in the city centre, and can be plainly seen from many streets including Market Street, Guild Street and the Shiprow - in fact many first-time visitors emerge from the station onto Guild Street and are surprised to find large ships docked at the end of the street. It is the only working port in a city centre in the UK.

In the distant past, passenger ships sailed nightly between Aberdeen and Edinburgh and London. However, these declined and faded away as rail travel became faster (to find out more, visit the Aberdeen Maritime Museum on Shiprow). Today, the only passenger services to/from Aberdeen are the nightly ferries to and from the Northern Isles (Orkney and Shetland). These carry cars and foot passengers, and are operated by NorthLink. The two vessels (Hjaltland and Hrossey - named after the old Norse words for "Shetland" and "Orkney" respectively) arrive from Lerwick, Shetland and Kirkwall, Orkney at the ferry terminal at Aberdeen Harbour. They sail overnight from the Northern Isles and from Aberdeen, departing at 5pm or 7pm and arriving late at night (if sailing from Aberdeen to Kirkwall) or the following morning (if sailing to Lerwick or to Aberdeen). Kirkwall is served only three or four nights a week while Lerwick and Aberdeen are served daily. The Northlink ferry terminal is just off Market Street, opposite the entrance to the Union Square car park. A range of cabins or seats (cabins cost more) and catering facilities are available on board.

By car

The Bridge of Dee carries the A90 road into the city from the south across the River Dee. It was built in 1527, rebuilt 1718, and widened in 1841
There are several main roads into the city. Aberdeen is indicated on direction signs on all these roads, and when you reach the boundary of the city, direction signs also direct you to the city centre. The speed limit on the following roads is either 60 mph (100 km/h) if there is a single-carriageway or country road, or 70 mph (110 km/h) if a dual-carriageway. However, there are lower limits in places along certain parts of the route. Other smaller routes also lead into the city but are usually slower, less direct, or require driving through suburban streets to reach the city-centre. If you have a satellite navigation system, all routes will be included as part of the UK.

If you do not want to take your own car, it is easily possible to rent a car in Aberdeen from well known companies such as Avis, Hertz and Enterprise, as well as local companies such as Logan Car Hire [9]. These are based at the airport and throughout the city, for example Enterprise has a branch at Skene Square, a short walk from the city centre.

Main roads into (and out of) the city

A90 south of Aberdeen, looking toward the city just ahead
If driving from the south (e.g. Edinburgh, Fife, Dundee) or north (e.g. Peterhead, northern Aberdeenshire), Aberdeen lies halfway along the A90 dual-carriageway road between Edinburgh, Dundee and Peterhead. Allow approximately three hours from Edinburgh (130 miles/210 km) and perhaps 3 and a half hours from Glasgow (150 miles/240 km), assuming no traffic.

If coming from the north-west (e.g. Inverness, Moray, etc.) the A96 leads in via the airport at Dyce. Allow approximately three or four hours from Inverness. Much of the route is single-carriageway and there can be heavy traffic coming into the city at the Haudagain Roundabout at rush hour, as this is a key commuter route.

If coming from the south-west (e.g. Royal Deeside, the Cairngorm mountains, etc.), the A93 leads in. Bear in mind that in winter parts of this route are often closed due to snow. If coming from the west (e.g. western parts of Aberdeenshire such as Alford, Huntly and other towns and villages, the A944 provides the best route.

Driving conditions

Main roads leading into the city are high-quality and well-maintained by the Scottish Government. In contrast, Aberdeen's city streets (which are maintained by the city council) have a few potholes, dropped manhole covers and cracked/damaged surfaces. Many of these were caused during the harsh winter of 2010/11, many but not all of which have now been repaired, but this took several years due to budget constraints. Speed limits lower than 60 mph are often in force along main roads outside the city (especially country roads) because Aberdeenshire has some of the most dangerous roads in Scotland. To improve safety at accident blackspots, speed limits are enforced by many automated speed cameras as well as police patrol cars. The Dundee to Aberdeen section of the A90 has a particularly large number of these.

Although all city streets are lit at night, most main roads leading into the city (including the A90 and A96) are not lit except at major intersections. Be prepared to use main beam (i.e. high beam) headlights. Added to this, be aware that country roads in Aberdeenshire are among the most dangerous in the UK, due to frequent bends and chicanes, narrow carriageways, and excessive speed by many drivers. While this makes many of them great fun to drive if your car handles well, you should drive cautiously if you are not familiar with a rural road and especially if your car's steering wheel is on the left. Local drivers (usually in powerful German cars bought with oil money) often drive aggressively or overtake thoughtlessly, and this is partly responsible for the high accident rate. Do not be intimidated or goaded into going too fast and remain at a speed you are comfortable with as otherwise your trip may end with being airlifted to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

In winter, roads are often affected by snow and fog (with much heavier snow the further inland). Most major city streets and main roads to/from the city (e.g. A90) are gritted but local roads are not, leading to very slippery conditions and increased risk of accidents. This is compounded by the fact that few Scottish cars are fitted with snow tyres or snow chains in winter (although these are available in Aberdeen). On mountain routes (e.g. A93), roads are often closed due to snow by "snow gates" which are shut by police and close off the road. However, all except coastal roads can be closed by heavy snow when weather is poor. Avoid car travel in poor winter weather unless you are experienced with driving in these conditions.

Get around

The Castlegate is the city's main public square. It's located at the east end of Union Street.
High Street in Old Aberdeen, at the heart of the University of Aberdeen's King's College campus, seen in the 1980s. The scene today, aside from the cars, is unchanged.

On foot

Walking is an excellent way to get around Aberdeen, particularly around central areas, as the city centre is relatively compact. Walking is also by far the best way to appreciate the grand architecture of the city. However, the city is not that small (e.g. Union Street is one mile long) so for journeys outside of the city centre, wheeled transport may be useful.

Pedestrian Maps

Aberdeen has a mediaeval layout like many cities in the UK, so for the first-time visitor, a map is helpful. There are quite a few of these located on signs around the city centre, mainly in points of interest (e.g. the Castlegate). However, it is very useful to have a map of the city to carry with you. You can buy maps from the Tourist Information Centre on the corner of Union Street and Shiprow, city bookstores, or you can order one online such as at If you won't be leaving the city centre, you can also print one out from the internet before you arrive. Alternatively, a smartphone's map feature can be very useful as the city is covered in detail by services such as Google Maps. Aberdeen walking directions [10] can be planned online with the [11] walking route planner.

By bus

His Majesty's Theatre, seen from Union Terrace Gardens

Most city bus routes are operated by First Aberdeen [12], a division of global transport company FirstGroup who have their international HQ next to the bus station on King Street. FirstGroup is an Aberdeen company; it developed out of the Aberdeen city bus corporation after it was privatised in the 1980s, and grew massively following numerous mergers and takeovers (they run many UK bus and train services, including ScotRail until 2014, and own the Greyhound bus network in the United States). Some city buses are also run by Stagecoach Bluebird [13], who operate routes such as numbers 5, 9U, 59, as well as the 727 airport bus. However, apart from these routes, most Stagecoach Bluebird buses are running between the bus station at Union Square and towns and villages in Aberdeenshire or further afield in the region. While these regional buses do pick up and stop at city bus stops, they are a less useful option for within-city transport.

Today there are around 22 city bus routes run by First Aberdeen and 3 by Stagecoach Bluebird and most operate on a hub-and-spoke system, i.e. a route starts in a suburb or on the outskirts, comes in through the city centre, and then goes out to another suburb. Services begin around 5AM and end close to midnight with a few night services at weekends. The First network uses a colour-coded system with main routes having a colour (e.g. 3 is purple, 20 is indigo, 1&2 are red) while less important routes have no colour. The map is in the style of the London Underground which helps to find your way around. Information on routes is available on First Aberdeen's website [14], but for face-to-face info, bus maps, timetables and bus passes, call into the First Travel Centre on Union Street, between Market Street and the Shiprow. It is open 9-5 every day except Sunday and public holidays. You can get info about all Stagecoach Bluebird routes at the Bus Station at Union Square or on their website.

To use the bus you pay the driver as you get on. Tell him or her your destination and he/she will tell you the fare or sell you a day ticket. Press one of the "stop" buttons around the bus when you are nearing your destination and the bus will stop at the next bus stop. First Aberdeen buses do not carry any change at all so you need to use the exact money. As of June 2015, an adult single fare on city buses is usually £2.20 but is £2.60 if the journey is longer, while all child tickets are £1.10. An adult return ticket (also valid for two journeys on different routes) is usually £3.75 but is £4.00 for longer journeys. If you'll be using more than two buses a day, a day ticket gives travel on all First buses that day; for adults this day ticket costs £4.00 (or £3.00 if issued after 7pm) and £3.50 with a university-issued student ID card. You can also buy a carnet from the First Aberdeen travel shop on Union Street or any shop with a PayPoint outlet (usually newsagents or small convenience stores; they have a yellow "PayPoint" sign outside).

All buses are modern and have low-floor access; some routes (e.g. 1 and 2) use articulated "bendy" buses. First Aberdeen has a monopoly on city bus routes and a reputation for mediocre service and high fares compared to other cities. Citizens frequently complain about the service, but in truth most services are fairly good, with routes that pass the universities (e.g. 1 and 2) being especially frequent during term-time. After 7pm all run only every 30 minutes. Stagecoach Bluebird city buses run on few routes at the moment but are often slightly cheaper, and drivers give change.

By taxi

The tower of the Petrofac building glows in a changing sequence of bright colours at night, a distinctive point on the city's skyline. It houses offices of an oil services company.

Taxis are widely available from a number of ranks dotted around the city centre. The main ranks are located off at Back Wynd (just off central Union Street), Hadden Street (just off Market Street) and inside the railway station. There is another located at Chapel Street (at the western end of Union Street). Most Aberdeen taxis are saloon cars or people-carriers rather than London-style black cabs and can be any colour. Taxis and their drivers must be registered with the City Council and carry an official taxi registration plate (usually on the back). You can also call for a taxi to pick you up from any address; while there are various companies, the major ones are ComCab at 01224 35 35 35 and Rainbow City on 01224 87 87 87.

Taxis are the most popular way to get home from a night out, so at night they can be harder to come by. After dark, they can be hired only at designated posts on Union Street - these consist of a vertical post with the words "Night Taxi" illuminated. You'll probably spot them by the queue forming at each Night Taxi stand. On busy weekend nights, be prepared to queue for long periods among drunken revellers, when these ranks are often patrolled by taxi marshalls. At night it can can be difficult to hail a taxi on the street as many do not give any indication if they're available for hire and some will not pick up groups of males. Aberdeen taxi fares are high, but they always go by the meter price and are regulated by Aberdeen City Council.

By bicycle

Due to the many narrow roads and inadequate lane provisions, this can be rather treacherous at times. Cycle lanes are appearing (but are often shared with buses) as are cycle "boxes" at traffic lights so the situation is getting better for those who cycle. It's getting easier to park a cycle too, the city council have now provided loops for chaining bikes within the city centre streets (e.g. at Shiprow and Castle Street) and within the multi-storey car parks. Aberdeen City Council has a webpage with information on cycling in the city [15], while Aberdeen Cycle Forum [16] - a voluntary group encouraging and developing cycling within Aberdeen - have produced cycle maps for the city. These can be downloaded from the City Council's cycling website (see above), or obtained from public libraries in the city or council offices (such as Marischal College on Broad Street).

It is possible to cycle from Aberdeen city centre to the genteel suburb of Peterculter along the route of the Old Deeside Railway. The "line" begins just outside Duthie Park and passes through Garthdee, Cults, Bieldside and Milltimber before ending at Station Road. It is mostly paved with a few breaks where you have to cross a road. The route is very scenic and relaxing, and is also used by people walking dogs, riding horses, other cyclists, and other people just enjoying a stroll, so being courteous is a must. There are signs placed along the line with bits of history about the line and how it came to be.

By train

Girdleness Lighthouse stands close to the entry to Aberdeen Harbour and protects shipping from being wrecked on the rocky shore, since the wreck of a whaling vessel in 1813

Prior to the 1960s, Aberdeen had a suburban rail service but like many less-profitable routes in the UK, this was closed during the "Beeching Axe" of the 1960s. The only stations in the city now are the main railway station on Guild Street in the city centre, and a single suburban station at Dyce. As a result, rail transport is unlikely to be an option for within-city transport other than to Dyce, but it can be useful for travel to outlying towns. Local services run from the station at Guild Street to:

Dyce - On the north west of the city along the Inverness line. This may be an option for travelling to the airport, but less convenient than the 727 bus for most travellers. It may be a preferable way to travel to the suburb of Dyce as the journey time is less than 10 minutes, as opposed to the hour+ it takes on the bus due to traffic congestion and the fact that the bus takes a circuitous route. There are plenty of trains, though the frequency is quite scattered, so consult a timetable or Dyce station is located just off its main street.

Inverurie - The next stop up the line from Dyce, out of the city in Aberdeenshire. The station is located a short walk from the pleasant town centre. Many commuters live in Inverurie.

Portlethen - The first stop south on the line. There are few services stopping here outwith rush hour. The station is on the east of the town on the road to the old village. A walk from here to the main shopping area will take you around 10–15 minutes, there are buses that run every 20 minutes just outside the station if you need to use them.

Stonehaven - The next stop south from Portlethen. Trains are fairly frequent. Buses to Stonehaven centre depart from the hotel across from the station, or you can walk (10–20 minutes depending on speed). Stonehaven is a pleasant harbour town which attracts tourists, including to see the spectacular ruins of Dunottar Castle. Between here and Aberdeen, look out the sea-side of the window for spectacular coastal views. Many tourists visit Stonehaven in the summer and train is a great way to reach it from Aberdeen. The journey time from Aberdeen station to Stonehaven station on the train is around 20 minutes.


One of the dolphins from the "Wild Dolphins" sculpture trail in Summer 2014. This example is "D-REX" and seen here at the Robert Gordon University's campus.
Aberdeen Art Gallery, constructed of pink granite.
Inside the Aberdeen Art Gallery. The columns showcase the different varieties of granite quarried in the region and used to build the city, as well as exported around the UK and worldwide.
Aberdeen Maritime Museum, Shiprow
Union Terrace Gardens - a public park in the city centre
Granite Buildings on Union Street
High Street, Old Aberdeen, where the University of Aberdeen has its main campus
King's College, Old Aberdeen - part of the University of Aberdeen (founded 1495)

For more information on these and other attractions the Tourist Information Centre at the corner of Union Street and Shiprow is a useful point of contact (open Monday to Saturday 9am to 6.30pm, more restricted hours on Sundays, tel. 01224 288828). Many city museums and galleries are closed on Mondays, though the King's Museum at the University of Aberdeen is open as are other attractions.

  • Aberdeen Maritime MuseumShiprow , e-mail: . Tuesday-Saturday 10.00AM-5.00PM, Sunday 12.00PM-3.00PM The museum is closed on Mondays.. This museum, rated five-star by the Scottish Tourist Board, tells the story of Aberdeen's relationship with the sea, from fishing to trade to North Sea oil. It offers an extraordinary insight into the mechanics and technology of ships and oil rigs, Aberdeen's rich maritime history and the lives of some of the people who have worked offshore in the North Sea for the past 500 years. The newest part of the complex is a blue, glass-fronted building on the cobbled Shiprow. Inside is a spiral walkway, rising upwards around an eye-catching model of an oil rig. Connected to this structure are the much older buildings which take visitors through a series of castle-style corridors and staircases to reach the numerous room sets, historical artefacts and scale models. If your time in Aberdeen is limited, go and see this. There is so much to see, and even the buildings themselves are worth a look. There is also a restaurant - slightly expensive, but the food is pretty good. There are excellent views of the harbour from the top floor. Admission free..
  • Aberdeen Art GallerySchoolhill , e-mail: . ****Closed until Winter 2017 due to major refurbishment and extension****. ., Open Tuesday-Saturday 10.00AM-5.00PM, Sunday 2.00PM-5.00PM. The gallery is closed on Mondays.. The Aberdeen Art Gallery is set in a Victorian building with an exquisite marble and granite main hall. On the ground floor are housed modern works including pieces by Tracy Emin and Gilbert & George, with many others. Upstairs hang more traditional paintings and sculpture. These include Impressionist pieces as well as works by the Scottish Colourists. There are frequent temporary exhibitions (see website) and also display of antique silverware and decorative pieces. Columns in the main hall display the many different colours of local granite used to build the city. There is a good gift shop too. For those who like art, an afternoon could easily be spent here, but at least a quick browse is well worth it for anyone. Admission free..
  • Granite Architecture. Aberdeen's granite buildings form one of the most celebrated cityscapes in Britain, with beautiful and architecturally significant buildings literally everywhere, especially in the city centre. However, some (particularly on Union Street and streets nearby) are now in need of restoration, much as the New Town of Edinburgh was before its restoration in the late 20th century. As such, currently many of the great granite buildings of the city centre have a sense of faded grandeur, though some (such as Marischal College - see below) have been dramatically restored. The WorldHeritage article on Architecture in Aberdeen gives a good introduction [17] but here are a few to get you started as you walk around the city centre. The newly restored Marischal College on Broad Street, displays what poet John Betjeman called "tower on tower, forests of pinnacles, a group of palatial buildings rivalled only by the Houses of Parliament at Westminster". Then try the Town House (i.e. city hall) on Union Street, with its confident Victorian tower and street frontage. The Salvation Army Citadel on the Castlegate is an excellent example of the Scottish Baronial style, with its fairy-tale turrets, while a walk up (and down) Union Street with its mile of impressive granite buildings is a must. As you walk along Union Street, look up; the architecture is often not visible from street-level. Unlike other grand streets in the UK (such as Grey Street in Newcastle or the Royal Crescent in Bath), but like Princes Street in Edinburgh, each building on Union Street is different to the next in stature and architectural style. You will see a wide range of architectural styles, from highly ornamented to robust and Scottish-looking. Then, on Rosemount Viaduct, the cluster of His Majesty's Theatre, St. Mark's Church and the Central Library form a widely-praised trio. City bookstores and the Central Library carry books about Aberdeen's architecture, such as Aberdeen: An Illustrated Architectural Guide by W. A. Brogden (2012,, 4th ed.) and The Granite Mile by Diane Morgan (2008) on the architecture of Union Street.
Triple Kirks, seen across Union Terrace Gardens
  • Union Terrace Gardens. A small city-centre park on one side of Union Terrace, just off Union Street. A small river, the Denburn, used to flow past here but is now covered by the railway line. Union Terrace Gardens is a rare haven of tranquility, greenery and natural beauty in the city-centre. In summer look out for the floral coat of arms, and in warm weather citizens sunbathe and picnic on the lawns. All year round, from the gardens you can appreciate some of the grand architecture on Union Terrace and Rosemount Viaduct. In winter, the park is beautiful in the snow. In 2011-12 the park was threatened with demolition to build a heavily-engineered "City Garden" as a new civic heart for the city, sponsored by local oil tycoon Sir Ian Wood who offered £50 million of his own money to part-finance the scheme. The project was extremely controversial but citizens voted narrowly in favour of the redevelopment in a referendum. However, following the 2012 elections to the city council the new city administration scrapped the controversial project. Entrance free.
  • Aberdeen Beach. Aberdeen's long sandy beach once made it something of a holiday resort, advertised by railway travel posters (that you may see at the Tourist Information Centre on Union Street). The beach stretches from picturesque Footdee (see below) at one end to the mouth of the River Don over two miles north. While it's rarely hot enough for sunbathing and the North Sea is cold all year round, it's a fantastic place for a jog or a bracing walk. Surfers and windsurfers are also frequently to be found there. On sunny days, the beach is a popular place to spend time and one of the best spots in the city for a romantic walk. Amenities at the southern end include an amusement park, ice arena, leisure centre and leisure park with restaurants and cinema.
  • Footdee (usually pronounced "Fitty"). A former fishing village absorbed by the city, in the streets around Pocra Quay. It is located at what was once the foot of the River Dee (hence the name) before the course of the river was artificially diverted to improve the harbour. This area is a laid-back cluster of traditional, small, quaint houses and quirky outhouses, and the area was specially constructed in the 19th century to house a fishing community. Footdee is located at the harbour mouth, where dolphins can often be seen.
  • Old Aberdeen. The quaintest part of the city and location of the University of Aberdeen's King's College Campus, along the High Street and the streets leading off it, with modern university buildings further from it. The Chapel and Crown Tower at Kings College date from the 16th century (the tower is a symbol of the city as well as the university), while many of the other houses and buildings on the High Street and nearby are centuries old. The university's Kings Museum (M-F 9-5, free) a little way up the High Street puts on rotating displays from the university's collections. The new University Library (looks like a glass cube with zebra stripes) has a gallery space open every day with rotating exhibitions (free; check website for opening times), and you can explore the library (it's open to the public) which has outstanding views of the whole city and sea from the upper floors. The Old Town House at the top of the High Street (looks like it's in the middle of the roadway) has a visitor centre with leaflets on the area's heritage and rotating exhibitions. You can also explore the scenic and serene Cruickshank Botanic Garden which belongs to the university and is used for teaching and research, as well as being open to the public. The nearby St. Machar's Cathedral on the Chanonry (a continuation of the High Street) with its two spires, was completed in 1530 and is steeped in history and worth a visit (Aberdeen has three cathedrals, all named after saints). As it is part of the Protestant Church of Scotland, it does not actually function as a cathedral but is always called this. To get to Old Aberdeen, bus route No.20 from Broad Street takes you right there - get off at the High Street. Alternatively take No.1 or No.2 from Union Street and get off on King Street at the university campus (by the playing fields).
  • Winter Gardens (At Duthie Park.),  . The Winter Gardens are open every day 9.30am to 4.30pm (Nov-Mar), 5.30pm (April, Sep-Oct) or 7.30pm (May-Aug).. The David Welch Winter Gardens are one of the most popular gardens in Scotland and one of the largest indoor gardens in Europe. Consisting of a variety of glasshouses, they house a wide range of tropical and exotic plants, many of them rare. The frog that rises out of the pond is also amusing, and the Japanese Garden (one of the few exterior spaces) is tranquil. The entrances to Duthie Park are at the end of Polmuir Road in Ferryhill (AB11 7TH) or at Riverside Drive just after the railway bridge (this entrance also has a free car park), and you can walk through the park to the Winter Gardens. Duthie Park has recently benefitted from a £5 million renovation to restore it to its Victorian glory. Admission free..
  • Johnston GardensViewfield Road. (To get there, take bus route No.16 from Union Street, or a taxi.). Open everyday 8am until 1 hour before dusk.. This one-hectare park in a middle-class suburb is one of the most spectacular in Scotland. Packed with dramatic floral displays, it also has a stream, waterfalls, ponds and rockeries. Many have suggested that Aberdeen won the Britain in Bloom award so many times on the basis of this park alone. The pond has ducks, there is a children's play area, and also toilets are provided. Entrance free..
  • The Gordon Highlanders MuseumSt. Lukes Viewfield Road. , e-mail: . Open first Tuesday in February to last Sunday in November, Tuesday-Saturday 10.30AM-4.30PM, Su 1.30PM-4.30PM (last admission 4PM). Closed Mondays.. At the Gordon Highlanders Museum you can re-live the compelling and dramatic story of one of the British Army's most famous regiments, through the lives of its outstanding personalities and of the kilted soldiers of the North East of Scotland who filled its ranks. Exhibits include a real Nazi flag from Hitler's staff car, and there is a small cinema where you can watch a film on the history of the regiment. For the younger visitors there are a number of uniforms to try on, and there is also a coffee shop. For those interested in military history this small gem is a must. To get there, take route No.16 from Union Street or taxi. Adults: £7.00, Children: £3.50..
  • Provost Skene's House . Guestrow (walk under passageway at St. Nicholas House on Broad Street and it's in the little plaza there). ***Provost Skene's House is currently closed as access is not possible due to construction works on the Marischal Square development which surrounds it*** Scottish towns and cities have a "provost" instead of a mayor and this house used to belong to Provost George Skene. The large, picturesque house dates from 1545 (it's the oldest house left in the city) and houses various rooms furnished to show how people in Aberdeen lived in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. There is an excellent cafe in the cellar. The house is closed on Sundays. Admission free.
  • The Tolbooth MuseumCastle Street (i.e. the eastern part of Union Street, before it enters the Castlegate square.). . Open Monday - Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday 12noon - 3pm.. This is Aberdeen's museum of civic history; it is now open every day (though in the past it opened only in summer). In Scottish towns and cities, a "tolbooth" was the main municipal building or Town Hall, providing council meeting space as well as a courthouse and jail. Aberdeen's Tolbooth Museum is situated in a 17th-century tolbooth which had housed jail cells in centuries past, and played a key role in the city's history, including the Jacobite rebellions. The museum has fascinating displays on crime and punishment, as well as the history of the city. The entrance is at the Town House (the modern equivalent of the Tolbooth!), just along from the Sheriff Court entrance and next to the bus stop. The museum is closed on Mondays. Due to the ancient nature of the building, bear in mind that The Tolbooth has limited access for visitors with mobility difficulties. Admission free..
  • Kings Museum, e-mail: . Open Monday-Friday 10.00AM-4.00PM, Saturday 11.00AM-4.00PM, closed Sunday, late night opening on Tuesdays until 7.30PM. At the University of Aberdeen's King's College campus, High Street, Old Aberdeen (from city centre, take bus 20 from Broad Street) The University of Aberdeen holds extensive collections of artifacts from a variety of cultures around the world. In the past, it displayed them in the Marischal Museum at Marischal College, but this closed during its redevelopment as the City Council's main offices, and the university has shown no intention to re-open it. Its replacement is the King's Museum, located on campus. This museum is on the High Street (in the middle of the King's College campus) in a building which served as the Town House (i.e. town hall) of Old Aberdeen when it was a separate town. The museum puts on rotating exhibitions drawn from these collections, often with a focus on archaeology and anthropology. Frequently, students and university staff contribute to events at the museum to add extra insight or bring the artifacts to life and there are evening lectures. While on campus, you can also visit the gallery at the university's impressive new Sir Duncan Rice Library (which looks like a zebra-striped tower that you'll see from all over campus), which puts on rotating exhibitions from the university's other collections. Its small public gallery on the ground floor shows changing exhibitions from the university's collections. While there, ask at the reception desk to go into the main library (it's open to the public but they have to give you a pass for the turnstile) and take the lift to Level 7. You can admire views of the sea and almost the entire city, including a quiet reading room with panoramic sea views - can you spot the lighthouse? Admission free (to both the museum and library).
  • Zoology Museum (at University of Aberdeen)Zoology Building, St. Machar Drive (The museum is in the university's Zoology Building, which towers over the Botanic Gardens. Take bus No.20 from city centre and get off at the end of the High Street, and walk through the Gardens to reach it. Or take bus No.19 and get off just outside it.),  , e-mail: . Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm. This museum is located on campus, on the ground floor of the university's Zoology Department. It has a big collection of zoological specimens, from protozoa to the great whales. Exhibits include taxidermy, skeletons, skins, fluid-preserved specimens and models. Free.


The Robert Gordon University's Administration Building on Schoolhill, next to the Art Gallery. It was constructed around 1885 as Gray's School of Art, then converted to administrative use in the 1960s when the Art School moved to the Garthdee campus.
  • See an arthouse film at the Belmont Picturehouse cinema49 Belmont Street, city centre (Just off Union Street, about half-way along the street),  . Arthouse, foreign and selected mainstream films are shown here every day, in a historic building on Belmont Street. Films in languages other than English are subtitled. An adult ticket costs £8.50 (£7.00 for matinees) and child tickets cost £4.50. Tickets can be booked online or in person.
  • Satrosphere Science Centre (Aberdeen Science Centre), The Tramsheds, 179 Constitution Street, Aberdeen, AB24 5TU . Every day 10am-5pm. The Satrosphere Science Centre was Scotland’s first science and discovery centre, first opened to the public in 1988. The centre has over 50 hands-on interactive exhibits and live science shows, which inspire your inner scientist as well as entertain the whole family. It is a great place for children, and is located in what used to be the main depot for the city's tram system. Adults £5.75, children £4.50, family of four (including 1 or 2 adults) £17.00.
  • Take a short boat trip or cruise from Aberdeen Harbour (Aberdeen Harbour Cruises), Eurolink Pontoon (next to Fish Market), Aberdeen Harbour (Walk in the Harbour entrance on Market Street, directly opposite the car park entrance to Union Square - there's no parking except at the Union Square car park). Aberdeen Harbour is one of the busiest ports in Britain (and the only working port in a city centre in the UK), with lots of ships of many kinds arriving and departing each day. Boat tours are available to go sealife spotting, in search of dolphins, basking sharks, porpoises, puffins and other sea wildlife, with an expert guide on board - you have to book at least 24 hours ahead by calling 01475 721 281 or through their website (adults £25, children £12, family £66). A "Harbour Cruise" is also available (Adults £16, children £8, family £45). This 45-minute boat tour is narrated and tells you about the major sights of the harbour and some of what happens there. It's also a great chance to see Aberdeen from a different angle - for centuries travellers arrived at the city mostly by sea and this was their first view of its skyline (especially the Clock Tower at the Harbour offices). For the Harbour Cruise, you can book online or pay on the day. In summer 2015, both tours operate until October and depart throughout the day - check website at for details or ask at the Tourist Information Centre on Union Street.


Johnston Gardens, Aberdeen
  • Aberdeen International Youth Festival . takes place in early August each year. It is one of the world's biggest celebrations of youth arts, including theatre, dance, and music (including classical, jazz, opera and world music). Performances take place at venues around the city.
  • Aberdeen Jazz Festival. Takes place in March each year. It showcases live jazz performances from around the world at a number of city venues.
  • British Science Festival 2012. Took place in September 2012 and was hosted by the University of Aberdeen. Demonstrations, talks, exhibitions, lectures and fun events took place for everyone from children and families to adult members of the public. Celebrity guests included TV physicist Brian Cox and psychologist Richard Wiseman. Venues were across the city and on campus at the University of Aberdeen.
  • May Festival. Takes place each year in May at the University of Aberdeen. It developed out of Word - The University of Aberdeen Writers Festival which is one of the highlights of the cultural calendar in Scotland. It includes the Word festival but many other events for people of all ages focusing on various themes. In 2013 these were the Word Festival, food and nutrition, "Discover", music, science, Gaelic language, and film. As part of the Word theme alone, readings, discussions, performances, exhibitions and even films are shown across the three-day festival which attracts top authors from around the UK and the world.


  • Watch football (soccer) at Pittodrie Stadium (Aberdeen Football Club), Pittodrie Street, Aberdeen, AB24 5QH (Head north up King Street, and turn right at the graveyard),  . If speculating is your thing, why not go and watch Aberdeen's home grown, Scottish Premier League football (soccer) team Aberdeen Football Club (or "The Dons") at work at their home ground of Pittodrie. Home matches take place on Saturday afternoons during the football season which runs July - May - check website for details.
  • Water SportsAberdeen Beach . Aberdeen's long beach is ideal for water sports such as surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing. The Aberdeen Waterports store at 35 Waterloo Quay, AB11 5BS stocks equipment for diving and also offers training in Scuba diving
  • Dry-slope skiing and snowboarding (Aberdeen Snowsports Centre), Garthdee Road, AB10 7BA . M-F 10am-8pm, S-S 10am-4pm. This dry slope includes a large Alpine run and Dendex run, as well as a nursery slope. Individual and group tuition in skiing and snowboarding is available, and all equipment can be hired. If you meet a certain minimum standard (i.e. can control your speed, link turns and use uplifts), there are open public sessions every day; check website for timetable.
  • Ice skating (Linx Ice Arena), Beach Promenade AB24 5NR (On the seafront next to the Beach Leisure Centre),  . Check website for public opening times as also used for training by professional skaters. The Linx Ice Arena is one of Scotland's most important ice rinks, opened in 1992. It is open every day except Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Facilities include a national-sized ice pad measuring 56m x 26m, with a cafeteria open on Thursday and Friday evenings and weekends. Including skate hire: Adults £7.45, children £5.30 (discount for bringing own skates).


Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC), in the north of the city at Bridge of Don.

For plays, shows and live music, there are four main city-owned venues in Aberdeen, each providing a distinct and atmospheric setting for performances. You can book tickets and get a guide to what's on at these city-run venues from Aberdeen Performing Arts. They run the Aberdeen Box Office which sells tickets for all these venues plus some others; it is located on Union Street next to the Music Hall [18].

  • His Majesty's Theatre. On Rosemount Viaduct plays host to a wide range of plays and musicals, including major touring productions as well as local commissions. There is also an excellent restaurant in a modern extension to the building. If you are in the city over the Christmas period with children, a trip to a showing of the annual pantomime is a must!
  • The Music Hall. On Union Street opened as the Assembly Rooms in 1822. Today it provides an elegant setting for classical music, popular music, stand-up comedy and other performances.
  • Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC). On the A90 (in Bridge of Don) is the venue for most of Aberdeen's pop and rock concerts. In frequent years wrestling has been a fixture as well. The venue has recently been dramatically expanded, and most functions are now held in the brand new building. If you are stuck for finding the AECC, look for the tall viewing tower, a fixture of the new structure. It is easily visible from most points close to the River Don.
  • The Lemon Tree. Was once regarded as a rather "fringe" venue, and indeed it still is the launching platform for many alternative acts, but the sheer variety of talent on display (blues, rock, comedy and dance, to name but a few genres) rivals that of the three venues above. The interesting location creates a great atmosphere, and is one of the main venues for the annual International Jazz Festival (see above).


University of Aberdeen - Sir Duncan Rice Library
The Robert Gordon University - Garthdee campus
  • Nick Nairn Cook School15 Back Wynd. Scottish celebrity chef Nick Nairn (known to many from his TV shows) has recently opened a cookery school in the city. It offers short courses (from a couple of hours to a whole day) in cooking. It's a great way to spend some time for foodies or cookery lovers. Prices range from about £40 to £160.
  • University of AberdeenKings College, Aberdeen, AB24 3FX . One of the oldest universities in the UK (founded 1495), it is renowned for its teaching and research in a full range of disciplines including the liberal arts, sciences, social sciences and the professions. Until the University of the Highlands and Islands was created in 2011 with its centre at Inverness, Aberdeen was the most northerly university in the UK (the Robert Gordon University, also in the city, is a little way south of the University of Aberdeen). It is a research-focused university of about 15,000 students, most at its main Kings College campus in Old Aberdeen, but some at its Medical School at Foresterhill. The Medical School is prestigious and the centre of a great deal of research, and is where (for example) the MRI scanner was developed. The university's iconic buildings, Marischal College (in the city centre but now occupied by Aberdeen City Council) and the tower of Kings College, are also iconic images of the city of Aberdeen. A huge new library was opened in 2011 at the Kings College campus. It is of unusual architecture for Aberdeen, taking the form of a seven-story zebra-striped tower. the Sir Duncan Rice Library is open to the public and outstanding views are available from the upper floors; ID is needed to sign in. The university provides popular part-time adult education courses, in addition to its Language Centre which also provides classes in languages at all levels.
  • The Robert Gordon University (RGU)Schoolhill, AB10 1FR and Garthdee Road, Garthdee, AB10 7QG . Usually referred to as "RGU", it became a university in 1992 but developed out of an educational institution dating from 1750 founded by the Aberdeen merchant and philanthropist Robert Gordon. The word "The" is officially part of the title. From summer 2013, RGU's campus is at Garthdee in the south-west of the city by the banks of the River Dee, known for its modern architecture by major architects such as Norman Foster Associates. A campus in the city centre was operated also but it has transferred to an impressive new building at the main Garthdee campus, but the university will still be governed from its pretty Administration Building on the Schoolhill, next to the Art Gallery. RGU has recently been rising rapidly in university rankings and was named Best Modern University in the UK for 2012 by the Sunday Times, and equivalent standings in 2013, in addition to other recent awards. It is a teaching-focused university of about 15,500 students but significant research is also conducted (but not as much as the University of Aberdeen). Degrees are offered from undergraduate to PhD level in a wide range of disciplines, primarily (but not limited to) vocational and professional disciplines and those most applicable to business. It has become known for its high level of graduate employment of around 97%. The university's art school, Gray's School of Art, offers short courses in art, sculpture, photography and fashion to the general public with no need for prior training.
  • North East of Scotland College. The largest further education college in Scotland, and it has campuses within the city and also in the surrounding region. Its largest facility is on the Gallowgate on the outskirts of the city centre.


Rosemount Viaduct
Regent Quay, Aberdeen
Union Square shopping centre, at Guild Street

Aberdeen is the shopping capital of the north of Scotland, drawing shoppers from the entire region. As there are no other nearby cities and oil money means many Aberdonians have money to spend, there are a large number and quality of stores in the city for its size. For many decades, the main shopping street was Union Street, which rivalled the most prestigious streets in Britain. Today, Union Street is still considered the spiritual heart of shopping in Aberdeen and contains many shops, but primarily chain stores found in high streets all over the UK. A walk up and down Union Street is essential for any first visit to Aberdeen. The dramatic architecture, although now mostly in need of restoration, is not visible in storefronts at street level - look up to see the impressive carved granite and grand designs of each building. Sidewalks on the street get very busy during the day and especially on weekends.

In recent years more upmarket stores have been gravitating from Union Street and other streets to the shopping malls in the city centre, and independent stores to the streets around Union Street. At the same time, some shops on Union Street have been moving downmarket. As a result, shopping in Aberdeen is spread out around Union Street, these malls, and surrounding streets. The shopping malls are extremely popular with Aberdonians. They include the Bon Accord Centre (entrances on Upperkirkgate and George Street), the St. Nicholas Centre (entrances on Upperkirkgate and St. Nicholas Square), the Trinity Centre (entrances on Union Street and Guild Street), The Academy (entrance on Schoolhill, specialises in boutique shops), and the newest and largest, Union Square on Guild Street. Today, nearly all the stores found on British high streets can be found in Aberdeen at these malls, on Union Street or a surrounding street. Most shops open at 9am and close at 5pm or 6pm. Late-night shopping (till 8pm) is on Thursdays in Aberdeen, except Union Square where shops are open till 8pm every weeknight.

Some of the many high-street stores that may be useful when travelling include the following, but there are many more:

  • John Lewis, Bon Accord Centre/George Street, department store
  • Debenhams, Trinity Centre, department store
  • Marks and Spencer, St. Nicholas Square (off Union Street, clothing and food) & Union Square (homewares and food)
  • BHS, Union Street, department store
  • Next, St. Nicholas Centre (largest), Union Square (smaller) & Berryden Retail Park, fashion and homewares
  • Boots, Union Street, Union Square and Bon Accord Centre, large drugstore
  • Currys-PC World, St. Nicholas Centre, electricals and technology store that sells computers and accessories, small electronic devices (e.g. tablets, radios, hi-fi's and music accessories etc.) and mobile phones
  • Apple Store, Union Square, sells Apple electronics and computers and accessories
  • Primark, Union Street, fashion and limited homewares
  • Topshop and Topman, Union Street (smaller) and Bon Accord Centre (larger), fashion
  • River Island, Bon Accord Centre, fashion
  • New Look, Bon Accord Centre (larger) and Union Square (smaller), fashion
  • Hollister, Union Square, beach-inspired fashion
  • GAP, St. Nicholas Square, fashion
  • H&M, St. Nicholas Centre & Union Square, fashion
  • Zara, Union Square, fashion
  • Jack Wills, Schoolhill (opposite Aberdeen Art Gallery), fashion
  • Waterstones, two branches on Union Street, books
  • HMV, Trinity Centre/Union Street, music, movies and games
  • Forbidden Planet, Schoolhill, Science Fiction store

When shopping, don't be limited to the malls and chain stores! Aberdeen has a large collection of small, tucked-away shops which can provide everything from Bohemian dressware to Indian furniture. If you are adventurous you may uncover a hidden wonder. Good streets to find independent stores in the city centre are Rosemount Viaduct, Holburn Street, Rose Street, Chapel Street, Belmont Street, Upperkirkgate and The Green, along with Rosemount Place in the Rosemount area (to the north of the city centre).


Aberdeen Country Fair farmer's market at Belmont Street.

The Aberdeen Country Fair is a farmers' market and craft market on the last Saturday of every month, and takes place on Belmont Street. It is very popular and one of the largest in Scotland and stalls sell high-quality local produce, foods and crafts.

Aside from this there are few outdoor markets in Aberdeen aside from irregular international and Christmas markets which are organised every so often, typically on Union Terrace. There is also a less prestigious market on the Castlegate every Friday morning, selling general items.

You may walk past the Aberdeen Market building on Market Street. Aberdeen once had a grand and prestigious indoor market similar to (if not as big as) those in other cities such as the Grainger Market in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and the St. Nicholas Markets in Bristol but it was demolished in the 1980s and replaced by this. The current modern building provides an indoor market which offers permanent space to small stallholders providing retail, food or other services. Most of the units inside are small shop-like enclosures, and the low rents provide a chance for small start-ups and local entrepreneurs to get a foothold while building up their business, before moving to more established areas of the city-centre. Although it appears downmarket, footfall is quite high and you may encounter hidden gems! For example, amazing sushi was available at a stall here, until the proprietor's success here enabled him to recently open his own restaurant on Huntly Street (further up Union Street).

Supermarkets and Food Stores

Former General Post Office on Crown Street, now converted to upmarket apartments

If you are looking for food (e.g. if staying in one of the aparthotels or walking round the city has made you hungry), or general items such as toothpaste, these are good places to go. Like most people in the UK, Aberdonians buy much or all their food and everyday items at supermarkets, of which there are many in the city, but the largest ones tend to be in suburbs or on the outskirts. However, there are also a number in the city centre or close to the centre. Most city supermarkets are open till 9pm or later every night. If you have a car, the Tesco Extra hypermarket at Laurel Drive, Danestone and Asda superstore at the Bridge of Dee roundabout are open 24-hours. Some of the useful, more central stores are as follows:

  • The Co-Operative, Union Street and another on George Street, small supermarkets in the city centre that offer most everyday items. Union Street store is just past the Music Hall and is open 6am-11pm every day, George Street store is opposite John Lewis and is open 6am-10pm every day (opens 7am on Sundays).
  • Marks & Spencer, St. Nicholas Square/St. Nicholas Centre (opens 9am, closes 6pm Mon-Wed, 8pm Thur, 7pm Fri-Sat) and another at Union Square (8am-8pm M-Sat, 10am-6pm Sun), upmarket supermarkets.
  • Morrisons, King Street, larger supermarket popular with students (8am-10pm Mon-Sat, 9am-8pm Sun)
  • Asda, Beach Retail Park, behind funfair, large supermarket useful if you are in the beach area (8am-10pm every day) and another at Garthdee Road by the Bridge of Dee roundabout, very large supermarket (open 24 hours).

In addition, there are an increasing number of handy The Co-Operative, Sainsbury's Local and Tesco Express mini-supermarkets/ convenience stores in the city centre and around. These are all open from early till late (usually 11pm). Useful such stores include Sainsbury's Local stores on Upperkirkgate/St. Nicholas Centre, Rosemount Place, and on Holburn Street; a Tesco Express store at the western end of Union Street and another on Holburn Street; and numerous small Co-Operative stores such as the west end of Union Street, Rosemount Place and in numerous suburbs. If hungry late at night, there is a 24-hour convenience store on Market Street.


Aberdeen butteries (also known as rowies)
An Aberdeen specialty is the Aberdeen buttery, also known as a rowie. A rowie/buttery looks like a cross between a pancake and a croissant. They have a flaky yet heavy texture and are very salty (avoid these if you have high blood pressure!). They're served either plain or with butter or jam to make a tasty snack, ideal at tea-time or after a few hours walking round the city, and served with tea or some other beverage. It is said they were created as a high-energy snack for fishermen that wouldn't go stale during long voyages. You won't find them in many cafes or restaurants, but instead Aberdonians buy them and eat them at home or on the go. Buy them at bakeries or any supermarket (in the past they were made with lard but often now use vegetable oil instead, so if you are vegetarian, ask or check the ingredients list).

Aberdeen has hundreds of restaurants, catering for every taste. As with shops, there are well-known, easy to spot places, and out of the way ones. However, we'll leave the exploring up to you. For chain restaurants (e.g. Yo! Sushi, Wagamama, Giraffe etc.), visit the upper level at Union Square, but Aberdeen has a wealth of wonderful independent restaurants that it would be a shame to miss out on. Here is a list of more popular haunts in the central area.

Cafes (suitable for lunchtime or a snack)

If you want a lunchtime soup or sandwich try these city centre cafes. They are popular because of their good soup, sandwiches and atmosphere, and are reasonably priced.

  • Beautiful Mountain11-13 Belmont Street. City centre. Takeaway and sit-in lunch menu as well as an evening menu on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
  • Books and Beans22 Belmont Street. City centre. A second-hand book shop offering internet access and lunch menu.
  • Cafe Contour47 The Green (city centre). Sit-in lunch as well as outside catering.
  • The City37-39 Netherkirkgate (city centre). Fully licensed restaurant and outside catering.
  • The Coffee House1 Gaelic Lane. City centre. City centre coffee and lunch.
  • E.A.R.L. in The Belmont49 Belmont Street (inside The Belmont Picturehouse, in the city centre). Fully licensed bar and restaurant at The Belmont cinema.

In addition to these local coffee shops, there are numerous Costa, Cafe Nero and Starbucks branches throughout the city centre.


  • Pizza Express402-404 Union Street. A very good menu with great food. Modern setting. Not the cheapest, but reasonable.
  • Lahore Karahi145 King Street . A relatively new entrant to the established Aberdonian Curry Houses, Lahore Karahi offers arguably the most authentic Pakistani/Indian cuisine, and at the best of prices too.
  • Musa art and music cafe33 Exchange St. A great restaurant/cafe/art gallery with the best food in Aberdeen and sometimes with live music
  • La Lombarda2-8 King Street. One of most popular Italians, and with good reason. Good location next to Castlegate. Claims to be oldest Italian restaurant aorund but food is far from being 'good' Italian. It's more English-style Italian.
  • Little Italy79 Holburn Street. A bit pricey, but a wonderfully rustic decor makes for great atmosphere. A bit out of the way.
  • KURY22-24 King Street. Consistent rave reviews make this Indian restaurant a hotspot. Slightly overpriced, but it's worth it.
  • The Royal Thai. The oldest Thai restaurant in Aberdeen and it shows in how exceptional the food is.
  • Chinatown11 Dee Street. Just off Union Street. Great Chinese food along with nice, vibrant decor and a bar make this restaurant highly recommended.
  • Yu347 Union Street. Reasonably-priced food. Good, but nothing to shout about. Convenient location.
  • The Illicit Still (off Broad Street). Sensibly priced pub grub.
  • The Beautiful Mountain11-13 Belmont Street. Fine sandwiches, soups, smoothies and Sunday breakfasts.
  • Nazma Tandoori62 Bridge Street . Alongside the Blue Moon, Holburn Street, this is the most authentic and finest Indian restaurant in Aberdeen.
  • Moonfish Cafe9 Correction Wynd (behind GAP). High quality seafood restaurant. Rated as one of the best restaurants in Aberdeen.
  • The Tippling House4 Belmont Street. A late-night cocktail bar that serves tasty bar snacks and dinner.


City-centre bar in Aberdeen

Like any Scottish city Aberdeen has a large number of bars and nightclubs. The role of alcohol in Scottish culture is frequently debated but for better or worse, heavy drinking is a feature of nights out for many in Scotland, especially on weekend nights. However, this is less pronounced in suburban establishments and those outside the city-centre or catering to an older clientele. Aberdeen is a city with a large number of young people (including students and young professionals) and people of all ages who like to go out. As a result, while not on the same level as Glasgow, nights out are often lively - much livelier than many visitors would expect. Especially on weekend nights, the city centre is full of revellers, even in the most severe winter weather (Aberdonians, like those in Newcastle, often do not dress for a night out according to the weather).

There are hundreds of licensed premises in the city that cater for every taste, from upmarket bars, to more casual bars, and a wide range of pubs. There are also numerous clubs, some very good (e.g. Snafu on Union Street opposite the Town House). Due to the large student population there are often student deals around. These may be extended to everyone and not just those with student ID cards. If you plan to go to a club, bring photographic ID showing your date of birth as this is often demanded by doormen - a photocard driving licence or passport is effective. Remember that smoking is illegal inside public venues - you will notice crowds of smokers standing outside even in freezing conditions. This has also led to the trend of installing/ re-opening Beer Gardens that are now constantly full of smokers.

The usual and most approachable starting point for a night out is Belmont Street. It is home to numerous bars and nightclubs. Union Street and to a lesser extent Langstane Place and Bon Accord Street (off Union Street) are also destinations for a night out due to their numerous venues. Various other city-centre streets are also home to drinking establishments.

  • Triple Kirks [Exodus Nightclub]. An excellent student & local drinking hole and part of the ScreamPubs chain. Save money with a yellow card. Exodus focuses on Indie/Alternative and Classic Rock, Pop & Soul.
  • Revolution Bar. Part of the Revolution chain specialising in cocktails. Has a wonderful smoking terrace out the back.
  • The Wild Boar. A quieter setting, sometimes with acoustic live music. Known for its wine selection.
  • Siberia (or Vodka Bar). Serves 99 flavours of vodka and has a smoking terrace out the back.
  • Cafe Drummond's. A small late-licence venue which focuses on live bands.
  • O'Neils. Irish themed pub with a nightclub upstairs.
  • Ma Camerons. The oldest pub in the city. Shows live football in a traditional pub setting with a roof garden.
  • Old School House. A quieter pub near Belmont Street.
  • Slain's Castle. A highlight of Aberdeen's pub scene. An old church converted into a gothic style pub, famous for it's Seven Deadly Sins cocktails. Hallowe'en is a particularly eventful night here.
  • Enigma. Located in the Academy Shopping centre, with a secluded licenced courtyard.

All of the above bars serve a variety of food at reasonable pub prices, with the exception of Cafe Drummond's.

The most mainstream nightclub is Espionage on Union Street. It has three floors covering varied musical taste. Entry is free, but drinks are full priced.

Aberdeen Harbour, on a dreech day

On either side of Belmont Street and you'll find many other pubs:

  • The Prince of Wales St Nicholas Square, Just off of Union Street. Boasting one of the longest bars in Aberdeen and eight Real Ale pumps, sometimes called the "PoW" or quite simply the "Prince", this pub is one of the hidden gems of Aberdeen packed with locals, oil workers and Students alike. They keep their beer exceedingly well.
  • Soul in the converted Langstane Kirk. Uppermarket.
  • The Moorings which can be found by heading down Market Street and turning left when you get to the harbour, is probably the finest watering hole for those of a rock'n'roll persuasion. It's a drinker's paradise, with over a huge range of world beers, real ale, real ciders, a collection of authentic absinthe, a huge selection of rums, and even outlandish tiki cocktails served in pint jars. Regular live music nights (both local and touring bands), a welcoming atmosphere and Aberdeen's best jukebox make this a must for any visiting rockers. The pub's logo, a mermaid twined round a Flying V guitar, features on t-shirts for sale behind the bar. Open till 3am at the weekend.
  • The GrillUnion Street (Opposite the Music Hall). A small severely plain interior, but a haven for a whisky connoisseur; whiskies from Scotland and around the world. Tasting menu available.
  • Tonic Very cheap and popular, especially during the week.
  • Paramount Next to Tonic and very similar.
  • Korova Bar Three floors, rock and alternative music, very popular.
  • Prohibition Mainstream.
  • Society Two floors, renowned for it's cocktails.

Major nightclubs in Aberdeen include:

  • Espionage is a large club on Union Street.
  • Priory Renowned as Aberdeen's most violent nightclub. Small and dingy, not popular with locals.
  • Korova Klub Rock and alternative club beneath a bar of the same name. Cheap and large.
  • Aurum As a rule, expensive and mainstream.
  • Exodus As a rule, cheap with very varied music. Tuesday nights (which feature soul, motown tc. music) are particularly popular.
  • The GrillUnion Street (Opposite the Music Hall). A small severely plain interior, but a haven for a whisky connoisseur; whiskies from Scotland and around the world. Tasting menu available.


Aberdeen has a wide range of hotels as well as guest houses and bed-and-breakfasts. Many of these cater to business travellers (who come all year round) as well as tourists (most of whom visit in summer). There are also an increasing number of apart-hotels and self-catering apartments available. For budget accommodation, plan for £70 a night or less while for a splurge plan for £150+ a night, and somewhere in the middle for mid-range. Those below are just a few suggestions. You can find many, many others on any hotel-booking website. A number of bed-and-breakfasts are also located on King Street. If you find yourself in Aberdeen without a reservation and needing a place to stay, the Tourist Information Centre on Union Street has a more extensive list.

The mid-range hotels have frequent special offers which reduce the price significantly so check their websites in advance to see if an offer will be on during your stay. During early-to-mid September in odd-numbered years (e.g. 2011, 2013) the giant Offshore Europe oil industry convention takes place with all hotel spaces in the city and surrounding towns packed to capacity. Unless you want to face a "no room at the inn" scenario, avoid visiting at the same time as the convention.


  • Aberdeen Youth Hostel8 Queen's Road (Bus route 13 from city centre),  . A hostel run by the Scottish Youth Hostel Association in a historic building a couple of miles west of the city centre. There is a shared self-catering kitchen, breakfast is available, and beds are in dormitories of various sizes plus a couple of single rooms. Bus route 13 connects it with the city centre. £25 or so per night in a shared dorm, more for a private room.
  • Hotel Ibis Aberdeen15 Shiprow . A new hotel that is part of the Ibis chain, built as part of the City Wharf development. Provides good budget accommodation in the middle of the city centre (opposite the Maritime Museum), with views of the harbour from some rooms. Rooms are exactly the same as every other Hotel Ibis and so are reliable and clean. An NCP car park and the 24-hour PureGym are next door. £44-£60.
  • Premier InnWest North Street, Aberdeen, AB24 5AS (Just off King Street),  . This chain hotel is housed in a concrete building on West North Street that looks like an office building (just opposite the Aberdeen Arts Centre and The Lemon Tree performing arts venue), but the location is handy for the city centre, guest ratings are good, the Premier Inn chain is reliable and prices are affordable. There is parking available plus on-site restaurant. Around £60.
  • Travelodge AberdeenBridge Street (at junction with Union Street),  . This is a large hotel which looks over Union Street, good deals can be had if you book in advance on the website. The entrance is on Bridge Street.


  • The Douglas Hotel43-45 Market Street . A Victorian hotel in the city centre, close to the train and bus stations. It provides comfortable accommodation with well-appointed, tastefully-furnished and well-equipped rooms. The hotel also offers one-bedroom self-catering apartments in a nearby apartment building. £75-145.
  • The Northern Hotel1 Great Northern Road, Aberdeen AB24 3PS (Bus route 17 to/from city centre),  . A privately-owned Art Deco hotel, it is located on Great Northern Road in the suburb of Kittybrewster. Bus route 17 connects it to the city centre and it is also on the route of the 727 bus between the airport and city centre. Rooms are comfortable and provide a good night's sleep. Self-catering apartments are also available. £97-117.
  • Micasa ApartHotel9 Market Street (Building is on corner of Union Street and Market Street, entrance is on Market Street),  . These well-appointed serviced apartments are located upstairs in an impressive granite building in the city-centre that used to be a department store (shops are still located in the ground floor). Each apartment has one or two bedrooms (two-bedroom ones cost more, e.g. £155 per night) and its own kitchen to allow self-catering. Around £115 for a one-bedroom apartment.
  • The Mariner Hotel349 Great Western Road (Bus route 19 to/from city-centre),  . A cozy hotel in Aberdeen's pretty west end. The hotel features an outstanding restaurant with excellent options both for meat-lovers and vegetarians. £70-150.
  • Park Inn Hotel Aberdeen1 Justice Mill Lane, AB11 6EQ (Street runs behind and parallel to the west part of Union Street),  . This large modern hotel opened in August 2010 and provides a wide range of facilities. There are business meeting rooms and pets are allowed (but call first to confirm before you bring your dog, ferret, budgerigar, etc.). £70-140.
  • Doubletree by HiltonBeach Boulevard, AB24 5EF (Is at the end of the Beach Boulevard, towards the sea),  . It is a large hotel and leisure club located in the centre of Aberdeen beside the beach (not to be confused with the Hilton) £70-100.
  • Skene House6 Union Grove, AB10 6SY . has three apart-hotels in the town, all set in old tenement blocks. Each room has its own kitchen and living room and is basically an apartment that is run like a hotel. One is at the corner of Holburn Street and Union Grove, while another is on South Mount Street in the middle-class Rosemount area just north of the city-centre.
  • Thistle CaledonianUnion Terrace (just off Union Street, opposite Union Terrace Gardens),  . This historic hotel is a classic choice. It is now part of the Thistle chain and operates as a 3-star hotel, with restaurant. The location just off Union Street is convenient and there has been a recent renovation.
  • The Station HotelGuild Street (Right opposite the railway station),  . This is a traditional hotel, right opposite the railway station and Union Square. It occupies what had been the offices of the Great North of Scotland Railway in days gone by and is comfortable. It's an excellent choice if you'll need to make use of the railway station, bus station or bus to the airport and don't want to walk far.
  • Jury's InnUnion Square, Guild Street (Right next to railway/bus station and shopping mall at Union Square),  , e-mail: . This hotel is right next to the railway and bus stations as part of the Union Square development. It is part of a chain that has comfortable rooms and good facilities.
  • Norwood Hall HotelGarthdee Road, Aberdeen, AB15 9FX (Bus route 1 & 2 to/from city centre. Get off outside Gray's School of Art (at RGU campus) and walk around the bend),  , e-mail: . Check-in: 2 pm, check-out: 11 am. Stylish 19th-century estate, located next to the Robert Gordon University's campus. Also often used for wedding receptions.


  • Mercure Ardoe HouseSouth Deeside Road, Blairs, AB12 5Y . Ardoe House is a Victorian mansion house, that looks somewhat like a castle. It is located outside of the city and provides very comfortable accommodation, but to get there you'll need a car.
  • Malmaison Aberdeen53 Queens Road, AB15 4YP . formerly the Queens Hotel, this is an upmarket hotel in the upmarket Queens Cross area, in the city's West End.
  • Hilton Treetops Hotel161 Springfield Road, Cragiebuckler, AB15 7AQ . large comfortable hotel located in a suburb, close to Hazelhead Park (the city's largest park).

Stay safe

Aberdeen is a very safe city, with a crime rate lower than the rest of the UK. It is very unusual for visitors to experience crime in Aberdeen, especially compared to other UK cities such as London. However, use common sense. Whether male or female, avoid walking through deprived areas such as Tillydrone (north of Bedford Road and east of St. Machar Drive) and Torry (the south bank of River Dee) as these have a relatively higher crime rate. Also, avoid walking alone south of the River Dee at night as muggings and assaults here are reported frequently in the media.

Street beggars sometimes operate in the city-centre, but are relatively harmless. Aberdeen beggars are not aggressive and while they will ask passers-by indiscriminately for spare change, they can just be ignored. Aberdeen is a harbour city and prostitution occurs in certain streets in the harbour area. Prostitutes are not always provocatively dressed and may approach male passers-by saying "Are you looking for business?". Do not engage a prostitute as this is illegal.

The main possibility of hassle is with alcohol-related aggression at night (particularly weekend nights). While few Scots would admit it, most cannot handle anything like as much alcohol as they would claim and on nights out, many (both men and women) drink far more than they can handle. Public drunkenness on weekend nights is an issue, as throughout Scotland. As a result, brawls, assaults and abuse (e.g. racist or homophobic language) are not uncommon and there is a heavy police presence on weekend nights. To avoid any hassle, firstly avoid drinking more than you can handle yourself. Avoid getting into arguments, making eye contact with groups of males, or staring at obviously drunken individuals. If you are from England, avoid displays of English symbolism such as the St. George's Cross or wearing England sports kits as this may make you or your group a target for aggressive drunks looking for an excuse for a fight. Also, be aware of having your drink spiked at city bars and clubs; do not allow a stranger to buy a drink for you or let your glass out of your sight.


The city is well-covered by the main UK mobile phone networks - nearly every Aberdonian has a smartphone and seems to be using it most of the time. You can also access the internet at the following locations:

  • Books and Beans22 Belmont Street . Mostly acting as a fairtrade cafe and second-hand bookstore, this establishment has a few PCs for internet access while you drink.
  • Aberdeen Central LibraryRosemount Viaduct (just along from His Majesty's Theatre, or right in front of you if you walk down Union Terrace from Union Street). 9am to 5pm (till 8pm on Mon and Wed). The central library (one of the libraries founded by Andrew Carnegie) has a few computers on the upper level where you can access the internet for up to 20 minutes free of charge without being a library member. They are situated next to the staircase.

You can also access free wi-fi (i.e. wireless internet access) if you bring your laptop/tablet/smartphone in the following areas:

  • Union Square (shopping centre) (entrance on Guild Street next to railway station). The main atrium and the upper level at the south atrium (where the Starbucks is located) have free wi-fi, and there is a Costa coffee stand and the Peckhams cafe in the main atrium which provide seats if you order a beverage or snack.
  • Ninety-Nine (bar), Back Wynd (opposite taxi rank),  . Ninety-Nine is a trendy bar on Back Wynd, that also serves food and coffee, with free wi-fi.
  • The Archibald Simpson (pub), corner of Union Street/Castle Street and King Street (opposite Castlegate),  . Named after one of the architects responsible for many of Aberdeen's distinctive granite buildings, this pub is located in a grand building that used to be a bank. The pub has free wi-fi.


Work Out

Gyms and fitness facilities are very popular in Aberdeen (exercising outside is not always possible due to the weather!). Numerous private chains operate in the city (e.g. DW Fitness, David Lloyd, Bannatyne's, etc.) and are popular, but if you're visiting, try the suggestions below. If looking for a place to jog, try along the esplanade at the beach, or in one of the larger parks such as Duthie Park (entrances on Polmuir Road and Riverside Drive) or the city's largest park, Hazlehead Park in the western part of the city.

  • The popular PureGym (0845 189 4701) on the Shiprow in the city centre (next to the Hotel Ibis) offers a day pass for £6 (or 3 days for £13 or 7 days for £25) and is open 24-hours. It has a full range of cardio equipment, resistance machines and reasonably-large free weights area. The pass can be purchased from a machine at the entrance and gives you a PIN which you type into a keypad to gain access. From the morning till 8pm staff are in attendance, and after that an unstaffed service is provided. CCTV cameras flood the area and impenetrable metal turnstiles permit access only to those with a PIN from a day-pass or regular membership. However, in practice at least one member of staff is on the premises at all times, even through the night. As a result it is safe and not intimidating even late at night, with a surprising number (male and female) exercising there till the early hours. Bring a padlock for the locker or buy one from the vending machine. An NCP car park is next-door but the gym has a deal with other city-centre car parks too - ask for details.

Further from the city-centre, the two universities also operate high-quality sports and fitness facilities open to the public, including large indoor sports halls. Numerous athletes train at both facilities. Their websites have full details.

  • The University of Aberdeen's Aberdeen Sports Village and Aquatics Centre (01224 438 900) on Linksfield Road (just off King Street, close to the main campus at Kings College) has a wide range of facilities including gyms, group exercise, and sports hall, plus a new Aquatics Centre with 50m pool and diving facilities (the Aquatics Centre pedestrian entrance is on King Street, opposite the university campus). Take bus route no.1 or 2 from city-centre. It is open M-F 6.30am-10.30pm, Sat 7.30am-7.30pm, Sun 7.30am-9.30pm.
  • RGU:SPORT (01224 263666) at the Robert Gordon University's campus at Garthdee has similar facilities plus a 25m pool and climbing wall. Take bus route no. 1 from city centre, and get off at the campus bus stop. This bus stop is located outside the Faculty of Health and Social Care building, and RGU Sport is the next building along (after this stop, the bus continues back to the city centre via suburbs). It is open M-F 6am-10pm S-S 9am-7pm.

Another option is provided by council-run services (branded as Sport Aberdeen[19]), which include leisure centres, swimming pools and an ice-skating arena.

  • One of the most popular council-run centres is the Beach Leisure Centre (01224 655401) on the Beach Promenade. There is a gym/fitness studio there are also various other facilities for exercise and indoor sports, including climbing, table tennis, badminton and volleyball among others. There is a large swimming pool of the "water-park" style. It's not good for swimming laps, but offers a wide range of attractions including water slides, rapids and waves, and is great fun for the family. If looking for a pool you can do laps in, try the one at RGU:SPORT (see above) or one of the council-run pools in the suburbs.

Post Offices and Mailboxes

Golden Post Box, Golden Square, commemorating cyclist Neil Fachie's victory at the London 2012 Paralympic Games

A main city post office is located at the western end of Union Street close to the junction with Holburn Street, and another in the basement of WH Smith in the St. Nicholas Centre. There is a smaller post office in the back of RS McColl on the Castlegate. Post offices are usually open 9am to 5pm on weekdays and Saturdays.

Mailboxes are dotted around the city centre and like all UK mailboxes take the form of a bright red cylinder. However, since summer 2012 a handful of golden postboxes have appeared across the UK, each specially painted to commemorate a British gold-medal winner at the London 2012 Olympic Games who is from or has a connection to that area. Aberdeen has at least two of these golden postboxes in honour of local gold-medal-winning Olympians - one on the Castlegate commemorates rower Katherine Grainger while another on Golden Square is in honour of Paralympic cyclist Neil Fachie. The nearby town of Westhill also has one for sprint kayaker Tim Brabants. You can also find plain red post boxes at the corner of Union Street and Broad Street (next to the Town House), and on Union Street by the staircase that leads down to The Green. You can also post mail at Post Offices.


As with the rest of Scotland, bank branches in Aberdeen are dominated by the "big four" Scottish banks: the Bank of Scotland, the Royal Bank of Scotland, the Clydesdale Bank and the TSB. You'll find their branches dotted around the city centre and in many suburbs and they provide a full range of banking services (e.g. cashing travellers' cheques) and all have ATMs. Most banks in Aberdeen are open on weekdays from 9am to 5pm, with some open Saturday mornings. Useful city centre branches are:

  • Bank of Scotland201 Union Street and also at 48 Upperkirkgate (at corner of entry to Bon Accord shopping centre). Both are open on Saturdays from 9am to 3pm.
  • Royal Bank of Scotland78 Union Street (at corner with St. Nicholas Square). Open weekdays 9.15am to 6pm, Saturdays 9am to 1pm.
  • Clydesdale Bank62 Union Street (at corner with St. Nicholas Square). Open 9.15am to 4.45pm, Saturdays 9am to 1pm.
  • TSBCastlegate and also at 8 Holburn Street. Open Saturdays 9am to 1.30pm, they close at 4pm on Mon-Wed.

If looking for banks which are prominent in England and Wales, these generally have only a single branch in the city (other than Santander which has at least three). There is no branch of Lloyds Bank in the city, but if you are a Lloyds customer there is an arrangement where you can access most services from Bank of Scotland branches (both are owned by the Lloyds Banking Group).

  • NatWest Bank262 Union Street (in the western part of the street). 9am to 4.30pm (7pm on Thursday), closed Saturday.
  • HSBC95 Union Street. This large branch opened in May 2012 and covers five floors.
  • Barclays Bank163 Union Street (at corner with Bridge Street).
  • Nationwide Building Society250 Union Street (in western end of the street).
  • Santander171 Union Street (close to junction with Bridge Street and Union Terrace) or 99 George Street (just outside George St. entrance to the Bon Accord shopping centre).
  • HalifaxUnion Street, near St. Nicholas Square and close to the Clydesdale Bank. This branch of the Halifax Bank opened recently..
  • Virgin Money395 Union Street (at western end of the street).
St. Andrew's Cathedral, Aberdeen (Episcopalian/Anglican)

Places of Worship

As you walk through the city, you'll notice many churches in the city centre, some of which have now been converted to other uses (e.g. the Maritime Museum on Shiprow and numerous bars on Belmont Street and Union Street are partly housed in converted churches). However, there are still many places of worship for all major faiths. As throughout Scotland, the Church of Scotland (Presbyterian) has the largest number of churches and adherents, followed by the Roman Catholic Church, and then the Scottish Episcopal Church (part of the Anglican Communion).

Aberdeen has three Christian cathedrals representing each of these: St. Machar's Cathedral in Old Aberdeen (not a cathedral as it is now Presbyterian but usually termed as such), St. Mary's Cathedral on Huntly Street (Roman Catholic) and St. Andrew's Cathedral on King Street (Episcopalian). Cathedral decor and memorials at St. Andrew's commemorate the fact that the first bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States, Samuel Seabury, was consecrated in Aberdeen in 1784 by bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church a short distance from where the cathedral now stands.

Evangelical churches have been growing in the city in recent years and there are now quite a few of these, often housed in church buildings redundant from other denominations. The cathedrals and most city-centre churches are also open for private prayer and contemplation during the day. You may see the old Scottish word "kirk" used to refer to a church.

Islam has also been growing recently in the city: the main mosque is located in Old Aberdeen and now struggles to cope with the growing number of Muslims worshipping there. There is a second mosque on Crown Terrace and another is planned.


  • Presbyterian (Church of Scotland): Has many churches throughout the city. In the city centre, the Kirk of St. Nicholas Uniting is the city's central church, in a shared congregation with the United Reformed Church. It's located in the churchyard just off Union Street (Sunday worship at 11am, daily prayers at 1.05pm), or try St. Mark's Church on Rosemount Viaduct between His Majesty's Theatre and the Central Library (services Sundays 11am)
  • Roman Catholic: Numerous city churches, including St. Mary's Cathedral on Huntly Street (main Sunday Mass at 11.15am, other Sunday Masses also at 8am and 6pm and at 3pm in Polish). Or try St. Peter's Church, in a little alley just off the Castlegate (Sunday Mass at 11.15am).
  • Anglican/Episcopalian (Scottish Episcopal Church): For broad church worship with formal choir, try St. Andrew's Cathedral on King Street (main Sunday service is Holy Eucharist at 10.45am, Evensong at 6.30pm). For high church worship, try St. Margaret of Scotland on the Gallowgate (Mass at 10.30am on Sundays). Or try the church of St. John the Evangelist on St. John's Place, which is just off Crown Street (Holy Communion at 9am Sundays and the main service is Sung Eucharist at 11am on Sundays).
  • Evangelical/Charismatic: Try the City Church on Gilcomston Park, a street just off South Mount Street in the Rosemount area (Sunday services at 10am and 7pm).
  • Baptist: Try Crown Terrace Baptist Church on Crown Terrace in the city centre (Sunday worship at 11am), or Gerrard Street Baptist Church which is on Gerrard Street just off George Street (Sunday worship at 10.30am with monthly communion).
  • Quaker: Aberdeen's Quaker Meeting House is at 98 Crown Street and the main meeting for worship is at 10.30am on Sundays. It is the only purpose-built Quaker meeting place in Scotland still in current use.
  • Salvation Army: You can't miss the Citadel on the Castlegate, with its distinctive Scottish Baronial-style tower that can be seen from all along Union Street (morning worship at 10.15am on Sundays).
  • Latter Day Saints: Aberdeen's Mormon meetinghouse is located on North Anderson Drive, with the main worship service at 10am on Sundays.


  • Aberdeen Mosque and Islamic Centre is located at 146 Spital, in Old Aberdeen, just up the street from the University of Aberdeen's Kings College campus. The mosque's website [20] gives details of prayer times and religious activities at the Islamic Centre.
  • Syed Shah Mustafa Jame Masjid & Islamic Centre is located at 16 Crown Terrace, in the city centre.

Get out

Stonehaven harbour

Aberdeen makes an excellent base for exploring the surrounding region, particularly Aberdeenshire. Road signs placed by Aberdeenshire Council on entering claim it to be "The very best of Scotland, from mountain to sea" and many of the most beautiful, seductive, and interesting features of Scotland are in easy reach of Aberdeen. These make ideal day trips, returning to the city in the evening. A car makes it easiest, but some places are easily accessible by bus or train, in some cases with a bit of walking. If driving, unless you have a satellite navigation system make sure you have road maps - buy these at city bookstores, petrol stations or the Tourist Information Centre on Union Street.

  • Visit Stonehaven (Take A90 south of Aberdeen, or for a more scenic journey take one of the frequent trains from Aberdeen railway station). Stonehaven is a picturesque small town about 15 miles (24km) along the coast south of Aberdeen (the scenery from the railway line between them is spectacular; it's a walk of about 1km from the station to the town centre). There is a harbour which is pleasant to explore, with a number of lovely places to eat and drink, as well as an Art Deco open-air (but heated!) 50m pool (lido) open from June to September, while in winter the Fireballs Festival sees men swinging flaming balls of fire at the stroke of midnight to celebrate the New Year. Another must see is the spectacular Dunottar Castle (see "Castles" section below).


Craigievar Castle
Crathes Castle

Many spectacular, even fairy-tale castles are located near to Aberdeen. Unlike many English castles (which are often simply military forts), many Scottish castles developed to be not only fierce strongholds but also comfortable homes for local landowners or the wealthy elite, often with amazing gardens. Today you can visit some of them, especially those in the care of the charity The National Trust for Scotland or the state antiquities agency Historic Scotland. They are popular visitor attractions with cafes or tea rooms and gift shops, and often good for families.

  • Dunnottar CastleStonehaven, AB39 2TL (Car: From Aberdeen, take A90 and then A92 after Stonehaven and follow direction signs. Or follow walking trail from Stonehaven Harbour),  , e-mail: . April-Oct 9am-6pm daily, rest of year, open daily 10am-5pm or sunset if earlier. Located just south of Stonehaven and managed by Historic Scotland, this is one of Scotland's most evocative castles. The ruins of this cliff-top fortress are perched on a rocky promontory with cliffs soaring down to the North Sea, with fantastic views. You can wander round the extensive remains, which once hosted many famous figures of Scottish history, and during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, a small garrison held out against dictator Oliver Cromwell's army to protect the Scottish crown jewels (Cromwell had already destroyed the English crown jewels). The most scenic way to get to Dunnottar is the mile-long walking trail from the harbour at Stonehaven. The hike is a narrow path through fields and along the cliffs that provides stunning views the entire way. Or if you prefer, there is a small car park and path up to the castle. Adult £5, child £2.
  • Crathes CastleCrathes Estate, Banchory, AB31 5QJ (Follow A93 out of Aberdeen, castle is about 15 miles (24km) west of the city, or take bus 201, 202 or 203 from bus station at Union Square which stop at entrance to the castle),  , e-mail: . April–October: 10.30am-4.45pm daily, November–March Sat-Sun only 10.30am-3.45pm. This castle with its little turrets on the large tower, thick walls and ivy growing up the cream walls is beautiful, and acted as a family home until recently. Has a fantastic garden with carved yew hedges and colourful borders. You can also hike pre-marked trails in the large estate. Adult £11.50, children/seniors/students £8.50, family £28.
  • Craigievar Castlenear Alford, AB33 8JF (Car only: Take A944 west out of Aberdeen, then after passing Alford take A980 - castle is about 26 miles (42km) west of city),  . April–June and September, Fri-Tue 11-5.30, July-Aug daily 11-5.30. This fairy-tale pink castle has the sort of turrets you thought only existed at Disneyland. Fitting elegantly into the rolling landscape, it was completed in 1626. It has the original carved plaster ceilings and original Jacobean woodwork. You are shown round by a guide. There is a small but lovely garden. Adult £11.50, children/seniors/students £8.50, family £28.
  • Drum CastleDrumoak, by Banchory, AB31 5EY (Take A93 west out of Aberdeen, castle entrance is on this road about 10 miles (16km) west of city, or take bus 201, 202 or 203 from Union Square bus station, which stop half a mile (800m) from castle, up a fairly steep hill),  , e-mail: . April–June and September, Thur-Mon 11-4.45, July-Aug daily 11-4.45. This castle combines a 13th-century square tower which is the oldest intact in Scotland, a Jacobean mansion house and elegant Victorian additions. The interior has fine furniture and paintings. It also has a beautiful garden including a special garden of historic roses, and an estate with woodland trails to hike through the Forest of Drum. Adult £9.50, children/seniors/students £7, family £23.


Royal Aberdeen Golf Clubhouse - - 1500189

Scotland is the country that gave birth to golf, and excellent courses are provided not only for citizens by the City Council but by various private organisations. The Royal Aberdeen golf course was founded in 1790 and is the sixth oldest in the world, and the Royal Deeside course in the River Dee's valley are both excellent. However, these and yea even the Old Course at St Andrews are about to be eclipsed by what is (after years of controversy and news coverage) Scotland's new most famous course; Donald Trump's International Golf Links at Menie in Aberdeenshire. You can also play golf at a number of public golf courses in the city, most notably at Hazlehead Park which has two 18-hole courses and at Queen's Links by the Beach (entrance on Golf Road).

  • Trump International Golf LinksMenie Park Lodge, Menie Estate, Balmedie, Aberdeenshire AB23 8YE (Take A90 north of Aberdeen and turn off at Balmedie),  , e-mail: . After many years and much controversy, including its environmental impact, compulsory purchase and bulldozing of local homes and a recent face-off with the First Minister over a proposed windfarm nearby, Donald Trump is officially opening his new flagship course and resort on 10th July 2012. The spectacular championship links course include dunes and is billed by Trump as "the world's greatest golf course", while there is also a second 18-hole links. This is Scotland's hottest new golf destination, and it's just outside Aberdeen.
  • Royal Aberdeen Golf CourseLinks Road, Bridge of Don, Aberdeen, AB23 8AT (From city centre, drive north up King Street and take the 2nd right after crossing the bridge over the River Don, or bus No. 1 or 2),  . The Royal Aberdeen operates a celebrated links just north of the mouth of the River Don. The course runs essentially out and back along the North Sea shore. The outward nine (which is acknowledged as one of the finest in links golf anywhere in the world) cuts its way through some wonderful dune formation. The inland nine returns south over the flatter plateau. A traditional old Scottish links, it is well-bunkered with undulating fairways. It has an excellent balance of holes, strong par 4's, tricky par 3's and two classic par 5's, with the 8th (signature hole) protected by nine bunkers. The ever-changing wind, tight-protected greens and a magnificent finish makes Balgownie a test for the very best. It was highly praised by participants in the 2005 Senior British Open. The eminent golf writer Sam McKinlay was moved to say "There are few courses in these islands with a better, more testing, more picturesque outward nine than Balgownie".
  • Deeside Golf ClubGolf Road, Bieldside, AB15 9DL (Take A93 south-west from city centre),  , e-mail: . This prestigious private course about 5 miles (8km) outside the city was founded in 1903 but in the past few years has had major reconstruction work and is highly regarded. Set close to the valley of the River Dee, there are great views of the river and nearby forests.

Aberdeen is a good location to stay if you want to see castles, play golf or go on a distillery trail. Within 30 miles you can visit Crathes, Drum and Dunottar Castles.

The Malt Whisky Trail route is about 30 miles north and involves a number of distilleries including the Glenfiddich and Glen Grant tours.

The "Royal Deeside" area is also popular. Towns such as Aboyne, Ballater and Braemar are worth a visit. Balmoral Castle is very popular due to its Royal connection.


Aberdeen City

From the top: Part of the Aberdeen skyline, Aberdeen Harbour, and the High Street in Old Aberdeen.
Flag of Aberdeen City
Coat of arms of Aberdeen City
Coat of arms
Nickname(s): "Granite City", "Grey City", "Silver City with the Golden Sands"
Location within Scotland
Location within Scotland
Sovereign state  United Kingdom
Country  Scotland
Council area Aberdeen City
Lieutenancy area Aberdeen
Earliest Charter 1179
City status 1891
 • Governing body Aberdeen City Council
 • Lord Provost George Adam
 • MSPs
 • MPs
 • Total 184.46 km2 (71.22 sq mi)
Population (2014)
 • Total 228,990[1]
 • Density 1,169/km2 (3,030/sq mi)
 • Language(s) Scots (Doric), English
Demonym(s) Aberdonian
Time zone GMT (UTC±0)
 • Summer (DST) BST (UTC+1)
Postcode areas AB10-AB13 (part), AB15, AB16, AB21-AB25
Area code(s) 01224
ISO 3166-2 GB-ABE
ONS code 00QA
OS grid reference
Primary Airport Aberdeen Airport

Aberdeen (; Scots: Aiberdeen    ; Scottish Gaelic: Obar Dheathain ) is Scotland's third most populous city, one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas and the United Kingdom's 37th most populous built-up area, with an official population estimate of 228,990.[1]

Nicknames include the Granite City, the Grey City and the Silver City with the Golden Sands. During the mid-18th to mid-20th centuries, Aberdeen's buildings incorporated locally quarried grey granite, which can sparkle like silver because of its high mica content.[2] Since the discovery of North Sea oil in the 1970s, other nicknames have been the Oil Capital of Europe or the Energy Capital of Europe.[3] The area around Aberdeen has been settled since at least 8,000 years ago,[4] when prehistoric villages lay around the mouths of the rivers Dee and Don. The city has a long, sandy coastline and a marine climate.

Aberdeen received Royal Burgh status from David I of Scotland (1124–53),[5] transforming the city economically. The city's two universities, the University of Aberdeen, founded in 1495, and Robert Gordon University, which was awarded university status in 1992, make Aberdeen the educational centre of the north-east. The traditional industries of fishing, paper-making, shipbuilding, and textiles have been overtaken by the oil industry and Aberdeen's seaport. Aberdeen Heliport is one of the busiest commercial heliports in the world[6] and the seaport is the largest in the north-east of Scotland.[7]

Aberdeen has won the Britain in Bloom competition a record-breaking ten times,[8] and hosts the Aberdeen International Youth Festival, a major international event which attracts up to 1000 of the most talented young performing arts companies. In 2012, Mercer named Aberdeen the 56th most liveable city in the World, as well as the fourth most liveable city in Britain.[9] In 2012, HSBC named Aberdeen as a leading business hub and one of eight 'super cities' spearheading the UK's economy, marking it as the only city in Scotland to receive this accolade.[10]


  • History 1
    • Toponymy 1.1
  • Governance 2
  • Heraldry 3
  • Geography 4
    • Location 4.1
    • Climate 4.2
  • Demography 5
    • Religion 5.1
  • Economy 6
    • Aberdeen and the North Sea 6.1
    • Business 6.2
    • Shopping 6.3
  • Landmarks 7
    • Parks, gardens and open spaces 7.1
    • Theatres and concert halls 7.2
  • Transport 8
  • Education 9
    • Universities and colleges 9.1
    • Schools 9.2
  • Culture 10
    • Museums and galleries 10.1
    • Festivals and performing arts 10.2
    • Music and film 10.3
    • Dialect 10.4
    • Media 10.5
    • Food 10.6
  • Sport 11
    • Football 11.1
    • Rugby Union 11.2
    • Rugby League 11.3
    • Golf 11.4
    • Swimming 11.5
    • Rowing 11.6
    • Cricket 11.7
    • Ice Hockey 11.8
    • Other sports 11.9
  • Public services 12
  • Twin cities 13
  • Notable people 14
  • Aberdeen in popular culture 15
  • See also 16
  • References 17
  • Further reading 18
  • External links 19


The Town House, Old Aberdeen. Once a separate burgh, Old Aberdeen was incorporated into the city in 1891
The Castlegate and Union Street (c.1900)

The Aberdeen area has seen human settlement for at least 8,000 years.[4] The city began as two separate burghs: Old Aberdeen at the mouth of the river Don; and New Aberdeen, a fishing and trading settlement, where the Denburn waterway entered the river Dee estuary. The earliest charter was granted by William the Lion in 1179 and confirmed the corporate rights granted by David I. In 1319, the Great Charter of Robert the Bruce transformed Aberdeen into a property-owning and financially independent community. Granted with it was the nearby Forest of Stocket, whose income formed the basis for the city's Common Good Fund which still benefits Aberdonians.[11][12] During the Wars of Scottish Independence, Aberdeen was under English rule, so Robert the Bruce laid siege to Aberdeen Castle before destroying it in 1308, followed by the massacring of the English garrison and the retaking of Aberdeen for the townspeople. The city was burned by Edward III of England in 1336, but was rebuilt and extended, and called New Aberdeen. The city was strongly fortified to prevent attacks by neighbouring lords, but the gates were removed by 1770.

The Powis gate Old Aberdeen

During the King Street and Union Street all completed at the beginning of the 19th century.

Union Terrace, Aberdeen, circa 1900

The expensive infrastructure works led to the city becoming bankrupt in 1817 during the Post-Napoleonic depression, an economic downturn immediately after the Napoleonic wars; but the city's prosperity later recovered. The increasing economic importance of Aberdeen and the development of the shipbuilding and fishing industries led to the construction of the present harbour including Victoria Dock and the South Breakwater, and the extension of the North Pier. Gas street lighting arrived in 1824 and an enhanced water supply appeared in 1830 when water was pumped from the Dee to a reservoir in Union Place. An underground sewer system replaced open sewers in 1865.[12] The city was incorporated in 1891. Although Old Aberdeen has a separate history and still holds its ancient charter, it is no longer officially independent. It is an integral part of the city, as is Woodside and the Royal Burgh of Torry to the south of the River Dee.


Though Bryttonic was spoken in Southern Scotland (part of yr Hen Ogledd) up to medieval times, as evidenced (for example) by the poem Y Gododdin, Aberdeen was in Pictish territory, though became Gaelic speaking at some time in the medieval period. Old Aberdeen is the approximate location of Aberdon, the first settlement of Aberdeen; this literally means "the mouth of the Don". The Celtic word aber means "river mouth", as in modern Welsh (Aberystwyth, Aberdare, Aberbeeg etc.).[15]

In Gaelic the name is Obar Dheathain (variation: Obairreadhain) (obar presumably being a loan from the earlier Pictish; the Gaelic term is "inbhir"), and in Latin, the Romans referred to the river as Devana. Mediaeval (or ecclesiastical) Latin has it as Aberdonia.


Marischal College, home of Aberdeen City Council, Broad St.

Aberdeen is locally governed by the Liberal Democrat and Conservatives coalition. Following the May 2007 elections the Liberal Democrats formed a new coalition with the Scottish National Party.[16] In May 2007 the council consisted of: 15 Liberal Democrat, 13 SNP, 10 Labour, 4 Conservative councillors and a single independent councillor.[17] After an SNP by-election gain from the Conservatives on 16 August 2007, the Lib Dem/SNP coalition held 28 of the 43 seats. In August 2009 a councillor resigned from the Liberal Democrats and became an independent. The Conservative Group split in August 2010 with two councillors forming the Aberdeen Conservatives. All four Conservatives remain recognised as Conservatives by the party nationally. Following the election of 3 May 2012, the council is controlled by a coalition of centre-left Scottish Labour, centre-right Scottish Conservative and independent councillors.[18]

Aberdeen is represented in the Parliament of the United Kingdom by three constituencies: Aberdeen North, Aberdeen South and Gordon, of which the first two are wholly within the Aberdeen City council area while the latter also encompasses a large swathe of Aberdeenshire. Since the 2015 General Election all Aberdeenshire constituencies are represented by the SNP on swings of up to 30%. In the Scottish Parliament the city is represented by three constituencies with different boundaries: Aberdeen Central, Aberdeen Donside and Aberdeen South and North Kincardine. The first two are wholly within the Aberdeen City council area, and the latter encompasses the North Kincardine ward of Aberdeenshire Council. A further seven MSPs are elected as part of the North East Scotland electoral region. In the European Parliament the city is represented by six MEPs as part of the all-inclusive Scotland constituency.


Bon Accord Square, designed by Archibald Simpson and dating from 1823
Lamp-post bearing the city coat of arms

The arms and banner of the city show three silver towers on red. This motif dates from at least the time of Robert the Bruce and represents the buildings that stood on the three hills of mediaeval Aberdeen: Aberdeen Castle on Castle Hill (today's Castlegate); the city gate on Port Hill; and a church on St Catherine's Hill (now levelled).[19]

Bon Accord is the motto of the city and is French for "Good Agreement". Legend tells that its use dates from a password used by Robert the Bruce during the 14th century Wars of Scottish Independence, when he and his men laid siege to the English-held Aberdeen Castle before destroying it in 1308.[11] It is still widely present in the city, throughout street names, business names and the city's Bon Accord shopping mall.[20]

The shield in the coat of arms is supported by two leopards. A local magazine is called the "Leopard" and, when Union Bridge was widened in the 20th century, small statues of the creature in a sitting position were cast and placed on top of the railing posts (known locally as Kelly's Cats). The city's toast is "Happy to meet, sorry to part, happy to meet again"; this has been commonly misinterpreted as the translation of Bon Accord.[21]


Aberdeen Coast
Aberdeen Beach

Being sited between two river mouths, the city has little natural exposure of bedrock. This leaves local geologists in a slight quandary: despite the high concentration of geoscientists in the area (courtesy of the oil industry), there is only a vague understanding of what underlies the city. To the south side of the city, coastal cliffs expose high-grade metamorphic rocks of the Grampian Group; to the south-west and west are extensive granites intruded into similar high-grade schists; to the north the metamorphics are intruded by gabbroic complexes instead. The small amount of geophysics done, and occasional building-related exposures, combined with small exposures in the banks of the River Don, suggest that it is actually sited on an inlier of Devonian "Old Red" sandstones and silts. The outskirts of the city spread beyond the (inferred) limits of the outlier onto the surrounding metamorphic/ igneous complexes formed during the Dalradian period (approximately 480–600 million years ago) with sporadic areas of igneous Diorite granites to be found, such as that at the Rubislaw quarry which was used to build much of the Victorian parts of the city.[22]

On the coast, Aberdeen has a long sand beach between the two rivers, the Dee and the Don, which turns into high sand dunes north of the Don stretching as far as Fraserburgh; to the south of the Dee are steep rocky cliff faces with only minor pebble and shingle beaches in deep inlets. A number of granite outcrops along the south coast have been quarried in the past, making for spectacular scenery and good rock-climbing.

The city extends to 184.46 km2 (71.22 sq mi),[23] and includes the former burghs of Old Aberdeen, New Aberdeen, Woodside and the Royal Burgh of Torry to the south of River Dee. In 2011 this gave the city a population density of 1,169/km2.[24] The city is built on many hills, with the original beginnings of the city growing from Castle Hill, St. Catherine's Hill and Windmill Hill.[25]



Aberdeen features an oceanic climate (Köppen Cfb). Aberdeen has far milder winter temperatures than one might expect for its northern location, although statistically it is the coldest city in the UK. During the winter, especially throughout December, the length of the day is very short, averaging 6 hours and 41 minutes between sunrise and sunset at winter solstice.[26] As winter progresses, the length of the day grows fairly quickly, to 8 hours and 20 minutes by the end of January. Around summer solstice, the days will be around 18 hours long, having 17 hours and 55 minutes between sunrise and sunset.[27] During this time of the year marginal nautical twilight lasts the entire night. Temperatures at this time of year will be typically hovering around 17.0 °C (62.6 °F) during the day in most of the urban area, though nearer 16.0 °C (60.8 °F) directly on the coast, and around 18.0 to 19.0 °C (64.4 to 66.2 °F) in the westernmost suburbs,[28] illustrating the cooling effect of the North Sea during summer. In addition, from June onward skies are more overcast than in April/May, as reflected in a lower percentage of possible sunshine (the percentage of daylight hours that are sunny). These factors render summer to be very tempered by European standards.

Two weather stations collect climate data for the area, Aberdeen/Dyce Airport, and Craibstone. Both are about 4 12 miles (7 km) to the north west of the city centre, and given that they are in close proximity to each other, exhibit very similar climatic regimes. Dyce tends to have marginally warmer daytime temperatures year round owing to its slightly lower elevation, though is more susceptible to harsh frosts. The coldest temperature to occur in recent years was −16.8 °C (1.8 °F) during December 2010,[29] while the following winter, Dyce set a new February high temperature station record on 28 February 2012 of 17.2 °C (63.0 °F).,[30] and a new March high temperature record of 21.6 °C (70.9 °F) on 25 March 2012.[31]

Climate data for Aberdeen Dyce 65m asl, 1981–2010, extremes 1960–
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 17.2
Average high °C (°F) 6.5
Average low °C (°F) 0.6
Record low °C (°F) −19.3
Average precipitation mm (inches) 67.6
Mean monthly sunshine hours 58.3 81.3 121.8 149.4 199.4 166.4 165.3 157.8 123.7 99.8 66.2 46.1 1,435.7
Percent possible sunshine 25.1 30.7 33.2 34.8 38.9 31.2 31.0 33.5 32.2 31.1 27.2 21.8 30.9
Source #1: Met Office[32]
Source #2: Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute/KNMI[33]
Climate data for Craibstone 102m asl, 1971–2000, extremes 1951–
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 16.0
Average high °C (°F) 5.7
Average low °C (°F) 0.4
Record low °C (°F) −13.5
Average precipitation mm (inches) 74.1
Mean monthly sunshine hours 56.4 77.1 114.1 145.8 188.5 166.2 164.9 163.4 122.1 99.2 65.1 46.2 1,409
Source #1: Met Office[34]
Source #2: Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute/KNMI[35]


Aberdeen's population since 1396[36]

In 1396 the population was about 3,000. By 1801 it had become 26,992; (1901) 153,503; (1941) 182,467.[37] In 2001 the UK census records the Aberdeen City Council area's population at 212,125,[38] but the Aberdeen locality's population at 184,788.[39] The latest official population estimate, for 2011, is 223,000.[24] Data from the Aberdeen specific locality of the 2001 UK census shows that the demographics include a median male age of 35 and female age of 38, which are younger than Scotland's average and a 49% to 51% male-to-female ratio.[38]

The census showed that there are fewer young people in Aberdeen, with 16.4% under 16, opposed to the national average of 19.2%.[40] According to the 2011 census Aberdeen is 91.9% white, ethnically, 24.7% were born outside of Scotland, higher than the national average of 16%. Of this population 7.6% were born in other parts of the UK.[41] 8.2% of Aberdonians stated to be from an ethnic minority (non-white) in the 2011 census, with 9,519 (4.3%) being Asian, with 3,385 (1.5%) coming from India and 2,187 (1.0%) being Chinese. The city has around 5,610 (2.6%) residents of African or Caribbean origin, which is a higher percentage than both Glasgow and Edinburgh.[41] The most multicultural part of the city is George Street, which has many ethnic restaurants, supermarkets and hairdressers.
Aberdeen compared[41]
UK Census 2011 Aberdeen Scotland
Total population 222,793 5,295,000
Population growth 2001–2011 5.0% 5.0%
White 91.9% 96.0%
Asian 4.3% 2.7%
Black 2.6% 0.8%
Christian 30.9% 54.0%
Muslim 1.9% 1.4%

In the household, there were 97,013 individual dwellings recorded in the city of which 61% were privately owned, 9% privately rented and 23% rented from the council. The most popular type of dwellings are apartments which comprise 49% of residences followed by semi-detached at just below 22%.[42] The median income of a household in the city is £16,813 (the mean income is £20,292)[43] (2005) which places approximately 18% households in the city below the poverty line (defined as 60% of the mean income). Conversely, an Aberdeen postcode has the second highest number of millionaires of any postcode in the UK.[44]


South & St. Nicholas Kirk Spires viewed from Union St

Christianity is the main religion practised in the city. Aberdeen's largest denominations are the Church of Scotland (through the Presbytery of Aberdeen) and the Roman Catholic Church, both with numerous churches across the city, with the Scottish Episcopal Church having the third-largest number. The most recent census in 2001 showed that Aberdeen has the highest proportion of non-religious residents of any city in Scotland, with nearly 43% of citizens claiming to have no religion[40] and several former churches in the city have been converted into bars and restaurants. In the Middle Ages, the Kirk of St Nicholas was the only burgh kirk and one of Scotland's largest parish churches. Like a number of other Scottish kirks, it was subdivided after the Reformation, in this case into the East and West churches. At this time, the city also was home to houses of the Carmelites (Whitefriars) and Franciscans (Greyfriars), the latter of which surviving in modified form as the chapel of Marischal College as late as the early 20th century.

Gilcomston Church, Union St, Aberdeen

St Machar's Cathedral was built twenty years after David I (1124–53) transferred the pre-Reformation Diocese from Mortlach in Banffshire to Old Aberdeen in 1137. With the exception of the episcopate of William Elphinstone (1484–1511), building progressed slowly. Gavin Dunbar, who followed him in 1518, completed the structure by adding the two western spires and the southern transept. It is now a congregation of the Church of Scotland. Aberdeen has two other cathedrals: St. Mary's Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Gothic style, erected in 1859. In addition, St. Andrew's Cathedral serves the Scottish Episcopal Church. It was constructed in 1817 as Archibald Simpson's first commission and contains a memorial to the consecration of the first bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America, which took place nearby.

St Andrew's Cathedral, King Street

Numerous other Protestant denominations have a presence in Aberdeen. The Salvation Army citadel on the Castlegate dominates the view of east end of Union Street. In addition, there is a Unitarian church, established in 1833 and located in Skene Terrace. Christadelphians have been present in Aberdeen since at least 1844. Over the years, they have rented space to meet at a number of locations and currently meet in the Inchgarth Community Centre in Garthdee.[45] There is also a Quaker meetinghouse on Crown street, the only purpose built Quaker House in Scotland that is still in use today. In addition, there are a number of Baptist congregations in the city, and Evangelical congregations have been appearing in significant numbers since the late 2000s. The city also has two meetinghouses of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).

There is also a mosque in Old Aberdeen which serves the Islamic community in the city, and an Orthodox Jewish Synagogue established in 1945. There are no formal Buddhist or Hindu buildings, although the University of Aberdeen has a small Bahá'í society and there is a fortnightly Hindu religious gathering in the 1st and 3rd Sunday afternoons at Queens Cross Parish church hall.[46]


Rubislaw Quarry, opened in 1740 provided some six million tonnes of granite prior to its closure. Both the Houses of Parliament and the Forth Rail Bridge were constructed using its granite.
War Memorial at Pocra Quay with Marine Ops Centre in background. Situated at Aberdeen Harbour, next to Footdee an ancient fishing village dating as far back as 1398

Traditionally, Aberdeen was home to fishing, textile mills, shipbuilding and paper making. These industries have been largely replaced. High technology developments in the electronics design and development industry, research in agriculture and fishing and the oil industry, which has been largely responsible for Aberdeen's economic boom in the last three decades, are now major parts of Aberdeen's economy. Until the 1970s, most of Aberdeen's leading industries dated from the 18th century; mainly these were textiles, foundry work, shipbuilding and paper-making, the oldest industry in the city, with paper having been first made there in 1694. Paper-making has reduced in importance since the closures of Donside Paper Mill in 2001 and the Davidson Mill in 2005 leaving the Stoneywood Paper Mill with a workforce of approximately 500. Textile production ended in 2004 when Richards of Aberdeen closed.

Grey granite was quarried at Rubislaw quarry for more than 300 years, and used for paving setts, kerb and building stones, and monumental and other ornamental pieces. Aberdeen granite was used to build the terraces of the Houses of Parliament and Waterloo Bridge in London. Quarrying finally ceased in 1971. The current owners have begun pumping 40 years of rain water from the quarry with the aim of developing a heritage centre on the site.[47]

Fishing was once the predominant industry, but was surpassed by deep-sea fisheries, which derived a great impetus from improved technologies throughout the 20th century. Catches have fallen because of overfishing and the use of the harbour by oil support vessels,[48] and so although still an important fishing port it is now eclipsed by the more northerly ports of Peterhead and Fraserburgh. The Fisheries Research Services are headquartered in Aberdeen, and there is a marine research lab in Torry.

GDF Suez and Aker Solutions Buildings, North Dee Business Quarter. An example of modern offices becoming more prevalent in Aberdeen's City Centre

Aberdeen is well regarded for the agricultural and soil research carried out at The James Hutton Institute (formerly the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute), which has close links to the city's two universities. The Rowett Research Institute is a world-renowned research centre for studies into food and nutrition located in Aberdeen. It has produced three Nobel laureates and there is a high concentration of life scientists working in the city.[49][50]

As oil reserves in the North Sea decrease there is an effort to rebrand Aberdeen as "Energy Capital of Europe" rather than "Oil Capital of Europe", and there is interest in the development of new energy sources; and technology transfer from oil into renewable energy and other industries is under way. The "Energetica" initiative led by Scottish Enterprise has been designed to accelerate this process.[51] As of 2013, Aberdeen remained a major world center for undersea petroleum technology.[52]

Aberdeen and the North Sea

Aberdeen had been a major maritime centre throughout the 19th century, when a group of local entrepreneurs launched the first steam-powered trawler. The steam trawling industry expanded and by 1933 Aberdeen was Scotland's top fishing port, employing nearly 3,000 men with 300 vessels sailing from its harbour. By the time oil was coming on stream, much of the trawling fleet had relocated to Peterhead. Although Aberdeen still brings in substantial catches, the tugs, safety vessels and supply ships which pack the harbour far outnumber the trawlers.

Aberdeen Harbour from the Air

Geologists had speculated about the existence of oil and gas in the North Sea since the middle of the 20th century, but tapping its deep and inhospitable waters was another story. However, with the Middle Eastern oil sheiks becoming more aware of the political and economic power of their oil reserves and government threats of rationing, the industry began to consider the North Sea as a viable source of oil. Exploration commenced in the 1960s and the first major find in the British sector was in November 1970 in the Forties field, 110 miles (180 km) east of Aberdeen.

By late 1975, after years of intense construction the necessary infrastructure was in place. In Aberdeen, at BP's (British Petroleum) headquarters, the Queen pressed the button that would set the whole thing moving. Oil flowed from the rig directly to the refinery at far-away Grangemouth. While many ports have suffered decline, Aberdeen remains busy because of the oil trade and the influx of people connected with the industry, a subsequent rise in property prices ha brought prosperity to the area.

The industry still supports about 47,000 jobs locally and known reserves are such that oil will continue to flow well into the 21st century.

As a major port in the United Kingdom, Aberdeen receives many visiting seafarers from ships calling the port. Seafarers' welfare organisation, Apostleship of the Sea has a port chaplain in Aberdeen to offer practical and pastoral support to them.


In 2011, the Centre for Cities named Aberdeen as the best placed city for growth in Britain, as the country looked to emerge from the recent economic downturn.[53] With energy still providing the backbone of the local economy, recent years have seen massive new investment in the North Sea owing to rising oil prices and favorable government tax incentives.[54] This has led to several oil majors and independents building new global offices in the city.[55]

Aberdeen City and Shire's Gross Domestic Product is estimated at over £11.4billion, accounting for over 17% of the overall Scottish GDP. Five of Scotland's top ten businesses are based in Aberdeen with a collective turnover of £14billion, yielding a profit in excess of £2.4billion. Alongside this 29 of Scotland's top 100 businesses are located in Aberdeen with an employment rate of 77.9%, making it the 2nd highest UK city for employment.[56]


The Academy, Belmont St and Schoolhill, Aberdeen
Towards West End Union St, Aberdeen

The city ranks third in Scotland for shopping. The traditional shopping streets are Bon Accord & St Nicholas and the Trinity Shopping Centre. A new retail £190 million development, Union Square, reached completion in late September/early October 2009. Major retail parks away from the city centre include the Berryden Retail Park, the Kittybrewster Retail Park and the Beach Boulevard Retail Park.

In March 2004, Aberdeen was awarded Fairtrade City status by the Fairtrade Foundation.[57] Along with Dundee, it shares the distinction of being the first city in Scotland to receive this accolade.


Aberdeen Central Library and St Marks Church, Rosemount, Aberdeen
Town House, Sheriff Court and North of Scotland Bank, Aberdeen
Granite Buildings on Union Street
Aberdeen, Salvation Army Citadel
Head Post Office, Crown Street
Former Trinity United Free Church, Crown Street, Aberdeen

Aberdeen's architecture is known for its principal use during the Victorian era of granite, which has led to its local nickname of the Granite City or more romantically the less commonly used name the Silver City, since the Mica in the stone sparkles in the sun. The hard grey stone is one of the most durable materials available and helps to explain why the city's buildings look brand-new when they have been newly cleaned and the cement has been pointed. Unlike other Scottish cities where sandstone has been used, the buildings are not weathering and need very little structural maintenance on their masonry. The buildings can however become noticeably darker as a result of pollution and grime accumulated over the years. There has however been great success in cleaning the buildings which can result in their façade being restored back to much how they looked originally.

Amongst the notable buildings in the city's main street, Union Street, are the Town and County Bank, the Music Hall, the Trinity Hall of the incorporated trades (originating between 1398 and 1527, although completely rebuilt in the 1860s), now a shopping mall; the former office of the Northern Assurance Company, and the National Bank of Scotland. In Castle Street, a continuation eastwards of Union Street, is the new Town House, a very prominent landmark in Aberdeen, built between 1868 and 1873 to a design by Peddie and Kinnear.[58]

Alexander Marshall Mackenzie's extension to Marischal College on Broad Street, opened by King Edward VII in 1906, created the second largest granite building in the world (after the Escorial, Madrid).[59]

In addition to the many fine landmark buildings, Aberdeen has many prominent public statues, three of the most notable being William Wallace at the junction between Union Terrace and Rosemount Viaduct, Robert Burns on Union Terrace above Union Terrace Gardens, and Robert the Bruce holding aloft the charter he issued to the city in 1319 on Broad Street, outside Marischal College.

Parks, gardens and open spaces

Aberdeen has long been famous for its 45[8] parks and gardens, and citywide floral displays which include two million roses, eleven million daffodils and three million crocuses. The city has won the Royal Horticultural Society's Britain in Bloom 'Best City' award ten times,[8] the overall Scotland in Bloom competition twenty times[8] and the large city category every year since 1968.[8] However, despite recent spurious reports, Aberdeen has never been banned from the Britain in Bloom competition.[60] The city won the 2006 Scotland in Bloom "Best City" award along with the International Cities in Bloom award. The suburb of Dyce also won the Small Towns award.[61][62]

Union Terrace Gardens, Aberdeen

Duthie Park opened in 1899 on the north bank of the River Dee. It was named after and given to the city by Miss Elizabeth Crombie Duthie of Ruthrieston in 1881. It has extensive gardens, a rose hill, boating pond, bandstand, and play area as well as Europe's second largest enclosed gardens the David Welch Winter Gardens. Hazlehead Park, is large and forested, located on the outskirts of the city, it is popular with walkers in the forests, sports enthusiasts, naturalists and picnickers. There are football pitches, two golf courses, a pitch and putt course and a horse riding school.

Duthie Park, Aberdeen, Scotland

Aberdeen's success in the Britain in Bloom competitions is often attributed to Johnston Gardens, a small park of one hectare in the west end of the city containing many different flowers and plants which have been renowned for their beauty. The garden was in 2002, named the best garden in the British Islands.[8] Seaton Park, formerly the grounds of a private house, is on the edge of the grounds of St Machar's Cathedral. The Cathedral Walk is maintained in a formal style with a great variety of plants providing a popular display. The park includes several other areas with contrasting styles to this. Union Terrace Gardens opened in 1879 and is situated in the centre of the city. It covers 2.5 acres (10,000 m2) in the centre of Aberdeen bordered on three sides by Union Street, Union Terrace and Rosemount Viaduct. The park forms a natural amphitheatre located in the Denburn Valley and is an oasis of peace and calm in the city centre. A recent proposal to build a three storey concrete and steel superstructure in place of the gardens, part of which will provide a commercial concourse, has proved highly controversial.

Situated next to each other, Victoria Park and Westburn Park cover 26 acres (110,000 m2) between them. Victoria Park opened in 1871. There is a conservatory used as a seating area and a fountain made of fourteen different granites, presented to the people by the granite polishers and master builders of Aberdeen. Opposite to the north is Westburn Park opened in 1901. With large grass pitches it is widely used for field sports. There is large tennis centre with indoor and outdoor courts, a children's cycle track, play area and a grass boules lawn.

Theatres and concert halls

The Tivoli Theatre, Guild Street, Aberdeen
His Majesty's Theatre, Rosemount, Aberdeen

Aberdeen has hosted several theatres throughout its history, some of which have subsequently been converted or destroyed. The most famous include:

The main concert hall is the Music Hall on Union Street, built in 1822.


Plaza outside railway station at Aberdeen in early morning, with Union Square to left
Aberdeen Railway Station, main concourse

Aberdeen Airport (ABZ), at Dyce in the north of the city, serves a number of domestic and international destinations including France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, Austria, Ireland and Scandinavian countries. The heliport which serves the oil industry and rescue services is one of the busiest commercial heliports in the world.[6] Aberdeen railway station is on the main UK rail network and Abellio ScotRail has frequent direct trains to major cities such as Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness. Virgin Trains East Coast and the Caledonian Sleeper operate direct trains to London. The station is currently being updated to bring it into the modern age. In 2007 additions were made and a new ticket office was built in the building. The UK's longest direct rail journey runs from Aberdeen to Penzance. It is operated by CrossCountry, leaving Aberdeen at 08:20 and taking 13 hours and 23 minutes to complete.

Until 2007, a 1950s-style concrete bus station at Guild Street served out-of-the-city locations; it has since transferred to a new and well-presented bus station just 100 metres to the east off Market Street as part of the Union Square development. There are six major roads in and out of the city. The A90 is the main arterial route into the city from the north and south, linking Aberdeen to Edinburgh, Dundee, Brechin and Perth in the south and Ellon, Peterhead and Fraserburgh in the north. The A96 links Elgin and Inverness and the north west. The A93 is the main route to the west, heading towards Royal Deeside and the Cairngorms. After Braemar, it turns south, providing an alternative tourist route to Perth. The A944 also heads west, through Westhill and on to Alford. The A92 was the original southerly road to Aberdeen prior to the building of the A90, and is now used as a tourist route, connecting the towns of Montrose and Arbroath and on the east coast. The A947 exits the city at Dyce and goes on to Newmachar, Oldmeldrum and Turriff finally ending at Banff and Macduff.

River Dee Railway Bridge, Aberdeen

After first being mooted some 60 years ago and being held up for the past five years by a number of legal challenges, Aberdeen's long awaited Western Peripheral Route was finally given the go-ahead after campaigners lost their appeal to the UK Supreme Court in October 2012. The 30-mile (50 km) route is earmarked to be completed in 2018 and is hoped to significantly reduce traffic congestion in and around the city.[66] Aberdeen Harbour is important as the largest in the north of Scotland and as a ferry route to Orkney and Shetland. Established in 1136, it has been referred to as the oldest business in Britain.[67]

FirstGroup operates the city buses under the name First Aberdeen, as the successor of Grampian Regional Transport (GRT) and Aberdeen Corporation Tramways. Aberdeen is the global headquarters of FirstGroup plc, having grown from the GRT Group. First is still based at the former Aberdeen Tramways depot on King Street,[68] which has now been redeveloped into a new Global Headquarters and Aberdeen bus depot. Stagecoach Group also run buses in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, under the Stagecoach Bluebird brand. Other bus companies (e.g. Megabus) run buses from the bus station to places north and south of the city.

National Express operate express coach services to London twice daily. The 590 service, operated by Bruce's of Salsburgh operates in the morning and runs through the day, calling at Dundee, Perth, Glasgow, Hamilton, Carlisle, Milton Keynes, Golders Green and Victoria Coach Station, whilst the 592 (operated by Parks of Hamilton) leaves in the evening and travels overnight, calling at Dundee, Glasgow, Hamilton, Carlisle, Heathrow Airport and Victoria Coach Station. In addition, there are Megabus services to London and Edinburgh and Scottish Citylink services to Glasgow, operated by Stagecoach and Parks of Hamilton using the Citylink gold and blue livery.

Aberdeen is connected to the UK National Cycle Network, and has a track to the south connecting to cities such as Dundee and Edinburgh and one to the north that forks about 10 miles (15 km) from the city into two different tracks heading to Inverness and Fraserburgh respectively. Two particularly popular footpaths along old railway tracks are the Deeside Way to Banchory (which will eventually connect to Ballater) and the Formartine and Buchan Way to Ellon, both used by a mixture of cyclists, walkers and occasionally horses. Four park-and-ride sites serve the city: Stonehaven and Ellon (approx 12 to 17 miles (19 to 27 km) out from the city centre) and Kingswells and Bridge of Don (approx 3 to 4 miles (5 to 6 km) out).

The Dee Estuary, Aberdeen's harbour, has continually been improved. Starting out as a fishing port, moving onto steam trawlers, the oil industry, it is now a major port of departure for the Baltic and Scandinavia.[69] Major exports include fertiliser, granite, and chemicals.


Elphinstone Hall, Old Aberdeen
Sir Duncan Rice Library, Aberdeen University, Aberdeen
King's College, Old Aberdeen

Universities and colleges

Aberdeen has two universities, the ancient University of Aberdeen, and Robert Gordon University, a modern university often referred to as RGU. Aberdeen's student rate of 11.5% is higher than the national average of 7%.[70]

Aberdeen Business School at the Robert Gordon University


  • Aberdeen City Council
  • Aberdeen at DMOZ
  • Aberdeen Facts
  • Aberdeen pictures
  • Aberdeen University Debater
  • A collection of historic maps of Aberdeen from the 1660s onward at National Library of Scotland
  • A selection of archive films relating to Aberdeen at the Scottish Screen Archive
  • Engraving of Aberdeen in 1693 by John Slezer at National Library of Scotland
  • Aberdeen Tourist Guide
  • Texts on Wikisource:

External links

Further reading

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  45. ^ 'Aberdeen' on Find your local Christadelphians
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  63. ^ Edi Swan: His Majesty's Theatre – One Hundred Years of Glorious Damnation (Black & White Publishing) (2006); ISBN 978-1-84502-102-3
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See also

  • Stuart MacBride's crime novels, Cold Granite, Dying Light, Broken Skin, Flesh House, Blind Eye and Dark Blood (a series with main protagonist, DS Logan MacRae) are all set in Aberdeen. DS Logan MacRae is a Grampian Police officer and locations found in the books can be found in Aberdeen and the surrounding countryside.
  • A large part of the plot of the World War II spy thriller Eye of the Needle takes place in wartime Aberdeen, from which a German spy is trying to escape to a submarine waiting offshore.
  • Stewart Home's sex and literary obsessed contemporary novel 69 Things to Do with a Dead Princess is set in Aberdeen.
  • A portion of Ian Rankin's novel Black and Blue (1997) is set in Aberdeen, where its nickname "Furry Boots" is noted.[108]
  • Sarah Jane Smith from the popular science fiction show Doctor Who was accidentally returned to Aberdeen instead of her home in South Croydon by the fourth incarnation of the Doctor.
  • The successful Channel 4 sitcom Peep Show makes occasional reference to Aberdeen, as the employer of one of the main characters has an office in Aberdeen. In one episode Mark Corrigan is desperate to be put on secondment to Aberdeen so as to spend some time with his love interest, Sophie, whilst in another episode, Mark's boss, Alan Johnston, announces that he is "just back from Aberdeen."
  • The pop music groups Danny Wilson and Royseven, as well as alternative rock group Cage the Elephant have all recorded songs called 'Aberdeen'.
  • The fictional character Groundskeeper Willie, a recurring character on the USA TV show "The Simpsons" is heard cheering "Go Aberdeen" upon waking up from a dream in the episode titled 'Scuse Me While I Miss the Sky. Also, in an episode when Homer and Mr Burns go to Loch Ness in search of the Loch Ness Monster, they discover a fake version of the monster with graffiti which reads 'Stomp Aberdeen'. Homer then goes on to proclaim that 'Aberdeen rules!'. This is in spite of the fact that Groundskeeper Willie does not have an Aberdeen accent.
  • Star Trek's chief engineer, Mr. Scott, in the episode "Wolf in the Fold", described himself as "an old Aberdeen pub crawler", but the Canadian actor James Doohan does not speak with an Aberdeenshire accent.
  • Auberdine, a seaport town located in Darkshore in the game World of Warcraft, is a possible reference to the city of Aberdeen.
  • In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Aberdeen is mentioned as one of the stops of The Knight Bus.
  • Aberdeen is referenced in Under the Lake, the third episode of the ninth series of the popular science fiction show Doctor Who. Looking to portray a socially acceptable level of empathy, The Doctor flips through a series of cue cards. One of the cards reads, "It was my fault, I should have known you didn't live in Aberdeen."

Aberdeen in popular culture

George Gordon Byron

Notable people

Aberdeen is twinned with Regensburg, Germany (1955),[107] Clermont-Ferrand, France (1983),[107] Bulawayo, Zimbabwe (1986),[107] Stavanger, Norway (1990)[107] and Gomel, Belarus (1990).[107]

Twin cities

Aberdeen City Council is responsible for city owned infrastructure which is paid for by a mixture of council tax and income from HM Treasury. Infrastructure and services run by the council include: clearing snow in winter, city wardens, maintaining parks, refuse collection, sewage, street cleaning and street lighting. Infrastructure in private hands includes electricity, gas and telecoms. Water supplies are provided by Scottish Water.

Albyn Hospital is a private hospital located in the west end of the city.

The public health service in Scotland, NHS Scotland provides for the people of Aberdeen through the NHS Grampian health board. Aberdeen Royal Infirmary is the largest hospital in the city (the location of the city's A&E department), Royal Aberdeen Children's Hospital, a paediatric hospital, Royal Cornhill Hospital for mental health, Aberdeen Maternity Hospital, an antenatal hospital, Woodend Hospital, which specialises in rehabilitation and long term illnesses and conditions, and City Hospital and Woolmanhill Hospital, which host several out-patient clinics and offices.

Police Scotland's Aberdeen HQ, Queen Street
New Royal Aberdeen's Children Hospital and New Emergency Care Centre in background, Foresterhill, Aberdeen

Public services

In common with many other major towns and cities in the UK, Aberdeen has an active roller derby league, Granite City Roller Girls.[103] The Aberdeen Roughnecks American football club are a new team which started in 2012. They are an adult contact team who currently train at Seaton Park. This is the first team which Aberdeen has enjoyed since the Granite City Oilers were wound up in the late 1990s. Aberdeen Oilers Floorball Club was founded in 2007. The club initially attracted a range of experienced Scandinavian and other European players who were studying in Aberdeen. Since their formation, Aberdeen Oilers have played in the British Floorball Northern League and went on to win the league in the 2008/09 season. The club played a major role in setting up a ladies league in Scotland. The Oiler's ladies team ended up 2nd in the first ladies league season (2008/09).[104]

Aberdeen City council also have an Outdoor Education service which is now known as adventure aberdeen, that provides abseiling, surfing, white water rafting, gorge walking, kayaking and open canoeing, mountaineering, sailing, mountain biking and rock climbing. They inspire learning through adventure and have many programs for children and adults.[102]

The city council operates public tennis courts in various parks including an indoor tennis centre at Westburn Park. The Beach Leisure Centre is home to a climbing wall, gymnasium and a swimming pool. There are numerous swimming pools dotted around the city notably the largest, the Bon-Accord Baths which closed down in 2006.[101]

Other sports

Aberdeen Lynx are an amateur ice hockey team who play in the Scottish National League and are based at the Linx Ice Arena. The arena has a seating capacity of 1,100. The club also field teams at the Under 20, Under 16, Under 14 and Under 12 age groups.

Ice Hockey

Aberdeen boasts a large cricket community with 4 local leagues operating that comprise a total of 25 clubs fielding 36 teams. The city has two national league sides, Aberdeenshire and Stoneywood-Dyce. Local 'Grades'[99] cricket has been played in Aberdeen since 1884. Aberdeenshire were the 2009 & 2014 Scottish National Premier League and Scottish Cup Champions[100]


There are four boat clubs that row on the River Dee: Aberdeen Boat Club (ABC), Aberdeen Schools Rowing Association (ASRA), Aberdeen University Boat Club (AUBC) and Robert Gordon University Boat Club (RGUBC). There are regattas and head races annually, managed by the Committee of the Dee. There is also a boat race held every year between AUBC and RGUBC. The race is in mixed eights, and usually held in late February / early March.

Rowers under Wellington Suspension Bridge on the River Dee, Aberdeen


The City of Aberdeen Swim Team (COAST) was based in Northfield swimming pool, but since the opening of the Aberdeen Aquatics Centre in 2014, it is now based there, as it has a 50 m pool as opposed to the 25 m pool at Northfield. It has been in operation since 1996. The team comprises several smaller swimming clubs, and has enjoyed success throughout Scotland and in international competitions. Three of the team's swimmers qualified for the 2006 Commonwealth Games.[98]


Aberdeen Aquatics Centre - Aberdeen Sports Village

There are new courses planned for the area, including world class facilities with major financial backing, the city and shire are set to become a hotbed for golf tourism. In Summer 2012, Donald Trump opened a new state of the art golf course at Menie, just north of the city, as the Trump International Golf Links, Scotland.

The Royal Aberdeen Golf Club, founded in 1780 and the oldest golf club in Aberdeen, hosted the Senior British Open in 2005, and the amateur team event the Walker Cup in 2011.[95] Royal Aberdeen also hosted the Scottish Open in 2014, won by Justin Rose.[96] The club has a second course, and there are public golf courses at Auchmill, Balnagask, Hazlehead and King's Links.[97] The 1999 winner of The Open Championship, Paul Lawrie, hails from the city.

Hazlehead Golf Course, Aberdeen


Aberdeen Warriors rugby league team play in the Scotland Rugby League Conference Division One. The Warriors also run Under 15's and 17's teams. Aberdeen Grammar School won the Saltire Schools Cup in 2011.[94]

Rugby League

In 2005 the President of the SRU said it was hoped eventually to establish a professional team in Aberdeen.[92] In November 2008 the city hosted a rugby international at Pittodrie between Scotland and Canada, with Scotland winning 41–0.[93] In November 2010 the city once again hosted a rugby international at Pittodrie between Scotland and Samoa, with Scotland winning 19–16.

Aberdeenshire Rugby Football Club is based in the North of the city at Woodside Sports Complex[91] near the Great North Road on the banks of the river Don. They currently play in the Scottish League Championship B (East), the 3rd tier of club rugby.

Aberdeen hosted Caledonia Reds a Scottish rugby team, before they merged with the Glasgow Warriors in 1998. The city is also home to the Scottish Premiership Division One rugby club Aberdeen GSFP RFC who play at Rubislaw Playing Fields, and Aberdeenshire RFC which was founded in 1875 and runs Junior, Senior Mens, Senior Ladies and Touch sections from the Woodside Sports Complex[90] and also Aberdeen Wanderers RFC. Former Wanderers' player Jason White was captain of the Scotland national rugby union team.

Rugby Union

There was also a historic senior team Bon Accord F.C. who no longer play. Local junior teams include Banks O' Dee F.C., Culter F.C., F.C. Stoneywood, Glentanar F.C., Sunnybank and Hermes F.C..

The other senior team is Cove Rangers F.C. of the Highland Football League (HFL), who play at Allan Park in the suburb of Cove Bay, although they will be moving to Calder Park once it is built to boost their chances of getting into the Scottish Football League.[89] Cove won the HFL championship in 2001, 2008, 2009 and 2013.

The Scottish Premier League football club, Aberdeen F.C. play at Pittodrie Stadium. The club won the European Cup Winners Cup and the European Super Cup in 1983, the Scottish Premier League Championship four times (1955, 1980, 1984 and 1985), and the Scottish Cup seven times (1947, 1970, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986 and 1990). Under the management of Alex Ferguson, Aberdeen was a major force in British football during the 1980s. As of the 2014–15 season, the club is managed by Derek McInnes and captained by Russell Anderson. There are plans to build a new Aberdeen Stadium in the future. Under the management of McInnes the team won the 2014 Scottish League Cup and followed it up with a second place league finish for the first time for more than 20 years in the following season.

Pittodrie Stadium viewed from Broad Hill



In 2015, a study was published in The Scotsman which analysed the presence of branded fast food outlets in Scotland. Of the ten towns and cities analysed, Aberdeen was found to have the lowest per capita concentration, with just 0.12 stores per 1,000 inhabitants.[88]

The Aberdeen buttery is more frequently seen and is sold at bakeries and supermarkets throughout the city. It looks like a cross between a pancake and a croissant and has a buttery, salty taste and heavy texture. It is usually eaten cold and served plain or with jam or butter. [87] and Aberdeen Sausage.[86] (also known as "rowie")Aberdeen butteryThe Aberdeen region has given its name to a number of dishes, including the
Aberdeen butteries, also known as rowies, served with jam


There are three commercial radio stations operating in the city: Northsound Radio, which runs Northsound 1 and Northsound 2, and independent station Original 106. Other radio stations include NECR FM (North-East Community Radio FM) DAB station,[83] and shmu FM[84] managed by Station House Media Unit[85] which supports community members to run Aberdeen's first (and only) full-time community radio station, broadcasting on 99.8 MHz FM.

Aberdeen is home to Scotland's oldest newspaper the Press and Journal, a local and regional newspaper first published in 1747. The Press and Journal and its sister paper the tabloid Evening Express are printed six days a week by Aberdeen Journals. There is one free newspaper, the Aberdeen Citizen. BBC Scotland has a network studio production base in the city's Beechgrove area, and BBC Aberdeen produces The Beechgrove Potting Shed for radio while Tern Television produces The Beechgrove Garden television programme.[82] The city is also home to STV North (formerly Grampian Television), which produces the regional news programmes such as STV News at Six, as well as local commercials. The station, based at Craigshaw Business Park in Tullos, was based at larger studios in Queens Cross from September 1961 until June 2003.


The local dialect of Lowland Scots is often known as Doric, and is spoken not just in the city, but across the north-east of Scotland. It differs somewhat from other Scots dialects most noticeable are the pronunciation f for what is normally written wh and ee for what in standard English would usually be written oo (Scots ui). Every year the annual Doric Festival[81] takes place in Aberdeenshire to celebrate the history of the north-east's language. As with all Scots dialects in urban areas, it is not spoken as widely as it used to be in Aberdeen.

Listen to recordings of a speaker of Scots from Aberdeen
Satrosphere, Science Centre Links Road


The Cowdray Hall, Aberdeen

Cultural cinema, educational work and local film events are provided by The Belmont Picturehouse on Belmont Street, Peacock Visual Arts and The Foyer. The only Doric speaking feature film was released in 2008 by Stirton Productions and Canny Films. One Day Removals is a black comedy/adult drama starring Patrick Wight and Scott Ironside and tells the tale of two unlucky removal men whose day goes from bad to worse. It was filmed on location in Aberdeenshire for a budget of £60,000.

The Music Hall, Union Street, Aberdeen

Aberdeen's music scene includes a variety of live music venues including pubs, clubs, and church choirs. The bars of Belmont Street are particularly known for featuring live music. Ceilidhs are also common in the city's halls. Popular music venues include the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC), Aberdeen Music Hall and The Lemon Tree, along with smaller venues such as The Tunnels, The Moorings, Drummonds, Moshulu, and Snafu. Notable Aberdonian musicians include Annie Lennox, Emeli Sandé, cult band Pallas and contemporary composer John McLeod. A large proportion of Aberdeen's classical music scene is based around the ensembles of Aberdeen University's music department, notably the Symphony Orchestra, Marischal Chamber Orchestra, and the Concert Band.

Aberdeen Arts Centre

Music and film

National festivals which visited Aberdeen in 2012 included the British Science Festival in September, hosted by the University of Aberdeen but with events also taking place at Robert Gordon University and at other venues across the city. In February 2012 the University of Aberdeen also hosted the Inter Varsity Folk Dance Festival, the longest running folk festival in the United Kingdom.

Gordon Highlanders Museum, Aberdeen

The Aberdeen Student Show, performed annually without interruption since 1921, under the auspices of the Aberdeen Students' Charities Campaign, is the longest-running of its kind in the United Kingdom. It is written, produced and performed by students and graduates of Aberdeen's universities and higher education institutions. Since 1929—other than on a handful of occasions—it has been staged at His Majesty's Theatre. The Student Show traditionally combines comedy and music, inspired by the North-East's Doric dialect and humour.

Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre

Aberdeen is home to a number of events and festivals including the Aberdeen International Youth Festival (the world's largest arts festival for young performers), Aberdeen Jazz Festival, Rootin' Aboot (a folk and roots music event), Triptych, the University of Aberdeen's literature festival Word and DanceLive, Scotland's only Festival of contemporary dance, which is produced by the city's Citymoves dance organisation.

Festivals and performing arts

Marischal Museum holds the principal collections of the University of Aberdeen, comprising some 80,000 items in the areas of fine art, Scottish history and archaeology, and European, Mediterranean and Near Eastern archaeology. The permanent displays and reference collections are augmented by regular temporary exhibitions.[79] It closed to the public in 2008 for renovations; its reopening date has yet to be confirmed.[80] The King's Museum acts as the main museum of the university in the meantime.

The Tolbooth Museum, a 17th Century Jail
Provost Skene's House Museum, dating from 1545,

Provost Ross' House is the second oldest dwelling house in the city. It was built in 1593 and became the residence of Provost John Ross of Arnage in 1702. The house retains some original medieval features, including a kitchen, fireplaces and beam-and-board ceilings.[77] The Gordon Highlanders Museum tells the story of one of Scotland's best known regiments.[78]

The Aberdeen Maritime Museum, located in Shiprow, tells the story of Aberdeen's links with the sea from the days of sail and clipper ships to the latest oil and gas exploration technology. It includes an 8.5-metre-high (28 ft) model of the Murchison oil production platform and a 19th-century assembly taken from Rattray Headlighthouse.[76]

Museums and galleries

The city has a wide range of cultural activities , amenities and museums. The city is regularly visited by Scotland's National Arts Companies. The Aberdeen Art Gallery houses a collection of Impressionist, Victorian, Scottish and 20th-century British paintings as well as collections of silver and glass. It also includes The Alexander Macdonald Bequest, a collection of late 19th century works donated by the museum's first benefactor and a constantly changing collection of contemporary work and regular visiting exhibitions.[75]

Maritime Museum, Shiprow
Aberdeen Art Gallery


There are currently 12 secondary schools and 54 primary schools which are run by the city council. The most notable are Aberdeen Grammar School (founded in 1257), Harlaw Academy, Cults Academy, and Oldmachar Academy which were all rated in the top 50 Scottish secondary schools league tables published by The Times in 2005. Harlaw Academy was taken down from the list after a short time but is still a popular school.[74] There are a number of private schools in Aberdeen: Robert Gordon's College, Albyn School for Girls (co-educational as of 2005), St Margaret's School for Girls, the Hamilton School (a Montessori school), the Total French School (for French oil industry families), the International School of Aberdeen and a Waldorf/Steiner School. Primary schools in Aberdeen include Airyhall Primary School, Albyn School, Ashley Road Primary School, Balgownie Primary School, Broomhill Primary School, Cornhill Primary School (the city's largest), Culter Primary School, Cults Primary School, Danestone Primary School, Fernielea Primary school, Ferryhill Primary School, Gilcomstoun Primary School, Glashieburn Primary School, Hamilton School, Kaimhill Primary School, Kingsford Primary School, Kittybrewster Primary School, Mile-End School, Muirfield Primary School, Robert Gordon's College, Skene Square Primary School, St. Joseph's Primary School and St Margaret's School for Girls.

Woodside School, dating from 1890
Aberdeen Grammar School


Aberdeen is also home to two artistic schools: Gray's School of Art, founded in 1886, which is one of the oldest established colleges of art in the UK. The Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and the Built Environment, was one of the first architectural schools to have its training courses recognised by the Royal Institute of British Architects. Both are now part of Robert Gordon University and are based at its Garthdee campus. North East Scotland College has several campuses in the city and offers a wide variety of part-time and full-time courses leading to several different qualifications in science. The Scottish Agricultural College is based just outside Aberdeen, on the Craibstone Estate. This is situated beside the roundabout for Aberdeen Airport on the A96. The college provides three services—Learning, Research and Consultancy. The college features many land based courses such as Agriculture, Countryside Management, Sustainable Environmental Management and Rural Business Management. There are a variety of courses from diplomas through to master's degrees. The Marine Laboratory Aberdeen, which specialises in fisheries, Macaulay Land Use Research Institute (soil science), and the Rowett Research Institute (animal nutrition) are some other higher education institutions.[69]

North East Scotland College
Robert Gordon University - Sir Ian Wood building

Central Institution and was renamed as the Robert Gordon Institute of Technology in 1965. In 1992, university status was awarded and it became Robert Gordon University. The university has expanded and developed significantly in recent years, and was named Best Modern University in the UK for 2012 by The Sunday Times. It was previously The Sunday Times Scottish University of the Year for 2011, primarily because of its record on graduate employment. The citation for the 2011 award read: "With a graduate unemployment rate that is lower than the most famous universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, plus a flourishing reputation for research, high student satisfaction rates and ambitious plans for its picturesque campus, the Robert Gordon University is The Sunday Times Scottish University of the Year".[73] RGU had two campuses: one in the city centre at Schoolhill/St. Andrew Street and a larger suburban campus at Garthdee and currently has approximately 15,500 students. As of 2013, the Garthdee campus was expanded to include all schools, with the Schoolhill/St. Andrew Street campus being sold to unknown buyers. The closure of the Schoolhill site includes the removal of the Student Union building, giving Aberdeen the dubious distinction of having two universities but no student bar.

[72] and offers degrees in a full range of disciplines. Its main campus is in Old Aberdeen in the north of the city and it currently has approximately 14,000 students. The university's debating society is the oldest in Scotland, founded in 1848 as the King's College Debating Society.[71] The university is the fifth oldest in the English-speaking world[69] These institutions were merged by order of Parliament in 1860 to form the University of Aberdeen.[69]

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