Combine culture and countryside on city breaks in Aberdeen. Feel pleasantly surprised by all this city has to offer — experience the cosmopolitan atmosphere and flourishing arts scene, before exploring the beautiful surrounding areas.
The city centre offers an abundance of things to do, with plenty of shopping, museums for a culture fix and dining opportunities – try the Aberdeen Angus beef or delicious fresh seafood. Venture just outside the city for scenic wonders, from the royal Balmoral Castle, to the dramatic clifftop of Dunnottar Castle by the North Sea. Join an excursion out to the open-ocean for dolphin watching and lookout for puffins and seals in the wild. Visit during June and September for Highland games every weekend, watch for entertainment and soak up the atmosphere. Then tour some of the world-famous distilleries of Aberdeen’s whisky trail, or play a spot of golf. Hire a car and explore at your own pace. Head to the nearby Cairngorms National Park – it will delight you with its forest paths, lochs and wildlife, or ski come winter time.
With more castles per acre than anywhere else in the UK, Aberdeenshire is known as ‘Castle Country’, and is home to Scotland’s only Castle Trail. The trail guides you around 17 of the region’s finest castles, including the iconic (and haunted) Dunnottar Castle, Balmoral Castle – where the Queen spends her summers – and the fairy tale Craigievar Castle - which is thought to be the inspiration for Walt Disney’s enchanted castle.
Head inland from Aberdeen and you’ll soon find yourself in Speyside, home to the greatest number of distilleries of any of the whisky-producing areas of Scotland. Speyside is also home to the Malt Whisky Trail, the best way to explore the world's favourite malt whisky region. The trail guides you around seven working distilleries including the world-famous Glenfiddich, Glenlivet and Glen Moray distilleries. At each stop you can expect a warm welcome and an invitation to see, smell, taste and absorb the magic of whisky.
Combining independent stores with some of the biggest high street and designer names, shopping in Aberdeen will not disappoint. The city also hosts craft and vintage fayres and an outdoor farmers market, which provide the opportunity to pick up unique souvenirs and tasty treats. Head to Union Square for shopping and dining, or meander along Union Street, which is Aberdeen’s main thoroughfare. Browse the specialist stores of The West End shopping area, before stopping for a post-shop snack at one of the tea rooms or coffee shops.
Exhibiting contemporary works of art from a selection of Scottish and English painters, the Aberdeen Art Gallery is well worth a visit. Its grand façade and cool, marble-lined space create an exciting exhibition space. Nestled in the heart of the city, the gallery is home to one of the most important art collections in the country, ranging from 18th century portraits to contemporary work by the likes of Damien Hirst and Gavin Turk. Alternatively the Aberdeen Maritime, which overlooks the harbour, combines hands-on exhibits with collections of maritime paintings.
Just a stone’s throw from the city, you’ll discover spectacular scenery which is ideal for a leisurely ramble or an adventurous hike. The Cairngorms National Park provides the perfect terrain for walkers, with its rugged mountainous peaks, while the North Sea Trail - with its cliff-top coastal walks - offers a glimpse of the ocean. Enjoy a wildlife cruise and catch a glimpse of puffins and Atlantic grey seals. Or explore the golden sandy beaches, which can be found east of the city centre.