Aberdeen, in the heart of Scotland’s Grampian Highlands, is an ideal destination for art, history and culture that is slightly off the beaten track. Scotland’s third largest city was inspiration for the well known Scottish folk song The Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen which portrays a well worn Scottish theme: that of extreme homesickness when away from my “home native land” and celebrates the spectacular phenomenon of Aurora Borealis.
Places of interest:
Aberdeen was established in 1179, and her fortunes were transformed by Robert Bruce’s 1319 Charter, in recognition of his gratitude to the people of Aberdeen who had sheltered him during his campaign against the English. Since 1509 when the renowned University of Aberdeen was established, Aberdeen has been an academic centre of Europe, which influences a great many of the cultural and historical activities on offer in the city and its surrounding areas.
Described by Queen Elizabeth II as “my dear place in the Highlands” Balmoral Castle offers visitors guided tours of the gardens, historical exhibitions and luxury safari in the Caledonian Pine Forest, where visitors can catch glimpses of Scottish wildlife.
Another ancestral home continuously inhabited for over 400 years is Haddo House.
Visitors can enjoy Gordon family ancestral portraits, memorabilia, the old stables and traditional Scottish tea room. Opera, ballets and plays are presented from May to October.
The NorthEast Falconry Centre offers a uniquely close experience with Scotland’s birds of prey.
Introduction to Falconry, outside demonstrations and walks with hawks are just some of the exciting and educational activities on offer.
Aberdeen Art Galleries and Museums comprises Aberdeen Art Gallery, Aberdeen Maritime Museum, the Lord Provost’s house and The Tollbooth in one site, and offers a varied programme of events and exhibitions. The Art Gallery hosts collections dating back to the 18th century of fine art, and the Maritime museum exults in the region’s proud seafaring traditions.
The Tollbooth is made up of 17th century cells, and the Lord Provost’s House portrays the elegance and ritual of upper class Highland living.
Things to do:
Aberdeen offers a whole host of recreational activities to enjoy. From parks to museums, tourists will never be bored while in Aberdeen.
Storybook Glen in Royal Teeside is a magical adventureland set over 28 acres where kids and adults can see their favourite fairy-tales and nursery rhymes come to life, and wonder at the natural beauty of waterfalls, brooks and flora.
The Gordon Highlanders Museum celebrates the history and culture of over two centuries of one of Scotland’s greatest kilted regiments, the Gordon Highlanders.
For family entertainment, it is hard to beat Sunset Boulevard, an indoor entertainment centre that offers bowling, dodgems, games and an adventureland – perfect for the Scottish weather!
Known as the “jewel in the crown” of the city’s fantastic parks, The David Welch Winter Gardens boasts a Tropical House featuring flora from South and Central America, an Acrid House which creates desert conditions for exotic cacti to flourish, and a Corridor of Perfumes which celebrates the variety of perfumes from different plant species.
A visit to the Lighthouse and Harbour Master is a don’t-miss to learn about Scotland’s marine history, and find out what ships will be arriving in the port and when.
The world’s sixth oldest golf club, The Royal Aberdeen Golf Club may be able to lay claim to being the site of the invention of the game of golf. Today the club retains the old world elegance of a gentlemen’s club, and boasts a healthy membership of both local and overseas golf enthusiasts who enjoy the stunning Balgowie Course, which has played host to many major tournaments.
Food & Drink:
There are a number of fine locations to dine at while in Aberdeen. No matter what a tourist’s preferences are, Aberdeen offers something to appeal to everyone’s tastes.
The Stage Door Restaurant is the destination for a step-back-in-time dining experience. Situated in the old Aberdeen Union & Music Hall, the restaurant is furnished in art deco style with many of the original architectural features surviving, and serves inimitable and innovative seafood delights.
For the best fish and chips in the UK, The Ashvale cannot be beaten for traditional fare.
The Square boasts great value high quality dining, including Gluten free options, an extensive kids’ menu and even regular visitors can experience variety thanks to the menu that changes every three months.
Italian Deli Delight is a relaxed café by day and buzzing restaurant by night, serving up mouth-watering Italian cuisine at all times.
Hotels & Accommodation:
From family run, family friendly establishments to self catering cottages and apartments to West End four star luxuries, Aberdeen offers accommodation to suit every taste and budget.
The Edwardian Hotel
Britannia Hotel Aberdeen
Copthorne Hotel Aberdeen
Bimini Guest House
Macdonald Ardoe House Hotel
Udny Arms Hotel
Express by Holiday Inn Aberdeen
Speedbird Inn Aberdeen Airport
Thistle Aberdeen Airport
Thistle Aberdeen Altens
Thistle Aberdeen Caledonian
Dyce Skean Dhu
The Spires Serviced Suites
Antrim Guest House
Summerhill Hotel and Suites
The Lemon Tree is known as the world’s only year round festival, presenting a constant programme of theatre, dance and musical spectaculars, and national touring West End theatre is also on offer at Her Majesty’s Theatre.
Cinema is also well represented, with a UGC and local Belmont Theatre. For clubbing to international DJs, Ministry is the best bet, or DeNiros is a local clubbing option, playing Top 40 and House music. World class shopping is available at St Nicholas Centres and in the historical district around Union Street.
The Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre hosts international touring music acts and sporting events.
Aberdeen is truly the jewel of the Highlands, offering world class dining, nightlife and cultural and historical attractions to satisfy visitors of all ages and interests.
The architecture of Aberdeen is distinctive and visually stunning, carved as it is from silver granite, creating a cityscape unrivalled in its beauty. Aberdeen boasts a cosmopolitan diversity, having been a premier Northern European trading port for many generations, enjoying centuries of established links with Scandinavian traders and Asian merchants. Nestled in the craggy landscape of the North East Highlands, and set against the romantically bleak North Sea, Aberdeen offers breathtaking views that have more in common with Scandinavian countries than the British Isles, and culture and history resplendent in maritime tradition Celtic heritage.
The oil capital of Europe is also home to a thriving nightlife and theatre scene, just one in many contradictions that make up this intriguing ancient city.
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