Scotland, United Kingdom

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.

Info Aberdeen


Aberdeen 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 196,670 for the city of Aberdeen itself and 228,990 for the local authority area.

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. 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. The area around Aberdeen has been settled since at least 8,000 years ago, when prehistoric villages lay around the mouths of the rivers Dee and Don. The city has a long, sandy coastline and a marine climate, the latter resulting in chilly summers and mild winters.

Aberdeen received Royal Burgh status from David I of Scotland (1124–53), transforming the city economically. The city's two universities, the University of Aberdeen, founded in 1495, andRobert Gordon University, which was awarded university status in 1992, make Aberdeen the educational centre of the north-east of Scotland. 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 commercialheliports in the world and the seaport is the largest in the north-east of Scotland.

Aberdeen has won the Britain in Bloom competition a record-breaking ten times, 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. 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.

POPULATION : 196,670
FOUNDED : Earliest Charter 1179
City status 1891
TIME ZONE :Time zone GMT (UTC±0)
Summer (DST) BST (UTC+1)
RELIGION :Christian 30.9%
Muslim 1.9%
AREA : 184.46 km2 (71.22 sq mi)
COORDINATES : 57.1526°N 2.1100°W
ETHNIC :White 91.9%
Asian 4.3%
Black 2.6%
AREA CODE : 01224
POSTAL CODE : AB10-AB13 (part), AB15, AB16, AB21-AB25
DIALING CODE : +44 1224
WEBSITE :  www.aberdeencity.gov.uk


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.


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. 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.

When to go

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.

Tourist Information Centre

  • Tourist Information Centre23 Union Street, AB11 5BP (at the corner with the Shiprow),  +44 1224 269180. Open Monday to Saturday 9am to 6.30pm, more restricted hours on Sundays. A useful point of contact for more information on attractions.


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 byhelicopter, 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).

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).


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. 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. 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, 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.

Climate data for Aberdeen

Record high °C (°F)17.2
Average high °C (°F)6.5
Average low °C (°F)0.6
Record low °C (°F)−19.3
Source #1: Met Office


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.

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), 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. 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.


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.

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, 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.

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.

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. As of 2013, Aberdeen remained a major world center for undersea petroleum technology.

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.

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 have 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. 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. This has led to several oil majors and independents building new global offices in the city.

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.

Figures released in 2016 ranked Aberdeen as having the second highest amount of patents processed per person in the UK.


The city ranks third in Scotland for shopping. The traditional shopping streets are Union Street and George Street, now complemented by shopping centres, notably the 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. Along with Dundee, it shares the distinction of being the first city in Scotland to receive this accolade.

Internet, Comunication

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,  +44 1224 646438. 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),   +44 1224 631640. 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),  +44 1224 621365. 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.

Prices in Aberdeen



Milk1 liter€1.15
Tomatoes1 kg€2.55
Cheese0.5 kg€5.80
Apples1 kg€2.50
Oranges1 kg€2.25
Beer (domestic)0.5 l€1.90
Bottle of Wine1 bottle€8.90
Coca-Cola2 liters€2.20
Bread1 piece€1.00
Water1.5 l€1.20



Dinner (Low-range)for 2€36.00
Dinner (Mid-range)for 2€68.00
Dinner (High-range)for 2
Mac Meal or similar1 meal€6.50
Water0.33 l€1.05
Cappuccino1 cup€3.25
Beer (Imported)0.33 l€4.10
Beer (domestic)0.5 l€4.10
Coca-Cola0.33 l€1.40
Coctail drink1 drink€8.00



Cinema2 tickets€22.00
Gym1 month€50.00
Men’s Haircut1 haircut€16.00
Theatar2 tickets€76.00
Mobile (prepaid)1 min.€0.05
Pack of Marlboro1 pack€10.10



Antibiotics1 pack€11.00
Tampons32 pieces€3.50
Deodorant50 ml.€2.30
Shampoo400 ml.€3.90
Toilet paper4 rolls€2.15
Toothpaste1 tube€2.50



Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)€78.00
Dress summer (Zara, H&M)1€38.00
Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)1€72.00
Leather shoes1€82.00



Gasoline1 liter€1.28
Taxi1 km
Local Transport1 ticket€3.00

Tourist (Backpacker)  

90 € per day

Estimated cost per 1 day including:

  • meals in cheap restaurant
  • public transport
  • cheap hotel

Tourist (business/regular)  

266 € per day

Estimated cost per 1 day including:

  • mid-range meals and drinks
  • transportation
  • hotel

Transportation - 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.

Transportation - Get In

By plane

Aberdeen International Airport(IATA: ABZ) 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 Jet 727 bus service, operated by Stagecoach in distinctive blue buses, runs 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. There is a bus link (Jet Connect 80, operated by Stagecoach Bluebird, £1.50 one-way ticket) which runs Mon-Fri from roughly 06:30 till 18:00. However, unless you are going to another destination on the railway line, the 727 bus is the best choice.

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.

Transportation - Get In

By Train

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).

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 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 disabled parking and taxi ranks. 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.

Transportation - Get In

By Bus / coach

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 and Megabus (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 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) 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. 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.

Transportation - Get In

By sea

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.

Transportation - Get In

By car

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. 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

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.

Transportation - Get Around

Transportation - Get Around

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, or from city bookstores. 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. Walking directions can be planned online with the walkit.com walking route planner for Aberdeen.

Transportation - Get Around

By bus

Most city bus routes are operated by First Aberdeen, 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, 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, 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.

Transportation - Get Around

By taxi

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 +44 1224 35 35 35 and Rainbow City on +44 1224 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.

Transportation - Get Around

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 [www], while Aberdeen Cycle Forum [www] - 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.

Transportation - Get Around

By train

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 www.nationalrail.co.uk. 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.






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)
  • 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).


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

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.


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, making them even more unhealthy, 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,  +44 1224 647295. 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,  +44 1224 211296. Alongside theBlue 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.

Sights & Landmarks

  • 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) have been dramatically restored. The Wikipedia article onArchitecture in Aberdeen gives a good introduction  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. TheSalvation 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 ofHis 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 asAberdeen: 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.
  • 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.),  +44 1224 585310. 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.

Museums & Galleries

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,  +44 1224 337700, 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 Gallery, Schoolhill,  +44 1224 523700, 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.
  • The Gordon Highlanders MuseumSt. Lukes Viewfield Road.+44 1224 311200, 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,  +44 1224 641086. 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.).,  +44 1224 621167. 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. 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.),  +44 1224 274330, 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.

Things to do

  • See an arthouse film at the Belmont Filmhouse49 Belmont Street, city centre (Just off Union Street, about half-way along the street), +44 1224 343 500. 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 £10.00 (£8.50 for matinees) and child tickets cost £4.00. Tickets can be booked online or in person.
  • Satrosphere Science Centre(Aberdeen Science Centre), The Tramsheds, 179 Constitution Street, Aberdeen, AB24 5TU,  +44 1224 640340. 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 http://www.clydecruises.com/aberdeen-harbour-cruises/ for details or ask at the Tourist Information Centre on Union Street.


  • 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), +44 1224 650400. 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,  +44 1224 581313. 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,  +44 1224 810215. 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/Ice Hockey (Linx Ice Arena), Beach Promenade, AB24 5NR (On the seafront next to the Beach Leisure Centre),  +44 1224 655406. 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).


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.

  • 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 .

Festivals and events

  • Aberdeen International Youth Festival,  +44 1224 213800.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.
  • 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.


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 and Exodus Nightclub. An excellent student & local drinking hole and part of the Stonegate pub chain. 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 Boar19 Belmont Street,  +44 1224 625357. A quieter setting, sometimes with acoustic live music. Known for its wine selection. A Belhaven pub.
  • Siberia (or Vodka Bar). Serves 99 flavours of vodka and has a smoking terrace out the back.
  • Cafe DrummondBelmont Street,  +44 1224 619930. A small late-licence venue which focuses on live bands.
  • O'Neils Aberdeen9-10 Back Wynd. Irish themed pub with a nightclub upstairs. Nationwide chain.
  • Ma Cameron'sLittle Belmont Street,  +44 1224 644487. The oldest pub in the city. Shows live football in a traditional pub setting with a roof garden. A Belhaven pub.
  • Old School House, Little Belmont Street,  +44 1224 626490. A quieter pub near Belmont Street. A Belhaven pub.
  • Slain's CastleBelmont Street. 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. A Stonegate pub.
  • 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.

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

  • The Prince of Wales7 St Nicholas Lane (Just off of Union Street),  +44 1224 640597.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. A Belhaven pub.
  • 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 Grill213 Union Street (Opposite the Music Hall),  +44 1224 573530. 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. The most mainstream nightclub. It has three floors covering varied musical taste. Entry is free, but drinks are full priced.
  • 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.

Things to know


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.

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.

When to go

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.


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) andThe 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.

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.


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).

Post Offices and Mailboxes

A main city post office is located at the western end of Union Streetclose 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 rowerKatherine 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.

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, PureGym, 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.

  • PureGym (on the Shiprow in the city centre (next to the Hotel Ibis)), 0845 189 4701 (non-geographic number). Open 24-hours. 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. Offers a day pass for £6 (or 3 days for £13 or 7 days for £25).

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.

  • Aberdeen Sports Village and Aquatics Centre, Linksfield Road (just off King Street, close to the main campus at Kings College),  +44 1224 438900. Open M-F 6.30am-10.30pm, Sat 7.30am-7.30pm, Sun 7.30am-9.30pm. This University of Aberdeen's facility 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.
  • RGU SPORT (At the Robert Gordon University's campus at Garthdee),  +44 1224 263666. Open M-F 6am-10pm S-S 9am-7pm.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).

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

  • Beach Leisure Centre (on the Beach Promenade),  +44 1224 655401. This is one of the most popular council-run centres. 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.


  • Nick Nairn Cook School, 15 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+44 1224 272000. 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 atInverness, 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+44 1224 262000. 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.

Safety in Aberdeen

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.

Very High / 8.8

Safety (Walking alone - day)

High / 7.0

Safety (Walking alone - night)