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Things to do in Aberdeen

Monday 03 May 2021

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Known as the Granite City and the offshore oil capital of Europe, you’d be forgiven for thinking Aberdeen was all grey buildings and oil rigs. But you’d be wrong. Aberdeen is a city brimming with stunning architecture, beautiful gardens, and a food and drink scene to match Scotland’s other big tourist hotspots.
With so much to see and culture to be taken in, here’s CrossCountry’s list of the best things to do in Aberdeen.

Take a stroll around Johnston Gardens

If you’re worried the Granite City might live up to its name, Johnston Gardens will put your mind at ease. This stunning city garden is bustling with charm, and its stunning streams, waterfalls, and ponds have made it a favourite with couples looking for their perfect wedding day photo.

Named after the estate that gifted it to the city in 1936, Johnston Gardens isn’t just for plant lovers - a children’s play area means it’s family-friendly, offering everyone some much-needed respite from the busy city.

How to get there: From Aberdeen Station, the 15 towards Airyhall takes just over 10 minutes.

Spot the local marine wildlife at Aberdeen Harbour

A £350 million redevelopment to expand and modernise the Aberdeen harbour is justified by its role as one the most important oil and gas port in Europe. But there’s more to this part of the city than infrastructure. Take a quick cruise ship from the harbour out to sea and you might be lucky enough to spot some wildlife, including bottlenose, white beaked, and risso dolphins. If you’re really lucky, you might even be able to see minke whales.

If boats don’t take your fancy, Torry Battery – a nearby artillery battery created in 1860 – also proves to be a popular spot for dolphins, where you can sometimes find the marine locals feeding in the mouth of the harbour.

How to get there: A 5-minute walk from Aberdeen Station.



Learn the city’s history at the Aberdeen Maritime Museum

Aberdeen locals have long been proud of their city’s connections to the sea, and the Aberdeen Maritime Museum is a celebration of that relationship. It hosts an exceptional collection of maritime objects that boast the Granite City’s history with sailing ships, fishing, and offshore oil, and a renovation several years ago means it’s more accessible than ever with touch screen consoles, visual computers, an education room, and exhibits.

Not only is it the idea place to take the family for an educational break, but it also boasts one of the best museum eateries in Scotland: The Maritime Café. This licensed restaurant serves high-quality food and drink, perfect for filling you up before you take a trip around a first-class gift shop.
How to get there: A 5-minute walk from Aberdeen Station.

Take a step back in time in Old Aberdeen

As Scotland’s third-largest city, it’s unsurprising that Aberdeen is packed full of history. When the city was founded, it was split into two: New Aberdeen and Old Aberdeen. While New Aberdeen has modernised with its quirky shops, restaurants, and bars, Old Aberdeen still boasts the same narrow, cobbled roads from when it was founded.

Old Aberdeen is an attraction in its own right; get lost wandering around the streets, soaking up the history that all old buildings have to offer. But if you’re planning on a longer tour, be sure to visit the picturesque Cruickshank Botanical Garden, explore the University of Aberdeen Zoology Museum, and relax in Seaton Park.

How to get there: From Aberdeen Station, the 291 towards Methlick takes just over 10 minutes.

Sample some of Britain’s most popular beer at the BrewDog Brewery

About 10 years ago  a little-known Aberdeen-based brewer called BrewDog began popping up in supermarkets across the country. The company is credited with revolutionising craft beer in the UK, but the founders have stayed true to their roots and still have their largest brewery just outside of the city.

Aptly named DogWalk, the brewery tour lasts an hour and a half, and gives you a sneak peak into the headquarters, brewhouse, the original brewkit and packaging lines, and the new sour beer facility. Drink responsibility with four free tastings provided at the end of the tour, sampling some of the most recognisable beers to come from not only Aberdeen, but the whole UK.

How to get there: Take the number 60 for a 40-minute trip along some of Aberdeenshire’s most stunning coastline.

Take a walk across the ‘oldest bridge in Scotland’

Few things fill locals with more pride than Brig O’ Balgownie, a bridge sitting in the heart of Old Aberdeen. Legend has it that building started in the 13th century and was finished by the King of Scots himself, Robert the Bruce.

Whether or not Brig O’ Balgownie is the oldest bridge in Scotland, it was for centuries an important crossing between the north and south of Aberdeen, and today holds the title of Scheduled Ancient Monument. If its history alone isn’t enough to draw you in, then the opportunity to grab a photo of one of Aberdeen’s most picturesque locations will.

How to get there: From Aberdeen Station, the 291 towards Methlick takes just over 10 minutes.

Live history at St. Machar’s Cathedral

One thing you certainly can’t say about Aberdeen is that it’s void of history. St. Machar’s Cathedral – though technically a high kirk today rather than a cathedral – dates way back to the 6th century, when a small Celtic chapel is eventually succeeded was built. Its present form goes back to the 14th century, so you’re stepping into a different time when you visit here.

Most famous are its towers, which were originally built in the early 16th century. Along with 19th century stain-glassed windows, this makes for stunning pictures inside and out. There are often choral and classical concerts held inside the cathedral (or high kirk), so be sure to check the before you visit.

How to get there: From Aberdeen Station, the 291 towards Methlick takes just over 10 minutes.

Book a train to Aberdeen

There’s so much to see and do in Aberdeen. If you find yourself spending a weekend in this fun-filled city, don’t forget CrossCountry runs services from all over the country.

You can book tickets on our website or by using our Train Tickets app.

Written by Julia

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