Originally a separate Royal Burgh to Aberdeen itself, Old Aberdeen is today well-known as the home of the University of Aberdeen. Here you can find ancient buildings, beautiful and quaint streets, modern architecture and sculpture. There are parts of Old Aberdeen that feel more like other university towns, like Cambridge or Oxford. During term time, the presence of thousands of students gives the area a youthful and international feel.
To the west of Aberdeen, right on the outskirts of the city, is Hazlehead. This was originally built as a council estate but is now increasingly privately owned. When the suburb was planned, the architects decided to include large areas of free space, between the houses and tower blocks, open and available to all. This, along with the huge Hazlehead Park, three golf courses, football pitches, horse riding centre and tennis courts, means that Hazlehead is the perfect edge between city and countryside — and something of both.
If you are looking for the best place to find independent shops in Aberdeen, head to the West End. Long resisting the pull of chain stores and generic shop fronts, this area continues to attract shoppers visiting the city, as it has for many years. Most of the buildings here are Victorian in origin which, as in most of Aberdeen, means granite. Flats and apartments are above the shops, and Rosemount has a reputation as a good place to stay in one of the city’s boutique hotels.
To the south east of Rosemount is the beating heart of Aberdeen. Here, the famous Union Street and surrounding area houses many well-known shops, bars and restaurants. Also known as the Granite Mile, the city centre has consistently higher property prices than much of the surrounding areas, with a recent trend to buy-to-rent (or lease for shorter term stays for visitors). The vast majority of the properties in this area are tenement buildings and therefore flats and apartments. This makes the city centre vibrant and lively.
Footdee is one of those parts of Aberdeen that visitors are drawn to. This former village, pronounced ‘Fittie’, is found at the east end of Aberdeen’s busy harbour and was set out as planned homes for fishermen in the earlier part of the 1800s. Today, it does still house some fisherfolk and their families, but gone are the days of nets drying across the greens. The area is very pretty, with many great opportunities and vibrant colours for photographs. This, and the fact it is easily walked to from the city centre, means a steady stream of visitors in the summer months.
No discussion of the different areas of Aberdeen would be complete without mentioning the harbour. The city has a long history of seafaring, and this continues to the present day. Walking from the city centre to Footdee, it is possible to visit the docks, watch the boats — both large and small — coming and going and inhaling the scent of the sea. It is even possible to watch dolphins in the harbour. To the north of this area is the Beach Boulevard and Esplanade, full of seaside attractions and, of course, the beach itself.