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The Top 10 Things To See And Do In Aberdeen

The Top 10 Things To See And Do In Aberdeen

Picture of Madeleine Bazil
Updated: 9 February 2017
The Dee and Don rivers meet the North Sea in Aberdeen, a port city historically known for its fishing and shipping industries. But it is much more than its industries, with a lively cultural scene, ranging from museums to festivals. We list the don’t miss sights and attractions in the city.

Go to the Aberdeen Maritime Museum

This award-winning museum is interesting and highly educational, providing insight into Aberdeen’s historic relationship with the sea, from the petroleum and oil industry to shipbuilding and beyond. The interactive aspects, which include hands-on activities for all ages, a collection of maritime artifacts and paintings to view, and touch-screen computers, make the material come to life.

Maritime Museum, Shiprow, Aberdeen, United Kingdom, +44 1224 337700

Check out St Machar’s Cathedral

Unlike some historic cathedrals, this 12th century Church of Scotland church remains a place of worship to this day. Notably, St Machar’s is widely believed to be the resting place of the left arm of dissenter William Wallace, whose body was cut up and sent as a warning to different parts of Scotland after his execution in 1305.

St Machar’s Cathedral, The Channory, Old Aberdeen, Aberdeen, United Kingdom, +44 1224 485988

Take a tour at GlenDronach Distillery

This scenic distillery located in Aberdeenshire between Huntly and Portsoy, makes a perfect excursion. The distillery has been producing their signature whiskies for more than 200 years, and visitors can choose from the range of tours on offer to learn about the production process and taste the products.

GlenDronarch Distillery, Forge by Huntly, Huntly, Aberdeenshire, United Kingdom, +44 1466 730202

Get your culture fix at the Aberdeen Art Gallery

Housed in a building dating back to 1884, this is the primary visual arts museum in the city, and features pieces by British artists ranging from the 18th century onwards. The granite columns in the central hall are native to Aberdeen, having been constructed out of granite from local quarries. After taking in the art, don’t miss the war memorial at the western end of the museum.

Aberdeen Art Gallery, School Hill, Aberdeen, United Kingdom, +44 1224 523700

Immerse in history at Dunnottar Castle

Just a short drive or bus ride from the city is this medieval fortress ruin, which was integral as a defense stronghold in the Jacobite risings and is notable for being the hiding place for the Honors of Scotland, the Scottish crown jewels, when Oliver Cromwell’s army invaded Scotland in the 1600s. The Dunnottar Castle makes for a striking silhouette atop a rocky headland, and the ruins comprise several buildings including the tower house and the palace.

Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, United Kingdom, +44 1569 762173

Enjoy local seafood at Tolbooth Seafood Restaurant

Whilst near Stonehaven, make a reservation at this highly regarded restaurant. From pan-seared local scallops served with cauliflower purée, to a crab ‘cocktail’ served in a cocktail glass, to Scottish squat lobsters, the menu at this elegant yet unpretentious restaurant is the ideal way to enjoy the local seafood.

Tolbooth Seafood Restaurant, Old Pier, Stonehaven Harbour, Stonehaven, Aberdennshire, AB39 2JU +44 1569 762287

Test the waters at Aberdeen Watersports (Core94)

Adventurous types will relish the opportunity to try scuba-diving here; beginners can take lessons in the facility’s heated indoor pool, and the more experienced can don dry-suits and head out on open water dives in the North Sea, either by themselves or as part of a guided dive.

Core94, 35 Waterloo Quay, The Harbour, Aberdeen, United Kingdom, +44 1224 581313

Catch a concert at the Music Hall

Aberdeen’s main concert hall is located in the building which formerly served as the city’s Assembly Rooms, designed by Archibald Simpson in 1822. It’s a regular host to the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and the yearly Aberdeen International Youth Festival, as well as frequently playing host to popular musicians.

Music Hall, Union St, Aberdeen, United Kingdom, +44 1224 641122

Explore the university

The University and King’s College of Aberdeen was founded in 1494 with a charter from King James IV. Take a walk around the grounds to see the tower, built in 1633, the dome with a replica of Charlemagne’s crown atop it, and the university chapel, the walls of which are decorated with carved wood portraits of the Stuart monarchy.

University of Aberdeen, Kings College, Aberdeen, United Kingdom, +44 1224 272000

See the gardens at Balmoral Castle

One of the official residences of the British royal family, this Scots Baronial castle is a category A listed building, and the property is a working estate with animals and farmland. The lush gardens and grounds are open to the public daily from April to July (at which time The Queen arrives to stay at the estate) and are well worth a wander through.

Balmoral Castle, Balmoral Estates, Ballater, Aberdeenshire, United Kingdom, +44 1339 742534