I love Scotland. Having grown up with a Scottish grandmother and spent a lot of time in the Scottish Borders for a while, it’s inevitable that I would. But there are gaps in my knowledge of this part of the UK, and Aberdeenshire is one. Which is why I’m excited to bring you this advertising feature about all the fun things to do in Aberdeen.

Provost Skene's House

Aberdeen, Scotland

On Scotland’s east coast, Aberdeen is a port city where the River Dee and River Don meet the North Sea.

Best known for its connections to the oil industry, it’s long been under-the-radar as a travel destination. But there’s so much to see in and around Aberdeen that it’s worth discovering.

Beach in Aberdeen

Flights from London to Aberdeen

That’s not least because getting to Aberdeen is easy. I fly on a direct flight from London Southend Airport to Aberdeen International Airport.

The flight is quick and straightforward, and just over an hour after take-off, I’m touching down and hopping on a bus straight to the city center.

Loganair Plane

Where to Stay in Aberdeen

My home for the next three days is the Mercure Aberdeen Caledonian Hotel. It’s in the heart of the city near the train and bus stations, and it overlooks the leafy Union Terrace Gardens.

Set in a Victorian building, it’s in the perfect location for exploring the city.

The staff is incredibly friendly, too. The first night my mattress is a bit stiff, but they move me to another room the second day and I sleep better. The new room has views over Aberdeen’s signature turrets and towers, too.

Mercure Aberdeen Caledonian Hotel

Things to Do in Aberdeen

Once I’m settled, I discover there’s no shortage of fun things to do in Aberdeen. From seeing the sights to enjoying good food and taking day trips, this Scottish city has a lot more to offer than I imagined.

Things to Do in Aberdeen

Go Sightseeing in Aberdeen

I start my three days in Aberdeen seeing the main attractions in the city center. My first stop is Marischal College. This is the second largest granite building in the world, and it’s home to the Aberdeen City Council.

It’s a great introduction to Aberdeen’s architecture, which is heavily granite based. I love the way it sparkles in the sunshine.

Marischal College

Marischal College overlooks the newly-built Marischal Square. This development is worth a visit for the Poised sculpture at its heart.

Created by Scottish artist Andy Scott (of The Kelpies fame), the giant leopard looms large over the center of the square.

Poised Sculpture in Aberdeen

A few steps away, my Aberdeen itinerary brings me to another gem: Provost Skene’s House. Built in 1545, this historic home adds a nice touch of history and Scottish Baronial charm to the modern area around it.

Provost Skene's House

Take in the Museums and Art

Beyond architecture and sculpture, there’s a lot to be found in Aberdeen’s museums and art scene. One of the best things to do in Aberdeen is visit the museums and take in the city’s cultural offerings.

Inside Provost Skene’s House is a museum with a series of period rooms that are furnished to show how people lived from the 17th to the 19th century.

The museum also has a Painted Gallery with unusual religious paintings and a Costume Gallery with rotating displays of period dress.

Not far away, the Aberdeen Maritime Museum offers free entry and gives an overview of the seaside city’s history and relationship to the water. There are great views from the top floor, too.

Aberdeen Maritime Museum

I learn a lot here, from the evolution of the medieval harbor to the development of modern oil platforms. There’s even a small section on Americans in Aberdeen, which piques my inner Californian’s interest.

Street Art in Aberdeen

But it’s not just indoor museums in Aberdeen. The annual Nuart Festival means that street art has transformed the city center into an open-air art gallery.

Exploring the festival’s murals on a treasure-hunt walk is one of the most fun things to do in Aberdeen.

Street Art in Aberdeen

I spend an afternoon wandering around the city, peeking down lanes and around granite turrets to discover some of the best street art in Aberdeen.

It’s a great way to get to know the city and see color brought to life at the same time. There’s live bagpipe music playing in the distance, which adds a uniquely Scottish feel to the experience.

Explore Footdee

And speaking of uniquely Scottish, one of the most vibrant areas of Aberdeen is in one of its most unexpected corners.

Shed in Footdee

Near the beach on the waterfront, Footdee is a historic fishing quarter with colorful wooden outbuildings and cheerful gardens. Surrounded by commercial offices and huge ships, it’s a village oasis in an urban setting.

Shed in Footdee

I walk around the quadrangles, taking in the bright hues of flowers and rows of garden gnomes. An adorable Dalmatian puppy comes up to say hello, and I’m on full cute overload.

Discover Old Aberdeen

Much like Footdee, Old Aberdeen is bursting with charm. This area is full of cobblestone streets and heritage architecture, making it one of the most picturesque places in the city.

Old Aberdeen

Exploring is one of my favorite things to do in Aberdeen. I walk down College Bounds, taking in the historic buildings of the University of Aberdeen and admiring the beautiful houses on The Chanonry.

University of Aberdeen

Eventually my walk leads me to St Machar’s Cathedral. This 15th-century church has a stunning wood ceiling and is the oldest building in active use in the city.

I receive a warm welcome and sit for a while to admire the stained glass and stone walls.

St Machar's Cathedral

Back outside, I take a stroll through the adjacent Seaton Park. Getting into nature and walking along the River Don is a nice contrast to the city center, and is one of the most relaxing things to do in Aberdeen.

Seaton Park, Aberdeen

And that’s to say nothing of seeing the Brig O’Balgownie, a medieval bridge arcing over the river. The cottages around it are picture-pretty, too.

Brig O'Balgownie

Take a Day Trip to Stonehaven

But it’s not just Aberdeen that’s worth exploring. There’s a lot more to Aberdeenshire, and it’s worth getting out of the city to see the surrounding area. Given the compact nature of the region, it’s easy to get around by rail.

Stonehaven, Scotland

I hop on a train one morning and find myself in Stonehaven less than 20 minutes later.

Trail in Stonehaven, Scotland

This waterfront town has a walking path that leads me along wild Scottish coastline to Dunnottar Castle. Perched on a cliff, the medieval ruins are spectacular to see.

Dunnottar Castle

I tour Dunnottar Castle and walk around the grounds, absorbing the history of the Earls Marischal and soaking up the seaside views. The chorus of seabirds in the distance adds a great soundtrack to the experience.

Dunnottar Castle

On my way back, I stop at the Stonehaven War Memorial. It’s dedicated to soldiers who died in World War I and World War II.

Formed in the shape of a ruined Greek temple, the memorial is meant to symbolize the shortened lives of those who perished. Set among yellow gorse blossoms, it’s a moving tribute.

Stonehaven War Memorial

Once in Stonehaven, I settle in for a seaside lunch at The Bay Fish & Chips. This award-winning place has delicious food and is the perfect spot to stop for a meal on the beach.

Fish and Chips

After lunch, I walk along the shore and take in the maritime sculptures that have popped up in recent years. They add a nice touch to the beach, and are fun to see.

Sculpture on the Beach in Stonehaven

My last stop in Stonehaven is the quirky Tolbooth Museum. Set on a harbor with colorful boats, this historic building is packed with a range of artifacts. Everything from a cell door to a 1950’s kitchen cabinet is on display.

Tolbooth Museum, Stonehaven

Eat at the Best Restaurants in Aberdeen

Back in the city, one of the best things to do in Aberdeen is eat. The seafood here is incredible, and there’s a range of restaurants where I can enjoy it.

Chop Grill and Bar in Sandman Signature Aberdeen Hotel

On my first night I have dinner at the Sandman Signature Aberdeen Hotel. Their Chop Grill & Bar is sleek and stylish, and my Scottish salmon goes down a treat.

Chop Grill and Bar in Sandman Signature Aberdeen Hotel

Another night I find myself at Bistro Verde, a family-run restaurant where seabass with paprika relish and pineapple salsa has a great kick to it. And on my final evening, I settle in for a steaming bowl of mussels at Howies.

View of Aberdeen

Best Things to Do in Aberdeen

It’s a great way to end my trip, and sends me off on a stomach full of good memories. As I board my flight back to London, I’m glad I’ve discovered so many things to do in Aberdeen.

Given how easy it is to get here and that there are so many things to entertain, I’m already excited to come back again.

This is an advertising feature with VisitAberdeenshire and Loganair.

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6 Comments on Lady’s Guide to Things to Do in Aberdeen, Scotland

  1. I’ve never been to Aberdeen but it looks lovely! I love the look of Old Aberdeen and it’s cute little cottages.


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