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Top 20 Sightseeing Opportunities in Aberdeen

Skene House is a family business based in Aberdeen, and we’re really proud of the city and what it’s got to offer visitors and locals alike. Rich in history, heritage, flavours and activities it’s been hard narrowing it down to twenty sights that can’t be missed, but we’ve done our best, so take your pick of the best of the Granite City.

Skene House has three central city locations, ideal for exploring Aberdeen on foot. Our ample, free parking, means guests can leave the car behind or drive out into the countryside to explore the shire. We’re within walking distance of the city’s bus and rail links, and a short taxi ride from the airport. And with our self-catering facilities you can sight-see all day, knowing it’s easy to prepare a meal, at a time of your choosing, once you’re home in our hotel. Our reception is manned 24 hours a day so feel free to ask for any directions or recommendations. Time to explore!

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1 Walking Tour – Discover the history of Aberdeen, for free, with Scot Free Tours. The History Tour gathers every Saturday at the Castlegate at 11.00am (with summer tours on Sundays too). Or join the Crime Pays tour at 7.30pm on Saturday nights. Get under the skin of the Granite City, discovering of the gore, the gravitas and the glamour of life in Aberdeen.

2 Visit Old Aberdeen – This is the heartland of the University of Aberdeen, Scotland’s third oldest and the UK’s fifth oldest university. From King’s College Chapel and the cobbled streets, to the elegant housing and the Brig of Balgownie (a bridge mentioned in Byron’s poem ‘Don Juan’), it’s a lovely area to stroll around. Seaton Park’s beautiful floral walk directs the eye towards St Machar Cathedral, and with its recently refurbished playground it’s great for little tourists too.

3 Parklife – Aberdeen has notably good parks. Duthie Park, was once gardened by David Welch, who went on to be Head of the Royal Parks. Its Botanic Gardens are a sight to behold. Aberdeen has won Britain in Bloom over a dozen times and it’s clear the city takes extraordinary pride in its green spaces. Hazlehead Park boasts the newly refurbished Pets Corner. Johnston Gardens is a quiet space of beauty. And the Cruickshank Botanic Garden adds a vast array of greenery to Old Aberdeen.

4 Get on the Water – From the glory days of shipbuilding and clipper racing, to the herring girls and the modern day oil industry, Aberdeen has rich ties with the sea. Aberdeen Harbour Tours takes visitors out to explore the city’s harbour, or, on its ‘Fish & Ships’ tour, guests combine a boat trip with haddock and chips. Yum!

5 Visit a Museum – There’s a selection of museums to choose between in Aberdeen. The Maritime Museum covers the city’s rich nautical past, the Gordon Highlanders’ Museum explores the history of one of the UK’s finest regiments, the Tolbooth is the city’s former gaol with a colourful mix of inmates, crime and punishment, and the Aberdeen Zoology Museum houses a whale, elephant and crocodile, as well as lions and tigers and bears. Oh my!

6 Play Golf – The region is renowned for its golf clubs, but for something a little special spend a day at Royal Aberdeen, a host of the Scottish Open. Initially opened in 1780, the club’s ‘Royal’ designation was awarded by Edward VII in 1903.

7 Spot Dolphins – Dolphins are regular playful sightings off the coast of Aberdeen. During the summer months the RSPB holds regular dolphin spotting sessions up at the Torry Battery, a great coastal viewpoint to watch these beautiful animals in their natural environment.

8 Hit the Beach – Aberdeen Beach is a beautiful stretch of white sand with a promenade that works for bracing walks, cyclists, runners, dog walkers and children at play. With a range of seaside cafes and bistros, it’s easy to stop for an ice-cream, hot drink or lunch. And at the other end of the beach discover the traditional fishing village of Footdee where you can spot the colourful, unique outhouses and see how the fisherfolk lived in bygone years.

9 Talk to the Animals – Aberdeenshire is known for its agriculture, but there are a couple of farms you can visit within the city limits. Doonies, near the coast, has beautiful sea views and invites guests to feed farm animals, meet rare ponies and buy locally reared beef. Wynford Farm, heading inland to the west, has a fantastic Farm Park with ‘Animal Handling’ sessions and regular ‘Farm Safaris’, getting visitors up close with alpacas, highland cows, and feeding the sheep and pigs.

10 Get Artistic – Currently Aberdeen’s Art Gallery is undergoing an extensive refurbishment, but in the meantime it’s possible to go behind the scenes at the Treasure Hub in Northfield. With ‘drop in’ sessions and private tours, it’s possible to see treasured pieces that have been in storage for years.

11 Get Active – The Deeside Way, 41 miles of converted railway track, starts in Aberdeen city and heads all the way out to Ballater. Ideal for walkers, cyclists, scooters, runners or buggies.

12 Go for a Forest Walk – Tyrebagger is a grand, mature forest, ideal for escaping for a breath of fresh air. Its sculpture trail adds a creative touch to a walk in the great outdoors. Also consider Kirkhill and Countesswells forests.

13 Explore Aberdeen’s Granite – Known as the Granite City the silver stone glints in the sunlight and it’s the bedrock of Aberdeen. Follow the Granite Trail, and read our previous blog post on the city’s finest statues. One building, with a special place in Aberdeen’s heart, is Cowdray Hall. A truly stunning war memorial, both inside and out, the proud lion breathes life and pride into the city centre.

14 Go to the Theatre – His Majesty’s is a handsome building in its own right, another grand, granite property that hosts the best plays, ballets and orchestras to visit the city. The Lemon Tree, the Tivoli and the Music Hall (currently being refurbished) offer a mix of entertainment.

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Whilst we love Aberdeen city, Aberdeenshire offers extremely rich pickings for tourists, so we’ve included a few unmissable stops that every visitor should consider for their itinerary.

15 Visit a Castle – Aberdeenshire is Castle Country. Balmoral is the jewel in the crown, the royal summer residence, but Dunnottar Castle in Stonehaven is spellbinding and dramatic with great tales from Scottish history. Or visit the National Trust for Scotland for a plethora of castles in the region.

16 Raise a Glass at a Distillery – Many global brands are based in the north east of Scotland. Glenfiddich is one such international success story. Sip the water of life and learn more about the ‘angels share’.

17 Swim Outdoors – Stonehaven’s heated Art Deco Open Air Pool is a memorable day out over the summer season. And with its midnight swims, on Wednesday nights, the time is always right for a dip under the stars.

18 Visit a Country Park – Aden Country Park near Mintlaw is a gem. Home to a farming museum, a historic farm house, a ruined stately home, and the most wonderful grounds to explore, along with a modern visitor centre, playground and cafe, it’s a great day out in the country.

19 All Aboard – Travel by steam railway at the Royal Deeside Railway at Milton of Crathes. A quirky expedition and a novel way to explore the Scottish countryside.

20 Light Up – The Scottish Lighthouse Museum in Fraserburgh offers guided tours of Scotland’s first lighthouse. Once a castle, it was transformed by the Lighthouse Board into an operational lighthouse. Climb the spiral staircase, learn how the keepers lived, and dine in a cafe with unbeatable sea views.

We hope this helps you enjoy your stay with Skene House in Aberdeen. Any other questions please do get in touch. What would you recommend?

For leisure stays at Skene House discover more by calling +44 1224 659 392 or email reservations@skene-house.co.uk for further information.

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15 thoughts on “Top 20 Sightseeing Opportunities in Aberdeen

  1. Wow it sounds like a great place to visit. I’d really love to see dolphins in the wild.

    1. Skene House Blogger says:

      Best place to see them undoubtedly.

  2. What a pretty place, I am yet to visit Scotland, it’s on my list, and Aberdeen is definitely one of the places I want to visit

    1. Skene House Blogger says:

      Well you know where we are if you’re looking for apartments with a hotel vibe.

  3. Kerry Norris says:

    Looks like there’s plenty to do there. I’d love to do the dolphin spotting

  4. Ickle Pickle says:

    I have never been to Scotland but would really love to go. What a great list of things to do, Aberdeen sounds awesome! Kaz

    1. Skene House Blogger says:

      I think there’s definitely so much more going on than people expect! Hope you can visit soon.

  5. Becca Talbot says:

    I’ve been to Scotland a fair few times, as have friends that are from Glasgow and Livingston, who lived in Edinburgh. But I’ve never visited Aberdeen. Will have to add it to my list! x

    1. Skene House Blogger says:

      Understandably people head to the capital first, but make it to Aberdeen for some unexpected gems.

  6. Kara says:

    We loved Dunnottar Castle in Stonehaven when we visited and were disappointed that Balmoral was closed. Did drive up to the gates though

    1. Skene House Blogger says:

      Dunnottar is simply sublime. Balmoral opens every April for the summer season, hopefully another time. Getting to the gates is a good attempt 🙂

  7. Emma says:

    This is such a great list. I’ve never been to Scotland before, so really need to make a trip!

    1. Skene House Blogger says:

      So much to do here. Hopefully you can visit soon enough.

  8. We are hoping to visit Scotland soon so it was great to have some ideas for things to see and do, thanks!

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