Aberdeen is Scotland’s third largest city, its granite stones situated against a stunning backdrop of countryside and ocean. Architectural uniqueness, mouth-watering local cuisine and extensive shopping make for an ideal weekend away. With cheap domestic flights to Aberdeen available from cities such as London, Manchester and Birmingham, it is an increasingly popular city break destination.
With the vast Cairngorms National Park within easy reach on one side and the dramatic coastline on the other, this city is perfectly situated for visitors to see the best of the area. Walks and drives around the Coastal Trail or Castle Trail will take in some of the highlights of this wild and beautiful region, allowing visitors to experience the glens, lochs and mountains of Aberdeenshire first-hand.
Choose from 300 castles, Aberdeenshire has more per acre than anywhere else in Britain. From the majesty of Dunnottar Castle, perched on a cliff-top, to the fairytale turrets and ominous gargoyles at Crathes. Stroll through beautiful gardens surrounding these castles and admire architectural masterpieces, you might even come across some slightly unusual local wildlife since bats reside here.
The city centre itself is brimming with culture and heritage at every turn. Visitors can explore the city’s impressionist collection at the prestigious art gallery or tour the historic Provost Skene’s House nearby. Famous constructions worth a view include the iconic Marischal College, one of the world’s largest granite structures, as well as the foreboding Castlegate citadel.
The city’s main shopping district, Union Street, is home to over 800 retail outlets and several indoor shopping centres. Those looking for a retail fix can sample from individual boutique styles at The Academy or comb the best of the high street at the huge Mall Trinity. Union Square is the latest development, an airy centre where you can pop into well-known stores such as Accessorize, Next and New Look, dine at informal restaurants including YO! Sushi and Nando’s and indulge yourself with a massage at Pure Spa. Why not round things off with a trip to the cinema? Cineworld shows all the latest releases and you don’t even have to step outside.
Aberdeen’s gastro experience is an eclectic one; from sampling the speciality Aberdeen Angus steak to trying out the range of continental and global restaurants, there’s something to please all appetites. Tourists will enjoy the atmosphere of the more traditional tearooms such as the Old Post Office Tea Room with its original décor and impressive cake selection.
There are also plenty of events and entertainment opportunities that can make a weekend break even more of a treat, such as comedy at the fashionable Lemon Tree cafe or West End shows at His Majesty’s Theatre. Sample drinks in sophisticated bars or hit the nightclubs – many of the city’s venues are located inside grand buildings with wonderful high ceilings, including Soul Bar, a converted church building.
Aberdeen is more accessible from within the UK than its northerly location would suggest and its appealing combination of lively cityscape and sublime landscape makes it well worth the trip.