Aberdeen is Scotland’s third-largest city, after Glasgow and Edinburgh. Known as the Granite City for its magnificent granite architecture, it combines a long and accessible history with the advantages of modernity. North Sea oil has made Aberdeen into one of Britain’s most important centers of business and trade, but it’s no slouch in the tourism department either. With all that oil money flowing, it’s far from the cheapest place in Scotland, but there are deals to be had if you know where to look.
Considering how far north it is and its distance from the other major cities of Scotland, Aberdeen Airport (ABZ) has a surprising number of international connections, another result of the oil boom. Though the most popular departure point of arriving travelers is still London-Heathrow, second on that list is Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, which delivers Aberdeen almost 300,000 visitors a year. There are direct flights from Frankfurt, Paris, Copenhagen, and other European cities, making this a very viable entry point to Scotland from mainland Europe.
The Scotrail train system also serves Aberdeen well, with regular service to London and all of Scotland’s major cities. The Caledonian Sleeper overnight train between London and Inverness stops here each night and morning.
Aberdeen is located about a three hour drive from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Inverness. From the southern cities, you’ll take the A90 most of the way, and from Inverness, you’ll travel by way of either the A96 or a longer but much prettier drive through Cairngorms National Park on the A944.
Aberdeen has plenty of cultural and historic landmarks worthy of a visit. Chief among the city’s impressive old granite structures are the Central Library, the Salvation Army Citadel and the Aberdeen Town House. A walk down Union and Broad streets will have you staring up so much you’ll have to be careful not to run into anything.
It’s also a city known for its parks and flower arrangements. In the spring and summer, the city blooms, and the green and vibrant colors of its open spaces provide a startling contrast to the uniform gray of the city center granite.
Aberdeen is a fantastic place to shop and eat. In addition to the Union street shops, there are several malls around the city, with everything from the top designer goods on down. The restaurant scene is great, with a focus on the revitalized Scottish seafood industry. You also have to try at least one rowie, a buttery Aberdeen specialty similar to a heavier croissant.
There are options for every budget and kind of traveler in Aberdeen, from hostels and guest houses to some of the most luxurious hotels in the country. In general though, expect the same level of hotel here to cost quite a bit more than it would in another Scottish city. Here are a few recommendations:
The Craibstone Suites
Skene House – Whitehall