Aberdeen: The Granite City
It may be known throughout the UK as the granite city, but behind Aberdeen’s grey facades there’s a whole lot of colour and spirit. Read more.
Aberdeen: The Granite City
It may be known throughout the UK as the granite city, but behind Aberdeen’s grey facades there’s a whole lot of colour and spirit. This is a city that’s grafted from proud culture and hard work, boosted with youthful energy and shaped, always, by the sea.
Much of Aberdeen was constructed with stone from a local quarry which can be very grey - or sparkling silver - depending on the light that day. The most impressive example of granite architecture is Marischal College, the second-largest granite building in the world (after El Escorial Palace in Madrid). The gothic building belongs to the University of Aberdeen and the museum there displays a fascinating array of the university’s treasures. Art lovers should head to the Aberdeen Art Gallery, which holds one of the finest collections of art in the UK, including works by Monet, Degas and Hirst. For a close look at Aberdeen’s past make your way to Provost Skene house. Tucked between monstrous concrete buildings from the 1960s, the house is a 1500s gem, saved from demolition, refurbished and now containing preserved rooms from the 17-19th centuries.
Cold Winds and Warm Pubs
Coastal Aberdeen is a major hub for the North Sea oil field, which pumps money and jobs into the region. Head to the award-winning Maritime Museum to understand Aberdeen’s turbulent relationship with the sea, explained in great detail through interactive exhibits. Afterwards stroll along the beachfront to the quaint 19th century fishing community of Footdee (locally known as ‘Fittie’). If you have time, venture beyond the city into pretty Aberdeenshire. Set out on a castle or distillery trail; in winter head for the slopes at Glenshee and the Lecht ski fields, and in the (sometimes dubious) summer, visit the region’s beautiful beaches like Balmedie, where the very brave can surf in the north sea.
At night you can head to any one of a number of interesting venues. The Moorings has heavy rock’n’roll, while the elegant Beach Ballroom is an art deco venue with a sprung dance floor. Popular bolt holes to escape the wind coming off the sea include historic pubs like cosy Ma Cameron, or The Prince of Wales, which brews its own ales and often bills fantastic folk music. To enjoy the lively nightclub scene head to the University Quarter.
Where to Stay
Aberdeen has a range of hotels, bed & breakfasts, and hostels. The city centre is connected to the airport by train and bus, and the area near the train station will place you within easy walking distance of many of the city’s attractions, shopping, bars and restaurants, and the harbour.