Top 5 sights for first-timers
This huddle of cobbled lanes and pretty stone cottages to the north of the city centre was originally a separate town. Visit 500-year-old King’s College, part of Aberdeen University; highlights include the chapel with its spectacular Crown Tower and the restored 18th-century Old Town House. Beyond is medieval St Machar’s Cathedral – be sure to gaze up at the magnificent Heraldic Ceiling.
High Street and surrounding area
Aberdeen Maritime Museum
Throughout history, the city’s fortune has been found in the sea, whether through fishing, shipping or oil exploration. This interactive museum weaves these threads together via hands-on exhibits (try squeezing onto an oil rig bunk bed), paintings and an extensive collection of oceanic objects.
Provost Skene’s House
Discover how people lived in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries through a series of rooms adorned with furnishings and paintings from each period. The house was originally built in 1545, but was adapted significantly by Provost George Skene in the late 17th century, who is thought to have added the carved plaster ceilings.
Guestrow (between Broad Street and Flourmill Lane)
Aberdeen Art Gallery
This wonderfully grand late-19th-century building houses an outstanding collection of paintings, sculptures and graphics from the 15th to 21st centuries, featuring Hogarth, Renoir, Bacon and Hirst, to name but a few. Particularly of interest are its displays of metalwork, jewellery and enamelwork, including examples of work by early Aberdeen silversmiths.
With its gloriously long sweep of golden sand, Aberdeen’s beach is the spot to head for a bracing coastal walk. Live acts regularly play at the art deco Beach Ballroom (complete with bouncy dancefloor), while Codona’s Amusement Park provides thrills and spills with rides on its looping rollercoaster, log flume and giant big wheel, aka The Grampian Eye.
Top 5 sights for old hands
Peacock Visual Arts
An ever-changing and diverse programme of exhibitions at this contemporary art centre showcases innovative national and international creativity. The centre also provides digital and printmaking facilities, runs workshops and sells art.
21 Castle Street
Pronounced ‘Fittie’, the delightful old fishing village at the eastern edge of the harbour made the news in 2012 when streets and cars were blanketed in knee-deep frothy sea foam following a severe autumn storm. The pleasingly symmetrical layout was designed by architect John Smith in 1809 to rehouse Aberdeen’s fishermen.
New Pier Road
Gordon Highlanders Museum
Located in the former home of leading Scottish artist Sir George Reid, this museum celebrates the 200-year history of the famous Gordon Highlanders regiment. Among the artefacts are uniforms, weapons and diaries, plus over 4,000 medals and 12 Victoria crosses.
Duthie Park and David Welch Winter Gardens
The lovely indoor gardens in Duthie Park make for a welcome retreat on a blustery day. Encompassing temperate, tropical, arid and fern glasshouses, this floral oasis displays fabulous rare and exotic plants. Outdoors, the splendid Victorian park has recently undergone significant restoration thanks to a Heritage Lottery Fund grant.
Duthie Park, Polmuir Road
Aberdeen University’s Zoology department shows off its favourite treasures, from gorilla skeletons and a tuatara specimen (an ancient reptile species found only in New Zealand) to sabre cat skulls and a mounted Bengal tiger seized at Aberdeen Airport in 1996.
Corner of St Machar’s Drive and Tillydrone Avenue