Sparkling under endless summer days and shimmering beneath the Northern Lights in winter...
... Aberdeen’s silvery granite heart merges centuries of history and a modern vibe. The oil capital of the UK, its rocking city nightlife is just a stone’s throw from bottlenose dolphins in the harbour. As the locals say, it’s braw.
Arriving at Aberdeen Airport
Step off your flight, collect your bags and you could be strolling down Union Street and chatting with the locals in Doric faster than you can say ‘fit like’.
The best way to reach the town is by bus. Services are regular, cheap and you’ll be in town in around 30 minutes.
Stagecoach Bluebird’s Jet Service 727 stops outside the terminal building, bound for Aberdeen Union Square bus station. There’s one every 10 minutes on weekdays and every 20 minutes at weekends. Buy a single ticket on board, or a dayrider ticket for unlimited all-day travel.
First Bus runs a regular service to central Aberdeen and accepts contactless payment.
Taxis are a good option if you’re in a hurry. They’re right outside the front of the terminal and can get you to town in around 25 minutes. Expect to pay around £15 for your trip – all depends on the traffic, of course.
Want to let the train take the strain? The closest railway station is at Dyce, around two miles (3km) from the terminal. Aberdeen's main station is a 10-minute journey, while Inverness is two hours away. Beware, there can be a gap between services and they’re even less frequent at weekends.
If you’re planning to get behind the wheel, book your car hire in advance.
It’s easy to get around Aberdeen on foot. In fact, it’s probably the best way to take in the unique steel-grey granite architecture and tune into the distinctive local accent.
Travelling further? Here’s how to get around.
First has 23 services that travel around the city. Have the right change or go contactless on board. Plan ahead and pick up a reloadable smartcard from First Travel Shop (47 Union Street). Electronic tickets (mTickets) are available from an app of the same name.
Stagecoach Bluebird operates in town and connects Aberdeen with outlying towns and villages. Buy your ticket on board or invest in a seven-day megarider ticket for unlimited travel across certain zones. Available at the Guild Street bus station travel shop.
There are taxi ranks dotted around the city centre. Pre-book or just hail a passing cab.
Aberdeen Railway Station (Guild Street) connects the granite city to Inverness and Edinburgh in just over two hours, and three hours to Glasgow. Dundee, with its bustling arts scene, is around an hour away.
Want to explore? Aberdeen puts you within easy distance of the UK's great wilderness – the Highlands – so a road trip is a great choice here. Follow the North East 250 from Aberdeen north to the fishing communities of Buckie and Fraserburgh, and back via the spectacular Cairngorm mountain range. Book your car hire in advance with London City Airport.
Old Aberdeen: for days gone by
Old Aberdeen, with its cobbled streets, 15th-century cathedral and striking Powis Gates – not unlike Turkish-style minarets — is within a few hundred yards of the main shopping area around Union Street.
Once an independent town, the area has retained a unique character, with meandering wynds (alleys) and medieval buildings happily sharing space with artisan coffee shops and university student haunts. Browse the antique book shops and round off your visit in the lush surroundings of Seaton Park on the banks of the River Don.
Union Street: for days and nights
Union Street was designed to help cope with the flow of people coming into Aberdeen’s cramped streets in the early 19th century.
Today, it’s the city’s main shopping street; you'll find shops from most major brands housed in its distinctive grey granite buildings that sparkle in the sun. In the evening, the Northern Lights dance in the sky and the nightclubs throw open their doors, making Union Street a 24-hour destination.
Walk the Granite Mile from Watergate near Justice Street along Union Street – pay respects to Aberdeen’s patron saint at the gothic Kirk of St Nicholas – and on to Holburn Junction.
The Green: for good times
Close to Aberdeen’s bustling harbour, the Green – also known as the Merchant Quarter — is one of the oldest parts of the city. These days it’s home to cosy bistros and boutique hotels, friendly bars where live music flows as easily as the craft beers and classy cocktails.
Dubbed the ‘beat and soul’ of the city, the Green is the spot for entertainment, with the city’s Jazz Festival held here in March.
Currency: Scottish banks issue their own pound notes. But you can still use Bank of England notes.
Language: While some signs are in Doric, its usage has declined. Aberdonians have a distinctive accent – tuning in can be challenging but fun.
Language: Aberdeen can be chilly. The spectacular Northern Lights (aurora borealis) more than make up for that.