This blog highlights some of the best attractions and activities within walking distance of Aberdeen City Centre. In forthcoming blogs, we will cover places outside of The City to visit in Aberdeenshire, food and drink in Aberdeen, and regular events and festivals that attract people to the region. Aberdeen is a compact city, some of these attractions are quite close together and all are walkable from the city centre.
See the Marischal College
The iconic Marischal College is a jewel of the Granite City and the second-largest granite building in the world. It is a council building now but still owned by the university and it often acts as a focal point for celebrations, festivals and peaceful demonstrations. Its architecture is a mix of Archibald Simpson’s austere style in Rubislaw Stone, and Kemnay Granite crafted in the perpendicular gothic of A. Marshall Mackenzie. A striking statue of Robert the Bruce is situated outside. On the other side of Broad Street is Marischal Square, with its coffee shops, restaurants, hotel, artwork and public space. A firm favourite here is Mackie’s 19.2, the celebrated Aberdeenshire ice cream maker named its parlour for the distance of 19.2 miles to the farm where the product is made.
Visit the Castlegate
The Castlegate is the oldest part of Aberdeen. A small area at the east end of Union Street including the square where the Mercat Cross and Gallowgate are located. A mixture of new and old, it is home to historical buildings and monuments, including the Tolbooth Museum, Provost Skene’s House – the oldest remaining house in Aberdeen dating back to 1545, and the Mercat Cross, a monument to Scottish monarchs built in 1686 by John Montgomery. (Pictured).
Explore the Museums
The Tolbooth Museum is set in a 17th-century gaol. It features the blade of Aberdeen’s guillotine from that period and provides an atmospheric history of crime and punishment in its stone cells. Aberdeen Maritime Museum covers the history of Aberdeen’s relationship with the sea, including sailing ships, fishing, the oil and gas industry, social history and the city’s emergence as an innovative energy hub. Aberdeen Science Centre is a very popular destination with immersive and interactive exhibits with sections named Space, Energy, Life Sciences, “Test It”, “Make It” and an Under 6s zone. The unique Gordon Highlanders Museum shares the legacy of the local regiment, famous for winning the India Medal and two Victoria Crosses in the Battle of Chitral.
Visit the Aberdeen Art Gallery
Aberdeen Art Gallery is home to over 12,000 works of art including paintings, sculptures, crafts and prints spanning 700 years. It is considered a Collection of National Significance and is regarded as one of the UK’s finest. First opened in 1885, the neo-classical building was recently refurbished to provide an excellent visitor experience. The building also features the Cowdray Hall concert venue, the interior Remembrance Hall and the exterior Cenotaph, all by the original architect, the aforementioned A. Marshall Mackenzie.
Stroll Through the Parks and Visit St Machar’s Cathedral
Duthie Park is a large park on the River Dee to the south of Aberdeen that is home to a variety of gardens including the David Welch Winter Gardens – one of the largest indoor gardens in Europe, there are classic Victorian features, a boating pond, and a children’s play area. It’s a day out in itself.
Seaton Park to the north of the city sits beside St Machar’s Cathedral, the towers of which are the backdrop to Cathedral
Walk. There is the Wallace Tower, with a Bronze Age motte and mound and Mr Therm, a retired steam engine that has been a play sculpture for many years. Johnston Gardens is a beautifully landscaped Japanese-style park with water features, rockeries, an idyllic, photo-friendly bridge, and a monument to the 2009 helicopter crash. It also has a children’s play area. Hazlehead Park is a large site to the west of the city. Home to the (in)famous maze, woodlands, sculptures and sports events.
Not only is Aberdeen the Granite City but it is also known as the Silver City with the Golden Sands. Aberdeen Beach is a sweeping two-mile stretch of sandy beach located between the rivers Don and Dee. It is a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, walking, and cycling. The beach is home to a number of attractions, including the Beach Leisure Centre, the Linx Ice Area, and the Aberdeen Fun Fair. There are also a number of food and drink vendors on the beach, so you can grab a drink or a bite to eat while you’re enjoying the sun.
Aberdeen Harbour Tour
You can sometimes spot dolphins from Torry Battery, near the Girdle Ness lighthouse on the south side of the Dee.
There are also Tours from Commercial Key West which take you out past a variety of the big vessels in the port to enjoy some dolphin watching, get a close-up view of the wind farm and even make the occasional whale sighting.
There’s so much to see in Aberdeen and many more adventures to have in the region. We hope you enjoy your
visit and find your own secret spots.