A port city in northeast Scotland, Aberdeen is the country’s third most populous city. Often called the Granite City, in reference to the silvery granite from the nearby Rubislaw Quarry used in many of the buildings, Aberdeen is a vibrant city that attracts travellers from all over the world. Expect cultural treasures and historic sites, including an impressive castle, street art and a fascinating maritime museum. Aberdeen offers plenty of hidden gems and the opportunities to explore are endless.
The History of Aberdeen
Aberdeen began as two separate burghs: Old Aberdeen, on the mouth of the river Don, and New Aberdeen, a fishing and trading settlement. Even before oil was a valuable commodity, the burghs of Aberdeen with wealthy thanks to their port location. In 1319, the Great Charter of Robert the Bruce transformed Aberdeen into a property-owning and financially independent community.
In the 18th century paper making, rope-making, whaling and textile manufacturing were central to the city’s economy. By the 1970s Aberdeen became the main focus of Scotland’s offshore oil industry, and its harbour bustled with supply ships. Today, its unemployment rates are some of the lowest in the country and many often complained it is as expensive as London, thanks to the many wealthy locals who made their fortune in oil.
What to in See in Aberdeen
Built on centuries of nautical heritage, Aberdeen Maritime Museum focuses on the North Sea oil-production from which Aberdeen made its money. The museums’ exhibition focus on the petroleum industry with tales of Aberdeen’s long and important relationship with the North Sea. It makes use of a range of different buildings on the historic Shiprow, a historic street in the heart of the city. The museum is a unique experience and offers a special insight into the history of the city. Some highlights include photographs from the major shipbuilders in Aberdeen and displays of ship and oil rig models. It also offers visitors a spectacular viewpoint over the busy harbour.
Another excellent museum is the Gordon Highlanders Museum which celebrates the amazing story of the Gordon Highlanders, a regiment of the British Army who were active from 1794 to 1994. The museum is housed in a 19th century cottage, the former home of leading Scottish artist Sir George Reid, and features a replica of a WWI trench.
Drive half an hour out of Aberdeen’s city centre and you can find your way to two impossible beautiful castles. South of the city is the magnificent Dunnottar Castle, a ruined cliff top fortress that looks like something out of a story book. The castle that exists today is thought to have been restored in the 15th and 16th centuries but it likely has been there for centuries. Dunnottar has played a prominent role in Scottish history due to its strategic location. To Aberdeen’s west is Crathes Castle, a 16th-century castle surrounded by sculpted yew trees and nature trails. Both castles offer a different insight into Scotland’s past.
Aberdeen is known for being something of a powerhouse but it is also called ‘the silver city with golden sands’ because of its beautiful beaches. Travelling to the coast doesn’t take too long – Balmedie Beach is a twenty minute drive from the city. With a long golden shore and well-developed dunes that are home to over 255 species of birds. Newburgh Seal Beach is also a must-visit location. As the name suggests, there is a 400 strong colony of seals who live on the beach at the mouth of the Ythan River.
If you’re interested in seeing Aberdeen in all its granite glory, please take a look at our History of the Jacobites tour or our Scotland’s Great Trails Walking tour which both spend time in Aberdeen.
Articles about Scotland published by Odyssey Traveller.
The following list of articles published by odyssey Traveller for mature aged and senior travellers to maximise their knowledge and enjoyment of Scotland when visiting:
- Birth of Scotland
- Questions about Scotland
- Peat & Scotland
- Shetland Islands Discovered
- Questions about the Outer Hebrides
- Visiting Scotland
- Scotland & Scotch Whisky
- Visiting Edinburgh places to consider visiting
- Country Spotlight; Scotland
- Nelson Mandela Place; a Glasgow story
- Glasgow’s Architectural heritage
- Stone circles
For all the articles Odyssey Traveller has published for mature aged and senior travellers, click through on this link.
External articles to assist you on your visit to Scotland
- History of Edinburgh castle
- Everything to know about Scotch Whisky
- Understanding the language of the Scotch whisky
- Overview of Scottish history
Updated August 2021.
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