Scotland City Guides »


Although the area between the rivers Don and Dee has been settled for over 8, 000 years, it was not until 1319 that it came to be recognized as a city. From then on it was largely dependent on fishing, shipbuilding and textile industries, until when in the 20th century these were largely displaced by the emerging oil industry. The latter grew to such an extent that eventually Aberdeen gained the nickname; “Oil Capital of Europe”. However the dwindling oil supplies of the world has resulted in a call for alternative energy sources in Aberdeen, in an effort to transform from its present denomination into the “Energy Capital of Europe”. On a different note, the city’s busy seaport is the largest of its kind in northeast Scotland and also contributed to the shift of focus in the city’s industrial output. Moreover the establishment of Aberdeen’s second university in 1992 has made the city the largest educational centre of the north-east of Scotland.

Given its striking architecture, its strong modern arts scene, its palpable industrial heritage and its generally rich and culturally significant history, the city of Aberdeen has something for everyone. The city is famous for its granite Victorian buildings, which are immensely durable and sparkle much like silver in the sun. This highly particular feature of the city has lent it additional nicknames; “Granite City” or, less commonly, “The Silver City”. Although architecture of this sort can be found all throughout the city, the grandest examples can be located on Union Street. The Town and County Bank, the Music Hall, the Trinity Hall of the Incorporated Trades, the National Bank of Scotland and the New Town House are all worth a look. Shopping, too, is best found along Union Street, though there is plenty of it to be had on George Street as well.

For a lesson in local history, the galleries the Aberdeen Maritime Museum, the Gordon Highlanders Museum and the Marischal Museum host regular exhibitions. Fine art may also be viewed at the latter establishment. For more live culture, try one of the Ceilidhs – traditional Scottish Music Performances – at the Music Hall on Union Street. Alternatively there are plenty of live music pubs and clubs on Belmont Street that feature a wide variety of styles and artists. Cultural cinema and local film events may also be found here, at the Belmont Picturehouse.

For outdoors enthusiasts, the surrounding countryside of Aberdeen is the perfect scene for an adventure or three. The rolling hills, its picturesque towns and villages, the dramatic coastline and the largest national park of Britain, the Cairngorms national park, all offer stunningly beautiful scenery that is readily accessible within a short trip of the city of Aberdeen.