Aberdeen - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to Aberdeen


The bustling seaport of Aberdeen is Scotland's third biggest city, and has been dubbed the Oil Capital of Europe. This alone is not likely to entice visitors to the city, other than those on business trips, but the fact that Aberdeen boasts a fascinating and bloody history, historic granite buildings, beautiful churches, attractive green spaces and plenty of Scotch whisky, just might.

Once a site of brutal conflict with the English during the Scottish Wars of Independence, the city was razed to the ground by King Edward III in 1336, but was quickly rebuilt and expanded rapidly over the centuries as it grew in prominence as a port. The 18th and 19th centuries saw an increase in elegance and style in the city, predominantly in the architecture of Old Aberdeen, an area of buildings made from the glittering local granite. Here, architectural gems include the 15th-century Kings College, the Town House, and Marischal College, one of the best examples of Edwardian architecture in Britain.

Modern Aberdeen is friendly and fun, although foreigners may struggle to understand the thick local accent. Belmont Street and surrounds are packed with restaurants, clubs, bars and live music venues; there are plenty of top-class museums and galleries including the Maritime Museum and the Aberdeen Art Gallery; and the city boasts a host of lush parks, including Duthie Park, which opened in 1883. The vibrant waterfront district also merits exploration, as well as some of the lovely sandy beaches close by.

Aberdeen also acts as a perfect hub from which to explore the beauty and majesty of the Grampian Highlands, enjoy a tipple on the Malt Whisky trail or ramble around ancient Scottish castles.

Information & Facts


Aberdeen's climate is highly changeable, like most of the United Kingdom, although temperatures are moderated by its close proximity to the sea. The average temperature is around 47°F (8°C), with average lows of approximately 37°F (3°C) in winter and highs of 61°F (16°C) in summer.

Getting Around

The centre of Aberdeen is compact and easily explored on foot; most sites are within walking distance of each other. The local bus service (there are two different operators) is reliable, with many routes departing from Union Street to destination all around the city. The all-day ticket for around £3 is good value. Taxis are readily available and are best booked in advance, especially at night as they can be hard to come by after dark. Rail service is limited within the city, but there are excellent routes connecting Aberdeen to other cities.

English is the official language, though visitors will be astonished by the variety of regional accents.

The currency is the pound (GBP), which is divided into 100 pence. ATMs are available in all towns and Visa, MasterCard and American Express are widely accepted; visitors with other cards should check with their credit card companies in advance. Foreign currency can be exchanged at bureaux de change and large hotels, however better exchange rates are likely to be found at banks. Travellers cheques are accepted in all areas frequented by tourists; they are best taken in Pounds Sterling to avoid additional charges.


Aberdeen has a few worthy attractions to draw tourists into its Highland embrace. The Maritime Museum and Aberdeen Art Gallery are worth a visit to get the flavour of the local culture, while picturesque Brig o' Balgownie and lovely Duthie Park are at their best in the summer months, May to August. A little further afield is the malt whisky trail of the Grampian Highlands, and Balmoral Castle, one of the most magnificent castles in the British Isles. Dress warmly while sightseeing in Aberdeen as the weather is changeable throughout the year.

Local time in the United Kingdom is GMT (GMT +1 from last Sunday in March to Saturday before last Sunday in October).

The Aberdeen Art Gallery first opened its doors in 1885 and centuries later, it continues to be a popular attraction in the city. The Gallery has a large permanent and changing collection, housed in an impressive building with an exquisite marble interior. Highlights include collections of Modern Art, the Scottish Colourists (including artists such as Leslie Hunter and Francis Cadell), and the Post-Impressionists. There is also a collection of local applied art and crafts, including fine examples of Aberdeen silver.

Situated on historic Shiprow with spectacular views of the busy harbour, the Aberdeen Maritime Museum proudly exhibits Aberdeen's strong maritime history, and its close connection to the sea. The city's significance in the North Sea oil industry is explored, as well as the importance of fishing, shipbuilding and sailing in the development of the area. Displays at the museum include a 28-foot (8.5m) high model of the Murchison oil production platform, collections of photographs and plans from major Aberdeen shipbuilders and naval paintings. There is also a café and gift shop at the museum.

No trip to Scotland is complete without a visit to one of its magnificent castles, and Balmoral Castle, set on the River Dee, is one of the best known. The castle, with its fairytale turrets, is set on 50,000 acres (20,234 ha) of spectacular grounds, and the Royal Family has preserved the surrounding wildlife, buildings and scenery since it was bought by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1852. A visit to the castle includes access to the gardens, the ballroom and the grounds, but the Queen's Rooms are out of bounds. The castle and estate are set within the Cairngorms National Park and offer breathtaking vistas of the Highlands. Visitors can also enjoy a Castle tour, which takes in other impressive castles such as Crathes Castle and neighbouring Craigievar Castle.

Built from granite and sandstone, the single-arched Brig o' Balgownie, stretching over the River Don, dates back to the 13th century, and was completed in 1320 during the Scottish War of Independence. The bridge long served as an important thoroughfare for large armies as well as for traders, and was extensively renovated in the 1600s after it had fallen into disrepair. The bridge stretches for 39 feet (12m) and offers beautiful views of the river.

Created by Lady Elizabeth Duthie in 1881 to commemorate her uncle and brother, Duthie Park is beautifully situated on the banks of the River Dee and draws hundreds of visitors to its colourful floral displays and 44 acres (18ha) of grounds. The park is famous for its Winter Garden, an indoor garden with a spectacular array of tropical plants and cacti; as well as its extensive rose garden, with over two million plants; and the Japanese Garden. There is also a boating pond, plenty of winding walkways for a romantic stroll, bowling greens, tennis courts, a children's playground and a restaurant. Other 'green lungs' worth visiting in Aberdeen include Hazelhead Park, the Union Terrace Gardens and the Johnston Gardens.

The Grampian Highlands area is famous for its delicious malt whisky, and the best way to explore this long-standing tradition is by following a whisky route (self-drive or guided) to eight different distilleries, including the Glenfiddich Distillery that was started in 1887. Visitors can learn about the age-old process of coaxing different smells, tastes and colours from a mixture of yeast, barley, peat and water, and take tours of different distilleries. Some distilleries can only be visited with advanced bookings, and usually offer tastings.

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