Aberdeen: The Granite City by the sea

Aberdeen’s rich maritime history is just one of the many things which attracts visitors to the so-called Granite City.

Here are the best things to see and do in Aberdeen, the great places to grab some grub, the perfect places to pitch up for a pint and where to head for some retail therapy. Plus the secret spots you might never have heard of.

Things to see and do in Aberdeen

From fishing to oil and gas, Aberdeen has had a long and fruitful relationship with the sea, so a trip to the Maritime Museum is an appropriate way to learn more about the city’s seafaring history. The museum’s collection covers shipbuilding, fast sailing ships, fishing and port history, plus there’s a stunning viewpoint over the bustling harbour.

For an alternative view of historic Aberdeen, a stroll around the Footdee (Fittie) area of Aberdeen is highly recommended. This old fishing village located on the harbour retains much of its original charm and is incredibly photogenic, so don’t forget your camera.

For culture vultures, the Aberdeen Art Gallery is a must-visit and features a stunning permanent collection of 18th century portraits as well as work by French Impressionists and Post Impressionists Monet, Renoir, Sisley, Bonnard, Toulouse-Lautrec and Degas. There is also an interesting programme of temporary exhibitions throughout the year and events such as lunchtime classical concerts.

Shopping in Aberdeen

If you’re hitting the shops in Aberdeen, your first port of call should be Union Square, which is home to more than 50 high street favourites including Apple, Hollister and Marks and Spencer.

For trendy boutiques you should head to Academy, which is home to a range of designer brands such as Barbour and Diesel.

Nestled among the shopping centres, you’ll also find the popular Merchant Quarter which is home to the city’s thriving independent shopping scene, as well as a host of cafes and restaurants. Highlights include quirky clothes shop Granite Reef and R&B Music.

Food and drink in Aberdeen

Aberdeen boasts a wide variety of Indian restaurants, and the award-winning Shri Bheemas Indian Restaurants at Belmont Street and Bridge of Don are among the most popular. The eateries scooped the Best Indian Restaurant in Aberdeen prize last year.

If you’re craving pasta or pizza, Rustico on Summer Street is a cosy 1950s-style, family run trattoria, offering southern Italian cuisine. Why not try the Crespelle: butter pancakes rolled with braised pork hock and mixed mushrooms in a cheese sauce. Yum.

If you fancy a few drinks after your meal, Dusk on Langstane Place is a good bet. The cocktail bar specialises in stylish drinks, in even more stylish surroundings. Its speciality is a Flirtini, a mix of berry liqueur, fresh strawberry and raspberry and a hint of champagne.

Hidden Aberdeen

Here are three spots in Aberdeen you might not have heard of…

If you’re looking for some special shoes, your first port of call should be Something for Me, a high-end retailer located on Thistle Street. This boutique stocks a wide range of women’s clothing and accessories, but it’s the extensive shoe collection that keeps customers flocking back.

Books and Beans is an Aberdeen institution, the perfect place to get your caffeine fix while browsing the 150,000-plus titles in stock. The Fair Trade coffees are excellent, but we are particular fans of the hot chocolate.

Avoid the crowds but still get top notch food and service by booking a table at the Carmelite Bar & Grill, located in the Carmelite Hotel. The eatery serves delicious Scottish cuisine against the backdrop of a stunning grade B listed building. Bargain-hunters will love the set menu.

Upcoming events in Aberdeen

Pitmedden Music Festival (6-7 June) Music lovers can enjoy a full programme of jazz, orchestra, rock and blues music. There’ll also be a beer festival, bouncy castle plus a wide range of children’s entertainment. Camping is available.

The Scottish Kids Show 2014 (28-29 June) Head to the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre for all the latest products for babies, toddlers and children up to the age of 16. With more than 100 exhibitors taking part, there’s sure to be something for everyone.

Enjoy your trip to Aberdeen.