Discover The Granite City Of Aberdeen

Posted on: 25 March 2009 by Gareth Hargreaves

The 'Granite City' of Aberdeen is a prosperous, cosmopolitan city, boasting spectacular architecture and captivating museums, fascinating history, a wealth of art and culture and a lively social scene.


Aberdeen - a prosperous, cosmopolitan city with an international population and a booming oil industry is Scotland’s third largest city and boasts spectacular architecture and captivating museums, fascinating history, a wealth of art and culture and a lively social scene.

Aberdeen is commonly referred to variously as "the Granite City", or the "Silver City" on account of the grey, occasionally sparkling building stone used in older buildings in the city; and the "Flower of Scotland", Aberdeen long having been famous for outstanding parks, gardens and floral displays.

These days, Aberdeen also boasts the title of Oil Capital of Europe thanks to the supply of crude oil in the North Sea, and stands on a bay of the North Sea, between the mouths of the rivers Don and Dee.

About The City

Aberdeen's famous 'Granite Mile', Union Street, is the gateway to over 800 shops, restaurants and bars. Visitors can chill-out in lovely flower-filled parks - Aberdeen is the13 times winner of Britain in Bloom. Best of all, the city has its own golden sandy beach.

The city centre features the opulent Marischal College and the colonnaded Art Gallery with its fine collection, which have been preserved as museums. Union Street continues west to the cosmopolitan West End, where much of the city's nightlife can be found.

To the south, the harbour heaves with boats serving the fishing and oil industries, while north of the centre lies attractive Old Aberdeen, a village neighbourhood presided over by King's College and St Machar Cathedral, and influenced by the large student population.

Aberdeen's long beach, with its esplanade development, marks the city's eastern border, only a mile or so from its centre.

Sightseeing & Attractions

Most visitors come to the city to see Old Aberdeen, which lies 2.4km (1.5 miles) north of the main city centre. This pretty old quarter dates back to the 15th century and comes complete with cobbled streets and historic architecture. It is also home to the city's university and its lively student population.

Aberdeen also has a deserved reputation as a floral city, which is in evidence wherever you are in the city, but particularly so at the wonderful Union Terrace Gardens. For a taste of yesteryear head to Footdee (pronounced 'fittie'), a 19th-century fishing village that's situated just south of the city. And when you need to take a break from the sights, head east to the beach that's lined with excellent bars and cafes where you can relax and watch the world go by.

Union Street

Union Street is the thriving heart of the city off which are many of Aberdeen's main attractions, including the technically accomplished Union Street Bridge built in the 19th century. The Aberdeen Art Gallery is one of the city's most popular attractions and well worth a few hours' visit to study its fine art collection from the 19th and 20th centuries.

Marischal College

Literally unmissable is the grandiose Marischal College on Broad Street - the second-largest granite structure in the world. After rain, the sun shimmers off its extravagant neo gothic granite facades creating a mesmerising effect. The Marischal Museum was founded in 1786 and houses a weird and wonderful collection of exhibits from around the world.

Old Aberdeen

The centrepiece of Old Aberdeen is the King's College (now united with the Marischal College to form the University of Aberdeen) with its imposing buildings that entomb the famous Quadrangle. The college chapel was used for daily worship for over five centuries and houses an impressive collection of 15th-century artefacts. Also in Old Aberdeen is the 15th-century St Machar's Cathedral, which overlooks picturesque Seaton Park and the River Don.

The Harbour

No visit to Aberdeen is complete without a visit to the historic harbour area. The excellent Maritime Museum is located on a site with Provost Ross's House, which is reputed to be the oldest building in the city. Multi-media displays tell the interesting history of Aberdeen's intimate connection with the ocean.


Within easy walking distance of the harbour is the old fishing village of Footdee (pronounced 'fittie'). The old 19th-century fishermen's cottages all face inwards in squares with their backs to the ocean to protect themselves from the harsh storms that rage in from the sea.

Shopping & Eating

Aberdeen's famous 'Granite Mile' - Union Street - is the gateway to over 800 shops, from the latest designer fashions to traditional Scottish crafts, all the best known High Street names have outlets in the city and you’ll find them all in the five main indoor shopping centres. The Mall Trinity, St Nicholas and Bon Accord are the largest, whilst the Galleria and The Academy have a range of more intimate boutique style shops. Why not shop till you drop at some of the more individual outlets?

Abound with food from all corners of the globe - Mexican, Italian, Greek, Indian, Thai, French, Hungarian…. not to forget native Scottish fare, in Aberdeen’s thriving city centre you’ll find all the big name coffee shops and restaurants, but also quaint, traditional tea-rooms and family run bistros. Enjoy good food and good company in Aberdeen.

When To Visit & Stay

The optimal time to visit Aberdeen is during the summer (June to August), when one can best appreciate the picturesque parks and golden beach sand. However, a host of festivals between March and May make spring the peak travel season.

Aberdeen offers a wide range of accommodation for you to choose, from cosy cottages with log fires to homely guesthouses overlooking stunning scenery, pampering yourself in 4 star hotels to camping and caravan parks in tranquil surroundings.

For a list of recommended hotels and accommodation visit the official Aberdeen Tourist Board website at

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