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What to See and Do in Aberdeen - From Castles to Cruises

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Castles, medieval churches, and museums in and around Aberdeen bring Scotland's past to life. The city has its own breezy beach, with puffins and gulls nesting nearby on rugged cliffs crowned by fortress ruins. Dolphins often frolic offshore, within sight of Aberdeen's harbor. Keen golfers will find some of Scotland's best links courses in and around the city.

Central Aberdeen

 

Aberdeen's city centre lies next to a bustling harbor where trawlers, ferries, and cargo ships dock. At the Tolbooth Museum, in one of the city's oldest buildings, you'll find re-created jail cells that once housed criminals and Jacobite rebels. A scary highlight is the Maiden, a 17th-century guillotine. Nearby, Aberdeen Maritime Museum celebrates the city's seafaring history with models of clipper ships, fishing vessels, and oil rigs.

 

  • The Tolbooth Museum, Castle Street, Aberdeen AB10 1EX; Tel: +44 1224 621 167; Website: The Tolbooth Museum
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  • Aberdeen Maritime Museum, Shiprow, Aberdeen AB11 5BY; Tel: +44 1224 337 700; Website: Aberdeen Maritime Museum

Old Aberdeen

 

Old Aberdeen, north of the city centre, is a treasury of medieval and Renaissance buildings made of the silver granite for which Aberdeen is famous. At the core of Old Aberdeen, you'll find the Cathedral Church of St. Machar's. Inside this fortified, twin-towered church, stained glass windows commemorate its founder, one of the missionaries who brought Christianity to Scotland. To see more of the city's well-preserved historic architecture, visit nearby King's College, where the iconic Crown Tower dominates the University of Aberdeen campus.

 

 

Aberdeen's Seaside

 

Aberdeen's breezy, sandy beach sweeps for 2 miles between the mouths of the River Dee and the River Don, while the Esplanade stretches the full length of the waterfront. Midway along the beach, you'll find Codona's Amusement Park, with rides, games, and family-friendly restaurants. A few steps from the beach, you can play a round of golf at windswept Kings Links, with fine views out to sea.

 

  • Codona's Amusement Park, Beach Boulevard, Aberdeen AB24 5ED; Tel: +44 1224 595 910; Website: Codona's Amusement Park
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  • Kings Links Golf Centre, Golf Road, Aberdeen AB24 1RZ; Tel: +44 1224 641 577; Website: Kings Links Golf Centre

 

Aberdeen Harbour

 

Aberdeen's harbor, at the mouth of the River Dee, bustles with shipping day and night. That doesn't deter the bottlenose dolphins who often swim close to shore. You have a good chance of spotting them from the Torry Battery, a 19th-century gun emplacement on the south bank of the Dee, and you can take a dolphin-watching boat tour from the harbor with Clyde Cruises. On the north bank of the Dee, Duthie Park is an attractive green space where the glass-covered David Welch Winter Gardens provide a warm refuge on a cold day.

 

  • Clyde Cruises, Victoria Harbour, Greenock, PA15 1HW; Tel: +44 1475 721 281; Website: Clyde Cruises
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  • Duthie Park, Polmuir Road, Aberdeen AB11 7TH; Tel: +441224 585 310; Website: Duthie Park

 

Aberdeen's Castles

 

You'll find dozens of historic castles close to Aberdeen. Some are ghostly ruins, while others are well-preserved homes of baronial families. There's spectacular scenery at tumbledown Dunnottar Castle, which perches on a crag high above the sea. With its towers and turrets, 16th-century Crathes Castle is the very model of a Scottish baronial stronghold. It's surrounded by trim gardens that are vividly colourful in spring, summer, and fall.

 

  • Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven, Aberdeen AB39 2TL; Tel: +44 1569 762 173; Website: Dunnottar Castle
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  • Crathes Castle, Banchory, Aberdeen AB31 5EY; Tel: +44 1330 844 525; Website: Crathes Castle