The Essential Guide to a Weekend Away in Aberdeen

Over recent years, Scotland’s tourism industry has boomed. Both international and domestic visitors have been flocking to the historic country, with hopes to have their fill of haggis, learn the art of cèilidh dancing, and maybe even catch a glimpse of Nessie, the illusive Loch Ness monster. According to Visit Scotland’s 2018 tourism statistics, the number of domestic tourists in Scotland is steadily increasing (visits and night stays increased by three per cent by the end of the year) and this trend is set to continue!)

There is more reason than ever to opt for a staycation rather than jetting off abroad. Whether it is for the sake of your bank balance, the environment, or simply to satisfy your curiosity, there’s plenty of reasons to choose to drive up North to Scotland rather than jetting off abroad. Whether your idea of a road trip is a classy cruise across the country in a used Mercedes a-class, or bundling all your mates into a trusty Fiat Punto, Aberdeen makes for the perfect end destination.

Of course, when people hear the word ‘Scotland’, the country’s historic capital is the first place that springs to mind. There’s no doubt that Edinburgh is a spectacular city and most definitely somewhere to incorporate into your itinerary, but don’t underestimate the other cities that Scotland has to offer.  If you head a few hours further up north, sticking tightly to the east coast, you’ll find yourself in the historic port city of Aberdeen.

Known as the ‘Granite City’, Aberdeen is famed for its grey-stone buildings, but the vibrant culture and buzzing atmosphere certainly add colour to this impressive greyscale city. Whether you’re a traveller motivated by historic sites, or you’re simply on the look out for a weekend of food, drink, and partying, Aberdeen has you covered! Let’s find out how to make the most of a short break in Aberdeen.

See the sites

Aberdeen is rich in history and there are many local attractions that should be on your ‘to see’ list:

The University of Aberdeen

A local university wouldn’t always make it onto a tourist hotspot list, but the University of Aberdeen really is something special. Founded in 1495, the ancient campus is something to behold. Not only is it Scotland’s third oldest university, but it is the fifth oldest in the English-speaking world! It is certainly worth a wander through the cloisters as you contemplate times gone by.

Marischal College

This imposing Broad Street building, which has been home to the Aberdeen City Council’s headquarters since 2011, is the epitome of Aberdeen’s ‘Granite City’ reputation. Once part of the university and now owned by the council, the impressive college was founded in 1593 and is worth a visit.


If you want a brief escape from the inner city, head down towards the port to the village of Footdee. This village is as quaint as its name implies, complete with cobbled streets and brightly coloured fisherman houses. This hidden gem is easy to miss if you don’t know what you’re looking for, but it’s certainly worth diverging off the tourist-track to explore the authentic fishing village.

Discover local art, culture, and music

Whether you’re keen to sample some traditional Scottish art, or you want to kick-back, pint in hand, and enjoy a gig or a comedy set, Aberdeen has a vibrant cultural scene to offer tourists and residents alike.

Aberdeen Art Gallery

After a four-year closure and complete transformation, Aberdeen Art Gallery reopened its doors to visitors in November of last year. From the traditional sculpture hall, to the bright, modern galleries housed in the new roof renovation, there is something to suit everyone’s art taste. Discover new local talent, as well as one of the finest regional art collections in Scotland (housed in the restored main galleries)

Aberdeen Science Centre

If art isn’t your thing, check out the Aberdeen Science Centre instead. With a hands-on approach to learning, this museum will entertain children and adults alike, featuring all the best things the world of science has to offer — robots, dinosaurs, and space travel!

Cafe Drummond

As the evening closes in, and you’ve had your fill of exhibitions, head over to Belmont street to sample some local music and enjoy a drink. Full of rustic charm, Café Drummond is the best place to enjoy a band in a relaxed and easy-going atmosphere — an excellent start to any evening!

Worked up your appetite?

What’s a city break without checking out the local culinary scene? Whether you’re looking for vegan delicacies or Buckfast on tap, Aberdeen is the place to be!

Breakfast at Cup

With glowing reviews, including some happy brunch-goers naming it ‘the best breakfast in Aberdeen’, Cup is an unmissable morning spot. If you’re looking for a cosy and welcoming café in which to enjoy a cup of coffee, a tasty breakfast, or a slice of homemade cake, look no further!

Lunch at Foodstory

Launched with an ambitious Kickstarter campaign, Foodstory opened its doors to hungry, likeminded customers in 2013. Specialising in serving food to suit all dietary requirements, this inclusive establishment will make everyone feel right at home. Working towards becoming a completely zero waste café, Foodstory is ethically minded and the perfect place to catch a break from your busy sightseeing schedule. The menu also has a selection of vegan treats, such as vegan chocolate and even vegan lasagne! What’s not to love about this hidden gem?

Ice cream at Aunty Betty’s

What’s a trip to the coast without a quick stop for ice cream? In Aberdeen, Aunty Betty’s is the place to go. Take a wander along the sea front and enjoy one or two scoops of any of the indulgent flavours on offer.

Dinner at the Silver Darling

Stick to the coastline for a little longer and enjoy dinner with a view. With a focus on local cuisine and breath-taking panoramic views via its floor-to-ceiling windows, the Silver Darling is the perfect place to share an evening meal while engulfed in local tradition and heritage.

Drinks at Belmont street

Last but not least, it’s time to head out for some post-dinner drinks. Belmont street is your best bet for pubs and bars, many of which (such as Slains Castle) are housed in old gothic churches that have been artfully repurposed for the modern night owl. Take a wander down this street and find your favourite watering hole, then let Aberdeen’s iconic nightlife lead the way!

Although this northern Scottish city can sometimes be underestimated, there really is something for everyone in Aberdeen. With plenty to offer in terms of art, culture, food, and nightlife, the only question left to ask is: when are you going to book your trip?