Scotland’s third most populous city, Aberdeen is generally known as the Silver City or the Granite City (due to the profusion of granite, with its sparkling mica, in the city’s Victorian architecture) and the Flower of Scotland (due to the picturesque countryside in which it is nestled). The city is renowned for its many splendid gardens, parks and floral displays, having been named Best City in the Royal Horticultural Society’s Britain in Bloom awards 10 times.
Although Aberdeen was supported by industries such as textiles, fishing, papermaking and shipbuilding in prior decades, the city owes much of its modern day prosperity to the discovery of oil in the nearby North Sea in the mid-20th century.
Many visitors to Aberdeen work in the oil industry and the city is sometimes known as the “Oil Capital of Europe” due to the oil companies’ vast investment in off-shore drilling in the region, which has boosted the local economy and aided the city’s development toward becoming the modern and cosmopolitan destination it is today.
June and July are generally the warmest months in Aberdeen with an average temperature of around 18 C (64 F). November through February is typically the coldest and wettest time with an average temperature slightly above freezing. Rain may occur throughout the year.
When to fly to Aberdeen
Aberdeen’s peak tourist season takes place in June and July when the weather is driest and warmest and periods of daylight are the longest of the year.
November through February is Aberdeen’s off season. Fewest tourists visit during these months, as the weather is likely to be coldest and wettest this time of year. The drop off in tourists is reflected in accommodation and travel prices and availability. Days become very short during the middle of this time period, averaging a little more than six and a half hours between sunrise and sunset. However, the Aberdeen Winter Festival, which runs from November through January, does draw in visitors.
Getting around Aberdeen
Aberdeen’s two main areas of interest for tourists – Old Aberdeen and the city centre – are both compact enough that visitors can easily walk between sites. There are many pedestrian maps at the sites showing walking routes throughout the city. A few bus operators also offer bus routes throughout Aberdeen, available from the city centre to the outer suburbs and beyond. Aberdeen International Airport (ABZ) is located in Dyce, a suburb of Aberdeen about 9 km (6 miles) northwest of the city centre.
Aberdeen insider information
- Provost Skene’s House is the oldest standing house in the city, a rare remaining example of medieval burgh architecture from the 16th century. Sir George Skene (after whom the house is named) was Lord Provost of Aberdeen, a position similar to mayor. The house was opened to the public in 1953 and has been furnished in the styles of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. – temporarily closed to the public
- Aberdeen Maritime Museum details the city’s seagoing history, from the shipbuilding and fishing trades that supported the industry in prior centuries to today’s lucrative oil industry. In the past, the museum has been named Scottish Museum of the Year, and has been awarded Five Star Museum status by Visit Scotland.
- Aberdeen Art Gallery is the largest public gallery in the north of Scotland and draws hundreds of thousands of visitors annually. Its collection ranges from 18th century portraits by the likes of Hogarth and Raeburn to 20th century art by Francis Bacon, Stanley Spencer and Paul Nash, as well as French Impressionists and Post Impressionists such as Renoir, Monet, Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec.
- St Machar’s Cathedral, a medieval cathedral church in Old Aberdeen, exists on a site that is believed to have held places of worship as far back as 580 AD. The church is the burial place of the Bishops of Aberdeen from the 14th to 17th centuries, and it is said it also contains some of the remains of hanged, drawn and quartered Scottish rebel hero Sir William Wallace.
Storybook Glen in the southwest of Aberdeen is ideal for those with younger children. The 28-acre theme park hosts more than 100 fairytale and nursery rhyme characters in beautiful Royal Deeside.