March 22, 2024 7 min read

Aberdeen, otherwise known as the Granite City, is one of Scotland’s eight cities, and one that boasts picturesque and quaint neighbourhoods, a great offering of street art, a long stretch of beach, and beautiful architecture, all while having ancient castles, rolling landscapes, and fantastic hiking, biking, and surf spots right on its doorstep. The city’s super close proximity to the breath-taking surrounding countryside makes it a great place to visit if you’re the outdoorsy type but still want to start your day with good coffee and a city stroll. Not sure where to find the best coffee and get started? Here’s our Meanderer’s Guide to the top spots to visit, and things to do, in and around Aberdeen to inspire your next adventure.


How do I get to Aberdeen?

The train journey to Aberdeen is one that is packed with stunning scenery, and the coastal views along the way are particularly beautiful. The train journey from Edinburgh takes roughly two and a half hours, or just over seven hours from London, so be sure to pack a good book for when you’re not soaking up the scenery. Public transport is a great option, as you can get to all of the spots we mention via the bus as well. However, if you’d rather go by car, that makes sense too, especially if you plan on making the trip over to the Cairngorms, which has some of the best roads to drive on in the world.

What is there to see and do?

Walk, dook, or surf the beach

Aberdeenshire is home to some breathtaking beaches. With the main beach in Aberdeen stretching across four kilometres, it provides for a stunning sea-breeze stroll. Begin in the Bridge of Don, and end in the idyllic neighbourhood of Footdee. This coastal stretch is bound to blow the cobwebs away. The bay nearest to Footdee tends to be best for surfing, or if you’re brave enough to go for a wee dook, this end of the coast is perfect too. Want a longer walk? In around three hours, you can start in Footdee, and end at the dunes in Balmedie. Simply catch the 54 bus for a twenty minute journey back into the city.


Seek out the street art

In Aberdeen, you may be surprised to find an extensive range of street art across the city. This is thanks to the Nuart street art festival, which has now been taking place in the city every year since 2017. A wealth of works have popped up around the city ever since, by artists from all over the world. The grey granite provides the perfect canvas for some truly spectacular pieces, which you can choose to either be pleasantly surprised by as you wander round the city, or you can seek them out using this map.

Walk or cycle the Deeside Way

Once a railway line from Aberdeen to Ballater, the Deeside Way is now a cycling path that offers the chance to explore the Aberdeenshire countryside via bike or foot, and experience the beautiful landscape changing from coastal to mountainous.


Dunnottar Castle

Perched on a 160 foot rock, jutting from the North Sea, Dunnottar Castle is one of the most dramatic ruins you will find here in Scotland. You may well have spotted this stunning castle on Instagram, as it’s a firm favourite amongst photographers looking to get the perfect shot that captures Scotland’s rugged landscape. Described as a photographer’s paradise and a history lover’s dream, these castle ruins are a must-see in Aberdeenshire.

@joepurmal + @by.rough

Wander through Duthie Park

A fantastic place to visit all year round, with large spans of gardens to wander through on a summer’s day. It has a range of beautiful Victorian features, including fountains, a bandstand, and a boating lake. Yet, it’s an ideal spot to visit in the chillier months too, as in the north of the park, you’ll find one of the largest indoor gardens in Europe.


Take a trip to the seaside villages, Crovie, Pennan, and Gardenstown

If you fancy escaping the city for the day, then why not take a trip to one of these picturesque seaside villages, all situated along the North coast. All are easy to travel to by car, but if you opt to get there via public transport, then Pennan is the best option, with a coach from Aberdeen taking two and a half hours (so be sure to bring a pack of cards for the journey!). These fishing villages are tucked away in little bays and are perfectly quaint, with just a sprinkling of cottages in each. Dramatically rugged cliffs are hauntingly beautiful in the winter, while in the summer, the sparkling coastline these villages lie on is picture-perfect, making a visit to these three gems a perfect activity for all year round.


Aberdeen Art Gallery

After recently having undergone a major renovation, Aberdeen Art Gallery is better than ever, now able to house over a thousand pieces of art, nearly triple what it used to, and is an ultra-calming space full of natural light. The building is a piece of art itself, and since renovations, is now home to a rooftop café and terrace, which offers visitors brilliant views of the city. Notable pieces that are homed in this stunning gallery include works by Barbara Hepworth, Tracey Emin, Francis Bacon, and Claude Monet.



Known as ‘Fittie’ by the locals, Footdee is a little fishing village tucked away within the city, a hidden gem, if you will. Explore the narrow cobbled streets of this historical neighbourhood, which dates back to the mid 19th century. Footdee is a colourful, quirky, and eccentric delight.

Coastal Walk by Bullers of Buchan

The Bullers of Buchan are the epitome of Scotland’s rugged, dramatic coastlines. You’ll get there in forty minutes by car, or just over an hour by bus. 


Take a hike in the Cairngorms National Park

If you’re craving some country air then the Cairngorms is the ultimate day trip. Just an hour and a half in the car or an hour and forty on the 201 bus, and you’ll find yourself in Braemar. This charming village is nestled in mountainous landscapes and endless woodland, with extensive walking routes to choose from. End your day of exploring in The Flying Stag - the pub within the infamous Fife Arms Hotel, for a well-earned pint or hot drink.


Where to eat & drink?

Breakfast, lunch, and coffee spots

Food Story

This is a super cosy cafe in the heart of Aberdeen. Here you will find delicious coffee and hot drinks, plus a wind range of vegetarian and vegan meal options. Our personal favourite is the sourdough focaccia “BLT” (a veggie spin on the classic BLT), and their infamous cinnamon buns.

Second Home Studio and Cafe

This place is not only a cafe, but an open art studio too, offering art and crafts classes to the public, including up-cycling, jewellery making, sip and paint, life drawing, plus much more. A serene space with delicious food and lots of inspiration to get your creativity flowing.

Bandit Bakery

This is the place to go if you’re a fan of Swedish cardamom knots. Arguably, Bandit offers some of the best in Scotland. Tucked away just off Aberdeen’s main high street, pop in for mouth-wateringly tasty baked goods (including amazing sourdough loaves) and great coffee.


Parx cafe

The perfect spot for breakfast and lunch. Here you’ll find a good ambience and lovely staff, with a menu that offers a nice balance of healthy options and good old comfort food.


A slightly newer addition to Aberdeen’s cafe scene, Mount is a coffee and lifestyle store with two locations; one in the city centre and one in Greyhope Bay with incredible coastal views, near Aberdeen Harbour. Born by two founders who aim to bring great coffee to the North of Scotland, here there are endless bakes and pastries to choose from, plus a small selection of lunch specials.


For dinner and drinks


Moonfish is located in Aberdeen’s Merchant Quarter, and has been recognised by the Michelin Guide every year for the past five years. The chefs here champion local and seasonal produce, striving to showcase the best of what Aberdeenshire has to offer. Plus, if you’re a fan of a G&T, Moonfish offers an extensive yet carefully curated range of fantastic gins.

Silver Darling

Silver Darling offers impressive panoramic views of the North Sea, the perfect backdrop to enjoy the gorgeous, locally sourced seafood this restaurant is famed for. Situated on a quaint cobbled street in the historic fishing neighbourhood of Footdee, here you can enjoy the stunning coastline as well as a good meal, and you may even spot dolphins in the summer months if you’re lucky!

Cafe Boheme

Classic French dining using seasonal, Scottish ingredients. Cafe Boheme is a firm favourite amongst locals, having recently celebrated its 20th birthday. Like Moonfish, this Parisian inspired bistro is Michelin recognised. Plus, if you’re a fan of live music, then be sure to pay them a visit on a Thursday, when they have live jazz from 7-9pm.


Tippling House

This cosy bar is the perfect date night spot, with a variety of small plates and bar snacks, and mouth-wateringly good cocktails. It’s situated on Belmont Street, which is packed with pubs and bars, so a great location to be in if you fancy having a change of scene at any point.


Enjoy an endless array of spectacular cocktails in this award-winning cocktail bar. An Aberdeen institution, with super knowledgeable staff and thanks to their extensive menu, a cocktail for everyone’s taste.


Craft brewery, Fierce Beer, is local to Aberdeen, and Fierce Bar is their flagship bar. Here, they offer a massive range of their beers, over 20 taps in fact. This pub is a chill and unfussy place to enjoy a good pint. Plus, if you ever fancy seeing the process behind the making of your pint, then Fierce offer daily tours of their brewery, near to Aberdeen Airport.


We hope these recommendations come in handy if you ever visit this beautiful part of Scotland. If you do manage to visit any of our top spots, then be sure to let us know and tag us on socials. Happy adventuring!


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