Nestled on the northeast shores of Scotland, Aberdeen is a pretty historic city to visit. Not only that, it’s got a cosy, but lively city centre that’s great for a day trip. There are heaps of the best things to do in Aberdeen dotted all across the city, so an overnight stay might be best. 

Now, in lots of ways, Aberdeen acts as a gateway or feeder city. What I mean by this is that lots of visitors either arrive by train, or plane, in Aberdeen to explore more of Scotland. This is especially true with the likes of; Cairngorms National Park, Balmoral and the beautiful Dunnottar Castle that’s just down the coast. 

So, to help you get the most out of your visit to Aberdeen, I’m sharing my top places you really can’t miss. Have the most amazing time visiting Scotland. 

1.) University Buildings 

Best Things To Do In Aberdeen Scotland King's College Chapel Entrance

One of the things I love most about Aberdeen is its university buildings. They are gorgeous. 

Once you’ve arrived in Aberdeen, be sure to see Marischal College on Broad Street.

Best Things To Do In Aberdeen Scotland Marischal College

Now, it’s no longer run as a university building, but the building dates back to the 1800s and is well worth seeing. In fact, it’s one of the largest granite buildings in the whole world.

Best Things To Do In Aberdeen Scotland Marischal College Entrance

Best of all, it’s perched not too far away from Provost Skene’s House. This is a lovely museum to visit to learn more about Aberdeen as a city and its influences.

You’ll likely spend around 40 minutes inside and it’s well worth taking a gander if you’re interested in Aberdeen’s history. 

Best Things To Do In Aberdeen Scotland Marischal College

Afterwards, head on over to King’s College which is right next to King’s Lawn. Like Marischal College, you can’t go inside (unless you’re a student) but it’s totally lovely to spot as you stroll through Aberdeen. 

Best Things To Do In Aberdeen Scotland King's College Chapel

Fancy visiting Loch Ness whilst you’re in Aberdeen? Then book this Loch Ness day tour that will pick you up from Aberdeen and take you right across the Highlands.

It’s a way to see the unspoilt beauty of Scotland, and maybe spot the Loch Ness Monster! 

2.) Duthie Park

Best Things To Do In Aberdeen Scotland Duthie Park

If you’re visiting in summer, then make sure to spend a little time in some of Aberdeen’s beautiful parks. For a relatively small city, Aberdeen has heaps of parks and gardens dotted all across the city. 

Now, one of my favourites is Duthie Park, especially for the David Welch Winter Gardens. It’s lovely to stroll around, especially to see the cacti and tropical plants that would normally not grow in Scotland. 

3.) His Majesty’s Theatre

Best Things To Do In Aberdeen Scotland His Majesty Theatre Rosemount Viaduct

Aberdeen has a surprisingly good amount of performance and theatre venues that are epic to experience when in the city. I’m not sure if it’s due to the city’s university or being a regional hub, but the venues are incredible.

If it’s musicals you’re after, then His Majesty’s Theatre is a must-see. Book tickets before arriving in Aberdeen and catch one of the musicals from Matilda to the Rocky Horror Picture Show. It has it all! Alternatively, if you’ve not got time for a show, book one of their guided tours of the venue itself. It’s so beautiful inside. 

If theatre isn’t your thing, head over to The Blue Lamp. It’s a cosy little venue that’s popular with locals. Throughout the year, they host music from folk bands and comedians to Jazz. You’ll find something new throughout the year.

Oh, and don’t forget about The Lemon Tree, too. It is a vibrant live music venue for around 500 people. The venue was first established in the 1930s and so many international and local performances have happened here. 

Read more: Best places in Scotland to visit

4.) Aberdeen Art Gallery

Best Things To Do In Aberdeen Scotland Cowdray Hall Art

Visitng the Aberdeen Art Gallery, within Cowdray Hall, is easily one of the best things to do in Aberdeen if you love art history. 

You see, the Aberdeen Art Gallery is filled with 17th to 20th-century paintings that are so ornate and intricate. It is home to the works of so many artists most of which are Scottish. Works of William Dyce, John Philip, Thomas Faced and so much more. 

Not only that, many art exhibits are seasonal; meaning each visit will be unique.  The gallery was reopened in 2020 and so many interactive exhibits have been added to the list of things to do at the art Gallery. We loved our visit. 

Best of all, it’s free to enter. 

5.) Mercat Cross

Best Things To Do In Aberdeen Scotland Mercat Cross

Dating back to the 1600s, Mercat Cross is well worth seeing as you wander around the centre of Aberdeen. Situated at Castle Gate opposite the old tolbooth building, it’s totally easy to spot and you really can’t miss it. 

Best Things To Do In Aberdeen Scotland St. Mark's Church

Once here, make sure to look out for the carvings of Stuart monarchs that once ruled.

Best Things To Do In Aberdeen Scotland Union Street

From here, you can easily walk down Union Street, towards St. Mark’s Church (though it’s closed inside). It’s a lovely building to see. 

Best Things To Do In Aberdeen Scotland Castle Street Mercat Cross

Oh, and be sure to stop off at Books and Beans on Belmont Street. You see, Book and Beans is a small bookshop with a lovely cafe that surrounds the shelves.

Not only can you grab some poems by Robert Burns, but you can also chow down on their fluffy pancakes or scrambled eggs and tattie scones. 

Read more: Best places in Scotland to visit

6.) Aberdeen Seafront

Best Things To Do In Aberdeen Scotland Aberdeen Harbour

Strolling Aberdeen Harbour is one of the best things to do in Aberdeen on a gorgeous sunny day. Starting in the Footdee area of Aberdeen, stroll north down towards Codona’s.

The beach here is gorgeous, though it can get blustery; so be prepared for that. 

Best Things To Do In Aberdeen Scotland Seafront

Talking of Codona’s, this is another one of Aberdeen’s top places. In fact, it’s something of a local institution since it was set up in the 1970s. 

Best Things To Do In Aberdeen Scotland Aberdeen Harbour Fairground

Today, you can head over to Codona’s amusement park and ride the Galleon Pirate Ship plummet down on Dead Man’s Drop or stop off at Private Island Adventure Golf. 

There are so heaps of indoor games to play also from; bowling to arcade games. This makes it a perfect spot if the weather gets a little wet. 

If you’ve got some calm weather, you might even spot dolphins from the shore. You see, bottlenose dolphins call this area home and they’re pretty easy to see if you’re patient.

Best Things To Do In Aberdeen Scotland South Breakwater Pier

Also, for some great views, head to Torry Battery.

From here, you can watch the ferocious waves that sometimes get whipped up by the North Sea winds. It’s so impressive to see but never go near the coastline if the winds are high. The North Sea is no joke. 

Read more: Best places in Scotland to visit

7.) Seaton Park

Best Things To Do In Aberdeen Scotland Seaton Park

If you’re based in the north of Aberdeen, then head over to Seaton Park. It’s well worth a stroll and is once of the largest parks in all of Aberdeen. 

From here, you’ll be able to stroll the outdoor gardens and even spot the Wallace Tower dating back to the 1600s. You see, it used to be in the centre of Aberdeen but was moved to protect it from the city’s expansion. 

8.) Aberdeen Gin Distillery

Hidden in the heart of the city, the Aberdeen Gin Distillery is one of the city’s first distilleries in almost a century. Not only that, you can actually book this Aberdeen Gin Distillery experience that’s so much fun. 

Guided with a master distiller, you’ll get to create your own gin, with herbs and flavours from all over Scotland. It’s so much fun and takes around 3 hours. 

Honestly, this is a great place to discover the nitty-gritty of gin distilling and making; whilst also having a tipple or two. Oh, and do not miss a chance to try the Bramble Gin.

Read more: Best places in Scotland to visit

9.) Dunnottar Castle

Exploring The Ancient Dunnottar Castle... In Stonehaven, Scotland (7)

Looking for a day trip from Aberdeen? Then book this Dunnottar Castle tour that leaves from the centre of Aberdeen. We loved visiting Dunnottar Castle and it’s well worth booking this tour or taking the train to Stonehaven. 

Yes, it’s not in Aberdeen itself but it’s well worth seeing to explore the wider region’s history. You see, it dates back to the Early Middle Ages. Not only that, this tour will also drive you through the Cairngorms National Park; which is beautiful. 

Read more: Exploring Dunnottar Castle

10.) Johnston Gardens

Best Things To Do In Aberdeen Scotland Johnston Gardens

Another great garden to visit in Aberdeen is Johnston Gardens.

This place is beautiful and extremely serene for a chilled stroll. There is a trail filled with seasonal Scottish blooms that flower in spring and summer. Plus, you can head to the Gordon Highlanders Museum that’s right next door. It focuses on historical military pieces throughout the centuries. Just remember 

It’s one of the best things to do in Aberdeen if you’re looking for a more chilled day in the city. 

Read more: Best places in Scotland to visit

23 Best Places In Scotland To Visit

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