|Aberdeen is a modern and prosperous coastal
city in the North East of Scotland, with a population of about 200,000.
Set on the Rivers Dee & Don, Aberdeen is flanked on one side by the
North Sea, and on the others by craggy heather-covered moorland, lush
valleys and rugged mountains, making it a popular holiday destination for
those who appreciate the great outdoors.
North-east of the city centre, this district is characterised by narrow,
winding, cobbled streets and lanes, historic buildings (in granite of
course), and bohemian atmosphere, no doubt influenced by the strong
student presence. From 1489-1891, Old Aberdeen was actually an independent
burgh, and maintained its own Town House which is still standing today.
Other interesting sights include King's College and St. Machar's
Cathedral, which was founded in 580AD, although the building which can be
visited now is relatively new, dating from the 12th Century. Architecture
in this district pre-dates the grand-scale 19th Century town-planning
which is responsible for most of the city centre.
The main street in central Aberdeen is Union Street, which stretches about
1 mile from the West End towards the Harbour in the east. Most of the
city's major museums, civic buildings and attractions can be found on or
near Union Street, often housed in what were once genteel granite
While this area has less to offer in the way of historic attractions, you
will find a wealth of restaurants, cafes, bars and hotels on these vibrant
streets. Most of the buildings here are beautiful designs by Archibald
Simpson and John Smith, but sadly many have been neglected and now possess
a slightly dilapidated charm.
This is a modern well-maintained harbour with three large docks, from
which you can catch a ferry to Orkney, Shetland, the Faroe Islands, or
even Norway or Iceland. It's a fascinating place, even if you're not
planning a trip. Get there early enough on a weekday morning and you'll
see (and hear, and smell!) the Fish Market, where the fresh catches are
auctioned off. At any other time, it's pleasant to wander around looking
at the various fishing trawlers, clippers, and oil-supply vessels docked
here, while you appreciate that bracing North Sea air.
The region which surrounds the River Dee is best known for Balmoral
Castle, the Scottish seat of the Royal family. This was a favourite
holiday destination for Queen Victoria, although many of her guests were
less enthusiastic. Often known as 'Royal' Deeside, this area to the west
of Aberdeen is also popular with less illustrious holidaymakers,
particularly those who enjoy the great outdoors, as the beautiful craggy
countryside provides excellent natural fishing and hiking opportunities.
For restaurants and hotels, try towns such as Banchory, Ballater,
Balmoral, and Braemar.
The River Don flows towards Aberdeen from the north west, reaching the
North Sea at Bridge of Don, just north of the city. Once past the city
boundaries, the surrounding area is less populated than Deeside. The chief
tourist attractions here are the heather-covered moorlands and many ruined
castles, Pictish sites and curious stone circles. Towns worth a visit
include Inverurie and Alford.
North of the Don Valley, the Buchan region encloses coastal towns,
villages, and a lot of uninhabited moorland, towards the eastern border of
Morayshire. Good places to use as a base when touring this area include
Fraserburgh and Peterhead.