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Aberdeen City - Scotland Loves Local

jackcairneyjackcairney VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭
edited December 2020 in General Discussion
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Aberdeen City - Scotland Loves Local #hametowntourist

Aberdeen City is where we call home and even though we have lived here since we were little, this year has been the year where we have truly taken the time to appreciate it. It has after all been our base over lockdown and even though we have craved the opportunity to get out and explore, we have learned to discover the gems that have been right under our noses all this time and been given the chance to rediscover the places we have been before, but this time with a fresh perspective and whole new appreciation.

This year has also been the year where we have made an extra effort to shop local and support the businesses that give Aberdeen City its charm, without them we lack the creativity, the personal touches, the friendly chatter, and the experiences that you just don’t get anywhere else.

We are lucky to call Aberdeen City home, with its beaches, parks, streets & buildings filled with history, galleries, museums and independent shops, eateries and cafes. You could say, it has it all. 

We are going to highlight some of our favourite places and discoveries with you, as well as sharing where you can go to eat, drink and shop along the way. 

Aberdeen Beach

“The Silver City with the Golden Sands”

We are going to start off this guide with Aberdeen Beach, we are fortunate to live not too far away from here, and find that it is the perfect place to take a break. This place in particular became a favourite of ours over lockdown, it was always within our limit for visiting, so when it was needed, we would head down to the beach with our dog and take a walk along the sand. The fresh sea air hits you, leaving you feeling completely rejuvenated, it was like a reset button. We would often get a takeaway coffee or some food from one of the vendors that sit along the promenade and find a place to sit while watching the world go by and spotting the Oyster Catchers pecking away at the sand along the shore. 

There is a great choice of local food vendors as well as cafes that sit along the beach boulevard, such as The Pier, Inversnecky, Sand Dollar Cafe and Roots Catering food truck. You will often see boats, surfers and swimmers taking a dip in the sea and you will most definitely see dog walkers, joggers and families having fun on the beach.

We are so lucky to have the beach so close to us, and it is just one of the locations that make Aberdeen City so unique.


Just at the very end of Aberdeen beach towards the harbour is where you will find a charming mid 19th-century village called Footdee or as we know it locally “Fittie”. This area used to be a fishing community, that was designed by John Smith, who was the architect responsible for Balmoral Castle. When visiting the area you instantly feel as if you have stepped back in time.

Footdee is such a cheerful place to visit, the little cottages and sheds that sit closely together in rows are full of personality and are decorated with various potted plants, gnomes, figurines, nautical decor such as ropes, nets & bhoys and lots of handmade decoration and signage. You will find an array of colourful doors and sheds along the walk and you will for sure spot something new each time you visit.

You will notice that all of the cottages face inwards in squares with their backs to the ocean which is to protect them and their inhabitants from the fierce storms and the wild crashing waves. 

Torry Battery

Even further along the coast lies Torry Battery, which is an ancient ruin which looks out to the sea.  It was built in 1860 to defend the port, harbour, trade and the city of Aberdeen. 

Nowadays it is the place to be in Aberdeen City if you fancy your chances at spotting dolphins. There is a car park that is raised on the hill, making it a good spot to park up with a cone of chips and get your binoculars out to see if you can spot some bottlenosed dolphins. If you would rather get a bit closer to the action then you can take a walk down to the sand towards South Breakwater lighthouse and see what you can find. You will also notice that there are some signs that direct you along some lovely coastal walking routes.

Some other points of interest nearby are Girdleness Lighthouse and the Kings Links Golf Course.

Donmouth Nature Reserve

Another of the cities beaches and a lesser-known one, is Donmouth Nature Reserve, which is just a ten-minute drive further north along the coast from the beach boulevard. From the car park, it's a short walk to the sandy beach. At this time of year we found it to be much quieter than Aberdeen beach, so if you fancy finding a quieter spot, this is the place to be. Its peaceful setting is made even better with the bobbing heads of seals in the ocean. 

Old Aberdeen

Just a short walk away from Donmouth Nature Reserve you will find yourself immersed in the streets of Old Aberdeen. A wander around this area is a delightful walk through time, where the quiet cobbled streets are lined with well-preserved historic buildings – The High Kirk of St Machar, King’s College, and the Old Town House, among others – that opens a window onto the city’s earliest origins. Here, some of the city’s most celebrated thinkers – scientists, philosophers, writers, and inventors – lived, studied, and taught; it’s impossible not to sense the power of learning as you wander through the narrow medieval streets, with the impressive architectural creations that surround you.

Brig O Balgownie

Balgownie Bridge is thought to be the oldest bridge in Scotland and was the main crossing on the Don leading to the north from Aberdeen. This was before the construction of the adjacent Bridge of Don in 1831. Balgownie is situated over a deep pool known as the Black Neuk. Today we appreciate admiring the gothic arch against the picturesque setting that surrounds it.

Seaton Park

Another one of Aberdeen’s gems is Seaton Park, which is one of the largest green spaces in Aberdeen. Located within Old Aberdeen, Seaton Park is eternally popular with locals, as well as hosting training sessions for Aberdeen Football Club. With an enviable riverside location, the 27 hectares are a delightful mix of parkland, walled gardens, wildflowers, and grass, making it a pleasant oasis to spend time. It may come as a surprise to many, that the granite city is also home to many more parks and green spaces, all of which have their own features and charm.

It may come as a surprise to many, that the granite city is also home to many more parks and green spaces, all of which have their own features and charm.

Continued in the comments......


  • jackcairneyjackcairney VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭
    edited December 2020

    Johnston Gardens

    Johnston Gardens is the smallest out of the parks mentioned in this guide, but probably our favourite. It is located at Viewfield Road, which is beside The Gordon Highlanders Museum (opening again Spring 2021) and not too far away from Figment Coffee. This city garden is bursting with blooms and is a welcome sight at any time of year. A charming pocket within the city that has streams, waterfalls, ponds, rockeries and a bright blue rustic bridge that stands out against the blooming flowers and greenery. The duck pond is a lovely feature at the centre where you can often spot Herring if you're lucky.

    Duthie Park

    This park is an old favourite and holds a lot of memories from childhood. It is a park that has it all; beautiful gardens, fountains, play areas, ponds, a bandstand and even a botanical garden known as David Welch Winter Gardens. It is one of Europe’s largest indoor gardens and houses exotic plants, including the largest collection of cacti in Britain and the world's only talking cactus called Spike. Unfortunately the Botanical Gardens are closed at the moment.

    Victoria Park

    Not too far away from the main shopping street of Rosemount, is where you will find Victoria Park. The park is named after Queen Victoria and it opened to the public in 1871. It is a beautiful park filled with a glorious mix of flowers, trees and shrubs and is also known for its "Sensory" Garden, which was inspired by Madam Isabel Murray. 

    The park also has an impressive granite fountain that sits proudly at the centre, which was designed by Mr J.B. Bruce and is made up of 14 different types of granite from local quarries.

    Westburn Park

    Just across the road from Victoria Park is Westburn Park, which has a lot more open space than its neighbour. It's great to pop along here if you are looking for a play park for the kids. It even has a skate park, tennis courts (indoor and outdoor) and bowling green, so plenty of activities to try your hand at. 

    Let’s take a walk into the city centre ...

    Aberdeen Art Gallery

    Located on Schoolhill, in the heart of Aberdeen city centre, you will find the engrossing Aberdeen Art Gallery. Originally built in 1884 with a Neoclassical design by Alexander Marshall, it’s home to one of the finest collections of art in the United Kingdom.

    It was closed in 2015 when a £34.6million transformation started and reopened in 2019 with the number of galleries increasing from 11 to 19 and the number of permanent collections increasing from 370 to 1080.

    This modern, bright and airy space makes for a fantastic day out viewing a brilliant range of works by artists, designers, and makers. Highlights include works by Tracey Emin, Barbara Hepworth,  Samuel Peploe and Joan Eardley.

    The 'BP Portrait Award' makes a welcome return to Aberdeen Art Gallery this year, with its exhibition taking place on the top floor. This year Aberdeen Art Gallery is the only UK venue to host the most prestigious portrait painting competition in the world.

    There is a cafe and shop on the ground floor and a new rooftop café and terrace, where you can expect some amazing views over Schoolhill and Belmont Street.

    Marischal College

    Marischal College is an iconic building on Broad Street, which is right at the end of Schoolhill. Its architectural beauty dominates the skyline. 

    It was founded in 1953, making it the second university at that time. The construction began in the 1830s and it was completed in 1906. The architecture is made up of a combination of styles, which includes Marshall Mackenzie's perpendicular gothic style and Archibald Simpson's austere architecture. Both styles have been built using different stone, with Simpson's using Rubislaw stone and Mackenzie's using Kemnay granite. The building is the second largest granite building in the world - with the first being the Escorial in Spain.

    Today Marischal College is the headquarters for Aberdeen City Council.

    Poised Sculpture

    Across the road from the Marischal College and sitting within Marischal Square is where you will find the Leopard Sculpture 'Poised' by Scottish Sculptor-Artist Andy Scott, who is also known for creating the Kelpies at Falkirk. The Leopard is an iconic symbol of the North East, with two of them featuring in the cities coat of arms, and the 5 metre structure that sits on top of a 10 metre steel column observing whoever walks beneath it, makes a striking impression.

    Aberdeen city has a brilliant selection of independent shops, cafes, bars and restaurants scattered around the different areas of the city. We have listed below an assortment of our favourites that are within the areas that we have covered in this guide.


    Parx cafe

    Perfectly situated just in front of Rubislaw Gardens, you won’t have to go far to find a spot on the grass to enjoy your takeaway coffee and lunch. 

    They prepare daily hot specials, mouth-watering salads, and fresh sandwich fillings, not to mention their delicious selection of freshly baked cakes.

    Parx Cafe offers local artists the opportunity to showcase their work on the walls of the cafe, so you will be treated to a different exhibit every 2-3 months.


    Foodstory believes in bringing people together through great food, art and music. 

    From morning to evening, they serve food for all dietary requirements, brew tasty coffee, and stage regular events to give people a chance to get together and have fun.

    They serve mostly plant based food at the cafe to align with their beliefs that a more veggie diet is friendlier to the planet. they use a lot of vegetables in the dishes that they prepare themselves, such as soups, hot pots, dips, salads, cakes etc and they like to use local eggs, chutneys and jams. They want you to leave the cafe feeling inspired as well as feeling good.

    Foodstory also has a zero waste cafe based at Aberdeen University in Old Aberdeen.

    Continued in Comments....

  • jackcairneyjackcairney VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭
    edited December 2020

    Corner Tree

    This friendly cafe and local produce store serve a good choice of freshly made breakfast, brunch, and lunch options daily. They are also known for their tasty afternoon teas and selection of cakes and tray bakes. Displayed at the counter, they are hard to resist when placing your coffee order.

    A bonus is that this cafe is also attached to a shop called 'The Treehouse', selling a lovely selection of homeware and gifts, so once lunch is over, you can pop through and wander around.

    The Cult of Coffee

    A bright and colourful coffee shop, where amazing artwork adorns the walls. The laid back, friendly atmosphere welcomes you and your dogs inside to enjoy artisan coffee, warm fresh scones, and delicious slabs of cake.

    The coffee shop is filled with plants, supplied by local business Rooted, that are available for sale too. So why not pick up a plant while stopping by for your afternoon pick me up.


    A family-run patisserie that specialises in handmade macarons and afternoon teas. Upon arrival you are greeted with a colourful display of Macarons, neatly lined up in a row ready for you to make your selection. 

    This beautiful patisserie also has tables for you to dine in and is beautifully styled with quaint place settings and a statement flower wall, making this an ideal choice for a spot of afternoon tea. There is something quite special about Almondine, which is why many people choose to host an event or celebration here.

    Second Home Studio + Cafe

    Second Home Studio + Cafe is brand new to Aberdeen City and you will find this unique art space and cafe on the second floor of 'The Gym' on Huntly Street, just look for the bright pink door - you can't miss it!

    The Gym is a building filled with amazing creative businesses founded by local women, that includes hair stylists, nail technicians, a swap shop and photography studio. 

    Second Home Studio + Cafe is a not for profit organisation that focuses on making art more accessible. As well as serving a great selection of delicious food such as their freshly prepared Tabbouleh and topped toast, also encouraging cake for breakfast; they also host a range of workshops to help aid your creativity and encourage you to try something new. 

    The space is bright and beautiful and has an overall calming aesthetic making it the ideal place to spend an afternoon creating and sampling the delights on offer.



    CloudyBlue is an independent gift shop based in Rosemount and is owned by local illustrator Amy Singer. You will find beautiful unique gifts and cards that Amy has carefully curated for all age groups and occasions, and not to mention her own range of illustrated cards and prints that can be personalised while you wait. Her unique style features some of Scotland's favourite wild animals and locations as well as beautiful commission work of pets and journey pieces. 


    Just across the road from CloudyBlue is Houseplant and Lifestyle shop Rooted - Botanical Emporium. This shop is filled to the brim with Indoor plants and a selection of lovely artisan goods to enhance life. To enhance your shopping experience in the current times, Rooted have shopping appointments available where you can pick a timeslot and browse at your leisure. If you prefer to shop online you can do that too, with delivery to the local area available or click and collect. 

    Annie Mo’s

    Annie Mo's welcomes you into their cosy haven of independent furniture and homewares. The shop was founded in Scotland in 1991 and confesses they are proudly offbeat. As well as a wide range of different items and furniture for the home, they also sell lovely gifts, candles, accessories and faux flowers. Beautifully styled to perfection this shop is full of inspiration for the home to help you with your home renovations. 


    Juniper is a traditional family-run gift shop located in a beautiful building on Belmont Street, just a few doors along from The Belmont Cinema. At Juniper they specialise in Scottish and UK-produced jewellery, as well as selling unique gifts and beautiful pieces for the home.

    Copper & Grey

    Copper & Grey has recently taken over this space on Rose Street. This is their second store in Scotland with the first being in Banchory. They offer a range of stylish homeware, cards, stationery, decorations and bespoke jewellery.

    Hammerton Store

    Hammerton Store on Great Western Road, is a general food store and deli which is perfect for picking up a sandwich to takeaway or shop around for some farm shop style produce. Owner Susan has carefully curated the essentials, stocking numerous products from artisans local and further afield. There is a great range to add something special to a home-cooked meal. There are also some great gifts in store such as cookbooks, wine, cheese, ceramics and travelling rugs.


    At the heart of this eco-friendly refillery and local produce shop is the encouragement to reuse and refill. With the aim of making sustainable living easy and accessible for everyone, they sell everyday items such as coffee beans, loose tea, fresh fruit and vegetables along with a whole range of products that customers can take home in their own containers. Not only is this way of shopping smarter, but it is also helping reduce the amount of plastic that we use when we shop.


    For those who wish to stay over in Aberdeen City we have also made a list of some places you may want to consider while planning your trip. 

    The Chester Hotel

    A chic hotel situated in the West End on Queen’s Road, that promises luxurious finishing touches to enhance your stay, such as rainfall showers, egyptian cotton sheets and designer toiletries. The Chester Hotel also has the most wonderful Christmas themed Alpine Gluhwein Chalet at the moment (partially outdoors). Filled with Christmas trees, lights and festive cheer, this is the perfect setting to get in the Christmas spirit. In true chalet-style, they have included a menu of bratwurst and mulled cider and wine to enjoy while keeping cosy next to the heaters.

    The Ferryhill House Hotel

    ‘The Ferryhill’ is a family run hotel, bar & restaurant not too far away from the Duthie Park and riverside drive. The hotel is set within their own private gardens and provides a comfortable and stylish bedroom for the night. The bar and restaurant serves hearty traditional food.

    Inn at The Park

    Inn at the Park is a family run and family friendly hotel, owned by Stephanie and Ronnie Caird; who were also winners of channel 4's "Four in a Bed". The hotel provides comfortable rooms where dogs are also welcome, and just a stone throw away is the Duthie Park. The Hotel also has a cosy bar & restaurant as well as a beer garden.

    Marks at The Manor Luxury Riverside Apartments

    If an apartment is what you are looking for then Marks @ The Manor makes a great choice. The apartments are within a listed building with period features overlooking the River Dee and the owners have hand selected every item to ensure your stay is comfortable and luxurious.

    We hope that you enjoyed discovering or rediscovering some of the places we like to go to in our hometown. We would love to know what your favourite spots are from when you visited or the places you like to go to as a local.

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