Advertisement | This post is sponsored by the lovely folk at VisitAberdeenshire.
We’re not long back from a sunny weekend in Aberdeen on Scotland’s east coast. You may have noticed on Instagram that this was a sponsored trip; I was invited to cover Aberdeen’s Jazz Festival by the region’s tourist board but aside from those events, I had a free pass to explore the granite city. I’ve been known to get a bit breathless on press trips in the past, but thanks to the flexibility of the itinerary and beauty of Aberdeen, it honestly was the best blogging weekend I’ve ever experienced.
I’ll be publishing a story from the festival very soon, but until then, here’s how we spent a whistle-stop weekend in the city…
Wander the cobbles of Old Aberdeen
North from the busy, branded thoroughfare of the city centre is a quiet and cobbled bubble of medieval history. Lined with just-budding branches and beautiful granite buildings, the streets of Old Aberdeen have seen centuries of change since its bloom in the Middle Ages. It’s still home to the medieval place of worship St Machar’s Cathedral, fifteenth-century King’s College Chapel, scores of beautifully detailed buildings and quirky student cafés. It takes about 30 minutes from the centre of Aberdeen to wander out like we did, and you could easily spend hours here basking in the film-set timelessness of the place. We grabbed lunch and coffee at Grub, which I’d recommend for the variety of hot sandwich options (especially vegetarian).
Dive deep into the Maritime Museum
Given that my dad, brother and partner all work in the maritime industry it’s hardly surprising we ended up at this museum! On the other hand, the older I get the more I value learning about the histories of the cities I’m lucky enough to visit — I think it’s key to understanding both people and place.
The Maritime Museum is the perfect venue to trace Aberdeen’s narrative, from its early days as a royal fishing port and industrial-era trade of whale oil and tobacco, to the more recent prosperity (and volatility) from its oil industry. The museum spans four floors, with further exhibits on Rattray Head lighthouse, deep water exploration and the horrific Piper Alpha tragedy of the eighties. Even in the sunshine, this is a must-visit if you truly want to understand the city as opposed to simply snap the Instagrammable buildings (a difficult temptation, I know).
Food and (lots of) drink at BrewDog
As my designated driver and I were staying overnight in the granite city, no excuse was needed to pull up a corner booth in the popular and cosy Castlegate branch of BrewDog. The now-international company was actually founded in Aberdeenshire, with its first ever bar opening in Aberdeen itself in 2010. We sampled some of the craft beers alongside their meat or veggie-fuelled burgers (with potentially the most delicious, nutty bun I’ve had). Well worth a visit, but make sure you book in advance.
Spend Sunday morning by the beach
On Sunday — after our last serving of poached eggs on toast at our hotel, Skene House Rosemount — we drove the short journey to the seafront. Aberdeen Esplanade stretches for over two miles and provides a contrast to the rocky, diverse coasts of my hometown west: here there is nothing on the horizon but the sea, a handful of wind turbines, and the odd oil tanker. To the south of the shore, there’s yet more flotsam of the city’s fishing heritage — Footdee. Pronounced ‘Fittie’ by locals, this pocket-sized village comprises a handful of cobbled streets, cottages whose doors peer directly onto the pavements (rather like Fife’s coastal communities), a mission hall and a hotchpotch of coloured sheds of all shapes and sizes. It’s a lovely spot to wander, watching the hulk of shipping traffic slide out of the harbour above the houses, but it’s becoming a popular spot! I do apologise to the locals for snooping around the streets with my camera (though I’m definitely not the only one).
More things to do (and eat…)
This is a non-exhaustive conclusion, because although we had so many suggestions via Instagram — thank you! — it was sadly impossible to squeeze them all in. So, for my future benefit as well as yours, here are a few other places and eateries to add to your list. Get curry at 8848 Union Street (thanks to Robbie for recommending this to us, the Nepalese chicken was delicious). The Coffee House, Foodstory, the Bread Maker, Cup and the Cult of Coffee were all lauded for caffeine and cake — quite a few on this inventory come endorsed by my childhood friend Katie, who lives in Aberdeen with her husband. Curated Stories for a bit of local shopping was also mentioned by Corrin (who’s also an amazing illustrator by the way).
And hey, you!
If you have any recommendations please let me know in the comments — I need to add them to my list for next time! And as always, thanks very much for reading.