If you are visiting Aberdeen for a weekend to learn more about the city, you’re going to need a jam-packed itinerary! The Granite City is a cultural hotspot with a rich history and vibrant social environment, surrounded by majestic landscapes and dramatic coastlines. Even with only 24 hours to explore, you have time to experience all of it! Read our guide on how to make the most out of 24 hours in Aberdeen.
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A morning in the heart of the city
Aberdeen Art Gallery – Dive into local history and culture
Why not start your day by visiting the reimagined Aberdeen Art Gallery? After undergoing a large-scale transformation between 2015 and 2019, the museum is now home to one of the finest collections in the UK. Its collection of contemporary artworks, historical objects and treasures showcases the talent of Scottish artists, but also celebrates Aberdeen’s history.
The gallery building is in itself a must-see as it perfectly represents the traditional granite architecture of the city. You don’t even have to worry about your wallet as admission to the gallery is free, though you might want to pop into the shop for a souvenir.
Because the museum is located in the city centre, you can access it by walking down Union Street, where you will find numerous shops and cafes, and maybe even treat yourself to a breakfast. This is also a great opportunity to admire some landmarks such as Gilcomston Church, the Music Hall, The Tolbooth Museum and the Mercat Cross.
Aberdeen beach – Discover the city of the sea
After some time spent wandering around Aberdeen Art Gallery, you should head over to the beach. It only takes 20 minutes to walk from the gallery to the beach promenade, where you can stroll along the coast, which stretches for over 3 miles. The promenade offers a magnificent view of the North Sea, with its wind turbines and occasional surfers braving the cold.
Aberdeen Beach is also popular for its numerous cafes, restaurants, and recreational activities. To unwind and indulge in some leisure time, simply head into Codona’s where you will find a family fair, two mini golf courses and various indoor activities.
An afternoon in Aberdeenshire
The Bay Fish & Chips and Stonehaven Harbour – Experience a taste of Aberdeenshire
After all this walking, you will definitely be hungry. To experience a taste of Aberdeenshire – both literally and metaphorically – travel south to Stonehaven for a traditional meal at The Bay Fish and Chips. Situated on the seafront, this award-winning fish and chip shop sources all of its ingredients within a 50-mile radius, supporting the local economy.
Whether you have access to a car or not, the Aberdeenshire town is easy to travel to. A car drive will only take you 20 minutes, but the bus journey isn’t much longer and will get you from the city centre of Aberdeen to Stonehaven in just 45 minutes.
After lunch, you can walk along Stonehaven Harbour. It is still the largest recreational harbour in the North East, even after being destroyed by storms in the past. Despite the disappearance of its fish market, it continues to be used by fishing boats, which provide for breath-taking pictures of the area.
Dunnottar Castle – See Scotland at its most majestic
While you’re in Stonehaven, you shouldn’t miss your chance to visit one of the 263 castles that Aberdeenshire is home to. Just outside town, you will find Dunnottar Castle, perched on a clifftop, looking down on the North Sea. The castle’s ruin once stood as an impregnable fortress, inhabited and visited by significant historical figures. More recently, the dramatic landscape has attracted filmmakers and has been used as a filming location on multiple occasions.
Access to the cliff outside of the castle is free and will give you plenty of opportunities to capture the majestic landscape. However, if you want to learn more about the rich history behind Dunnottar Castle, you can pay a fee to explore inside the ruins. There, you will find information about daily life in the castle, historic battles and the Scottish Crown Jewels. Stay alert while exploring as it is said that a ghost might be wandering around…
An evening of culture and fun in the city
Nuart Aberdeen and Union Square – Amaze at the vibrant city
Once you travel back into Aberdeen, take a leisurely walk around the city to discover its famous street art. The Granite City is home to the only street art festival in Scotland: Nuart Aberdeen. Even when the festival isn’t running, you can venture on a self-guided tour to admire the work of local, national, and international artists who have previously participated in the popular event. Download a map to easily find your way around the striking murals!
For dinner, you can head to Union Square and select a place to eat. The shopping centre has over 20 eateries to choose from. They are open until 11pm, which leaves you plenty of time to unwind from a long day of exploration.
Mackie’s 19.2 and Lane 7 – Get lost in the bustling social environment
If you’re fancying a dessert, you should try Mackie’s 19.2 ice cream parlour. The name reflects the distance from the shop to the family farm, where they started making ice cream over 30 years ago. This place is a paradise for people with a sweet tooth as it offers over 725, 000 combinations of ice cream and toppings!
After a long day of taking in some majestic sights, you should treat yourself to some mindless fun. Lodged between Aberdeen Maritime Museum and Vue Cinema in the city centre, Lane 7 has an unrivalled atmosphere. The venue hosts bowling lanes, ping pong tables, arcade games and pool tables. Enjoy a night of fun until it’s finally time for you to call it a day and get some rest!