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Blick auf Aberdeen, Bild: Paula Fisher / shutterstock

Aberdeen – the Scottish city with its five most famous sights

A tour to Scotland appeals to everyone. It doesn’t matter whether they prefer to stay in historic cities or in the green nature. Aberdeen combines different influences and is therefore considered a city where every guest feels at home. But what actually makes the place so special – and which five sights should you definitely have seen?

General information about the city

If you decide to travel to Aberdeen, you will be immersed in Scottish history. The town, which is located on the rivers Dee and Don, has been inhabited by people for around 8,000 years. Of course, little of these early traces of civilization can be found today – but the change of the epochs can be seen in various buildings in the city, which date back to the middle of the 16th century. The times under the influence of the English crown have also left their mark: Aberdeen was already one of the most influential metropolises on the European continent in the Middle Ages, especially in terms of education and culture.

Aberdeen as a tourist highlight

The town, which has barely 250,000 inhabitants, has therefore established itself as a highlight for tourists. Whether it’s a holiday of several weeks or a day trip: Aberdeen has its own airport, but can also be reached from almost all European nations via the train station. The short distances, which invite you to take excursions to other Scottish cities such as Edinburgh or Glasgow , are particularly favourable: only a few hours on the train or plane are required. Aberdeen’s modern road network allows trips to the nearby countryside and the nature there.

A city with many faces

The city, which lives from fishing and shipbuilding and has mastered the transformation into the European centre of the paper and textile industry, convinces with its historic city centre. Here, where the Provost Skene’s House, built in 1545, stands and where the silhouette of St Machar’s Cathedral can be seen from a great distance, singer Annie Lennox is said to have been inspired to write many of her songs. And if it gets too crowded in the narrow streets during the main tourist season between spring and autumn, you can have fun in one of the following five sights in addition to the harbour or the numerous parks.

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1. The Aberdeen Maritime Museum

For many millennia, the people of Aberdeen not only lived close to the sea – they also lived off everything the water gave them. What’s more, routes to other islands and continents were laid out here, which already ensured brisk trade in the Middle Ages and thus established the wealth of the city. But the sea has always been just as much a scene for campaigns of conquest and bitter wars – for example against the English crown. What happened on and around water has been impressively collected in the Aberdeen Maritime Museum . If you want to get to know the city, you should stop by here.

Opening hours:

Monday 10:00 17:00
Tuesday 10:00 17:00
Wednesday 10:00 17:00
Thursday 10:00 17:00
Friday 10:00 17:00
Saturday 10:00 17:00
Sunday 11:00 16:00

Hint: Opening hours may change daily (as of February 2024)

2. Old Aberdeen

Aberdeen’s old town was built around 850 years ago and has been partially preserved in its original state. The cobblestone alleys are densely built-up: the buildings, once made of wood, were built in the 16. and 17th century by brick houses. Some of them are inhabited today – others can be entered by tourists. Local shops and service providers offer food and goods that are based on the production in earlier times. Despite its long history, however, Old Aberdeen is considered a modern and cosmopolitan meeting place where an eclectic art and culture scene can be found.

3. St Machar’s Cathedral

St Machar's Cathedral in Aberdeen
St Machar’s Cathedral, Image: douglasmack / shutterstock

The Scottish struggle for freedom in the Middle Ages bears one name above all: William Wallace. He, who fought bravely against the English crown and ultimately lost, even lost his life over the longing for independence and freedom. His arms and legs were sent to all parts of the English Empire as a deterrent. An arm of William Wallace is rumoured to be in St Machar’s Cathedral and walled into a wall. The sandstone building, built in the 12th century, is considered the real landmark of Aberdeen and allows an insight into Scotland’s religious character, which mainly emanated from the Presbyterian church.

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4. Loch Ness

Admittedly, there are about 150 kilometers between Aberdeen and the legendary lake Loch Ness. For a day trip by train or car, however, it is a quickly accessible destination. Whether the monster supposedly living in the water, which is said to be a large snake or even a dinosaur, really shows itself to visitors is controversial. At least several sightings have been documented from the last three centuries – and who wouldn’t want to be there when Nessie sticks his head out of the water? Especially since the surrounding area presents itself with largely untouched nature, which is worth a trip in itself.

5. The castles of Aberdeenshire

In addition, it is worthwhile to leave the city for a few hours and explore the surrounding area. Because here are several ruins that once belonged to magnificent castles and palaces – and which thus represented the center of power of Aberdeen for many centuries. Dunnottar Castle and Slains Castle are probably the two most famous buildings from that era. Guided tours show visitors some details and convince with exciting anecdotes from a time that seems to have an almost magical effect on today’s generations. This is also likely to be a reason for Aberdeen’s great popularity.