Car-free adventures aroundAberdeenAberdeenshire
Scotland’s third biggest city makes a great hub for car-free adventures and an excellent base for a staycation – scroll to the bottom for more on buses, bikes and places to stay. With its maritime heritage, medieval colleges, two picturesque rivers and miles of sandy beach, granite Aberdeen has plenty to see without leaving the city. But hop on a train or bus and you can explore all kinds of landscapes, from the clifftop Dunnottar Castle to the long slopes of Loch Ness.
1. Maritime Museum and more
Car-free adventures around Aberdeen start with fabulous free museums and galleries, some just a few steps from the railway station. Cross Guild Street outside the station and head up Carmelite Street. Already, you’re surrounded by grey granite buildings, twinkling on a sunny day as the light catches the specs of mica in the stone. Pop into the tourist info office for a map and bus advice.
- The Maritime Museum and Art Gallery (both free) are just a short walk away. A former chapel and 16th century Provost’s house on Shiprow have been converted to form the multi-floor Maritime museum with great views of the harbour. A model oil rig towers up through the central foyer and displays explore the area’s history of fishing and shipbuilding.
- The Maritime museum is open every day, has a shop and a café.
- The old fishing village of Footdee is a twenty-minute dockside walk away. Or you can hop on the bus 13, which leaves frequently from Adelphi.
- The bus also passes Aberdeen Science Centre.
2. Old Aberdeen
Don’t miss the older parts of Aberdeen and the ancient university. With seaside, riverside and picturesque cobbled streets, there’s plenty of variety in the granite city. The River Don offers beautiful rural stretches and you might even catch sight of seals sunbathing on the sand, where the river meets the sea.
- Bus 20 runs regularly right into the cobbled heart of Old Aberdeen. Bus 9U shuttles between the University and the pretty area around the Brig o’ Balgownie. For a much longer adventure, hop off bus 15 outside the art deco Beach Ballroom and stroll along the beach, with the sea on your right, until you reach a boardwalk through the dunes to the River Don.
- Turn left beside the river towards the five-arched Don Bridge, past a riverside bird hide. On the far side of the bridge, you can go on along the river over the medieval Brig o’ Balgownie and, eventually, follow the lanes and waterside paths all the way to twin-spired St Machar’s cathedral, worth visiting for the stained glass and heraldic ceiling.
- Past the Old Town House on the other side of the main road, are university buildings and tall turreted gates. Several buses stop nearby.