The Cairngorms takes in some of the most dramatic landscapes in Britain, encompassing wild heather-clad mountain tops, deep green glens and ancient pinewoods – the haunt of wild red deer and golden eagles. Hikers of all different levels of experience adore Britain’s largest national park because of its range of sign-posted lower trails, plateau and peak trails. The eastern coastline is a gem, with impressive craggy cliffs dotted with secret coves and traced with broad, white beaches. Discover the impossibly picturesque seaside villages only a short drive from Aberdeen city, such as Footdee, with its busy harbour, or the quiet town of Stonehaven, which offers fantastic views of the ruins of Dunnottar Castle.
The city of Aberdeen itself has a range of fascinating attractions. The Granite Mile (Union Street) offers over 800 retail shops with all the best high-street names. You can uncover the history of the city at the 500-year-old University, King’s College, and take in Provost Skene’s House, Aberdeen Art Gallery and the Aberdeen Maritime Museum.
Golf was invented in Scotland, and Aberdeen is a major centre for the game in the country, with at least 30 golf courses within 30 minutes of the city. Two of the most famous courses are Royal Aberdeen and Cruden Bay.
One of the oldest courses in the world is Fraserburgh. Founded in 1777, if you are looking for a genuine slice of real Scottish golf history in an informal, relaxed, welcoming setting at a very reasonable green fee, Fraserburgh is it.
The municipal Hazlehead MacKenzie course is within the city and the MacKenzie course was designed by Alistair McKenzie, the golf architect better known for designing Augusta National. The course provides a true test of golf skills with gorse and woodland being a hazard for any wayward shots.
If you like exploring castles, then you are in for a treat in the area in and around Aberdeen, which is home to over 300 of them! From Dracula-like to romantic to fairytale to haunted, there's a castle for everyone.
A castle in Aberdeenshire you may have heard of is Balmoral ... the summer retreat for members of the Royal Family. Another castle well worth a visit is Delgatie Castle near Turriff, which was restored by the equally eccentric and stubborn Captain John Hay in a 40 year labour of love. Mary Queen of Scots slept there in 1532 and her bedchamber is on view to visitors.
On the outskirts of Stonehaven sits the spectacular and gloomy ruins of ancient Dunnottar Castle. Surrounded on three sides by the sea, these dramatic ruins begun life as a church in the 5th century, and have seen a lot over the centuries, from Viking invasions, English occupation-then Scottish-then English-then Scottish, and a witch burning to visits from Mary Queen of Scots and King Charles II. The scenery from the cliff-top is stunning, and for the really keen, you can take the steps (over 200!) down to the base of the cliffs.
Aberdeen sits right at the doorstep of the malt whisky trail of Speyside, where half of the country's distilleries are found, so this is a perfect base to start exploring this region.
Some of the best-known distilleries are found in this area, like Chivas Regal, McCallan, and Glenfiddich Distillery. This still family-owned distillery offers a number of tours, including the in-depth Pioneers Tour for the whisky enthusiast. Most distilleries are open to the public, and will offer a tour and tastings.
Keep your eye out around Aberdeen city for a whisky bar. There are a number of them scattered through the city, each with their own charm and offerings. The Grill is one of the city’s oldest, established in 1870, and offers nearly 600 single malts and blends from Scotland.
For a comprehensive list of all of Scotland's distilleries, along with a guide to each of the five whisky regions, head to Visit Scotland's website and take a look at their e-books.
Museums & Galleries
As Aberdeen has been inhabited for more than 8,000 years, it's little wonder that it has managed to accumulate more than its fair share of museums and galleries.
King's Museum, which is part of the University of Aberdeen, has collections ranging from contemporary art, social history and ethnography to archaeology, scientific instruments and natural history. The University also has the only large, international collection of zoological specimens in the north of Scotland.
The Gordon Highlanders museum chronicles the history of this famous regiment which Sir Winston Churchill once named "The finest regiment in the world". The Tollbooth museum will appeal to those who have an interest in crime and the gruesome aspects of subsequent punishment.
This is just a small selection of the museums and galleries in the region, and a quick Google search will unearth many more.
The Infinity Experience
Bullers of BuchanPixabay