What to see

Some visitor attractions are season and closed during the winter months (often October to March). Also remember that daylight is limited during mid-winter (it gets dark around by 4pm in December). But, the bonus is long summer evenings (with daylight until as late as 11pm during June/July). Also note that in Scotland smoking is prohibited in all enclosed public spaces.

Aberdeen Art Gallery

Details of shows and exhibitions at Aberdeen City Council's website and Aberdeen Art Galleries and Museums

Aberdeen Exhibition & Conference Centre (AECC)

Venue for major exhibitions and concerts. Find out what's on at www.aecc.co.uk

Aberdeen Fun Beach

Leisure Centre, Swimming Pool, Funfair, Cinema, restaurants, diners, Bingo, Sunset Boulevard - all at Aberdeen Beach.

Aberdeenshire Farming Museum

At Mintlaw, near Peterhead. Details at http://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/museums/farming.asp

Click here to buy gourmet grass-fed beef online

Aberdeen Harbour

Hub of the North Sea oil industry and ferry port for the Northern Isles. For safety and security, most of the quayside is fenced off, but you can watch the vessels come and go from the quayside at Footdee or the Torry Gun Battery on the south side.

The new Marine Operations Centre on the north breakwater replaces the distinctive Roundhouse which has served as harbour control for more than 200 years. The design of the £4.5 million centre exhibits nautical themes with a design that suggests a traditional Scottish lighthouse support a ship's bow and bridge.

Aberdeen Maritime Museum

First class museum of the sea including the fishing, shipbuilding and offshore oil industries. Aberdeen Art Galleries & Museums

Aberdeen Parks

Details of the parks and gardens in Aberdeen are at www.aberdeencity.gov.uk

Aberdeen Tolbooth Museum

A small but fascinating museum in the old Tolbooth, at the east end of the Town House, nearest Castle Street.

Aberdeen Winter Gardens

A must for any visitor to Aberdeen with its lush tropical gardens, desert cactus and succulents, Japanese garden and corridor of perfumes. Open every day except Christmas and New Year and admission is free. Details at www.aberdeencity.gov.uk

Alford Valley Railway

Narrow gauge railway which runs from the Alford Station museum to Haughton Park pulled by Saccharin the steam engine.


You will find Archaeolink north of Inverurie just off the A96 Aberdeen to Inverness Road. Follow the signs onto the B9002 at the "Oyne fork" junction. Full details of Archaeolink are at www.archaeolink.co.uk

Balmoral Castle

Royal Deeside – Balmoral the Royal Family's castle on Deeside, on the A93 west of Ballater. Open mid April to late July. Tel 013397 42334. www.balmoralcastle.com

Balvenie Castle

Balvenie may be best known as a whisky, but there is also Balvenie Castle – 13th century castle near Dufftown, last occupied in 1746. www.historic-scotland.net

Bennachie Visitor Centre

Float past Bennachie on a Virgin Balloon Flight. Their local base is at Castle Fraser just a few miles from Kintore. Flights cost from £185 and can be booked online.

Bennachie holds a very special place in the hearts of the people of Aberdeenshire. With its distinctive profile, this former volcano has been immortalised in the song "At the Back o' Bennachie".
O gin I were whaur Gadie rins,
Whaur Gadie rins, whaur Gadie rins,
O gin I were whaur Gadie rins
At the back o' Bennachie.
Aince mair to hear the wild birds' sang,
To wander birks an' braes amang
Wi' friends and fav'rites left sae lang
At the back o' Bennachie.
O gin I were whaur Gadie rins,
Whaur Gadie rins, whaur Gadie rins,
O gin I were whaur Gadie rins
At the Back o' Bennachie.
How mony a day in blithe Springtime,
How mony a day in Summer's prime
I've saunterin' whiled awa the time
On the heights o' Bennachie.
But fortune's flowers wi' thorns grow rife,
An' wealth is won wi' toil an' strife;
Gie me ae day o' youthfu' life At the back o' Bennachie.
O gin I were whaur Gadie rins,
Whaur Gadie rins, whaur Gadie rins,
O gin I were whaur Gadie rins
At the Back o' Bennachie.

The Blairs Museum

Set in the former Blairs College, on the B9077 South Deeside Road just west of Aberdeen. A former Roman Catholic college, Blairs Museum has a remarkable collection of embroidered vestments and church artefacts, plus a special exhibition on Mary Queen of Scots. Open May to October Tuesday to Sunday 12pm to 4pm. More details at www.blairs.net

Braemar Castle

Braemar Castle is an L-plan fortress dating from 1628. Tel 013397 41219

Cairngorms National Park

Mountain scenery, walking and recreation, with ski and winter sports during the winter. www.cairngorms.co.uk

There is a chairlift from the car park to the Ptarmigan restaurant near the summit and a recently-opened funicular railway. www.cairngormmountain.com

Cairness House

Four miles south of Fraserburgh, Cairness House is one of the finest examples of neoclassical architecture in Britain and one of the great houses of Scotland. Built between 1791 and 1797 to designs by architect James Playfair, it was largely forgotten and neglected until a few years ago and is now the subject of a major restoration. Cairness House contains a very fine collection of furniture and works of art. Details at www.cairnesshouse.com

Canal - Aberdeenshire Canal

The ill-fated Aberdeen to Inverurie canal was the only canal in Aberdeenshire. It was completed in 1805 and passengers, agricultural produce, coal and fertiliser were taken along its 18 miles at the dizzy speed of eight miles an hour in boats towed by two horses. The days of the canal are recalled by Port Elphinstone, the canal terminus which is just soouth of Inverurie. A small part of the canal can still be seen here.

When the canal closed the railway company bought it and the route is now used for the Aberdeen to Inverness line.

Castle Fraser

One of the grandest castles of Mar, Castle Fraser is near Kemnay. The castle is open April to October. For full details see www.nts.org.uk.


The historic centre of Aberdeen with its ancient Market Cross and the magnificent Salvation Army Citadel at one end and the Town House at the other.

Coastal Trail

A sight-seeing trail around the coastal towns and villages in North East Scotland. This is Pennan, immortalised in the Hollywood film Local Hero.

Codona's Amusement Park

All the fun of the fair at Aberdeen Beach. White knuckle rides, funfairs and games. www.codonas.com

Corgarff Castle

Beautifully restored, Corgarff Castle's most distinctive feature is the star-shaped ramparts which presented a flat wall to almost any direction of attack. It is on the Tomintoul road over the Lecht, near Cock Bridge. www.historic-scotland.net .

Crathes Castle

Between Aberdeen and Banchory on the A93 Braemar road, Crathes Castle is one of the "must do" visits in the North East. In addition to the castle a stroll in the gardens is inspirational. Open April to Sept 30 daily 10.30 am to 5.30 pm, Oct 10.30-4.30. www.nts.org.uk

Craigievar Castle

A fine example of Scottish Baronial architecture, Craigievar castle is said to be the inspiration for the Disney castles. It was completed in 1626 and is on the A980, six miles south of Alford. www.nts.org.uk

Crathie Church

The picturesque little church on the hill where the Royals worship when they stay on Royal Deeside. On the A93 west of Braemar. Visitor centre.

Cruickshank Botanic Gardens

Aberdeen University's Cruickshank Botanic Garden is on St Machar Drive is open to the public from 9am to 4.30pm Mon to Frid and Saturday and Sunday afternoons from May to September. No admission charge, but no car park on site. www.abdn.ac.uk/pss/Garden/CBG.hti

Deeside Activity Park

Activity park with facilities for archery, off-road driving, hovercraft, JCB, quad biking, kart racing, orienteering, mountain biking, clay shooting, fly fishing and skiing. Restaurant and farm shop on site. Details and booking at www.howieirvine.com

Delgatie Castle

Near Turriff, Delgatie Castle has painted ceilings dating from the 16th century. There are also displays of paintings, armoury and Victorian clothes.

Deers Den Roman Camp

There is very little to see now, but this is one of several Roman marching camps in the area, the one at Kintore was possibly known as Devona. It ties in with the other marching camps near Culter in Aberdeen and at Ythan Wells.

Although no-one really knows where the battle of Mons Graupius took place, some authorities believe that the battle of Mons Graupius - fought between the Romans and Caledonians in AD84 - took place on the north slopes of Bennachie. If so the Roman camp in Kintore would have been near the front line.

Dunnottar Castle

On the coast south of Stonehaven, Dunnottar Castle is an impressive ruined fortress of the 12th Century, famed as the hiding place for the Honours of Scotland (the Scottish crown jewels) and much more recently was the setting of Zefferelli's "Hamlet".

Duff House

Near Banff, Duff House is a magnificent country house designed by the architect William Adam and built between 1735 and 1740, Duff house contains masterpieces from the National Galleries of Scotland. the furniture includes pieces by Chippendale and the paintings include one by El Greco. www.historic-scotland.net

There is a regular artistic programme and the house also has a tea room and shop. More details at www.duffhouse.com

Fyvie Castle

Eight miles south east of Turriff on the A947 Aberdeen to Banff Road, Fyvie castle has connections with Robert the Bruce. Its interiors are Edwardian and there is a superb collection of armour and armaments and a restored 1903 racquet court and bowling alley. www.nts.org.uk

Glenfiddich Distillery

Glenfiddich is the famous malt whisky distillery in Dufftown. Glenfiddich is open from early January to mid December, Mon to Fri 9.30am to 4.30pm, plus weekends (Sat 9.30 to 4.30pm, Sun 12 noon to 4.30pm) from Easter to mid October. distillery.glenfiddich-whisky.com

Glenshee Ski Centre

The Glenshee Ski Centre is between Braemar and Blairgowrie on the A93.

Glover House

The house of Thomas Blake Glover is at 79 Balwownie Road, Bridge of Don, Aberdeen. Born in Fraserburgh in 1838, Glover was instrumental in establishing modern industry in Japan. A prime mover in the development of the development of the massive Mitsubishi corporation, the Scottish Samurai's house in Nagasaki attracts almost two million visitors a year. In his homeland his house is open only part time!


You could play a different golf course each day for more than a month, within an hour or so drive from Kintore. Start with Kintore Golf Club, of course!

Gordon Highlanders Museum

An insight into the history of one of the British Army's most famous regiments.

The Gordon Highlanders Museum is on Viewfield Road, near the Anderson Drive Ring Road in Aberdeen. Take the A944 turning west along Queen's Road, then first left into Viewfield Road. The museum is near the bottom of the hill. www.gordonhighlanders.com Open from around March to October, see website for current opening times.

Grampian Transport Museum

Grampian Transport Museum is at Alford. As well as the magnificent vehicles and other memorabilia on show, the museum has a wonderful fairground organ and there are sporting events on particular weekends on the sprint circuit and parade ground adjoining the museum. A visit can be combined with the neighbouring Alford Valley Railway and museum.

Haddo House

Haddo House combines Victorian comfort with Georgian elegance. The house itself is bordered by rose gardens and a country park. Open daily late April to September. www.nts.org.uk

Hallforest Castle

A mile to the south-west of Kintore stand the ruins of Hallforest Castle, built in the 13th or 14th Century. It was a hunting castle which took its name from the great forest in which King James IV hunted. The forest, which lay between Kintore and Kemnay, is also recalled in street names such as Forest Road, Tom's Forest.

Mary Queen of Scots is known to have stayed at Hallforest in 1562. It is said that it was built by Bruce and was a former stronghold of the Keith earls of Kintore, now the property of the Earl of Kintore. An oblong keep 48 feet by 30 feet, the walls are around seven foot thick and the castle in its current ruined state stands around 60 feet.

His Majesty's Theatre

The beautiful main theatre in Aberdeen. Details at www.hmtaberdeen.com

The statue in the foreground is William Wallace.

Huntly Castle

Also known as Strathbogie Castle, this ruin stands on the banks of the River Deveron. Its history dates from a Norman fortress to a 17th century palace. There are remains of a 12th century motte and bailey, a mediaeval L-plan tower house and defence works from the civil war. www.historic-scotland.net

Kildrummy Castle

The ruins of a 13th century stone courtyard castle which was dismantled after the first Jacobite rising in 1715. In addition to the castle there are nearby gardens. Kildrummy Castle is on the A994 from Alford to Strathdon. www.historic-scotland.net

Kings College

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Kirkhill Forest Trail Quest

Orienteering on a bicycle. Open dawn till dusk every day. No admission charge. Start from the Mountjoy car park at Kirkhill Forest - it's on the North side of the A96 trunk road from Aberdeen to Inverness, about two miles beyond the Dyce Airport turnoff. Allow half a day for the full quest.

Lecht Ski Centre

Between Strathdon and Grantown on Spey, the Lecht Ski Centre offers winter and summer activities.

Lighthouse Museum

Based in the old lighthouse at Kinnaird Head, Fraserburgh this museum looks at the history of Scottish Lighthouses over the past 200 years. Open April to October Mon-Sat 10am to 6pm, Sunday Noon to 6pm. November to March Mon-Sat 10am to 4pm, Sun 12noon to 4pm. Tel 01346 511022 to check times. www.historic-scotland.net

Little Treasures

Dolls house and toy museum at Petersfield, near Kemnay. www.littletreasures.uk.com

Macduff Marine Aquarium

One of Britain's deepest tanks with a unique kelp reef. Wolf fish, conger eel, octopus. Audio visual display and shop. Open daily 10am - 5pm check times on 01261 833369. www.macduff-aquarium.org.uk

Marischal College

Marischal College is the second biggest granite building in the world right in the centre of Aberdeen. Sadly in need of some cleaning and refurbishment, which should come as it is converted into Aberdeen City Council headquarters, it is still quite amazing as an example of intricate detail in granite.

Within Marischal College is Marischal Museum which is open Mon-Fri 10am to 5pm and Sun 2pm - 5pm. Exhibits include "Encyclopaedia of the North East" and "Collecting from the World". Admission is free. www.abdn.ac.uk/marischal_museum

Nave Nortrail

Nave Nortrail is a partnership project grant aided by the European Regional Development Fund Interreg IIB. The objective is to provide a footpath network along the North Sea coastline. Part of the trail is from Dunnottar to Stonehaven (above). www.nave.no

North East Falconry Centre

At Cairnie, near Huntly. www.huntly-falconry.co.uk


Old Aberdeen

No visit to Aberdeen would be complete without a trip to Old Aberdeen, on the North side of the city. High Street begins with Kings College and its magnificent crowned tower, where Aberdeen University was founded by Bishop Elphinstone in the 15th century. The full story is presented in the Kings College Visitor Centre exhibition.

From there walk down the cobbled street to the Old Town House, from there take the Chanonry to St Machar Cathedral (see below). In daytime, head north through the park or the riverside walk to the ancient Brig o'Balgownie and the delightful little cluster of houses and cottages around it.

Peacock Visual Arts

A registered educational charity, Peacock Visual Arts includes printmaking, photography, exhibitions and projects among its events. Full details at www.peacockvisualarts.co.uk

Pictish Symbol Stones

There are a number of Pictish Symbol stones throughout the North East. One of the easiest to get is in the Royal Burgh of Kintore, near The Square with its 18th century Town House. The stone is in the kirk yard and dates from the 6th or 7th century. It is unusual in that it has symbols on both faces.
Pitmeden Garden and Museum of Farming Life
The centrepiece is the magnificent great garden set out in 1675. Visitors can also enjoy the insight into farm life in the adjoining museum. www.nts.org.uk

Provost Skene's House

One of the oldest and most historic houses in the heart of Aberdeen. www.aberdeencity.gov.uk

Royal Deeside Railway Preservation Society Visitor Centre

Recently opened visitor centre housed in two railway carriages at Milton of Crathes (on the A93 Aberdeen to Braemar road opposite the entrance to Crathes Castle). Open 11am - 5pm Saturday and Sunday only for the summer. www.deeside-railway.co.uk

Royal Lochnagar Distillery

Royal Lochnagar is at Crathie, near Balmoral Castle, this distillery was established in 1845. Information and opening times.

Salmon fishing

Salmon fishing takes place on all the main rivers in the the area, but probably the most famous is the River Dee. Details of salmon fishing on royal Deeside can be found at www.fishdee.co.uk


Innovative hands-on science centre now in the old tram sheds at Aberdeen beach. Details www.satrosphere.net

Speyside Cooperage

At Speyside Cooperage see whisky barrels being prepared to mature whisky. Exhibition and audio visual in six languages. Gift shop.

St Machar's Cathedral

There has been a church on the site of St Machar's Cathedral, Old Aberdeen, since 580AD. St Machar's Cathedral is know for its unusual twin spires of castle-like fortified appearance. www.stmachar.com

Storybook Glen

Storybook Glen is a day out for the children with their favourite storybook characters, just a few miles west of Aberdeen on the South Deeside Road at Maryculter.

Strathisla Distillery

Strathisla distillery in Keith is open seven days from April to October 10am to 4pm Mon-Sat, 12.30pm- 4pm Sunday. Children under eight cannot be admitted to the production areas. www.chivas.com

Sunset Boulevard

Twenty lanes of Cosmic Ten-Pin Bowling, an American pool area, Lounge Bar, Rambo's Children's Adventure Land, the Games Deck video arcade, Caesar's Games Emporium , Super Dodgem's, restaurants and bars www.codonas.com

Thainstone Agricultural Centre

Agricultural Mart, auctions, Sunday car boot sales, exhibitions and entertainment. Details at www.goanm.co.uk

Tolquhon Castle

Now a ruin, the castle was built in the 15th century. Open April to September daily, then weekends only. www.historic-scotland.net

Town House

Aberdeen's magnificent Town House stands at the east end of Union Street.

Transition Extreme

Transition extreme sports centre located at Aberdeen Beach and housing a huge indoor skatepark, a dramatic 15m high climbing centre, "2 on 2" basketball court, cafe and recreation areas, band practice studios, a major visitor centre and three leading retailers.

Whisky Trail
The Whisky Trail is a great day-trip. The area around Speyside has the world's greatest concentration of whisky distilleries, producing famous Scotch single malt whiskies like Glenfiddich, The Macallan, Glenfarclas, Glenlivet and Royal Lochnagar beside Balmoral Castle on Royal Deeside.
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