City Guide

Things to Do in Aberdeen

Ben Maples  · Nov 30th 2021
Aberdeen - Bridge over water with houses in the background and foreground and trees.

For university students, you want to make sure that the city you're studying in is safe and fun. The city of Aberdeen has regularly been voted as one of the best cities in the UK to study in and one of the best places for students to begin the next steps in their career.

Students who are also considering life after university will be pleased to know that HSBC declared in 2012, that Aberdeen is a “leading business hub” and is one of eight super cities (the only one in Scotland) in the UK economy. It was also announced in 2018, as the best city in the UK to start a business.

Things to do in Aberdeen


Aberdeen is located in the northeast of Scotland and is Scotland's third most populated city; home to around 200,000 people.

Things to do in Aberdeen

Part of the university experience is being able to go out and enjoy the student nightlife! There are plenty of pubs and clubs for you to enjoy when living in Aberdeen.

BrewDog Aberdeen is a great nightclub to check out. BrewDog has a wide selection of IPAs (BrewDog also announced that after the COVID-19 pandemic, they would be offering a delivery service for their IPAs too) and live music. BrewDog has locations all over the globe, but their Aberdeen location is considered to be the jewel in the crown.

If you're looking for more of a relaxed scene when looking for things to do in Aberdeen, then you can always check out the local pubs, such as The Globe Inn or The Archibald Simpson, which offer a relaxed ambience, a good atmosphere and a wider selection of ales, beers, wine and soft drinks as well as food.

The city is also home to a variety of festivals, with music and dance festivals proving to be the most popular. There is a lot of diversity in the festivals in Aberdeen such as the SPECTRA festival, which is Aberdeen’s festival of lights. The festival has a number of art installations and live performances.

There are forty-five different parks, gardens and floral displays across the city, which has won the Royal Horticultural Society’s “Britain in Bloom: Best City” award ten times, along with the various parks, gardens and floral displays, are the city’s widespread arts and culture.

There are also several theatres to watch plays and small concerts, such as:

  • His Majesty’s Theatre
  • The Tivoli
  • The Palace Theatre
  • Capitol Theatre
  • Music Hall

Here, you can see classic Sheakseapearian plays or even more recent shows developed by upcoming artists, and one-man/woman shows.


There is a main train station in the city – the Aberdeen Train Station. Aberdeen also has a travel link for an international airport as well if you’re going abroad, so those summer holidays or trips home on a plane might be easier than you think.

There are buses throughout the city, provided by FirstGroup, dubbed FirstAberdeen, which replaced both Grampian Regional Transport and Aberdeen Corporation Tramways. There are mega buses available too, which run from the North and the South of the city.

Things to do with kids in Aberdeen

Universities in the City

There are two universities in the city:

The University of Aberdeen is a public research university, which was founded in 1495. The University of Aberdeen has three main colleges: King’s College, Marischal College and Christ’s College and is spread across two campuses.

Students at the university are represented by the Aberdeen University Student’s Association (AUSA). Bizarrely, the university does not operate a traditional student union, as the AUSA operates in a university building (Johnston Hall) and provides students with news on events and studying from there.

The university also offers The Aberdeen Students Show, which has been staged every year since 1921, to raise money for charity and is a place for writers, performers and musicians to present their work. RGU also has its own radio station, YouTube channel and magazine (Radar Magazine), which students can contribute to and take part in as they please.

As for the Robert Gordon University, a student union has been open since 1952. The RGU union also launched a new initiative in February 2014, called Student Nightline, which provides advice to students between 20:00pm and 08:00am as well as a Safe Taxi Scheme for students looking to get home.

The two universities also compete in an annual boat race, every year since 1995, unfortunately for RGU, they have only won four times. The two universities also take part in the annual Granite City Challenge, in which students compete across a wide array of sports.

Things to do with family in Aberdeen

History and Culture

The history of Aberdeen is an essential part of both Scottish and British history, as it has been around for over 8,000 years. The city used to play host to a number of prehistoric villages, which were usually situated around the mouth of the River See.

Aberdeen itself was previously set into two separate burghs (basically a town), Old Aberdeen and New Aberdeen. The city itself has been the site of many bloody and vicious wars, such as the Battle of Aberdeen in 1644 and the siege of Maqruis of Huntly in 1646.

The city is situated between two river mouths, which can leave exposure to natural bedrock somewhat lacking, there is however plenty of options for geologists as the oil industry benefits the city so much.

In Aberdeen, there are a number of museums, such as the Aberdeen Maritime Museum or Gordon Highlander’s Museum. If you’re particularly interested in the world of science, then the Stratosphere Science Centre in Constitution Street is a must!

As with most cities in Scotland, everyone speaks English, with a smattering of Gaelic here or there, but the local dialect of Aberdeen is Doric, which is spoken across North-East of Scotland (though not widely), and is celebrated with the annual Doric Festival.

The city runs a number of important newspapers, such as The Press and Journal, which is Scotland’s oldest ever newspaper and The Aberdeen Citizen, which is free.


When looking for things to do in Aberdeen, check out the local sport. Aberdeen is host to two Scottish professional football clubs, as well as several amateur teams. The most common team found in Aberdeen, is Aberdeen FC, who play in the Scottish Premiership and Cove Rangers, who play in League Two.

Outside of football, there are also rugby teams on show as well, such as Caledonia Reds, a Rugby Union team and Aberdeen Warriors, a Rugby League team.

Given the picturesque setting of the city, it also plays host to a number of golf courses, with the Royal Aberdeen Golf Club being the oldest of the lot, as it was founded in 1780, making it the sixth oldest golf club in the world. Donald Trump, the 45th president of the United States of America, also opened up his own golf course at Menie, called the Trump International Golf Links, Scotland, which was opened before his election as president.

Who’s from Aberdeen?

Aberdeen has a handful of famous people including; Annie Lennox, Emeli Sande, Denis Law and Lord Byron.

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