Scotland’s third largest city is both a thriving, youthful university town and a prosperous, grown-up centre thanks to the North Sea oil industry. The people here are by nature industrious, proud and uncompromising. Inevitably, their conversation centres on the weather, which is as changeable as the rest of Scotland. When it rains, the city can seem grim and bleak. But when the sun shines – and it does at times – the granite buildings glisten, making the city seem jewel-encrusted. Whatever the weather, though, Aberdeen is a striking place with plenty to distract the visitor in the city and surrounding countryside.
One Up Records
A little musical haven and the only independent music store in Aberdeen, this is a Mecca for music lovers. It has a superior selection of second-hand music with bundles of old vinyl stacked up in great piles. Ask nicely and the owner will offer to order in absolutely anything you want, but you’d be lucky to find anything he hasn’t heard of. Still, it’s worth a shot: it would look pretty cool if you pulled it off.
17 Belmont Street, Aberdeen, 01224 642 662, Mon–Wed and Fri & Sat 9am–6pm, Thu 9am–8pm, Sun 11am–5pm.
One of the delights of visiting a fishing town is letting other people do the hard work for you. Why put out to sea when you can let someone else catch fresh fish for you to munch? At Moonfish, they serve up the catch of the day, fresh from the salty depths of the North Sea. With only five starters and six mains to choose from, it’s a limited menu – but if you can’t be bothered fishing, why bother deciding what to eat?
9 Correction Wynd, Aberdeen, 01224 644 166, Tue–Wed noon-2pm, Thu–Sat noon–3pm and 6pm–midnight, closed Sun & Mon.
Satrosphere Science Centre
This is the science museum that likes to takes things a little too far. One recent exhibition involved mashing up different foodstuffs and trying to replicate the consistency of ‘the perfect poo’. But hey, it’s all in the name of science, so it would be rude not to join in.
179 Constitution Street, Aberdeen, 01224 640 340, www.thesatrosphere.net, open daily 10am–5pm.
Any visitor who descends into this subterranean pleasure palace would be forgiven for thinking they’d ended up in the tube station of some forgotten city. With its concave ceiling, strip lighting and dank stone walls, The Tunnels has a grungy, grubby feel, but as everybody in Aberdeen knows, this ‘less is more’ style statement is what makes the place so cool. Both literally and metaphorically underground, this is an interesting little venue with a real focus on local and emerging talent – but that doesn’t mean they don’t have the ability to pull in the big names as well. Keep a regular eye on their gig schedule or drop by during the week to catch a random live band or save up your energy and drinking funds for the riot that is the Dirty Disco weekend club nights.
Carnegies Brae, Aberdeen, 01224 211 121, open daily but times vary depending on gigs.
This is a relatively small ski centre, but it makes up for its diminutive size by offering some larger than life activities. Snow tubing is certainly one to try. It essentially involves sledging down a claustrophobic tunnel at breakneck speed, atop the sort of inflatable tyre more often seen floating on a Majorcan swimming pool. Check out their website for a live ‘snow watch’ webcam that tracks the mood of the fickle Scottish snow clouds. Try to visit when the slopes are white: there really is nothing like skiing on fresh fluffy snow. It certainly hurts less when you fall off your snow tube.
Strachton, Aberdeenshire, 01975 651 440, www.thelecht.co.uk, open daily 8.30am-5pm.