Aberdeen, the granite city, the centre of industry in the north east, features beautiful coastlines, seashores and fishing towns, cliffs, farmland and sandy bays. The history of the area is rooted in fishing, textiles, shipbuilding and papermaking, however, these days its economy is based on the oil industry and renewable energy resources.

A weekend has been pencilled in the diary for a trip up north, and the hope is that we can see as much of Aberdeen in a 48-hour period. The daughter is my partner in this north-east adventure, and she is of an age that makes Aberdeen a potential as a university destination. So, we have our own agendas to fulfil on this trip.

First stop the hotel, we stay at the Aberdeen Altens Hotel, which is less than 10 minutes from the centre of town. First impressions from outside are underwhelming. It’s a fairly dull building just off a roundabout and housing estate. I’m prepared to be disappointed, but actually, it’s rather plush.

A large reception area with a domed ceiling is not what I was expecting. We are directed to our room which I’m chuffed to say is really roomy. Two double beds, is the offering for a premium twin room, none of the usual shuffling round the bed to jam a case on the floor, we were in a premium double, which does offer more space than the normal twin room. Two recliners, a treat of a chocolate bar and a lovely candle in a jar, a Nespresso coffee machine and nice toiletries await us. It’s the wee things that make me happy.

The hotel has a health and leisure club, which has a gym, a pool, spa pool, sauna, and steam room. There is a beauty therapist on site, and a wide range of classes available. But we are on our holidays for a weekend, so sod that, we have a nice swim, and don’t bother battling our way into the overcrowded spa pool and leave to get ready for dinner.

The hotel offers a ‘stay, dine and sparkle’ deal, which includes your room, three-course-dinner, full Scottish breakfast, chocolate dipped strawberries and a bottle of Prosecco, as well as use of the leisure facilities.

Dinner in the restaurant is from a set menu, three courses. A starter of chicken and peach terrine, followed by chicken tikka masala, and finished with a brownie with ice cream. The food wasn't out of this world, but perfectly acceptable and good value for the price included in the deal, and the drinks were very reasonable. The staff were pleasant and even with one of the regular tribute night going on downstairs in the ballroom we heard nothing from our room of the party that went on into the wee hours.

What to do in Aberdeen, we had sunshine and a howling wind, so the beach was the first stop, there is almost eight kilometres of lovely sandy beach to explore. And this Saturday morning there is the resident five-kilometre park-run taking place. All shapes and sizes are jogging along the seafront, some pushing buggies, some with dogs, it’s a bracing start to their mornings and is well attended. Go the fit people!

Just along from the promenade is Footdee, locally called Fittie. It’s an old fishing village at the east end of the harbour, and is a must see. You literally step back 100 years (or more) when you wander down the little paths outside the tightly packed fisherman’s cottages. Throughout the 19th century ‘tarry sheds’ were added to the communal land within the squares opposite each dwelling, which were originally constructed from driftwood. Nowadays, these sheds have their own personalities, some are workshops for small businesses, some are bars for the owners to escape to, all of them have some sort of decoration depicting what is inside. They are terrific, and worth a visit in their own right.

We head up to Old Aberdeen, which covers the university district and is steeped in history (think that's why it's called old... funny that). I love an old churchyard, so we find ourselves stepping over the tightly packed graves at Cathedral Church of St Machar, a building that dates from the 14th century.

The church is a haven, offering quiet contemplation time, with incredible stained-glass windows filtering coloured light into the body of the kirk. The back of the church has a huge stained glass display depicting the apostles and how they met their end, grissly is a word that covers most of that story. We had a long chat with the wee mannie who welcomes you into the church, and he told us all the local gossip and how they regularly have to support the foreign students who find themselves in Aberdeen with no ability to cope.

The surrounding area is university land, students, uni buildings, cafes, student accommodation are all in this area yet it retains its olde worlde charm. The daughter was impressed.

Scooting around the city we are surprised at how empty the roads are, the streets are fairly empty of people too, and as we pass through the industrial harbour area a few times, it’s difficult to ignore the ships that service the north sea oil platforms which are docked, and tower over the surrounding streets.

One more stop before I am forced to go shopping. Duthie Park is a 43-acre parkland on the banks of the River Dee. It is a big draw for kids, with play parks, a bandstand, basket-ball courts, and the most impressive winter garden. The David Welch Winter Garden wasn’t down to be the highlight of the trip, but it was. Perfectly manicured displays, with Japanese gardens, a tropical, arid, Victorian, scented, temperate and fern gardens. Lots of little bridges hop over running water which house Koi and terrapins. And there is a decent café which was packed. I loved it.

As for the shopping, there are three different indoor shopping malls, Union Square, Bon Accord, and The Trinity Centre, as well as all the outdoor stores along the main streets. You could easily spend a whole weekend trawling the shops, but my feet were saying otherwise.

A wander down to the promenade in the evening offered a host of restaurants in the amusement area that fronts onto the beach. There is also a nine-screen cinema and a funfair called Codona’s Amusement Park.

One more night at the Aberdeen Altens Hotel and a thoroughly impressive breakfast set us up for the drive home.

Aberdeen was a pleasant surprise, you can easily tailor the type of trip you want to have. Coastal (try surfing), urban, cultural, maybe a golf-based break or you could take to the north sea and spot the dolphins that inhabit the area.

Take yourself to the north-east and enjoy the variety on offer, you won’t be disappointed.

Aberdeen Altens Hotel: Weekend rates available from £50 per room, per night, inclusive of full Scottish breakfast, based on single or double occupancy of a standard double room. Subject to availability.


Other things to do:

Golfers are spoiled for choice: there are numerous courses around the area, some links courses to boot to really test your skills.

Gordon Highlanders Museum, one of the top recommendations on TripAdvisor.


Tour Balmoral Castle, the Scottish home of the Royal family since 1852.


Aberdeen Maritime Museum, exploring the historic developments behind he city’s maritime industries.


Torry Battery, is an artillery battery near Torry, overlooking the city’s harbour since 1860. https://