24 Hours in Aberdeen with First Bus
Excellent food and drink, great nightlife, and unique things to do – here's our route around some of Aberdeen’s best independent venues and art spaces
9am: Great coffee, camera-friendly gardens
You’re in for a busy one, so we’d best start with a coffee. Take the 15 towards Countesswells and you’ll find Figment, one of Aberdeen’s best independent cafes. The Figment team bring coffee beans from all over the world to Aberdeen and roast them at their on-site roastery; as you’d expect, they know their way around a flat white. After your breakfast, stretch your legs with a walk around the incredibly photogenic Johnston Gardens. Have your camera ready; this hidden gem is a great place to get some extremely aesthetic springtime shots for your Instagram.
10.30am: Walking, climbing and bouncing by the seaside
From Johnston Gardens, take the 11a as far as the Queen’s Cross church, then hop on the 13 ‘cause we’re heading to the beach! There are a whole bunch of options at Aberdeen’s waterfront; if the weather’s nice, take a walk down the Esplanade, and see if you can spot any dolphins from the Harbour.
If the weather is terrible, don’t worry. If you enjoy a challenge, head to Transition Extreme. It’s a skatepark and climbing centre run by an Aberdeen-based charity, with bouldering and rock climbing both available. If you’d rather just bounce around a bit, check out Innoflate; it’s an all-inflatable cross between a theme park and an obstacle course.
1.30pm: Lovely lunches in the city centre
After all that walking/climbing/bouncing, you’ll be ready for lunch. Get the 13 back into town and head for Foodstory on Thistle Street – it’s a great cafe with some great sustainable credentials. The space is made out of recycled materials, the menu is meat-free with plenty of vegan options, and by all accounts the food and drinks are great. Afterwards, have a wander around town, and be sure to stop in at Books and Beans on Belmont Street; it’s a cute independent cafe that doubles up as a second-hand bookshop.
3pm: Excellent art
At this stage, you’ll probably be looking for something engaging, interesting, not too stressful, and not too expensive. Aberdeen Art Gallery is the place to go – the permanent collection spans the past 700 years and runs right up to the present day, and the gallery also features regular touring and one-off exhibitions. It’s free entry with no need to book tickets, full of great artworks, and the ideal spot for filling the gap between afternoon and evening. Aberdeen Art Gallery image by Thx811, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
7pm: Big nights out
It’s the evening, and you have plenty of options! For dinner, check out the soul food at Maggie’s Grill, head for Resident X (the new street food hall at Marischal Square has four independent vendors to choose from), or hop on the 3A and head to Nargile. The Turkish restaurant is an Aberdeen institution, and well worth checking out.
If you want to keep the evening going, there’s plenty to choose from. The Lemon Tree hosts a mix of live music, stand-up comedy, theatre and events, while the Breakneck Comedy club runs regular comedy nights throughout the year. If you’re looking for grassroots gigs, exciting new music or cool club nights, The Tunnels or Drummonds are the places to go, while Krakatoa is a tiki-inspired dive bar with regular live gigs, weekly karaoke, open mic and jam sessions, and a vibrant community spirit.
Once you’ve eventually run out of steam, just get the bus home – First Bus runs services from the city centre to locations across the city.
Remember, if you are aged under-22 and living in Scotland, then free travel is within grasp. Make sure to apply for your NEC card to take advantage, leaving you #FreeToExplore at GetYourNec.scot
Older than 22? Don’t panic! Bus remains a sustainable way to travel that won’t break the bank. Hop on board and do your bit for the planet next time you head out.