If you are planning a trip to the UK you need to add Scotland, or Aberdeenshire to be more precise, to the list. Did you know that with 263 castles, stately homes and ruins, Aberdeenshire has more castles per acre than any other area of the UK?
That said, my trip has started with a castle visit. Fyvie Castle is a great example of Scottish Baronial architecture, and it’s pink in colour (another castle called Cragievar has become quite popular recently due to its pink colour). The castle has wonderful art and antique collection, and as every Scottish castle, it has its own ghost story wonderfully shared by the castle’s knowledgeable guides.
For more information about the most beautiful castles in Scotland have a look at my previous post here.
Fyvie castle has many beautiful rooms but the Music Gallery pictured below was my favourite.
A very unusual place to visit in the area is Peterhead Prison Museum. The former Victorian HM Convict Prison had the first state-owned railway in the UK and part of the history saw the only time the SAS (Special Air Service) was used to end a domestic siege in Britain. The museum shows what life in prison is like, a very special but slightly nerve-wracking experience.
After the museum visit, you need a good lunch and what better place to enjoy it than The Kilmarnock Arms Hotel. In the late 1800s this hotel was a regular vacation spot for Bram Stoker while he wrote Dracula. His signature can still be seen in the guestbook of the hotel.
We stayed overnight at Meldrum House, a four-star country hotel complete with a golf course and famous for its Cave Bar that dates back 800 years.
Our dinner was accompanied by address to a haggis, a poem by Robert Burns that is usually recited on Burns night. Quite a performance I must say! The hotel also offers a vegetarian option of the haggis in case you a slightly opposed to trying the regular one.
We then visited the newly opened Braemar Highland Games Centre dedicated to Highland games. This is where the famous Braemar gathering takes place (not to mention all the royal connections).
One of the other highlights of the trip was a visit to the charming fishing village of Footdee (locals call it Fittie) located at the east end of Aberdeen’s harbour. The area has had a settlement as far back as the Medieval times and is currently known for its tiny colourful cottages with quirky details.
After a wander around the area, stop for a lunch of fish and chips at the Silver Darling. In addition to the delicious food, the restaurant also offers great views of the harbour - just perfect for dolphin spotting!
Moving on to Aberdeen, Scotland's third largest city. Did you know that it grew out of two distinct communities - New Aberdeen and Old Aberdeen? Old Aberdeen was originally a separate burgh. It is home to King’s College, the forerunner to the University of Aberdeen. The area’s cobbled streets and historic buildings make you step back in time.
Don’t miss Brig o' Balgownie - possibly Scotland's oldest surviving bridge and Powis Gates (pictured in the bottom right corner) inspired by Turkish-style minarets.
In New Aberdeen, have a look at the grand Marischal College, founded in 1593 - a true icon of Aberdeen and the second largest granite building in the world.
Since 2017 thanks to Nuart Festival walls around Aberdeen have been transformed by street art and now boast numerous brightly coloured murals and various pieces of street art. Some of them are fun, provocative and inspirational adding a fresh vibe to the city.
If you are into museums, don’t miss the Aberdeen Maritime Museum that brilliantly shows the city’s long relationship with the sea. The museum is conveniently situated on the historic Shiprow in the heart of the city near the harbour.
For dinner in Aberdeen, I can highly recommend Vovem where we had delicious seafood (for some) and burgers (for others). It’s positioning itself as a steakhouse but their fish and vegetarian options are really good too.
No visit to Scotland can be complete without a whiskey tasting. We opted for Glen Garioch distillery (pronounced Glen Geery in the ancient Doric dialect still spoken in these parts) - one of the oldest operating distilleries in Scotland.
I was a guest of VisitAberdeenshire. All opinions are my own.