Aberdeen City Guide for Students: All You Need to Know
17 September, 2023
9 mins read
If you’re looking to study in Aberdeen, there’s a lot you should know about the city, which includes the top things to do, the best places to be, transportation in the city, top attractions, cost of living, and more. All of which you’ll get to know in this Aberdeen city guide. Here, we’ll guide you through all the essential information you must know before arriving in the city for a smooth transition so you can blend in with the locals and have a memorable experience during your stay in Aberdeen.
More information, such as What are the rules of the UK: UK common rules and regulations?, 5 student discount cards every UK student should have, and more important bits of information are also available on our website.
Aberdeen is Scotland’s third largest city, with the rivers Dee and Don running through it while also being on the North Sea’s coast, making its port among the most important in the UK. Aberdeen is also considered Scotland’s commercial capital. It is known for being a major player in the oil and gas industry, often being dubbed “the oil capital of Europe”. The city is also known for its granite buildings, referred to as the “Silver City” or “Granite City”, giving it a unique character.
Aberdeen is made up of two burghs/towns; these are Old Aberdeen and New Aberdeen. Old Aberdeen is located on the Don River and is said to have been founded in 580 by St. Machar and was managed by the church, with the St. Machar Cathedral being the Ecclesiastical seat. New Aberdeen is located on the Dee River and was established by King David the First during the 12th century. It was created as a fishing village and market town, forming modern-day Aberdeen in 1891.
Today, the city is known as a commercial centre in Scotland and among the UK’s top educational destinations. In a list of 2024’s top student cities, Aberdeen ranked 76th among 160 of the world’s top student cities and has some of the world’s top institutions attracting a large number of international students, with its highest ranking being the University of Aberdeen ranking 208th worldwide in the QS world rankings of 2024.
Top Things to Do in Aberdeen
Aberdeen is full of fun things to do as it is full of beautiful natural scenery, strolling around this historic city's neighbourhoods, attending events, going to the beach and much more, all of which will be explored in this Aberdeen city guide.
Explore Aberdeen’s Natural Scenery
Aberdeen is not only recognised for its marble structures, education, and oil and gas industry. It is also referred to as the “floral capital of Scotland”, boasting 14 parks and reserves, trails, and woodlands, which make up 3000 acres. Seaton Park is Aberdeen’s largest and most popular park and is a must-visit site.
Explore the Best Neighborhoods
Aberdeen has a wide array of unique neighbourhoods, some of which still have streets dating to the 13th and 14th centuries. Some of Aberdeen’s top must-visit neighbourhoods include the following:
This part of the city is the oldest and was initially separate from New Aberdeen before both joined, forming the modern-day city of Aberdeen. One of this suburb’s most unique sites is the University of Aberdeen, which dates back to 1495.
Aberdeen City Centre
Aberdeen’s city centre is one of the busiest tourist spots in the city as it has various landmarks, shopping centres, and the iconic Union Street, which is considered Aberdeen’s main street and a shopping destination. The city centre is also a short walk from the beach. The city centre also contains the “Granite Mile”.
Rosemount and Midstocket
Rosemount Midstocket are some of Aberdeen’s most popular areas if you’re looking for nice places to shop and eat. They are also full of parks and Victorian granite structures. You will also find plenty of students and youngsters as these are trendy among the youth. You will also get most of your needs at Rosemount and Midstocket.
Other popular places to visit include King Street and Kittybrewster.
There are various sights to discover in Aberdeen, which include seeing the city’s beautiful scenery, such as visiting Cairngorms National Park, which has mountains and waterfalls, to seeing some of the city’s most iconic monuments, such as St Machar's Cathedral and museums such as the Aberdeen Maritime Museum. Aberdeen has many other different places to visit that we’ll delve into shortly!
Explore the Beach and Go Dolphin Spotting
To unwind, you can also explore the beach at Aberdeen, which also has a diverse sea life, including dolphins which visit the seafront. Some of Aberdeen’s most popular beaches include Aberdeen Beach and South Donsmouth Beach.
Golf in Aberdeen
Scotland is said to have invented Golf back in the 15th century, and Aberdeen is often referred to as the “Home of Golf” thanks to its extensive golf courses and various championships such as the Royal Aberdeen championships. Aberdeen is also home to two of the 10 oldest golf courses in the world.
Top Places to Eat and Drink in Aberdeen
An important thing to cover in this Aberdeen city guide is the culinary scene! Aberdeen has a rich food and beverage scene of restaurants and cafes serving both Scottish food or dishes native to Aberdeen, such as the famous local Aberdeen Rowie or even international food and beverage spots. Let's not also forget the UK’s unique tea houses in this list, which will be included in the beverages section.
Amuse by Kevin Dalgleish: 1 Queen's Terrace, Aberdeen
Amuse is a Michelin Guide-featured restaurant that serves various unique dishes that follow a French-themed menu with local ingredients. Some of the dishes served in this restaurant include Aberdeenshire lamb and Angus beef and seafood dishes such as Scallop Lasagne and Konro Grilled Monkfish.
Moonfish Cafe: 9 Correction Wynd, Aberdeen
The Michelin Star Moonfish Cafe is a must-visit when in Aberdeen. This diner serves amazing British dishes where they serve small or large lunch menu dishes or set menu dishes with some of the freshest ingredients. With that said, they also have unique desserts such as their pistachio tres leches cake.
Tarragon by Graham Mitchell: 137 Rosemount Pl, Aberdeen
Terragan is another award-winning restaurant and a must-try if you’re in the city. This restaurant serves a surf’n’turf menu and has a chef who was the first recipient of the Best Surf’n’Turf Chef Award in Scotland. Compared to other Michelin Star Guide Listed or Michelin Star restaurants in Aberdeen, this restaurant has a well-balanced and affordable menu.
Cafes and Tea Houses
Books and Beans: 22 Belmont St, Aberdeen
Books and Beans cafe is among the most popular spots for students studying in Aberdeen who are looking for a perfect cup of high-quality coffee as well as a nice and cosy place to study. The cafe's facilities are impressive, with free Wi-Fi, printing and copying facilities, and a second-hand bookstore with over 15000 books.
Cup: 9 Little Belmont St, Aberdeen
If you’re looking for the perfect spot for Afternoon Tea, then Cup is among Aberdeen’s most popular Afternoon Tea spots. There, you can have a perfect Afternoon Tea, which is served till 3 PM or 3:30 on weekends and consists of tea, rolls, scones with jam and cream, and more. You can also try their unique tea blends, which also have herbal tea and Iced Tea, among other tea creations.
Thyme Out: 569 Great Western Rd, Aberdeen
Thyme Out is a perfect spot for those looking for a nice coffee or even nice dish options. You can have a wide choice of hot drinks, cakes and traybakes, sandwiches and toasties, hot meals, breakfast rolls, and more.
Palm Court Hotel: 81 Seafield Rd, Aberdeen
Palm Court Hotel is another local favourite if you would like to have your perfect Afternoon Tea in style. Bear in mind that you should reserve your spot before heading to the tea room as it is in high demand and serves all the Afternoon Tea essentials such as scones, cakes, sandwiches, and not to mention sandwiches and a large tea selection.
Where to Shop in Aberdeen
Union Square is Aberdeen’s largest shopping mall and is conveniently located in the city centre and the train station. Union Square has more than 60 shops and more than 15 restaurants, providing you with everything you need. Some of the biggest brands in the mall include JD Sports, Zara, Sketchers, Clarks, Decathlon, and much more. While dining spots include Nando’s, TGI Fridays, Pizza Hut, Subway’s, and more.
Bon Accord is another local shopping favourite, having more than 70 stores, some of which include fashion stores, cafes, and restaurants. Some of the biggest brands in the Bon Accord shopping centre include Marks & Spencer, Bonmarche, Hobbs, Holland & Barrett, Sainsbury’s, The Body Shop, and many more. Food spots include Costa Coffee, Pret A Manger, Starbucks, and Subway.
The Trinity Centre
The Trinity Centre has one of the most varieties in terms of shopping as it has everything from jewellery to beauty shops, fashion stores, dining spots, and wellness stores. This shopping centre has more than 40 shops, some of which are Primark, Trespass, Claire’s, Holland & Barrett Aberdeen, and Clintons. Food and beverage brands include Greggs and Chopstix, among others.
Transportation in Aberdeen
Bus transportation is Aberdeen’s main mode of public transportation and is among its cheapest. Aberdeen’s main bus providers are First Bus and Stagecoach, which offer a variety of ticket and bundle options for the most convenience. You can use the Smart Grasshopper pass to travel within Aberdeen as a student using any of the mentioned operators for £21.10 per week as a student or £25.80 per week as an Adult.
Multiple train providers connect Aberdeen to its neighbouring cities and towns; these include Huntly, Inverurie, Insch, Portlethen, Dyce, Stonehaven, and Laurencekirk. All tickets can be booked with Scotrail for the most convenience.
Finding a cab in Aberdeen is easy; base fares for Aberdeen cabs are £2.60 with an additional £0.20 for every 180.5 yards.
Cycling is one of the quickest and cheapest ways to move around Aberdeen, with the city having multiple cycling routes. The city is designated as bike-friendly as it caters to all skill levels, even offering challenging paths in the countryside, such as challenging ascents.
Student Life in Aberdeen
Aberdeen is a very student-friendly city ranking high among the world’s top student cities and also has high-ranking institutions, with its most notable being the University of Aberdeen, which ranks 208th worldwide, and Robert Gordon University, which ranks 901-950 worldwide in the QS University Rankings of 2024. Aberdeen also has various youthful spots, especially in the City Centre, Kittybrewster, Rosemount, and King Street.
Cost of Living in Aberdeen
The UK government suggests that you should have at least £1,023 per month when studying outside of London. A more detailed cost of living will be presented below. Bear in mind that costs may vary based on lifestyle and personal preferences.
Rent for a One-Bedroom Apartment (In the City Centre)
£470 to £650 Per Month
Rent for a One-Bedroom Apartment (Outside the City Centre)
£350 to £550 Per Month
Utilities (Basic Utilities, Mobile, Internet)
£210.5 Per Month (Average)
Basic Meal at Restaurant
£15 Per Meal (Average)
Transportation (Weekly Bus Ticket)
£21.10 to £25.80 Per Week (Smart Grasshopper Ticket)
Abderdeen’s Top Attractions
Aberdeen is full of attractions ranging from natural reserves to galleries, museums, cathedrals, and parks.
Aberdeen Art Gallery
Aberdeen Art Gallery is an amazing gallery which has a collection of local and international art, some of which span back 700 years. The collections on display have been compiled over 130 years ago and showcase local art from some of Scotland’s major artists, including Joan Eardley, Francis Bacon, Tracey Emin, and more. Most importantly, these collections can be viewed for free.
Aberdeen Maritime Museum
The Aberdeen Maritime Museum showcases Aberdeen’s link to the North Sea, which has a collection covering shipbuilding, fast sailing ships, fishing, and port history. These collections also showcase other North Sea industries, such as its oil industry. These collections often include paintings, touch screens, hands-on exhibits and more.
Duthie Park was first opened to the public in 1883 and is loved for its Victorian features, including its boating ponds, fountains, and Band Stand. Another favourite includes the iconic Park Cafe. Duthie Park also includes the Winter Gardens, among Scotland's most visited indoor plant collections.
St Machar's Cathedral
St Machar's Cathedral is one of the oldest structures in Aberdeen, which dates back to the 12th century and is said to have William Wallace’s arm buried there. It was also Aberdeen’s religious centre.
Best Places to Find Aberdeen Student Housing
If you’re looking for the best Aberdeen student housing, then you’ll need to look in the following areas, some of which have Casita student accommodation options. The best places to rent for Students are as follows: Old Aberdeen, Rosemount and Midstocket, Bridge of Don, and Ruthrieston. King Street and Kittybrewster are also very popular among students.
New Carnegie Court: Old Aberdeen
New Carnegie Court is a student accommodation in Aberdeen that features ensuite rooms and is located in one of Aberdeen’s favourite destinations, Old Aberdeen, which has iconic Medieval structures. Its features include being pet friendly, 24/7 security, common rooms to socialise, Wi-Fi, laundry facilities, and much more.
Causeway View Unite: Close to the City Centre
Causeway View Unite is an Aberdeen student accommodation featuring ensuite rooms with double beds. This Aberdeen student housing features 24/7 assistance, a gym, laundry, study spaces, and more.
Powis Place: Near Kittybrewster
Powis Place, this Aberdeen student housing provides students in Aberdeen with ensuite rooms and features fast Wi-Fi, bike storage, common spaces, security through CCTV, and more. This Aberdeen student accommodation is near the trendy area of Kittybrewster.
You can also get more information regarding top student rooms in Aberdeen through our website.
It is crucial to know everything about Aberdeen before arriving in the city so that you can easily assimilate into the city and take no time to blend in with the locals. For more information, you can always refer to our website for Aberdeen student accommodation or contact our accommodation experts. You can also refer to our blogs, such as Cost of Living in Australia vs. UK: A Comprehensive Guide, Book Fairs in UK You Must Check Out, and many more important tips and tricks while studying in the UK.
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Frequently Asked Questions:
What is Aberdeen best known for?
Aberdeen is known for its iconic granite structures, dubbing it “The Silver City” or “Granite City” due to the sun’s reflection against the locally sourced granite structures. Aberdeen is also known for its oil and gas industry and its high quality of education.
What is the average rent in Aberdeen for students?
Students renting private options in Aberdeen can pay anywhere between £350 to £650 per month, depending on your proximity to the city centre.
Is Aberdeen a walkable city?
Aberdeen is a very walkable city, having various walking paths around the city.