Aberdeen, Scotland's third-largest city, is characterized by buildings of beautiful granite. Set beside the North Sea 150 mi/240 km northeast of Glasgow, Aberdeen is both a university town and the capital of the Scottish oil boom. In addition, it is one of Scotland's largest seaside resorts.
The city's attractions include the 15th-century St. Machar's Cathedral; the 16th-century Provost Skene's House, the striking Mercat Cross of 1686; the 14th-century Brig o' Balgownie, Scotland's oldest bridge; the Winter Garden, Europe's largest indoor garden; a fine art gallery; and the Aberdeen Maritime Museum.
Old Aberdeen, the students' quarter of the city, is worth a visit: Walk the campuses of the two ancient universities, King's College (founded 1495) and Marischal College (founded 1500, the second-largest granite building in the world), now combined as the University of Aberdeen. Or get up at the crack of dawn to visit the warehouse of buzzing activity that is Aberdeen's famous fish market. Information on most of these attractions can be found at http://www.aberdeencity.gov.uk.
Aberdeen is an excellent base for touring nearby Dunnotar, Slains and Crathes castles. There is an official Castle Trail that can be followed. http://www.visitscotland.com/see-do/itineraries/castles/scotlands-castle-trail.
Other sites include Balmoral Castle, the royal family's summer residence, with grounds and the Carriage Hall open to the public from late March or early April through late July. Queen Victoria was a regular visitor to this area, and there is now an official Victorian Heritage Trail to follow by car. Braemar Castle, which hosts the largest Highland games every September, is also worth a visit.
Speyside is famous for its malt whisky distilleries, and there's an official trail for driving round the ones that have visitor facilities. At the Speyside Cooperage, you can see barrels still made by hand. http://www.maltwhiskytrail.com.
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