Expats moving to Scotland's Granite City are sure to find the lifestyle in Aberdeen enjoyable. The city's diverse array of after-hours attractions caters to a range of tastes. 

Whether in the mood for the consumer comfort of retail therapy, the constant beat of clubs and bars, or the green silence of nature, there's always something to get up to in Aberdeen.

Shopping in Aberdeen

Shopping Street in Aberdeen by Seema Miah

Aberdeen's main shopping area is Union Street, also known as Granite Mile. This street houses numerous shops, bars, clubs, and restaurants. Just around the corner is Union Square, the biggest shopping centre in Aberdeen. Here, you can find an assortment of high-street and upmarket retailers, restaurants, and a cinema.

Expats seeking a more authentic experience should visit the Merchant Quarter. Situated between the city’s major malls, the Quarter's historical architecture is an attraction in itself. There are restaurants and bars, live music and entertainment venues, and a shopping section filled with quirky boutiques to explore.

Nightlife in Aberdeen

There's plenty of nightlife to explore in Aberdeen. For starters, no expat can be called an Aberdonian until they have been to one of its traditional Scottish pubs. Aberdeen’s pubs are the perfect spot for enjoying the company of friends, watching sports, drinking ale, and sampling the city’s best pub grub.

Expats wanting to dance into the wee hours won’t be disappointed, either. Covering a broad range of electronic genres, live music and 80s oldies, Aberdeen's club scene caters to eclectic tastes.

There are various cocktail bars in Aberdeen and a few comedy clubs for those looking for more refined surroundings.

Sports and outdoor activities in Aberdeen

Expats can enjoy a range of outdoor activities in Aberdeen. The city is well-known for the green spaces that offset its granite facade, having won the Royal Horticultural Society Britain in Bloom award several times.

Residents can escape the city’s commotion in Aberdeen's urban parks, flower gardens, and numerous national parks and leafy estates, all within driving range. Part of the Aberdeenshire Coastal Trail, the picturesque beaches around Aberdeen are another popular way to get some respite from the ups and downs of city life. Water sports such as surfing, diving, and sailing are all popular pursuits.

See and do in Aberdeen

Aberdeen is characterised by beautiful granite architecture, a rich maritime history, and natural beauty. New arrivals will have no shortage of things to see and do in Aberdeen. All too often overshadowed by Edinburgh in the sightseeing stakes, the tourist's loss is the local's gain.

Balmoral Castle by Harry Keane

Balmoral Castle

The royal holiday home Balmoral Castle has been in the British royal family since 1852 and was described by Queen Victoria as her "paradise in the Highlands". The grounds are open to the public from April to July each year.

Cairngorms National Park

Extending over the Cairngorms Mountains, the national park is the largest in Britain and offers activities such as mountain biking, skiing, horse riding and white-river rafting.

Aberdeenshire Coastal Trail

The beaches around Aberdeen form part of the Aberdeenshire Coastal Trail. The route consists of 165 miles (265 km) of pristine natural scenery, picturesque towns and gorgeous beaches, each one with its own unique atmosphere.

Annual events in Aberdeen

The packed calendar of events in Aberdeen means that expats will have numerous opportunities to enjoy themselves and get involved in the local culture. Here are a few highlights. 

Spectra (February)

This dazzling light show, complete with dramatic artwork projections on famous city buildings, attracts just short of a million visitors annually and is held at various sites throughout Aberdeen. Every year has a distinct theme.

Braemar Gathering (September)

Part of the traditional summer highland games, the Braemar Gathering is traditionally attended by the royal family and attracts large crowds every year, who come to watch bagpipe bands and tug-of-war events and catch a glimpse of the queen.

Aberdeen Winter Festival (November/December)

This fun-filled festival consists of various events held in Aberdeen throughout the festive season. From Christmas markets to carol concerts and outdoor ice skating, there are plenty of opportunities for the whole family to get into the festive spirit.

Where to meet people and make friends

Settling into a new city has its challenges, and trying to meet locals and make new friends can be daunting. Having a shared interest often helps, so here are a few clubs worth looking into for new arrivals to Aberdeen. 

Association of American Women in Aberdeen

Though primarily composed of expats from the US and Canada, this association welcomes fellow expats from around the world. Along with general meet-ups, members can also join special activity clubs within the association, like the book club and a moms-and-tots group.

Northern Arts Club

The Northern Arts Club welcomes artists of all ages and skill levels. The club offers several classes, including life drawing and landscape painting.

Ramblers Aberdeen

Outdoorsy expats will enjoy exploring Aberdeen's gorgeous countryside with this friendly club. Hikes and walks are held every two weeks, and extra social activities and occasional weekends away are organised by the group.

Expat Health Insurance

Cigna Health Insurance

Cigna Global Health Insurance.

Moving your family abroad can be intimidating, but learning about medical options such as family health insurance early on can help you settle successfully.

  • Comprehensive Family coverage, wherever you go
  • Paediatric coverage for well-child visits & immunizations
  • Access to dental and orthodontic care
  • 24/7 multilingual Customer Service

Get a quote from Cigna Global

Moving Internationally?

Sirelo logo

International Movers. Get Quotes. Compare Prices.

Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.

Get your free no-obligation quotes from select removal companies now!