Free Things To Do In Aberdeen

Scotland is full of many fantastic cities where you can take either just yourself or your family away for a break. Whether you go for the weekend or a week, Aberdeen is an excellent location due to the vast number of activities, sights, and trails - even if you’re on a budget.

Not every city break means you have to spend a ton of money. In fact, there are several free things you can do in Aberdeen that don’t cost a penny. You can find activities to do for a bit of entertainment, places that will teach you about the city's history, or some fantastic trails to get in some light exercise.

Below are the top free things you can do when visiting Aberdeen


For fun


Want to find something new and exciting to do in Aberdeen? Here are some activities you can do for a little bit of fun:


Aberdeen Beach


Thousands of people head down to Aberdeen during the summer due to its location on the east coast and white sandy beaches. Aberdeen Beach is one of the main attractions, offering a wide stretch of shore for you to wander down. 

You can either decide to make a day out of it when you go to Aberdeen Beach by sunbathing and looking out for dolphins, or you can go for a spot of lunch at one of the reasonably priced cafes and restaurants on the promenade. The best part is that it is also just a short walk from the city centre, so you don’t have to spend much on transport either. 



Hazlehead Park


Another place for a bit of fun with a partner or the family is Hazlehead Park, based on the west side of Aberdeen. Around since 1920, it has provided visitors with fantastic scenery, popular trails for walking or cycling, art to admire, and a fun play area for the children to enjoy. 

It is a location with something for everyone at no cost. Many people go down for the day when the weather is nice and bring a picnic with them. You can play games on one of the two golf courses, learn about the hunting forest that the land sits on, or walk through the maze and see if you can make your way out. 


Johnston Gardens


If you like the idea of visiting nature, but don’t want somewhere as busy and family-oriented as Hazlehead Park, then you can always go to Johnston Gardens. This natural location is much more serene and quiet, offering tranquil views of vibrant gardens, waterfalls, and different types of rock. 

Johnston Gardens is the perfect escape from the hustle of everyday life, and you can be at one with nature. It is a great idea to bring your camera along with you and try to capture the true essence of the area. You may even be able to discover some unique species of plants and wildlife you wouldn’t see back home. 



Donmouth Local Nature Reserve


You may not believe it, but there is actually a place in Aberdeen where you can go and watch seals. These fascinating animals can provide endless hours of entertainment as you watch them show off to each other and go swimming in the sea. And the home of these seals? The Donmouth Local Nature Reserve.

This beautiful nature reserve is based on the beach at the estuary of the River Don. Alongside seals, you can also look out for other forms of wildlife, from birds to other aquatic creatures. It truly gives you an appreciation for Aberdeen and all it has to offer. 


For learning


When you want to learn about the rich history and culture Aberdeen has to offer, you can visit one of these interesting places:


Aberdeen Maritime Museum


For when you’re visiting Aberdeen on a budget and still want to learn all about its history, you can visit one of the many free museums in the city. One of the most interesting ones is the Aberdeen Maritime Museum, which provides information and exhibitions about Aberdeen’s relationship with the sea.

The port in Aberdeen has long been known for helping provide goods to many industries across the North Sea, including fish and oil. You can learn all about this and more in the form of illustrations, detailed displays, and touchscreen consoles. You can easily spend the day here and come out knowing more than when you went in. 


Tolbooth Museum


If you loved everything you learned at the Maritime Museum, or if the sea isn’t necessarily the type of history you were looking for, then you can go to the Tolbooth Museum. Also free of cost to enter, you can learn all about Aberdeen's interesting history with crime and punishment over the last few centuries. 

Based in one of the city’s former prisons, you’ll feel the eerie atmosphere of what it was like to be an inmate while you explore the gaol cells and find out what the day-to-day life was like for someone staying there throughout the years. 


Aberdeen Art Gallery


Not only does Aberdeen have a rich maritime and criminal history, but they also have a thriving art and culture scene. You can visit the Aberdeen Art Gallery, which is based in the main city in a beautiful granite building. It hosts a wide range of art, from paintings to sculptures and gives you a true appreciation for these works. 

Some of the oldest art pieces were created as much as 700 years ago by people across Scotland. There are 22 exhibits to explore, meaning you have many pieces to see throughout the day. You can even stop for a bite to eat on the rooftop if you get a bit peckish. 


St Machar’s Cathedral


You can’t go on a city break in Scotland without visiting one of the nearest cathedrals and chapels. Luckily, it is also a free activity for you to do, and it also teaches you all about the unique architecture and history surrounding the building. 

St Machar’s Cathedral is one of the most ancient sites in Aberdeen, dating as far back as the 12th century. Some of the highlights include the heraldic ceiling and west front and the beautiful display of daffodils out front. You may even be able to learn a few interesting facts about some key figures in Aberdeen’s history.


For exercise


Not only are there some beautiful sights to enjoy in Aberdeen, but you can get some exercise in at the same time by walking, running, or cycling down one of these trails:


Crynoch Burn


Enjoy the natural scenery of Crynoch Burn, a 4.3km loop trail in Aberdeen. Perfect for the family, this route is fairly easy to take, and when you’re walking, it only takes just over an hour to finish. It’s the ideal place to go when you want a quick bit of fresh air and movement before you head out for the day. 

One thing to keep in mind is there are sometimes some vehicles around, so you’ll need to listen and look out for any that may be approaching. However, although it is based on pretty smooth footing, you can still look out for a range of wildlife and flowers that are local to the area. 


Kingshill Wood Circular 


You can take the difficulty level up a notch when you choose to complete your daily exercise around Kingshill Wood Circular. This 7.7km loop trail will take you around two hours to finish, and you can choose to walk it, run it, or cycle it, depending on your mood. It can be quite busy, but if you head there in the early morning or late evening, you can enjoy some quiet serenity. 

A wide range of beautiful plants and local animals will surround you while you take in the sights and get your legs moving. It is entirely free to walk this trail, however, you may have to pay for parking. 


Tollohill Wood

For a quick and easy walk through one of Aberdeen’s forests, you can complete the 2.1km loop trail in Tollohill Wood. Taking only half an hour to finish, you can take your dog for a walk and take in the greenery around you while getting in some peace and quiet before a busy day. 

If the area isn’t busy, you can hear the beautiful songs of the local birds and look out for some of Aberdeen’s wildlife. If you want to spend a bit more time on your walk, you can take a short break at Prince Albert’s Monument, which boasts a wide array of scenic views and a breath of fresh air. 


Final thoughts 


Aberdeen is a unique city with so much to do. While there is so much to do at a small cost, you can still explore many other sights and activities for no money at all. There is something for everyone, and you will no doubt come home feeling like you’ve made the most out of the area.