Aberdeen is a jewel of Scotland, with its surroundings offering so much for visitors. Whether you want to take a day trip to the highlands, the coast, or a city, it’s got the lot. Practice your swing at legendary golf courses, take a ride at a theme park, or head to the slopes of a local ski resort. Add to that an abundance of history and you’ve got a holiday to remember. Get car hire in Aberdeen for added flexibility, so you can come and go as you please.
1. Balmoral Castle
- Distance from Aberdeen: 47 miles
- Travel time from Aberdeen: Around 1 hour 20 minutes
- Suggested route: Take the B9125, A980, B993 and A93
- Great for: Historic buildings
Scotland is known for its stunning castles, with the country being steeped in history. Our first day trip takes you to Balmoral Castle, which is owned by the Queen and located in the Cairngorms National Park. Completed in 1853, this beautiful castle is well worth a visit. Take a tour of the grounds and pretend like you’re royalty for the day.
Depart Aberdeen on the A944 until you reach the B9119, which turns into the B9125. Follow this around until you reach the A980. At Mid Beltie take the B993 until you reach the A93, which takes you all the way to the castle.
SIXT’s top tip: This route takes you through fabulous landmarks, such as Abergeldie Castle and Dess Waterfall, so make sure you factor in some time to stop along the way.
- Distance from Aberdeen: 16 miles
- Travel time from Aberdeen: Approximately 30 minutes
- Suggested route: Take the A92
- Great for: Quaint village escapes
Head south to Stonehaven, which is a picturesque fishing village. You can spend the day wandering around the pretty streets, enjoy fish and chips on the beach or take in the Stonehaven Tolbooth Museum, which takes a look at the village’s heritage.
It’s easy to get to Stonehaven, with the A92 taking you the majority of the way. At Cowie Park take the B979 the rest of the way. Along the way, you can stop at Muchalls Beach or even practice your swing at Stonehaven Golf Club.
SIXT’s top tip: Try out a famous deep-fried mars bar, which was created at the fish and chip shop in the village.
3. Cairngorms National Park
- Distance from Aberdeen: 36 miles
- Travel time from Aberdeen: Around 1 hour
- Suggested route: Take the B9119
- Great for: Fresh air
Cairngorms National Park is extremely large, so one area you could head to is Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve. Situated nearby to the village of Dinnet, the reserve is approximately 1166 hectares in size. You can take in some great family-friendly walking routes here, see a variety of animals in their natural habitats and enjoy a relaxing picnic next to one of two lochs.
Take the A944 out of Aberdeen until you reach the B9119, which will take you all the way to your destination in the park.
SIXT’s top tip: Stop along the way at historical landmarks such as Culsh Earth House, Tomnaverie Stone Circle, or Sunhoney Stone Circle, and make a day of it.
- Distance from Aberdeen: 67 miles
- Travel time from Aberdeen: Around 1 hour 25 minutes
- Suggested route: Take the A90 southbound
- Great for: City adventure
Fancy a day trip, but want to stay in an urban setting? Then look no further than Dundee. Visit Discovery Point, which is a real ship that made Antarctic discoveries in the early 1900s. Head to The McManus, which is the famous Art Gallery and Museum in the city. Take a look at the Dundee Museum of Transport, which boasts the iconic Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car.
Getting to Dundee is simple, you just need to follow the A90 all the way. Break the journey up by stopping at tourist attractions such as Tealing Earth House on the way.
SIXT’s top tip: Check out the Verdant Works in Dundee, which tells the story of the industrial textile heritage of the city.
5. Glenshee Ski Centre
- Distance from Aberdeen: 86 miles
- Travel time from Aberdeen: Around 1 hour 45 minutes
- Suggested route: Take the B977, A980, B993, and A93
- Great for: Winter sports
In the winter months, why not take your skis or snowboard to Glenshee Ski Centre, which has 22 lifts and 36 runs. With a range of slopes that are suitable for beginners and more experienced athletes, there’s something for everyone. Enjoy a warming cup of tea at the Cairnwell Café, which you’ll find at the top of the ski area.
Take the A944 out of Aberdeen to the B9119. Then follow the B9125, which joins into the B977 and then the A980. Take the B993 at Mid Beltie until you reach the A93, which takes you to the slopes.
SIXT’s top tip: Take a hot drink in a flask and some snacks with you, as the cafes are only located at the top and bottom of the mountain.
6. St Andrews Golf Course
- Distance from Aberdeen: 79 miles
- Travel time from Aberdeen: Around 1 hour 40 minutes
- Suggested route: Take the A90 and A92
- Great for: Golfers
If you’re a golf fanatic then what better place to practice your swing than at St Andrews Golf Course. Famous for hosting prestigious tournaments, this golf course has seven courses to choose from, so you certainly won’t run out of things to do. Take in breathtaking scenery as you go between holes and feel like a professional for the day.
Follow the A92 and A90 all the way to Dundee, where you’ll take the A91 the rest of the way to St Andrews.
SIXT’s top tip: Book your tee time in advance so that you’re not disappointed, as the course can get very busy during peak times.
7. Highland Wildlife Park
- Distance from Aberdeen: 100 miles
- Travel time from Aberdeen: Around 2 hours 20 minutes
- Suggested route: Take the A96 and A95
- Great for: Animal lovers
Take your family to see some great wildlife at the Highland Wildlife Park in the Cairngorms National Park. See a range of species up close and personal, such as Northern Lynx, Snow Leopard, and Polar Bear. You can also take part in some truly magic moments with the animal keepers, such as feeding and learning about the species, which makes it an educational day too.
You can reach the wildlife park with ease, by just following the A96 and A95 for the whole journey. You’ll be spoilt with amazing scenery along the way too, so the drive will be well worth it.
SIXT’s top tip: If you’re with teenagers, they can take part in a free course at the zoo, which is aimed at giving them experience in the field of research and animal conservation.
8. Landmark Forest Amusement Park
- Distance from Aberdeen: 88 miles
- Travel time from Aberdeen: Around 2 hours 5 minutes
- Suggested route: Take the A96 and A95
- Great for: Thrill seekers
A great day out for adults and kids alike, the Landmark Forest Amusement Park offers an exhilarating day out for all. From a Tropical Hot House to the Dinosaur Kingdom, kids will be kept entertained from the word go. If you want a little more adrenaline, then take on the Wild Water Coaster or the Skydive, both of which are sure to put a smile on everyone’s face.
Get to the theme park by following the A96 and A95 from Aberdeen. Whilst this is one of our longer day trips, it’ll certainly be worth the drive.
SIXT’s top tip: Climb to the top of the forest tower, which is 105 steps, to get unbeatable views of the surrounding countryside.
9. Arnhall Nature Reserve
- Distance from Aberdeen: 7 miles
- Travel time from Aberdeen: Approximately 20 minutes
- Suggested route: Take the A944 towards Westhill
- Great for: Nature lovers
If you’re short on time, then Arnhall Nature Reserve is the perfect trip for you as it’s only a short drive away. A perfect place to visit for all nature lovers, you’ll be able to see a range of birds and insects thriving in an urban oasis. Take a stroll along one of the footpaths or relax by the pond with some light refreshments.
It only takes about 20min to reach the nature reserve. Just follow the A944 out of the centre of Aberdeen until you reach your destination.
SIXT’s top tip: There’s a range of food and drinks establishments close by to the nature reserve, so you can refuel after a long walk.
10. Newburgh Seal Beach
- Distance from Aberdeen: 14 miles
- Travel time from Aberdeen: Around 23 minutes
- Suggested route: Head north on the A90
- Great for: Seal spotting
Another short day trip from Aberdeen is to Newburgh Seal Beach, which is known for hosting hundreds of seals. With long sandy beaches, you can enjoy a peaceful walk with stunning scenery. With seals being present throughout the year, it doesn’t normally matter when you take the trip to Newburgh as you’ll be certain to spot one.
Take the A92 and A90 north of Aberdeen. When you reach the A975 to Newburgh, follow this road to your destination.
SIXT’s top tip: Don’t get too close to the seals as this can cause them distress. If you see a seal pup on its own, don’t fret. The mothers are normally our catching food for them to keep them well fed.