Aberdeen, aka the Granite City, is well known as the oil capital of Europe. It has had people from all over the globe flock to and from the city with relation to the oil industry's many peaks and troughs over the years. The oil industry has dominated the media and the attention of the population with regards to Aberdeen for as long as most of us can remember. What has always been, and still is all too frequently, ignored is that fact that there is so much more to Aberdeen than just oil.
During the recent oil ‘crash’, Aberdeen started to focus on building and developing industry and infrastructure across the city with new shops, homes, and independent businesses cropping up almost every week. The council has invested in re-training previous oil industry employees and the city is flourishing. Despite what some might say, Aberdeen doesn’t only have jobs in oil and gas. There are new and exciting opportunities emerging in Aberdeen constantly. If you’re looking to set up your own business, work in education (at all levels), hospitality and tourism, or maybe you’re thinking about moving into the creative industries, Aberdeen will have something for you.
Aberdeen is also home to two of the country’s largest and most successful universities, meaning at any one time there are more than 25,000 university students in the city. There is a growing wealth of knowledge and the more the city is diverging from oil, the more it is beginning to appeal to students after graduation, with many choosing to stay in the city after graduating instead of heading back to their home towns. This change of pace is making Aberdeen a great place for graduates looking to begin their careers if they are interested in industries outside of the Oil and Gas sector.
Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire are both filled with more history than one could imagine. You can follow the castle trail from the city to the shire and even stop off at the Queen’s favourite holiday home, Balmoral Castle. Aberdeen is just a short drive from the breath-taking grounds of the Cairngorms National Park where you can stumble upon magnificent lochs, beautiful waterfalls and a wealth of wildlife. Being right on the coast also means that you might catch a glimpse of the North Sea dolphins or you can pop up the road to see the world famous wild Seal population which inhabit the beaches at Newburgh. With Aberdeen you really get the best of both worlds: a thriving city with the luxury of some of the world’s most exquisite countryside right on your doorstep.
Stonehaven is just eleven miles south of the city, is the home of the battered mars bar, and has one of the best sustainable Fish and Chip shops in the world (Fact). It also has a cute independent ice-cream shop with more selection of flavours than you can imagine – the Irn Bru and Gin & Tonic flavours are a must try. In the city you’ll find lots of independent cafes and restaurants catering for all dietary requirements, and specialising in a whole host of cultural dishes. Foodstory is a great spot that offers a vegetarian and vegan menu with pancake Sundays and morning yoga classes. Bistro Verde, located on the green specialises in seafood, and Yatai Izakaya brings you independent Japanese cuisine with creative twists. As well as these independent venues, Aberdeen has attracted lots of the easily recognisable big restaurant chains, like Topolabamba and Chaophraya, making sure you're never out of options when you're hungry! There’s also the Thistle Street market, where you can find new independent delights, offering stalls with cakes, cured meats and a vast selection of cheeses. There really is something for everyone in Aberdeen and you are never short on selection.
With 25,000 students in the city, Aberdeen would need to have a great nightlife right? Right. There are a huge number of bars and clubs throughout the city including student clubs, 80’s clubs, some beautiful cocktail bars and so much more. The iconic ‘Tunnels’ features local DJ’s regularly and Bridge Street Social Club hosts a weekly live music night on Sundays that is so popular it is literally sponsored by Jack Daniels! Aberdeen also has a massive community of craft beer enthusiasts. Within the city there are numerous craft beer specialist bars such as Fierce, Craftsman, Musa and of course the notorious BrewDog! Fun Fact: The first ever BrewDog bar was opened in Aberdeen and despite the global expansion of the company and the opening of a far bigger location within the city, the company still keep the original location alive.
Music has always been at the heart of Aberdeen, with the city hosting numerous local festivals such as the Enjoy Music festival, headlined by Basement Jaxx this year. Art, Music and the Theatre are thriving in the city. More and more acts are flooding to Aberdeen to perform in the new AECC that is due to open soon and all you need to do is think of your favourite comedian and no doubt they will have, or will have in the future, performed at His Majesty’s Theatre. Aberdeen is never short of plays, musicals or musicians to see, big or small. Recently, we’ve seen the emergence of the NuArt street art festival which has seen national and international artists brightening up the granite walls of the city with stunning pieces of artwork themed around Aberdeen and its rich history. You can follow a trail around the entire city to catch a glimpse of some of the pieces on show.
The list of things that Aberdeen has outside of Oil could go on forever. It really is a beautiful city, with great food, drink and culture and it is set in one of the world’s most beautiful landscapes. If you haven’t visited or you’re thinking about a new city for work, don’t let Aberdeen pass you by, it truly is the hidden gem of the North.
Written by: The Graham-Smiths