An insider’s guide to Aberdeen: Seven places the locals love

Aberdeen Harbour - the heart of Aberdeen's industrial heritage
Aberdeen Harbour - the heart of Aberdeen's industrial heritage
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ABERDEEN residents share their favourite places to eat, drink, socialise or simply watch the world go by

For a pint and good chat: St Machar Bar

Thaikun in Aberdeen specialises in Thai street food fare

Thaikun in Aberdeen specialises in Thai street food fare

It would have to be the St Machar Bar. It’s quite a small pub but it is always full of interesting people. It’s by the university so there is always a good cross-section of customers. You are always guaranteed an interesting conversation with a person you have never met before. I have met some Russians there with some very interesting political views as well as artists and scientists. The chat is always really good, very diverse but also very civil. The beer is not bad and they do really good chips, served in a plant pot. Ennan Hamill, co-owner of Photoghost photo shop

St Machar Bar, 97 High Street, http://adamsfamilypubs.com/

For a slap-up meal: Marcliffe Hotel, Thaikun, and Foodstory Café

I actually have two favourite restaurants in Aberdeen depending on the kind of meal – the first would be the Marcliffe, which is just a glorious hotel with unparalleled customer service yet with a family, friendly feel. My second is Thaikhun, which is a lively and very informal place with great Thai food and a wonderful selection of vibrant choices for vegetarians – not something you can say about every restaurant. If I can add a third, I also love the Foodstory Café for lunch because of their huge selection of vegetarian and vegan options. Rita Marcella, head of business school at Robert Gordon University

Aberdeen Beach, great for a run

Aberdeen Beach, great for a run

Marcliffe Hotel and Spa, North Deeside Road, http://www.marcliffe.com/; Thaikun, Union Square, http://thaikhun.co.uk/; Foodstory Café, 15 Thistle Street, Aberdeen, http://foodstorycafe.co.uk/

For gigs: Downstairs

Downstairs is quite a compact venue and the crowd and the band are just a few feet apart. Our singer quite enjoys going for wanders into the crowd and you can get right in the audience here. It’s a great place to play – we’ve had quite a lot of compliments about our gigs here – and a great place to go. They’ve got a really good sound engineering team and a good promotions team, so nights here tend to be really good fun. Mark Salter, bass player, The Watchfires

Downstairs, 82 Holburn Street, https://www.facebook.com/DownstairsAberdeen/

Johnston Gardens - an oasis of calm in the city

Johnston Gardens - an oasis of calm in the city

For a 10-minute breather: Johnston Gardens

Aberdeen is full of amazing parks but Johnston Gardens is a truly wonderful place. I have fallen in love with it. There is a waterfall and a duck pond and it takes my breath away every time I stop there. There is one particular bench I always stop at, just above the waterfall. I can sit there for 10 minutes and feel like a different person by the time I leave. Margaret Donald, children’s book author

Viewfield Road, http://www.aberdeencity.gov.uk

For a good glass of wine: Cafe 52

Cafe 52 is in a beautiful setting and has an amazing outdoor area that you can sit in all year round. In the winter they put the heaters out and set out tartan blankets for customers, so it is as much about the experience of being there as well as being able to have a really good glass of wine. The food is great too. The owner is local and is always trying out new dishes, with locally-sourced ingredients being very important. Pauline Hailstones, marketing manager

Cafe 52, 52 The Green, http://cafe52.co.uk/

For a run: Aberdeen beach

Aberdeen Beach is one of my favourite places and you don’t get a better place for a run. I start off at King Street, run past Pittodrie Stadium and through the wee tunnel which takes you down to the beach and then past Kings Links. I love the sound of the water and the fresh air. I hate going to the gym so this is the perfect alternative. At night, you can see the boats out to sea with their lights on. It can be very atmospheric. Martin Farmer, general manager of Orchid Bar and co-founder of Porter’s Gin

Beach Esplanade, Sea Beach, http://www.aberdeencity.gov.uk

To watch the world go by: Aberdeen Harbour

I love going around the harbour and the yards. There is always such a lot going on and this atmosphere that you can really soak up. You can watch the comings and goings of the ships and all the people who bring the harbour together. You’ve got the seagulls, the trucks, the cranes... there is a lot of activity. Its a good place to get a great perspective of the city. Some people might find it ugly and depressing but I find it very impressive. You’ve got all these elements coming together. It is really life in Aberdeen. Kate Steenhauer, artist

Regent Quay, http://www.aberdeen-harbour.co.uk/