Aberdeen is Scotland's third most populous city, with an official population of approximately 217 000. The city is nicknamed The Granite City, after the grey granite quarried from Rubislaw Quarry for more than 300 years and used in buildings around the city that stand to this day. Aberdeen granite was used extensively around the UK, including the terraces of the Houses of Parliament and Waterloo Bridge in London.
Quarrying ceased in 1971, and along with the traditional major industries of fishing, shipbuilding, and paper making, has been replaced by the oil, gas and energy industries as the main sources of employment and income. Since the discovery of North Sea oil, Aberdeen has seen an economic boom that has stretched across the city and made it a leading seaport in Europe.
When in Aberdeen, the city's Granite Mile provides a gateway to over 800 shops, from the latest designer fashions to traditional Scottish crafts. Restaurants are plentiful with food from all corners of the globe, but not forgetting native Scottish fare. For entertainment, His Majesty's Theatre and the Music Hall are home to internationally renowned performers and performances. On the waterside, Aberdeen has a long sand beach that stretches between the two rivers, the Dee and the Don. Visitors to Aberdeen's three key attractions: Provost Skene's House, Aberdeen Art Gallery and the Aberdeen Maritime Museum will enjoy free entrance.
The city also acts as the perfect base to explore the surrounding areas; within easy reach are vast stretches of national parks and many National Trust buildings. Royal Deeside, given its name as it was Queen Victoria??s favourite holiday spot, is home to areas of outstanding natural beauty. Visitors can follow the Victorian Trail to visit all her favourite areas, culminating in Balmoral Castle, home to the Royal family to this day.
Several other trails lead from Aberdeenshire; the Castle Trail, which includes 16 beautiful and historic castles; Coastal Trail, exploring the North East coastline; and Whisky Trail, sampling the finest malts that Scotland has to offer.