Is it worth renting a car in Aberdeen just for part of my stay?
Not really – Aberdeen makes a great base for exploring the Highlands, but there are only limited points of interest within the city itself. Unless your plan is to get around the Highlands entirely by bus and train (in which case, make your connection at Dyce and don’t go into the city centre), then you really should hire a car in Aberdeen for the whole duration of your stay.
Is it worth renting a car in Aberdeen even for backpackers, students
and other travellers who are on an extremely tight budget?
Probably not – based on price alone, you will get better value travelling by train and coach, especially if you book well in advance. It’s also easy enough to arrange coach or minibus tours of the Highlands or of the Isle of Skye from Inverness, and even if none of these options will give you the same flexibility as renting a car, they will almost certainly still be better value.
Do I need a car in Aberdeen if I am planning on staying in the city / downtown?
Yes – even if
you are staying right in the centre of Aberdeen, you will want to go
out of the city, and in particular you want to go and visit the
Cairngorms National Park. You really should hire a car for this.
Bear in mind that
reaching places like, for example, Aviemore is usually going to mean
going through Inverness and making a change, so it will be quicker to
drive. Hotels right in the city centre are unlikely to provide free
parking, but Aberdeen is sufficiently compact that you should be able
to find a hotel with free parking around the edge of the city centre
that is within easy walking distance, or short bus ride from the
For example, the
Village Hotel group are one chain who are known to provide free
parking on all of their sites, and they have a location on the
western side of the city. In total, about half of all hotels in
Aberdeen will have free parking for guests. 156
I usually try to avoid driving if I can – so should I hire a car in
No – we would
rate Aberdeen is the most car focused major travel destination in the
UK, but you will still find far more options for onward travel by bus
and train then you will in many other places in Europe. If you are
visiting Aberdeen from North America, then you will probably find
that the choice of public transport (or transit) in Aberdeen is
actually quite good, and you will also find a much wider range of
onward connections via Inverness.
I am a train enthusiast – do I still need to hire a car in
Absolutely not –
you may well have already taken the train up to Aberdeen via
Edinburgh, a route which takes you across the world famous Forth
Bridge as well as the rebuilt Tay Bridge. Further to the west, you
have a choice of three of the most spectacular train rides anywhere
in the world; the most impressive one being the Kyle line from
Inverness. Heading south from Inverness, you also have the Highland
mainline which can take you back towards Perth, whereas the West
Highland mainline can be joined at Fort William by taking a coach
connection from Inverness. However, if you only plan to take one or
two train trips, then you should still hire a car in Aberdeen, and
then just use park-and-ride at local stations. Other than in the
centres of Aberdeen or Inverness, you should be able to park for free
at most stations in the Highlands and Aberdeenshire1.
Technically the City of Aberdeen is separate to Aberdeenshire.