Renowned in the United Kingdom for its celebrated gardens, parks and floral displays, Aberdeen is a favourite venue for romantics and nature lovers alike.
There are over two million roses, 11 million daffodils and three million crocuses in Aberdeen, a major reason why the city has won the prestigious "Britain in Bloom" contest of the Royal Horticultural Society so many times (nine years in a row!) that it was actually excluded from competition for a time to allow other cities to capture the honour.
In addition, Aberdeen has 45 different parks that are further divided into six city parks, seven local parks and 32 neighbourhood parks as well as many other green spaces around the city.
The Aberdeen City Council Parks Hierarchy defines city parks as "large parks with a number of different facilities, capable of attracting large numbers of residents and visitors from a wide catchment area... Due to the scale of city parks and the facilities provided... there is potential for visitors to spend several hours or a full day in the park, and they will be of regional importance for leisure use."
Aberdeen's six city parks are Duthie Park, Hazlehead Park, Victoria Park, Westburn Park, Seaton Park and Beach/Queens Links.
Spanning over 200,000 square meters, Duthie Park on Riverside Drive boasts of elaborate gardens, a rose hill, play area and boating pond. Miss Elizabeth Crombie Duthie of Ruthrieston, after whom the park was named, bestowed the park to the city in 1881. Princess Beatrice opened the park to the public in 1883. Duthie Park also hosts the David Welch Winter Gardens, the largest indoor garden in Europe, established in 1899. Following severe damage from a storm in 1970, the Winter Gardens underwent large-scale rebuilding and expansion. Today, it is one of the most popular and most visited indoor gardens in Scotland.
Hazlehead Park, located at the outskirts of Aberdeen, is a favourite haunt of walkers, picnickers and nature lovers because of its vast, heavily wooded areas. The park houses two golf courses, a pitch and putt course, a couple of football pitches, a horse-riding school as well as the oldest maze in Scotland, established in 1938. A magnificent collection of sculptures and historical relics that were recovered from various places around Aberdeen adorn Hazlehead Park.
Located at the north-west area of Aberdeen, Victoria Park hosts a magnificent fountain made out of 14 different granites, another elegant reminder why Aberdeen is known as the City of Granite. The city's granite polishers and master builders gave the fountain as a gift to the citizens of Aberdeen. Victoria Park also has a beautiful conservatory.
Across Victoria Park is another outstanding natural venue, Westburn Park, which, coincidentally, is exactly the same size as Victoria Park, 53,000 square meters. Westburn Park is a favourite place for football and tennis. It also has a cycle track for children and a play area for adults and kids.
The 27-hectare Seaton Park is the home of St Machar's Cathedral and its fortified towers. One of the city's favourite sights is the Cathedral Walk, which is absolutely resplendent during midsummer. Seaton Park is also a well-accessed travel point towards the Don River and has a walk that connects the park to the city boundary.
One of the city's most popular and beloved recreational venues is Aberdeen Beach/Queen's Links because it is a virtual beehive of activity. It has a host of cafes and restaurants, a multiplex cinema, a bustling fair and many sports and recreational facilities, including the Beach Leisure Centre and the Lynx Ice Arena.
In addition to city parks, the Aberdeen City Council Parks Hierarchy defines local parks as those that "generally serve a smaller catchment area than city parks... have fewer facilities and/or be of a smaller size than a city park, but can contain specific attractions. Most visitors will be from the immediate locality but some will travel further to use specialist facilities, e.g. sports centres or horticultural features in season."
The seven local parks in Aberdeen include Johnston Gardens, Rubislaw and Queen's Terrace Gardens, Allen Park (Cults), Stewart Park, Bon Accord Terrace Gardens, Union Terrace Gardens and Westfield Park.
For flower lovers, the breath-taking Johnston Gardens is the place to visit. Located behind Queen's Road, Johnston Gardens is a multiple winner of the "Britain in Bloom" contest.
Rubislaw and Queens Terrace Gardens is another inspiring natural wonder that features exquisite gardens with mature trees and abundant flower beds. The gardens feature an elegant square pool and fountain that commemorates Aberdeen's victories in the Britain in Bloom awards during 1969, 1970 and 1971.
Cricket and football enthusiasts often troop to Stewart Park, a delightful haven that spans 61,000 square meters that was inaugurated in 1894. The park is named after Sir David Stewart, a former Lord Provost of Aberdeen.
The Bon Accord Terrace Gardens stands on the site of 'The Battle of Justice Mills,' a bloody encounter staged over 300 years ago. It is a popular place for a welcome break where city dwellers can escape the hustle and bustle of nearby Union Street.