Getting around Aberdeen is quick and straightforward, and many residents prefer to use public transport to commute to work rather than driving. Owning a car is not essential as Aberdeen’s buses connect most areas of the city, but having a car does offer the freedom to explore the countryside and is particularly useful for expats with children.
Although the Scottish weather is not always conducive to it, cycling is another great and healthy way to commute in Aberdeen.
Public transport in Aberdeen
The public transport network for getting around in Aberdeen mainly consists of buses. The city’s buses are efficient and get commuters to almost anywhere. There is also a railway network that connects the city to other parts of the United Kingdom.
Buses are the main mode of public transportation in Aberdeen. First Aberdeen has a monopoly on the city's bus services, but Stagecoach also runs a few lines and there's a handful of smaller operators too. There are more than 30 bus routes in Aberdeen, most of which begin on the outskirts and run through the city centre before travelling to other suburbs.
The regularity of buses varies between routes. Generally, services run at intervals of 15 minutes during the daytime and every 30 minutes in the evenings and on Sundays.
Tickets can be purchased in advance or on the bus in exact change as drivers do not carry cash. Frequent users of various bus services may find it useful to purchase a Grasshopper ticket, which allows access to all buses regardless of operator. Tickets are loaded onto a Grasshopper Card and are available as day or weekly passes.
While there is no local commuter system in Aberdeen, the city is well-served by national rail connections. From Aberdeen railway station it is possible to catch inter-city, regional and local train services to various parts of the UK, including overnight sleeper trains to London.
Taxis in Aberdeen
Taxis are readily available in the city centre and most taxi companies offer booking services online, via mobile application or by telephone. Passengers are usually charged a base fare and a fee for each additional mile they travel. Most people only use taxis for short journeys as fares are relatively high.
Ride-hailing services such as Uber are operational in Aberdeen and are a good alternative to taxis as they give the commuter more control over routes and displays the expected price of travel beforehand.
Cycling in Aberdeen
Cycling is also a good way to get around Aberdeen. There is a bike-share scheme in development, but for the moment residents who want to cycle have to invest in their own bike. The city does have a fairly good network of cycle paths that connect certain suburbs through the city centre. However, cyclists should be aware that some cycle lanes are shared with buses, though these are usually regulated by dedicated traffic lights. In areas without adequate cycling infrastructure, it's possible to ride in the road but cyclists will need to be cautious, especially as Aberdeen's roads are rather narrow.
Driving in Aberdeen
Driving in Aberdeen poses no real challenges. The standard of road infrastructure is good and signage is generally clear.
Driving conditions in Aberdeen are good and local drivers are courteous to other road users. However, expats should be aware that roads in Aberdeen are often affected by snow and fog in winter. Although local authorities take measures to grit the main roads, smaller roads are often slippery and the risk of accidents is high. Drivers need to be especially careful when driving in severe weather conditions.
As is the case in the rest of the UK, EU citizens can drive on their licence from their home country until it expires. Non-EU expats can also drive on a valid licence from their home country, but can only do so for 12 months before they will need to exchange it for a UK licence.