Oil-rich Aberdeen is the only major city in the north-east of Scotland and country's third largest.
Central Aberdeenshire is a diverse area of commuter towns, agricultural land, valleys and upland areas that get higher as you go west towards the peaks of the Grampian Mountains. The 'Granite City' of Aberdeen is a busy, prosperous, hard-working city with an international population and a thriving oil industry. The city boasts much fine architecture and captivating museums, fascinating history, a wealth of art and culture and a lively social scene. The coast around Aberdeen moves from rocky cliffs to the south to a long stretch of sandy beach that starts at the city and stretches north up to the Ythan Estuary.
Bordered by the River Dee in the south, much of Central Aberdeenshire is made up of a hotchpotch of agricultural lands dotted with small settlements, and carved up by green valleys such as Strathmore. Commuter towns for Aberdeen such as Inverurie have grown up along the main routes inland, but the region is generally quiet and unspoilt. This is increasingly the case as you head east towards the great mass of the Grampian Mountains, rising up to the edge of the Cairngorms.