From sea to river to mountain, Aberdeenshire's breathtaking scenery is its main attraction. However, as an area famous for its beautiful castles, world-class whiskey distilleries and a Royal Heritage steeped in history, there are plenty of man-made destinations to compete with nature.
Those wanting a cultural city break have everything they could want in Aberdeen itself, and step just a short way out into the rest of the county and the smaller towns and villages give a visitors a traditional Scottish welcome.
The valley of the river Dee has had a Royal connection for centuries, but it was the purchase of Balmoral Castle by Queen Victoria in 1848 which put it firmly on the map as a tourist destination.
Described by Victoria as 'my dear paradise in the Highlands', visitors today will appreciate the draw of Deeside's wonderful natural surroundings - valley, moorland, pineforest and heather-covered hills leading up to the spectacular Cairngorm mountains.
Royal Balmoral is just one of the historic destinations on the famous 'castle trail' that takes in many of Scotland's most magnificent historic sites. These include the stunning cliff-top ruin Dunnottar Castle, fairytale Crathes Castle, beautiful (and haunted?) Fyvie Castle, and Braemar in the rugged heart of the county.
Aberdeenshire has the Cairngorms National Park the newest - and largest - in Britain, encompassing 3,800km of some of Scotlands most beautiful outdoor spaces. Visitors can enjoy the park alone or in Ranger-led groups, and activities include hiking, climbing, mountain biking and canoeing - weather permitting. Nature abounds, and visitors can expect to see red deer, hares and even golden eagles in this remote landscape.
For tourists looking for a more social experience, Aberdeenshire is also home to world-famous whisky distilleries such as Glenfiddich, Glenlivet and Royal Lochnagar, most of which run tours to see how the whisky is made, and (more importantly) allow visitors to sample the end product.