- Climb on board one of the many vehicles on display at this Alford transport museum.
- Learn about the history of transport in both Aberdeen and the rest of the world.
- Test out your speed and endurance on the Turbo Trainer bike, and compare your score to cycling legends.
- Kids can have a go at the brilliant scavenger hunt that will take them all around the museum.
The village of Alford in Aberdeenshire may seem unassuming at first, but there is actually a huge amount of history here, including the unusual pink Craigievar Castle, and one of our favourite Scottish museums, the Grampian Transport Museum. With a huge range of exhibits on display, from 1800s vehicles to super fast cars, there's something here for car lovers and history buffs alike.
However, you certainly don't have to be a fan of cars to visit this Alford motor museum. The sheer number of vehicles and exhibitions on offer, as well as the regularly changing displays, mean that there is lots of local and national history to explore as a result of your trip to the Grampian Transport Museum. As well as motors, there are also other artefacts on display, such as the Mortier dance organ, a 1924 elaborately decorated piece of music equipment made by Belgian company Mortier. There are also lots of unusual cars, trains and other vehicles to see at this fantastic museum. The Morrison electric milk float is a great example of a 20th-century electric vehicle, and the travelling chariot once used by the Innes family of Raemoir House near Banchory, gives a glimpse of the past glamour enjoyed by the Scottish nobility. Some more top finds in the permanent display are the Russian horse-drawn sleigh that was probably brought to Scotland over 200 years ago, and a real horse-drawn tram that was used by Aberdeen District Tramways at the turn of the 20th century. Lovers of history will have a great time exploring the past of these fascinating modes of transport, and engaging with the interactive displays.
The 'History of the Cycle' exhibition is a popular one for families, and will teach you all about the evolution of the bicycle. From penny farthings to the bikes we use today, there is lots to learn about the past 200 years of bike riding. Plus, there is an interactive 'Turbo Trainer' area, where you can actually climb onto a stationary bike and test your speed and energy output. There is even a leaderboard where you can test your ability against famous cyclists, including Chris Hoy among others. As well as climbing on the bikes, there are plenty of other things to do for kids in the Grampian Transport Museum. The old penny farthing is free to try out (although be warned, it's a little bit tall for younger kids!), and they can hop aboard the snow plough to pretend they're driving around the slopes. At reception you can also grab an interactive sheet for the kids, where they can hunt around the museum to see if they can spot all the different exhibits. Depending on how long you spend looking around each exhibition, most people spend around two hours at the Grampian Museum, although you could easily spend most of the day here.
There are lots of Grampian Transport Museum events on year-round, including at Halloween and Christmas, where kids can join in with festive activities and crafts. There are also track days and special events for real motor heads to come and see vehicles in motion, as well as new exhibits on show.
Once you've taken in the great exhibitions at the Grampian Transport Museum, head to the Travellers Rest Tea Room for coffee, cake or a light lunch. You'll also find some good food options in the village of Alford itself, including lunch at the Alford Bistro on Main Street, or some great sandwiches at Chloe's Kitchen Creations. Plus, you're less than an hour's drive away from Aberdeen, so if you feel like something a little more cosmopolitan, you can always head into the city for something to eat.
If your visit to the Grampian Travel Museum has inspired you to explore some more local Aberdeenshire history, why not check out the Queen's very own residence, Balmoral Castle? Or, step back in time and see the famous Horn of Lys at Crathes Castle, set in a 500-acre estate that is also free to explore.
What to know before you go
- Opening hours at the Grampian Transport Museum are from 10am - 5pm. The cafe is open every day from 10.30am - 4.30pm.
- The museum is accessible for wheelchairs and buggies, with a platform lift and good access around the exhibits. There is also a wheelchair available to borrow from reception if needed.
- While the museum buildings are all completely wheelchair accessible, there are some areas that may be unsuitable for those with mobility or health issues, including the climb-on vehicles and the Turbo Trainer experience.
- There are accessible toilets and baby changing facilities available on site.
- Dogs are allowed to tour the museum with you, as long as they are kept on their leads, and there are water bowls around the museum if needed.
- If you are travelling to the Grampian Transport Museum by car, head along the A944 if travelling from Aberdeen. The museum is located in the centre of Aberdeenshire so is easy to access from any direction.
- There is free parking available on site, with designated spaces for Blue Badge holders.
- If travelling by public transport, there are Stagecoach Bluebird services that travel regularly to the village of Alford.
- There are also plenty of great cycling trails near Alford and in the surrounding areas, if you want to travel to the Grampian Transport Museum by bike.