Take a weekend break to this stunning city on the River Tay, with a wealth of art galleries, delicious local food and vibrant nightlife
Named the UK’s first UNESCO City of Design and home to the recently opened V&A Dundee, this Scottish city isn’t all about jam and cake...
Understated Dundee commands an impressive setting on the Firth of Tay, where the ongoing regeneration of the waterfront is slowly reconnecting the city with its industrial-powerhouse docks. Its shipbuilding heyday has long gone but the growth of industries around video games and comic design means it now rubs shoulders with the likes of Helsinki and Beijing as a UNESCO City of Design. And the arrival of the V&A this autumn cemented its outward-looking world view.
Day 1: What to do in Dundee
Start off with a visit to the brand-new V&A Dundee. The first dedicated design museum in Scotland stands at the centre of the evolving Dundee waterfront, with the Tay Rail Bridge cutting a striking swathe across the estuary beyond. Check out the Scottish design galleries, including objects from Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Oak Tea Room.
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Day 1: Where to eat in Dundee
Lunch at Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA) centre, a funky converted brick factory turned arts space, is home to the laid-back Jute Café Bar. It’s a great spot for all-day dining with light bites and grills, plus a nice line in warming boozy coffees. Afterwards, enjoy its two art galleries and arthouse cinema or browse the shop for local crafts and jewellery.
Enjoy dinner at Brassica, a new eatery overlooking Slessor Gardens, which combines an open-plan café, bakery and restaurant with a low-food-miles ethos. It’s a social dining concept, so the emphasis is on pick and mix. Try a mix of four starters and grazing plates for £35 per person, including a carafe of wine.
Day 1: What to do at night in Dundee
For things that go bump in the night, join the colourful Dark Dundee walking tour from Discover Dundee or a light-hearted take on the city’s macabre folk tales. Some tours take in a visit to the Howff, the eerie city-centre graveyard.
If you prefer your evening’s entertainment without a chill factor, you could catch a show at Dundee Rep, the city’s independent hub for theatre and contemporary dance. There also a range of diversions by cultural organisations across the city.
Dundee city centre offers plenty to see and do at night.
Where to stay in Dundee
Hotel Indigo, a boutique property within walking distance of the city centre, is located in an old jute mill with plenty of pleasing period features. The adjoining Daisy Tasker restaurant serves up local produce for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Standard rooms from £65.
Day 2: What to do in Dundee
For a change of pace, venture beyond the Victorian Gothic facade of The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery and Museum for an insight into the city’s story through art and exhibits. Don’t miss the Making of Modern Dundee gallery and look out for Dante’s Dream, Rosetti’s Pre-Raphaelite masterpiece, in the Victoria Gallery. Entry is free.
Day 2: Where to eat in Dundee
Enjoy breakfast at Avery & Co, a great little place with an easy-going line in brunches, including vegan options, plus waffles, breakfast rolls and winter-warmer hot chocolates.
For lunch, don’t miss the traditional Scottish fruitcake that bears the name of Dundee. Try a wedge after a sandwich lunch at The Palais Tea Room, a retro café named after a famous Dundee dance hall.
Or, if you fancy treating yourself, it’s just a short hop by taxi or bus to the seaside suburb of Broughty Ferry for waterfront mooching. Local pubs offer live music and fish and chips washed down with lashings of bracing sea air, or you could head to The Tayberry Restaurant for altogether more sophisticated fare.
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Travel to Dundee by coach and discover the royal sights of Glamis Castle plus the Scone Palace. To check the range of dates available, visit our Shearings page.
The Boundless Kingdom of Fife Group
Hilda Johnston from the Kingdom of Fife Group recommends making the most of the Scottish air: ‘There are lots of lovely parks in Dundee – Camperdown Country Park is one especially worth mentioning as it has a wildlife centre as well.’
The Group visited the V&A Museum on 17 October 2018, in the first week it opened, and enjoyed exploring the Riverside Esplanade, RRS Discovery, and the best of Scottish design in the museum. Below are some of their photos from the day, including the interactive experience of the golden age of ocean liners.
The Swimming Pool exhibit in the Ocean Liners Exhibition.
An interior scene from the Ocean Liners.
The exterior of the V&A Museum.
RRS Discovery, adjacent to the V&A Museum.