The breathtaking city that is Dundee was often overlooked as a tourist destination despite being Scotland’s fourth-largest city – after Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Aberdeen. Nevertheless, there are numerous hidden gems nestled within its flourishing corners just waiting to be discovered.
Being home to the rich history of jam, jute, and journalism, Dundee is now accommodating hundreds and thousands of visitors a year. It offers a multitude of activities and attractions for guests of all ages, from scenic hotspots to educational and interesting facilities. Here, we have collated 18 best things to do in Dundee, Scotland.
- 18 Things to Do in Dundee, Scotland
- 1. Drop by the V&A Museum
- 2. Admire the art at The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery and Museum
- 3. Hop aboard the RRS Discovery
- 4. Learn the local history at Scotland’s Jute Museum at Verdant Works
- 5. Hunt for shooting stars at the Mills Observatory
- 6. Immerse yourself in science at Dundee Science Centre
- 7. Explore the Broughty Castle Museum
- 8. Buy a quick snack from the Auld Tram
- 9. Snap a photo of the Tay Rail Bridge
- 10. Enjoy history and attractions at the Camperdown Country Park
- 11. Get close with nature at the Camperdown Wildlife Centre
- 12. Learn Salmo Fly Fishing at Dundee
- 13. Enjoy a world-class music experience at the Caird Hall
- 14. Bond with your kids at the Fun Factory
- 15. Take a glimpse of St. Andrews
- 16. Visit the Dundee Contemporary Arts
- 17. Dance the night away at Dundee’s Reading Rooms
- 18. Go on an underground journey at the Tealing Earth House
18 Things to Do in Dundee, Scotland
1. Drop by the V&A Museum
Dundee boasts of its newest attraction, V&A Dundee, naturally because it happens to be the only one of its kind in the country and outside of London as well. V&A is Scotland’s first-ever design museum, serving as the “living room for the city” as described by its Japanese architect, Kengo Kuma.
The structure features a contemporary design with natural lights and views of the Tay filling the interior. There are seasonal and permanent exhibitions showcased in the museum, one of which is the Scottish Design Galleries displaying several illustrated films, costumes, theater sets, and the Isle of Skye architecture, to name a few.
2. Admire the art at The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery and Museum
Housed in a Victorian, Gothic Revival building located in the city center, the McManus museum features nearly 400 million years of rich history and art. It is home to the city’s primary art collection dating back to the 19th and 20th-century European artists. There is a total of eight open-plan galleries within the museum, all retelling the city’s heritage and history.
There are local history exhibits that delve into Dundee’s shipping and jute industries. There is also an international section displaying fascinating artifacts from the ancient Egyptians, as well as wildlife and nature-themed exhibits.
3. Hop aboard the RRS Discovery
RRS Discovery holds a significant history of the city as it happens to be the last British ship built in Dundee using the traditional three-masted wooden style. The vessel was used for the British National Antarctic Expedition under Captain Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton from 1901 to 1904.
She is now docked at Discovery Point which also houses additional information and history of the ship. Visitors can enjoy the scenic waterfront of the city, all while enjoying a cup of coffee in the café and shops located around the area.
4. Learn the local history at Scotland’s Jute Museum at Verdant Works
The jute industry accounts for much of Dundee’s development, making the city the former global producer of jute. This natural fiber used in the rope and sack manufacturing is now featured in one of Dundee’s most visited attractions, the Verdant Works, commonly called as Scotland’s Jute Museum.
The establishment has formerly used a mill, featuring fully restored machinery, hands-on demonstrations, and several other multimedia exhibits showcasing the history and impact of this industry in the city. The staff offers daily demos of their machines to the guests, along with interactive activities that the family will surely enjoy.
5. Hunt for shooting stars at the Mills Observatory
The Mills Observatory happens to be Britain’s first purpose-built public observatory dating back to 1935. It was formerly used as a venue for workshops and seminars, space exploration exhibits, planetarium, and for solar viewing.
The observatory houses a powerful Victorian refracting telescope capable of seeing 30,000 objects in the night sky. Aside from the space-related collections in the observatory, visitors flock to the site because of its strategic location for viewing the River Tay.
6. Immerse yourself in science at Dundee Science Centre
Science is always fun in the Dundee Science Center. This is among the top go-to places for families with kids, but adults will surely experience an exciting trip to the science center as well. This is also one of the best places to go when the weather is too nasty for outdoor sightseeing.
The building features a handful of interactive exhibits and hands-on displays, on top of the fascinating robots and interesting film screenings. There is also a fun planetarium in the vicinity where kids can enjoy learning the solar system.
7. Explore the Broughty Castle Museum
This ancient castle was constructed way back 1495 in the borough of Broughty Ferry, witnessing the wars of the English and Scots. Today, the castle shelters the Broughty Castle Museum where visitors can explore its grounds, marvel at the artistic architecture of the age-old structure, and learn more of the city’s people and culture.
There is a viewing platform in the castle’s highest vantage points featuring a panoramic view of the river and the surrounding city. Souvenirs and quick snacks are available in the café and gift shop inside the vicinity.
8. Buy a quick snack from the Auld Tram
Of course, what better way to learn more about Dundee than through its local delicacies? The Auld Tram offers just that and more. This city vendor stands out among the rest as it provides a unique food experience for all the visitors coming into the city.
Auld Tram uses a Dundee & District Tramways Horse Drawn Tram that dates way back to the 1870s. This novelty look is what attracted tourists far and wide, not to mention the quality food and drinks available on its menu. Try their authentic stovies, a Scottish potato dish, and the Auld Tram will surely not disappoint.
9. Snap a photo of the Tay Rail Bridge
Coming into Dundee by train, you might have stumbled upon the iron bridge over the River Tay. It was once the longest bridge across the globe, spanning an original two-mile length from the city to Edinburg.
When a storm destroyed the Tay Rail Bridge in 1879, the reconstructed bridge was built with some of the girders recovered from the collapsed one. It took nine years to finish the second bridge, but it remained as among the world’s most spectacular railways. There are two viewing platforms in the bridge where visitors can see the panoramic view of the city and the Firth of Tay.
10. Enjoy history and attractions at the Camperdown Country Park
Like what most people say, hit two birds with one stone. Enjoy a variety of attractions and learn more history at the Camperdown Country Park! Have fun while enjoying the country breeze and immerse yourself to the classic ambiance of the place.
The Camperdown Country Park is known for its centerpiece; the neo-classical Camperdown House. It has over 400 acres of property and serves as the residence for around one hundred ninety kinds of trees. Camperdown is one of Dundee’s many visited attractions for both tourists and local residents. It is easily accessible throughout the year and provides a wide variety of amenities and functions.
Architect William Burn was responsible for the design or built of the Camperdown House back in 1828. It is said that the house’s name was inspired by the Battle of Camperdown’s history.
Another attraction you should visit is the Camperdown Play Complex that is located near the area’s wildlife center. The Play Complex is play area for all ages that offers various gaming gears. Some of the favorites are the climbing nets, fun slides, and of course, suspension bridges.
11. Get close with nature at the Camperdown Wildlife Centre
A trip to Camperdown Wildlife Center is a must during your visit to the Camperdown Country Park. This wildlife facility contains at least around three hundred of wildlife animals. Two of their most famous animals is the European Brown Bear couple; Comet and Star. Aside from the bear couple, they also cater to numerous birds such as the golden eagle, and several lemurs.
You can learn how zoo keeping works and also feed the creatures. Lastly, the wildlife center offers a café and store where you can blow off some steam, shop, and relax.
12. Learn Salmo Fly Fishing at Dundee
One way to experience Dundee to its fullest is by experiencing one of their ways to get food supplies and work. Learning how to fish the “Dundee Way” is a great start if you want to experience their usual routines personally.
Salmo Fly Fishing offers competent & enjoyable, directed fly fishing for Dundee’s tourists. They offer guided trips on either freshwater and saltwater areas of Scotland. Some of their services are guides to predator fishing, premium Scottish salmon & ocean fish fishing, and more.
They also provide training for fishing newbies and sell tailor-made fishing kits. Tourists have a free choice between half-day, complete-day, or even longer fishing trip. Aside from that, they also have lodging options and transportation assistance for tourists or guests’ needs.
13. Enjoy a world-class music experience at the Caird Hall
Experience an unforgettable music show and hear world-class music that the Caird Hall offers. This famous hall was built around the twentieth decade and was named after its sponsor, James Key Caird. Up to this day, the Caird Hall is home to Dundee’s concerts as its primary performance auditorium and is frequently occupied by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
It is also used by the Universities of Dundee and Abertay as a venue for reception events and graduation ceremonies. Furthermore, a lot of tourists visit this hall because of its distinguished appearance in the 1983 film titled, “An Englishman Abroad.”
14. Bond with your kids at the Fun Factory
If you’re traveling with your kids or siblings, taking them to an excellent play area would be a great way to let them have fun during your trip. It is the newest indoor play center at Dundee and is open for customers, seven days a week. The Fun Factory serves children one to four for their toddler section and five to eleven for their junior zone. They also opened a nursery zone in addition to their current play zones.
Enjoy a lovely day with your family and kids at the Play Area! The facility includes a convenient game zone for all children to use. It has a ball pit, swinging areas, tunnels, suspension bridges and one of the favorites; slides. The adults can chill or hangout out at the place’s cafe while the kids are having their own fun. Try out the Fun Factory’s food and beverages!
15. Take a glimpse of St. Andrews
If you’d like, you can take a brief twenty to thirty minutes drive and take a day tour to the iconic St. Andrews, which is renowned for being the home of golf and the University of St. Andrews. Despite being a small town,
St. Andrews possesses three beaches, scenic university buildings that are around six hundred years old, as well as, the globe-famous Royal and Ancient Golf Club. One way for you to have a souvenir is by taking a picture on the Swilcan Bridge, which can be found at the Old Course’s eighteenth hole.
16. Visit the Dundee Contemporary Arts
For people who adore artistic attractions and art galleries, Dundee Contemporary Arts is definitely the place to go. It is one of the most magnificent architectural treasures throughout the city.
This art space deals with all types and sizes of creativeness and targets every artistic factor with its offer of two modern and contemporary exhibitions, a two-screen movie theatre, print workshops, a graphical research facility, and a cafe with delicious food choices.
17. Dance the night away at Dundee’s Reading Rooms
The Reading Rooms has a sleek industrial design and is a major point of the subterranean party scene in Scotland. It is, in fact, a former library that became a major source of innovation and gateway to different groups that offer a bewildering array of musical genres. Some of these genres involve electro music, dubstep, pop, jazz and more, perfect for setting up an exquisite club environment.
18. Go on an underground journey at the Tealing Earth House
Tealing Earth House is a trench-like underground path or rock-lined tunnel that goes back to the historic Iron Age. It was uncovered on the 1800s and according to the proof that archeologists found, they assume that its probable origin dates back to the earlier decades AD, some period during the Roman occupation.
Dundee is definitely a lot more things than what we have listed here. There’s so much to the city. Do come and visit!