Ten reasons to visit Dundee

A vibrant city which offers a rich blend of history, culture, natural beauty and innovation, Dundee is often overshadowed by Scotland’s larger cities. However, from its buzzy waterfront to its vibrant arts scene, it’s the perfect place for a weekend away. Not convinced? Here are ten compelling reasons why you should make it your next mini-break.

A waterfront renaissance

Dundee’s waterfront has undergone a major regeneration. Once an industrial hub, it has been transformed in recent years into a vibrant social and cultural space. Stroll along the promenade, marvel at architect Kengo Kuma’s striking V&A Dundee and enjoy an array of restaurants, cafés, and bars offering stunning views of the River Tay.

A cultural haven

Dundee is a city steeped in culture and creativity. Immerse yourself in the contemporary art scene at the Dundee Contemporary Arts Centre, where you can explore thought-provoking exhibitions and catch an independent film. For history enthusiasts, the McManus showcases the city’s past through an impressive collection of art and artefacts spanning 400 million years.

Innovation and discovery

Renowned for its contributions to science and technology, Dundee is perhaps most famous in recent years for its contributions to the gaming world. Visit the V&A Dundee’s Scottish Design Galleries to delve into the history of video games, including the globally acclaimed Grand Theft Auto series. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the Dundee Science Centre, where interactive exhibits will spark curiosity in young visitors.

Discover the home of jute, jam and journalism

Dundee’s rich industrial heritage is celebrated in its nickname, “The City of Discovery,” and its association with the production of jute, jam, and journalism. Step back in time at Verdant Works, a former jute mill turned award-winning museum, to learn about the city’s industrial past and the lives of its workers.

Raise a glass

You’ll find a wide range of pubs and bars in Dundee to suit every taste, from traditional to trendy. The George Orwell, named after the writer who once lived nearby, exudes old-world charm and serves classic ales and whiskies, while if you’re seeking a stylish experience, The Bach is an upscale cocktail bar featuring expertly-crafted drinks in a chic setting. And for something completely different, Draffens is an underground speakeasy hidden behind a bookcase. 

Nature’s playground 

Surrounded by breathtaking landscapes, Dundee offers easy access to the great outdoors. Take a short drive to the Cairngorms National Park, where you can explore ancient forests, hike scenic trails, and encounter rare wildlife. Alternatively, head to the picturesque Angus Glens. Perfect for outdoor enthusiasts seeking tranquillity and adventure, the Glens include ten Munros and miles of roads which are great for cyclists, drivers, hill walkers and nature lovers to explore.

Festivals and events 

Dundee’s calendar is packed with events throughout the year. Every November, jazz enthusiasts flock to the city’s Jazz Festival, which offers a heady mix of traditional, contemporary and experimental sounds. Held in October, the Dundee Science Festival is packed with interactive exhibits, engaging workshops, and fascinating talks for all ages. For something a little different, head to the Dundee Flower and Food Festival which takes place in early September. Explore stunning floral displays, attend gardening workshops, and sample a wide variety of local produce and artisanal treats.

Support small and independent

Discover the vibrant independent shopping scene in the city centre, where you’ll find unique boutiques, vintage stores, and local artisans. Spex Pistols is a quirky eyewear boutique which offers a wide range of bold frames, sunglasses, and accessories. The Cheesery sells a selection of gourmet cheeses, cured meats and artisanal bread, and the staff are adept at creating custom cheese boards tailored to individual customers. Support local talent by attending performances at the Dundee Repertory Theatre or catching live music at one of the city’s many intimate venues.

Gateway to the east

Dundee’s location makes it an ideal base for exploring the picturesque east coast. Embark on a road trip along the stunning Angus coastline, dotted with fishing villages and sandy beaches. Head for a day trip to St Andrews for a round of golf or a whistlestop tour of its historic sites. And with its scattering of gorgeous villages, the picture-perfect East Neuk is only a 40 minute drive away.

Enjoy gastronomic delights

Dundee’s dining scene is relatively small but perfectly formed. Owned by Masterchef winner Jamie Scott, the Newport overlooks the Tay and showcases the very best of Scottish seafood, from oysters to lobster, all freshly caught. The Bach is a relaxed eatery specialising in New Zealand and Australian-inspired cuisine, and serving up delicious brunch options, gourmet burgers, and moreish sharing plates. And if you’re looking to sample a local speciality, of course it has to be Dundee cake, a rich fruitcake with a storied history. It’s rumoured to have originally been created for Mary, Queen of Scots you know…

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