Nestled on the shoreline of the River Tay, Dundee is one of Scotland’s cities that’s nestled on the eastern coastline. Not only that, it is pretty great for a day trip, with loads of the best things to do in Dundee dotted around this smaller Scottish city.
Now, I’ll be honest, sometimes Dundee gets a bad rap as a place to visit. That being said, after living in Scotland (and visiting Dundee every other week) whilst studying in St Andrews, its regeneration is in full swing.
So, to help you get the most out of your visit, take a look at some of the top places in Dundee that you can’t miss. Have an amazing time exploring Scotland; it really is a beautiful country.
1.) V&A Dundee
The V&A Dundee is, without a doubt, one of the best things to do in Dundee in its new waterfront regeneration. After demolishing an old hotel and leisure centre, the design-led V&A Dundee has been open since 2018.
Now, what I love about the V&A Dundee is that it focuses on, and is influenced by, the achievements of Scottish design. There are so many exhibits and highlights to see at the V&A Dundee. Plus, they also hold seasonal exhibits, too.
Best of all, V&A Dundee is free to enter and well worth stopping by as you wander the River Tay waterfront.
2.) The McManus
This Gothic revival-style building is located in the Meadowside area of Dundee and houses some of Dundee’s most prized possessions.
You see, it houses The McManus Museum and Gallery which has eight incredible galleries to explore.
Once inside, you’ll get to explore the extensive collection of fine and contemporary art pieces that make Dundee Special.
Plus, you’ll get to learn more about Dundee’s expansion in Victorian times (When jute was big business in the city).
For me, I love visiting the Victoria Gallery. You see, this is where they keep some of Scotland’s most prized oil paintings. They are centuries old and so beautiful to see.
Just be sure to give yourself at least 90 minutes to explore the galleries.
3.) Discovery Walk
Although small, Discovery Walk is right next to the Slessor Gardens which is right next to the V&A Dundee. What it lacks in size (it’ll only take you 5 minutes to visit), it makes up with facts.
You see, Discovery Walk is dedicated to extraordinary people who have worked and lived in the city of Dundee. There are numerous plaques that all honour their societal impact and their connection with the city.
There are fifteen plaques in total and honestly, you’ll see them in minutes. It’s a great way to learn more about Dundee’s famous past residents.
4.) Glamis Castle
Nestled in the countryside, around a 20-minute drive from the centre of Dundee, Glamis Castle is well worth a visit. In fact, I’d say it’s one of the best things to do in Dundee if you have a car or are willing to take a taxi for the short ride.
Now, what makes Glamis Castle so special is that it used the be the childhood home of the Queen Mother. That’s Queen Elizabeth II’s mother.
Not only that, it has quite a dark history that dates back almost 1,000 years. You see, Glamis Castle is the site where Malcolm II (King of Scotland) was murdered back in 1034. Some centuries later, William Shakespeare set his place where Macbeth resided in Glamis Castle.
We loved visiting for a few hours to explore the gardens, learn more about its royal history and see priceless artefacts and letters from royalty that had a connection to Glamis Castle.
5.) RSS Discovery
Situated just shy of the V&A Dundee, RSS Discovery is a wooden research ship that’s world famous. You see, it’s the very ship that took Scott and Shackleton to the Antarctic continent back in 1901.
Nowadays, RSS Discovery has been restored and moored on the shores of the River Tay; a short 2-minute walk from the V&A Dundee.
Now, you will need to pay a relatively small fee to hop on board but it’s well worth it. Once on RSS Discovery, you can walk around the history rooms, learn more about the research that Scott and Shackleton undertook and see the sleeping quarters. It’s pretty impressive.
Visits will take around 45 minutes and fun for all the family.
6.) The Law
Visiting The Law, which locals call the Dundee Volcano is one of the best things to do in Dundee if you’re looking for views across the city. You see, from The Law, you get to see all across the River Tay and further over to the Kingdom of Fife which is so beautiful.
Now, you don’t need to hike to the summit of The Law, there’s a road that will take you to the viewpoint. This makes it accessible and perfect for anyone who has accessibility issues.
Afterwards, head back into the centre of Dundee and stop for a late breakfast or lunch at The Flame Tree Cafe. Their milkshakes and freshly baked jacket potatoes are so yummy.
7.) Visit City Quay
One of Dundee’s newest areas, City Quay is a residential and small entertainment area that has bars, restaurants and a few little shops.
Also, don’t forget, you can also visit HMS Unicorn which is moored in City Quay and dates back to 1824. It’s well worth visiting if you’re interested in British naval history and so unique to visit.
If you’re looking for a bit of an adventure, hop over to Wild Shore Dundee. Here, you can pop on a wetsuit and jump right into City Quay harbour. Once in, you can scale, slip and slide all over the inflatable assault course that’s harder than it looks. It’s so much fun.
Also, nearby (not in the Quay itself), is Gidi Grill, a yummy West African foodie spot that’s just so good. The dinner menu consists of delicious grilled meats, plantains and so much more. All of these are infused with the spices which are originally blended by the chefs in the house.
8.) Overgate (and surrounding area)
The newer shopping centre in Dundee, Overgate is a shopping centre that has many of the high street brands that are popular across the UK.
Now, there are a few smaller independent retailers, but Overgate’s main goal is to have big names under one covered area. It’s one of the best things to do in Dundee if the weather gets overly wet or you’re looking for some UK-specific stores.
Oh, and be sure to look out for the Desperate Dan statue that’s close by. You see, Dundee is the city where Desperate Dan was said to have been born in the world-famous comics.
9.) Dundee Contemporary Arts
Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA) is an art centre that’s one of the region’s premier spots to visit for arthouse films. Not only that, there is a range of exhibitions that seasonally change and are open to explore to anyone who wants to visit.
We absolutely love visiting when we go back to Dundee as there’s always something new and exciting showing.
Also, keep your eyes peeled for the artistic workshops they run throughout the year. They are incredible to learn new skills while you visit Dundee.
10.) Dundee Science Centre
Nestled within the Greenmarket area, the Dundee Science Centre is right next to Dundee’s train station. In fact, it’s walking distance from the train; taking about 3 minutes.
Once here, you’ll get to explore over 50 hands-on and interactive science activities. The whole experience is perfect if you’re visiting with the younger members of the family. There are galleries and exhibits like; Medical Marvels, the Exploring Zones and Sensory Zones for kids to enjoy.
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