Dundee Guide. Leisure Guides.

 

Revitalised Dundee is undergoing a metamorphosis thanks to a bold 30-year waterfront transformation, a vibrant cultural scene and a spanking new V&A museum opening in 2015. Encounter rich industrial heritage, sensational seafood and world-class golf.

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Getting around


Compact Dundee is easy to explore by foot, and there’s also a good bus service for exploring further afield, including into the adjacent stunning countryside.
 
Stagecoach East Scotland and National Express Dundee are the two main bus operators in the city. Stagecoach offers single, return, one-day (‘dayrider’) and group tickets, which are all available from the driver. National Express Dundee gives you a similar choice of single, return, one-day (‘daysaver’) and group tickets, again sold on the bus; you can also buy 10-journey carnets from the Dundee Travel Shop (92 Commercial Street).
 
The train is a scenic way to reach nearby coastal suburbs and towns. If you’re heading to Broughty Ferry for an ice-cream or a pub lunch for example, it’s just seven minutes by rail. It’s straightforward to pick up a taxi from a rank, hail one on the street or call one in advance.
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Hotels


Dundee is already home to a small clutch of upmarket hotels, with more slated to open as the waterfront development progresses, including the city’s first five-star property. In the centre, the Apex City Quay Hotel & Spa (1 West Victoria Dock Road) is one of Dundee’s most stylish sleeps, with sleek, chic rooms, huge windows, a swanky spa and pool, plus a trendy brasserie. Also luxurious, but with a more traditional exterior, is The Landmark Dundee (Kingsway West), located at the edge of Dundee in a converted mansion house with beautiful grounds and an indoor pool.
 
Beyond the city, your room can overlook one of the world’s leading championship golf courses at The Carnoustie Golf Hotel (The Links, Carnoustie), and if you overdo it on the fairway, there’s a handy spa to soothe any aches. A good-value option right in the city centre is the Travelodge Dundee Central Hotel (152-158 West Marketgait).
 
To book a hotel click here
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Nightlife


This is Scotland – a good night out is all but guaranteed. Start at The Speedwell Bar (165-167 Perth Road), a traditional pub with superb beer and a vast choice of malt whiskies. Young professionals mingle over mojitos at Jute Café Bar (Dundee Contemporary Arts, 152 Nethergate). In summer, drinkers pack Dundee’s oldest beer garden at Laings (8 Roseangle); indoors, the bar has live music every Wednesday and DJs at the weekends.
 
A new entry to CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide 2012, thanks to its extensive range of ales, is Duke’s Corner (13 Brown Street); this is also a great place to check out local bands – you might even come across the next Snow Patrol, who formed in Dundee in the 1990s. Cool clubbers flock to The Reading Rooms (57 Blackscroft), host to the likes of Gilles Peterson and The View. Beyond the pub, Dundee Rep Theatre (Tay Square) stages first-class theatrical and dance productions.
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Restaurants


There’s a good choice of restaurants in central Dundee and it’s also worth exploring the nearby culinary delights of Broughty Ferry or across the water in Fife.
 
For fine dining (think guinea fowl, venison and scallops), clever cocktails, and an impressive selection of over 100 wines, book a table at The Playwright (11 Tay Street). New to Broughty Ferry is Collinsons (122-124 Brown Street, Broughty Ferry), tempting diners with wild rabbit, Arbroath smokies and delectable fruit tarts.
 
Marco Polo (41 Dock Street) is a busy and stylish eatery in Dundee’s new waterfront development with top-notch Mediterranean cuisine, steaks and seafood. Popular Italian bistro Piccolo (210 Perth Road) serves up well-priced and delicious pasta, fish and meat dishes.
 
Worth the short taxi ride across the Tay Bridge is The View (Naughton Road, Wormit), whose modern British tasting plates might include peat-smoked haddock, haggis fritters or goat’s cheese and butternut squash spring rolls.
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Shopping


Overgate shopping centre in the heart of Dundee is the place to head for high-street names from Superdry to Swarovski. 
 
Dundee Contemporary Arts (152 Nethergate) sells a fantastic range of products in its shop including funky kitchenware, handmade cushions, unique jewellery and prints produced in its own studios.
 
Vinyl enthusiasts should make a beeline for Groucho’s (132 Nethergate), Dundee’s longest-standing record store, selling an enviable collection of secondhand records, CDs and DVDs. Or choose a one-of-a-kind outfit from quirky handpicked and reworked vintage clothing at Maggie’s Farm Boutique (22 Union Street), named Fashion Retailer of the Year at the 2012 Scottish Independent Retail Awards.
 
If you’re a foodie, time your visit to coincide with the Farmers’ Market (High Street), held on the third Saturday of each month. Stock up on fresh fish and game, Caithness cheese and craft ale, or pick up pewterware and locally made ceramics.
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Top 10 sights


Top 5 sights for first-timers
 
Discovery

Imagine the hardships (and comparative luxuries) on Scott’s 1901-1904 Antarctic expedition aboard the RRS Discovery, built in Dundee. Tour the mess deck, where crewmen slept in hammocks, and the wardroom, where the officers and scientists dined off Royal Doulton china. In the galley, cook Charles Clarke baked fresh bread daily and concocted dishes from penguins and seals.
 
Discovery Point, Discovery Quay
www.rrsdiscovery.com
 
Verdant Works

This restored jute mill takes you back to the days when Dundee was the undisputed king of jute at the height of the Industrial Revolution. By the turn of the last century, over 50,000 workers were employed in more than 100 jute mills across the city.
 
West Henderson’s Wynd
www.rrsdiscovery.com
 
HM Frigate Unicorn

Delve into the depths of this astonishingly well-preserved 46-gun sailing frigate, built for the Royal Navy and launched in 1824. Manned by a crew of 300, the powerful warship was never called up for action, but remained part of the UK’s strategic deterrent.
 
Victoria Dock
www.frigateunicorn.org
 
The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery and Museum

A remarkable restoration in 2010 transformed Dundee’s flagship museum. Its galleries document the city’s history (the whaling collection is of particular significance) and highlight Dundee’s importance as a centre for trade via an eclectic collection of global artefacts, from an African helmet mask to a bear claw necklace to a Japanese tea set.
 
Albert Square, Meadowside
www.mcmanus.co.uk
 
Dundee Contemporary Arts

The city’s modern creative hub hosts a changing programme of thought-provoking exhibitions, talks and art house films. You can also sign up to an array of one-day arty courses, including screen printing, Japanese calligraphy and leather stitching.
 
152 Nethergate
www.dca.org.uk
 
Top 5 sights for old hands
 
Broughty Ferry

When the sun’s shining, head along to the pretty seaside suburb of Broughty Ferry. Enjoy the wide sandy Blue Flag beach, amble along the Esplanade, visit 15th-century Broughty Castle, tuck into fresh mussels at The Ship Inn, and slurp on fabulous ice cream from Visocchi’s.
 
Broughty Ferry, six kilometres east of Dundee
www.cometobroughty.co.uk
 
Glamis Castle

Just 19 kilometres from Dundee, this fairytale castle has been the ancestral home of the Earls of Strathmore for over 600 years and was the childhood home of HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. The castle is open from Easter to December, while the spectacular grounds and gardens remain open year round.
 
Glamis, near Forfar
www.glamis-castle.co.uk
 
Mills Observatory

Stargaze through a Victorian telescope or count planets using the computerised modern equivalent which can detect an incredible 30,000 celestial objects. Explore space on a live intergalactic tour during fortnightly planetarium shows. 
 
Balgay Park, Glamis Road
www.leisureandculturedundee.com/mills
 
Dundee Botanic Garden

Inhale the scent of conifers and wander amid a startling assortment of plants from temperate regions across the globe. Explore herb and water gardens, and discover contrasting rainforest and desert habitats in the glasshouses. 
 
University of Dundee, Riverside Drive
www.dundee.ac.uk/botanic
 
University of Dundee Museums

Visit the university’s Lamb and Tower Foyer Galleries for a regularly changing programme of innovative art and science exhibitions featuring objects from the institution’s own extensive collection of over 20,000 artefacts, artworks and specimens, as well as new works from contemporary artists.
 
Tower Building, University of Dundee, Nethergate
www.dundee.ac.uk/museum
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Top 5 activities


Golfing

Dundee is within chipping distance of two of the world’s finest links courses: The Old Course at St Andrews and Carnoustie. A 21st-century challenger gaining numerous accolades (including Golf Tourism Scotland Course of the Year 2011 and 2012) is Kingsbarns, just outside St Andrews.
 
Walking

You don’t have to venture far from Dundee to hike among the breathtaking and romantic beauty of the Angus glens. These five glens encompass dramatic heather-draped mountains, sweeping pastureland and meandering streams, reaching into the fringes of the Cairngorms National Park.
 
Cycling

Pop a Dundee Cycle Map in your back pocket and take in some of the city’s top sights and parks along the Green Circular Route. Alternatively, pedal across the Tay Bridge on National Cycle Network Route 1 to Tentsmuir Forest and St Andrews.
 
Dolphin watching

From July to September, set sail on an organised boat trip from Broughty Ferry and keep your eyes peeled for Scotland’s resident bottlenose dolphins, which make regular (and often acrobatic) appearances in the Tay Estuary.
 
Fishing
 
Reel in a whopper on the River Tay: head upstream into Perthshire for some of the UK’s finest salmon fly fishing. The season runs from mid-January to mid-October.
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Top 5 events


Alba Real Ale Festival
 
Tickle your taste buds and take your pick from over 40 real ales, ciders and lagers at this celebration of independent Scottish microbreweries. Local bands entertain the crowds and there’s a barbecue on hand to soak up the beer.
 
Date: August
Venue: Royal Tay Yacht Club, Broughty Ferry
 
Dundee Flower and Food Festival

Cast your eyes over the region’s finest fruit, veg and flora, with spectacular displays and competitions, including the World Gladioli and World Potato Championships. Cookery shows, celebrity gardeners and live music add to the atmosphere.
 
Date: September
Venue: Camperdown Park
 
Dundee Literary Festival

Hear established and up-and-coming authors, poets and comic artists in a lively programme of readings, talks, debates and workshops. Fiction, crime, adventure travel and politics are all likely to make an appearance.
 
Date: October
Venue: Dalhousie Building, University of Dundee; Bonar Hall, Perth Road; and Dundee Contemporary Arts
 
Dundee Science Festival

Celebrating Dundee’s position as a renowned centre for scientific innovation and research, this fun, action-packed festival crams in science demonstrations, interactive workshops, lectures, debates and exhibitions.
 
Date: November
Venue: Various
 
NEoN Digital Arts Festival

Scotland’s only digital arts festival showcases Dundee’s successful digital media industry through a creative mix of high-tech light and sound installations, dance performance, exhibitions, workshops and screenings.
 
Date: November
Venue: Various

Written by World Travel Guide

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