DundeeDundee is a large industrial and port city in North East Scotland. It stands on the north bank of the broad Firth of Tay, which flows out into the North Sea here. Its prime visitor attractions are the ship Discovery, the Verdant jute mill, and the V&A design museum which opened in autumn 2018. It's also a convenient base for nearby major golf tournaments, and for exploring Deeside and the Eastern Highlands.
Dundee was traditionally a grubby, rough industrial town famous for its three J's of jute, jam and journalism. Jute (see "Verdant" listing) still marks the landscape: the mills have all closed but many still stand as offices and apartments. Jam was made from fruit grown nearby. Journalism refers to the D C Thomson publishing empire, whose renown was less for their journalism than for their stable of comics and cartoon strips. These include the Sunday Post with "Oor Wullie" and "The Broons", the Dandy with "Desperate Dan" and the Beano with "Dennis the Menace". Of course that wasn't all the city traditionally had to offer, delicacies such as Dundee Cake, studded with sultanas and almonds, was probably what your Great Aunt Morag enjoyed for Sunday tea along with some Dundee Marmalade to top it off. And then there was the bridge that famously and tragically fell down. And Dundee's great cultural icon was William McGonagall (see info box), surely the world's worst poet.
But the industrial grubbiness is gradually disappearing, enabling the city to shine in its attractive natural setting. There are major visitor attractions already and more appearing. There's a student buzz from the universities, and generally a friendly feel to the place. It's definitely worth a day or two to visit.
Dundee has its own dialect: the vocabulary is much the same as Lowland Scots (see Scotland: Talk) but pronunciation is distinctive. "T" is often dropped in a glottal stop, but the signature sound is the short "eh" (phonetic: ɛ) replacing ay, ae, e, i, ie, uy, y and more. So a pie is a "peh"; "eh" can mean I, yes, what? or hmmm.... Dundonians can conduct entire conversations by just saying "eh".
Dundee Tourist Information Centre is located at Discovery Quay on Riverside by the RRS Discovery. A further information point is located in the city square, to the left of Carid Hall.
address: Ingliston, EdinburghMost convenient international airport nearby.
address: Riverside Drive DD2 1UHVery close to the city centre, but the only commercial flight is to London Stansted by Loganair, twice a day M-F and once on Sunday.
The most convenient international airport for Dundee is Edinburgh (EDI), 60 miles south, with extensive connections across Europe. A recently launched route, the X90, by National Express offers direct buses from Edinbugh Airport to Union Street in Dundee for roughly £16 one way, and £22 return if booked in advance on their website.
Alternatively, the Stagecoach Jet 747 bus runs 24 hours, every 20 minutes during daytime, from the airport stop G north across the old Forth Road Bridge to Inverkeithing and Halbeath Interchange in Fife. Then for Dundee, change either at Inverkeithing for a train (hourly, one hour) or at Halbeath for the Stagecoach X54 (hourly, 90 min).
You can also head by train to Dundee from the airport. The most convenient way would involve getting to the Edinburgh Gateway railway station by tram or bus. Alternatively you can go to the Edinburgh Waverley station for connections mentioned below.
Dundee railway stationJust south of the city centre, close to Discovery Point and the ramps onto the Tay Road Bridge. The station was rebuilt in 2018 with a SleeperZ hotel on the top floors of the station building.
address: Gray Street, DD5 2DXIn the Broughty Ferry Area, not far from the Broughty Ferry Castle. Platform 1 is not suitable for wheelchair users.
There are also overnight Caledonian Sleepers from London Euston. The direct train is the Highland sleeper for Aberdeen and Inverness, leaving London around 21:00 and reaching Dundee at 06:00; it returns at 23:00 reaching London for 08:00. Alternatively take the Lowland sleeper for Edinburgh and Glasgow, leaving London near midnight and changing in Edinburgh at 07:00 for a local train, to reach Dundee around 09:00. To return, you leave Dundee around 21:00 to join the southbound sleeper from Edinburgh near midnight, reaching London for 07:00.
As ever, you need to shop around for the best tickets, and buy early. For instance the standard offpeak return to Dundee from Glasgow is £37, split-ticketing via Perth reduces that to £24, and advance purchase can get the price down to £15. See the Wikivoyage guide to Rail travel in the United Kingdom.
From Edinburgh and the south follow M90 / A90 north, about 55 miles or just over an hour's drive. A slow scenic route is to branch off onto A92 towards Kirkcaldy then wind along the Fife coast and through St Andrews.
From Glasgow follow M80 then M9 / A9 to Perth, and then swing east onto A90. It's 75 miles, about a 90-min drive.
From Aberdeen follow A90 south: it's 67 miles and will take about 80 min.
A90 skirts the north of Dundee, where it's called Kingsway. The speed limit of 40/50 mph is vigilantly enforced.
Scottish Citylink buses run hourly from Glasgow Buchanan station (1 hr 40 min) and Aberdeen Union Square (1 hr 20 min), and every two hours from Edinburgh St Andrews Square (90 min): beware slower buses that meander through the small towns. Megabus competes on those city routes, and also runs direct from Manchester (6 hr). National Express coaches take 12 hours daytime and 11 overnight from London Victoria.
Dundee Bus Station is at 132 Seagate DD1 2HR, in the city centre. There are no left-luggage facilities. Lots of cafes & fast-food nearby.
To get around Dundee, there are good provisions for car transport. Taxis are available at taxi ranks in the centre. You can expect to pay about £6 for a journey in the city centre, and £15 to Broughty Ferry.
The local bus service has extensive intra-city connections. All the local buses converge to the city centre and are relatively cheap. You can buy a 10-journey pass or an all-day pass. Dundee Travel Info has travel news, real time info and a journey planner for public transport. There are a few different operators, the more notable ones being Stagecoach and Xplore Dundee, and their day tickets are not interchangeable unless you purchase the 'ABC' (All Bus Companies) ticket - more information on which can the found on the aformentioned website.
You can get to Broughty Ferry and Invergowrie by train from Dundee railway station, predominantaly by Scotrail for £2.60, and £4.10 return, respectively.
His talent ranged over battles, shipwrecks and the Scottish countryside. In 1883 a whale swam into the River Tay and was landed:
But his most celebrated works were those extolling the "Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silvery Tay! With your numerous arches and pillars in so grand array...."
And so on, and on, and on, until tragically
He published some 200 poems of similar brilliance. He was mocked, he was pelted with eggs, he endured practical jokes (most famously the hoax award of the Siamese Order of the White Elephant), he was chronically poor. A true artist: nothing and nobody could stop his poetry.
address: Riverside Drive, DD1 4XADiscovery, launched in 1901, is an Royal Research Ship (RRS) specifically built for Antarctic research. Built in Dundee, she's a wooden sailing vessel with only auxiliary steam power. Discovery was commanded by Robert Falcon Scott; also aboard was Ernest Shackleton. They reached Antarctica in early 1902 (ie summer), intending to spend one winter there, but the ship became icebound for the next two years. They were just about to abandon ship in Feb 1904 when the ice broke and they escaped homeward, to public acclaim. Both men were to return: Shackleton in 1907-09 didn't quite reach the South Pole, but survived; Scott in 1910-12 did reach it, but behind Amundsen, and all his party perished on the trek back to the coast.
Discovery Point has an extensive display of the 1902-04 expedition, which spent most of its time ashore, and then you go aboard the ship.
address: West Henderson’s Wynd DD1 5BTIn the 19th century, you just had to have jute. Curtains & carpets & blankets, hard-wearing clothing. Satchels and roof felt, ropes of all kinds, sails for ships, tents for soldiers. The raw material is a coarse flax that grows in Bengal: it was processed here because Dundee had fast ships to import it, whale oil to make it soft and workable, flax-weaving technology, and then again the fast ships to export finished goods globally. The city's mill owners grew very rich; the mill workers didn't, nor did the Bengalis. Verdant Works, built in 1833, was one of many jute factories here. Many of them still stand, converted into offices and apartments; Verdant was turned into a museum in 1996.
address: 1 Riverside Esplanade, DD1 4DEThe Dundee branch of London's Victoria and Albert museum, with a focus on design in Scotland. The building, on the waterfront close to Discovery, is a striking modern design.
address: Albert Square, Meadowside, DD1 1DAMuseum with 8 galleries tracing Dundee's story. Plus exhibitions, one of which celebrates 80 years of Beano comic, e.g. Dennis the Menace. The building, almost 150 years old, was a memorial to Prince Albert.
address: South Victoria Dock Road, DD1 3BPA 46-gun frigate launched in 1824 at Chatham Docks, England, but immediately mothballed, so she was never fitted with masts, rigging or guns. Her hull was roofed over and her only sea voyage was in 1873 when she was towed north to Dundee to act as a training hulk. This means her original Georgian timbers are in unusually good condition.
Her sister ship HMS Trincomalee also survives. She's fully rigged and can be visited at Jackson Dock, Hartlepool.
Tay BridgesThere are three... well, two-and-a-bit really:
Tay Road Bridge, opened in 1966, carries the A92. It's 2.25 km long, and climbs 30 m from Dundee to Newport-on-Tay in Fife. No tolls, and there's a footpath and cycleway from which you can admire the scenery. It may be closed in high winds, see tayroadbridge.co.uk for current road conditions.
The second Tay Rail Bridge, opened in 1887, carries the railway main line across to Wormit in Fife. It's 3.5 km long; refurbishment in 2003 included scraping 1000 metric tons of bird droppings from the structure.
And then there's the infamous first Tay Rail Bridge, remnants of which can be seen near the current rail bridge. It opened in 1878 but collapsed in high winds on 28 Dec 1879, taking a train with it, and all 75 aboard were killed.
address: Meadowside, DD1 1LNAn ancient cemetery in the heart of Dundee, it was part of Greyfriars Monastery until Mary Queen of Scots gave it to the city in 1564. Unusual and well-preserved gravestones, including that of James Chalmers (d 1853), inventor of the adhesive postage stamp. The last burial here was of George Duncan, businessman and MP, in 1878. Today the Howff is a secluded, peaceful place.
address: Riverside Drive, DD2 1QH9-hectare garden with tropical glasshouses.
address: Glamis Road, Balgay Park DD2 2UBA public astronomical observatory. In summer it's only open daytime, the nights are too short for looking through telescopes.
Dundee LawA 572-ft high extinct volcano which gives a good view over the city.
address: Camperdown Country Park, Coupar Angus Road, DD2 4TFMenagerie with birds and (mostly small) beasts.
address: Castle Approach, Broughty Ferry, DD5 2TFCastle built in 1496 now housing a local history museum.
phone: +44 1382 455196address: Unit 10 Market Mews, Market Street, DD1 3LA
- Places of worship: Dundee has over 30 churches, 3 mosques, a Sikh temple and a Buddhist group. The two cathedrals are both Victorian Gothic: St Paul's Episcopal on High St, and St Andrew's RC on Nethergate.
address: Tay Square DD1 1PBProgramme of theatre, dance and music.
address: 152 NethergateModern art exhibitions, events and films.
address: City Square, DD1 3BBOften hosts concerts, bands, etc. Caird Hall is also home to a grand 1922 Organ.
address: 7 Dayton Drive, DD2 3SQPublic skating & lessons most days. It's the home rink of Dundee CCS Stars: they play in the Elite Ice Hockey League, with games most weekends Sept-March.
address: Greenmarket, DD1 4QBInteractive science museum.
address: 3 East Whale Lane DD1 3JULeisure pool is open daily from 10:00, but full facilities - waves, flumes and diving pool - only as noted.
phone: +44 1382 434940address: Bellfield Street, DD1 5JAMostly light fare: musicals, tribute acts, light opera and comedy.
address: Camperdown Country ParkFlower and food show with several competitions. We can only envy the judges of the Scotch Broth and the Dundee Cake competitions.
Play or watch golf: Dundee is close to several major-circuit golf courses. Just 20 km east is Carnoustie, hosts of the 2018 Open. Within 30 min south over the bridge are the St Andrews and Kingsway courses, and within an hour's drive west is Gleneagles. There are plenty of less renowned courses for a casual game: the city's local club is
Caird Parkaddress: Mains Loan DD4 9BXTwo courses and a golf simulator.
- Ski: Dundee is about an hour's drive to Glenshee ski area (follow A93 towards Braemar) and two hours from Aviemore (follow A9). Both areas are small, with short runs on unreliable snow: check piste & weather conditions before setting off. Weekends and half-term get very congested.
- Watch football, i.e. soccer. The city has two teams, with stadiums almost adjacent, and (since 2019) both playing in the Scottish Championship, the country's second tier of football. Dundee FC play at Dens Park, capacity 11,000, at Sandeman St DD3 7JY and now called "Kilmac Stadium". It's a mile north of the centre. Dundee United play at Tannadice Park DD3 7JW, capacity 14,000, barely 200 yards from their rivals at Dens Park.
- Westfest is a music festival and community fair held in June on Magdalen Green. The next is on Sun 7 June 2020.
- Dundee University
- University Of Abertay
- The High School of Dundee
- Dundee College
- Tayside Language Centre
- Job Centers Wellgate Center & Gellatly Street
- Adecco Meadowside / Albert Sq.
In addition to this, there are substantial branches of High street stores along the Murraygate and city centre area.
Dundee also has the usual large-scale out of town retail parks that are common in Scotland's bigger towns and cities.
phone: +44 1382 455883address: 162 Arbroath Road DD4 7PYChinese takeaway with home Delivery.
address: 13 Brown Street DD1 5EGLively entertainment venue, serving burgers, salads, pizzas from noon. Student clientele. Good for lunch or early dinner, gets noisy once the music starts.
Parlouraddress: 58 West Port DD1 5EPPopular café near Uni, small place so it gets busy and cramped. Menu changes daily, lots of vegetarian options.
address: 115-117 Perth RoadLong-established budget Indian restaurant.
address: 1 Session Street, DD1 5DNFriendly family restaurant with goldfish pool.
Phoenixaddress: 103 Nethergate, DD1 4DHGood pub grub at reasonable prices.
phone: +44 1382 221501address: 99-101 Perth Rd, DD1 4JAFriendly Indian and Bangladeshi restaurant.
phone: +44 1382 220220address: Unit 1c/d City Quay Victoria Docks, Camperdown Street, DD1 3JATakeaway pizza.
address: Unit 3 & 4, City Quay, 21A Camperdown St DD1 3JAWaterfront all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet.
address: 7-9 Whitehall Street DD1 4AAFixed-price all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet in Scottish chain restaurant.
address: 51 Commercial Street DD1 2AAHighly recommended food & drink.
address: 34 Reform Street DD1 1RHPub with reliable food.
address: 16 Commercial Street, DD1 3EJMexican classics, hefty portions.
address: 67-71 Reform StJD Wetherspoon's efficient chain choice.
address: 53 West Port, DD1 5ERPub with extensive menu including vegetarian.
phone: +44 1382 660600address: 177 Perth Road DD2 1ASItalian restaurant.
For self-catering, there are lots of supermarkets. Tesco predominates, with four branches: in the city centre, one next to the railway station (24 hrs), one in South Road near Sterling Mills and another on Kingsway. ASDA have a big store on East Kingsway (24 hr) and a smaller one on Gilburn Road. Morrisons are on the Forfar Road, north of A90 Kingsway.
Pubs are dwindling, as in other cities, but there's no shortage. The main concentration is along Hawkhill, Perth Road or West End of the city, with another strip along Nethergate. The student unions of Dundee and Abertay Universities have many good nights and are great for a cheap night out.
City centre pubs:
- Tickety Boo's, Seagate / Commercial Street.
- Klozet, Seagate is the main gay bar.
- Trades House Bar, Union Street.
- The Old Bank Bar, Union Street.
- The Westport Bar, North Lindsay Street.
Pubs along Hawkhill / Perth Road / West End:
- The Globe, Westport / Hawkhill. Handy for nightclubs.
- The Nether Inn, Nethergate. Cheap Student 'Scream' pub.
- Phoenix, Nethergate / Perth Road. Traditional pub
- Number Twenty Five, South Tay Street. Boutique hotel, restaurant, bar.
- Jute Cafe Bar, Perth Road. Trendy bar attached to Dundee Contemporary Arts Centre
- Braes, Perth Road. Modern bar, middle-aged clientele at weekends.
- Speedwell Bar, Perth Road. Locally renowned traditional pub
Nightclubs are all in the city centre:
- Fat Sams, South Ward Road
- Reading Rooms, Blackscroft
- Toffs Piano Bar (formerly Mondo's), Session Street
- Deja Vu, Cowgate
- Underground, South Tay Street.
Central choices include:
phone: +44 1382 202404address: 1 West Victoria Dock Road Dundee DD1 3JPStylish contemporary 4-star hotel, in the new City Quay development, with views of the river and Quay.
address: 160 Nethergate DD1 4DUGood chain choice, central.
address: Riverside Drive DD1 4XARiverside budget inn.
address: 152-158 West Marketgait, DD1 1NJCentral budget hotel. There's another Travelodge north of the centre on Strathmore Ave, and a third (listed below) on the A90 ring road.
phone: +44 1382 669231address: 371 Perth RoadChain 3-star hotel.
phone: +44 1382 224646address: 71 High Street DD1 1SDCentral hostel with dorms and private rooms.
phone: +44 1382 314330address: Dock Street Dundee DD1 3DRVery central 3-star hotel. Rooms are small but not cramped, equipped with tea/coffee maker. Rate includes breakfast and decent wireless Internet.
- In summer, most student accommodation is empty. Try contacting the local Universities (via websites under "Learn") to see if they have anything to offer. Other flats and apartments may also be available: Dundee empties out in summer unless there's a major golf tournament nearby.
There's a string of hotels along the A90 at the edge of the city, including:
address: South Kingsway DD2 5JT4-star lodging in 19th-century mansion with extensive gardens.
address: South Kingsway DD2 5JUBudget hotel, handy for motorists,
address: Kingsway, DD2 4TDBudget chain hotel, convenient for motorists.
Further out in the countryside:
address: Balkello Farm, Auchterhouse DD3 0RALuxurious cottage on farm.
address: Piperdam, Fowlis DD2 5LPSelf-catering lodges by small loch.
Cellular network coverage is provided by the normal UK carriers.
The local police is Police Scotland and the main office is in the town centre at the end of West Bell St beside Dundee's Sheriff Court. In the UK, '999' is the number to call the emergency services, and 101 for less urgent calls to the police. The pan-European emergency number 112 also works.
Dundee has an extensive CCTV system, covering most of the city and the entire city centre. This is owned by Dundee City Council and run by Tayside Police and has helped reduce crime significantly.
Dundee, like any other major city, has its anti-social problems, mainly drugs. The area round the rear of the Wellgate centre (Hilltown) and Stobswell have a bad reputation and care should be exercised on The Law at night. Overall the city has a good reputation.
Dundee has a dual carriageway going through it, the Kingsway, which almost splits the city in half. Be aware of speeding cars, as in any other busy city, as accidents are common.
- South across the Tay is St Andrews, an ancient university town by the sea. It's the home of the Royal and Ancient (the ruling body of Golf), and the former ecclesiastical capital of Scotland. Frequent Stagecoach buses (No 99) take 30 mins. With your own car, continue south to Falkland Palace, and the charming fishing villages of East Fife.
- A short bus or train ride brings you to Perth and Stirling.
- Visit the nearby glens: Glenshee, Glenisla & Tay Valley. North on A9 through Dunkeld and Blair Atholl leads to Aviemore, the Spey Valley and Inverness.
- North along the coast is Aberdeen and Deeside, and eventually Inverness. So the coast route and the Tay Valley route together make a natural circuit of the east/central Highlands.