Must-Visit Attractions in Dundee, Scotland

Claypotts Castle is one of the top attractions in Dundee and dates back to the 1500s
Claypotts Castle is one of the top attractions in Dundee and dates back to the 1500s | © allan wright / Alamy Stock Photo
Tori Chalmers

Although at times overshadowed by more famous Scottish cities, Dundee is a dark horse that should not be overlooked. This city offers castles, museums, galleries, cafes and much more. From Glamis Castle to the Mills Observatory, here’s our guide to the best of Dundee, Scotland.

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RRS Discovery

Museum, Historical Landmark

© Ian Dagnall / Alamy Stock Photo

The star of Dundee’s Discovery Point show is the RRS Discovery, a three-masted beauty of a 1901 vessel that, with Captain Scott at the helm, expanded the frontiers of exploration in Antarctica. This multi-award-winning, self-led attraction documents Discovery’s legacy from her birth in Dundee to the crews that graced her decks.

Broughty Castle

Museum, Historical Landmark
Basking at the mouth of the River Tay, Broughty Castle is home to its very own free museum and gallery filled with paintings and displays documenting the heritage of the local people. Although constructed in 1496, this coastal castle underwent multiple sieges, battles and attacks, leading to its rebuilding during the 19th century to improve the Tay’s shoreline defence system.

Verdant Works

Museum
Verdant Works is a bridge leading to Dundee’s past as an industrial textile epicentre. Overrun with ceiling beams and natural light dancing in from the square window panes, this lofty converted mill helps paint the picture of local jute production during the 19th and 20th centuries. Verdant Works is the UK’s only designated jute museum – and a must-see.

Dundee Science Centre

Museum

© Monica Wells / Alamy Stock Photo

Beyond the utilitarian exterior of the Dundee Science Centre awaits a hub of scientific appeal. The array of hands-on exhibits place the centre at the top of the list for family-friendly activities. And yes, big kids are just as likely to be entertained.

Camperdown Country Park

Park
Consisting of over 400 acres (160ha), Camperdown is Dundee’s biggest public park and imbued with neoclassical beauty (in the form of Camperdown House). Perfect for leafy wanderings, the space is punctuated with rows upon rows of trees spanning around 190 species and a wildlife centre.

McManus Galleries

Building, Memorial, Museum
Like something from a Wes Anderson movie set, McManus Galleries operates out of a striking gothic revival building guarded by brooding steps. And yet, inside is where the magic happens. The curved glacial white ceiling and ethereal rays cast a calming ambience over the museum and art gallery collections, which span the entire gamut from natural history and fine art to decorative art. This is an unmissable attraction for art-hungry wanderers.

Mills Observatory

Museum, Architectural Landmark
Ignore the somewhat dishevelled appearance and revel in the wonder of the world with a stargazing extravaganza at the Mills Observatory. Taking the crown as the UK’s first-ever purpose-built astronomical observatory, this gem of a spot holds the key to a fully computerised telescope, planetarium shows and displays revolving around space exploration and astronomy.

Dundee Contemporary Arts

Art Gallery

© John Peter Photography / Alamy Stock Photo

A hotbed of innovation and epiphanies, Dundee Contemporary Arts is one of the city’s most adored cultural gems. Playing to all kinds of creativity, this arty space ticks every box with its two contemporary art galleries, a two-screen cinema, a print studio, a visual research centre and a happening café.

Lemming Statues

Memorial
Dundee is the doyen of Scotland’s burgeoning video game scene. A masterpiece by artist Alyson Conway, the weirdly adorable Lemmings Statues found frolicking around Perth Road pay homage to the video game characters created by DMA Design, the brains behind the original Grand Theft Auto titles. Gamers in the know can’t surpass such a unique photo op!

Monikie Country Park

Park

© JJ Walters / Alamy Stock Photo

Suited to those days that demand doing something involving the outdoors, Monikie Country Park is bursting with adrenaline-inducing fun. Activities range from paddle boarding and zip lining to mountain biking and BBQ-ing. Those in it for the thoughtful meanders can delight in the many walking trails and the Denfind Bird Sanctuary.

Desperate Dan Statue

Memorial

© Sheila Taylor / Alamy Stock Photo

A mandatory selfie site, the High Street Desperate Dan Statue is the perfect tool to up the Instagram game. Notorious for his wild-west ways and love of cow pies, this comic-strip icon wowed the UK with his cameo in The Dandy in 1937. It’s only fitting that the city hosts this legendary statue, as it’s home to Dan’s publisher – media powerhouse DC Thomson.

Dundee Law

Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark
A sizable chunk of an extinct volcano, Dundee Law is a soothing staple in the city’s varied skyline, topped with a towering monument. Its history dates back to around 400 million years ago, and archaeological findings revealed prehistoric graves and confirmed that it once served as an Iron Age hillfort.

Dundee Repertory Theatre

Theatre
With artistic director Andrew Panton holding the reins and two creative ensembles under one roof (Dundee Rep actors and the Scottish Dance Theatre), this charming company puts on life-affirming productions time and time again, including a roller-coaster ride of internationally acclaimed shows.

Claypotts Castle

Historical Landmark
Praised as one of Scotland’s more out-the-box fortresses, Claypotts Castle dates back to the 1500s. A place of architectural intrigue, this Scottish gem boasts its original timber roof, rounded towers, stair turrets, stand-out attic corbelling and garnished elevations.

V&A Museum Of Design Dundee

Building, Museum

Explore sights like the V&A while staying at the perfect boutique hotel in Dundee, Scotland

A testament to Dundee’s rich design heritage, the V&A Museum of Design Dundee is set to descend upon the city in 2018. This already iconic cabinet of curiosity is Scotland’s first-ever design museum and the only Scottish location to showcase V&A international touring exhibitions outside London. Through drawing upon historically significant objects and globally renowned collections, this hotbed of innovation is a platform for Scotland’s design gurus to expand all creative realms.

Open/close Dundee

Architectural Landmark
Dundee has a strong street art community, who have embarked on a number of citywide projects over the years, and open/close is perhaps the most well known. There are two trails – one through the city centre and another winding through the old mills and jute factories in Stobswell – which cover the dozens of doorways, shutters and walls painted by artists from all over the world.

The Tay Rail Bridge

Bridge
Anyone heading into Dundee by train will experience this astounding bridge first hand, but to truly appreciate it, you need to see it from below. When it was originally completed in 1878, the six-year project was the longest bridge in the world, and while it no longer carries that crown, it’s a masterpiece of engineering, and it also features a viewing platform so you can look over the Firth of Tay.

St. Paul’s Cathedral

Cathedral
Although smaller than its counterpart of the same name in London, the Dundee edition of St. Paul’s Cathedral is also worth seeing. It’s situated in the middle of Old Town, instantly recognisable for its 213ft-high (65m) tower and neo-gothic design. The nearby Howff graveyard is also a great place to explore.

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