by Stephanie Sheehan
Dundee is one of Scotland’s hidden gems, perfect for those looking for an alternative city break this autumn. Found in the county of Angus, a trip to Dundee brilliantly combines all three of Scotland’s most impressive assets, a striking coast line, spectacular countryside and a vibrant, cultural city life. Plus with a quirky history, that includes being home of the famous Dandy & Beano comics and creating Dundee Marmalade, the city is one of Scotland’s most unique offerings.
Dundee’s motto One City, Many Discoveries came about due to the numerous scientific findings that occurred in the area and as such Dundee has a fantastic choice of museums and historical buildings to explore.
Discovery Quay is home to the RSS Discovery ship, a royal research ship that launched in 1901 and was the last traditional three-mast ship to be built in Britain. Visitors can climb aboard the 5-star attraction and discover what life was like on a polar expedition for Captain Scott and his crew. Another naval attraction, the HMS Unicorn, is located at Victoria Dock and is Scotland’s only fully preserved war ship. It’s also one of the six oldest ships in the world and is open to the public for visits from Wednesday to Sunday during the autumn and winter months.
Another favourite cultural attraction is The McManus, Dundee’s popular art gallery and museum. Pivotal to Dundee’s culture since it opened in 1867, The McManus has eight different galleries and regularly has special exhibitions of locally inspired photography, music and art.
Don’t miss a visit to Broughty Castle – up the coast from Dundee city, the castle boasts a fantastic location overlooking the mouth of the River Tay. Built near the end of the 15th century, visitors can enjoy free entry to the castle to soak up one of the best views in all of Scotland.
Shopping in Dundee is focused around the city’s modern shopping centres at Overgate and Wellgate, home to everyone’s favourite high-street brands and restaurants. There are also fantastic independent shops and boutiques along and around Dundee’s High Street (look out for the Desperate Dan statue!) where you can pick up a traditional jar of Dundee Marmalade and other Scottish souvenirs.
There’s a cosmopolitan range of restaurants in Dundee, reflecting its ‘discovery’ motto. You’ll find your favourite Italian, French, Thai and Mexican restaurants, but those looking for traditional Scottish fare should seek out fresh fish and seafood dishes. From the humble fish ‘n’ chips (the best can be found at The Deep Sea in Nethergate) to steaming bowls of mussels and succulent scallops at the bistros and restaurants along the seafront and up the river towards Broughty Ferry, Dundee offers a great choice of fresh seafood restaurants.
In the evening, entertain yourself at one of the many vibrant venues of Dundee. His Majesty’s Theatre presents everything from family-friendly shows to camp classics, whilst The Lemon Treeoffers alternative entertainment with music acts and comedians.
One of the biggest pulls to Dundee is its natural surroundings. From the views of Broughty Castle to a ride over Tay Rail Bridge, there are plenty of ways to uncover the magic of Scotland’s east coast.
North-west of the city sits Camperdown Country Park and Templeton Woods. Filled with woodland paths, grasslands and nature trails, this area is perfect for a relaxing walk, taking in the impressive Camperdown House, the tall beech trees and local wildlife. Backmuir Wood is another great spot for walks north of Dundee, with routes covering between one and three miles through the diverse woodland.
Dundee and Angus’s rich countryside shows the transition between Scotland’s Highlands and Lowlands. With mature farmland, fruit orchards, and the popular Sidlaw Hills highland, the countryside surrounding Dundee city can’t be missed on a city break. Next to Dundee, Fifeis a beautiful county to explore on foot with old houses, hidden ruins and long stretches of mature woodland and farmland. Fife’s coastal path stretches to 175km, between Newburgh and Kincardine. Clearly marked, the path is an easy way to discover the best of Scotland’s impressive cliff-top views, charming fishing villages and impressive architecture, from castles to bridges. Pack your hiking boots and discover for yourself why everyone makes such a fuss about Scotland’s impressive scenery.
There are plenty of picturesque beaches to explore around Dundee too. Take a stroll along the sandy shores of Broughty Ferry beach; awarded a Blue Flag in 2012, this beach is a popular destination for locals and visitors with its golden sands and bright clear waters. Head to Arbroath to soak up the salty air at Carnoustie beach and try the famous locally smoked haddock. Or visit Montrose to find one of Scotland’s prettiest beaches, Lunan Bay, on the Angus coastline.
One of the most famous associations with Dundee is of course St. Andrews. Home to one of the oldest golf courses in the world and host of the St. Andrews Link Trophy tournament and The Open Championship in 2015, St. Andrews is a mecca for golf lovers. Visitors are welcome to play the seven courses at St. Andrews – the Old Courseis hugely popular so bookings are made via a ballot but the other six can be booked in advance, although it’s possible to turn up and play the Balgove Course without any prior booking. For those who prefer to soak up the atmosphere without having to pick up a putter, the Old Course Hotel is perfect for a relaxed lunch, sophisticated afternoon tea or afternoon at their luxury spa centre.