City Guides

Things To Do In Dundee: 6 Unconventional Picks And Many Popular Dundee Attractions To Try Today


Dundee is the 4th largest city in Scotland with a population of around 150,000. There are many things to do in Dundee that brought it many most famous titles such as the No. 5 spot in “The Worldwide Hote Destinations” list of The Wall Street Journal 2018. Dundee has contributed greatly to video games, comics and medical research and recognised by the United Nations as the United Kingdoms’ first UNESCO city of design. 

Here is our list of famous and unconventional Dundee attractions and activities to do:

I. Top attractions to visit in Dundee?

Dundee is famous for its video games and comics contribution. The city’s 800 years of history has also left many legacies worth visiting such as castles, vaults, battleships and above all, a vibrant street art scene. Here are our suggestions of six top things to see in Dundee along with some less known places to visit in town.

The Tay Rail Bridge

When entering the city, you will pass by the bridge that was once the longest in the world. Originally built between 1872 and 1878, the bridge was replaced in 1887 using recovered girders from the original one. One of the world’s most spectacular railway journeys at the moment, you can view Dundee city and the Firth of Tay from here.

Image from TBC website.

McManus Galleries

A homage to Dundee’s artistic and historical nature, The McManus Galleries is a Gothic Revival-style grand old Victorian building located at the heart of the city. This Dundee's art gallery hosts the local history exhibits from prehistoric time to the present. There is also the natural history collection on the wildlife of the Lowlands and Highlands as well as archaeological artefacts from ancient Egypt in McManus Gallery. Contemporary art lovers can enjoy the collection of artworks by 19th and 20th-century masters and artists, including James MacIntosh Patrick.

Discovery Point and the RRS Discovery

The RRS Discovery ship was built to assist Robert F.Scott’s expedition to the Antarctic between 1901 and 1904. You can learn about the history of the ship as well as the natural wilderness and inspiring beauty of the Polar Regions in Discovery Point educational materials. The vessel is known as the last wood-built, three-masted vessel ever constructed in the UK, and was once the strongest wooden hull of any ship in history. 

V & A Dundee

V & A is Scotland’s latest hype and first design museum. Located in Dundee's waterfront, Japanese architect Kengo Kuma designed this Dundee museum with concrete walls that form the Scottish cliff face. The naturally lit interior overlooking the Tay is a symbol of the city’s developing waterfront. Dundee visitors would love the Scottish Design Gallery in the 1908-built Oak Room that exhibits Scotland’s leading innovators and innovations in the design industry.

D’Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum

The museum was named after the Scottish biologist and mathematician D’Arcy Thompson and is based at The University of Dundee.  Visitors can find an impressive collection of flora and fauna, as well as birds, insects, mammals, fish and reptiles from around the world.

Broughty Ferry

The most famous attractions in Broughty Ferry are the Broughty Castle and the Claypotts Castle. The Broughty Castle was built in the 15th century as a private dwelling and a fortified residence for the Strachan family. It is now the memorial for the people, the life and the environment of that era. Meanwhile, the Claypotts Castle in West Ferry nearby represents the unique castle design of the 16th century in Scotland with all of its beauty untouched. 

Unconventional picks

The above Dundee tourist attractions have been mentioned way too many times. But have you heard of the following lesser-known things to see in Dundee? 

Old Steeple

Scotland’s oldest surviving medieval church tower, this tower remains after 500 years of battles, armies and attacks. History buffs can find a collection of medieval carved stones, an Antiquities Room, and the Cap House here. Besides Dundee Law, the top of its 232-steps staircase offers a beautiful bird’s eye view of the city that many visitors enjoy.

Grissel Jaffray Memorial

Along the Murraygate pedestrian thoroughfare in Dundee is the Peter Street alleyway. A tiled cone-shaped art piece on the ground at the entrance marked the unjust execution of Grissel Jaffray. Wife of a local respectable businessman in the 17th century, she was the victim of witchcraft on the spot.  

Image from Atlas Obscura.

Balgarthno Stone Circle

For first time visitors, this curious circle of stone brings about many unanswered questions. The orientation of the stone often shows some relation to the movement of the sun and moon. In the mid 19th century, people uncovered a jet ring of a late prehistoric period, now stored in the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh.

Lemmings Statue 

Of many activities in Dundee, you can go on a small sculpture hunting to learn more about the city’s many contributions to the world of comics and video games. 

The first one is the three bronze lemmings in various stages of climbing onto a statue in Seabraes Park. Created in 2013 by local artist Alyson Conway, the statue is a tribute to the video game Lemmings from the early 90s, made popular by a studio near the statue.

Then in the city centre, look for life-sized figures of famous Scottish comics including Desperate Dan statue, the dog Gnasher statue and Minnie the Minx statue from the Dandy and Beano comics. Those are the products of the D.C. Thomson & Co local publishing house.

II. What are the best outdoor activities in Dundee?

Besides the manmade creations, there are also abundant outdoor things to do in Dundee that combine its untouched nature, beautiful lakes and diverse wildlife. Here are our pick of the ten most interesting outdoor pursuits to do in Dundee.

Pirate Boats

Tripadvisor travellers are no stranger to this tour as Pirate Boats is the number one outdoor activity in Dundee and Angus. From April to November every year, you can take fast Rib Boat Seafari trips on the Estuary of the river Tay to view seals, dolphins, lighthouses, and the V & A from the water and much more... 

Foxlake Dundee

Foxlake Dundee offers abundant water sports and games for group activities. You can try all the latest water hypes such as Wakeboarding, Ringo, paddleboarding - Stand Up Paddleboarding or above all, Aqua Park - Scotlands biggest aqua park and large inflatable assault course filled with obstacles and slides. The park is also famous for memorable stag and hen parties.

Camperdown Country Park

Camperdown Park is the largest park in Dundee, set on the grounds of the 19th-century mansion - the Camperdown House. It is home to the Camperdown Wildlife Center, where you can become a Zoo Keeper for a day and learn about animals such as European wolves, ocelots, European brown bears, owls, lemurs, marmosets, meerkats and more. The park also has an 18-hole golf course and is the location of a weekly Parkrun following a course around the 400-acre park.

Open/Close Dundee

Open/Close is a street-art project of large-scale door murals at places like Tay Street Lane, Gardiner Square and 71 Brewing, and ongoing gable end murals in Stobswell, Hilltown and Lochee. The project grew from 6 doors to now 19 doors murals involving many local artists and community groups. A highlight of those murals is Dreamer by Sofia Sita at the back of Dundee Contemporary Arts.

Open/Close Dundee Guided Tour - clip from Open/Close website.

Ancrum Outdoor Centre

Ancrum Outdoor Center is home to thriving thrill-seekers. The centre of over 40 years old offers all kinds of land and water-based adventures activities in Dundee, Tayside region and beyond. Exciting adventures waiting for you and your group of friends with tailored packages to all specific needs. 

Royal Tay Yacht Club

If you fancy a bit more premium water sports, come to the Royal Tay Yacht Club and try sailing, coastal rowing and powerboating at Grassy Beach and Broughty Ferry. They also offer a sailing course, introductory show and row on Sunday mornings and a Youth Section activity for children between 10 and 18 years old. Non-members can also visit and enjoy the river view and the nice ambience in their main clubhouse on Dundee road. Club facilities are also for rent.

Discovery Walk 

On the pavements around Mary Slessor Gardens in Dundee city centre, nine plagues are honouring the achievements of the most famous scientists, engineers, writers, artists, social reformers and philanthropists who have lived and worked here. Besides ten more plagues introducing the Walk, there was a crowdfunding campaign back in 2016 to fund five more plagues. 

Dark Dundee Tours - The Vaults 

Dundee’s unique eerie walking tour. Visitors can listen to interesting tales about the darkest years, crimes and deaths in Dundee’s history. A group of friends can also do a scavenger hunt like no other for a fun day out. If you are wondering, there are no theatrical frights or ghost stories on this tour. The sheer real stories are already thrilling enough.

III. What are the best day trips from Dundee?

If you are staying in Dundee for an extended amount of time, you may be looking for more travel ideas outside of the city. Here is our concise list of things to do near Dundee for a nice day trip with friends:

Carnoustie Golf Links 

    The location for the Open Championship in golf.

Balnuith Alpacas Cottage 

A rare breed farm of alpacas, miniature Mediterranean donkeys, Poitou donkeys, Falabella miniature horses, and guanacos.

Tealing Earth House

An underground passage or stone-lined souterrain from the Iron Age, unearthed during the 1800s.

Monikie Country Park

Beautiful woodland and parkland for rafting, rowboats, high ropes course, windsurfing, sailing, kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, 160-metre zip line and mountain biking.

Morton Lochs

A group of three small lochs fringed with reeds, home to five wildlife hides where you can observe water rail, little grebe, tufted duck, goldeneye, marsh harrier, ospreys, kingfishers, red squirrels and otters in their living habitat. The lochs were recognised as a National Nature Reserve in 1952.

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