Dundee, exploring the Design and Culture around the City

I am liking the new strapline for Dundee ‘One City, Many Discoveries’ Which is indeed the case.


Myself and the Scotlanders group had been invited to visit Dundee by Jennie (Patter PR) and Tara (V&A Dundee) Gaynor (Dundee Waterfront Tourism). We started our morning with breakfast (I love any foods served with Black pudding) in this case an omelette and a coffee at the DCA, Dundee Contemporary Arts. The DCA is a popular venue in Dundee for both their cultural and educational developments, also with a great Restaurant, called the Jute Café Bar, which is popular for locals to enjoy a nice lunch or dinner, I have over the years had really nice evening out there.

With Dundee having won UNESCO City of Design, as the first City in the UK to be awarded this back in December, this was the perfect excuse for me to explore the City’s Design and Culture elements and many sights. It is hoped locally in Dundee that with the new V&A Museum www.vandadundee.org/ that this would have the Guggenheim effect, which the Guggenheim museum has had on the city of Bilbao in the Basque Country, which I visited last August. Having seen the difference it made to the local economy in Bilbao, we can only hope this would be the case in Dundee as well.




An art impression of the new Dundee Waterfront and green space available for both large scale events and daily use by locals. To say that we are all excited about the new V&A museum being built in Dundee I think is an understatement! This is the first V&A museum to be built outside London, South Kensington. Personally I am really excited about this as when I use to live in Kensington, London I was a regular visitor to the Victoria and Albert Museum. Despite visiting for years I was always fascinated both by the scale of the building, but also by the beauty of the many exhibitions and displays. Bring on 2018 when we are due to see the V&A Dundee open.

Once we had an overview of the updates and changes within Dundee, we all split up for our different activities.

On route to the McManus Gallery and Museum, I passed one of the oldest buildings in the city, The Steeple Church, a beautifully kept 18th century building, which is nicely located right in the heart of the city and only a few minutes from the main City Square. It’s worth a wonder around the building and spotting the many features and unique parts of the building.


‘The Steeple Church’


‘The McManus Gallery and Museum’


When I arrived at the McManus I was taken back, it’s a well-kept and beautiful Gothic style building, which was build back in 1865. The grounds around this building looks manicured to perfection and it’s well worth a wonder just to admire these and of course the building. There is also a large and impressive statue of our famous Robert Burns at the very front of the building which has been in this spot since 1880. This adds really nicely to the feel of the welcome.


Inside I found the local history and inventions of Dundee, with many items on display such as the gaming industry, cartoons and of course the history of jute in Dundee. The City use to be famous for three J’s, known as the City of Jute, Jam and Journalism. Jute mills were a big thing in Dundee, these days you can visit the Verdant Works, which is Dundee’s Jute museum and gives you an insight into what life was like and what it meant to the people of Dundee

Jam was in fact discovered in Dundee in the 1700’s by a local Dundee woman. Dundee still has a big selection of local producers of fantastic cakes, meats and other foods. Just outside Dundee on the way towards the City of Perth, you will see a lot of red berries being grown, coming back to Dundee being one of the sunniest cities in Scotland, which is why it’s great for a day out, as well as growing great fruit!

Finally journalism, Dundee has DC Thomson who are the founders of the Dennis the Menace, Bath Street Kids, The Beano and much more. DC Thomson are still the publisher of the local new paper the Courier.






I could easily have spent a lot longer in the McManus Museum, so a great reason to return! After I had finished, I got the chance to try out a local game, which can only be played in Dundee (and currently only on ISO devices). The game is called OtherDundee by Quaritc Llama, a Dundee Gaming Design company. Who in conjunction with the National Theatre of Scotland produced a new way of experiencing Dundee. Even though I have been to Dundee many times over several years, this interactive game gave me a completely new insight into the Other Dundee and got to see a new side to the City. My verdict is that it’s awesome and anyone visiting the city should try it out www.otherdundee.com


After the Other experience of Dundee, I went to visit The Mills Observatory. What I did not realise was that this was in fact the first purpose built observatory in the UK. There is a fantastic south facing terrace, unfortunately it was a little too windy on the roof to use the telescope, this means that I will just need to return another day or even better, evening! It sits on the Balgay Hill in the city, with a wonderful view across the River Tay towards it’s two bridges and the City Quay and waterfront which is now all being developed.




I quickly made my way to The Law Memorial, which sits on The Law (law meaning Hill) the highest point in the city of Dundee. From here you get an even better view across the city and can enjoy the beautiful sunsets over the River Tay. It’s a wonderful spot for the memorial and I could have spent a lot longer just standing there admiring the city view.




If you are up for seeing burial grounds, The Howff which is right in the city centre of Dundee would be a place to visit. It has in fact been there since 1564 and it does have some of the most impressive and important tombstones in Scotland.



Tay Square, one of many smaller squares around the city. This is also the location of the Rep Theatre of Dundee, part of the National Theatre of Scotland. Do look out for these city planners as they are great for exploring the city and learning more about its history and what’s nearby.



Dundee Waterfront





The newest addition to the Dundee waterfront, is the large footbridge, linking the new developments and the waterfront walkways and attractions.



‘Magdalen Green bandstand’ sits in the shadow of the famous Tay Rail Bridge. The bandstand was build in 1890 and located in the oldest public park in the city and has become one of the iconic designs within the Dundee City landscape. This is a great spot for sitting and seeing the trains coming into Dundee, like they have for many years, planes taking off and landing and just enjoying the view across to Fife



On route back to Edinburgh from a great day out in Dundee, I made a stop at the Bridgeview Station Restaurant for a coffee for the road. The Restaurant sits right by the waterfront of the River Tay and I have several times had lunches and coffees here, enjoying the sunset over the river, so was delighted to see them happily being able to make me a take away coffee even during a busy dinner service.


My next visit to Dundee will include a visit to both the Verdant Works www.rrsdiscovery.com/index.php?pageID=5 and the RRS Discovery www.rrsdiscovery.com/

For ideas on other activities in Dundee and to find out what the other Scotlanders got up to during their visit to Dundee visit www.thescotlanders.com or follow us on twitter @scotlanders #scotlanders and follow me along on twitter


One thought on “Dundee, exploring the Design and Culture around the City

  1. Pingback: Dundee with the family | FunkyEllas Travel

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