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This compact Tayside city is a modern European gem in the making. The former jute capital of the world may have lost its way in the latter half of the 20th century, but Dundee is at a crossroads and the lights are about to turn green. An ambitious 30-year master plan is revitalising the waterfront, with an extensive overhaul of the street layout, chic new hotels, a glittering V&A outpost, a railway station revamp and a new public green space all planned for the next few years.Proud of its maritime and industrial heritage, yet looking to the future, this is a city on the up.
Our top five sights
Step back in time to the pioneering days of Antarctic exploration on an interactive journey aboard Captain Scott’s ship RRS Discovery. Discovery Quay, 01382 309 060
HM Frigate Unicorn
Launched in 1824, this beautifully preserved former Royal Navy vessel is one of the six oldest ships in the world.Victoria Dock, 01382 200 900
The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery & Museum
Renovated extensively in 2010, The McManus guides you through the city’s history and houses an impressive collection of art including work by the Glasgow Boys. Albert Square, Meadowside, 01382 307 200
Scotland’s Jute Museum @ Verdant Works
Experience the rise and fall of Dundee’s jute industry, which employed 50,000 people at its peak in 1900. West Henderson’s Wynd, 01382 309 060
This ‘stellar’ sandstone edifice topped with a 7m dome is the UK’s only full-time public observatory. Learn to distinguish Andromeda from Cassiopeia at fortnightly planetarium shows. Glamis Road, Balgay Park, 01382 435 967
Our top five activities
With the championship links courses of St Andrews and Carnoustie both around 20km away, what better place to base yourself than Dundee, midway between the two?
Grab a bike and a Dundee Cycle Map then loop round the city on the 41km Green Circular. Highlights include Discovery Point, the Tay waterfront and Camperdown Country Park.
Immerse yourself in history on the Dundee Heritage Walk, climb Dundee Law for cracking views, spy roe deer and red squirrels in Templeton Woods, or hop on a bus and hike amid the sweeping landscape of the nearby Angus glens.
Local fisheries Piperdam and Kingennie can set you up with all the equipment and coaching you need to bag yourself a brown or rainbow trout.
Satisfy your inner soldier: don full army gear and test your mettle behind the controls of an ex-military tank just outside Dundee.
Our top five events
September: Dundee Flower and Food Festival
This three-day event packs in veg and flower competitions, the finest local produce and handicrafts, kids’ activities, chef and gardener demonstrations, and live music.
October: Dundee Literary Festival
A crammed programme covering the full gamut of literary output from poetry to crime to current affairs, with talks and workshops featuring authors from Scotland and further afield.
November: Dundee Science Festival
Highlighting Dundee’s scientific know-how, this two-week festival encompasses talks, interactive exhibitions, shows and kids’ events, with a few surprises thrown in.
November: Neon Digital Arts Festival
A celebration of global and local digital creativity, in particular Dundee’s successful gaming industry, with talks, performances, screenings and high-tech events.
November: Dundee Jazz Festival
Whether you’re into blues, soul, funk or big band, you’ll find something to suit in this eclectic musical jamboree attracting local and international artists.
While you’ll find major high-street brands in the Overgate shopping centre (Overgate, 01382 314 210), take time to sniff out Dundee’s independent food shops. Track down creamy Highland cheeses at The Cheesery (9 Exchange Street, 01382 202 160) or stock up on handmade steak pies and 21-day aged Scottish beef in Robertson of Broughty Ferry (234 Brook Street, 01382 739 277). The region of Angus is renowned for its fabulous raspberries – treat yourself to a bulging punnet at the Farmers’ Market (High Street), held on the third Saturday of each month. Keep an eye out too for local asparagus in May and June.
Food & Drink
Pop into T Ann Cake (27 Exchange Street, 01382 203 950) for coffee, handmade baked goodies or a light meal. A good business lunch choice is The Waterside Restaurant at Forbes of Kingennie (Kingennie, Broughty Ferry, 01382 350 777), a slick affair with local mussels, salmon and haddock on the menu. For a traditional pub setting, tuck into cullen skink (soup made with smoked haddock), haggis fritters or fresh scampi at The Ship Inn in Broughty Ferry (121 Fisher Street, 01382 779 176). And dessert? Walk over to Visocchi’s Café (40 Gray Street, 01382 779 297), which has been creating sensational Italian sundaes for nearly 60 years.
There’s no shortage of pubs in Dundee, and you can’t go wrong with The Speedwell Bar (165-167 Perth Road, 01382 667 783); built in 1903, this boozer pours a good selection of Scottish ales plus over 100 malt whiskies. Carry on late and mix with the hipsters at The Reading Rooms (57 Blackscroft), which hosts a diverse range of club nights in a former library. If you’re after a more cerebral evening, catch an arthouse flick at Dundee Contemporary Arts (152 Nethergate, 01382 909 900), a concert at the splendid Caird Hall (City Square, 01382 434 451), or a play at Dundee Rep (Tay Square, 01382 227 684).
Accommodation in Dundee
A stylish city-centre hotel is the four-star waterfront Apex City Quay Hotel & Spa (1 West Victoria Dock Road, 0845 365 0000), which has smartly decked out rooms, a classy brasserie and ozone pool. Business visitors might like Westport Luxury Serviced Apartments (138 West Marketgait, 01382 313 666), high-spec suites with kitchens and concierge service. Just outside the city, The Hideaway Experience (Balkello Farm, Auchterhouse, by Dundee, 01382 320 261) has three über-hip lodges with Smeg fridges, wood-burning stoves, state-of-the-art gadgetry and hot tubs. A good-value option in a former mansion house is the Best Western Invercarse (371 Perth Road, 01382 669 231). Watch out for a new Malmaison hotel in summer 2013.
Dundee Airport is a five-minute drive from the city centre. You can pick up a taxi at the airport, but it’s worth booking one in advance.
Dundee Airport Information
CityJet Flight Routes
Amsterdam to London City
Amsterdam to Avignon
Amsterdam to Brive - Dordogne Valley
Amsterdam to Perpignan