Why Tourists Could Soon Ditch Edinburgh for Cool, Historic Dundee - No Paywall | Karta

Why Tourists Could Soon Ditch Edinburgh for Cool, Historic Dundee

News Jul 5, 2024

Dundee, the oldest, sunniest, and fourth-largest city in Scotland, has not always been a top tourist destination. Despite experiencing periods of prosperity and decline, this welcoming, compact city along the River Tay is known for its ability to reinvent itself. Currently, it is undergoing another transformation, potentially outshining competitors like Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Living in Dundee: area guide
Source: Zoopla

The recent surge in activity is due to numerous new openings and developments. As the UK's sole Unesco City of Design, Dundee gained attention with the return of the RRS Discovery, the ship that transported Scott to the Antarctic, and the new home for HMS Unicorn, a 200-year-old Royal Navy vessel – one of the oldest globally. The rejuvenated waterfront now features the V&A Dundee, a museum of design, art, and architecture, marking the first V&A outside of London.

Things To See & Do & Top Attractions in Dundee
Source: VisitScotland

Moreover, the Eden Project Dundee is set to breathe new life into an old gasworks site near the waterfront. With £7.6 million in funding, it is expected to attract 500,000 visitors annually, offering experiences that blend arts, entertainment, education, and green spaces. This project will utilize the abandoned gasometer, create gardens within the old structures, and construct a new pedestrian bridge linking the city to the waterfront.

Dundee is also embracing its historical roots. Once thriving on "jam (marmalade), jute (mills), and journalism (newspapers and comics)", the wealth from these industries is still visible today. The city center is adorned with high-Victorian Gothic architecture and unique Art Deco ironwork.

Dundee Travel Guide: Best of Dundee, Scotland Travel 2024
Source: Expedia

Visitors can explore the McManus, the city’s art gallery and museum, which showcases one of the UK's finest examples of Gothic revival architecture. The Verdant Works, Scotland’s jute museum, tells the story of the jute and linen mill workers with its operational machinery. Other attractions include J. A. Braithwaite on Castle Street, Dundee’s oldest tea and coffee shop, still using its original mahogany fittings and scales, and Verdant Gin, the first legal distillery in over 200 years. The former ironworks now houses the 71 Brewing Company’s beer garden, brewhouse, and shop.

Dundee's compact size is advantageous, offering diverse neighborhoods like Perth Road with its boutique and retro shops, various dining and drinking spots, and unique gallery experiences such as Gallery 48 and Dundee Contemporary Arts.

Nature lovers will appreciate the city too. Climb Dundee Law for panoramic views, stroll through the riverside Botanic Gardens, or take a short train ride to Broughty Ferry, a suburb with Victorian villas, a sandy beach, and a 15th-century castle.

University of Dundee
Source: Connect2Counsellors

As Dundee continues to regenerate its waterfront and gain recognition with the Eden Project, its profile is on the rise. Despite these changes, essential aspects of Dundonian life remain. Goodfellow and Steven still produce Dundee fruitcakes; D.C. Thomson continues to publish The Beano after 86 years; and Clark’s Bakery still offers Scotch pies at any hour, day or night. What more could any visitor want?


Oliver Hughes

Oliver has over 15 years of experience in travel journalism. He focuses on European travel, providing expert reviews of vacation rentals and cultural experiences across Europe.