The past and future of Dundee

Catching up on what’s old and new in Dundee, Scotland

This post is the second in a series we’ll be publishing based on stories from a correspondent in the U.K., Kelly Convey. This particular story is based on an article Kelly wrote after a recent trip to Dundee, in Scotland.  The story originally was edited by Brenna Holeman, then adapted here in the United States. We are proud to partner with Visit Britain for this series.

It could be said that Dundee has been somewhat overshadowed by its older brothers, Edinburgh and Glasgow—arguably the two most famous cities in Scotland. Dundee, on the East Coast of Scotland, is only 1.5 hours by train from Glasgow, and just over an hour from Edinburgh. The reality: Dundee is Scotland’s sunniest city.

It’s also bound to get better. Because of its amazing location on the water, Dundee is currently undergoing a staggering US$1.5 billion regeneration of its waterfront. Set to be fully completed in 2031, the waterfront regeneration is a huge project stretching for five miles along the River Tay. Dundee locals believe it will completely revolutionize their city, turning it into an internationally known destination.

Part of the regeneration will include the hugely anticipated V&A Museum of Design Dundee, set to open in 2017. Standing proud as the international center of design in Scotland, the V&A will be the only design museum built in the United Kingdom outside of London. So far, it looks like it will be an incredible building.

Viewfinder Tip: Bring sunscreen to Dundee; it’s the sunniest city in all of Scotland.

These are such exciting times for Dundee and you already can see the emergence of new restaurants, cafés, and bars; it is fast becoming a cosmopolitan city. Even though Dundee is sure to only get better with the waterfront expansion, there’s plenty to do and see in the city now.

If you’re coming to Dundee from London, you can hop on a 1.5-hour flight or take a 6-hour train ride from London’s King’s Cross Station through the English and Scottish countryside, a wonderful introduction to the United Kingdom. When you’re in town, make sure you check out these great spots:

Espress Oh! Coffee House: This place is a little bit outside the city center but the coffee (and delicious sandwiches) are well worth the trek. It has a relaxed atmosphere, friendly staff, and top-notch coffee.

The Law: A visit to Dundee’s famous landmark, The Law, is a must. The hill has stunning views across the river and of the entire city. And while it may look like a beautiful hill, it is actually the neck of an extinct volcano!

Tay Railway Bridge: Even if you’re not a train buff, check out the extremely photogenic Tay Railway Bridge. It’s more than 10,000 feet long and an incredibly impressive piece of structural engineering.

Discovery Point: Rated as one of Dundee’s best attractions, Discovery Point is a great experience for all ages. One of the best activities here is to climb aboard the RRS Discovery, the ship originally designed for Antarctic research. This was the very ship that carried Captain Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton on their first successful journey to Antarctica in 1901. The museum is both interesting and interactive, with lots of audiovisual shows, real artifacts, and even a treasure hunt or two.

Castlehill Restaurant: After a day of sightseeing, you might get a bit hungry. Try Castlehill, a relatively new place that offers traditional tastes of Scotland with a contemporary twist. Almost all of the food is locally sourced, so any dish you order will be supporting the local farmers and fisheries. With a wonderfully warm atmosphere and an attentive staff, you can’t go wrong with a meal here.

Malmaison: You’ll need somewhere to sleep, of course! I’m a huge fan of the Malmaison, which recently opened up near the main train station. This is just one upmarket chain that has already seen Dundee’s massive potential. The hotel is beautiful and the staff are more than willing to help plan your perfect Dundee itinerary.

All in all, Dundee has more to offer than you might think. With all of the developments in the next few years, this dark horse is becoming a real contender. Watch out Edinburgh and Glasgow, your little brother is growing up!

What do you look for when you explore a new city for the first time?

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