Your essential guide to Dundee

V&A Museum of Design and RSS Discovery ship in Dundee

With the opening of a new V&A Museum – the first outside London – the generation of this old port city on Scotland’s underrated east coast is well under way

Getting there

The closest international airport to Dundee is Edinburgh; from here, it takes about an hour and a half by car or train to get to Dundee. If you’re coming from London, consider flying direct with Loganair to Dundee – the small propeller planes are charming and the level of service on board is almost unheard of in today’s era of budget flights.

Where to stay

The Apex City Quay Hotel & Spa is well placed for visiting the V&A – some rooms even have views of the new landmark. Its spotless rooms come with large bathrooms and there’s a lovely on-site spa.

The new 102-bed Hampton by Hilton is set within a former jute mill and offers affordable accommodation, while for something a bit more intimate, try Taypark House, which houses 14 individually designed bedrooms in an old baronial mansion in the West End.

Where to eat and drink

Head over the River Tay to The Newport Restaurant, run by local celebrity Jamie Scott. The menu is inventive and uses only the freshest local ingredients, but it’s for the views that most people come this side of the river.

The Jute Café Bar at Dundee Contemporary Arts is a fashionable hangout where you can choose from a decent bistro-style menu of steak, burgers and fish dishes.

Brand-new for 2018 is Brassica, a concept bar-cum-restaurant where the food is all sourced from within a 50-mile radius and the menu features a good choice of Scottish gins.

For a traditional pint, visit The Speedwell Bar on Perth Road, while for cocktails, you can’t beat secret Twenties-style speakeasy Draffens, housed in a former department store. We can’t tell you exactly where it is as that would be cheating, but take a stroll down Couttie’s Wynd and listen for some jive music, or try a few nondescript doors and you may just happen upon it.

What to do

Dundee is easy to explore on foot. The city’s McManus museum is a great place to learn a little more about the city’s history. It may seem a bit disparate at times, but stick with it as the eclectic collection of artefacts provide both insight and a slice of nostalgia.

The McManus art gallery

Dundee was once the world capital of the jute industry. You can hear all about the role this textile played in the city’s fortunes in the Verdant Works museum.

The new V&A Dundee will take centre stage when it opens in September. In addition to permanent displays, major exhibitions will transfer here from London (and vice versa), and the museum will also curate its own series of special exhibitions.

No trip to Dundee is complete without visiting the RRS Discovery, next to the V&A, but did you know Dundee is also home to another historic ship, HMS Unicorn? It’s one of the world’s oldest warships: well worth the 10-minute walk from the V&A.

Onboard The RRS Discovery

For a different perspective, take a RIB ride on the Tay with Pirate Boats for a chance to see dolphins and also the V&A from the water.

Further afield, Glamis Castle, the legendary home of Macbeth, is just 12 miles from the city centre, while Scone Palace is fewer than 25 miles away.

This is an edited version of an article from Vol 86, Issue 5. Order your copy here