A trip to Scotland's cities doesn't have to break the bank. Dundee is home to some incredible attractions and feats of innovation, after all the city was crowned a UNESCO City of Design, so you can bet there's plenty of things to get up to here.
As the saying goes, the best things in life are free. Well, they're not wrong, and Dundee has some amazing things to do and places to see that won't cost you a penny - perfect for those planning a break on a budget.
Keep reading for 14 of Dundee's free attractions and things to do.
1. Dundee Law
What better way to start off your time in the city than by getting your bearings atop the Dundee Law? Walk, or drive, to the summit for unparalleled views over Dundee, the River Tay and beyond. The Law rises to a height of 174 metres and is the highest point in the city, but can be accessed on foot, by bus or car; and if you fancy a challenge, try the signposted walking trail "Town to Top" from Dundee City Square to the summit. At first glance, you may not realise that there's a lot more historic and hidden treasures surrounding the Law than you may think. Keep a lookout for pillboxes, which were built during the second world war in preparation for invasion, and see if you can find the Old Road which dates back to the 19th century and would have been used by horse and cart. At the top of the Law you can find the Compass view point, made of cast iron and brass, it shows many landmarks visible on a clear day and the distance to them.
2. McManus Art Gallery & Museum
Did you know that Scotland is home to an array of museums and galleries that are all free to enter? The McManus Art Gallery & Museum is one! This Victorian, Gothic building boasts an incredible display of artefacts, exhibitions and more that combines the city's history, culture and fascinating past for you to explore. From the city's jute, jam and journalism era and industrial times, to fine art paintings, journey through 400 million years to witness how a small town grew into the bustling city we know today. Whilst you are browsing the History Hall, don't forget to look up! Dangling from the ceiling you can see the entire preserved skeleton of a humpback whale who once made an appearance in the River Tay in 1883.
In addition to the permanent displays, browse the ever-changing programme of exhibitions and events that are held year-round, including workshops, talks and tours.
3. Broughty Castle Museum and beach
Just outside Dundee city centre lies Broughty Ferry. Here you can visit Broughty Castle Museum and afterwards, enjoy a wander along the long stretch of sandy beach and a stroll along the high street. This strategic strong point on the Tay was built in 1490 to help defend Scotland's shores against the growing English navy. Head to the castle museum where you can learn more about the people, environment, history and wildlife of Broughty Ferry, from historic battles and sieges, to galleries of paintings and artworks, there's plenty to get stuck into.
Head along Broughty Ferry Beach from just outside the castle which offers splendid views out to sea, and lush golden sands to wander along. Climb the grassy dunes which back the beach, build a sand castle or two, keep an eye out for dolphins playing in the water, or dip your toes in the crisp sea.
4. V&A Dundee
Located on the historic waterfront of the city, the V&A Dundee is a newer addition to the city's design scene, and is also Scotland's first museum dedicated solely to design. Delve into a world of design and creativity through permanent displays and ever-changing exhibitions which showcase the very best of design from across Scotland and around the world. Designed by internationally acclaimed Japanese architect, Kengo Kuma, the museum building itself is an incredible feat of innovation and design to marvel at, before you even set foot inside. The edgy and modern feel of the building was inspired by the dramatic cliffs that can be found along Scotland's east coast, and was designed to reconnect the city with the historic riverside.
5. Camperdown Country Park
Located just three miles outside Dundee city centre, Camperdown Country Park offers a 400-acre escape from the city bustle with over 190 species of trees, incredible neo-classical architecture, and also hosts a range of exciting events and activities year-round. As Dundee's largest public park, it boasts an impressive arboricultural history, with rare and exotic species of tree and plant life around each corner.
On top of all that, the park offers a fantastic family day out, with a whole host of animals from around the world to visit and learn about. From the European brown bear and golden eagle, to ring- tailed lemurs and the violet turaco, there's plenty to see here. If you've worked up an appetite after all that exploring, head to the recently refurbished café offering home-made snacks, cakes, hot and cold drinks, ice-cream and more, or pick up a souvenir from the onsite shop.
6. Dundee Contemporary Arts Centre
Step into a new world of creativity, performance, film and more at Dundee Contemporary Arts Centre. Situated in the heart of Dundee, this vibrant five-storey building hosts an array of exhibitions, a world cinema, café-bar, and print studio to enjoy. Head to the Jute Bar Café for a tasty bite to eat, browse the eclectic and inspirational galleries showcasing new and upcoming artists, and stop off at the gift shop for a unique selection of jewellery and crafts to take home with you.
7. Dundee's Statues
If you're a Dundee local you may have spotted a fair few statues located around the city centre. These statues include Beano favourites; Desperate Dan, Minnie the Mix and Oor Wullie, as well as sculptures of penguins and dragons who have interesting stories of their own. The Beano is the longest running British children's comic magazine that was first published by DC Thomson in Dundee in 1938. On Dundee High Street, you'll come across bronze statues of the famous cartoon characters which were created in 2001 - it's a great spot for a photo opportunity!
Outside Dundee's Steeple Church you'll find a parade of five penguin statues. These cheeky looking sculptures are always dressed up by enthusiastic locals for any occasion; holidays, charity events and more.
Elsewhere, you may stumble upon a scaly dragon crawling its way around the Murraygate. Dundee's history with dragons goes much deeper than you might think. Have you ever noticed the dragons on the Dundee coat of arms? Or the dragon on top of the spire at St. Andrews Church? There's an old Dundee folk tale can explain the city's apparent love for dragons.
8. Dundee Women's Trail
The Dundee Women's Trail is a unique experience which encompasses a variety of locations across Dundee that have been shaped and influenced by women throughout the years. At these locations you'll come across bronze plaques which name and celebrate the women who have contributed to Dundee's fascinating history, including artists, trade unionists, social reformers, suffragettes, a shipyard welder and a marine engineer. View the location map to discover these city spots and also learn more about these incredible women.
9. Mills Observatory
Another free thing to do on the map, Mills Observatory is Britain's first purpose-built public observatory and is located at the foot of Balgay Hill in the centre of Dundee. Gaze at the night sky and watch the stars twinkle above you, or see which planets and constellations you can spot through the impressive Victorian refracting telescope. Head to the observatory between October and March to experience the planetarium shows where you can learn all about meteors, planets, comets and much more.
10. Architectural Trail
Dundee is known for its busy industrial heritage, as well as for fishing, textiles including jute, and confectionery including marmalade. The city may not be that old, but it boasts some incredible architecture to admire. Head along the Dundee Architecture Trail encompassing famous landmarks such as the Dundee Sheriff Courthouse, the Royal Exchange and The McManus Gallery. Follow along the trail map and learn more about these spectacular buildings as you go.
11. Open/Close Dundee Tours
Ok so this one technically isn't free, but they do accept small donations. Have you ever wandered around a city and come across incredible street art? These works of arts and detailed murals are something that everyone can appreciate, as well as improving the urban environment and encouraging people to take pride in their city. As Dundee is renowned for its creativity and design it's no surprise that there's some vibrant works of street art here, you just need to look under the Tay Road Bridge to start. Open/Close Dundee offer two trails to explore; City Centre and Stobswell, both of which take you through the alleyways and hidden corners of the city encompassing large murals and smaller pieces of art for you to uncover. Tours are also available for both trails.
You can help support this great incentive by buying a physical map of the trails for £1 from various sites across the city. The tours are on a "pay what you think it's worth" basis and all donations go towards the next stage of the project, bringing more art to the city.
12. Riverside Walk
Dundee's waterfront has transformed in recent years, with the addition of the V&A Dundee and restoration projects bringing this area of the city back to life. The Riverside Walk is the perfect way to explore this part of town. Stretching 3miles long (5km) this walkway and cycleway runs parallel to Riverside Drive, connecting Discovery Point and Riverside Nature Park, and also passes by the University Of Dundee Botanic Gardens. The route forms part of the National Cycle Network (route 77) and is also part of the Green Circular recreational route which encircles the city. Find out more about the walk and all the great stop off points and views along the way.
13. Slessor Gardens Discovery Walk
Dundee has an impressive history of science, innovation and creation in which hundreds of esteemed and educated people have contributed to the city's growth and helped it thrive into being the city we love today. At Slessor Gardens, venture along the Discovery Walk which celebrates these extraordinary people who once lived and worked in the city. The walk features a range of commemorative plaques to honour those whose scientific and social achievements have helped make Dundee and the wider world a better place.
14. The Howff
Many centuries ago, Mary Queen of Scots visited Dundee and gifted the city Howff Cemetery, which is tucked away in the city centre and boasts many links to the eventful history of Dundee. For years the Howff was popular as an open meeting space where the local guilds, including masons, tailors, bakers, and other tradesmen would gather once a year to conduct business. The cemetery is a curious place, with many gravestones carved with excellent examples of Memento Mori, such as skulls, bones, and other signs. One mysterious gravestone stands out from the rest as being very short and narrow, but on top of the marker you'll often find a pile of coins, though no one knows why. Some say it is to bring good luck and wealth, others say it is to ward off evil.
We hope this has inspired you to visit Dundee and explore all the cool and exciting free things to do across the city. Share you experiences or post your snaps on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using #VisitScotland or #OnlyInScotland.