Dundee’s story is one defined by innovation. Once renowned throughout the world for its textile and shipbuilding industries, the city has since transitioned into a cutting-edge, multidisciplinary hub of design, making strides in fields as diverse as medical research, fashion, the gaming industry, tech space, and more.

Emerging from its post-industrial heyday, Dundee is a city which has given the world some of its favourite and most life-changing products, from aspirin and orange marmalade to the ZX Spectrum and even iconic comic characters including Oor Wullie, Dennis the Menace and Desperate Dan. It is only fitting that the city was crowned the UK’s first-ever UNESCO City of Design in 2014.

Map of Dundee UNESCO City of Design
  • Rockstar North Ltd, the video game development company behind the wildly successful Grand Theft Auto franchise began life in Dundee in 1987 as DMA Design Ltd.

Why You Should Visit

Situated along the northern shore of the Firth of Tay, Dundee enjoys one of the loveliest settings in all of Scotland. Boasting some of the nation’s most popular visitor attractions, including Discovery Point where the RRS Discovery is berthed and the V&A Dundee – not to mention a stunning regenerated waterfront – the city is ripe for exploration.

It’s also a place where you can really see how design and creativity can work in tandem to solve not just everyday problems, but uplift entire communities and create change felt throughout the world.

The city is home to thriving creative communities and industries which you can see in action at venues, attractions, businesses, and institutions throughout the city.

Today an estimated 3,000 people now work in Dundee’s wide-ranging creative sector. From the ground-breaking digital design programme at the University of Abertay to the city’s flourishing Cultural Quarter – the home of the renowned Dundee Rep Theatre – to fantastic visitor attractions like Verdant Works which preserves the city’s industrial past while also serving as a space for present-day creatives, Dundee’s championing of design and creativity is everywhere.

Throw in a fantastic food and drink scene, independent shops, nightlife, charming locals, and characterful districts like the seaside enclave of Broughty Ferry, and you have everything you need for an enriching and memorable city break.

In Dundee we see design as an integral part of everyday life, as a solution to problems… a great tool to use to improve the lives of people in the city.”
Poppy, UNESCO City of Design Dundee

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are an urgent call for action of a global partnership of countries. They recognise that ending poverty and other deprivations works hand-in-hand with strategies to improve health and education, reduce inequality and encourage economic growth, alongside tackling climate change.

All of our UNESCO designations work towards the UN SDGs – this is looking at their work towards three in particular.

Goal 9

Industry, innovation & infrastructure

Ensuring the design community is able to grow, thrive and benefit from the UNESCO designation by supporting and nurturing them, amplifying innovation and designing, producing or supporting better infrastructure for the city.

Goal 11

Sustainable cities & communities

Creating a strong and sustainable city economy that will provide jobs for the people of Dundee, instill resilience and create a safe and inclusive environment.

Goal 17

Partnership for the goals

Dundee connects with the 39 other design cities regularly, and individually on projects or to share best practice. They ensure all work ties into the UN Sustainable Development Goals in some way.

Learn more about UNESCO

Dundee UNESCO City of Design is one of Scotland’s three UNESCO Creative Cities, alongside Glasgow and Edinburgh.

By emerging from the shadow of de-industrialisation and accompanying social and economic challenges to become a vibrant and ever-growing creative hub, Dundee is in a unique position to offer support and guidance to similar communities around the world. As a member of an established global network of Design Cities and other Creative Cities, Dundee can share the values, knowledge and expertise that have allowed it to flourish as a formidable creative and design force.

A man sits at a desk looking at a large computer screen, with other desks and computers in the background
Inside 4J Studios

When You Visit

There’s lots of things to see and do in Dundee, but there are some attractions that should be top of your list in this, the City of Design. Start with the V&A Dundee which, together with the neighbouring RRS Discovery at Discovery Quay and the nearby Verdant Works, forms a trio of visitor attractions which rank among Scotland’s finest.

Take a leisurely stroll along the redeveloped waterfront with its glorious views of the River Tay, and be sure to take in other striking city centre landmarks, from the gothic McManus Museums and Galleries building to the statues of DC Thomson’s comic characters ‘Oor Wullie’ and Desperate Dan.

Expand your cultural horizons with visit to the city’s cultural quarter, home to the Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA) complex, the Dundee Rep Theatre and Dundee Science Centre, and head to Broughty Ferry for beach walks and even more independent boutiques, galleries and fine dining.

Support Local Businesses

Scotland's UNESCO Trail is an opportunity to explore the country in a sustainable and responsible way. Browse our Green Tourism businesses in the area including accommodation, attractions, tours and food & drink. These businesses are assessed in a range of criteria from energy efficiency to biodiversity and awarded bronze, silver or gold accreditation.

How to Visit

Located just 90 minutes from Edinburgh by train or bus, Dundee is easy to reach. Options include traveling to Dundee Train Station directly from Edinburgh or Glasgow, taking the new Ember electric bus from Edinburgh or Perth, or the direct airport bus service, the X90 from Edinburgh Airport.

Dundee is a small city and easy to walk around. Most points of interest are located within a 20-minute radius around the city centre so exploring on foot is by far the best way to access everything on offer.

There’s a great local bus service operated by Xplore Dundee and Stagecoach, both of which depart regularly from the High Street.

It’s also simple to explore by bike. Take advantage of the new e-bike hire scheme. Operated by Embark Dundee and Ride-On, simply install the Ride-On UK app to find one of 40 docking stations spread across the city.

Dundee is a great city for travelling by electric vehicle, with a number of charging points both across the city, and at charging gateways outside of the city.

Find out more about getting to and around Dundee.

A family with two children walk along the pavement outside of Dundee Railway Station
Outside Dundee Railway Station
The buildings around the cobbled Royal Mile, lit up in red and blue colours at night

Discover & Explore the UNESCO Sites of Central East Scotland

To arrive in the east of Scotland from most places in the UK, it’s a simple case of hopping on a train from the nearest station and arriving in Edinburgh Waverley Train Station. There’s also Edinburgh Airport with connections to international hubs across the UK and Europe. From here, reach Dundee by train, or make use of excellent rail, bus, and cycle networks to explore the wider region. Find practical advice and tips on getting around the cities and the region’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, attractions, accommodation, and places to eat.

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Useful links

More information

City of Design Dundee

Visiting the area

Dundee Dundee iCentre
Looking along a paved path within 4J Studios, with people sat at small tables to the side, posters and displays on the wall