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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Best in class
Scotland’s first design museum is housed inside a building designed by the world-renowned architect Kengo Kuma which is as much a work of art as the design treasures contained inside. Two upcoming exhibitions held in 2022-23 will focus on two different but highly influential materials: plastic and tartan.
This bright, modern gallery is also a popular tapas restaurant. Admire local design and creative talent while feasting on house favourites like white anchovies, classic tortillas and salted cod fritters with the restaurant’s famous alioli; all washed down with a glass of Spanish wine or a gin cocktail.
This bustling shopping street shows how innovative design collaboration can transform an urban environment. Formerly used as somewhere to park the car or a shortcut, the street was pedestrianised and the tarmac emblazoned with a colourful graphic design. Enjoy the market-like atmosphere while browsing the window displays and pausing for an al fresco meal or drink.
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.
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.View Journey