11 free attractions in Dundee
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 is plenty to get up to here.
Keep reading for 11 of Dundee's free attractions and things to do.
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. 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.
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 for free. 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.Key facilities
- On Public Transport Route
- Hearing Loop
- Accessible Parking Or Drop-off Point
- Level Access
- Accessible toilets
- Cafe or Restaurant
Just outside Dundee city centre lies Broughty Ferry, where you can visit Broughty Castle Museum. 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.
Located on the historic waterfront of the city, the V&A Dundee is Scotland's first museum dedicated solely to design. 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.
Delve into a world of creativity through permanent displays and ever-changing exhibitions which showcase the very best of design from across Scotland and around the world.
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 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. 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.
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.
You may spot a fair few statues located around the city centre...
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 - read this old Dundee folk tale that explains the city's apparent love for dragons.
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.Key facilities
- Hearing Loop
- Accessible Parking Or Drop-off Point
- Accessible toilets
Dundee is known for its busy industrial heritage, as well as for fishing, textiles including jute, and confectionery including marmalade and 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.
Ok so this one technically isn't free, as they do accept small donations. Dundee is renowned for its creativity and design, so it's no surprise that there are some vibrant works of street art here.
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.
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 3 miles 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.
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