Dundee, City of Design UNESCO Creative City
Dundee’s story is defined by innovation. Once renowned throughout the world for its textile and shipbuilding industries, the city has 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.
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.
- 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.
Discover why Dundee is so special
Situated along the northern shore of the Firth of Tay, Dundee enjoys one of the loveliest settings in all of Scotland. 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.
Explore the local area
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 City of Design.
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.
Sustainable Local Businesses
These Green Tourism businesses are assessed on everything from energy efficiency to biodiversity and awarded bronze, silver or gold.
We want Scotland's UNESCO Trail to be an opportunity to explore the country in a sustainable and responsible way.
Best Local Attractions & Experiences
We've highlighted some of the best sustainable businesses around Dundee.
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 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.
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.
How to get here
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.
Getting around Dundee
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.
Experience more UNESCO sitesMake Dundee part of a longer trip - we can help you plan a trip to all of the UNESCO sites in the local area, including Edinburgh.
UNESCO Sites to Explore in Central East Scotland
There are four UNESCO sites to explore in this central east spot. Explore Edinburgh with two designations and then travel across and stop to learn more about the Forth Bridge. Your final stop is Dundee, our City of Design.View Journey
Learn more about the UNESCO Trail
Dundee UNESCO City of Design is one of Scotland’s three UNESCO Creative Cities, alongside Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Dundee has become a vibrant and ever-growing creative hub after emerging from the shadow of de-industrialisation and accompanying social and economic challenges.
That gives it 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.
Read more about Scotland's UNESCO Trail and watch UNESCO: Explained video
United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
Every UNESCO designation tries to include the UN Sustainable Development Goals in their work.
WHAT ARE THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS (SDGS)?
An urgent call for action from a global partnership of countries.
Recognise that ending poverty and other deprivations comes from strategies to:
- improve health and education
- reduce inequality
- encourage economic growth
- tackle climate change
Dundee's Sustainable Development Goals
Here’s how Dundee is working towards three of the goals.
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.