Scotland City Guides »


Scotland’s fourth largest city, Dundee, is located in the eastern central lowlands on the northern bank of the Firth of Tay. Thus being the only city in Scotland that faces south, it has been claimed to be the sunniest and warmest city of Scotland. Its area has been proven to have been settled since the Mesolithic age, becoming a burgh in medieval times and eventually a city in the 19th century. Although it owed its growth to the jute industry, its nickname “the city of jute, jam and journalism” hints at its prominence in other areas of expertise. However things changed as the Jute trade gradually disappeared in the late 20th century. Dundee has since been transformed into the “city of discovery”; in part out of recognition of its present and past scientific activities, in part because of the many biomedical and technological industries that have called the city home since the 80s and in part due to the RRS Discovery, the Antarctic exploration ship of Robert Falcon Scott which was first built in the city and is now permanently moored in its harbour.

The RSS Discovery is one of the city of Dundee’s main historic attractions. Launched in 1901, it was the last wooden three-master that was built in Britain. It was used for several British expeditions to Antarctica during the first half of the 20th century. It has since its retirement in Dundee harbour been open to the public, functioning as a museum ship. Another site of historic relevance is Gandyne’s Land. It is a collection of five buildings from around 1560 that, although they have been restored and converted into a backpacking hostel, are excellent examples of the architectural style of their time. They have been confirmed to be the oldest buildings in Dundee.

The scientific heritage of the city may be further sampled at the Sensation Science centre, which hosts over 80 exhibits that focus on the five senses. Mills Observatory on Balgay Hill is also accessible to the public. For art or general local history the McManus galleries is the place to go. The Verdant Works offers a more particular history lesson based on the role of the jute trade in Dundee’s past. It is fittingly located in a former jute mill.

The Caird Hall is Dundee’s principal concert hall. It regularly features both popular and classical music performances, among others by the Scottish National Orchestra. The annual Jazz, Guitar and Blues festivals offer music of a very different variety in smaller venues all over the city. Dundee theatre is also well-acclaimed, what with the only full-time repertory ensemble of Scotland residing in the city. It and other performing arts may be seen at the Dundee Repertory Theatre, though for most part the venue specializes in Scottish Dance Theatre.