A day out in Dundee – how to get the most out of your visit

by Thomas Bailey

Dundee is a city full of history, culture and fun activities to do with friends and family. Known as the City of Sun, Dundee sees the most amount of sunshine in Scotland, averaging over 1,500 hours per year – making it a great destination for a summer day out! With beautiful sunsets that glisten off the Tay, Dundee is home to many incredible views such as the rail bridge that stretches out over the water, the V&A museum and RSS Discovery that sit proudly on the banks of the river, and the Dundee Law, that is the centrepiece of the City. Although a small destination, with a population of less than 150,000, the town centre is full of great places to eat, drink, shop and relax. With everything from intriguing museum visits, glamorous galleries, action-packed activities like laser tag or go-karting, or relaxing days out on the beach, Dundee has something for everyone! Having lived in Dundee for 5 years, I spent a lot of time trying out various activities and exploring the City. In this blog, I’ll give you a step by step guide to my perfect Day Out in Dundee! Including a bit of culture and heritage as well as some fun and active activities

RSS Discovery 

One of the most iconic landmarks in Dundee is the RSS Discovery, the famous research vessel that departed from Dundee to make the first-ever journey into Antarctica. Easily spotted as you cross the river either by rail or by road, the impressive ship carried the world-renowned explorers, Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton as they journeyed into the ice on what was known as the Discovery Expedition. This, in my book, is the perfect place to start your Day Out in Dundee! Resting, in between the V&A museum and the Discovery Centre, this is an ideal way to learn about some of the best bits of Dundee’s history. The first part of the experience is in the Discovery Centre, (the octagon-shaped building with the penguins outside), here you can purchase your tickets, which also gets you into the Verdant Works. Then begin your exploration through the museum where you can learn all about the expedition and the daring crew that were involved. You’ll then make your way onto the ship itself where you can look around freely, and from the Officer’s quarters to the storage rooms. I recommend you arrive in the morning and spend a good hour here for a fantastic start to the day where you can learn about this amazing story! There are plenty of places to park in Dundee and most attractions are close by so you won’t be walking for ages. I have visited the Discovery a few times now and I learn something new every time, the story is absolutely incredible and in my opinion one of the top attractions in Dundee. 

V&A + Lunch 

Right next door to the Discovery is the impressive V&A Museum, impossible to miss with its eye-catching architecture, this is your next stop on your Day Out in Dundee! Opened just a few years ago, the V&A is home to the very best of Scottish design, as well as other pieces from around the world! Step into the world of design and see the ever-changing exhibits and events. With free admission, this is an inexpensive activity that allows you to have a relaxing stroll through the unique and modern building. The V&A has quickly become one of the most recognisable museums in Scotland so don’t miss your chance to visit! With a huge variety of exhibits perfect for all ages, this is a great palace to come to with friends and family! I recommend you spend another hour looking around before sitting down for a nice lunch in the Tatha Bar & Restaurant or book yourself in for a luxurious afternoon tea. There is also often a small bagel stand outside in the V&A courtyard, that serve delicious bagels, coffee and snacks, so if they are open when you visit I recommend grabbing a bite to eat from there and help support local business! To get a spectacular view of the river and the bridges, you can pass under through the archway of the V&A to find the banks of the Tay, from there I recommend you walk in either direction where you can spot wildlife from all kinds of sea birds, herons and sometimes if you’re lucky, seals! I find this a very relaxing place to come for a walk or jog as you can hear the crashing waves and smell the ocean in the open air.

Verdant Works

Use the early afternoon, after your lunch, to finish off the culture and heritage side of your Day Out in Dundee, we’re now heading over to the Verdant Works! One of the things I like most about Dundee is its fascinating history and impact around the world. That’s why I love coming here to learn more about how local Dundee businesses operated in this period of time, making Dundee a world-renown city! This beautifully refurbished mill is a wonderful blast to the past, as you journey through the building and hear the stories of the people who worked in Dundee during a period when the textile industry was the heart and soul of the City. You’ll find a variety of preserved machines, gorgeous surroundings and a vast array of stories not only of the industry but of how the people lived. Now, recall that your admission to the Discovery earlier also covers your entry into the Verdant Works! – making this a classic 2 for the price of one, giving you the best value for money! There’s also an award-winning cafe where you can grab a tea, coffee or try some Dundee cake! The Verdant Works is about a 15-minute walk from the Discovery and V&A, and along the way, there is one of my favourite dessert places, ‘Charlies Waffles’ so if it’s a hot day be sure to grab a delicious ice cream! You can also pass through the town centre and spot all of the unique statues that dot the town square. You might even hear some harmonica music played by Dundee’s very own Fast Eddie! This activity along with a visit to the Discovery and V&A earlier is, in my opinion, perfect for giving you a sense of what Dundee is all about it’ 

Ice Skating

Now time for some action! One of the best things to do in Dundee is to head over to the Camperdown area, where you can find a variety of great activities like laser tag, go-karting, a cinema and my personal favourite ice skating! Whether you’re a bit of a beginner (like me) or have enough experience to be a pro, the public skating sessions allow people of all abilities to have fun on the ice. This is a thrilling experience that allows you, your friends or your family to have an exciting afternoon and try something unique! Just a 10-minute drive from the city centre, there is ample parking around the site and some restaurants nearby. You can easily find times and tickets online, and boot hire is only an extra £1 or so. Then, once you’re on the ice, you’re free to dart around the rink and laugh hysterically as you slip and slide all over the place! The rink is also home to the Dundee Stars Hockey Club, so if they are playing on the weekend that you’re visiting be sure to grab some tickets and get a load of the action! As a complete beginner, I was lucky enough to go with someone who had a bit of experience, so here are a couple of tips for getting started: 1. keep your knees bent – this will help with your balance, and 2. to go forward you want to push off from one standing leg, whichever your dominant leg is will be the one you lead with. Turn your other leg perpendicular to your dominant leg so that the blade on your skates is sideways to get more grip, then push off of that leg and you’re away! Take it slow and practice on just one leg before trying the other one, then try it on alternating legs and then you’ll have it nailed down before no time!

Camperdown Park and Wildlife Centre

Once you’re all skated out, I’d recommend winding down by having a nice stroll through Camperdown Park, and heading over to the Wildlife Centre! The Camperdown Wildlife Centre is by far, my top recommendation for Dundee. Tucked away in the corner of Camperdown Park, it has a huge range of incredible animals including, my favourites, 3 European brown bears! You can easily spend a good hour or so here seeing everything from monkeys to meerkats! Great for kids too as you can often see the zookeepers feeding the animals and there is lots to learn in the learning zone. This is your last stop and I can’t think of a better way to spend the afternoon and put the icing on the cake for your Day Out in Dundee. I hope by following this guide you will be inspired to visit the place I called home for 5 years, and if you try these activities you should get a good sense of what Dundee has to offer. And remember, if there is anything that doesn’t seem like it’s your kind of thing, you can always check out what else you can do by searching “Dundee” on Funstacker and building your own Day Out in Dundee. Thanks for reading!