Board a train for Dundee and you’ll step off in the heart of one of Scotland’s most dynamic cities.
Situated on the banks of the beautiful River Tay, Dundee’s south-facing waterfront position helps makes it Scotland’s sunniest city. And if that wasn’t reason enough to visit, this vibrant city is filled with fantastic attractions, art galleries, theatres and some fantastic places to shop, eat and drink. GQ magazine has even just voted it the coolest little city in Britain!
Getting to Dundee by train
Arriving by train is one of the best ways to appreciate Dundee’s picturesque setting on the Tay estuary. Travelling from Edinburgh, you’ll cross Scotland’s two most iconic engineering wonders, the Forth Bridge and the Tay Bridge. Step aboard in Glasgow and you’ll enjoy some of the finest scenery Stirlingshire and Perthshire have to offer as you travel across the country.
Travelling south from Aberdeen? You’ll enjoy the ever-changing light and landscape of the North Sea coast.
- Aberdeen to Dundee – approx 1 hour 15 minutes
- Edinburgh to Dundee – approx 1 hour 20 minutes
- Glasgow to Dundee – approx 1 hour 20 minutes
Why choose Dundee
Dundee’s train station is situated right in the heart of the city making it the perfect place to start your adventure.
While the city may be small, it certainly packs a lot in and can be easily enjoyed on foot – wander along the stunning waterfront, explore art and heritage trails or relax in one of the gardens or parks.
No matter what your age or interests, there’s plenty to keep everyone happy during a day or two exploring the city. Keep your eyes peeled for some famous characters as you explore. The city is home to DC Thomson and even has its own Bash Street - Desperate Dan and Oor Wullie are never far away!
Once you arrive in Dundee, you can have a brilliant day out without breaking the bank. There are lots of things to do in Dundee that are completely free including the V&A. Plus when you travel by train, your ticket gives you exclusive access to great offers including free entry for kids to some attractions.
Shopping in Dundee
For something a little bit different, Perth Road is where you need to head for. It’s one of Dundee’s oldest and longest streets, connecting Dundee’s West End to the city centre. It’s filled with independent shops, hairdressers, barbers, restaurants, pubs and takeaways. For five of Dundee’s coolest, must-visit shops, have a read of this article from See Dundee.
In the city centre you’ll find two modern shopping centres and lots of high street stores alongside some other great speciality and independent retailers.
Eating out in Dundee
Dundee’s unique ‘coast meets countryside’ location means that around 70% of Scotland’s fresh produce is grown within a 30-mile radius of Dundee. So wherever you choose to eat, you can rest assured that you’ll be eating some of the least travelled food around. #DundeeEats shines a spotlight on locally produced food and drink that you won’t want to miss, including the best independent restaurants, bars and cafes.
Some of the city’s most popular independents include:
- J.A. Braithwaite Ltd - a coffee and tea merchants on Castle Street that makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Trading since the 19th century, Braithwaite’s roasts its own coffee beans on the premises using a secret age-old method.
- The Cheesery - a specialist cheese deli located on Exchange Street. It stocks local and continental cheeses and has a loyal customer base with people travelling miles to shop there.
- Birchwood Food Emporium & Cafe - an organic grocery store on Commercial Street with juice bar, stocking artisan bread and cupboard essentials for all specialist diets. The café has a fantastic array of fresh pastries and cakes too.
Things to do in Dundee
Once you get to Dundee there’s no shortage of things to fill your time. The VisitScotland iCentre on the City Square, next to the Caird Hall, is a great place to start your visit if you’re unsure what you fancy doing with your time in the city. Their expert advisors can help you plan your day and assist with any bookings too.
There’s a great variety of things to do both inside and out in Dundee so whatever the weather, you’re guaranteed to have a great time.
Outdoor things to do in Dundee
Due to Dundee’s picturesque location on the estuary of the River Tay, the city is well set up for outdoor adventures.
University of Dundee Botanic Garden
For a relaxing, peaceful place to while away a couple of hours, the Botanic Garden, located a 25 minute bus ride from the city centre, is the perfect place to get close to nature. Located in 9.5 hectares of south facing, gently sloping land near the banks of the River Tay, the garden has a wide range of plants, leaved trees and shrubs, tropical and temperate glasshouses, water garden and herb garden. After enjoying the garden, the café serves great coffee and cake.
Plus, if you show your ScotRail train ticket at the admission desk, you can enjoy £1 off your ticket to the garden. Children under 16 are free.
Tours, trails and heritage walks
Dundee’s renaissance has encouraged more people to delve into the city’s past and in turn lots of fascinating tours have been created. There are lots of guided tours on foot but if you don’t fancy joining an organised tour, there are plenty of route maps that you can follow at your own pace. Some of these include a new Maritime trail, Discovery Walk, Dundee Women’s Trail and Dundee Architectural Trail.
Dundee’s Heritage Trail is a great way to learn about the city and how its past shaped what you see today. You can download directions for the walk from GeoTourist, available from the App Store or Google Play.
For more information on all of these walks, please visit Tours & Trails in Dundee.
Dundee is a great place to cycle around accompanied by gorgeous views. The 26-mile Green Circular cycle route passes through parkland, and past lots of the city’s most iconic sights including Discovery Point, the V&A and Camperdown Wildlife Centre until you reach Broughty Ferry beach. Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins playing in the water here.
Taking to the water
Unsurprisingly because of Dundee’s great waterfront location, there are lots of opportunities to enjoy some fun on the water. Kayaking on the River Tay is always popular and is a great way to see the resident dolphins are seals.
For comic book fans
You’ll no doubt know that Dundee is home to DC Thomson and some of the world’s most loved comic book characters. You’ll be able to spot lots of statues of your favourites as you take a wander around the city. See if you can find Oor Wullie, Desperate Dan and Minnie the Minx. There’s also a Bash Street, so take time to explore and visit the shop at the DC Thomson building in Albert Square.
Indoor things to do in Dundee
For a small city, Dundee packs a big punch when it comes to its variety of indoor attractions.
Perhaps now Dundee’s most famous attraction, the V&A Dundee is the only design museum in the UK outside of London and is a must visit when in the city. You’ll find the museum across the road from the train station and it’s free to visit.
RRS Discovery – Discovery Point
Step aboard Captain Scott’s famous ship RSS Discovery to learn about the lives of the brave crew who sailed to Antarctica in 1901. The award-winning attraction features a mix of multimedia exhibitions alongside actual artefacts that belonged to Captain Scott and the crew.
At nearly 200 years old, HMS Unicorn is one of the world's most remarkable historic ships, preserved as a museum and visitor attraction in Dundee. With four atmospheric decks to explore, HMS Unicorn is great fun for all the family and a chance to step back in time aboard the most original old ship in the world.
Verdant Works is a world class visitor attraction which tells the story of Dundee’s industrial textile heritage in the atmospheric setting of a beautifully refurbished Mill building. Hear the tales of the mill workers, see how they lived and worked in an industry which enveloped Dundee. Explore the amazing building, see (and hear) the machines at work, and step back to a time where the Mills were the heart of Dundee.
Dundee Science Centre
Dundee’s Science Centre brings science to life for kids of all ages. With lots of different zones to explore, kids can immerse themselves in a range of fantastic hands-on exhibits. Please visit their website to plan your visit and to book a session time.
The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery and Museum
The McManus is open seven days a week, ready to welcome locals and visitors inside to experience the fascinating collections. It’s a great place to delve into the city’s history through pieces of art that provide an insight into the past.
Days out from Dundee
Dundee is the gateway to Angus and Aberdeenshire. It's a great base for exploring the local area. Around it you'll find famous golf towns, plus beautiful beaches and holiday destinations. And if you fancy a city swap, you can catch a direct train to five of Scotland's seven cites in less than 90 minutes. Plus, it's coastal location makes train journeys to and from Dundee some of the most scenic rail journeys in the UK.
Just seven minutes / four miles up the coast from Dundee by train, Broughty Ferry is known as Dundee’s Historic Seaside Village and the ‘Jewel in Dundee’s Crown’. It’s bustling with personality and has a lovely award-winning sandy beach just next to Broughty Ferry castle at the mouth of the Tay Estuary. You’ll find great pubs and restaurants here too, perfect for relaxing in during the summer. When you’re at the waterfront, keep your eyes peeled for dolphins playing in the water!
The 25-minute train journey from Dundee to Perth is accompanied by stunning views. Running alongside the River Tay, passengers seated on the left-hand side of the train can enjoy gorgeous views over the water. Just before reaching Perth, the train crosses over the River Tay, giving a great view of Perth’s historic architecture along Tay Street. Once in the city, there’s plenty of green space to enjoy and some fantastic independent cafes and shops to explore. Find out more about visiting Perth by train here.
Take the train from Dundee to visit historic St Andrews, the ‘home of golf’, and the seat of Scotland’s oldest university. You’ll want to get off at Leuchars station, in Fife, where you can then catch one of the regular shuttle buses that run to St Andrews.
While golfers can get in the swing at the British Golf Museum, history fans can explore the ruins of the town’s 11th century cathedral, and younger visitors can play at knights in the town’s medieval castle. With its international population of students and golf fans, the town also boasts a wide array of fine restaurants. Check VisitScotland for more information.
Travel half an hour north of Dundee by train to visit historic Montrose – a near perfect Angus market town. With its fine Georgian terraces, medieval closes and lanes, and broad market square, it’s a great place to explore. Bird spotters can visit Montrose Basin, a tidal nature reserve that is home to a wide variety of migratory and resident birdlife. Fancy a walk? Try the three-mile long beach or – for the more active – the Angus Glens.
Take the train north along the east coast to visit Aberdeen (approx 1 hour 15 minutes). The Granite City, Scotland’s third largest, has a fascinating maritime history and harbour, featuring everything from fishing boats up to the most hi-tech oil rig supply ships. The city also boasts a fine beach, seven parks, great shops and restaurants, and its own special summer visitors, a pod of dolphins who dive and splash by the harbour mouth.
Staying in Dundee
Turn a day out into a short break with a stay overnight. There are lots of hotels to choose from to suit all budgets, plus there are some great offers available when you travel to Dundee by train. Take a look below at the hotels offering special deals to ScotRail passengers.
Holiday Inn Express
- Save and book with confidence with Holiday Inn Express Dundee.
- No deposit required.
- Can be fully cancelled up to 7 days prior to arrival.
- A 1 night charge will be due if cancelled within 3 days of your stay.
To book please call 01383 314 330 and Quote ‘Advance Saver Rate’ or visit www.hiexpress.com
Big Dreams, Big Savings
Your next memory-making getaway is closer than you think. Save at Hampton by Hilton Dundee and enjoy the flexibility of early check-in, late check-out, and free early departure where available if you need to change your plans. Make your getaway dreams a reality with our Dream Away offer.
- 15% off the usual rates, plus an additional 5% off for Hilton Honors members.
- Free hot breakfast
How to book:
Click here to choose your dates, your room type and then select the ‘Dream Away’ rate.
Terms & Conditions:
- 24 hours cancellation, no deposit required
Invercarse Hotel is one of the most established hotels in Dundee, this year marks the 75th anniversary. Located just three miles from the city centre, and set in an affluent residential area, you’ll be sure of a quiet night’s sleep and a warm welcome.
To save 15% off our best available rate, please call direct and Quote 'Scotrail'.
www.invercarsehotel.co.uk Tel. 01382 669231
Apex City Quay Hotel & Spa
Dream, Explore, Discover at Apex City Quay Hotel & Spa this winter. Just a five-minute walk from V&A Dundee and the train station, with commanding views over the River Tay and the Quayside, it’s the perfect base for all the city centre attractions.
From the warm welcome on arrival to a room tailored just the way you like it, the hotel has you covered. Your bright, contemporary room includes a large TV, spacious walk-in shower and complimentary Elemis toiletries. Enjoy afternoon tea, a long lunch or formal dinner in stylish Quayside Bar & Grill, or chill out in the relaxing surroundings of Yu Spa, complete with a swimming pool and gym.
15% off the Best Flexible Rate
PROMO CODE: SCOTRAIL
Dinner Bed & Breakfast
- Enjoy a three-course dinner, an overnight stay and a cooked breakfast the next morning.
- You can cancel for free up to 24 hours prior to check-in.
Located in the heart of the city, across the road from Dundee train station. The stunning Victorian building offers fabulous facilities and amenities, with a fabulous contemporary restaurant.
Stay longer and save more
Book 2 nights with up to 20% off, or stay 3 nights with up to 25% off. All stays include a full-cooked breakfast, and you can enjoy 25% off upgrades on check in, subject to availability.
Promo code: STAYSCOT. Find out more and book your stay here.
Sleeperz Hotel Dundee is a new 120-bed design-led hotel located directly above Dundee Railway Station, the gateway to the city.
Guests will enjoy views over the nearby V&A Museum Dundee, RRS Discovery, the River Tay and onto the new Waterfront Plaza. Only a few minutes’ walk into the city centre for shopping and other attractions including McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery & Museum.
20% discount on all food and beverage between 12pm and 5pm Sunday to Friday
Present your rail ticket or railcard when ordering
Terms and conditions
- Discount applied per ticket/person.
- Ticket must be valid on the day of dining.
- Non applicable to alcoholic beverages.
- Subject to table availability.
- Valid between 12pm and 5pm Sunday to Friday.
15% discount on standard rate when booking a room with an option to add a full cooked breakfast for £5.00.
Terms and conditions
- Offer only valid for rail travellers.
- A valid train ticket or railcard must be presented upon check in – Discounted rates may be reversed if no valid ticket presented.
- Offer valid 7 days and booked 24 hours in advance of arrival date.
- 24 hours cancelation policy applies.
- A valid credit card must be available at the time of booking to allow for pay on arrival.
To make a reservation call 01382 725 888 and quote “ScotRail Offer”
Surrounded by mature wooded gardens Woodlands Hotel is a short walk from the historic seaside town of Broughty Ferry.
You'll be greeted with a warm and welcoming hello at this family run hotel. You’ll find a fully equipped gym, heated indoor pool, sauna, steam and jacuzzi, plus a resident holistic masseuse.
There’s a relaxing lounge bar with outside terrace, and a Scottish themed restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Popular with locals and residents, the hotel retains a warm and relaxed atmosphere, and you’ll be sure of a good night’s sleep.
To save 15% off our best available rate, please call direct and Quote 'Scotrail'.
Find out more
Ways to save...
- Spirit of Scotland travel pass : 1-2 weeks of train, bus and coach travel covering the whole country
- Rail & Sail : combine train and ferry travel
- Kids for a Quid: for every paying adult, up to four children aged 5-15 can travel for £1 each
- Railcards : see if you could save with a national or regional Railcard