A weekend in…Dundee
Dundee may not seem like the obvious choice of weekend trip destination. However, it is an agreeable stopover if you’re en route between the Highlands and the cities of Edinburgh or Glasgow; or if you fancy a cheap weekend with some decent cultural attractions away from the draw of Scotland’s ‘big two’.
How to get there:
We travelled from Edinburgh to Dundee with ScotRail. The journey takes just over an hour and the route is quite picturesque in places; crossing the River Forth on the famous bridge being one obvious example. However, the price of a return ticket was a hefty £26.30.
What to do:
The waterfront overlooking the River Tay on which Dundee stands is currently undergoing redevelopment with new hotels and restaurants planned. Integral to this development is the new V&A which will bring world-class art collections and exhibitions to the city in the next couple of years.
The first ‘not to be missed’, attraction is Discovery Point. Uncover the footsteps of Captain Scott and Ernest Shackleton aboard the Royal Research Ship Discovery at the multi-award winning draw and experience one of the greatest stories ever told. The exhibitions are a mix of state-of-the-art audio-visual and computer-based multimedia, alongside displays of actual artifacts that belonged to Scott and the crew who sailed with him. Tickets cost £8.25 for adults; £5 for kids.
For a more cultural fix then the McManus Art Gallery and Museum is a magnificent Victorian/Gothic building where art, history and the environment combine to offer a fascinating glimpse into Dundee’s colourful past. Admission is free
To find out more about the history of the city, visit the Verdant Works. Take a step back into a time capsule of yesteryear and discover how the people of Dundee lived, worked and played over 100 years ago. Absorb the sights, sounds and smells; sense the earth tremble as the original machines roar into life. With a stunning range of displays including film shows, multimedia computers and hands-on activities, it's a good family-oriented attraction. Tickets cost £8.25 for adults; £5 for kids; Joint tickets available with admission to Discovery Point.
Dundee Contemporary Arts Centre is also well worth a visit with two spacious galleries housing exhibitions, a cinema, shop, print studio, café bar, activity room and visual research centre. Admission to the Centre and galleries is also free.
Where to stay:
We stayed at the Hilton Dundee. This property has the distinction of being the only four-star hotel in the city and was pretty good.
Located within walking distance of the train station, the hotel benefits from being situated on the riverside. Our room overlooked the Tay and it made for a pleasant backdrop. We dined at the hotel’s ‘Riverfront Bar and Grill’ which wasn’t spectacular, but certainly competent and good value – Dundee is not an expensive city – at c.£50 for six courses and two drinks (between us!). The bar, adjacent to the restaurant, serves an excellent pint of Stella Artois for £3.70 (great price for a hotel) and I had a couple of these in the evening while watching the football on the bar’s large-screen TV.
Breakfast was a buffet affair in the same restaurant/bar area, offering a decent range of the usual options both cold and hot, including potato scones. If you’ve not tried this artery-clogging Scottish staple then you really must – they are delicious.
In the basement of the hotel there is a health club, comprised of gym and wet areas. I forewent the gym but the sauna, steam room and pool were all welcome on a Sunday morning. Rooms start at £79 per night for a double with breakfast, which is superb value. One minor quibble though – the WiFi was very patchy in our room, nor was it free (BT Openzone). Budget hotels can do free WiFi and the understanding that free WiFi across the board should be the norm seems, thankfully, to be permeating the hospitality industry.
By John Hunt