Discovery Point is usually top of the list of things to see in Dundee and deservedly so. The RSS Discovery, a three-masted wooden ship built in the city, is docked here. This was the ship that carried Captain Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton on their journey to the Antarctic. Visitors can climb aboard to learn the details of how the explorers lived, what they ate, and the hardships they overcame.
The waterfront is also home to the spectacular V&A Dundee Museum of Design, opening in September 2018 as the first design museum in Scotland. The V&A’s eye-catching structure pays homage to Dundee’s nautical history: the waterfront museum was designed (by starchitect Kengo Kuma) to look like a ship under construction. The focus of blockbuster exhibitions will be on fashion, architecture, design and photography, with permanent galleries dedicated to showcasing Scottish products ranging from delicate 19th-century Ayrshire needlework to video games.
A fabulous example of Victorian Gothic architecture, the beautiful building that houses the McManus Galleries is worth a visit in itself. Once you have finished gazing at the impressive façade, head inside to peruse the museum, where you can learn about the fascinating history of Dundee city. From its history as a whaling centre to the 1879 collapse of the Tay Rail Bridge, to the Dundee-made personal computers of the 1980s, the museum is definitely one of the most interesting things to see in Dundee. The galleries also house a good collection of 19th and 20th century art, plus an excellent museum shop.
For sweeping views of the city – and a peek into Scotland’s oldest surviving church tower – climb the 232 steps to the top of the Old Steeple. More than 500 years old, the tower now houses a stellar collection of antiquities, but it’s the view that remains one of the main attractions in Dundee.
Dundee has a long industrial history, and was once world famous for spinning jute, the vegetable fibre used to make fabrics like burlap and canvas. Verdant Works, a restored jute mill, is one of the most interesting industrial museums in Europe, with original machinery and interactive displays showing everything from how jute was grown to the astonishing range of things it was used for (American pioneers even headed west with jute wagon covers).
Don’t leave without first checking out one of the best things to see in Dundee: the Desperate Dan statue on the High Street by City Square. Cast in eight feet of bronze, the sturdy hero from the old comic magazine The Dandy is a beloved icon in Dundee, where the comic’s publishers were based. Don’t forget Minnie the Minx, with her trademark slingshot, just behind.