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Dundee, nicknamed “The city of Discovery” lives up to its name. It has plenty of attractions and sites to discover! This city was crowned a UNESCO City of Design for good reason.
When it comes to free things to do, Dundee never disappoints. From the McManus Museum and Art Gallery to large public parks, there is so much to do here that won’t cost a single pound – perfect for families or couples looking for a budget break.
Read on to learn about all the free things you and your travel buddies can enjoy when visiting Dundee.
Best Free Museums and Galleries
McManus Art Gallery and Museum
The McManus Art Gallery is located in a Gothic-revival-style building and is home to fine and decorative art. The museum portion also has a natural history collection.
This gorgeous Victorian building is a must for someone who loves art galleries. You will get an insight into the history and culture of the city, as well as get to admire the artefacts on display.
You will journey through 400 million years of history to learn about how a small settlement developed into a bustling metropolis.
And don’t forget to look up! While admiring the artefacts in the History Hall, you will be walking beneath the skeleton of a humpback whale who once ventured into the River Tay in the 1880s.
Broughty Castle Museum and Beach
A stone’s throw from the city centre you will find Broughty Ferry. At Broughty Ferry beach you can also visit the Broughty Castle.
The castle was a strategic point, constructed in 1490 to defend Scotland from the invading English naval fleet.
At the castle museum, you can learn about the history of the place, as well as the nature surrounding Broughty Ferry.
After learning everything there is about history, wander along the beach for some spectacular views.
The V&A Dundee is located on the historic waterfront. This new addition is the first museum in Scotland dedicated to design. It is the only museum dedicated solely to design in Dundee.
The museum has constantly changing exhibitions showcasing designs from across the world.
Not only will you marvel at the inspirational designs inside the museum, but even the building is a symbol of modern design and innovation. It was designed by Kengo Kuma, the world-renowned Japanese architect.
Dundee Contemporary Arts Centre
The Dundee Contemporary Arts Centre is more than just a contemporary art museum. When you step into the centre, you enter a world of creativity beyond your imagination.
The large, five-storey building is home to performances, films, and prints, as well as the Jute Bar Cafe for those looking for a snack and a drink.
The many eclectic and inspirational galleries and exhibitions showcase the work of some of the best upcoming local and international artists.
Best Free Outdoor Excursions
Camperdown Country Park
The Camperdown Country Park is one of those parks you simply must see. It spans over 400 acres. Although it is located outside of the city, it is well worth it! Locals and visitors alike enjoy the weekly park run, going for a stroll, or visiting the wildlife.
The Camperdown Wildlife Centre is the closest thing Dundee has to a zoo. There is a small admission fee to see the animals, but it is well worth it.
At the summit of the Law, you will have amazing views of Scotland’s fourth largest city, as well as the surrounding nature.
You can walk or drive to the top of the Law. here you will be rewarded with breathtaking vistas of the River Tay as well. Using the Compass Viewpoint at the top you can find your bearings and spot famous landmarks around the city.
The Law is the highest point in the city. There is a “Town to Top” trail leading from the Dundee city square to the top of the Law.
It is more than just a viewpoint. The Law was a significant area during World War II. Along the walk, keep an eye out for blockhouses constructed in anticipation of the war.
There is also Old Road. This historic road was constructed in the 19th century when it was still used by horse-drawn cars.
The waterfront has recently been completely transformed and modernised. The V&A Dundee played a big role in this transformation.
The Riverside Walk is a great way to explore the waterfront and surrounding areas of the city.
The walk is about 3 miles long. There is also a cycling route that separates pedestrians from cyclists.
There is plenty to see and do along the Walk, including Riverside Nature Park, The University’s Botanical Gardens, and Discovery Point.
If you love a scavenger hunt, then why not go on a scavenger hunt of all the statues around Dundee?
There are quite a few statues dotted around the centre of the city. Some have historic significance, while others have fun stories connected to them.
Keep an eye out for characters from Beano (a well-loved British comic book), Oor Wullie, Minni the Mix, and Desperate Dan.
The penguins outside of Dundee Steeple Church are constantly being dressed up by the local inhabitants to match popular holiday events.
There are a fair few statues of dragons which can be explained by Dundee’s history with dragons. This love connects back to a slightly gory story about a dragon on the outskirts of the city that killed a farmer’s daughters until the farmer slayed the dragon.
Mills Observatory is the first public observatory. It is located on Baglay Hill in Dundee city centre. From the observatory, you can enjoy fascinating space exploration displays. The refracting telescope shows a myriad of star constellations and planets.
The planetarium also offers shows to visitors during October and March, where you can learn more about the night sky.
Is Dundee worth visiting?
Yes! Dundee has so much to do and see. It is an affordable city to visit, as there are plenty of free museums and parks to visit. Outdoor enthusiasts will especially enjoy Dundee.
Is there a free zoo in Dundee?
There is no zoo in Dundee, but the wildlife at Camperdown Park is worth a see. It is the closest thing to a zoo. There is a small admission fee to access the wildlife park.
What is Dundee famous for?
Dundee claims to be the cultural and design centre of Scotland. Rather oddly, it is known for journalism, jam, jute…and joysticks!
Dundee became famous for producing a fibre made from vegetables called “jute”. It was used to create rope and twine.
After the jute phase, Dundee became known for producing quality fruit jams. A woman from Dundee has been accredited with creating marmalade, which inadvertently led to the creation of Paddington Bear!
Finally, Dundee is still well known for its important contribution to journalism. It is home to DC Thomson, as well as British Broadcasters the BBC and STV.
As for joysticks – well, Dundee was the birthplace of Grand Theft Auto and Lemmings in the 1990s!