Secret City: Dundee
'One City: Many Discoveries'... it's no wonder that this is the motto of the place that's known as 'Scotland's sunniest city'.
From world-famous scenery to top-notch sports facilities, we get the lowdown on Dundee... and taste one or two Scottish delicacies along the way!
Dundee: Key Facts
Location: Eastern central Lowlands, Scotland
Population: 147,800 (GRO Mid Year Population Estimates 2012)
Famous for: 'Jute (a type of cloth), jam and journalism (this is where some of Britain's best-loved comics are produced)', Antarctic exploration, biomedicine, technology, shipbuilding, entertainment industry, cinema.
Famous Dundee people: Brian Cox (actor), William Turnbull (artist), JM Barrie (author of Peter Pan), Liz McCoglan (Olympic gold medal athlete)... and HRH Princess Margaret!
UK comics created in Dundee: The Dandy, The Beano, Desperate Dan, Oor Wullie, The Broons
Major Dundee football teams: Dundee FC and Dundee United
Closest airports: Dundee Airport, Edinburgh Airport, Aberdeen International Airport
Train to London takes: Approx. 5 hours 50 minutes
Train to Edinburgh takes: Approx. 1 hour 10 minutes
Meet the insiders
Name: Cristina Cincilei
Studying: MSc/PGDip Oil & Gas Management at Abertay University
Name: Christopher Fong
From: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Studying: BMSc (Hons) in Neuroscience and MBChB Medicine at University of Dundee
Name: Audrey Kwan
Studied: BA (Hons) Dance (Completion Award) at Dundee and Angus College (Graduated 2013)
What’s your favourite Dundee word, phrase or expression?
Audrey: 'Eh?' – meaning 'What?'
Christopher: 'Twa bridies, a plena ne an an ingin ane an a' – meaning, 'Two bridies (pies), a plain one and an onion one as well.'
'Scotland's sunniest city' – so how would you spend a sunny day in Dundee?
Christopher: Head down to Magdalen Green with a few friends, a Frisbee and a football – it’s one of the best ways to enjoy the sun and get a bit of exercise.
Cristina: Dundee’s a wonderful city located in a spectacular part of Scotland. It’s surrounded by small villages that offer you beaches, authentic Scottish architecture and activities such as horse riding – perfect for a sunny day.
Stunning Scotland: Dundee is surrounded by the beautiful Scottish lowlands (Picture: Visit Britain)
What do you do if it rains in Dundee?
Cristina: Experience a little of the Scottish spirit in one of Dundee’s many pubs and meet local people. If you are a gourmand, there are many restaurants where you can have good food for reasonable prices.
Audrey: Find a local artisanal café – there are lots around – and sit and relax with a good book.
Christopher: Grab a couple of mates, head to the Student Union, grab and drink and play some pool!
Cheers! Might this be one of the best antidotes to a rainy day? (Picture: Visit Britain)
How do you get a spot of culture in Dundee?
Christopher: Dundee Contemporary Arts centre (DCA) is a great place to get your cultural fix. They always have interesting international films and fascinating exhibits. With a bar and restaurant just downstairs it is a great place to grab a drink and some food while you check out what the DCA has to offer.
Cristina: Dundee has everything: theatre, cinema, good clubs with amazing music and famous DJs, literary events, concerts and live music or exhibitions. The Creative Dundee Facebook page is a great source of information for everything cultural.
Smart centre: Dundee Contemporary Arts (Picture: Ydam / Commons)
Where do you go to find out what’s on in Dundee?
Audrey: Dundee is a lovely tight-knit community where you can find out about most things by word of mouth. The local paper The Courier also provides a comprehensive ‘what’s on’ guide.
Cristina: I usually go to the Union building on my university campus – they list everything that’s going on. However, the sources of information are many, including library, internet (check out www.dundee.com) or just by asking your friends.
Christopher: Facebook. Liking pages such as the student association page at your college or uni and the pages of local pubs and restaurants is always a good starting point and it gives you a feel for what’s going on.
- Discover more Secret Cities in Explore the UK
- Find out about UK student life in Living and studying in the UK
What’s the best way to get around the city (e.g. public transport, bike, walking…)?
Cristina: Dundee is the perfect place for living if you want to save on travel costs. The most important places for both your academic and social life are situated within the city centre: libraries, shops, pubs, restaurants, gym, supermarkets and healthcare centres, and two universities, Abertay and Dundee!
Christopher: Investing in a bike is a great way to get around if you want to save a bit of walking time. Just try and avoid some of the big hills.
Round the corner: Discover the countryside nearby (Picture: Visit Britain)
Dundee is famous for producing jam… but what’s the number one food that any student in Dundee should try?
Audrey: Dundee’s marmalade – that’s orange preserve to non-UK people! It’s great for breakfast toast. You can purchase it at any local store.
Cristina: Every person who goes to Scotland has to try the traditional pie (or ‘peh’) filled with meat and potatoes. It is very easy to find, in almost every restaurant and supermarket.
Christopher: As a student and after a long night out, one place you must check out at least once is Clark’s 24-Hour Bakery for either a Helicopter Burger or Scooby Snack. Also known as ‘Clark's’ or simply ‘The Bakery’, it’s the place everybody ends up for that late-night bite to get the recovery process started. Warning: It’s not going to be healthy… but it’ll hit the spot at half two in the morning!
Peh for yeh? Get the true Dundee taste with one of these (Picture: Visit Britain)
Where’s best place to go shopping in Dundee?
Cristina: Check out the Overgate Centre, where you can find everything from clothes and shoes to electronics.
Christopher: A wander down Perth Road is a must. There are a ton of great shops to check out there.
Where’s the best place for sport (either playing or watching)?
Cristina: Olympia is always my first choice. It’s a sports centre that has everything your body needs in just one place: gym, sport classes, spinning…
Audrey: …and one of the newest swimming pools in Scotland, with state-of-the-art movable floors and walls!
Christopher: The Student Union is a fun place to watch a match. Even if you’re like me and don’t follow football or rugby, going along with mates for the social experience is still a great way to spend an afternoon.
Historical gem: The McManus art gallery and museum tells the history of Dundee (Picture: Ydam / Commons)
What’s your number one Dundee bargain?
Christopher: Dundee is a bargain in itself! Most things are within walking distance so transportation is cheap, rent is relatively cheap for a city and because most of the pubs are situated within the west end where the students are, drink prices are great too!
Cristina: My number one Dundee bargain is the shop TK Maxx, which sells clothes, shoes and bags made by the best brands at huge discounts. It’s the place where the unaffordable can become affordable.
Where’s the best place to find out about the history of Dundee?
Christopher: The McManus, Dundee’s art gallery and museum, was one of the first places I visited when I arrived in Dundee. Admission into the museum is free and it is filled with interesting artefacts, painting and stories that tell how Dundee became the city it is today. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon and to learn about the history of Dundee.
Ship ahoy: The RSS Discovery, which took Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton on their first exploration of the Antarctic in 1901 (Picture: Visit Britain)
Dundee’s motto is ‘One City; Many Discoveries’ – tell us about one thing you’ve discovered since you arrived that you think is unique to Dundee?
Audrey: Dundee is a great city to develop yourself as an artist as the artistic community is very united and supportive. I love the V&A Museum of Design as just one example of a really artistic place.
Cristina: For me, this city is unique as a whole - the kindness of the locals, the excellent quality of academic institutions, the blend of nationalities from all over the world and the feeling of safety even when you walk down the street late at night. But one unique thing? The RRS Discovery – an early 20th-century Antarctic research ship that you can visit.
Christopher: Check out J.A. Braithwaite, Dundee’s oldest store and a truly amazing coffee and tea specialty shop; The Parlour for a weekend lunch or brunch; and the Bridgeview Station for a luxury evening meal at an affordable price!
Dundee delicacies: Rich fruity Dundee Cake is famous the world over (Picture: Visit Britain)
And finally… what’s the number one experience you’ve had during your time in Dundee? The one you’d tell your grandchildren about!
Audrey: I can’t choose one experience – but I feel I’ve redeveloped myself into someone who can bring arts, fitness and science together.
Cristina: The greatest experience in Dundee which has marked my life forever is meeting a wonderful person who very soon became one of my best friends. We started a friendship that hopefully will last forever. This is one of the things I most thank Dundee for!
Christopher: Trekking in the snow to the bakery with friends Lydia and Marija from halls in the wee hours of the morning – not because of a huge night out or anything but because we had been hit by a lot of snow, classes were cancelled for a couple days and we were finishing off a great week, which included a massive halls-wide snowball fight outside our student union.
Snow in Scotland: A sight not to be missed (Picture: Visit Britain)
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