Free things to do in your city: Dundee


Scotland’s fourth largest city has a fascinating medieval past and plenty of cultural activities to see and do. The word Dun comes from the Celtic word for fort and de is Gaelic for fire! Emma Storr takes a look at ten places across the city which you can explore on a student budget i.e. for free!

1.The McManus Galleries
The historic McManus building looks like a cross between something out of Dracula and Pride and Prejudice, and it also houses the city’s main art gallery and museum. It’s home to an incredible eight galleries where visitors can see incredible paintings, learn about prehistoric man and view artefacts from the city’s past. Find out here

2.The Mills Observatory
Perched on the summit of Balgay Hill, the Mills Observatory is Scotland’s first purpose-built observatory. Open to the public all year round, the look-out station allows you to view stars and planets at night time or spy on your friends along the River Tay during the day. The centre also has a planetarium where you can watch amazing shows about space exploration. Find out more here


3.Discovery Film Festival
Dundee’s Discovery Film Festival is definitely one to put in your calendar. The annual event is based at Dundee Contemporary Arts centre and celebrates international film for young audiences. Made up of three weekends of films and gala events, the festival aims to give the younger population of Scotland an insight into how children live in other cultures. Find out more here

4.Dundee Women’s Trail
Dundee Women’s Trail allows you to take a walk in the shoes of twenty five inspiring women from the city including artists, suffragettes and a marine engineer. The women played important roles in Dundee’s history and you can learn about their lives by downloading the trail map from their website or follow it on your phone. The trail is great for a Sunday stroll if you need a time out from uni work and it’s not raining!

5.Dundee Contemporary Arts
A visit to this art hub is a must all year round. As well as hosting free cinema screenings, it’s also home to a gallery which hosts numerous engaging exhibitions. The Winter Print Exhibition is a display platform for works made in the Print Studio and IC-98 is a series of projections of winter scenes made up of a combination of hand drawings and digital animations by two Finnish artists. Both exhibitions are currently showing. Find out more here

6.HM Frigate Unicorn
If the idea of a unicorn emerging from the front of a battleship doesn’t make you want to visit the HM Frigate Unicorn, its history definitely will. At a staggering 191 years old, and still looking prime, the ship is one of the six oldest ships in the world and is Scotland’s only example of a wooden warship. The inside of the ship is presented as it would be in its heyday to add authenticity and you can read information about life at sea, the Navy in Dundee and the golden age of sailing. Find out more hereUnicorn,

7.University of Dundee Botanic Garden
Located in the university grounds and covering a massive 9.5 hectares, Dundee Botanic Garden is the perfect place to go when you need study break. The garden has a collection of fascinating indigenous and tropical plants housed in a water garden, herb garden and temperate glasshouses. The garden is the perfect place to relax and appreciate nature and there are plenty benches where you can chill out and watch the world go by. Find out more here

8.Dundee Museum of Transport
The Museum of Transport opened just over a year ago, making it one of the newest museums in the city. It displays the transit heritage of Tayside with exhibitions featuring some of the city’s old transport. You cans see an impressive vintage car collection, Volvo and Daimler buses, a restored road roller carriage and even a horse-drawn ambulance from the 1880s! Find out more here

9.Dundee Law
Although the title of this attraction might seem like you’re being encouraged to study the subject at the city’s university, that’s definitely not the case! Dundee Law is actually a 4,000 million-year-old extinct volcano with a 572-foot peak that towers over the city. Historically used as a hillfort and for prehistoric graves, climbing up to the summit offers best views of the city, the River Tay and the surrounding landscape. Find out more here

10.The D’Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum

Also in the university grounds is the zoology museum which has a collection of animal artefacts collected by its namesake, Sir D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson, the first professor of biology. Not only does the museum hold a wide range of archaeological specimens, it also has an art collection and exhibitions inspired by Sir D’Arcy Thompson. Currently showing is A History of Nearly Everything which displays the scientific imagination of author Reif Larsen. Find out more here



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