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A Winter Break in Dundee

Blog created as part of a paid partnership with Visit Scotland

Jute, Jam and Journalism – three words that you’ll hear a lot when visiting Dundee. The three j’s have played a starring role in this city’s history – a city which today is jam-packed (excuse the obvious pun) with incredible bars, chic hotels and some of the best art and culture in all of Scotland.  

If you are looking for a perfect winter getaway, here’s our tips on how to enjoy one of Scotland’s most interesting and unforgettable cities.

How to get to Dundee?

Only an hour from Edinburgh (by train or car), or a fraction longer from Glasgow – Dundee is easily accessible. Situated on the East coast, whichever way you approach it you can be guaranteed a scenic entrance.  

Where to stay in Dundee?

To make the most of your time in the city you’ll want to stay central and there’s few better places to do this than then the trendy Hotel Indigo. Housed within an old textile mill, the hotel pays homage to the city’s incredible history in such unique and ingenious ways that we guarantee you’ll need to go a few times before you spot everything.  

Our best tip is to keep an eye out for subtle writing on the wallpaper, which can contain everything from the recipe for Dundee cake, to the cheat codes for GTA 5! 

With a great breakfast and a renowned restaurant (Daisy Tasker) for the evenings – you’d be forgiven for wanting to spend the days here, but trust us, it’s worth venturing out of the hotel once in a while to enjoy the city that’s on your doorstep.  

What to see and do in Dundee?

The V&A stole the headlines when it came to the city in 2018 and even if you don’t have time to go into every exhibition, a walk in and around the design museum, with its stunning architecture, is a must. You’ll also be able to see the amazing RRS Discovery next door. 

Interested to find out more about Dundee’s past? There’s no better place to start than Verdant Works, where you can learn about the the city’s relationship with Jute. At one point Dundee was referred to as “Juteopolis”, such was the vast amount of textile fibre (used to make things like sandbags, rope and coffee sacks) produced here. 

With women workers outnumbering men three to one in the mills, the city also became known as “She-Town” due to its higher-than-average female population. The fascinating stories of this once-colossal industry and those individuals who fought to advance women’s rights at the time can all be found at this incredible museum, created on the site of an atmospheric old jute mill. 

What makes it even more special is that one of those women who worked in the mill from the age of 15, Lily Thomson, still volunteers there today on Wednesdays and Sundays. We were lucky enough to hear from her about her time at the mill. Even now she can still weave the jute (and a great tale) better than anyone else. If you are interested in visiting this amazing museum, then you can now get 50% off your ticket until February 18th 2022 thanks to Visit Scotland’s days out scheme. Find out more here.

Away from the mills, Dundee has so much culture to offer both for fans of contemporary art (at the DCA) and classical (at the McManus Art Gallery & Museum). Both are housed in impressive buildings that are worth exploring. You’ll also want to enjoy the other two j’s of the city – journalism and jam – by admiring the many bronze statues to Beano and Desperate Dan characters around the city or taking home some delicious Marmalade. 

Where to eat and drink in Dundee?

The great thing about Dundee’s bar scene is that so much of it remains a local secret; hidden speakeasys designed to be uncovered and enjoyed. 

You’ll want to start with The King of Islington – an intimate and iconic cocktail bar with an even more stand-out cocktail menu and team of mixologists. Next up is Abandon Ship – a fun and eccentric cocktail bar that packs in arcade games, amazing graffiti, and the wackiest menu of drinks we’ve seen. 

With so many great cocktails to enjoy, you’ll never want to be on an empty stomach. Two of our favourite spots in the city for food are Bird & Bear (next door to Abandon Ship) and Franks – a restaurant famed for its pasta (and wow is it delicious!). A great place for something a bit more creative is Gallery 48 – a tapas-style bar / gallery that is home to some amazing contemporary art, fashion and food. You’ll want to come back at least once on your trip to try everything. 

Nearby, some later evening hot spots for a drink include The Blue Room and Draffens – a cocktail lounge with a hidden entrance down one of the city’s alleyways (look out for the light above the door). The prohibition-style bar is a must-visit for its atmosphere and incredible drinks. Finally, there’s Nola, with its late-night DJ, low lighting, and amazing cocktail table service. 

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That’s our tips for how to make the most of a winter break in Dundee. If you have any questions about the area or would like any more tips, please let us know in the comments below or get in touch via Instagram (@TravelTwo_).

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