Tag Archives: Dundee

What to do in Dundee and what to see in Dundee.

Review of City Harbour Chinese Buffet Restaurant in Dundee

My Aunt and I had lunch at the city Harbour Chinese buffet restaurant on the City Quay on Dundee’s watefront on a Tuesday in May 2014. It cost £6.50 per adult. You can park outside the restaurant free of charge for one hour.

city harbour chinese buffet restaurant exterior

The restaurant was fairly quiet. We were happy to be shown to a table at the window with views over the City Quay toward the Carr Lightship.

city harbour chinese buffet restaurant view

The food was fairly standard Chinese buffet fare. But considering that a plate of fish and chips often costs around £8 in a pub, it was good value for money.

city harbour chinese buffet restaurant starters

I thought that the tables were spaced further apart than in many other buffet restaurants. This, plus the addition of screens, made for a pleasant dining experience.

I’d recommend the City Harbour Chinese buffet restaurant in Dundee for a relativelly cheap, filling meal in congenial surrourdings.

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Art Show by Zydrune Auksoriute in the Howff Cemetery Dundee

Although it was lookng as though it might start raining at any moment when i was walking from the McManus Galleries to pick up my car from the car park at Dundee Travelodge Central, I decided to have a quick look around the Howff Cemetery.

The Howff was originally the garden of the Greyfriars Monastery, which was destroyed in the 1540s. It was granted licence as a burial ground a few years later by Mary Queen of Scots. Strangely, it was concurrently used as a meeting place (howff) for the Dundee Incorporated Trades until 1776, although it continued to be used for burials until 1857.

the howff entry

The Howff has one of the best collections of tombstones in Scotland.

the howff skull and cross bones

Parts of the perimeter walls date back to 1601.

the howff

I’d observed padlocks on the cemetery gates. There was no information given on closing times, so I was a bit concerned about getting locked into the cemetery, as it was approaching 5pm. Therefore, I was relieved to see some other people around a cherry blosson tree.

As I approached, I could see some art work resting on some headstones under the tree. I had stumbled upon a photo session of the ‘Living Legends’ by painter Zydrune Auksoriute (on the left in the photo below), a Lithuanian studying in Dundee. She, along with her paintings, was being photographed by fellow countrywoman Justina Smiles Photography (on the right of the photo below).

the howff art show

It’s further proof of why you should allow time for wandering around on your travels, you never know who you might bump into.

Exploring Dundee’s Waterfront

I had a walk around the waterfront in Dundee on the afternoon of a holiday Monday in May. I was amazed that it was so quiet, as when I’d passed the shops there were plenty of people about. The weather was reasonable with some warm sunshine, although you could sense rain wasn’t far away.

I started off on the banks of the Firth (estuary) of Tay.

waterfront quayside

I thought that the standng stones installation was a bit drab. It was almost the same colour as the surrounding pavement and the estuary.

waterfront sculpture1

I had the viewing platfrom on the quayside to myself.

waterfront viewing platform

Then I had a walk on the Tay Road Bridge. The pedestrian/cyclist section of the bridge is in the centre, which would make it pretty noisy and difficult to see the views if traffic were heavy.

waterfront looking toward dundee from tay road bridge

Dundee from the Tay Road Bridge

To the west, I could see the Discovery Centre and the Tay Rail Bridge.

waterfront view from tay bridge

Unfortunately, Dundee didn’t exactly look at its best as there are enormous piles of rubble where Tayside House, the former local authority HQ, used to stand. This is all part of the revamp of the Waterfront prior to the construction of the V&A Dundee.

You can see one of these rubble piles in my close up of the Discovery Centre from the bridge. These works have closed off the walkway along the estuary.

waterfront view of discovery centre from tay bridge

Next, I had a wander around the City Quay.

city quay1

City Quay is home to two ships. One is the North Carr Lightship, which is currently used by a maritime training charity.

waterfront carr lightship

A bit further along the dock, HM Frigate Unicorn is moored. It was constructed as a Royal Navy frigate in the early 1820s.

hm unicorn

If you’re feeling a bit peckish, both the Taza Indian buffet and the City Harbour Chinese Buffet offer good value food, with views across to City Quay.

5 of the Best Dundee Hotels

I think that the Scottish city of Dundee is an ideal short break destination, so here are some suggestions for Dundee hotels.  Dundee is located on the east coast of Scotland, on the Tay Estuary.  There are some great Dundee attractions such as Discovery Point, Sensation Science Centre and the Verdant Works.  Dundee also has a good selection of shops, cafes, bars and restaurants.  There’s a lovely beach in the suburb of Broughty Ferry.

Dragon sculpture in Dundee city centre

Best places to stay in Dundee

My tips for the best places to stay in Dundee are based on my own experience plus research into Dundee hotels which receive very good reviews from guests.

Premier Inn Dundee Centre is right on the Tay Estuary, so try to get a room at the back of the hotel for the views. The rooms are slightly dated but it’ s a good Dundee budget hotel. If you manage to get one of the £29 rooms it’s a bargain for the location.  It’s just across from Dundee railway station, so ideal if you come by train.  You can read my review with a video of the room in which I stayed in August 2010.

Premier Inn Dundee Centre on the Tay Estuary

The 4 star Apex Hotel is on City Quay, I’ve seen room only rates here from around £65 a night.  The rooms get very good guest reviews but there are some negative comments about the restaurant, especially for evening meals.   However, there are a couple of restaurants on City Quay and a good  choice in the city centre, a 10 minute walk away.  The hotel has a free car park, a health spa and free wifi.

Apex City Quay Hotel Dundee

Another budget Dundee hotel option is the Travelodge Dundee Centre where I stayed in May 2010 for only £12 for the night. This was booked during the Travelodge January 2010 sale.  The building was formerly a jute mill, so I had an enormous room with 3 big windows.  There’s a free car park at the rear. I found the hotel to be a bit noisy as there’s a busy road at the front and service access to a supermarket at the rear.  However, I do live in a quiet location and often find city centres noisy.  You can read my full review which has a video of my room.

Travelodge Dundee Central

My room at Travelodge Dundee Centre

The Holiday Inn Express Dundee opened recently. The cheapest rooms I’ve seen on offer for this hotel were around £60.  Continental breakfast is included in the room rate and there’s free wifi in the lobby.


Holiday Inn Express Dundee by occahome

If you’re looking for accommodation away from the  city centre, the Taychreggan Hotel in Broughty Ferry is a good choice.  This Victorian mansion has ten rooms, some with views over the Tay estuary.  There’s a garden with a sun terrace.

View from Broughty Ferry Castle

Click here for the lowest prices on Dundee hotels

Things to do in Dundee - Discovery Point Dundee

Discovery Point Dundee: Home of Captain Scott’s Antarctic expedition ship

Discovery Point, in the Scottish city of Dundee, is the home of RRS Discovery, the the ship which transported Captain Scott’s first Antarctic “Discovery Expedition” to the South Pole in 1901. The ship was built in Dundee and returned there in 1986.

Things to do in Dundee - Discovery Point Dundee

RSS Discovery against the Dundee skyline

Discovery was locked in by ice in the South Pole during the Winter of 1903.  She had to be rescued by two other ships, Morning and Terra Nova (which took Scott back to Antarctica on the ill fated Terra Nova Expedition in 1910). In order to free Discovery the rescuers had to blast through 20 miles of ice.

Discovery Point entrance

RRS Discovery was the first ship to be specifically constructed for Antarctic exploration.  Dundee was chosen due to the workers experience in building robust whaling ships.

Discovery Point Dundee - Things to do in Dundee

Dundee Docks exhibit at Discovery Point

The “Race to the Pole – Centenary of the Terra Nova Expedition” exhibition runs until 2 December 2010, to commemorate 100 years since the start of Scott’s second and final journey to the Antarctic, where the expedition members perished on their way back to the ship, after being beaten to the South Pole by the Norwegian Amundsen.

Things to do in Dundee - Discovery Point Dundee

Ice fishing exhibit at Discovery Point Dundee

The highlight of my visit was going on board RSS Discovery. I was amazed by the height of the masts, although the ship did also have engines.

Discovery Point was a showpiece of Dundee’s regeneration in the 1980s and is a must-visit Dundee attraction.  You can see all my Discovery Point photos and videos on Flickr.

I’d also recommend visiting the Dundee attractions the Sensation Science Centre and  The Verdant Works (which tells the story of Dundee’s jute industry).

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Sensation Science Centre, Dundee: Great fun for families

I visited the Sensation Science Centre in Dundee in August 2010 during my Summer 2010 Scotland Blog Tour.  It’s a great all weather Dundee attraction for families. This is the sort of place that our twin sons loved in their youth, where kids get involved in the hands-on exhibits as well as various fun, educational activities.

Sensation Science Centre Dundee - Things to do in Dundee

Exterior of Sensation Science Centre Dundee

My favourite was the Magic Mirror, where if you stood still you’d disappear from the monitor but as soon as you moved you were visible on screen.

Magic Mirror at Sensation Science Centre Dundee

It must be an adventure climbing in the large head in the Taste and Smell section.

The ne Small Step space exhibition was on during my visit.

In Mindball you control the movement of a small sphere with your brain waves. Two people, with monitors strapped on their heads, sit at opposite ends of a long table with the sphere placed in the centre of the table. The winner is the person who is most relaxed, as the ball will move towards their less relaxed opponent.

As my visit was during the school holidays, there were several shows and events on offer throughout the day. I watched a film about the planets projected on the top of the Planetarium tent while lying on a mat on the ground.

If you’re looking for ideas for other things to do in Dundee, I’d recommend the Verdant Works and Discovery Point.

You can see all my Sensation photos and videos on Flickr.

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Verdant Works Dundee: The history of the jute industry

The Verdant Works in Dundee, Scotland illustrates the history of the Dundee jute industry. This museum is my tip for visitors to Dundee interested in Scottish industrial heritage.  This Dundee attraction opened in the early 1990s when the Dundee Heritage Trust purchased the then derelict Verdant Mill.

Dundee and the World jute map, Verdant Works

Dundee’s global jute connections

Jute became a big industry in Dundee for three reasons: the existing weaving skills of workers, the local shipbuilding industry that built the large vessels to carry the raw material from India and the availability of whale oil (used to soften the jute) from the Dundee based whaling fleet.

Hand loom at Verdant Works Dundee

Hand operated jute weaving loom

The Verdant Works does truly bring history to life.  On the factory floor there are working smaller machines built in the first half of the 20th century for training local workers.

Can you imagine working for 9 hours a day in all this noise?

Factory floor at Verdant Works Dundee

I was fortunate that volunteer Lily Thomson, a former jute weaver, was at the Verdant Works on the day I visited, so I could see (and hear) the machines in action.  There are screens behind each of the pieces of machinery showing old films of scenes from the jute production line.

I enjoyed my visit to the Verdant Works, it certainly gave me an insight into the lives of the Dundee jute workers and the amazing number of products manufactured from jute including tents and carpet backing.  The Verdant Works offers a great day out for all the family as there are plenty of interactive displays for kids. There’s free parking for visitors at the rear of the building and an on-site cafe.

You can see all my Verdant Works photos and videos on Flickr.

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Review of Dundee Central Travelodge

I stayed for at the Travelodge Dundee Central for one night in May 2010. I paid £12 for the room, booking in the January sale. The building was originally a jute mill, so the rooms are different to standard purpose built Travelodge rooms. There’s a good sized free car park at the rear.

Travelodge Dundee Central

I requested a room at the rear of the hotel as the front of the hotel is on a  fairly busy road. My room was enormous and had three windows. Luckily it faced west so I wasn’t wakened by daylight.

Travelodge Dundee Central

However I did have a rude awakening at 6.45 as a Tesco delivery lorry reversed into the unloading bay, adjacent to my room. As ever a city centre location is unlikely to be peaceful but does have the advantage of being able to walk to most Dundee attractions within a few minutes.

If you can find a promotional rate room at the Travelodge Dundee Central, Dundee is a great location for a UK short break.

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Don’t diss your hometown from memory

I think when you’re young it’s all too easy to catergorise your home town as a dump and you can’t wait to get out of it. I was born in the city of Dundee but only lived there until I was five years old. When I spoke of my place of birth it was in rather disparaging terms.  I didn’t really spend time in Dundee until recently, more than forty years later.

Now I’m impressed by Dundee and can say that researching and writing aGuide to Dundee for  Europe a la Carte has been a a personal rediscovery. That ties in pretty neatly with Dundee’s slogan, “City of Discovery“, coined in the 1980s when the ship “Discovery”, built in Dundee, which transported Scott on his first expedition to the South Pole, was returned to its birthplace.

City Square, Dundee

One of the best things is the friendliness and sense of humour of the residents, the Dundonians. The city has picked itself up by the boot straps and moved on from its industrial past and embraced its future. The city centre is looking great with pride of place in the city centre to some of it’s best known comic book characters from the Dandy and Beano, Desperate Dan, Minnie the Minx and Gnasher, Dennis the Menace’s dog.

Desperate Dan, Minnie the Minx and Gnasher sculptures in Dundee

So, you exiles, before you diss your home town, check it out and do some reappraisal, it may not be as bad as you remember. In a a full circle, we’re thinking of going to live in Dundee in the future, in the Broughty Ferry area close to the sea. If you’d told me thirty years ago I’d choose to live in Dundee and be promoting it as a great day out or short break destination, I’d have burst into laughter and uttered, “No Way”.

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Beach art at Monifieth, near Dundee

There are several pieces of sculpture by the beach at Monfieth, officially in the county of Angus although just a few miles east of Dundee. My favourite is the dolphin bench.


The dolphin bench, Monifieth

There is also a set of carved standing stones.

Standing stones, Monifieth

Four carved wooden birds perch round a paved circle.

Wooden bird sculptures, Monifieth

There’s a really good kids adventure playground close by, so it’s an ideal location for a family day out.